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Graphic Novelty²

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October 2016

Batwoman (Vol. 1): Hydrology

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Williams III, J.H., W. Haden Blackman, Amy Reader, Richard Friend, and Dave Stewart. Batwoman (Vol. 1): Hydrology. 2012.

I loved Eulogy so much I reached for more Batwoman. Such a good decision~

After the tragic events of Eulogy, Kate is no longer speaking to her father – keeping that big of a secret from her is unforgivable. She works with her cousin, Bette Kane (otherwise known as Flamebird), to keep Gotham safe. A new supernatural terror is preying on Gotham’s children: a specter named La Llorona, the Weeping Woman. She is named after a Mexican urban legend depicting a woman who, upon letting her children drown in a river, drowns herself, but is turned away from heaven and forced to walk the earth as a spirit. No one knows if the children she takes are dead or simply missing. Batwoman races against the clock to find the children, as the government chases her, trying to figure out who she is… and they’ll do anything and hurt anyone close to Kate to find out.

The art in this book was just as beautiful and trippy as it was in Eulogy. I keep coming back mostly for the art tbh. We get a little bit of Batman here, which is fun. We also see Kate trying to move on with her life. La Llorona was a great villain to either act as a catalyst for Kate to finally move on – or drown in her own grief and guilt.

– Kathleen

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Young Avengers: Style>Substance

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Gillen, Kieron & Jamie McKelvie. Young Avengers: Style>Substance. 2013.

This fun book did have more style than substance!

Style:

Six interesting Young Avengers come together to combat an evil that Wiccan inadvertently summons into their world.

Some of the spread layouts were awesome! The two page layout of Noh-Varr and Kate escaping and then again of Noh-Varr coming to the rescue at the night club (with a numbered key!) were very creative.

Variant art and book cover were great.

When Loki breaks the fourth wall by handing out a flyer to the reader. The hero application is amusing and informative.

Wiccan’s and Hulking’s relationship.

MOTHER

 

(Lack of) Substance:

Marvel Boy has been yet again recast? This time a Kree alien named Noh-Varr, who suddenly is a good guy when he previously had been against the Young Avengers and Runaways during the Civil War epic. Kate’s cool with that?

The explanation of Speed’s whereabouts was extremely lame. In fact I thought Noh-Varr was Speed on first glance.

I can’t keep up with the Loki incarnations. This time he’s a young mischievous teen called Kid Loki.

I always wonder when a group shot is shown, why an author/illustrator picks the characters they do. When they go to the Avenger’s mansion they talk to Scarlet Witch (that makes sense as she is Wiccan’s kinda mom), Captain America, Havok, Rogue, Thor and Wolverine. Why them? Just curious.

The “parents” issue was convoluted and didn’t make a lot of sense.

Miss America seemed grumpy instead of mysterious and knowledgeable.

The inconsistencies between this story and other Young Avenger stories.

 

This was the start of an enjoyable but light Marvel series for the Young Avengers, that I feel would be appealing towards teen readers.

-Nancy

 

Fairy Tale Retellings

(Inspired by this tumblr post from tumblr user thesepaprhearts)

And now for something completely different!!!

When I’m not reading comics or graphic novels, I love a good fantasy. Epic, urban, alternate universe… I love them all. But I do have one guilty pleasure.

Young adult fairy tale retellings.

I think part of this stems from the fact that I read a lot of them when I was younger. They were kind of a gateway into the fantasy genre as a whole for me, as well as historical fiction. I loved how an author could take a timeless tale and mold it into something new yet familiar. I’m laughing as I write this remembering all the fanfiction I used to write in the same vein, including one I started while I was in college and never finished. There’s something innately attractive about taking something old and making it new.

Here are some of my favorite ones:

  • I love Donna Jo Napoli. She was one of my favorite authors growing up, and for a while she wrote exclusively YA fairy tale retellings based in historical fiction. Beast (Beauty and the Beast) is my favorite of her books, but I also love Sirena (The Little Mermaid), and Zel (Rapunzel). Her prose is poetic and she draws her characters with depth and emotion.
  • East by Edith Pattou is a beautiful retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I had no idea this fairy tale even existed before I picked up the book, and it’s now one of my favorites of all time. The book is told from multiple points of view, and while the narrative is cohesive, all the voices are distinct.
  • I discovered these only last year, because the author is one I read regularly. Lilith Saintcrow writes under the pen name Lili St. Crow for her YA novels. Her Tales of Beauty and Madness trilogy retell Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. These tales are detailed and beautifully haunting with just a dash of horror.
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is a blend of Middle Eastern and Greek stories. The prose is absolutely beautiful. It reads like silk sliding over your skin. The plot revealed itself a tad too soon but the book was written so beautifully I spent exactly .2 seconds being upset about it.
  • The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was sort of the same, but I didn’t like it as much because of the writing and the (forced) romance implicit in a retelling of 1001 Nights with a female protagonist.
  • Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson took the Bluebeard tale and transported it to the Mississippi swamps before the Civil War. Great dose of Southern Gothic in this one~ (even if the inevitable love triangle was vexing)
  • And an upcoming one! Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter is supposed to be a retelling of Vassilissa the Beautiful and Baba Yaga. I’m quite excited to read it =D

… That got away from me a bit XD I love these things though!!! I was so inspired when I saw the tumblr post linked above and it just got my gears turning. Hope you guys enjoyed my tangent =D

– Kathleen

Seconds

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O’Malley, Bryan Lee and Nathan Fairbairn. Seconds. 2014.

So, I picked this up off the new book cart at one of my libraries, and saw that the author of Scott Pilgrim wrote it, and promptly put it back down. I do not like Scott Pilgrim. I just don’t, and I never understood why. It has all these elements that I like thrown together in a way that I should like. But I just don’t. It’s unexplainable. One of my new coworkers put it back in my hand and told me I’d like it, so I reluctantly opened it.

Seconds is the name of the restaurant that Katie owns. She’s planning to open another one and call it Katie’s, at an abandoned building that used to be called Lucky’s. She’s young, she’s a talented chef, and she has big plans for Katie’s. But suddenly, her ex shows back up, starting a chain of events that causes Katie’s fling to break up with her and one of her waitresses, Hazel, to get hurt in a terrible accident. That night, she opens her dresser drawer to get changed for bed. There is a mushroom inside, along with a notebook and a set of instructions:

  1. Write your mistake
  2. Ingest one mushroom
  3. Go to sleep
  4. Wake anew

Katie writes what went wrong that day, eats a mushroom, and goes to sleep. When she wakes, the skin on Hazel’s arms are soft and smooth – no longer burnt. No one else remembers the events of the previous day. Thus begins Katie’s adventure, eating magic mushrooms every night to fix every mistake she made the day before. It seems great at first – a literal new beginning every day – but she soon realizes that the more she tries to fix, the more she breaks, and that she’s playing with things far more mysterious and sinister than she could have ever imagined…

I’m happy to say I loved it. The art was cute, with a warm palette, lots of reds and other bold colors. It was both a modern coming-of-age and a timeless fantasy epic, blended incredibly seamlessly. It had an overall warm and fun tone though, and I laughed out loud multiple times. I sympathized with Katie more than I’d like to admit. When I was done, I thanked my coworker for talking me into it. I never, ever would have picked it up otherwise.

– Kathleen

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