Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven by Brandon Easton

Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven by Brandon Easton; Denis Medri (illus)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 104 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by IDW
Source: egalley via netgalley

What a wonderful book. I've read another recent graphic novel on Andre, but this one is even better! The art is absolutely fantastic! The book tells the story of Andre's life from childhood to death from his own point of view. It was great to see the first three Wrestlemania's covered as these were my hey-days when I was a wrestling fan back in the '80s. I pretty much already knew the story of Andre's life but this is a book that embraces him and tells his own bittersweet story. The Foreword is written by his only daughter, Robin Roussimoff.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker

Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker; Sean Phillips (illus)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ebook, Digital Edition, 138 pages
Published June 27th 2012 by Image Comics
Source: Comixology Unlimited

Fatale (#1)

I really enjoyed this. Pulp, noir mystery combined with cults, demons and the general paranormal. The story is a bit cliched but a lot of fun. Switching between the present and the 1950s a detective gets caught up in his grandfather's past. The art is excellent! Done in the style of the fifties it really brings the story to life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales Vol. 1 by Kanata Konami

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales by Kanata Konami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 155 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Vertical Comics
Source: Purchased print copy new via amazon.ca

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Vol. 1)

A cute kitten manga about an elderly lady and the first days of her kitten acclimatising to his new home There are a lot of sound effects and wordless sections as only the woman talks. I like that the kitten doesn't talk as Chi's talking was annoying from the manga-ka's previous series "Chi's Sweet Home". But, otherwise, FukuFuku is nowhere near as good as the Chi series at this point. Fuku just seems so basic, the woman has no personality or dimension of her own and the art isn't as defined, it's simply not as cute or funny. I would read a second volume if it starting adding the story of the woman, as Chi was the story of a family.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse Omnibus by Mingming

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse Omnibus by Mingming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 708 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by Dark Horse
Source: Purchased print copy amazon.ca

Neon Genesis Evangelion Universe

 Collects all 4 volumes of this mini-series spin-off. A nice omnibus edition with colour pages at the beginning of each volume and paper a bit nicer than what you find in viz's omnibus editions. I've read the original Evangelion series, but am not a super fan or anything like that so can't really go in-depth about characters, etc. However, this is a very different take on the series and is set prior to the original series and basically takes a completely different spin on the story It's still science fiction but no giant mecha fighting machines. Shinji and Kaworu are the main character emphasis and the story is based on "angels" (the enemy) inhabiting human bodies. I really enjoyed the story though I found at points it seemed to have continuity problems. It was fun to revisit all the characters even if they were presented differently, they still had the same basic personalities. While this is still a serious story, it is certainly much lighter than the immensely heavy original series. I don't watch anime so am only speaking from a reader's pov, but I found this a worthwhile read and entertaining reimagining of the series.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Far Out Fairy Tales: Five Full-Color Graphic Novels edited by Sean Tulien

Far Out Fairy Tales: Five Full-Color Graphic Novels edited by Sean Tulien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback
Published April 1st 2016 by Stone Arch Books
Source: Review copy thanks to Capstone Publishing

An omnibus collection of five previously published graphic novel retellings of fairytales by Capstone. These are wild, silly "far out" pastiches and written by familiar names who often write for Capstone. I was thrilled to find "Oddly Normal" author Otis Frampton among those names but his ended up not being my favourite, that honour goes to "Super Billy Goats Gruff" by Sean Tulien. The art is superb throughout and while a few different artists' work appears it is mostly cohesive together, only one did not suit my tastes. Overall, an excellent collection for fairy tale enthusiasts. Also, each story ends with a page of text telling the original story and it's history and is followed by a graphic visual of the changes between the original and the "Far Out" version.

1. Ninja-rella by Joey Comeau (Omar Lozano) - The art is wonderful. It's very angular, bold and colourful! The story is very similar to the Perrault tale we are all familiar with few exceptions but the theme. Cinderella is into being a ninja and changes her name after her mum dies. She practices all the time with a glass Katana sword. After being orphaned the steps treat her as we expect but the story changes when Ninja-rella dreams of going to the ball so she can meet the prince and become his personal bodyguard! Thankfully, her Godninja shows up just in time. Cute! (4/5)

2. Red Riding Hood, Superhero by Otis Frampton - I was thrilled to see this comic by the author of the "Oddly Normal" series. Of course, the art is great and there are lots of funny moments of dialogue. This retelling totally refreshes the original. The only basic element the same is in which Red named Ruby, is on her way to see her Granny and intercepted by the Big Bad Wolf. However, BBW is out to kidnap Granny who just happens to be the President of the United States. The story is full of action as she takes on Professor Grimm, a man who was bitten by a radioactive wolf, now a werewolf. We even get a flasback to Riding Hood's origin story of her superpowers which reside in the cape/hood and it's pretty cute. Another fun tale for the intended audience. (4/5)

3. Super Billy Goats Gruff by Sean Tulien (Fernando Cano) - This one is hilarious. Only slightly keeps some basic elements of the original tale. The three goats set off over the hill to find some grass to eat and end up eating three strange shaped mushrooms which zap them straight into a video game. All the essential video game tropes ensue including fighting level bosses until they beat the creature on the bridge and return to their own world. Another example of wonderful art similar in style to the previous stories. My favourite so far. (5/5)

4. Snow White and the Seven Robots by Louise Simonson (Jimena Sanchez) - Overall, this is the best written story in the book but my least favourite art. The style is completely different, which makes it stand out in a collection like this and it just doesn't do anything for me. The story, however, is well-told and the most entertaining here. It stays very close to the original tale, without much deviation except it has been set in outer space on an alien planet, Techworld. Also, it's not Snow's beauty which causes envy but her intelligence. I really enjoyed this one! (5/5)

5. Hansel & Gretel & Zombies by Benjamin Harper (Fernando Cano) - This is just silly. It doesn't follow the original story much as you would probably expect, what with everybody being zombies. However, all the plot points are there: being lost in the forest, the candy house, Hansel being plumped up, etc. It has a nice happy ending for everybody including the witch. My least favourite story in the collection but the art is by the same artist as the "Billy Goats" story so it is good. (3/5)

Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 6 by Sui Ishida

Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 6 by Sui Ishida
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: Purchased print copy new

Tokyo Ghoul (6)

Very intense issue. A little confusing at first as it jumps around with the Ghoul Investigators and a new arc with Ken and co. The new agent (picture on cover) is very weird but we don't know much about him yet. He is reminding me somewhat of "L" from Death Note. Ken and gang have a run-in with a group of Ghouls who are being led by some creepy dudes. Then they kidnap Ken and the intensity rises!

Lou by Melissa Mendes

Lou by Melissa Mendes
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 11th 2016 by Alternative Comic
Source: egalley via edelweiss

A seemingly simple look at childhood which presents a deeper story than one would first surmise. The art is basic and unpretentious hand drawings and the story seems to take place over one summer as the kids don't go to school. Lou and her brother are about 12 and 6 and spend every waking minute bickering, arguing and together. The also have a teenager brother who works at a pizza shop. The family is poor, can't afford a pet dog, but dad brings one home anyway. The book mostly examines the dynamics of the two bickering siblings; mum seems to be depressed, with it all we get a glimpse of the parents past, how mum dropped out of college, they met in a bar, she got pregnant, they got married, he works landscaping with his dad. To add excitement we also have a mysterious but also somehow sad story of the pizza store owner being beaten up by what appears to be mafia types, the owner disappears and the teenage son who has appeared to be a punk layabout so far steps up and starts running the shop. Everything comes to a head one night when the little boy runs away when being babysat by the teen while the parents are out celebrating their anniversary. An engaging story, rather bittersweet, but also optimistic. I would read more from the author.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Twilight Children by Gilbert Hernández

The Twilight Children by Gilbert Hernández; Darwyn Cooke (illus)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 144 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Vertigo
Source: egalley via edelweiss

This has a really cool cover and interesting plot that is going to appeal to a lot of people. Unfortunately, I found it hardly made any sense and have no feelings about the plot or characters, or any real sense what it was all about. I also thought the dialogue was very bad. The art is great, though!

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 13 & Vol. 14 by Adachitoka

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 13 by Adachitoka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Kodansha Comic
Source: purchased print copy

Noragami: Stray God (#13)

Hiyori confronts Yato's father and when he tell's her it's dangerous to mess with him she "accepts his challenge". And thus, this whole volume concerns the consequences of that exchange and concentrates on Hiyori, her family and her role in the Far Shore. Tons of action, battle and emotion. An ending I've seen coming for a while now but have been dreading. Wondering how this will change the dynamics in the future volumes!



Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 14 by Adachitoka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Kodansha Comics
Source: review copy thanks to Penguin Random House Canada

Noragami: Stray God (#14)

Two stories running concurrently here with both revealing secrets. Hiroyi's brother arrives to help the family out and eventually a family secret is revealed. Meanwhile, Bishamon has to deal with one of her shinji who was injured in the last volume. It's something she wants to keep secret from everyone else though so she asks for Yato's help but it's something that can't be cured. Then Kazuma gets all weird and reveals something he's been keeping secret! Great volume!

Ultraman, Vol. 4 by Eiichi Shimizu

Ultraman, Vol. 4 by Eiichi Shimizu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 188 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Ultraman (Vol. 4)

A lot is happening in this volume but I just couldn't get with all the subterfuge going on. I just felt like a lot was thrown at us and I'm not sure I'm really into all this alien stuff. I'm not connected to any of the characters at this point either. I don't think I'll continue with the series at this time.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Batman & Robin in Scarecrow's Nightmare Maze & Clayface's Slime Spree

Capstone's newest addition to their DC Super Hero Chapter books feature BATMAN & ROBIN, the Dynamic Duo. I love all the books in this series. They are great for younger advanced readers or older struggling readings. Not every book in the series is equal. Some are excellent and some are ok but all are gorgeously illustrated by people who have previous credits with DC to their name.



Scarecrow's Nightmare Maze by J E Bright; Luciano Vecchio (illus)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback
Published March 1st 2016 by Stone Arch Books
Source: review copy thanks to Capstone Pub.

DC Super Heroes (Batman & Robin)
Batman

An excellent original story that ties in to Professor Crane's Scarecrow villain with a tale worthy of the characters. The opening chapter is outstanding and will have young readers hooked. The Dynamic Duo go after Scarecrow once he's captured some teens at a Prom Harvest Dance using a new variant of his fear chemicals. The artwork is vibrant and done in the style of animated television.




Clayface's Slime Spree by Laurie S. Sutton; Luciano Vecchio (illus)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback
Published March 1st 2016 by Stone Arch Books
Source: review copy thanks to Capstone Pub.

DC Super Heroes (Batman & Robin)
Batman


The artwork is vibrant and done in the style of animated television. The story is directed at younger readers who will appreciate the slim plot that begins an action-packed chase across the city by the Dynamic Duo to arrest Clayface. Caught in action, robbing WayneTech Industries, he's looking for Batman's newest inventions. He escapes when the Duo arrive and they grab a bunch of Prototypes too. Might as well test them in the field ... and no better time? eh? Non-stop action of chasing and being pursued versus using untested prototypes in the field with not many working as they should but many working to our heroes advantage and others to our villain's curses. One thing I did really like about the story was using different devices to capture Clay along the way, heat turned part of him to clay (captured that part) another device turned him into light mud bubbles which they sealed in canisters and finally ... I won't spoil the end with how they capture the last bit of him. Lots of fun for readers who like lots of action.Not one of my favourites, but fun.

The Seven Deadly Sins 14 by Nakaba Suzuki

The Seven Deadly Sins 14 by Nakaba Suzuki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Kodansha Comics
Source: review copy thanks to Penguin Random House Canada

The Seven Deadly Sins (#14)

This is the beginning of a new story arc. The king has a new omen and sees trouble coming to the south headed for Camelot so assigns the Seven Sins to go there and stop whatever evil they will find. Meanwhile, they have two days to get ready and in this time practically every single character has a personal storyline going on. It's unbelievable how much stuff happens in this volume! Some are major events, powers, etc. while others are romances that have been brewing for a while. An exciting volume that leaves many storylines dangling to be picked up in the next volumes. Love this series!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Superman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski

Superman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 135 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by DC Comics
Source: library

Superman & Family
Earth One (#1)

This is a new origin story for Superman. It stays pretty close to the one we're all familiar with, not much has changed. It starts with Clark leaving the farm and going off to the city to start his life; he's decided not to be Superman but just be a regular person getting a regular job. Unfortunately, a villain comes to Earth, specifically looking for the last remaining Kryptonian to destroy him and Clark comes out as Superman to save the earth. The best thing about this book is the art; it's great. The story is good and readable; I like the angle we are seeing Superman from but the plot isn't very exciting and the villain (made up for this volume) was lame: just some guy from another planet in a ship. I've read all the other books in the Earth One series so I'll go on and read the next which I hope picks up with a better villain, perhaps someone we already know.

Echoes by Joshua Hale Fialkov

Echoes by Joshua Hale Fialkov; Rahsan Ekedal (illus); Steve Niles (intro)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 168 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Image Comics
first published 2011
Source: egalley via netgalley

I really enjoyed this! It is pretty creepy and would make a good basis for a longer novel. I was under the impression that this was horror, but it's not. It's what crime enthusiasts would call a serial killer thriller. The whole case is pretty creepy and mixes a serial killer with family secrets and madness. In this case, the "madness" is schizophrenia which is presented overly dramatic for artistic effect but also realistically and responsibly. There are some good twists. I did figure out what was really going on but couldn't figure out the why. The only thing that disappoints me and reduces my rating to a 4/5 is the abrupt, ambiguous ending. The black and white art is magnificently macabre and frightfully enhances the story.

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 20th 2016 by Image Comics
Source: egalley via netgalley

I Hate Fairyland (1)


And now for something rather different. With a blend of cutsie artwork in a Wonderland fairytale world, and bloody gory violence Skottie Young brings a humorous farce to fairytale comics. Best suited for teens and up; there is no nudity, the swearing is made up words and while very, very bloody the violence is cartoonish. I got a good laugh out of this and enjoyed the parodies of specific fairy tales and fairy tale devices. Gertrude is one nasty 40yo trapped in her 8yo body but you've got to like her. I think I'd go crazy being stuck in a brightly coloured candyland for 20 years too! One of my favourite parts is each issue starts off with a different narrator from the narrator's guild because Gertrude kills them for talking about her. This book certainly won't be for everyone, but if you've got a sense for dark humour this should grab your funny bone.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan; Cliff Chiang (illus)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Image Comics
Source: egalley via netgalley

Paper Girls (#1)

A promising start to a new series from Vaughan with gorgeous art to match. A very strange science fiction story set in the 1980s. We're given a lot of information in this first volume and introduced to many characters along with a whole lot of questions about what the heck is going on. Four 12yo girls find that pretty much most of the town has disappeared and they are left to meet strange monsters, flying dinosaurs, alien looking knights who speak a combo mod-slang Shakespearean lingo and deformed aliens who claim to be teenagers like them. We're not sure who the bad guys are yet so the girls can't trust anyone at this point. We don't know much about the girls yet either but we have got to know their personalities. There is also an apple symbolism floating around with both Garden of Eden and the computer company references being explored. I also loved the '80s clothing and cultural references. A very intriguing opening volume that has me anxious to read more, especially with its shock ending.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman; Michael Zulli (illus)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 56 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Dark Horse Books
first published 2008
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Very good! Neil Gaiman is always hit and miss with me so I never know with his books! This is a graphic adaptation of one of his short stories (which I hadn't read). The art is deliciously scrumptious and says so much more than words could, especially with the ending. It's a spooky creepy tale that held me enthralled from beginning to end.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle

Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle;  Jason Katzenstein (illus.)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 248 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Image Comics
Source: egalley via netgalley

I loved this way more than I had expected going in. First, we are presented with an aggressive, obnoxious teenager who can't stand her "step-monster" and is pretty frightful in her own behaviour against her parents. But she gets shipped off to summer camp mistakenly, I wonder, to a camp for monsters, where Skye quickly finds out that looks can be deceiving and that she's the odd one out for a change. She learns about accepting differences and makes new friends. The book's lesson is easy to see but it's not forced with the fun, monsterish friendships and a budding romance all taking main plot points. The characters had depth especially Skye and Mia and the creepy, spooky art by Katzenstein is fantastic. Much more my kind of summer camp comic than say, Lumberjanes, which bored me.

One-Punch Man, Vol. 6 by ONE

One-Punch Man, Vol. 6 by ONE
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 216 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss & purchased print copy

One-Punch Man (#6)

Another great volume. This one is action packed as a new story arc begins. Earth is attacked by aliens and all the Class S heroes are on hand (minus 2, plus Saitama). I won't spoil the plot by saying anymore. But Saitama's character has grown since the first volumes and finding someone worthy of his fight is not turning out to be all he thought it would.

My Hero Academia, Vol. 04 by Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia, Vol. 04 by Kouhei Horikoshi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss

My Hero Academia (#4)

A great volume action-packed with battles but also gives us great insight into a lot of characters. The book starts off with a team challenge where the contestants divide themselves into teams of four and play until four teams have captured all the points. Then the rest of the book does one-on-one battles with the remaining sixteen players ending before the final battle. While the main character is developing and gaining in his powers it is the close look at all the various side characters which really makes this volume shine. My favourite of the series so far!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Harry N. Abrams
first published in German, 2006
Source: local library

A well-written biography of Cash starting with his childhood and ending with him in a studio in the woods recording his last album. Concentrates on the Folsom Prison concert as the pinnacle of the realisation of his dreams and tells a side story of Glen Sherley the man in Folsom who sent a song to Johnny. The book tells the story we're all pretty familiar with since the movie with Joaquin Phoenix but Cash's character is examined from various viewpoints including both his wives and various performers he worked with who both agreed and disagreed with his worldviews such as Carl Perkins and Bob Dylan. The art is in black and white and appropriately stark. The characters all look enough like who they are supposed to, to be recognisable but I was more keen on June Carter's depiction than Johnny's. A cool device I liked was every so often one of Johnny's songs would be told graphically with Johnny as the lead character. This really showed how much of a storyteller Cash was and why his songs are so mesmerising. I really enjoyed the book. Cash was treated with respect while examining all aspects of his life: the drugs, addictions, affairs, recovery, and deep Christian faith. Even though he had a dark life and was a troubled man, the book manages to have you singing along when it features his songs. Well worth reading if you are a fan of Johnny Cash.

Hotel Strange #2 on the Sapphire's Trail by Katherine Ferrier & Florian Ferrier

Hotel Strange #2 on the Sapphire's Trail by Katherine Ferrier & Florian Ferrier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 40 pages
Published January 1st 2016 by Graphic Universe
Source: egalley via Netgalley

Hotel Strange (#2)

I love the quirky art and characters in this series! They are so much fun and creepy cute. Summer has come to Hotel Strange and they are putting on their annual musical with everyone involved except Kiki who gets all grumpy this time of year hating the noise, not helping out because he's lazy and everything he tries to do always ends up a catastrophe anyway. And, catastrophe is the theme word of this volume. All sorts, both big and small. Kiki stumbles upon some thieves who have been robbed and the gang then go out to find the missing treasure. The plot as in the first book isn't exactly exciting, but the dialogue and cute, fun characters make it an enjoyable read.

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume One by Grant Morrison

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume One by Grant Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 6th 2016 by DC Comics
Source: egalley via Netgalley

Earth One (#7)
Wonder Woman

This is pretty good. Like the other volume ones of the Earth One series, this is a new origin story for Wonder Woman and Morrison goes back to WW's 1940s beginnings and gives us a grown-up version of the story we are most familiar with. Steve Trevor crashes on Paradise Island and Diana leaves with him to the "Mans World". I'm not too keen on the feminism and lesbianism but they're not too heavy-handed and I did appreciate the nod to Wonder Woman's illustrated history with bondage. Overall, it's a decent origin story and I like Diana's character: the spoiled Princess turning into a person who cares about the world she's been protected from. It will be interesting to see how it continues from here when she meets the other superheroes.