Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: Killer Queens: Putting the Sass in Assassin

Killer Queens: Putting the Sass in Assassin written and created by David M. Booher, pencils and inks by Claudia Balboni. Dark Horse Books, 2022. 9781506722153. Killer Queens opens in the bathroom at Stan’s Diner. Max is about to get it on with a pink alien in a bathroom stall. Alex is having less luck with the woman she’s dating, who is off talking to someone else. Then a flying alien monkey (jetpack, not wings) arrives with a couple of hench otters to try to get his spaceship back from them. That monkey, Captain Bieti, is also pissed that the pair are no longer intergalactic assassins-for-hire, though we don’t know that until the totally unnecessary dialogue on the page where they escape post lasergun fight. (They actually refer to it as “totally unnecessarily dialogue about stuff we both know” which is cute.) They’re soon offered a rescue job which they take and turn into a horny, innuendo-laden adventure that’s a lot […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Cloud Town by Daniel McCloskey

Cloud Town by Daniel McCloskey. Amulet Books, 2022. 9781419749643. Cloud Town is located near the inter-dimensional rip, which is where the “Hurricanes” (aka giant monsters) emerge from. One recently destroyed Cloud Town High, so all of its students are now attending school in Tinker Town. Olive is not adjusting well to student life there, mostly because of bullies, but luckily her friend Pen is standing up for her while trying to get her to stand up for herself. Pen has an intense life — she was recently caught shoplifting, her dad has a huge medical debt, and a social worker is looking into her less-than-normal home life. Bottom line is she has to get a job. And an opportunity presents itself one day when she and Olive find themselves near a fight between a Storm Chaser (a giant robot with a half-human pilot) and a Hurricane. The Chaser goes down. Olive and Pen seek shelter from the monster inside the […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Strange Adventures by Tom King, Mitch Gerard and Evan “Doc” Shaner

Strange Adventures by Tom King (writer), Mitch Gerard and Evan “Doc”Shaner (artists). DC Comics, 2021. 9781779512031. Contains Strange Adventures #1 – 12. There’s so much to love here: Adam Strange, the Flash Gorden-esque, jetpack-wearing, laser gun toting Earthman who becomes a hero on the planet Rann (and then on Earth). He and his wife recently united the peoples of Rann against the Pykkts, a previously unbeatable alien threat, and lost their daughter in the war. Now they’re on Earth, and Strange is not only the man of the hour, he’s on book tour. But after a man who confronts him at a book signing is murdered, rumors of Strange’s misconduct and dishonor during the war gain some traction. Strange asks Batman to investigate him, to prove that he’s innocent, but Batman passes that task to super genius Mr. Terrific. As he starts to turn over Adam Strange’s story in every way he can; it’s clear he believe’s a lot of […]

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Coffee Table Book: Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review

Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review. Art Direction by Adam Green. Forward by D. Graham Burnett. Thames & Hudson, 2022. 9780500025208. Includes over 500 illustrations, with sources and notes. If you’ve never heard of The Public Domain Review, I urge you to visit https://publicdomainreview.org/ and sign up for their newsletter. I follow it for the out-of-copyright art and photos, but the articles are great too. Affinities is a collection curated by the site’s Editor-in-Chief, Adam Green. Each page has one or several images. Some have a connection to work on another page, indicated by a number under that image, which offers an alternate path through the book, though flipping through the images and looking through the notes is more than fun enough by itself. And the best part is all of this is the art is all copyright-free. Winner of our Coffee Table Book of the Year (So Far) Award for 2022.    

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Graphic Novel Review: The Shiatsung Project by Brigitte Archambault

The Shiatsung Project by Brigitte Archambault. BDANG / Conundrum Press, 2021. 9781772620603. A young woman has always lived in a house next to a pool in a yard surrounded by four high walls. Shiatsung answers her questions, provides entertainment, and teaches her what she wants to know. But Shiatsung won’t tell her about other people or the world outside the walls, though it provides whatever the young woman needs. Is it just a computer program that runs the house? Are there other humans who help it do things like prepare food and take away garbage? What’s on the other side of the only door the woman can’t open? Is the sound on the other side of the wall a lawn mower like hers? What will happen to her when she tries to find out? This feels like the kind of story that could express an overwhelming sense of loneliness, but the woman’s curiosity is stronger than her despair. And the […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Youth Volume One: True Fantasy

Youth Volume One: True Fantasy by Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, Dee Cunniffee, Micah Myers, and Ryan Ferrier. Dark Horse / TECC / Comixology, 2021. 9781506724614. Includes #1 – #4. Frank hates his job at Meatlords, a burger place. River hates living at home with his stepdad, Paul. Luckily they like each other. And they have a plan of sorts, to steal Paul’s car and head off somewhere to start over. When that doesn’t go smoothly they catch a ride with Kurt, Jan, and Trixy. In short order there’s relationship drama, they find themselves running from the cops, and they get superpowers. Imagine the X-men if they had terrible parents, acted more like real teenagers, and were being hunted by some weird Nick Fury stand-in. Last time I checked you could read this book and its sequel for free if you had a Prime account — they were originally published on Comixology. (If you look for it there, search for Youth […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Thirst Mermaids by Kat Leyh

Thirst Mermaids by Kat Leyh. Gallery 13, 2021. 9781982133573. Eez uses her magic to transform herself, Pearl, and Thorn — the other members of her pod — into humans so they can go onto dry land and drink. There are a lot of things they don’t understand, like clothes, money, and hangovers. After a friendly bartender (who makes a habit of being too kind) finds them sleeping in an alley and makes them breakfast, they tell her the truth; this is their first time as humans. Soon she’s helping them try to fit in and find work because, until Eez can figure out how to transform them back, they’re stuck on dry land. This is a wonderfully sweary, colorful adult graphic novel with lots of teen appeal. It has a punk sensibility about being outsiders together, supporting your friends, and finding your place in the world. I was already a huge fan of Leyh’s comics (Lumberjanes, Snapdragon) and after reading […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Verse: Book One: The Broken Half by Sam Beck

Verse: Book One: The Broken Half by Sam Beck. WonderBound, 2021. 9781638490104. Includes maps and a guide that lets readers decode the alphabet of the Verse in the back. Fife leaves his small village to go to Madenstone, where he hopes to train learn to use the Verse to augment weapons. On the journey there he encounters a traveler who gives him a small bit of Verse he can repeat to help him find his way. But later, when he tries, an amulet he has shatters. Afterwards he finds a young woman with horns on her head. She appears to be vel — they are distortions of those who have died, and are still able to use magic as humans did in centuries past. But unlike the vel she can speak, and seems more a person than a mindless destroyer; she tells Fife her name is Neitya and that she can remember nothing else. After getting over his initial reaction […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Bug Scouts: Out In The Wild by Mike Lowery

Bug Scouts: Out In The Wild by Mike Lowery. Scholastic Graphix, 2022. 9781338726329. Doug (a bug) and Abby (a worm) are best friends. Together with their other best friend Josh (a spider) they welcome the newest member of the Bug Scouts, Luna (a lighting bug). Their top secret headquarters isn’t very secret, but there are free snacks, plus they’re all taking a hike to get a new bug badge. (Abby is obsessed with them; she has lots. Josh has very few.) In the woods they do some foraging and then come across a “terrifying” bug-eating frog. Best part: Besides Lowery’s art, which is as great as always, there’s an excellent toadstool joke. This graphic novel is perfect for readers transitioning away from picture books, and would make a solid read-aloud.

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Graphic Novel Review: Mamo by Sas Milledge

Mamo by Sas Milledge. BOOM! BOX, 2022. 9781684158171. Includes #1 – #5. Jo seeks the help of a witch because magic is going nuts all over Haresden, the fae are misbehaving, and her mother has been cursed. That’s how she meets Orla, who is visiting after her grandmother Mamo’s death. Mamo was the Witch of Haresden, and when she died she didn’t make sure her bones were buried correctly, which is at the heart of most of the town’s magical troubles. Plus her spirit is angry. Now Mamo’s bones need to be buried correctly, and Orla is going to need Jo’s help to do that, to navigate the traps the fae and others have created. I thought I was done with witchy graphic novels for young people, but this excellent book proved how wrong I was. It’s full of love and friendship, and creates a perfectly understated sense of wonder. My favorite moment was when Jo was having breakfast with […]

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