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Graphic Novelty²

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September 2016

Invincible: Volume 1

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Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley & Bill Crabtree. Invincible. 2005.

How did I not know of this comic’s existence???!! I found it by complete accident, for no one told me about it, and I haven’t seen it reviewed by other bloggers recently. It is written by Robert Kirkman, and is still being published concurrently with his The Walking Dead series. Just my luck that as soon as I discover this awesome first volume, there was recently an announcement that the series will be wrapped up in the next year.

We first meet Mark Grayson, a young superhero, who is annoyed at having to save the world from doom. The storyline continues with a flashback to four months prior, when he discovers that his powers have finally kicked in. He knew he was destined to have powers, as he is the son of Nolan, aka Omni-Man, the most powerful and beloved superhero on Earth. He and his mom Debbie have always known of Nolan’s alien origins, but the public is unaware of his alter ego. The story continues with Mark adjusting to his new found powers, and how he balances becoming the new hero Invincible with school, fighting villains, pairing up with other young heroes in a team,  and girl issues. Later his world is turned upside down, with a twist that will surprise you, and his life changes forever with this new knowledge. This new development is a game changer and sets up endless stories for the future.

The artwork is fun, fresh and bold. There are lots of little details that made me laugh, especially the homage to the Justice League and to Star Trek TNG, and Mark’s love for Science Dog.  I even thought the font they used for the big sound effects with the interlocking double oo’s added to the whole feel. The mustache on Omni-Man was appealing (TMI- I am a sucker for mustaches. I look forward to November when my husband grows a mustache for the charity Movember) and it was amusing to see mustaches on all the men when he reminisced about his home planet.

I read the Ultimate Edition, and it had a lot of extras in the back. One feature that I found fascinating, was the behind the scenes scripts between Kirkman and Walker. Kirkman had the dialogue and layout planned with details such as how many panels should be on a page, sound effects, setting details such as the Grayson’s home layout, and facial expressions he wanted used. Also included were mock ups of the pages, possible publicity, character studies, and side notes by the creators.

This was an outstanding start to a series that has now been running for years. I’m glad I caught onto this sleeper hit before it comes to a close. Bravo to the team that created a whole world as rich as the DC and Marvel superhero universes. I will be back for more!

-Nancy

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Batman: The Killing Joke movie

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After recently reading the book, The Killing Joke, I wanted to watch the animated straight to DVD/Blueray version of the story. As with any beloved book, could a movie represent what was so popular in the book?  Could a director and animation crew match Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s vision in the story? Did it meet expectations? Well…yes(ish).

Indeed they tried, but a big criticism is the imagined prologue that was added on. This almost 30 minute segment was about Batgirl, and her sexually charged relationship with Batman. Perhaps they felt this was necessary for the source material is a relatively short book, and even with the extended prologue the movie only clocked in at 77 minutes. While this add on was interesting about Barbara and her motives, it made her seem needy and much younger than the book portrays her. Plus, the sex issue with a former father figure was skevy. This would have made a great episode of a Batman tv series, but wasn’t well matched with the classic story.

Once The Killing Joke story began it got back on track. The animation tone matched Bolland’s illustration style, with the red crayfish and Barbara’s yellow shirt being duplicated faithfully. The voice actors were all superb, with Mark Hamill’s voice as the Joker being a standout. I’m glad they had him do the voice, knowing he would again be voicing the villain was a draw for many to watch this adaptation.

The ending fell a bit flat for me. I felt the book’s ending conveyed more power and ambiguity to Batman’s and Joker’s interaction. I felt in the movie they were just buddies laughing at a bad joke, instead of the questionably ominous ending of the book. Thus, I would give the movie a tepid recommendation, for it was interesting to compare the book to the movie.

Final thoughts: Although it received a R rating, for it contained some sexual content and violence, it felt like a PG13 movie to me. Teens could safely watch it in my opinion.  As most super hero movies give a little Easter egg at the end, this remained true in this movie, so make sure you stick around through the credits.

-Nancy

 

100 Followers!

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WE DID IT!!!

Thank you to all our followers, this blog is truly a labor of love!

For those of you who want to be reminded of our blog posts, read our thoughts on geek culture, get some literacy tips and find out about what ever catches our fancy- please follow us on Twitter @graphicnovelty2

 

♥, Nancy & Kathleen

 

Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors

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Wein, Len, and Curt Swan. Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors. 2012.

Wonder Woman resigned from the Justice League when she lost her powers. After she recovers them, she feels she is no longer worthy to be a member of the JLA. The League, desperate to have her back, comes up with a compromise: if Wonder Woman can overcome twelve tasks on her own, observed but without interference from any League members, she will be reinstated. What follows is the Twelve Labors of Wonder Woman: a dozen tasks against villains of the super and not-so-super variety, nefarious plots and schemes, and even against herself.

This book was awesome. It showcased Wonder Woman but was a Justice League story at the same time. Each issue tells the story of a different task, and each is narrated by a different member of the League. Not only do you see the big ones like Superman, Batman, and Flash, but you also get Red Tornado, Black Canary, the Atom, and many more. This story ran from 1974-5 and the writing is campy and melodramatic, and the art super saturated and wonky and I just loved it so much XD My boyfriend reaches for these comics more often than I do, and it was fun to try it out~

– Kathleen

The Walking Dead: Compendium Two (Volumes 9-16)

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Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead: Compendium Two. 2012.

More zombies. More brutality. More death. Now that we have that covered, let’s move onto volumes 9-16, at a mere 1068 pages.  Warning- some spoilers.

Volume 9- Here We Remain: I needed a break after the misery, suffering and heartbreak of volume 8. In this book Rick and Carl regroup after their loss and deal, each in their own way, with the repercussions of what they did or didn’t do. Slowly they regroup with some of the survivors of the massacre, and take in an interesting trio of new characters. What does the future hold after such devastating loss? Who knows- but it won’t be simple or happy…

Volume 10- What We Become: I was willing to overlook this in the last book, because the prison catastrophe was new, but WHY hasn’t Rick gone back to find Lori and baby Judith and put them out of their zombie misery the way he did with Shane? This bothers me. Yea, the prison is completely over run, but still. Theme of not being what you once were: Duane and his son, the twins(!), and the conversation Rick and Abraham have after the attack on Carl. Yep, a zombie apocalypse has a way of changing things.

Volume 11-Fear The Hunters :  As the story progresses the question arises- who exactly are the hunters? Is it Ben, who hunted his twin Billy? Is it Carl who dealt with Ben? Is it the fringe group who first ate their own children and then pick off humans traveling by? Or is it Rick, Andrea, Michonne and Abraham who mete out justice and avenge a loved one? This was definitely my favorite of the books so far, for the deaths weren’t gratuitous, instead they were heartbreaking and affecting. Favorite line: “Tainted meat!!!”

Volume 12- Life Among Them: The group’s journey to Washington DC continues, until Eugene’s deceit is accidently discovered. I wasn’t even mad- can you blame a weak guy for looking for an angle that will keep him safe? Soon afterwards another survivor from a nearby walled town approaches them, and introduces them to the community of Alexandria and the survivors there. The residents there have maintained civility (not like the Governor and the town he ruled!) but suspicions remain for Rick’s weary band. Nothing is ever easy for any of them…

Volume 13- Too Far Gone: Rick’s group uneasily settles into the relative safety of the town Alexandria, but remain wary, as they don’t know the town’s inhabitants and safety protocols. Homes, food, and jobs are available, but at what cost? Rick is unable to relax and wishes to remain in charge, as he feels he can trust himself, but is unable to put the lives of his followers in the hands of another. Andrea wisely points out that he was a better leader when he didn’t want to be one, in comparison to him wanting to do a power grab in this new community. As is typical, the group can never let down their guard, and new threats appear both inside and outside of the town’s gates.

Volume 14- No Way Out: Rick’s group settles further into the town of Alexandria. Many romances are either being established or revealed for the first time. Not happy with Abraham- throwing away a good relationship, just as Tyreese did. A zombie horde surrounds the community and some heart breaking decisions and sacrifices are made. And yet there is actually some hope at the end, as the community works together as a team to combat the threat.

Volume 15- We Find Ourselves: The town of Alexandria cleans up the mess after the zombie horde attack- both physically and mentally. Abraham makes the situation with Rosita even worse- digging the knife in deeper after he betrays her. And then he and his new chickie think they can make a power move? Please…as if. I really like the coupling at the end between Rick and Andrea. Finally a good match for them both (although I did like Dale).

Volume 16- A Larger Fear Alexandria has become as stable as it can under the circumstances, when they meet Paul “Jesus” Monroe who tells them of another community of 200 who have survived in the Hilltop Colony. Rick and his band are naturally wary of Paul and his community, but are pleasantly surprised and consider joining forces. Nothing is ever straightforward, and they are made aware that the Hilltop is paying tribute to a group called The Saviors, who protect them from zombies but demand half of their food and supplies for doing so. Now knowing about this yet-unseen threat; Rick talks hopefully to Glen, Andrea and Michonne about partnering with the Hilltop group, and this exchange is shown in some poignant full page spreads at the end of this volume.

-Nancy

*Compendium One review can be found here.

***Compendium Three review can be found here.

My Top 5 Favorite Comic Writers

I can’t remember ever doing a top 5… oops! =P Here are the authors of some of my favorite comics:

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5. J. Michael Straczynski

Straczynski is more known for his Marvel work, particularly his The Amazing Spiderman run from the early 2000’s, but I loved what he did with Wonder Woman in Odyssey. I mean, look at that costume! SHE’S GOT PANTS AND A LEATHER JACKET!!!

 

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4. Kurt Busiek

Busiek has written for both DC (Trinity) and Marvel (Avengers), but has also written plenty of graphic novels that aren’t comics. This includes the Autumnlands graphic novel, which I absolutely adore!

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3. Jeph Loeb

Loeb has penned a lot of great Batman comics, including Hush and The Long Halloween, both of which were beautiful and haunting. He also wrote Batman/Superman: Public Enemies and Supergirl: Power.

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2. Marguerite Bennett

Call me biased… but she writes the Bombshells series =P She’s doing absolutely brilliantly and I can’t wait to see what else she does with the series.

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1. Gail Simone

I would read anything this woman writes. Simone could write a trashy romance novel and I would read it without question. Her characterization is always on point and she makes me love my favorite superheroines even more. Among her titles are New 52 Batgirl, Birds of Prey, and Wonder Woman.

And there you have it! My favorite comic book authors >:D

– Kathleen

The Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1): Coming Home

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Straczynski, J. Michael, John Romita Jr., and Scott Hanna. The Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1): Coming Home. 2001.

Nancy challenged me to read a Marvel comic since I haven’t read/reviewed one yet. I’m never one to back down from a challenge =P I picked Spiderman because he’s the Marvel character I’m most familiar with, and this book in particular because I like the author.

Peter Parker feels more alone than ever. He just moved into a crappy apartment after Mary Jane’s departure. He feels himself growing distant from his Aunt Mae and his every day life. Then his world flips upside down when, out web-slinging one night, he happens upon a man who can cling to walls – just like Peter can. He’s not evil though, just… weird. He asks Peter all these philosophical questions about how he thinks he got his powers, saying that he needs to understand in order to survive what’s coming, and leaps off into the night. Something is pursuing Peter, something ancient and horrible that won’t stop until Peter is dead. Can Peter solve the riddle and survive something that no one else has before?

Overall, I liked it. Mostly on the merit that it was Spiderman and the writing was hilarious. There’s a bit near the end where two plant workers are making fun of Babylon 5, which of course is a show Straczynski wrote for. It cracked me up XD Peter’s perseverance and determination to win even though all the odds are against him was admirable and beautifully captured. The art really didn’t do anything for me. Most of it was okay, but the characters were oddly angular and I found the shading super weird, particularly on Peter’s face when he’s out of costume. Marvel isn’t my cup of tea but I liked this volume and I’m going to try another one written by another author I like =D Thanks for broadening my horizons, Nancy =P

– Kathleen

Hyperbole and a Half

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Brosh, Allie. Hyperbole and a Half. 2013.

When I first saw this book I thought the cover showed a poorly drawn fish talking to a dog, so I had no interest in picking it up, but after a few people gave it glowing recommendations I gave it a try.

So it turns out that the fish was actually a woman with a wicked sense of humor. Her stories aren’t for everyone and at times she is extremely unlikable which made some of her chapters uneven. I loved her stories about her childhood in The God of Cake, The Party and Lost in the Woods,  although my god,  she was uncontrollable child at times. Her two chapters about depression as an adult gave a very accurate portrayal of what depression feels like. I hope people gain insight as to what it feels like, and how to truly help a person, instead of giving trite advice.

As I stated earlier, the book cover’s art work was off putting to me. The drawings are deliberately crude, with depictions of her looking non-human like. As my mind refuses to shake my first impression that she is a fish person, I thought the stories in which she is clutching fish especially funny to me. Each story is color coded, so when you look at the edge of the book, there is a rainbow of colors. I liked the differentiation of chapters by color, it was an appealing look. Some of her pictures have gone viral, especially the one of her holding the broom and shouting. Many memes have changed the wording of her original picture (as I did).

I checked out her blog, which the book was based off, but it not been updated since 2013, nor has her Twitter or Facebook page been updated recently. I discovered she has a new book, Solutions and Other Problems, coming out next year- so she might be saving new content for that book, for I hope it’s not a another bout of depression keeping her from updating the blog.  Give this mostly humorous book a try, for you will be sure to find a few stories in this collection that will make you laugh out loud!

-Nancy

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Originally said “Clean all the things!”

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Want to See as TV Shows

 

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This week’s topic is: Books You Want to See as TV Shows.

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Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks could adapted into a great tv series: Teenager angst! Sibling Rivalry! Misfit friends! The mother left the family! The dad is a cop! Ghosts!

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My favorite comic of all time ElfQuest by Wendy and Richard Pini, has stories dating back to the 1970’s- there are endless plot possibilities!

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My other favorite graphic novel, Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, had a tv pilot shot in 2011 but wasn’t picked up by a network. There is news they are trying again! As the casting was off in the 2011 edition (Jesse McCarty as Tyler? Please), I look forward to the possibility of this going forward.

outlander

This is an obvious cheat- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon already is a tv series! IT IS PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. I love you Jamie ♥

Revival

 

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton is about loved ones coming back from the dead, and the fall out the ensues, would be ripe for a tv series. There have been some similar shows on television recently based on this idea, but this source material is stellar.

-Nancy

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