<< prior recommendations

Recommendations for Friday, May 23, 2014

Bandette Volume One: Presto! by Colleen Coover, Paul Tobin

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhumormysterysuperhero

Unshelved strip for 5/23/2014

@bookblrb: The world’s most talented, carefree thief steals from bad guys and occasionally helps the police.

Trial By Fire: (Smash Book One) by Chris A. Bolton, Kyle Bolton

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged coming of agegraphic novelsuperhero

When The Magus tries to steal Defender’s superpowers, an explosion vaporizes the popular hero. Ten-year-old Andrew, on the run from school bullies, is hit by the resulting blast. As he tries to get away, he discovers that he’s stronger, faster, and that he can fly.

It’s not long before Andrew is trying to fight crime in his homemade Halloween costume, getting advice from an experienced hero, and facing down The Magus, who wants his powers.

Why I picked it up: Great cover. It’s colorful, the title is glossy, and it has a matte finish that makes it feel good in my hands.

Why I finished it: Andrew’s first flight doesn’t go well because he doesn't have much control. He’s also not quite sure how to land. He takes out two trucks in the process and then barfs on a window. It’s gross and funny. But the Boltons aren’t just out for gross. They follow that scene up with an emotional moment in which Andrew finds out his favorite hero is dead.

Readalikes: Mike Kunkel’s magical run on Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, about a kid who turns into an adult with superpowers when he utters a magic word. Babymouse: Our Hero in which a non-superpowered mouse with a heroic (and pink) imagination faces her nemesis, Felicia Furrypaws, on the dodgeball court.

@bookblrb: 10-year-old Andrew gets Defender’s powers and then has to face his archenemy, The Magus.

Death Sentence by Monty Nero, illustrated by Mike Dowling

SEX, SUPERPOWERS AND SIX MONTHS TO LIVE!

Verity: frustrated artist. Weasel: struggling guitarist. Monty: rogue media icon. Three people infected with the G+ virus, which grants them incredible powers - but which will kill them in six months!

Will they fade away - or go out in a blaze of glory? From the streets of London to the North Atlantic, from muses lost to futures thrown away - Death Sentence is the jaw-dropping next step in superpowered storytelling!

Funny, fearless and frightening, this collection of the hit series is an unforgettable comics debut.

Sponsored - Learn more about this book - How to sponsor Unshelved

Gods: (Powers Volume 14) by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming

Link to this review by dawnrutherford tagged graphic novelmysterysuperhero

With superheroes dying left and right, the police are barely able to make a dent in the number of super-powered crimes. Now some mega-powers, seen as gods by some, are being killed off.

Why I picked it up: I've long been a fan of Bendis -- nobody handles cops, superheroes, and dialog quite like him. Only my favorite TV series, The Wire, even comes close.

Why I finished it: Tension is everywhere: between local cops and federal agents, legal superheroes and rogue powers, mortal heroes and beings so powerful the rules don't seem to even come near them. Plus Oeming's art is first rate noir; it’s dark and shadowy with epic action that highlights bursts of super-powered energies.

It's perfect for: Bill, who would appreciate how the Powers series uses superheroes as a metaphor to explore the social dynamics, abuse, and violence in a society where individuals have radically different levels of power. This volume takes that exploration to extremes, then resolves it with a very satisfying, heroic sacrifice.

@bookblrb: Police who investigate crimes involving super powers try to figure out who is killing “gods.”

Tableau Numéro 20 by est em

Link to this review by snow tagged eroticagraphic novel

Manga creator est em offers five stories about the lives and loves of men, from an art restorer who discovers a lost painting and is surprised when its subject -- a beautiful, naked young man -- comes to life, to a pair of childhood friends who reconnect on a merry-go-round (one of them is hiding a lifelong crush).

Publisher's Rating: M/Mature

Why I picked it up: I adore est em's particular brand of moody, artsy boys' love (aka "yaoi") manga, but her previous three English-language releases are long out of print. I was so excited when my copy of Tableau Numéro 20 arrived that I squealed, scaring our new puppy.

Why I finished it: em's art has always been amazing. There is one very subtle sex scene, but overall em's talents lie in drawing gripping emotions rather than smut. It's when her characters are at their most vulnerable that her art sings, or in many cases, dances. My favorite story in this collection is one I'd seen in Japanese, "Rasgueado." It is a simple one about a flamenco dancer, Jesús, who becomes obsessed with the older guitar player who attempts to save him from a mindless life of selling his body to customers. There’s a marvelous two-page spread in the story where Jesús whirls to the frantic pace of the guitar, his dance shown in vertical panels that slash down the page. Flying sweat and hair show the speed of the dance, and em only uses a small amount of motion lines, just enough to blur Jesús's legs and the fingers of the guitar player. The scene is as emotionally charged -- and athletic -- as any love scene.

It's perfect for: Scott, who has several female friends who read boys' love comics. I think that he will appreciate em's deep respect for the lives of gay men, which comes through in stories like "En El Parque," where a young man befriends an elderly gentleman waiting on a park bench for the lover he lost years before.

@bookblrb: Erotic, romantic stories about the lives and loves of five gay men.

The Great American Documents: Volume 1: 1620 – 1830 by Ruth Ashby, illustrated by Ernie Colón

In the Great American Documents series, the teacher and graphic-book author Ruth Ashby and the renowned illustrator Ernie Colón tell the story of the United States through the major speeches, laws, proclamations, court decisions, and essays that shaped it.

The Great American Documents: Volume 1 introduces as series narrator none other than Uncle Sam, who walks us through twenty essential documents. Each document gets a chapter, in which Uncle Sam explains its key passages, its origins, how it came to be written, and its impact. This graphic primer is an indispensable resource for students and anyone else who wants the facts of American history close at hand.

“Using notable treatises, pamphlets, laws, proclamations, and other documents, [The Great American Documents]—which begins with the Mayflower Compact and ends with the Monroe Doctrine and the Indian Removal Act—weaves together nearly two dozen vignettes with clarity and synthesis. Most remarkably, it covers the culture and context of each time period with a balanced truthfulness . . . For those who aren’t just curious about history but who really want to understand it, this is an exemplary volume.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Sponsored - Learn more about this book - How to sponsor Unshelved

Leaving Home: (Persia Blues Volume 1) by Dara Naraghi, Brent Bowman

Link to this review by wally tagged coming of agegraphic novel

Minoo lives two lives: one as the free-spirited daughter of a professor in modern Iran, and one as a warrior in ancient Persia.  The story of her ancient quest to find her mother intertwines with her struggle to live freely in the modern world.

Why I picked it up: Gene offered me this graphic novel knowing I like to read books set in foreign lands. And how often do you encounter Zoroastrian gods in any work of fiction?

Why I finished it: While it was clear the two Minoos were the same woman, I kept wondering how the two stories related. Is the ancient Persian part a fantasy? A role-playing game? Or is it reality, as one of the Zoroastrian gods tells Minoo?

This first volume nicely sets up a sequel that I’ll be sure to read.

It's perfect for: Fans of Marjane Satrapi’s groundbreaking graphic novel, Persepolis, who would like to read more about both modern Iran and ancient Persia. The art of the modern narratives reminded me of Satrapi’s simple, black and white drawings though it’s more realistic, while the ancient story features softer pencil and ink washes.

@bookblrb: Minoo is the free-spirited daughter of a professor in modern Iran, and she also lives as a warrior in ancient Persia.

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biographygraphic novelhistory

Ernest Shackleton was sent home from Robert Scott’s polar expedition for health reasons. This failure ate at his ego, as did the fact that two groups made it to the South Pole before him. The only major exploration feat left to accomplish was making the first crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea via the South Pole. Shackleton raised money to mount his own expedition. Finally, the day came when his ship, the Endurance, was ready. Hardship began almost immediately on their arrival in Antarctica; they became stuck in the polar ice several miles short of their landing spot. Because the ice would only get thicker, they wintered onboard the ship. Ice does not stay still, it slips and moves, groaning as it does so. The men were used to hearing the boat creak and pop; the shifting ice was crushing the boat’s wooden panels. For months hey took turns bailing water that leaked in. Finally pressure from the ice became overwhelming, and Shackleton ordered everyone to abandon ship. The men quickly removed all of the supplies onto the ice, and there they watched as the the ship was crushed and sank. They then struck out into hostile weather, dragging their lifeboats and supplies across the shifting ice that moved with the current.

Shackleton never traversed the South Pole, but his victory was bringing every one of his twenty-eight men back alive.

Why I picked it up: I thought there was a better chance of having students at my middle school read this amazing story as a graphic novel than as nonfiction prose, though many, including Endurance, are excellent. Plus I’m a fan of Bertozzi’s previous books Lewis and Clark and Jerusalem.

Why I finished it: The men of Shackleton’s team stayed together during the Arctic winter through great hardships. After supplies ran out they survived on a diet of penguins, leopard seals, and their own shoe leather. From the sinking of their ship to their eventual rescue, it was nine months of hell. The expedition's doctor even performed major operations like cutting off a team members’ blackened, frostbitten toes in a “tent” made of ice.

The artwork captures important details, like the set of Shackleton's jaw when facing difficulty, and the anguish of the men taking a beloved dog behind a snowy hill to shoot it so that they have a meal.

It's perfect for: My friend Pen, a dedicated outdoorsman and multiple summiteer of Mt. Rainier.  He would feel a kinship with Shackleton, who was driven to test himself in difficult circumstances. He cared so much for his men that he gave his mittens to the expedition’s photographer, who had lost his, at the cost of frostbite. Pen likes telling me about his cheerful weekend on Mt. Rainier in an igloo he carved with only his front teeth. (I may be exaggerating a little bit, but his stories never sound enjoyable to me.) 

@bookblrb: The story of explorer Ernest Shackleton and his failed, heroic attempt to cross Antarctica.

Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer

When three daunting dolls intersect with one hapless heroine and a hard-boiled private eye, deception, betrayal, and murder stalk every mean street in…Kill My Mother.

Adding to a legendary career that includes a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, Obie Awards, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Cartoonist Society and the Writers Guild of America, Jules Feiffer now presents his first noir graphic novel. Kill My Mother is a loving homage to the pulp-inspired films and comic strips of his youth. Channeling Eisner's The Spirit, along with the likes of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, John Huston, and Billy Wilder, and spiced with the deft humor for which Feiffer is renowned, Kill My Mother centers on five formidable women from two unrelated families, linked fatefully and fatally by a has-been, hard-drinking private detective.

As our story begins, we meet Annie Hannigan, an out-of-control teenager, jitterbugging in the 1930s. Annie dreams of offing her mother, Elsie, whom she blames for abandoning her for a job soon after her husband, a cop, is shot and killed. Now, employed by her husband’s best friend—an over-the-hill and perpetually soused private eye—Elsie finds herself covering up his missteps as she is drawn into a case of a mysterious client, who leads her into a decade-long drama of deception and dual identities sprawling from the Depression era to World War II Hollywood and the jungles of the South Pacific.

Along with three femme fatales, an obsessed daughter, and a loner heroine, Kill My Mother features a fighter turned tap dancer, a small-time thug who dreams of being a hit man, a name-dropping cab driver, a communist liquor store owner, and a hunky movie star with a mind-boggling secret. Culminating in a U.S.O. tour on a war-torn Pacific island, this disparate band of old enemies congregate to settle scores.

In a drawing style derived from Steve Canyon and The Spirit, Feiffer combines his long-honed skills as cartoonist, playwright, and screenwriter to draw us into this seductively menacing world where streets are black with soot and rain, and base motives and betrayal are served on the rocks in bars unsafe to enter. Bluesy, fast-moving, and funny, Kill My Mother is a trip to Hammett-Chandler-Cain Land: a noir-graphic novel like the movies they don’t make anymore.

Jules Feiffer will be signing at BEA on Thursday at 2:30pm in booth 1921.

Sponsored - Learn more about this book - How to sponsor Unshelved

Into the White: (Edison Rex Volume 1) by Chris Roberson, Dennis Culver

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelsuperhero

Edison Rex, the world’s smartest man, dreamed of changing things for the better. Then the superhero Valiant made a fool of him, and Edison became a villain.

After years of conflict, Valiant is dead. Now Edison has to do what no one else can: protect the Earth.

Why I picked it up: The slick, well-colored superheroes on the cover reminded me of Invincible and Super Dinosaur.

Why I finished it: Origins are implied, superpowers are never fully explained, and the story is the better for it. Plus it’s a book filled with colorful characters; my favorite is the green, sword-wielding M’Alizz who is constantly urging Edison to give up saving the world and conquer it.

It's perfect for: Jim, who always preferred DC’s Earth 3 to Earth 2 or Earth 1 and would enjoy that Edison Rex has to save his world from alternate-reality versions of himself, including a platypus.

@bookblrb: The world’s smartest man finally kills Earth’s greatest hero, then has to protect the planet himself.

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged biographygraphic novel

The astonishing life of Margaret Sanger, who repeatedly put her freedom and reputation on the line to win the right for women in the U.S. to use (or just talk about!) birth control by publishing, speaking out, starting clinics, and often landing in jail.

Why I picked it up: I saw it recommended for grades ten and up on the 2014 Amelia Bloomer project list and my mind boggled at the combination of Sanger, an always-controversial historical woman, and Bagge, a legend of northwest comics and cornerstone of slacker lit! How could it possibly work?

Why I finished it: It is full of great stuff like digging up her dead brother so her dad could make a cast of his face for his grieving mother, pouring sewage into a hallway so that her jailers would consent to flushing the overflowing toilet, an affair with the utterly smitten H.G. Wells, Gandhi telling her he knew better than they did what Indian women needed, and postal censor Anthony Comstock calling her a little bitch!

I do not in any way think this is a book for the younger set, since Sanger's life needed to be told in jump-cuts and quick anecdotes to fit it all into a mere seventy-two pages -- you need to know plenty of historical context or be willing to read up to get all the juice out of this. Bagge's historical notes are excellent and pointed me toward lots more I want to read.

It's perfect for: Darcy, just for the shocked look on her face when I told her about Sanger's meeting with legendary sexologist Havelock Ellis. He had an open marriage -- his wife was a lesbian with her own lovers, while he preferred to get his jollies by watching women urinate in front of him, which Sanger eagerly did.

@bookblrb: Margaret Sanger put her freedom on the line so that women in the U.S. could get access to birth control.

Comic Adventures of Boots by Satoshi Kitamura

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelpicture book

A cat named Boots tricks other cats into getting off the wall so that he can take a sunny nap, takes swimming and flying lessons from a bird, and then plays charades with his friends.

Why I picked it up: The goofy-looking, slightly cross-eyed orange cat on the cover.

Why I finished it: The cute, one-page gags between the stories implied that Boots had the ability to bring to life (or to the real world) whatever he draws: fish, snakes, and even other cats. I kept waiting for this to play into the short stories. (It didn’t, though the images of Boots drawing other cats explains where the myriad of them came from.)

Readalikes: Chi’s Sweet Home, about the world’s most adorable kitten, though it doesn’t talk like Boots and his friends. And Lewis Trondheim’s Monster series, books where drawings come to life with hilarious results.

@bookblrb: A goofy-looking orange cat naps, takes swimming lessons, and plays charades.

latter recommendations >>