Thursday, February 28, 2013

40. The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks


The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Introduction by Kurt Busiek (4/5)
(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)



Feb. 26, 2013, Dark Horse, 112 pgs
Ages: 14+

"What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores and have a weakness for kittens? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, female superhero, battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world.
* A lighthearted twist on the superhero genre!"


A bit of a slow start as the random comic strip format started but soon a running story picked up and it became a lot of fun.  Absolutely loved the ninjas!! This is a colourised printing of Hicks' webcomic which aired from 2010-2012.  Reminded me a bit of Scott Pilgrim but from a female 20yo pov and much, much better! I've read everything published by Hicks now and am a great fan of hers.  She has some webcomics available online which I will probably get around to reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

13. Alabaster: Wolves by Catilan R. Kiernan


Alabaster: Wolves by Catilan R. Kiernan. Art by Steve Lieber (US) - (Canada)


Pages: 136
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jan. 11, 2013
First Published: Feb. 26, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse
Genre: paranormal, fantasy, horror
Rating:  4/5

First sentence: "July, one day or the other nowhere in particular, South Carolina."

Publisher's Summary: "Dancy Flammarion may look like a frail teenage girl, but her journey through the swamps and byways of the American South brings her into battle with werewolves, monsters, and grotesque secrets, armed only with a knife and a mission to destroy the deadly creatures that lurk in shadow. "


Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Reason for Reading:  Dark Horse is one of my favourite publishers and looking through the new releases this one caught my eye.

The publisher's summary of this is quite simple making it out to be a general "monster hunter" story but it far exceeds that and I came away from it really having enjoyed it.  My only regret is that I was called away from it half way through and had to get into it again when I returned.  Its short length does make for a fantastic one sitting read.  The story is vague on explanations and leaves us intrigued throughout.  We are in some future earth that has suffered a cataclysmic event.  Dancy doesn't run into many other humans on her journey and while she meets various monsters the mainstay in her world are the werewolves which she has some "calling" to destroy.  Dancy is a little unusual herself, being an Albino, and at first accompanied by a Seraph, her mission is filled with Biblical imagery and quotations yet one wonders where she should be putting her trust when later she is joined by the ghost of a female werewolf she has slain.  She is also accompanied by a wise yet annoying talking blackbird.  A very unique, enjoyable story.  Quite violent, use of language is graphic but not overly superfluous.  The art matches the story well and very appreciative in itself.  There are many panels with few or no text bubbles that the eye lingers over taking in the details.  The dark, spooky scenes are especially well done.  The book ends with the impression that the story will continue on.

Friday, February 22, 2013

34/35. True Stories of the Revolutionary War & World War II


Graphic Library: Stories of War
2013, Capstone Press
Ages: 9+
Acquired: Received review copies from the publisher

Pages: 32
Interests: graphic novel, history, war

34. True Stories of the Revolutionary War by Elizabeth Raum. Illustrated by Pat Kinsella (3/5)
Graphic Library

"Step back in time and experience the Revolutionary War through the stories of the people who lived through it. Witness the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. Experience the horror of a sneak attack. Watch a mother risk her life by spying for the colonists. True Stories of the Revolutionary War doesn’t just tell you the tales of war. It drops you into the thick of combat."

Interesting but not overly exciting true stories of real, though not famous people who were at well-known battles or met famous personages in the line of duty.  Was pleased to see both a story from the British and Loyalist pov along with the usual patriotic tales.  Wonderful illustrations.  (US) - (Canada)


35. True Stories of World War II by Terry Collins. Illustrated by Pat Kinsella (3/5)
Graphic Library

"Step back in time and experience World War II through the stories of the people who lived through it. Witness the horror of a prison camp march. Experience the sinking of a U.S. warship. Watch a young French freedom fighter outsmart the Nazis. True Stories of World War II doesn’t just tell you the tales of war. It drops you into the thick of combat."

Again, true stories of real, though not famous people who participated in the war.  I found the stories a bit more interesting than the the Revolutionary War ones.  Overall a decent series with some unique stories of real people taken from their actual diaries and letters. (US) - (Canada)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

33. George Washington: The Rise of America's First President by Agnieszka Biskup


George Washington: The Rise of America's First President by Agnieszka Biskup. Illustrated by Christian Mallea (US) - (Canada)
American Graphic

Pages: 32
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 9, 2013
First Published: Aug. 1, 2012
Publisher: Capstone Press
Interests: graphic novel, biography, MG, war, american revolution
Rating:  3/5

First sentence: "On April 14, 1789, Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson arrived at Mount Vernon, my Virginia home."

Publisher's Summary: "George Washington had fought bravely during the Revolutionary War. The people saw him as a hero. They wanted to make him king. But Washington didn’t want that kind of power. Instead, he became the first president of the United States. Follow this war hero as he leads his troops into battle and shares their losses and success"


Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading:  Biographies and memoirs are one of my favourite graphic genres.

Pay particular attention to the subtitle of this book as it accuarately describes what this book is about.  Concentrating only on Washington's life as a soldier and how he came to be president the book is told in his own voice as he tells the story of when they came to tell him he had been elected president.  From then he reminisces about his involvement in the Revolutionary War, first of all being quite against it, hoping for a peaceful settlement since he had fought hard for the British in the previous war.  However he was soon disappointed in the King and appointed leader of revolution armies.  The book continues on to tell about battles he participated in, his war career in general and why he was respected and elected president even though he was reluctant to take on the role.  The book quickly ends with his retirement and death.  Honestly, I found the war details tedious and boring, but this is a topic I've read much about and am not especially interested in reading about Washington much anymore.  I was disappointed to see that Washington was not portrayed or even shown to be a slave owner.  There were several views of his home at Mt. Vernon and the abscence of his slaves on the property was conspicuously noticable.  Interesting book for what it attempts to do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

31. Louis Armstrong: Jazz Legend by Terry Collins


Louis Armstrong: Jazz Legend by Terry Collins. Illustrations by Richie Pope (US) - (Canada)
American Graphic

Pages: 32
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 8, 2013
First Published: Aug. 1, 2012
Publisher: Capstone Press
Interests: graphic novel, biography, MG, music performers
Rating:  4/5

First sentence: "... Louis' condition is serious, Mrs. Armstrong."

Publisher's Summary: "Louis Armstrong, also known as “Satchmo” and “Pops”, became an American jazz legend in the 1920s. His voice and skill with instruments helped him become a popular musician in a time where America was racially divided. Watch as this skilled musician learns to play, buys his first instrument, and becomes one of the best music makers of the era."


Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading:  Biographies and memoirs are one of my favourite graphic genres.

A brief but rich look at the life of Louis Armstrong, mostly referred to as "Satchmo" throughout.  Told from his own point of view as he tells his story from his hospital bed in the 1970s, Armstrong lived through a tumultuous era in America, especially for a black man.  He had a tough life as a child spending a portion of his childhood in a home for black waifs and working to help support his mother.  Though there are some references to the racial and political problems Louis experienced the book focuses mostly on his music and his career on stage and screen.  He is presented as a happy man with a positive outlook and attitude.  By the end of the book I was humming "It's a Wonderful World" and was pleased to have learned a bit about this man whom I had previously known nothing but his music.

Monday, February 18, 2013

29/30. A Tour of Your Circulatory/Digestive System by Karen Ballen & Molly Kolpin


First Graphics: Body Systems
2013, Capstone Press
Ages: 5+
Acquired: Received review copies from the publisher

Pages: 24
Finished: Feb.7, 2013
Interests: graphic novel, easy reader, children, science


A Tour of Your Circulatory System by Karen Ballen. Illustrated by Chris B. Jones (US) - (Canada)

First sentence: "Do you know how blood moves around your body?"

Publisher's Summary: "In graphic novel format, follow Ruby the red blood cell as she travels through and explains the workings of the human circulatory system."

Capstone always makes science fun!  By adding a cute guide, Ruby the red blood cell, to a factual book about blood, the heart and the entire circulatory system kids have fun learning about the body.  As usual this "First Graphics" is simple in design with usually 4 panels, 1 word bubble and 4 text blocks per two page spread.  A great introduction to the graphic format and the topic at the same time.  Rating:  4/5



A Tour of Your Digestive System by Molly Kolpin. Illustrated by Chris B. Jones. (US) - (Canada)


First sentence: "You're just in time for a wild ride inside the human body."

Publisher's Summary: "In graphic novel format, follow Peter Pea as he travels through and explains the workings of the human digestive system."

Capstone always makes science fun!  By adding a cute guide, Peter Pea, to a factual book about digestion and elimination kids have fun learning about the digestive system.  Of course, this topic always appeals to kids with its "toilet" theme and the author has done a very tasteful approach without resorting to "toilet humour" but will still garner some giggles.  As usual this "First Graphics" is simple in design with usually 4 panels, 1 word bubble and 4 text blocks per two page spread.  A great introduction to the graphic format and the topic at the same time.  Rating:  5/5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

28. Justice League, Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey by Geoff Johns

The Villain's Journey by Geoff Johns. Art by Jim Lee (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Justice League, Volume 2


Pages: 160
Ages: 13+
Finished: Feb. 5, 2013
First Published: Feb. 5, 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: YA, graphic novel, superheroes
Rating: 5/5


First Sentence: Present Day. Baltimore. Maryland. "Sttttay. "Awayyy! "Stayawayyy!!"


Publisher's Summary: "Now that the team’s origin story is complete, we shift to the present-day Justice League! What has changed? Who has joined the team since? And why does Green Arrow want to join those ranks so badly?
• Plus, someone is out to get the Justice League, and he is determined to show the world how mortal these godlike beings really are!
• Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #7-12."


Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss.  But have since bought my own print copy.

Reason for Reading:  Next in the series.

I'm hooked on this series!  Thrilling storyline with plenty of character development getting readers up to speed on characters they may not know much about.  There are lots of small flashbacks (sometimes just a frame) worked in throughout the book reminding us (or telling new readers) that Batman's parents were gunned down in front of him as a child and so on with the other heroes.  This volume has two story arcs running back to back while both running under the main storyline of an evil force who wants to bring the JL down to size in the eyes of humanity.  The first story arc has Green Arrow hot to trot and anxious to be a member of the team.  With no welcome in sight he follows them around showing off his stuff but as to paraphrase Lantern.  "We already got a guy with no superpowers and I'm the green one, change it to Blue Arrow and we might talk about it!"  GL's tiny humorous nips at Batman's lack of any real superpowers continue as do everyone else's at each other.  These are not a group of people who particularly like each other, though we do find out who has been seeing or helping who behind the other's backs.  And this is the focus of the  second story arc.  The group's infighting, petty jealousies, major attitudes towards each other coupled with the personal human or relationship side of their lives leaves them vulnerable to the one who is trying to bring them down.

This is the only New 52 series, I am currently reading.  However I am wanting to spread out from here.  This volume references several: starting off immediately with complaints to have Justice League International disbanded even though Batman had joined in with them. Flashes are shown of various superheroes fighting "the owls" which refers to the New 52 Batman series.  I also noticed a reference to Aquaman being the leader of "The Others" which refers to  Aquaman Vol. 2.  Also the end of this volume advertises the forthcoming of "Justice League of America" which is very exciting!  I'm sure I may have missed others.  I'm going to take note of this though to help guide my reading.  At this time I'm going to pick up the Batman (my fav. of the biggies) and the JLI trades (there are only 2, it was cancelled after 12 issues) for more immersion in the new DC Universe.  And I eagerly await the JL of A volume!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

.343. Bad Medicine, Vol.1: New Moon by Nunzio Defilippis


Bad Medicine, Vol.1: New Moon by Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir. Art by Christopher Mitten  (US) - (Canada)
Bad Medicine (1)

Pages: 120
Ages: 16+
Finished: Dec. 25, 2012
First Published: Feb. 12, 2013
Publisher: Oni Press
Genre: graphic novel, crime, paranormal
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Tell me again ... why this is necessary?"

Publisher's Summary: "Pulled out of exile from a dark corner of the world, renowned-surgeon-turned-fringe-medicine-
eccentric Doctor Randal Horne must return to New York City to investigate a
tragic research lab accident that’s left one man dead, and inexplicably headless. Now with
the help of a distrusting NYPD detective and a team of doctors from the CDC, Horne must diagnose this and other seemingly unexplainable medical phenomenon in a world where the line between medical science and science fiction is blurry at best."


Acquired: Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley

Reason for Reading: I'm always on the look-out for graphic novels that fall into the crime genre!

So, this is a fun new series that I was quite pleased with.  Right from the beginning I got an X-Files vibe, which is a good thing in my book.  But there are plenty of differences that it's not just a pastiche.  Neither the man nor woman are skeptics, though the female cop starts off reluctantly.  I love that the set up is based out of the CDC (Center for Disease Control).  This fits so perfectly when investigating paranormal crimes/creatures that I'm surprised I've never come across it before. It brought back memories of a short lived TV Show a while back that I enjoyed and thought got cancelled way too soon.  This volume contains two stories, the first involves an invisble perpetrator and the second, the ever popular werewolf.  The stories aren't deep or particularly involved but they were fun and beyond run-of-the-mill, having unique qualities.  While the cases are individual stories, there are running threads with the characters and also a story arc that is being introduced to keep the whole thing cohesive.  I would certainly read more of this series in the future.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

25. Thieves & Kings, Volume Two by Mark Oakley


Thieves & Kings: The Green Book by Mark Oakley (US) - (Canada)
Thieves & Kings, Vol. 2

Pages: 210
Ages: 12+
Finished: Feb. 01, 2013
First Published: 1997
Publisher: I Box
Interests: graphic novel, fantasy, MG, YA, Canadian Author
Rating:  5/5

First sentences: "Rubel stood at the lip of the drawbridge in a state of trepidation; the proper state for a thief to be in under such conditions as these."

Publisher's Summary: "The second volume of Thieves & Kings collects ten issues of the original comic book series, detailing the story of the young thief, Rubel and the Shadow Lady who seeks to capture his soul.  Introduced also in this volume is the wizard, Quinton and his young apprentice, Heath Wingwhit.  Between these four, demon traps are built, poisonings endured and dragon dreams journeyed, while mad princes and monsters of every ilk challenge the way for all.

Also included in this volume are the Madman of Millbrook strips not reprinted since issue #2"


Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my niece.

Reason for Reading:  I'm visiting family in Edmonton and I asked my 14yo niece if she had any graphic novels I hadn't read and she pulled out the first three books in this series. This is the next in the series; unfortunately I won't have time to read the third book before I go home :-(

I love this graphic novel series!  Even better than the first volume!  The fantasy/quest becomes much more involved as two very important characters are introduced, the wizard Quinton who has been mentioned in the first volume but is missing, and his apprentice the young girl Heath Wingwhit.  Rubel's story and Quinton & Heath's are separated by 1,000 years introducing a time paradox element to the tale.  One character common to both stories is the Shadow Lady and much information is slowly revealed leaving the reader curious, confused and scrambling to piece the mysteries together.  I had started to form an idea as to who someones true identity might be but was proven wrong towards the end of this volume when a particularly splendid reveal caused the story to become even more engaging.  The new character's are funny, Quinton is a boy but someone who is thousand's of years old and is the quintessential bumbling and mumbling albeit incredibly intelligent wizard.  Heath is a girl with no fears and a take no prisoners attitude who is loyal to her mentor, even when everyone else is positive he is off his rocker.  Great dynamics between these two make for fun reading.  I still think the story is suitable for middle grade and up, though unfortunately the word "d*mn" has been added to the vocabulary and overused without any need except to perhaps make the story appear more grown up to older readers.  I'd label the story for YA but suitable for older and younger.  I can't wait to continue on with this series and hope once I get home my library will be able to supply the remaining five volumes for me.


Friday, February 8, 2013

24. Transformers, Regeneration One: Volume One by Simon Furman


Transformers, Regeneration One: Volume One by Simon Furman. Art by Andrew Wildman. (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Transformers, Regeneration One: Volume One

Pages: 132
Ages: 12+
Finished: Jan. 29, 2013
First Published: Feb. 5, 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Interests: graphic novel, science fiction, YA, robots
Rating:  3/5

First sentences: "I am ... Death!"

Publisher's Summary: "The TRANSFORMERS comic that began it all—is back. With a vengeance! 21 years have passed since CYBERTRON was restored to its former glory, and finally there is peace. But, after millions of years of bitter civil war, can all ever truly be one?"


Acquired: Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

Reason for Reading:  I used to love the Transformers comics and cartoon plus I loved the first movie.

I was never a serious reader of comic books so not hooked on storylines but did pick up various issues here and there and loved reading them.  This volume is a continuation of the original series which ended in 1991, I believe.  It is 21 years later and the story picks up where it left off with what has been going on in the meantime and what the crisis is now.  Loose ends from issue 80 are tied up and the first issue here is numbered 81.  It helps if you have read the old comics as many references are made to past events with asterisks referring you to specific issues anywhere from 1-80, though mostly #'s 75-80.  As a "guy on the street" fan of the Transformers I loved the story, and while not all that familiar with the history knew enough of Transformer lore to understand what was going on.  Fans will be thrilled with the return of many familiar faces from the past and of course, we are not disappointed with the ultimate Optimus Prime vs Megatron battle at the end and the writer's don't go easy on our hearts either with a couple of deaths which seem to come far too soon in a story just started.  Seems like a series that will be great fun for fans old and new.  Quite appropriate for all ages as well who can handle the robot violence.  Fun.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

23. Thieves & Kings: Volume One by Mark Oakley


Thieves & Kings: The Red Book by Mark Oakley (US) - (Canada)
Thieves & Kings, Vol. 1

Pages: 154
Ages: 12+
Finished: Jan. 27, 2013
First Published: 1996 (this edition 2005)
Publisher: I Box
Interests: graphic novel, fantasy, MG, YA, Canadian Author
Rating:  5/5

First sentences: "There once was a king who was neither a very good king nor a very bad king, indeed, he was not very much of anything."

Publisher's Summary: "The first 6 issues of Thieves & Kings. . .
Volume one of Thieves & Kings collects the first six issues of the original comic book series under one cover, introducing the story of the young thief, Rubel.  Making his way amidst the powerful events changing his world, soldiers and pirates, kings and magic, and a Shadow Lady of the Sleeping Wood fill his life with gambles and adventure.

Does the beautiful princess Katara to whom he has pledged his life really live under a bridge in the darkest corner of the Wood?  Find out in the first volume of Thieves & Kings!"


Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my niece.

Reason for Reading:  I'm visiting family in Edmonton and I asked my 14yo niece if she had any graphic novels I hadn't read and she pulled out the first three books in this series which I eagerly accepted after giving them the once over.

I have never heard of this series or author before and feel like I've discovered a hidden gem.  Canadian cartoonist Mark Oakley has been independently publishing this delightful series since 1996 and I'm surprised it hasn't become one of those cult hits.  It is simply splendid!  Unique in format this book is what I believe is being called a "hybrid" (a combination of text and sequential art).  The book is text heavy, especially at the beginning with long graphic sequences interspersed between these sections.  The graphic sections become more frequent as the novel progresses but it is still about a 50/50 presentation.

Very much the beginning of a tale the reader can tell we've only just hit the surface of an epic tale, a quest, a journey.  Standard fare of two siblings both claiming to be the rightful heir of the throne. However, here we only get the background story and this volume is very much the story of Rubel, the thief, who meets Princess Katara in the woods and becomes bonded to her as the Princess' Thief.  It has been some years now and he is on his way to her to be of service; along this journey he is hunted by soldiers, captured and fights with pirates, gains an imp for a companion and is constantly followed and threatened by the Shadow Lady of the Sleeping Wood, the woods where once upon a time Rubel was born.  An exciting tale full of derring-do.  Rubel is a fun character with a sense of humour and adventure, ready to take on any challenge yet victim to human foibles such as fear, though he is very brave.  At the end of the book we are treated to an extra of a short story published in an anthology which stars the princess giving us a delightful taste of her feisty personality while telling what happened to her after the fateful meeting with Rubel.  I can't wait to read the next book!