Friday, February 10, 2012

Graphic novel reviews A

All-New X-Men - Brian Michael Bendis
  1. Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-Men - The five original X-Men from 1965 are brought back to the present by a raidly mutating Hank McCoy, in order to talk some sense into the present-day Scott Summers who has killed Xavier and is fomenting a mutant revolution.  They aren't happy to be there. [4]
  2. Vol. 2: Here To Stay - Mystique and her gang are using the confusion to rob banks.  Kind of straightforward superheroics here.  [3.5]
  3. Vol. 3: Out of Their Depth - There's a few things left out of the paperbacks at this point and it's gettign a little hard to foloow.  Why did the original five join Scott, Magneto, Emma, and their group?
  4. Vol. 4: All-Different [3.5]
  5. Vol. 5: One Down - More stuff is left out. Now some of the original five are in space?  We missed that.  I dislike the tendency toward multi-title storylines, which results in this kind of "scene missing" moments.  I really do enjoy all the various art styles that depict the different potential timelines and alternate universes.
Amazing Spider-Man - Van Lente, Waid, Kelly
  • The Gauntlet: Electro & Sandman - A fun deep dive into the decades of Spider mythology, looking into the mindsets of the bad guys. [4]
  • The Gauntlet: Rhino & Mysterio - More bad guy backstory, with a particularly sweet take on the Rhino.  Mysterio's story is also very cleverly done.  [4]
American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang [First Second]
Three intersecting, somewhat surreal fables about growing up an Asian-American amid prejudice and shame.  One concerns the Monkey King, who acquires great powers in an effort to deny what he is; one is about a Chinese-American who falls for a blonde beauty in his new school; and one is sitcom-like, featuring the loveable stereotype Chin-Kee.  Startlingly funny, confrontational, and powerful, with absolutely amazing art.  Read twice.  [5]

American Elf - James Kolchaka
1999-2012 (entire run) - Daily strips in the cartoonist's life from 1999-2005.  He plays rock, he draws poorly, he sells books and gets record contracts and book contracts and complains about "everyone wanting a fucking piece of him."  He has childish temper tantrums and yells at his beautiful, pleasant wife (this is the way he presents it).  He comes off an quite unpleasant, and his rough drawing style is off-putting.  [3]

1. THE STONE KEEPER - Kazu Kibuishi  [Graphix]
Emily, Navin, and their mother move into a mysterious old house built by an enigmatic inventor ancestor of theirs; the house is the doorway to another dimension.  A ghastly creature kidnaps their mother and the children set about rescuing her with the help of their great-grandfather's clockwork helpers and an amulet which appears to be sentient as well as magically powerful.  Great color drawings with endlessly inventive creatures and machines; fun characters and suspenseful plot.  [4]

A movie-ready re-imagining of Henry Pym's origin.  Unmarried to Janet, with Bill Foster at his side (sequel characters all ready to go!), he battles Egghead, who takes his powers and rides a wasp.  Pretty stupid all around, but probably the blueprint for a film.  [2.5]

AREA 10 - Christos Gage
Black-and-white horror noir about a troubled detective recovering from a brain injury who tries to track down a killer obsessed with the "second sight" granted with trepanning.   But the cop is having visions, and everyone wonders if it's all in his head --- or if he is the killer.  Nail-biting, dark, and suspenseful, with a couple of twists.  Plotted and drawn in a very cinematic fashion.  Read twice.  [4]

Very well done black humor; over-the-top but faithful characterizations of Bat-verse stars like Joker and Two-Face; several interesting new characters.  Sympathetic and competent good guys.  Several fun twists, but gets a bit out of hand at the end. Re-readable. [4.5]

Astonishing X-Men Vols. 1-4 - Joss Whedon
The only X-Men comic ever to be good.  [5]

Vol. 1: Spider-Man teams with Red Hulk, Hawkeye, and Captain America, in funny stand-alone stories that are more about character growth and friendship than punching.  Whether sacrificing everything for J. Jonah Jameson and teaching Red Hulk to let go of violence, or letting braggart Hawkeye take a win to keep his confidence up, this Spidey is a genuinely good person as well as a fast talking, self-effacing hero.  Good stuff.  [3.5]

Avengers - Brian Michael Bendis
1-5.  Standard superhero stuff.  In one volume, Wonder Man is cast as so against the idea of the Avengers that he leads a team against them, which is ridiculous.  [3]

AVENGERS A.I. - Sam Humphries
1. Human After All
2. 12, 000 AD
Two book, complete.  the new nano-tech Vision, Hank Pym, and a Doom Bot along with some others fight the new AI menace, a global army of AIs led by the urbane Dimitrios.  The ethics of AI are touched on with a fairly nuanced hand for a superhero book.  It's also exciting and funny; it has a Nextwave feel to it.  [4]

A dark look at what war does to people and whether you can come back from it, as exemplified by Captain America and Wolverine.  Adds a touch of thought to the usual super-heroics.  [4.5]

Awkward - Svetlana Chmakova [Yen Press]
Peppi, an artistic girl at a new school bumps into a quiet science nerd and, in a desperate fit of embarrassment, yells at him to get away from her.  Ashamed of herself, she is mortified when she finds that not only is her art club rivals with his science club, but that he is working with her and a tutor.  As she befriends the genuinely nice science nerd, the rivalry deepens and pranks get out of hand; Peppi is torn between allegiances.  An absolutely spot-on depiction of the various pressures put on a smart, shy new kid at school, told with an optimistic slant and with a truly sweet lesson at the end.  Brilliant.  Library.  [5]