Saturday, May 31, 2014

Superman Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel by Grant Morrison

Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel by Grant Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Other than loving Smallville, I'm not the Superman type, being more of a Batman girl but I couldn't pass up purchasing this when the eBook was on sale for $2.99. First of all, this is a lot of bang for your buck with 8 issues collected here when you can expect the usual trade to have 5, maybe 6, issues. This volume is all pretty much background story and there are new ideas put into the Superman story that I quite liked. The majority of the book centres around the title story which features Braniac and Earth being almost miniaturized like Superman's home planet. Superman starts off with his cape, a T-Shirt and jeans, and wow! is that ever a sexy look! I wish he stayed like it; it's too bad when he puts on his tights and gets his real costume :-( In this new universe Lex Luthor is a scientist, which was a little disconcerting at first but I think it could prove an interesting character development. The next part of the story was a little confusing as it went back and forth from the future to the past, something I just don't like about Superman's world anyway. I loved the short stories at the end, though, especially those featuring Steel. Overall, I thought the art was very good and since I'm a regular reader of Justice League it was good getting a closer look at Supe, but I wouldn't purchase this title again unless a really cheap deal came up again on a Kindle edition, then I probably wouldn't be able to pass it up.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Wild Ocean: Sharks, Whales, Rays, and Other Endangered Sea Creatures by Matt Dembicki

Wild Ocean: Sharks, Whales, Rays, and Other Endangered Sea Creatures by Matt Dembicki
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

When I saw Matt Dembicki had a new anthology out I just had to read it. "Trickster" is one of the best graphic anthologies out there! Then seeing this was about a topic that I absolutely love, marine animals, I was in. This is not another "Trickster". It's not as large and it's an educational/non-fiction book opposed to folklore so it's not really fair to compare them and I'll stop with that. "Wild Ocean" is a collection of shorts by different graphic writers and artists each featuring an endangered sea creature or environment (coral reef). Some are presented as fictional stories from the animals point of view, some as folklore, others simply as straightforward factual non-fiction. The different artists bring a varied style so each short is unique in written and artistic style. Yet the colours maintain a marine theme focusing on greens, blues and turquoise. Personally I would have preferred a more fictional collection of stories but I enjoyed these collected here and learned some interesting information. What I especially liked from this type of book is that "Wild Ocean" does not play to any current political trends. Climate change is hardly mentioned in the front matter and not in the stories at all. Incontrovertible facts are purely used as reasons for endangerment such as over-fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, non-Western medicines among others. A very pretty presentation for those interested in the topic. Would make for good use in the classroom.

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Penguin: Pain and Prejudice by Gregg Hurwitz

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Batman

Wow! This was amazing! So much more than what I was expecting! First, I recently ran across Kudranski's art and love it. This book's illustration is wonderful, dark and atmospheric. The contrast between Penguin as a child and adult is amazing and it hits you in the heart. I hadn't expected to actually have any kind of feelings for Penguin, not a character I particularly like. However, this story takes us back to Oswald's birth, flashback's to his childhood while showing him in action as the current crime boss. When one sees the sweet baby at birth one feels for the mother whose love surmounts a birth defect. The tale of Oswald's childhood bullying, torture and neglect at the hands of his own father and brothers along with classmates really showed an emotional background that made the reader feel for the boy. While at the same time, the behaviour of the current criminal Penguin, getting off and enjoying torturing those who even look at him the wrong way is such a contrast. For me, this character finally came to life as a three dimensional person.

The book also ends with a one-off story that does flashback's to Oswald's teen years and contrasts it to a current story of his having a romance with a woman who doesn't know who he is. A very well-done story, though the art style is so different from the rest of the book, it's a bit unbalancing.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vinland Saga 3 by Makoto Yukimura

Vinland Saga 3 by Makoto Yukimura
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vinland Saga, Book 3

This story remains and continues to be superb. The art is excellent and is a bar above anything else I've seen coming from manga. Volume 3 of the saga concentrates heavily on the historical aspects of the story. Continuing on the Danish invasion of Britain; the two rival commanders Askeladd and Thorkell battle the English and each other continuously throughout the book, while they both want to be the ones with Prince Canute in their hands, though for different reasons. In this volume Thorfinn's quest for vengeance against his father plays a smaller role and stays more in the background while the character of Prince Canute shines as he evolves. The Prince must deal with a devastating incident that can either make or break him. We watch as the, thus far, quiet soft spoken boy, takes on the character of a King's son, fit to be heir. This is an absolutely brilliant manga with a compelling story. I've not read anything like this before and can't wait for the next volume.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ariol #4: A Beautiful Cow by Emmanuel Guibert


Ariol #4: A Beautiful Cow
by Emmanuel Guibert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm addicted to the Ariol books! These are such pleasant slice-of-life stories about anthropomorphic tweeners that as the publisher says "is the perfect series for anyone who started off life as a kid!" The stories in this volume are varied with no particular focus on any character though I'd say perhaps the focus is on school stories this time. As the title implies, as usual, there are a couple featuring Ariol and his crush on Petula, but each time we see Bizzbilla struggling with her crush on Ariol. I just love these stories and the situations. They are cute and funny, but they are so real. Nothing is overdone or overthetop because the author and illustrator have found the perfect element of humour in episodes from the real lives of young teens, their parents and teachers.

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Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone

Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52

I read Vol. 3 as part of the "Death of a Family" cross-over and really liked it, so wanted to back-up and start from the beginning with this character. I've never read the Oracle character so am quite happy with the new background given to BG, since I know no other. This was quite intense, and especially knowing how much more intense it's going to get, I thought it was a great intro to Barbara/Batgirl. As with all the Bat-family books I love how other characters will pop-up. Here BG has an interlude with Nightwing [sigh] and she helps Batman out of a tight spot. The Mirror was a bit of a lame villain but I thought Gretel was pretty cool and it would be neat to have her show up in Arkham in the future. Having read V3 already, I'm now getting the background on some plotlines and I really like what Simone is writing. I like the art as well, it has the dark, moody Batman feel to it, just the way I like my Gotham City!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Suicide Squad (New 52) Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth by Adam Glass

Suicide Squad (New 52) Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth by Adam Glass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

New 52

I have been pretty eager to read this one since way back when I first started the New 52 as the SS or Amanda Waller would pop up here and there in the other series I was reading and I didn't have a clue who she/they were. I absolutely loved this!! It was really creepy and with a team of bad guys has stuff going on that you just don't normally find in a superteam book. I must say I am fond of team-ups but since I didn't really know any of these guys except for Harley Quinn as she's appeared in the Batman books I've read to date I wasn't sure how they'd go over with me. It was a bit tough getting used to who was who at first but characters started to stand out and by the end of the book major players are certainly prominent in my mind now. What's pretty cool, but disconcerting also, is that being villains under threat of death for not complying you never know when a team member is going to end up dead and that really changes the dynamics of a read compared to you're usual superhero team when you know everybody is going to be okay unless word gets out somebody "major" is going to die! These guys are viscous though and I have a like/hate feeling for them. The King Shark/Yo-Yo thing really creeped me out!! Harley certainly comes out on top as the main character here and I'm so thrilled to get her complete backstory presented here with her romance with Joker and change into Harley. Also glad to have the extra bits of the Joker's face story added to that whole arc, which I've read, but these little details were missing. Now to find out just exactly how Joker gets his face back, what is up with this Basilisk group and who will comprise the Suicide Squad on the next mission. I purchased the ebook of this when the $1.99 sale was on but I'm fully prepared to continue to buy this series. I think I could possibly like it along the lines of JLD. I guess I like the dark themes and plots!

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Ro-Busters: The Disaster Squad of Distinction by Pat Mills

Ro-Busters: The Disaster Squad of Distinction by Pat Mills
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Before, er after, the ABC Warriors, came the Ro-Busters. This is where Hammerstein goes into retirement and he first tells some of his war stories. Earlier this year I was reading the mag. 2000AD and it did a run on an ABC Warriors story which I confess, I was not familiar with and I found it very hard to get into because of the very large background to the characters and "world". I love the robot stuff that comes out of 2000AD though and was thrilled to get my hands on this collection of the first series which blossomed into the sequel ABC Warriors. Pat Mills has written a really nice introduction about his feelings for the original Ro-Buster story and characters along with a good background for the newbie. The first four issues comprising the first story was actually not published in 2000AD but in a magazine called "Starlord" and we are going way back to 1978 for these stories too. I loved this collection! The main characters are Hammerstein and Ro-Jaws and I just adored both of them. Mek-Quake is featured a lot as well, though in a smaller role and of course we have bad guy Howard Quartz. Now I understand why these guys have become so beloved and I'm ready to read some more and find out just how the ABC Warriors came to be.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Detective Comics (New 52), Vol. 1: Faces of Death by Tony S. Daniel


Detective Comics, Vol. 1: Faces of Death
by Tony S. Daniel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read all the Batman books that dealt with the Joker storyline but this one was fiendishly left out of the big Joker "Death in a Family" volume. So I knew I had to go back one day and read just exactly how and under what circumstances the J. had his face removed. The whole Joker story is good and we keep meeting new psycho people who will end up patients at Arkham. When the Joker flees, the Batman has his hands full pretty quickly as he and his girlfriend attend a gala aboard Cobblepot's floating iceberg casino. With the Penguin up to no good, what else is new, he's got a crew of all-new super villains joining him and has a double-cross or thee to maybe make-up some time.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bleach (3-in-1 Edition), Includes vols. 22, 23 & 24 by Tite Kubo




Bleach (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 22, 23 & 24 by Tite Kubo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bleach: Vol. 22, 23, 24

May contain spoilers of previous volumes.

Vol. 22: Conquistadores - So here we have it! The beginning of a new story arc! The Arrancars want Ichigo to join them and they have come to persuade him and if persuasion won't work well then ... force it will have to be. Then a team of the soul reapers show up to help Ichigo, Chad and Orhime fight the Arrancars. A major character has been hurt and we haven't seen how bad yet. It's my favourite so I'm hoping they are going to be ok! Great start to the new plot! (5/5)

Vol. 23: iMala Suerte! - Total battle volume! My guy is ok from last volume. They aren't in this one much 'cause they are still recuperating but at least my guy is ok. Anyway, loved this volume! The Arrancars are strong and the battles are awesome. We meet the guy on the cover of this book whose name is Grimm Jow. We get to know all the characters pretty well here as the various battles and confrontations are going on. (4/5)

Vol. 24: Immanent God Blues - Full of surprises! We come to a turning point in the plot as things are semi-settled and heat-up at the same time. An old bad guy makes a reappearance and two of our main characters who haven't really been around for this whole book show up briefly so we can see what surprising things they are up to! And finally, Ichigo ends the volume with a exciting decision and new direction that makes us eager to continue the story! (5/5)

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Green Arrow (New 52) Vol. 1: The Midas Touch by Dan Jurgens

Green Arrow (New 52) Vol. 1: The Midas Touch by Dan Jurgens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

New 52

Another Justice League member I don't know all that much about but I picked this up when the $1.99 ebook sale was on. I'm really excited about Jeff Lemire taking over this series now with Vol. 4 so am going back to get a take on him up to date. This was ok. I kind of like Green Arrow in that he's Batman-like, with his vigilante ways, no superhuman abilities and secret identity of a millionaire mogul playboy. This volume has the GA battling against two villainous teams in separate one-off stories. Most of the book has him being hunted and then trapped by a group of super-villains who battle him live online. Then a strange duo of lovers have it out for Oliver not knowing he is the Arrow. Both of these stories are wrapped up though the villains are still available to show up in the future. I liked the occasional references to the JL and a few of the team superheroes as in that series (which I read regularly) GA eventually turns up wanting to join them.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Green Lantern, (New 52) Vol. 1: Sinestro by Geoff Johns


Green Lantern, (New 52) Vol. 1: Sinestro
by Geoff Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52
Green Lantern

I'm a complete noob when it comes to Green Lantern; his universe seems so complicated to try to fathom. But I'm a big Justice League fan and bought this volume when the ebook was on sale for $1.99. My favourite GL and the only one I really know is John Stewart,so I've been having to get to know Hal Jordan. For a newbie this was a pretty good introduction, even though it has picked up with a complete background to the story already in progress, everything was explained quite clearly and I knew what was going on. Geoff Johns is one of my favourite writers in the New 52 and he pulls off a good story here bringing a complete plot to conclusion in the one volume and setting the storyline up for the continuing arc. I really liked Sinestro! He's a good guy turned villain turned good guy who's really a bad guy. LOL. An anti-hero ... or is that anti-villain? Anyway the kind of bad guy you love to hate. Will look for Vol. 2.

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Banzai Battalion: Just Another Bug Hunt by John Wagner & Alan Grant

Banzai Battalion: Just Another Bug Hunt by John Wagner & Alan Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Judge Dredd Universe

This is a fun collection that features a rather cheesy premise but goes on to be a darker plotline. Set in the Judge Dredd megaverse of Mega-City One, the opening story features Dredd and is a cheesy little story of tiny garden soldier robots who patrol gardens (only the rich have these) and take out garden pests. The next couple of stories have Dredd to a lesser degree until he is no longer a part of the story. The Banzaii Battalion progresses from a rote obedient robot group to a rogue element and finally the story goes dark with violence and madness. I've read a couple of these stories before; I haven't got this far in the Case Files so it must have been in other collections, thus it was nice to have the complete story of these somewhat lovable characters. All the Banzaii stories are collected here and even though they haven't appeared since 2006, their story is still open and it is feasible for their story to continue someday. To make the book a bit longer this collection then ends with a few Dredd stories, completely unrelated to Bonzaii, but with the same theme of malfunctioning robots or technology. They were okay stories, just not sure whether I appreciated them being tacked on to the end of this collection. The art is by a variety of artists and goes from 1999-2006 so covers a wide sampling of styles and is all over the place, some obviously being better than others. Certainly a fun collection and one you don't have to have any concerns with letting your kids read as it's pretty tame as far as these books usually go.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 2 by Arina Tanemura

Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 2Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 2 by Arina Tanemura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not being a big fan of romance, this volume really surprised me. Being the opposite of vol. 1 and going heavy on the romance and light on the plot, I ended up really, really enjoying myself with these characters. The first few chapters were a bit of a whirlwind but soon I settled into the characters and enjoyed the humour. One thing I like is that these two know they like each other and Chiaki is all over Maron by the middle of the volume so this isn't going to be one of those long drawn out secret crushes. We get to know both of them quite well and their backgrounds with their parents creating fairly deep characters. While the relationship is progressing there are still plenty of people to save from the demons and I'm enjoying those encounters. There is also an interesting sup-plot between Maron and her best friend. The best friend has a crush on Chiaki as well and is also hunting down and trying to capture the thief Jeanne, not knowing it is Maron. The art is very pretty and satisfying! I love the cover of this book so much. For a highly romantic, relationship shoujo I'm pleasantly surprised with how satisfied I felt upon finishing this volume and loved the little shock ending! I will certainly be continuing on to volume three!

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Ariol #3: Happy as a Pig... by Emmanuel Guibert

Ariol #3: Happy as a Pig...Ariol #3: Happy as a Pig... by Emmanuel Guibert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just delightful! I've grown quite fond of this anthropomorphic community. Such lovely, but very real-life characteristics. I had a smile on my face the whole way through but wasn't laughing out loud like the last volume so just a tad lower rating than volume 2. Volume 3 continues with episodic short stories centred around Ariol the donkey and his family, friends, community and school. As the title suggests his best friend Ramono, the pig, is given some extra feature time as the stories largely surround their friendship and their love for the superhero Thunder Horse. We even get to meet Ramono's sister and mother. No age is ever given for our heroes but we are told Ramono's older sister is 14, so I'm thinking Ariol et al. are about 12yo. Kids will certainly identify with the realistic slice -of-life situations which are played out here for humour on both a level that kids and adults will enjoy separately.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ariol #2: Thunder Horse by Emmanuel Guibert

Ariol #2: Thunder HorseAriol #2: Thunder Horse by Emmanuel Guibert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked Ariol #1 but I loved Ariol #2. I was laughing right from the start with the humour that hits at two levels, one for kids and one for adults. Ariol is collecting sticker packs for his Thunder Horse sticker album and is up to four packs a day but knows he has to cut back down to one pack a day. Seriously. That started me giggling and I was in the mood the whole way through. Again we have the collection of several short stories but this time the topics vary from the first time so they don't feel repetitive at all. Something I must say I was afraid might happen. There are a few school stories and some of the same friends return but other classmates we only saw in book 1 are given bigger roles in this book. New teachers are introduced which meant I missed seeing the coach from book 1. And to further develop these characters even though there is no overall plot we are introduced to Ariol's family. We met mum and dad last book, and they show up plenty here as well. Also Ariol's grandparents come aboard and Ariol shows his love and pride for his parents in two different situations when talking about them. Ariol is a cute, resourceful intelligent donkey but he also manages to get himself into unexpected trouble usually at the behest of Ramono his pig friend or because of mooning over his lady love Petula the cow. Lovely comic for the 7-11 age group the adults will enjoy the humour of as well. Looking forward to Book 3.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monster Soul Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima

Monster Soul 1Monster Soul Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is your typical shounen manga fare. A group of "heroes" with special powers set off to battle the villains. The difference here is that our crew, the good guys, are the monsters, whilst any humans are the bad guys. There isn't much plot going during this first volume as we have three separate incidents which involve our heroes doing battle with a nasty. However, plenty of time is given to character and I've already decided I like this motley bunch and want to read what they get up next in Vol. 2! I really like all of the main characters at this point which evenly consists of two males and two females along with a cute, as yet mysterious, sidekick. This volume had a lot of humour and feels quite promising. Here's to waiting for Volume 2.

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Ariol #1: Just a Donkey Like You and Me by Emmanuel Guibert

Ariol #1: Just a Donkey Like You and MeAriol #1: Just a Donkey Like You and Me by Emmanuel Guibert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to read this cute looking kids comic series for a while and now that vol. 4 has just been published thought I'd start in. The series ended up being as cute as I had expected but more funny and adult-humour suited than expected. It is the type of humour that kids appreciate on one level while adults on a whole other. A collection of several unrelated (plot-wise) short stories which contain the same characters. The kids (all various animals) are not given an age but are somewhere between teen and young teen, (gr. 7-9) and the stories involve their school lives, friendships, home-life, crushes and trouble they get into. Basically a slice-of life for kids at this age. Main characters are Ariol the donkey and his BFF Ramono the pig. However, there is a huge supporting cast and I've already taken a special liking to several already including Mr. Ribera the chicken gym teacher whose habit of saying "in fact" is an ongoing joke. The art is delightful in that French style that I adore and the cover perfectly displays what you can expect. The book was funny and cute but I'm sticking with a rating of Good (3*) as it wasn't hilarious, but I'm hoping the stories will only get better as we go along. On to Volume 2!

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

LEGO Legends of Chima #1: High Risk! by Yannick Grotholt

LEGO Legends of Chima #1: High Risk!LEGO Legends of Chima #1: High Risk! by Yannick Grotholt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this is the very first time I have read a Lego book and I have not seen the cartoon so can't compare BUT I enjoyed this! It was cute. Actually had a good story and the art is great, probably like the cartoon. Instead of one long story we have 4 short stories with the first two going together and the same for the last two. This is all explained in the publisher's afterword as the stories are coming from a German magazine. In the first two Laval and Cragger are former best friends with Cragger being controlled by his sister with the potion from a plant. The theme in all four stories is danger, taking risks and being prepared, thinking first. In the second two stories, the "Legends" quest starts, Cragger and Laval are now best buddies again and Cragger knows his sister, who is no longer present, was controlling him. Except for the unexplained bit about how circumstances changed between the two story sets, all four stories are chronological and each plays upon the other to help get to know the characters better. I think these guys are really cute already. My favourite tribe so far though was the gorillas! Great for beginning readers and I'll be sure to check out the next one.

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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 5 by Ohtaka Shinobu

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 5Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 5 by Ohtaka Shinobu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another splendid volume in this series! This time things take a darker turn and we don't have much humour as action and battling is the order of the day here. Focusing in on Alibaba and Sinbad, mostly, we start off with a background story then quickly come back to the action at hand which is a land, Balbabb, in turmoil. Various factions are fighting against the rotten King and in turn, Alibaba finds himself challenged against multiple, um, challengers! The cast has become larger now, everyone is together and even though the focus is on someone else the others still all make appearances and have input. My mind wandered a little as all the, shall we say political, situations were explained but it is necessary to the overall plot. So not my favourite volume but still a fine entry with a worrisome cliffhanger ending!

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Family Ties: An Alaskan Crime Drama by Eric Hobbs

Family Ties: An Alaskan Crime DramaFamily Ties: An Alaskan Crime Drama by Eric Hobbs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG! This was absolutely brilliant! I was riveted. A page-turner that had me glued to my seat. I love a good mafia story and using the plot of King Lear this brings the elements of a Shakespearean tragedy to the drama of a mafioso family epic. While the plot deviates from the play quite a bit the basics are there shaping a new unique retelling. The father of the family here has dementia and his decline in health along with the siblings' and friends' differing opinions on how to deal with him are also a major plot point. Just like Shakespeare, there are many different threads that all weave together from different angles until they meet up together. Then I was blown away with the awesome violent explosive and emotional climax. The art is done with black and white in a sketchy manner which brings about the stark nature of the story. One of the best dramatic graphic novels I've read this year.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Sweet Rein, Vol. 2 by Sakura Tsukuba

Sweet Rein, Vol. 2Sweet Rein, Vol. 2 by Sakura Tsukuba
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought volume 1 was cute and sweet and also enjoyed the sweet one-off story at the end. Unfortunately, volume 2 did not sit well with me and I won't be continuing it. I don't have much luck with shoujo, even though I'm determined to keep trying. The themes just weren't for me here: there was more emphasis on the bondage and also homo-erotica and crossdressing.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zatch Bell Vol. 14 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell Vol. 14 (Zatch Bell (Graphic Novels))Zatch Bell Vol. 14  by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic volume! The battle intensity continues but some time for plot and emotion has been left here. This works really well! A third book in a row of pure battle might have been too much but just as we're ready the author gets back to the story. Our lovers from way back are back for this volume and I was soooo happy to see them. Of course, they bring an emotional story with them which brings back that part of the series that I love so much too. {sigh} As they are fighting their way to the top of the castle the plot thickens a bit more and we have a cute flash back to Suzy at home for some humour. I just love this series! It has everything.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Zatch Bell Vol. 13 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell Vol. 13 (Zatch Bell (Graphic Novels))Zatch Bell Vol. 13  by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another action-packed volume that is full of battles from beginning to end. Everybody has congregated at the 1000yr-old's hide-out and battles abound. There are some really awesome new mamodos our gang gets to fight this time and finally things come to a head with Ponygon. His problem is solved and he ends up being absolutely awesome and his owner is a great new addition to the cast. The good side is now getting bigger and it feels like the next volume will continue with the battle action.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well this was certainly a lot of fun. Fantastic group of female warriors who are different humanoid species with different abilities and powers. They are a kick-ass team who doesn't take any bull. Joining them in the field and on battles are the remains of another female team that includes a huge female orc and an all-male group called the Daves, since they all have the first name "Dave". This is typical sword and sorcery fantasy questing but it doesn't take itself too seriously with a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek humour and one-liners. This is rated mature not because of any sexual content, though there is some innuendo, but because of the violence. It's quite bloody and messy while still funny at the same time. This is the third book I've read by Wiebe and, while not my favourite, I've been impressed with everything I've read of his. The art on the other hand was ok, not bad, but I found facial expressions became repetitive and unattractive. Otherwise a great read!

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Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Oz by Joe Brusha

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Oz by Joe Brusha
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of Zenescope's Grimm and related Universe tie-in's. I really like what they did with this retelling of the OZ story. This book covers the main theme of OZ as most people know it through the 1930s movie. Much has been changed that the plot hardly resembles the original and yet many key characters, events and scenes are included to pay homage to the original. My favourite character portrayed is the warrior Thorne, who is the last of his lion race. How he relates to the original "cowardly lion" is not revealed until near the end of the book. I enjoyed all the characters and as usual the art is very pretty from this publisher. The lead up to who the traitor in their midst is comes as a fine reveal. This volume is very toned down on the violence compared to many of the other books I've read, but that's not exactly saying much; it is still violent. One must be aware that Zenescope is a publisher that produces comics with a huge cast of buxom females attired in impossibly unrealistic garments that defy gravity. This is the escapism of Zenescope. If scantily, gratuitously clad females offends you, this publisher will not find favour with you. However, some people like their 50 Shades of Grey-type literature, me, I prefer the fun and beauty of Zenescope's titillation. Back to the book. The book ends having wrapped up the traditional Oz story but has left several threads open for a possible sequel to continue into new territory.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Zatch Bell, Volume 12 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell, Volume 12 (Zatch Bell (Graphic Novels))Zatch Bell, Volume 12 by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Total battle action in this volume from beginning to end with a short breather in the middle. The story picks up pace now as the two sides have been pitted against each other and Zatch and Kiyo find themselves battling multiple mamodos. The breather takes time out to reveal the battle action to our heroes and for us to learn who is really behind the scenes leader for each side, good and evil. Zatch and Kiyo are gradually joined by their friends as the book progresses. This feels like a pivotal point in the series and it turns in this new direction which it has been building to for the last few volumes. Still loving all the characters and humour!

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Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

Andre the Giant: Life and LegendAndre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a big wrestling fan in the early to mid eighties and just thrilled to bits when I heard this biography of Andre Roussimoff was coming out. I'm so pleased that it met up with my high expectations. Andre the Giant is pretty much of a legend in the secretive wrestling world of the '80s making it very hard to know where the truth ends and fabrication begins. Using artistic license to bring us a story in visual form Box Brown has done a fantastic job of putting all the most reasonable anecdotes together with the verifiable facts bringing us an inside look at this tortured man's life. He was an enigma who brought wrestling to the mainstream audience, a man with a death sentence of a disease and one who lived with perpetual pain. Hard-drinking, rude and racist he was also a kind, gentle giant faced with discrimination and this graphic biography is a wonderful portrait of the man from all angles. At the end of the book the author has compiled a Notes section which details where his information came from and how he interpreted it, which also made for interesting reading.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 11 by Kiiro Yumi

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 11 (Library Wars: Love & War, #11)Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 11 by Kiiro Yumi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG!!! This volume opens with war, a battle. There are shots fired, blood and everything!!! Wow, wow, wow. During and after all the excitement Iku and Dojo are sooo intimate with each other, it is swoon worthy. Then they plan their first date! Yeah, finally!

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Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier

Hidden: A Child's Story of the HolocaustHidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Splendid story of the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied France. A grandmother tells her granddaughter her story of the holocaust and how she was taken care of by a French family when her parents were carted off to a concentration camp one night. A beautiful, moving story that manages to tell the heartbreak and tragedy from a young child's perspective. The child is not told much of what is really going on, just enough to know the danger and that something very bad is happening. The adults are trying to protect a small part of her childhood innocence in the middle of all this horror. This makes "Hidden" a perfect first book on the holocaust for younger children, as the content is kept very age appropriate for about Gr. 2/3 and up. I'm impressed with the quality and reality of the tale while being sensitive to its younger audience. I love the art which is typically French and also uses disproportionate bodies with large heads. I seem to have read a large number of French comics this year and have become quite impressed with the work coming out of that country. Recommended!

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Sunny, Vol. 3 by Taiyo Matsumoto

Sunny, Vol. 3Sunny, Vol. 3 by Taiyo Matsumoto

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This seinen manga continues to please me. While each chapter is still a vignette from the "Star Kids Home" the characters are recurring whose character's are building upon their past experiences. Both the children and the adults. While there is no overreaching arc, the individual characters have backgrounds and story lines that are slowly being played out. This a real "slice of life" story of a Japanese home for children whose parents can't look after them for whatever reasons taking place during the 1970s. This volume pays particular attention to the oldest members of the staff, the old original owner, his son the current owner and a college student, a former resident at the home. The second half deals with the children and their loneliness when they allow themselves to think of their parents (mothers mostly). A sensitive story, and a slow one, but the vignettes are a powerful tool not allowing us to dwell on one event for very long. This is also a quality produced tome with hardcovers, nice paper and art done with inks.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

The Undertaking of Lily ChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exquisite. A haunting tale of sorrow, ghosts, ancient customs and dealing with death. I'm partial to tales of Communist China and had high hopes for this book regarding an ancient custom of burying a female corpse with an unwed son who has died so he won't be alone in the after-world. This custom is still practised and, unfortunately, when a corpse can't be found it is easier to make one. In reality this is a modern day fairy tale, a romance with a bittersweet ending. One that shows the plight of women in communist countries and what happens to religion when Communism suppresses its open practice. The two families here are contrasts of one another. The town family with two sons who broke the one-child law, and yet still favour the first-born according tradition, even to the point of wishing the second son had died instead of the first. Then there is the girl's rural farming family who has the only child, merely a girl, and a troublesome one at that. Here is a family, as farmers, who could have done well with having several children, but they follow the law (as the penalties would have been exorbitant fees). This family is much more modern though, and when a rich man offers to marry the girl in payment of their debts, she runs off. As they (son & daughter) meet each other their points of view and way of life clash against each other as they journey through a tale of ancient China which is taking place today in modern Communist China. Haunting and memorable with absolutely gorgeous watercolour artwork!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deadman Wonderland Vol. 2 by Jinsei Kataoka

Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 2Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 2 by Jinsei Kataoka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Didn't live up to my expectations of Vol. 1 but still good. This volume closes in on Ganta and the white haired girl as they find out the one who killed Ganta's classmates is hidden in the prison somewhere. Rather than finding him, they meet someone else and Ganta learns more about the "deadmen" and what is going on inside the prison. I think this volume focused in on the main characters too soon, as I felt like I hadn't got a handle on the environment yet. The amusement park was hardly mentioned and none of the other inmates were involved in the story. I would have preferred getting to know the society better before closing in on the politics of the plot. However, this is still an awesome dystopian theme and I'm hoping the third volume will pull everything together better for me. I love the characters!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Country Nurse (Essex County #3) by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 3: The Country Nurse (Essex County, #3)Essex County Vol. 3: The Country Nurse by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a poignant, heavy, moody (perhaps depressing) end to the trilogy. The country nurse could be called the "county" nurse and she ties the whole story together by finally showing us the relationship between everyone we've met. Added to this is Annie's story herself. I enjoyed this trilogy and this book in particular even though it lays heavy upon me, it brings a positive message. The loneliness, the heartache, the sadness along with family splits and division all have the birth of children at their heart and in the end those children are also the key to happiness, second chances and the future living on. No matter what the circumstances, children can always be a blessing.

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Dragon Ball, Full Color Saiyan Arc Vol. 2 by Akira Toriyama

Dragon Ball Full Color, Vol. 2Dragon Ball Full Color, Vol. 2 by Akira Toriyama
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Saiyans arrive and our team joins together to battle them. The whole volume concerns this one theme and we may as well call this the "Hamlet" volume as practically everybody dies. (But death is not always death as we know it in Dragon Ball) As the book ends the fight is not yet over ...

This Full Colour edition is fantastic read with its bright colours and magazine sized pages. A quality edition and I loooove the large panels!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Murder MysteriesMurder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed the start, fair enough. I'm a Christian who enjoys reading fantasy and doesn't mind fantastical stories about angels, demons, etc. And this is how this started off and I was ready enough to fall into this make believe "heaven" of the author and illustrator's imagination. I also liked the dual murder stories. However, the story lost me and all logic could no longer be suspended when they start throwing around their own brand of theology to explain the nature of God, religion and the fallen angels. The point my eyes rolled up into my head started with the sentence [Love is] "a feeling of deep affection for another being, often combined with passion or desire -- a need to be with another." Someone let in the PC Brigade. Non-Christians just can't get past the fact that love is *not* a feeling. Love is an action and the more suitable a definition in "heaven" no less would be *God* is love. So the story fell apart here for me as everything about the murder mystery had to do with feelings and comparing love with death. Love and death are not comparable in a Christian manner, the more natural and logical comparisons would be birth and death or life and death. The "love" scene between the angels didn't even bother me at this point because a) there is nothing sexual about the showing of affection between two individuals, especially gender-less ones, even if the illustrator tries to make it look so and b) by this point "love" has become a mockery in the story; something (actually a feeling) that causes jealousy, pain, vengeance and murder.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 20 by Hiroshi Shiibashi

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 20Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 20 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love this cover with a passion! As to the volume it was just middle of the road for this series. Sticking mainly to one plot, Rikuo goes after one yokai who is turning girls into monsters. But the major excitement happens when Rikuo's yokai look actually changes. It's pretty cool but not clear on whether this is temporary or for good. Waiting for the next volume.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Olympians: Aphrodite, Goddess of Love by George O'Connor

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (Olympians, #6)Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O'Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Greek mythology but have to say that when knowing the next book was actually about the Goddess of "Love" I wasn't as excited as with the previous books in this series. However, O'Connor went in a great direction with his retelling of Aphrodite's story. He starts back at the beginning with Kaos and Gaea and re-tells the whole story of creation and the Olympians as was done in the first book "Zeus", though this time very quickly and from the point of view of Eros from which Aphrodite is formed. After a few tales of Aphrodite's interfering in occasions of love with her always present sidekick, Eros (better known by his Roman name, Cupid), O'Connor chooses to focus on the Judgement of Paris and the Golden Apple. This opens up a whole future of tensions and the set up for the epic War of Troy. O'Connor has added some modern sensibilities to his female characters and modern thoughts on the theme of love which some readers may appreciate, but this reader didn't, bringing my rating down to a four. Otherwise, George's art is as divine as usual and I look forward to the next book but am at a loss to find it not advertised at the back of this one. Who will be featured next?

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