Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last 2013 Posts: X-Files & Evil Ernie

433.  X-Files Season 10 Volume 1 by Joe Harris. Art by Michael Walsh
X-Files: Season 10, Vol. 1

Rating: (5/5)

Dec. 31 2013, IDW Publishing, 140 pgs

Age: (16+)

"For years they investigated the paranormal, pursued the "monsters of the week," and sought the truth behind extraterrestrial activity, along with the grand conspiracy surrounding it rooted deep within their own government. But when Agents Mulder and Scully reunite for a new, ongoing series that ushers The X-Files into a new era of technological paranoia, multinational concerns, and otherworldly threats, it'll take more than a desire "to believe" to make it out alive."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

This is absolutely fantastic!  As a major X-Files fan (fantastic!) I adored this beginning of Season 10.  The tv show ran for 9 seasons ending in 2002 and chronologically this first volume of season 10 takes place 10 years later picking up with a plausible storyline.  I'm not going to give any details but everything comes together to continue the main plot of the series with the aliens and conspiracy themes.  Great joy also as so many familiar faces return to the pages and people who were supposedly "dead" are back in action.  I can't hold my tongue on one as it is so exciting.  SPOlLER ALERT.  We are presented with return of duh duh duh .... The Lone Gunmen. Yipee.  Love, love, loved this book.


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435.  Evil Ernie Volume 1: Origin of Evil by Jesse Snider. Art by Jason Craig.

Rating: (4/5)

Dec. 31 2013, Dynamite Entertainment, 156 pgs

Age: (18+)

"Ernest Fairchild was a kind, gentle soul... until one day something snapped, leading him to launch the most notorious killing spree in American history! What led an ordinary boy to become a leather-clad angel of death? How does he wield such blasphemous power? And what is the sinister secret behind the foul-mouthed, smiley-face button that incites him to kill? The founding fiend of Chaos Comics is back, reinvented for a new generation! Collects Dynamite Entertainment's complete six-issue comic book storyline!"

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I hadn't heard of Evil Ernie before so can't compare to the original character but was giddily looking forward to this as Dynamite has become one of my favourite publishers and Snider is the author of my absolute treasured Toy Story graphic novels.  This did not disappoint me.  It is a fun, violent romp of murder and demon possession.  Evil Ernie is a bad guy, really bad, who is kind of trying to do the right thing, as he sees it anyway and we don't feel all that bad for him, at times, as there is a character worse than him, the one he's trying to kill.  But then Ernie is a mass murder, who has sold his soul to the devil, is swayed by the demon possessed smiley face button he wears and Ernie is way beyond redemption, so feeling sorry for him doesn't last too long.  This is a good, entertaining horror story and Craig brings it to life with his awesome, gory artwork

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Renaud Dillies: Abelard and Bubbles & Gondola

428. Abelard by Renaud Dillies

Rating: (4/5)

Oct. 25 2012, NBM Publishing, 128 pgs

Age: (18+)

"To lure pretty Epily, Abelard sees only one solution: to catch the moon for her! So off he goes to America, the country which invented flying machines. Armed with his banjo and his proverb-sharing hat, he launches out on the country roads, meets Gypsies, then Gaston, a grumpy bear with whom he will share a good bit of his way… As opposed to dreamer Abelard, Gaston has his feet firmly planted on the ground. "

Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library loan.

This is a philosophical tale and like "Betty Blues", though anthropomorphic, NOT for children.  Abilard has never left his marsh in his entire life but he becomes smitten with a visiting tourist and the ever optimist Abilard leaves to acquire a bouquet of stars in hopes of capturing her attention.  With his banjo in hand he sets out and meets up with a pessimistic bear.  The unlikely duo become reluctant (on the bear's part) traveling companions and what follows is a bittersweet journey of opposites; naivete vs worldliness, faith vs denial and what happens when reality hits both types of personalities.  Finally it is a sad, but touching story of life and death, and life after death both for the dead and the living.  Touching and bittersweet.  Lovely, emotional art!  I must now read Dillies first book translated into English.  His work is brilliant.


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432.  Bubbles & Gondola by Renaud Dillies.

Rating: (3/5)

Oct. 2011, NBM Publishing, 80 pgs

Age: (13+)

"On a background of Django Reinhardt, this jewel of poetic fantasy is a fairy tale for all ages with spot on observations about life. Charlie is a mouse who’s trying to write but has a block. Writing is a solitary endeavor. A bird named Solitude comes to visit him to keep him company. We’re never sure he actually exists but in Charlie’s mind, yet he brings him out into the world, dares him to experience the unknown, unblocking his little existence… A drama about the blank page for Charlie who so wants to make the world more beautiful with his writing, we are transported into a tender and moving tale with a twinge of lyrical melancholy yet sweet, warm and ultimately elevating."

Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library loan.

Once again Dillies art is so adorably cute but again the story is not for children.  This is a very deep philosophical story about writer's block and not particular to my tastes as much as his other two I've read to date.  I must say I preferred the art in this one though!  Birds played the major role in the others, but he does such a cute, expressive mouse in this one that I just loved Charlie.  The title is quite obscure and takes some thinking to grasp the meaning of, while perhaps thinking it could have had a better title.  The book examines self-imposed solitude which becomes personified in a small, possibly imaginary, bird called "Mister Solitude".  Charlie struggles with his writer's block, his solitude vs loneliness and learns that one can only write what one has experienced through the experience and participation in life.  Good, but Betty Blues is my favourite, followed by Abelard.

Friday, December 27, 2013

DC's Death of the Family: Teen Titans & Nightwing

424. Teen Titans (New 52) Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Scott Lobdell. Illustrated by Brett Booth.
Batman: Death of the Family
The New 52: Teen Titans

Rating: (3/5)

Dec. 24 2013, DC Comics, 160 pgs

Age: (16+)

"The team is finally reunited in the wake of “DEATH OF THE FAMILY,” but something is very wrong with Red Robin! What did The Joker do? As Red Robin’s condition worsens, he and the team must face an even greater threat when the new Dr. Light is sent for Solstice! Learn more in these stories from TEEN TITANS #0, 15-17, BATMAN #17 and RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #16!"

Received an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss.

May contain spoilers.  I've been reading all the "Death of the Family" trades to check out how DC pulls off a large crossover story like this.  At this point I've read them all except the Nightwing trade.  I've never been a fan of the Teen Titans except for the animated cartoon, so was not too excited about this volume.  They have appeared in other volumes of this crossover, most heavily, the Red Hood Vol. 3 and they didn't endear themselves to me.  Pretty much all the middle part consisted of issues that had been published at least in part somewhere else in this crossover, so I was basically re-reading material but I admit it was enjoyable to see it in this particular order as it mostly concerned the Joker storyline.  The beginning issue I really enjoyed as it did a back story on Red Robin, which I'm not familiar with.  The last issue brings the TTs back together after the Death crossover and starts their own story back up again and while nothing has happened to make me the least bit interested in any of the Titans, I have begun to quite like Red Robin himself.  The book ends on an exciting cliffhanger moment which provides an extremely intriguing plot that I'm tempted to read Volume 4 just to see what happens next.  I do think this volume might be a bit confusing for fans who are only reading Teen Titans as the Joker stuff probably won't make too much sense without having followed at least another of the Batman series.


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439.  Nightwing: Death of the Family by Kyle Higgins.
Batman: Death of the Family
The New 52: Nightwing

Rating: (5/5)
Dec. 10 2013, DC Comics, 176 pgs
Ages: (16+)

"In this title collecting NIGHTWING #13-18 and BATMAN #17, The Joker returns to Gotham City, and he’s more dangerous than ever! The Joker sets his twisted sights on the members of the Bat-Family and hits them where it hurts—and for Dick Grayson, that means going after the family he’s built up for the past year at Haly’s Circus!."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss and then purchased my own new copy from an online retailer.

Loved, loved, loved it!  OK, I was fed-up with yet another issue of Batman #17 to start off with but then everything was fabulous.  A lot of Joker story went on and most of it was new to me even though I've read the big Joker volume.  Great action scenes with Lady Shiva and a plot with her develops.  Nice bit of relationship romance starting to go on for Dick and then fabulous intimate moments with Damian at the end.  But that's not all the book ends with a cliffhanger introducing us to a new old villain.  Can't wait for volume 4!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

421. The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks

The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks. Art by Faith Erin Hicks

Rating: (4/5)

Nov. 12 2013, Dark Horse, 112 pgs

Age: (16+)

"Nineteen years ago, a parasitic fungal outbreak killed the majority of the world’s population, forcing survivors into a handful of quarantine zones. Thirteen-year-old Ellie has grown up in this violent, postpandemic world, and her disrespect for the military authority running her boarding school earns her new enemies, a new friend in fellow rebel Riley, and her first trip into the outside world.

* The official lead-in to the game from Faith Erin Hicks (The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann!"

Received an e-galley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I really enjoyed this story that manages to be unique and interesting while following a common theme:  post-apocalyptic earth where a virus has infected the majority of the population turning them into some kind of crazed zombie-like people who chase after and eat non-infecteds.  The story centres around two orphan girls who sneak out and venture out into the city to see if they can find a future for themselves besides the one the orphanage will lead them too, fighting in the army.  I read everything Faith Erin Hicks writes/illustrates and her work here is top-notch.  She has really raised the level of her bar in the last couple of books, bringing nature scenes to her art in the last Bigfoot book and this novel here has her distinctive characters with detailed cityscape backgrounds.   The book itself is hard to rate though, because while I loved everything about it; it is quite confusing at first (though not hard to figure out as you go along) and everything is left open-ended because this graphic novel is the prequel to a video game.  I'm not a gamer so I'll never find out more that way.  This book most certainly should have included an introduction to give readers the background information that someone who plays the game would already have known.  It is however a genuinely intriguing story. I'm thinking/wishing that if the game (never heard of it before) is popular enough to generate a prequel graphic novel perhaps this will also generate enough interest to continue on with the story in graphic format; I'd like to know more about Ellie and Riley.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zatch Bell! by Makoto Raiku Vol. 1 - 5

415. Zatch Bell! Vol. 1 by Makoto Raiku.
Zatch Bell!, 1

Rating: (4/5)

(US) Out of Print

2005, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Age: (13+)

"Kiyo is a brilliant junior high student whose inflated ego (and tendency to blow the grading curve) has made him a major target for teasing at school. So his father sends him a bizarre birthday present - a strange little boy named Zatch Bell - to help him make friends and reform his bad attitude. Zatch brings with him a mysterious red volume of spells, and Kiyo discovers that Zatch has magic powers that are unleashed by reading from the book! But there are more surprises to come, and Kiyo's destiny is about to change forever!"

Borrowed a copy from my public library.

I found the first five volumes of this series, which I had never heard of before, at my library so decided my son and I would give it a go.  We both really enjoyed the first volume.  Humor is used to great effect in both the text and the typical old-style manga over dramatic illustrations of emotion.  This is a good first volume in that it both serves up a good beginning plot and introduces us well to the two main characters.  It zips along at a fast pace with action moving the story along rapidly.  While starting off mysteriously, not knowing who Zatch is or what the red book means, by the end we have quite a satisfactory explanation and our characters are set for their mission and the plot of the series to continue.  Zatch is adorable, very cute to look at, he has a cute naive personality with a huge violent anger streak when he feels dishonoured.  Kiyo starts off arrogant but even by the end of the first volume we are seeing his character change already.  Zatch has already battled two other kids like himself and the book ends in the middle of another such battle but with a bit of a scary twist that makes reading volume two a priority.


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418.  Zatch Bell! Vol. 2 by Makoto Raiku.
Zatch Bell!, 2

Rating: 4/5

(US) - Out of Print

2005, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Age: (13+)

"For his 14th birthday, Kiyomaro received a bizarre present from his father - a strange little boy named Zatch Bell. Zatch's mission is to reform Kiyo's bad attitude and help him make friends, but Kiyo soon discovers that there's more to Zatch than his dad ever realized. Zatch is a creature called a mamodo, and he has magic powers that are unleashed when Kiyo reads from a mysterious red book. With Kiyo's help, Zatch must compete against the 99 other imps like him who are vying to become the king of the mamodo world! As the battles with the other mamodo intensify, Kiyo's loyalty to Zatch is put to the test. And what will happen when the red book is stolen?"

Borrowed a copy from my public library.

Oh, VIZ Media bring this series to digital please! It should not be out of print!  The second volume and I was practically in tears by the end.  Wow!  What an emotional story.  Everything is explained, we know why Zatch is there, he has battled several other mamodos now because they are after him.  I'm loving the characters and the humour!  So much fun. The best part of this volume is the story of Kolulu.  Awesome battle and such a touching end.  I can't wait to read the next volume!


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420. Zatch Bell! Vol. 3 by Makoto Raiku.
Zatch Bell!, 3

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - Out of Print

2005, VIZ Media, 200 pgs

Age: (13+)

"For his 14th birthday, Kiyo received a strange little boy named Zatch Bell as a bizarre gift from his father. Kiyo soon discovers that there's more to Zatch than his dad ever realized - Zatch is a mamodo child with magic powers that are unleashed by reading spells from a mysterious red book...and there are 99 other kids like Zatch who must fight one another to become the king of the mamodo world! Kiyo and Zatch are gradually mastering more spells from the red book as they continue to battle other mamodo and their human partners. And when his class goes on a special camping trip, will Kiyo turn out to be the world-class curry chef that Suzy claims?"

Borrowed a copy from my public library.

I am thoroughly enjoying this early 2000s manga.  This hearkens back to what I would call the Pokemon days of anime/manga though I've only ever watched that show when it originally aired with my now grown-up son LOL.  This is far more in depth than Pokemon though.  Yiko receives the third spell from the Red book and he and Zatch meet up and do battle with two more mamodos in this volume.  Both these mamodos and/or their masters are different than the previous ones met so far.  We have people with heart here and Zatch and Yiko do not want to hurt good-hearted ones who have been pulled into this battle to the death for the king of Zatch's world.  We learn a little more background on the king situation and on Zatch's personal story.  I'm wondering if we'll ever find out why he is the only mamodo with memory loss.  Lots of fun with great battles and we're already seeing the return of previous characters.  Yiko actually goes back to school and has some adventures in class with Suzy as well.  Onwards to volume 4!


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426. Zatch Bell! Vol. 4 by Makoto Raiku.
Zatch Bell!, 4

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - Out of Print

Dec. 13 2005, VIZ Media, 200 pgs

Age: (13+)

"A harrowing battle with a new foe results in a startling revelation that could offer more clues to Zatch's past! And when Kiyo goes to see a famous pop star in concert, things go horribly off-key when not one but two mamodo show up to tangle with Zatch and Kiyo!"

Borrowed a copy from my public library.

The plot continues on as usual in this volume.  Zatch battles a few more mamodo, in particular one who has an interesting revelation and another who may be as nice as Zatch.  We also get to see a day in the life of Zatch and what he gets up to when he's by himself with Kiyo at school all day.  Good battle scenes and the plot progresses nicely but no truly wow! moments.  Still a solid book in the series.  Wondering if Zatch may have found a kindred mamodo ...


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431.  Zatch Bell! Vol. 5 by Makoto Raiku.
Zatch Bell!, 5

Rating: (4/5)

(US)  Out of Print

Feb. 6 2006, VIZ Media, 208 pgs

Age: (13+)

"While searching in England for the Zatch look-alike they've heard rumours about, Kiyo and Zatch learn that a mysterious bandit has kidnapped Kiyo's father...and their rescue attempt pits them against knights and mamodo!"

Borrowed a copy from my public library.

Last volume ended with Kiyo discovering someone had been kidnapped and this volume contains his whole quest to rescue that person.  A bit like a video game level where one enters the castle, defeats the various traps and then beats the boss.  Pure action and lots of fun.  Afterwards, they travel to where Zatch was originally found and he gets a tiny bit of his memory back and we gain a slightly better understanding of the sightings that have been reported of someone looking like Zatch.  This story is keeping it's momentum and the new mamodo's are always fresh and exciting.  Looking forward to the next volume and calling out to VIZ again to think about adding this series to their digital library.  It deserves to be available!

VIZ Media 5 Star Mangas: Tegami Bachi V15 and Sunny V2

412. To the Little People by Hiroyuki Asada
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 15

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Nov 5 2013, VIZ Media, 200 pgs

Age: (13+)

"Searching for the truth about Amberground, Lag heads home to the little town of Campbell. There, a woman named Sabrina Mary holds the secrets he seeks. But can he handle what he learns about his world, his government…and his own mother?"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Wow! Wow!  Finally, a major turn of events here!  Something has happened!  We get to know the major secret of Amberground, learn the story of Lag's birth and of Roda's past.  Absolutely major book in the series.  The plot is going to change from this point on as Lag now has a quest to embark upon.  Fascinating. Didn't expect this turn of events at all. Loved this volume!


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438.  Sunny, Volume 2 by Taiyo Matsumoto.
Sunny, Vol. 2

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Nov. 19 2013, VIZ Media, 216 pgs

Age: (13+) (but more interesting to 18+)

"What is Sunny? Sunny is a car. Sunny is a car you take on a drive with your mind. It takes you to the place of your dreams. Sunny is the story of beating the odds, in the ways that count. It’s the brand-new masterwork from Eisner Award-winner Taiyo Matsumoto, one of Japan’s most innovative and acclaimed manga artists.."

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This sienen manga (aimed at men over 18) continues on with six more chapters which are more like vignettes than any sort of continuous story.  Each chapter, like the first volume concentrates on one foster child and we, the reader, are getting to know the personalities and deeper heartaches of these children.  A few of the children are beginning to stand out as main characters but still new ones manage to be featured as well.  Each story hits upon a sad theme: realization of abandonment is a strong one in this book, others are also explored but while the stories are heavy, and bittersweet; they are never depressing.  They show children's resilience and in this volume we also get a good inside take on one of the men who runs the foster home.  These are poignant tales, a bit rough, and not with much of a plot or any action.  It is all pure character driven and I'm becoming genuinely fond of all these lost children.  The book itself is also handsome; being a quality hardcover with the first few pages of each chapter being full colour.  Really looking forward to the next volume.

Monday, December 23, 2013

410. The Black Beetle Volume 1: No Way Out by Francesco Francavilla

The Black Beetle Volume 1: No Way Out by Francesco Francavilla. Introduction by Darwyn Cooke

Rating: (3/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct 29, 2013, Darkhorse, 152 pgs

Age: (16+)

"After witnessing an explosion that decimates the city’s organized crime community, killing dozens, the Black Beetle—Colt City’s sleuthing sentinel—is on the hunt for answers and justice!

Follow Francesco Francavilla’s critically acclaimed pulp hero as he searches island prisons, dank sewers, and swanky nightclubs for the mysterious man known as Labyrinto."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I'm really getting into these "masked" hero tales and this one interested me from Dark Horse, a publisher I always seem to be pleased with.  This time we are in the time period of the Nazi's but pre-WWII so sometime in the 1930s.  The art is absolutely gorgeous.  Using techniques of the old 30s/40s movie posters & lobby cards (in fact these have even been added as extras!) the book has a real old-timey pulp look to it and is a visual feast for the eyes.  I wasn't, however, as taken with the story.  The book opens with a one-shot which I enjoyed quite well.  Then the rest of the book brings about the "No Way Out" story-line which is a story complete within itself, however, elements from the one-shot are brought into play tying them together and popping up again at the end to tie in with the next volume.  This leads me to seeing how the Black Beetle could have separate cases in each volume that are solved with the one main storyline running throughout the series.  Anyway, the story was too "talky" for me, too much talking about the evil plot; BB is by himself most of the time so we get lots of narrative of him talking to himself and at the end we get the old egotistical villain taking several pages to explain exactly why and how he did everything he did.  Plus Labyrinto, a guy in a bodysuit with a maze pattern on it is pretty lame.  The Black Beetle's costume is cool though, but I don't think I'll bother reading another volume unless I came across it at the library perhaps.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

7th Graphic Novels & Manga Challenge 2014



I'll be joining this challenge again as I'm addicting to this format and well ... I'm the host!  For all the details  you can find them here and sign-up as well.

I will be joining the top level and listing my books below:

Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 (2014) Goal: 52 books

Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year
1.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

409. Classics Illustrated: Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson by John K. Snyder III

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson by John K. Snyder III

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

2009, Papercutz, 56 pgs

Age: (10+)

"This classic tale is a favorite of comics fans. Not only is it the inspiration for The Incredible Hulk but Alan Moore, writer/creator of the best-selling Watchmen graphic novel, used “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in his original graphic novel series, “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman,” thus making this CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED version of the original novel sort of an “origin” story for the monstrous Mr. Hyde. Likewise, CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED #2, which featured fellow LOEG member “The Invisible Man,” will also appeal to fans of Mr. Moore’s Victorian Age super-hero team. Of course, this adaptation by “Batman” and “Grendel” artist J.K. Snyder is true to the spirit of the original Robert Louis Stevenson novel and stands by itself as a fantastic thrilling adventure."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

{rant} Can you believe this is the only book from this series that my library system owns?!  I'm going to have to ILL the rest of them!  {rant over}  When I got this from the library and saw the cover, then flipped through the pages the art made me pause and go "Whoa!".  I didn't even want to read it at that point and I love this classic RLS novella.  The art is very modern and immediately made me think Picasso, with all the strange angles and weird unrecognisable geometric shapes.  It's also very colourful, but in a dark way with mostly blues and reds.  So, I kinda got myself over the idea of reading a Victorian story with such outrageous art and proceeded to read.  It did not take me long before I was emerged in the story and by the end had become used to the art style.  The textual adaptation of the story itself is very well done.  It opens with the girl getting trampled in the street and proceeds chronologically not letting us into the secret of Jekyll & Hyde until the end, and is even divided into the same chapter headings as the original.  A great introduction to the story and certainly a different visual way to experience it than I had ever done so before.  Browsing through the book now that I've read it, I do appreciate the art much more than on first impression!  A unique adaptation.

Friday, December 20, 2013

406. Mark Waid's Green Hornet Vol. 1: Bully Pulpit

Mark Waid's Green Hornet Vol. 1: Bully Pulpit  by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Daniel Indro & Ronilson Freire

Mark Waid's Green Hornet, Vol. 1
Dynamite's Masked Men 'Verse

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Nov 19 2013, Dynamite Entertainment, 160 pgs

Age: (16+)

"The Green Hornet faces the most dangerous enemy in the his long and storied career: his egotistical and arrogant alter-ego, Britt Reid! A journalist with great influence in his city, Reid takes on the public persona of a social crusader, but he's far too sure of himself and his judgment. When he finally oversteps his bounds, an innocent man pays a terrible price... and the legend of the Green Hornet may be forever tarnished! "

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I've really been enjoying Dynamite's "masked" hero comics and although I've never been  fan of the Green Hornet in the past (and by this I mean the pulp serials/movies from the 30s/40s) I decided to give this one a try anyway since I like Mark Waid.  I'm very pleased with this first volume!  This volume introduces us to Green Hornet and though he's been working as the  masked hero/villain for a while the book starts at a pivotal moment in his career.  We get some flashback moments to let us know about his past and briefly how he became the Green Hornet and joined with Kato.  The main issue here though is a character study as GH is faced with his own ego and possible corruption.  Kato becomes his conscience and won't work with him anymore leaving the Hornet to grapple with how to lead this lifestyle and still be able to live with himself.  A very well-written story and I absolutely adore the character of Kato, even more so than the Hornet himself.  I'm really glad I decided to read this and will be reading volume 2!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

404. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

404. My Friend Dahmer by Derf  Backderf

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

2012, Abrams ComicArts, 224pgs

Age: (16+)

"You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, "Jeff" was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

If you read my reviews regularly you'll know I read a lot of serial killer books, both fiction and true crime.  I have never read about Jeffrey Dahmer before though.  On purpose.  When that case went public I was just so horrified with the whole thing I could not watch any of the interviews nor was I barely able to even look at him when they showed him on the news.  Since then I've had no desire to read anything about him.  When I heard about this graphic novel last year I was tempted because of the unique perspective.  What was it like growing up as Dahmer's friend in jr/sr highschool then finding out he was a monster?  But I couldn't bring myself to lift a somewhat self-imposed ban on the topic.  Then one of my favourite blogging buddies, Joy, reviewed and recommended it.  I knew if she liked it I'd be able to handle it.  It is superb!

Derf tells how he knew Dahmer in grade school, jr & sr high.  They lived in the same small town but it wasn't until highschool that they started to hang out.  Derf's group of friends were outsiders themselves geek band kids, not with the cool kids, and somehow they adopted Dahmer into their group, as a sort of mascot.  Dahmer acted out in class putting on a "spaztic" routine that became the centre focus of Derf's Dahmer group.  It was teen-age boy goofing around stuff, probably hurt a lot of feelings, but these kinds of kids didn't really care.  Derf tries to make sense of that time looking back at it now as an adult who knows what Dahlmer became.  Dalmer is portrayed as fifteen-year-old Derf Backderf knew and saw him.  A regular kid, but one with probably more than his fair share of problems, parents who didn't seem to care, that were wrapped up in the anger of their ending marriage.  A guy with rumours circulating about him and dead animals, a freakishly large and muscular kid, one who acted like an epileptic having seizures, while mentally challenged and lisping at the same time.  Dahmer's act.  This was just his thing.  Derf has sympathy for this kid he knew and went to school with.  And he asks "where were the adults in all this? Did no one notice Dahmer needed some help?"  Derf and his friends gradually pulled away from Dahmer because each in his own time became aware that Dahmer was scary ... dangerous scary.  At this point as a reader we can sit and look back with Derf at the situation.  Derf has sympathy for him; he knew the kid; maybe many of us can sympathise up to this point too.  The rest of Dahmer's story did not have to happen if someone had cared or noticed or bothered to take positive action for the disturbed kid, Jeffrey Dahlmer.  But no one did.

And so, both Derf and the reader accept reality.  As an adult Dahmer is responsible for his own actions.  He killed, tortured, mutilated and did despicable things.  Here is where Derf makes it clear that this monster is no longer anyone he, the author, sympathizes with.  With Dahmer's first kill he chose to continue doing so and the past cannot be blamed for his actions anymore.  The author muses that Dahmer could have done many things to prevent further killings, turning himself in to the police or mental health facilities, killing himself, etc. There is a lot of thinking here for the reader to grasp how a child, someones highschool buddy end's up a monster of a serial killer.

I love Backderf's artwork.  Dahmer always looks so uncomfortable in his own skin, whether he is sad, mad, embarrassed or just being plain creepy.  I'm glad the book is done in b/w as I find these true crime novels work best in the graphic format without any colour.  I am so pleased to have read this and I think I will read a book on Dahmer's case in the future now.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

VIZ Media Manga 5 Star Reviews: Magi Vol. 2 & Nura Vol. 17

400. Magi, 2 by Shinobu Ohtaka.
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 2

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 8 2013, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Age: (13+)

"Aladdin and Alibaba have entered the Dungeon of Qishan hoping to find hidden treasure—but danger's found them! A horde of slimes closes in on them, while Lord Jamil and his slaves head into the dungeon looking to intercept Aladdin and grab any riches he may have found! But these rivals have more to worry about than each other, and new friends, new enemies and amazing riches are yet to be discovered!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

I am so in love with this series.  Vol. 1 was action-packed and now Vol. 2 is character driven as Aladdin and Alibaba continue to search for the treasure in their first dungeon.  Their friendship blooms and these two are quick becoming fast friends of each other and mine.  A light story in that it is full of humour and good-natured, yet the story does take dark turns and the villains can certainly be quite nasty making it deserving of the 13+ rating.  The action is all at the end of this one making the djinn's, Ugo, appearance short but I enjoyed everything leading up to that point.  The author is using some cool mythology here.  The book is based on the Arabian Knights theme though it has a completely different story and in this volume we are told about a magi who must pick a king for the times which makes me suddenly think Merlin/King Arthur, THEN King Solomon's (Biblical) djinn turns up with his remaining power and we end the book plopped down in the Mongolian grasslands.  Thank goodness the next book is coming up right away!


*****


407. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 17: Kirisake Toryanse, The Ripper by Hiroshi Shiibashi
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 17

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct 1 2013, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Age: (13+)

"Caught in The Ripper's scissors hold, Rikuo faces off against this terrifying enemy whose Fear feeds on the pain of children. Speaking of eating, brother and sister team Ryuji and Yura travel to the worst tourist destination ever, the Village That Devours People!!"

Received a review copy from the publisher.

Absolutely freaking awesome.  One of the best volumes in a while.  This volume concentrates on a new Yokai Clan called the "Hundred Stories Clan" which consists of Yokai which are made up from myths and urban legends that become so widespread they have a life of their own and the Yokai are actually created from the fear itself.  Very awesome!  Rikuo and the Clan deal with some sweet stories and new yokai in chapters called: "The Ripper", "The Village That Devours People" and "The Girl on the Subway".  Finally the book ends connecting the Hundred Stories Clan with the past and we are set to take a peek at a bygone era and hear a tale involving Rikuo's father, Rihan.  Loved, loved, this volume and am so hyped for volume 18!

Monday, December 16, 2013

399. Five Ghosts Volume 1: The Haunting of Fabian Gray by Frank J. Barbiere

Five Ghosts Volume 1: The Haunting of Fabian Gray by Frank J. Barbiere. Art by by Chris Mooneyham.

Rating: (2.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 1 2013, Image Comics, 104 pgs

Age: (18+)

"After a tragic encounter with an artifact known as “The Dreamstone,” infamous treasure hunter Fabian Gray was possessed by five literary ghosts and has been granted access to their unique abilities."

Received an egalley from the ublisher through NetGalley.

This was totally confusing.  The literary elements had such potential but they were basically just used as shadows in the background without any allusions to their character at all; this was especially neglected during the "tests" sequence.  It did nothing for me at all.  The only redeeming factor here for me is the gorgeous pulp-style artwork by Mooneyham and the inclusion of the original cover art which just makes me wish the story had stood up to it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

398. Doomsday.1 by John Byrne

Doomsday.1 by John Byrne

Rating: (4/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Nov 26 2013, IDW Publishing, 104 pgs

Age: (18+)

"The Earth may have dodged a bullet on 12/21/2012, but there are worse things in store for our little blue planet. Seven adventurers aboard the International Space Station watch in horror as most of the world is decimated by a monster solar flare. And their only choice is to return to the surface, and face whatever awaits them there!"

Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

I love apocalyptic/post-apoc. literature and this caught me eye as sounding pretty interesting.  I hadn't read this author before but am glad I gave it try because it turned out to be quite a good story, if somewhat short.  When the earth is mostly burned up by a humongous solar flare, a returning International space crew find a somewhat safe place to land and try to find others left on earth.  The seven person International crew has representatives from different countries, except for the two Russians making up the only married couple.  The crew's make up, bickering, humour and general dynamics reminded me of Stargate Atlantis and found favour with me right away.  They meet up with others such as survivors of a military submarine and prisoners who were lockdown at a prison.  Needless to say some of these encounters turn violent and the imagery is bloody and disturbing but not overly graphic.  The story is quite intense, has some genuine poignant moments, leaves the original crew short two members and ends with the remaining team splitting off into two directions.  An awful lot happens in such a short book and the next volume could prove to give further insight into characters with them divided into two smaller groups.  Really liked this.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

427. The Last Christmas by Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn

The Last Christmas by Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn. Art by Rick Remender

Rating: (3.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

2006; Dec. 3 2013, Image Comics, 176 pgs

Age: (18+)

"The writers behind the hit series Deadpool present the sad, funny, and true story of Santa Claus after the apocalypse. After tragedy strikes the North Pole, Santa turns his back on humanity and gives up on Christmas. Even though the world has been completely overrun by naughty men, there's still one boy that believes in Santa. But could that be the biggest mistake of his life? Enjoy this modern action-comedy Christmas classic in hardcover for the first time. It's illustrated with love by comic star RICK REMENDER and inked in a wonderful style reminiscent of Mad magazine by HILARY BARTA. This edition has a foreword from PATTON OSWALT and new commentary from the creators, plus the original covers."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

So, look at the cover and you get exactly what you would expect to get from this comic: violent, irreverent, over-the-top, vulgar, Christmas farce.  I liked it, a lot actually!  Lots of f-bombs and swearing start off from the first page, so if you get offended easily don't even bother.  After only a few pages I had settled into the groove and was thinking Fables with Santa & Frosty as as the main characters.  Santa goes ballistic after Mrs. Clause is murdered, cancels Christmas and turns into a drunk.  Several years go by, and after numerous suicide attempts to join his beloved he sets out to get the one remaining kid who still believes in Santa Clause who is making it impossible for him to die.  Adult humour ensues and Santa's opinions change giving him a taste of Christmas spirit once again.  Oh, did I forget to mention the zombies....  nothing spectacular, but lots of fun.

395. Lazarus, Book One: Family by Greg Rucka

Lazarus, Book One: Family by Greg Rucka. Art by Michael Lark.

Lazarus, Book 1

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 22 2013, Image Comics, 96 pgs

Age: (18+)

"Collecting the first four issues of the Eisner-winning team of Rucka and Lark's critically acclaimed new series about Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Carlyle Family. Included is the previously only-available-online, four-page short, "Family: Prelude." In a dystopian near-future, government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and possession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule, jealously guarding what they have and exploiting the Waste who struggle to survive in their domains. Forever Carlyle defends her family's holdings through deception and force as their protector, their Lazarus. Shot dead defending the family home, Forever's day goes downhill from there..."

Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

Wicked!  This starts off no holds barred violent with us learning our main character is not somehow quite exactly human.  Through this violence and her, Eva, the futuristic world is unveiled.  One ruled by families, with small numbers of blood members.  These then work similar to medieval fiefdoms with trained Serfs serving the family and then an overload of expendable population called Waste.  Right away we see Eva's problem with the majority of her family members is that she seems to be having a conscience, this is not allowed in her position and her doctor is doing what he can for her.  This was all great hard-edged stuff, very violent, political, guerrilla warfare like.  But when the family got together in their mansion the huddled tete-a-tetes in corners, the secret meetings, the explosive family gatherings and wild relationships between family members and servants was pure soap opera, making me think of "Dynasty in Space".  Sounds corny when I write it like that but I looooved the dynamics of it all.  By the end of the book we've already got one family member booted out and on the run for his/her life.  Can't wait for this to continue!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

392. Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh's Fortune by Sean O'Neill

Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh's Fortune by Sean O'Neill

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 1 2013, BoilerRoom Studios, 240 pgs

Age: (9+)

"Cairo, 1933. The Egyptian capital is a buzzing hive of treasure-hunters, thrill-seekers, and adventurers, but to 12-year-old Ronald “Rocket” Robinson, it’s just another sticker on his well-worn suitcase. All that changes when Rocket and his pet monkey, Screech, find a strange note written in Egyptian hieroglyphs which launches Rocket into an adventure more incredible than anything he’s ever seen at the Saturday matinee.

Guided through the secret subterranean world of Cairo by his new friend, a gypsy girl named Nuri, Rocket soon runs afoul of master criminal Otto Von Stürm, who, with his thugs Khalil and Khan, is planning the theft of the greatest treasure in history—an ancient Pharaoh’s fortune, secretly hidden for centuries. But will Rocket and Nuri be able to stop them in time?"

Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

If the cover hasn't brought it to mind yet, by the time you are on the first page you will be thinking "Tintin".  A fair enough comparison as the art style has a flourish of that French-style that makes Tintin so recognizable and then the story is full of adventure, globe-trotting, a German bad guy, ancient relics and archaeology.  But O'Neill brings his own creativity to the table creating a unique character in Rocket Robinson and his partner Nuri, a gypsy girl.  Even though set in 1930's Egypt, hence the acceptability of German bad guy Otto von Sturm, O'Neill brings a fresh, more modern tale than a Tintin would allow for.  Nuri is an equal partner in the adventure and since she's the native of the area, takes the role of leader more often than Rocket.  Adventure, escapades and derring-do abound.  Rocket is in real life danger, including being kidnapped and no-one will believe him, so it is up to him, Nuri and Rocket's pet monkey to dash the villain's dastardly deeds.  My only complaint is that there are several episodes where educational/historical information tries too hard to be inserted that it felt like the character was either being a wise guy or flipping into teacher mode.  Don't try so hard next time Mr. O'Neill; and a next time there will be as the book blatantly let's us know we can expect a further adventure of Rocket Robinson.  Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

391. One Piece, East Blue (3-in-1), Vol. 1-2-3 by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece, East Blue (3-in-1), Vol. 1-2-3 by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece (Vol. 1,2,3)

Rating: (2.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Dec. 1 2009, VIZ Media, 600 pgs

Age: (13+)

"As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, an enchanted Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch like rubber. Its only drawback? He'll never be able to swim again--a serious handicap for an aspiring sea dog! Years later, Luffy sets off on his quest to find the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world..."

Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.

Some may consider this review to contain spoilers.

Vol. 1: Romance Dawn - I've had this recommended to me a few times and since it has been going since like almost forever; they're up to vol. 68 at the time of this writing, I thought I'd better get in the know and find out what the big deal is.  This first volume didn't impress me too much.  It was funny, but not laugh out loud.  It is certainly weird, very different from any other manga I've read to date.  I'm not sure if I'm going to be into something so heavily relying upon humour.  On the other hand, I thought Captain "Axe-Hand" Morgan was a cool bad guy and could look forward to more like that.  While none of the characters impressed me in this volume, and I do have to remember we are looking at a volume 1 that has a long way to go in development, I can see some potential in them and at the moment am interested in Roronoa Zolo.  He could be a cool character.  Luffy at the moment just seems gullible and naive.  Those are my thoughts after the first volume. (3/5)

Vol. 2: Buggy the Clown - I don't have much to say.  I'm not impressed at this point.  i don't like clowns; the bad guy is a clown an he's not even a scary clown.  Just a doofus.  A female thief has been added to Luffy's pirate crew as the navigator and as far as characters go, only Zolo is entertaining me at this point.  Next Volume will have to be a knockout to give me much interest in continuing with the series.  (2/5)

Vol. 3: Don't Get Fooled Again - The story picked up for me in this volume.  But first I suffered through the ending of the Buggy the Clown episode started in the last volume.  Next up the three new pirates set off once again and ended up for a brief lark on a deserted island that was being guarded by an ex-pirate who has been stuck in a treasure chest for 20 years.  I actually found this brief plot to be hilarious and liked Gaimon.  The rest of the book starts the set up of a new plot with their new friend, possible new crew member-to-be, Ussop, and the evil doings going on in his town as a pirate is in hiding there plotting an evil murder.  This new bad guy pirate seems like the average villain and while not earth shattering my interest is piqued enough that I'm going to continue with the series a bit more to see if it gets any better. (3/5)

My son read this volume and said it was just ok, but he asked me to make the decision on whether we should continue reading it or not.  So, I've said we'll try the next volumes from the library and see if either of us gets hooked enough for it to be worth our buying.

Monday, December 9, 2013

386. Bleach (3-in-1 Edition) Vol. 16-7-18) by Tite Kubo

Bleach (3-in-1 Edition) Vol. 16-7-18) by Tite Kubo.
Bleach (Vol. 16,17,18)

Rating: (3.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sep 3 2013, VIZ Media, 624 pgs

Age: (13+)

"With Rukia’s execution looming, Ichigo and the rest of the rescue squad must find a way to break her out of the Senzaikyû prison. Not only has her sentence been moved up, but the imprisonment is close to breaking her usually indomitable spirit. And to make matters worse, political intrigue is brewing in the Seireitei, and Ichigo and his friends are caught in the middle of it!"

Received a Review Copy from the publisher.

My review doesn't contain any spoilers for this volume but I can no longer refrain from occasional spoilers from previous volumes.

Vol. 16: Night of Wijnruit - Best part of this volume is that in a flashback story we learn the truth about what happened to Chad's brother, who killed him and Rukia's part in it!  Loved it.  Otherwise the gang is *still* trying to save Rukia, her execution is imminent now and Ichigo continues to train while battles with the Soul Reapers continue with Gin causing trouble and ending with another major battle against Kenny.  An action-packed volume.  (3/5)

Vol. 17: Rosa Rubicundior, Lilio Candidior - Another pure action volume.  There is a power struggle going on between the various Soul Reaper captains, some wanting to help save Rukia.  So the volume is pretty much filled with battles of good captains vs evil ones with Gin slinking around spreading his evilness.  The captains and Rukia are the main characters and we see little of any of our other main characters save Ichigo.  Not a particularly exciting volume for me but it moves the plot finally up to the hour of Rukia's execution.  How, and will, she finally be saved in the next book?  (3/5)

Vol. 18: The Deathberry Returns - Great mid-battle ending between two surprising combatants!  This volume feels like it is at the apex of the climax of the "save Rukia" plot we've been on for several volumes now.  Loyalties have divided and the "bad" side consists of the really nasty guys now.  Still unsure if anybody's going to actually be friends after all this is over but we'll have to see.  An old character who only appeared in one volume a long time ago has come back and I think she may be part of the final conclusion, which seems to be coming in the next 3-in-1 volume.  Good ending to this book. (4/5)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

382. Uzumaki: The Deluxe Edition by Junji Ito

Uzumaki: The Deluxe Edition by Junji Ito.
Uzumaki Trilogy (Vol. 1,2,3)

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct 15 2013, VIZ Media, 648 pgs

Age: (16+)

"Kurouzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!"

Received a Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Originally published in 3 volumes this 2010 Japanese horror manga is a twisted ride to read.  I love the horror genre but have not sampled much of it in manga yet.  If the field can be judged by this book alone, there must be some awesome stuff out there.  This is an incredibly disturbing story.  There is a bit of a plotting problem with the second volume as the boyfriend just seems to disappear until the end and the chapters become episodic rather than focusing on the goal of the plot.  However that all comes back together with the third volume and all answers are revealed to the extent that they can be when the evil is the "power of the spiral".  Characters are not developed enough to care about them and their reactions are totally not those of a normal person but perhaps the spiral has been working on them longer than we even realise. LOL These are the things that make me rate the book 4 stars, however, on pure adrenaline and horror shock value I had an incredible read.  With each incident becoming more and more freakish and fantastic.  This is not a blood and guts horror.  There is a bit of blood but it's not from slashing, rather from the disturbing situations that occur.  T+ seems a fair enough rating, some 13+ may be ok with it but the imagery is startling and unsettling.  The artwork is absolutely brilliant.  Overall, the art, imagery and ghoulishness of the story make up for any plotting problems and I fond this a deliciously disturbing Japanese horror story.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

370. The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder

The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder & others. Art by Greg Capullo & others
Batman: Death of the Family
The New 52: Batman

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 22, 2013, DC Comics, 456 pgs

Age: (16+)

"After having his face sliced off one year ago, The Joker makes his horrifying return in this new epic that stars Batman’s network of crimefighting allies! While The Joker threatens the existence of Gotham City, these heroes—and villains—must find a way to survive in stories from BATMAN #17, CATWOMAN #13-14, BATGIRL #14-16, BATMAN AND ROBIN #15-17, NIGHTWING #15-16, DETECTIVE COMICS #16-17, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #15-16 and TEEN TITANS #15, plus pages from BATMAN #13, BATGIRL #13, NIGHTWING #14, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #13-14, SUICIDE SQUAD #14-15 and TEEN TITANS #14 and 16."

Purchased a new copy from an online retailer

Brilliant, brilliant storyline!  The new Joker is dark, wicked, vicious and the stuff nightmares are made of.  Collected here are all the issues from the various series that contributed to the "Death of the Family" story arc.  I've read most of those series separately so not much in this book was new to me, but having the complete story together in one place made for fantastic reading.  This is a big book and I lingered over it taking a few days to read it delighting over seeing the story put together cohesively like this.  I have never liked the Joker as a villain having read/watched him portrayed in the classic campy style too often; however, this New 52! Joker, with his attached face, is absolutely frightening and I adore him!  This is a must read for any Batman fans whether you are following any of these series or not.  It stands alone as a nice read, though it does have ambiguous endings.  If you own all/most of the series included here either in comic or trade format you may not wish to own this book due to the fact that you will be duplicating material you already have but in all honesty, I own several of these in trades and I think this is a wonderful collection devoted specifically to the Joker story line.  I know I'll be pulling this one off the shelf to re-read more often than I will each of the specific trade volumes.  Depends on whether you are in a Joker mood or a Batman/Nightwing/Batgirl/etc. mood!

378. Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice: The Graphic Novel by Laurence Sach

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice: The Graphic Novel by Laurence Sach. Illustration by Rajesh Nagulakonda

Rating: (2/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 29, 2013, Campfire Graphic Novels, 107 pgs

Age: (13+)

"One of the most famous opening lines in English literature, the most compelling of stories, and a host of vivid characters, has won Pride and Prejudice its rightful pride-of-place on bookshelves throughout the world. For Mr Bennet, a quiet life is to be highly commended. For Mrs Bennet, finding eligible husbands for her five daughters is the most important of a mother's duties. For Elizabeth, marrying without affection is unthinkable. But for them all, life is about to change when a handsome young man and his equally handsome and wealthy companion, take residence nearby."

Received an unsolicited review copy from the publisher.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely awful.  Terrible, ugly drawings in washed out colours that have no appeal at all.  The adaptation itself was well done and it made for a good read, retelling the classic novel in good form.  I've read other graphic novels from Campfire and enjoyed many of them, so I was disappointed with the painful illustration here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tiger & Bunny Vol. 3 + Movie Manga A & B

369. Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 3 by Mizuki Sakakibara
Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 3

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 8, 2013,  VIZ Media, 176 pgs

Age: 13+

"When he was a child, Barnaby lost his parents to a shadowy organization called Ouroboros. The search for his parents’ killers may lead both Barnaby and Kotetsu into a dangerous conspiracy that has wider implications for everyone in Stern Bild City. Then the heroes jump into action against rampaging mecha and renegade NEXTs and the secretive hand behind it all!"

Received a review copy from the publisher

I am not an anime watcher so this series is new to me straight at the manga level and I'm really enjoying it.  Very different from the usual shounen, we do have battles here but not to the death as they are being filmed for a reality TV Show, the heroes are all superheroes, most of the dialogue is light-hearted and humour abounds.  However, a deeper plot is emerging and this book continues the thread picked up in the last volume with Bunny on the search for the killer of his parents.  He has let Tiger in on his secret vendetta and the two of them are starting to get along much better; though the animosity is there.  All the other heroes make cameos but this time Blue Rose and Fire Emblem are the main secondary characters again.  I'd really like to see more of Rock Bison, he appeals to me and Dragon Kid shows up in this volume making me want to know his story.  This volume has a great ending with the introduction of a new character who it isn't clear whether he is a hero or villain yet with a very creepy name!  Great cliff-hanger ending.  The only thing I don't like here is there is no beginning character intro and plot summary page.  I read so much that I really appreciate that page at the beginning of all my manga!


*****


375. Tiger & Bunny, The Movie: The Beginning, Side A art by Tsutomu Oono
Tiger & Bunny: The Movie (Vol. 1)

Rating: (3/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 8, 2013, VIZ Media, 157 pgs

Age: (13+)

"In the city of Stern Bild, superpowered heroes known as NEXT fight crime while promoting their corporate sponsors for the hit show HERO TV. Veteran hero Wild Tiger has years of experience fighting crime, but when his ratings slip he’s forced to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie hero with an attitude. Part 1 of this two-volume manga adaptation of the Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning animated film introduces you to the exciting world and characters of Tiger & Bunny!"

Received an unsolicited review copy from the publisher.

I have not seen this movie so cannot compare the two but I have read the first three volumes of the manga series by Mizuki Sakakibara.  Basically the plot here is a retelling of the first few chapters of volume one.   The story is virtually the same with the details which are focused on being slightly different.  I enjoyed the read as I really like the manga series but this is basically just more of the same.  I think I'd just recommend this for the die-hard Tiger & Bunny fans who want to have/read everything T&B.


*****



377. Tiger & Bunny, The Movie: The Beginning, Side B art by Tsutomu Oono
Tiger & Bunny: The Movie (Vol. 2)

Rating: (3/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 8, 2013, VIZ Media, 158 pgs

Age: (13+)

"In the city of Stern Bild, superpowered heroes known as NEXT fight crime while promoting their corporate sponsors for the hit show HERO TV. Veteran hero Wild Tiger has years of experience fighting crime, but when his ratings slip he’s forced to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie hero with an attitude. Part 2 of this two-volume manga adaptation of the Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning animated film introduces you to the exciting world and characters of Tiger & Bunny!"

Received an unsolicited review copy from the publisher.

This volume continues with the rest of the novelization of the movie.  From this point on the material is new and different from the manga series.  Tiger & Bunny are teamed up and sent on their first mission together.  Much is made of the antagonism between the two and the whole Hero TV cast is included.  I must say I was happy with the attention Rock Bison was given as he is my favourite!  We are briefly introduced to Bunny's conflict about his parents and the movie ends with the implication that they may start to get along someday, or not.  There is plenty of story available for a follow-up movie.  Having read the first three volumes of the manga but not having seen the movie, I wasn't particularly impressed with this novelization.  I would have to say it is probably best for someone who hasn't seen the movie and perhaps hasn't even read the mangas, a first introduction to Tiger & Bunny if you will.  That, or diehard fans who must have any- and everything Tiger and Bunny.