Brad Hawley

On FanLit’s staff since April 2012

BRAD HAWLEY received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon in 2000, specializing in ethics and contemporary fiction as well as rhetoric and composition. After teaching for two years at Jacksonville State University and a short break from teaching to be a stay-at-home dad, he now teaches at Oxford College of Emory University. During the past fifteen years, he has taught courses and independent studies in composition, Crime Fiction, Comic Books, Beat Literature, twentieth-century poetry, and Shakespeare. His wife, who also teaches English at Oxford College, thinks he has too many comic books.

Read Brad’s series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

Vampirella: Southern Gothic by Nate Cosby

Vampirella: Southern Gothic by Nate Cosby

Vampirella is in the Witchblade tradition of pin-up lead female comic book characters. If you aren't likely to enjoy comics with this type of art, there's not even a slight chance that you'll enjoy this comic book. However, if you are already a fan of Vampirella, you probably already follow her books, and nothing I say here will make you like them any less, though I hope to help you decide whether this new book is worth seeking out. Therefore, I'm speaking primarily to an audience somewhere in the middle, an audience of readers open to the possibility that while they may be offended by certain visual aspects of a comic book, they might still appreciate other aspects of Vampirella. For that audience, I suggest that, though no... Read More

Tales from Oz (Vol. 1) by Joe Brusha

Tales from Oz (Vol. 1) by Joe Brusha

Grimm Fairy Tales presents Tales From Oz (Vol. 1), unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment. I was interested in reading the four short stories about the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, and Toto. The general storyline is written by Joe Brusha, but four separate authors took over the task of taking his plot and writing the individual stories.  The background of this version of Oz is told to us at the start of the collection: There was an evil sorceress Zamora who once tried to take over Oz. She has been defeated, but now her daughters, Lynessa and Zinna, are attempting to rule over Oz. All four stories take place within this context.

The first story is abo... Read More

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

The more I read by Gene Luen Yang, the more I am impressed. Like many people, I first learned of his work through American Born Chinese; however, I liked The Eternal Smile with Derek Kirk Kim just as much if not more. I also enjoyed his Level Up with Thien Pham. This newest work, The Shadow Hero, is another brilliant graphic novel, and Sonny Liew's art is perfect for telling the st... Read More

Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger

Viminy Crowe's Comic Book by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger with comics by Claudia Davila

Viminy Crowe's Comic Book is a great book for young adults, but oddly enough, it's not really a comic book. However, it will certainly appeal to those who love comics because the story is about two children who get pulled into a steampunk comic book. Young Wylder Wallace meets a girl his own age, Addy, at the Toronto International Comic Book Festival, and they immediately dislike each other, which creates a nice tension between the two main characters of the story. Wylder, a big fan of a comic book by Viminy Crowe, soon finds out that Addy is this great artist's niece. The rest of the book tells the story of their being forced to work together and even... Read More

Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga

Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga 

Terra Formars is a science fiction manga that takes place on Mars, and if you aren't totally creeped out by roaches, then you might be able to deal with this very violent, but action-packed, story. The astronauts sent on this mission are not picked for their intelligence or exceptional skills; rather, this group is made up of those considered disposable. Some are poor, some are criminals, but all are not valued by those in power and running the mission. These Terra Formars are treated as science experiments to send off to Mars to deal with the roach problem.

In making Mars habitable for human beings, the scientists have introduced moss and other plant and bug life into the Mars ecosystem.... Read More

Super Ego by Caio “Zed” Oliveira and Lucas Marangon

Super Ego by Caio "Zed" Oliveira (author) and Lucas Marangon (artist)

Super Ego is a superhero spoof about a clinical psychotherapist who specializes in the superhuman condition. In order to meet with his super clientele, Dr. Eugene Goodman wears a silver,j reflective, skin-tight mask. Otherwise, he's dressed in suit and tie and goes to a typical-looking office with a stereotype for a secretary. This set-up could result in a very typical type of superhero parody, a sub-genre that's become almost as cliché as the superhero genre itself. However, Oliveira's dialogue and clever plot twists make Super Ego far better than most other parodies of this type.

Central to the superhero parody is making fun of famous characters... Read More

Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith

Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith

Barbarian Lord is an excellent story for both kids and adults, particularly fans of Icelandic Sagas and Nordic Mythology, which Matt Smith has clearly studied and for which he has an obvious passion. This book would be perfect for introducing kids to this mythological world; however, it's not merely a retelling of classic Nordic tales, though some of them are certainly incorporated. Rather, Barbarian Lord is a unique combination of all these and more, even a bit of Tolkien and He-Man, Smith acknowledges in the back of the book.

The story of Barbarian Lord starts with a listing of his family lineage, including some animals, which lends mystery to Barbarian Lord's strength and leadership. T... Read More

Sailing to Byzantium: Move it to the top of your to-read stack

Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg

I just finished listening to the audio version of Sailing to Byzantium. It was read convincingly by Tom Parker, who transported me in time along with Charles, the lead character. Charles is from New York City, and he is a twentieth-century man, a curiosity in the world of the story. His 1984 is long gone, yet he doesn't quite understand how he's been transported in time to the 50th century. The people of this time, the "citizens," will tell him very little actually. They consider Charles to be a "visitor." Charles doesn't know how long his visit will be though. He is confused and tries to go with the flow, but keeps finding it hard to do so in this very odd future world.

In the 50th century ("of what," he wonders at one point), there are very few citizens. There is a small world population compared to 1984 (and especially compared to our time). All the citizens look almost identical — ... Read More

Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae

Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae

I've recently had the good fortune to discover comics and graphic novels published by Nobrow Press, and if you've never heard of Nobrow before, Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae is an excellent place to start. It is a stunning graphic novel that is representative of Nobrow's highly selective catalog. Nobrow puts out high quality art books, so if you are a fan of sequential art, you'll want to get your hands on their new releases. In addition to high quality content, each book has unique dimensions that are well-suited to the nature of each individual project. As a result, the books don't look like all the ot... Read More

Map of Days by Robert Hunter

Map of Days by Robert Hunter

I've recently become a fan of Nobrow Press: They put out unique, and often small, runs of graphic novels that stand out as special works of art because of the high level of paper, binding, and printing techniques. Each graphic novel is sized differently to suit best the artwork inside, and the printing technique reminds me of William Blake's illuminated manuscripts. Each book stands out and looks and even feels unlike any comic book or graphic novel I've ever seen.  Map of Days by Robert Hunter is an excellent example of Nobrow's high standards of material and presentation of that art.
... Read More

Destination X by John Martz

Destination X by John Martz

I've recently become a fan of Nobrow Press: They put out unique, and often small, runs of graphic novels that stand out as special works of art because of the high level of paper, binding, and printing techniques. Each graphic novel is sized differently to suit best the artwork inside, and in the case of Destination X, the book is a small, square volume. Each book stands out and looks and even feels unlike any comic book or graphic novel I've ever seen.  Destination X by John Martz is a little less colorful than some other Nobrow selections, but the choice of color scheme is appropriate for the shor... Read More

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time: A good comic for children

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time by Jim Zub

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time is a fun comic book for kids. It is an episodic battle adventure with better-than-average art and excellent coloring. Samurai Jack was created by Grenndy Tartakovsky, so apparently Threads of Time isn't the first Samurai Jack story. However, he's a new character to me. Author Jim Zub writes a good story for his primary audience of kids, but Andy Suriano's artwork is appealing to any reader. It's the part of the book I enjoyed the most.

From what I can tell, the background story of Samurai Jack is that he's stuck in the future and wants to get back to his own time period. He has an arch-nemesis named Aku who, I think, has caused him problems in both the past and the future, which is the present of the story. In this comic book, we follow Jack on a series of adventures that will lead to his final confrontation with this Demon Wizard ... Read More

Monster (Vol. 1): The Perfect Edition by Naoki Urasawa

Monster (Vol. 1): The Perfect Edition by Naoki Urasawa

Warning: This review is spoiler heavy, but I wanted to write a review of volume one that could let you know if you might want to read the entire series. You can read safely up to the first place I've marked for spoilers. There's another place I warn of even more spoilers, so you have two places you might want to stop reading.

Monster by Naoki Urasawa is an award-winning manga that was written from 1994-2001, and once completed, it was eighteen volumes long. It is now being re-released in the United States, and I'm very pleased: I have read some of Urasawa's other work, and it's not average manga. He is known for both 20th Century Boys, of which I have read a little, and Read More

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell by Paul Dini (author) and Joe Quinones (artist)

Paul Dini's Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell is a stand-alone graphic novel that tells a single tale of their working together; however, Dini also works in some flashbacks that flesh out the history of Canary's and Zatanna's relationship, my favorite parts of the book. Overall the story is a good one, but it's not exceptional. And as a story about two strong women, it fails in a few ways that are disappointing considering the story was published in 2014.

The story starts off fifteen years earlier when Zatanna is a young girl in the Himalayas undergoing a rite of passage after her sorcery training by the "ruling elite of the Homo Magi," a group that includes her mother and father. She floats up high in the mountains and surprises Black Canary who is camping out and practicing T'ai Chi. The scene between the young Zatanna and the older Black C... Read More

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories: Silverberg achieves greatness

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg is available on Audible and offers a top-notch performance by Robertson Dean. The title is a little misleading, I think. There are only three selections included, and only one is a short story. The other two seem to be novellas. However, based on the way Silverberg’s works have been repackaged and republished over the years, even those distinctions are difficult to make: For example, We Are for the Dark is included in both his collected short stories volume seven, We Are for the Dark: 1987-1990, and in the collection Sailing to Byzantium: Six Novellas. In listening to all three selections, I noticed that The Secret Sharer and We Are for the Dark are both much longer than "Good News from the Vatican." The short story is a good one, but I absolutely loved the two... Read More

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