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Graphic Novelty²

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January 2016

Through the Woods

Through the Woods
Carroll, Emily. Through the Woods. 2014.

This collection of spooky short stories was outstanding! All five stories were gorgeously rendered, atmospheric and sinister in different ways.

Our Neighbor’s House- Each reader will come to their own conclusion as to what happened to the three sisters and who was at the door.

A Lady’s Hands Are Cold- The ghost’s song was beautifully haunting, I actually sang it aloud.

His Face All Red- Only the younger brother knows what really happened in the woods, and no one would believe him if he told the truth. Love the open ended conclusion, for you don’t why or who replaced the older brother. This was my favorite story and the artwork reminded me of “Nimona”, illustrated by Noelle Stevenson.

My Friend Janna- Another case of a switch, with the mysterious red pulse hovering above each girl in turn.

The Nesting Place- This story was the most obvious of the eerie stories, with the sister finding out the truth about her brother’s fiancé, but not being able to truly stop it.

Conclusion- Nice little twist of the knife in frightening you in the future. Morale of the story is to never let down your guard…

-Nancy

TTW wolf

Sword of Sorcery Vol. 1: Amethyst (The New 52)

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For those of you who love fantasy (like me!) this comic is sure to please.

Amy Winston a bit of an outcast. She lives with her mother, Graciel, in a mobile home, never staying in any one place for long. On Amy’s seventeenth birthday, her mother reveals a great secret: they are going home to the magical world of Nilaa, where Amy is really Princess Amaya, the heir of House Amethyst and rightful ruler of that land! They transport there only to be ambushed by minions of Graciel’s sister, Amaya’s Aunt Mordiel, who wants to keep all the power for herself! Amaya must stick close to her mother and learn all she can about this new world – else it could be lost forever.

I had never read a fantasy comic before and was quite pleasantly surprised that all the elements I look for in a fantasy novel were right here, and then some. You have a protagonist who sticks to her sense of justice, and to her heart. Even though she is apprehensive about her newfound responsibilities, she shoulders them with dignity and besides, has the help of many newfound friends. Amy is as strong a female character as they come. The worldbuilding is fantastic, supplemented greatly by the colorful, dynamic art. There are many different gem regions, and we visit a couple throughout the course of the story. They all have their unique style and look, which ultimately enriches the world – arguably, better than a regular novel!

There were also some extras at the end: a Beowulf reboot that insinuates Beowulf may be a hero out of time, and Stalker, who makes a deal with the devil to save his dying wife. Constantine even shows up a few times in the Amethyst story, making for a delightful crossover with some very witty banter between Amaya and John.

Unfortunately, this reboot was cancelled. This graphic novel contains the entire run. I was so upset when I looked it up! It’s a gem of a graphic novel if I ever read one. However, if you read this and find yourself hooked but mourning for what could have been, never fear! DC has also released a Showcase volume of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, the original 1980’s series, in one big volume. I have it, but the review may take a while – my semester just started! I have no doubt it will be worth it after reading and loving the unfortunately way too short reboot.

– Kathleen

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade

Heinberg, Allan & Jessie Cheung. Avengers: The Children’s Crusade. 2012.

I am more familiar with the old school character list of the Avengers and X-Men, so  I enjoyed getting to know these “Young Avengers”  As new characters were introduced, a brief explanation of who they were and how they were connected to others was part of the text. I liked the idea of Scarlet Witch being the mother of Wiccan and Speed, and the dynamics of Magneto being the grandfather of the twins. But I have a few nitpicks/questions: The adult Avengers make a big deal that the Young Avengers are only teens- well, so was Spider Man, Ice Man, Rogue and Jubilee when they were introduced as characters. Vision being the father of the twins was only glossed over, and I needed to check Wiki pages for back story on several of the super hero’s and their family relationships to one another to better understand the connections to one another.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The decades of stories with different authors has made the whole Super Hero Universe VERY convoluted. Plus, while I loved seeing so many of the hero’s in this book, at times it was just a token appearance and throw away dialogue-they didn’t really connect into the story at all. The artwork definitely elevated the story,with fresh interpretations of the characters, but yet stayed true to the original versions of them.  All in all, I felt this was a wonderful Avengers book.                                                                                                                                              

-Nancy

Nimona

Awesome full color graphic novel that is filled with adventure, humor, pathos, and love!

Nimona, a shape shifter, appears unexpectedly to become the side kick of Lord Blackheart, the kingdom’s resident villain. Blackheart battles Sir Goldenloin, a former friend and kingdom champion, who isn’t as pure as a hero should be. Nimona’s back story appears murky and her motives and actions are very suspect. A shred of humanity remains in her, and she isn’t the monster that many take her to be, once the epic battle is fought and Blackheart’s & Goldenloin’s true hearts and feelings for one another are revealed. At the end you will be rooting for all of them to find happiness and peace. The conclusion is a mix of joy and sorrow, for some problems don’t always have an easy solution. Great storyline- it appears light, but actually is very deep and thought provoking.

-Nancy

Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona, 2015.

Civil War (Marvel Civil War Complete)

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Millar, Mark & Steve McNiven. Civil War, 2007.

One of the best Marvel stories in awhile- this comic book “event” truly made me think about which side I’d be on and why.

After a careless accident between warring super villains causes the death of hundreds of civilians, including children, the public demands a Super Hero Registration Act that would regulate the heroes and have them set up as a official police force. This sounds reasonable at first and is led by Iron Man and Dr. Reed of the Fantastic Four (both of whom I ended up hating), while Captain America heads up a rogue group of heroes who prefer independence. But then Iron Man’s group becomes very authoritative, utilizing villains and cloning Thor in an attempt to bring in the anti-registration group. This causes the death of one of the hero’s and causes the tide to turn in favor of Cap’s group. The war turns personal with betrayals and destruction, and eventually Cap realizes this war is ravaging everyone no matter what side they are on. He makes a surprising request with far reaching consequences, and enough plot threads are left open for further storytelling based off this plot.

The artwork by McNiven is solid, although some facial close ups are a bit distorted. Many Avenger superheros are included, with most X-Men choosing to sit out this battle. Even being a Marvel fan, I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, especially in group scenes. Occasionally there were would be a reference or a piece of dialogue that gave hints as to who some of the lesser known heroes were, but I still had to Wikipedia some characters. The layout of the panels was standard, but in this case that is a plus, as this complicated story didn’t need additional visual chaos.

Deep themes of moral responsibility, civil order, and the greater good tie into this story; and you can see the merit of both side’s point of view. It will be interesting to see how the movie will cover this comic, especially because they might have to skip some heroes from the book in the movie due to copyright issues.

-Nancy

Iron Man is at it again- this time he is against Captain Marvel in Civil War II.

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