Day Men by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson (writers) and Brian Stelfreeze (art)
This past year I’ve been trying out a wide variety of new series by buying a ton of #1 issues. I’ve got a good sense of the Big Two (DC and Marvel), so most of these #1s have been from other publishers, often written and drawn by people I’ve never heard of. If the art looks interesting and the plot even slightly worth checking out, I’ve done so. And I have to say that about 75% of the time, I don’t want to buy issue #2. But I’ve found a few series that are amazing. Perhaps the one that has surprised me the most is Day Men. It’s by writers and artists I know nothing about, and it’s from a publisher — Boom! Studios — that I don’t know much about. It’s also about vampires, and I’m sick of vampires. There are too many books, comics, movies and TV shows in the genre (and I live in the small town where they film most of Vampire Diaries... Read More
Day Men by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson (writers) and Brian Stelfreeze (art)
Battling Boy by Paul Pope
The more graphic novels I read from First Second publishers, the more impressed I am: Paul Pope’s fairly recent Battling Boy is yet another excellent release from :01. Paul Pope, known for his distinctive art style, mainly writes for an older crowd with books I enjoy but am not willing to hand over to my 8- and 11-year-old children. However, Pope changes direction, if not his wonderful art style, with Battling Boy, and I hope I can talk both my kids into reading it soon. I know they’ll love the story, but I’m curious to see how they respond to his unique art.
The story is a great one and is comprised of two main sets of good characters directed toward a third set of bad characters. Basically, the stor... Read More
Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume One by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
Dark Horse has just started reissuing one of the best manga collections of all-time: Lone Wolf and Cub. If you are interested in Japanese art and culture, this volume is one you want to order immediately! Even if you aren’t interest in the historical role of the Samurai warrior in Japan, you’ll want this book for the beautiful black and white artwork.
In the U.S., we’ve been inundated with manga aimed primarily at teenagers, so we’ve gotten a warped view of what is actually available in Japan. Lone Wolf and Cub is a wonderful reminder that in Japan, manga is written for all audiences. Lone Wolf and Cub, however, is not just an example of what manga for adults looks like, but also representative of what the greatest manga can do w... Read More
Shiny Beasts by Rick Veitch (with Alan Moore & S. R. Bissette)
Shiny Beasts is a 2007 collection of short story pieces dating from 1978-1994. Rick Veitch is an artist who worked with Alan Moore on his early run of Swamp Thing and eventually took over writing duties as well. Since Swamp Thing is a horror title, it's no surprise that Shiny Beasts deals with the horrific at times as well, but usually in terms of the horror that man inflicts on himself and other men. However, though not all the stories are horrific, all are a bit unsettling. Finally, Shiny Beasts, like most story collections, is uneven in its content; however, the best pieces make it worth having, particularly if you like art that challen... Read More
Grandville by Bryan Talbot
Exquisite, fantastical artwork lifts Grandville out of the ordinary. Bryan Talbot’s graphic novel, set in an alternate fantasy world where homo sapiens sapiens is not the dominant species, and Napoleon won the Peninsular Wars, is a true luxury to read, due mostly to the stunning, vividly executed pictures.
But Napoleon? Napoleon, probably the third of that name, is a lion. Archie LeBrock, the Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector who is our hero, is a badger and his sergeant is a rat.
In Talbot’s lushly realized steampunk world, France dominates Europe. Britain was a French possession, but British rebels engaged in terrorism and managed to wrest the island’s freedom away from Napoleon. The people of France hate and distrust the Brits and fear another terrorist attack, especially in light of a deadly assault on the Robida Tower two years previously, where an... Read More
Super Dinosaur (Vol. 1) by Robert Kirkman (writer) and Jason Howard (artist)
Super Dinosaur is a fun, fast read for kids. I bought this one for my eight-year-old son, and he devoured it in only two sittings. He took breaks only to run over to me to show me his favorite pictures and dialogue. Though the book is no work of genius for kids — as is Bone by Jeff Smith — it certainly reaches its intended audience. Robert Kirkman — author of The Walking Dead, the horror comic books on which the TV show is based — clearly wanted to write for a younger audience, and he succeeds with this first volume of Super Dinosaur.
Jus... Read More
Madame Xanadu (Vol 1): Disenchanted by Matt Wagner (author) and Amy Reeder Hadley (artist)
A few months back, we had a discussion here at Fanlit about Tarot cards and literature. We tried to come up with a list of books in which the use of Tarot cards was prominent. Well, I’ve got another book to add to that list: Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted by Matt Wagner.
Madame Xanadu is a DC character who is one of DC’s magical and mystical figures, along with such characters as Zatara, Zatanna, The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, The Demon, Sandman, Death (from Sandman) and others. You don’t need to be familiar with any of these characters to read Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted. In fact, this volu... Read More
Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden
“I’m pretty sure I died. For like, a minute, at least.”
Against a blue and black background, a spidery streak of lightning illuminates the sign, Dunhill Cemetery. In the second frame, a car appears, twin spots of red, the brake lights, gleaming like eyes as a shadowy figure unloads another figure from the trunk and hurls it down a defile. That’s how Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders, by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden opens.
The body is that of our main character, a teenaged girl with no memory of her past, only sketchy recollections of an attack. She knows that someone tried to kill her, and that her life now depends on letting them think they succeeded.
The girl seeks shelter in a crypt and chooses names from the headstones, Calexa Rose Dunhill. She steals food from the caretaker (who knows i... Read More
Possessions, Book One: Unclean Getaway by Ray Fawkes (author/artist)
If you are looking for a fun, unique, well-written book for your 8-12 year old, you should seek out a copy of Possessions by Ray Fawkes. It’s horror fiction for kids in the same way that Scooby-Doo is technically horror fiction: It’s just so much fun, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Basically, the main character looks like a five- to six-year old girl, but she’s actually a pit demon known as “Gurgazon the Unclean.”
Gurgazon is captured by Mr. Thorne, a butler-like servant who maintains for his elderly employer the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities. The main narrative is simple: Gurgazon tries again and again to escape and is constantly frustrated by Mr. Thorne who seems to anticipate perfectly every atte... Read More
Cosmic Odyssey by Jim Starlin (writer) and Mike Mignola (artist) 1992
On the one hand, the story of Cosmic Odyssey is a simple one — a terrible and dangerous force known as the anti-life equation threatens our universe, and all the good characters must unite with the evil Darkseid to save the day. On the other hand, this story is rich with Jack Kirby’s wonderful cosmic characters that form the background for much of DC’s Cosmic Universe as it remains to this day.
To understand why you should read Cosmic Odyssey is to understand its background, its creators, and the characters: Cosmic Odyssey is a DC story that includes major characters created by Jack Kirby — characters known as the “New Gods.” Jack Kirby, the influential artist from Marvel who worked with Stan Lee to create major, iconic chara... Read More
Mystery Society by Steve Niles (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)
If you are looking for a light, funny read with beautiful art, you should check out Mystery Society by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples. The basic story sounds like it should be written seriously, but Niles turns to wit instead. The Mystery Society is a renegade group devoted to debunking myths (or verifying them), revealing military secrets, and exposing the lies of reporters (who have themselves been lied to, as one character points out). What’s amusing? The team includes not just psychic twin sisters with a mysterious secret and a woman bit by a ghoul who calls herself “Secret Skull,” but also the brain of Jules Verne housed in a robot body (with — I kid you not — a “butt jet”).
The relationship between the two main characters is what makes this book wor... Read More
Rising Stars: Compendium (Part One) by J. Michael Straczynski
Having just finished Straczynski's Rising Stars, I now have a new comic book to add to my list of favorites. JMS, as he's known, is the creator of Babylon 5, and he applies his grand world-building skills to this superhero comic. As Neil Gaiman writes in the introduction to Rising Stars, with Babylon 5, JMS did what should have been "impossible," but with Rising Stars he merely did what was "very unlikely." JMS is also the author of The Book of Lost Souls and Read More
Runaways: Pride & Joy (Vol. 1) by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Adrian Alphona (pencils)
What do you do when you find out your parents aren’t who you thought they were? Brian K. Vaughan deals with ages-old drama of teenagers confronting the fallibility of their parents in an interesting and exciting way. Though most of us have never discovered that our parents are part of a super-villain syndicate that includes a couple of crime lords who put Kingpin to shame — as well as mutants, aliens, time travelers, sorcerers, and mad scientists — most people can remember the day they realized that their parents are human and fallible, and maybe just a bit hypocritical. While most teenagers feel at some point that their parents are evil, Vaughan’s fantastic teenage heroes know their parents are EVIL. We follow them in this first volum... Read More
Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin
If you are at all interested in the villain haunting the cosmic portion of the Marvel Universe, then you might want to check out these two titles: Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet. Both are trade collections that tell one grand story of the power-hungry Titan known as Thanos. You've seen his big, scheming smile on his enormous purple face at the end of The Avengers, and you are going to see more and more of it in the coming years as Hollywood embraces a new villain in space: Darth Vadar, please stand aside, here comes Thanos!
Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos starts with so... Read More
The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below by Patrick Rothfuss (story) and Nate Taylor (art)
Author Patrick Rothfuss and artist Nate Taylor have teamed up again to bring us another picture book about the princess who lives in a marzipan castle and her stuffed teddy bear named Mr. Whiffle. You don’t need to have read the first book, The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed (reviewed by Justin) to enjoy their latest adventure.
In The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below, the princess, whose background we know nothing about, has somehow acquired a baby brother. The princess isn’t too impressed with the boy for several reasons — he’s noisy, he’s perpet... Read More