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Graphic Novelty²

Month

May 2022

Once There Were Wolves

Inti Flynn is a biologist that specializes in wolves and has been tasked with reintroducing fourteen wolves into the Scotland Highlands. Local sheep farmers are against this rewilding of their region, but Inti and her crew release them, hoping for the success that happened in Yellowstone when wolves balanced the ecosystem there. Lacking diplomatic skills, Inti is single-minded with her goal, refusing to consider others’ opinions. She begins a romance with a local sheriff, all the while hiding that her traumatized twin Aggie lives with her. We get some back story on the twins, beginning with their polar opposite parents and their different parenting methods as the girls grew up, and moving onward through their adult years.

Inti gets mixed up in a murder mystery that has several different suspects-one of which could be a possible lone wolf. I figured out the killer almost immediately and found the conclusion infuriating. I kept at it because I found the wolf reintroduction fascinating and thought the book well-written enough, even if I hated Inti. Overall, this book proved to be uneven and challenging for me to read, but I persevered through it for my library book club, but recently found out that due to a scheduling conflict, I wouldn’t be able to make it. Oh well.

Batman: Three Jokers

Three Jokers have emerged in Gotham- the Criminal, the Comedian and the Clown.

In this strong Batman story, author Geoff Johns has pulled together threads from A Death in the Family and The Killing Joke, that ties in Jason Todd aka Red Hood and Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl, the two from the Batman Family that have been most affected by The Joker.

When a crime spree occurs, with video evidence, showing The Joker in three different places simultaneously, Batman realizes there is more than one. Jason Todd, the second Robin who was thought dead by the hand of The Joker, has reappeared as Red Hood who is now an avenging hero. But his brand of justice goes against the code of most heroes, who do not kill. Bruce and Barbara risk outing their secret identities if they reveal Jason killed the Joker that had so brutalized him, and Bruce feels great guilt for not being there for his former partner. There are several nuanced conservations about where to draw the line on justice, for Barbara has an equally valid reason for hating the Joker that had put her in a wheelchair for awhile, but why can she control herself and Jason can’t? The entire storyline was very interesting for all three characters and really added some gravitas to how all three have evolved over the years.

And we need to touch on the possible romance between Jason and Barbara- I read it at two different times and had two different reactions. On my first scan through the graphic novel, I saw the note and thought it was so romantic, and I wanted the two of them to be together. But then I read the graphic novel thoroughly and realized a relationship between the two would be toxic and one-sided. Barbara can’t save Jason- he needs to do the work on himself. He is looking for connection so when Barabara offered him kindness he morphed it inappropriately into love. Once he has healed, perhaps they could try, if they both want to.

The art by Jason Fabok is fabulous. With white borders, the vivid coloring stood out, and every panel was drawn with precision. I think the faces were especially well-done, with an almost photo-realistic approach. My only criticism is the absolute skin-tight costume that Batgirl wears. While there were some typical 9-panel layouts, there was also a lot of variety on the pages with different panel placements. I love Fabok’s work, but this was the first I’ve seen of his art since he works mostly for DC which I don’t read a great deal of.

Although this book came out in late 2020, it is still going strong and I’m so glad I purchased it for my library and read it myself. This is a Batman story not to be missed!

Firekeeper’s Daughter

I loved this book! So, as I mentioned in an earlier post about expanding my content, here is one of my favorite recent YA reads.

Set in 2004 on the Ojibwe Reservation in the UP of Michigan, Daunis is a bi-racial young woman who just graduated from high school. During one pivotal summer, her life is forever altered when she witnesses a murder and gets pulled into a covert sting operation with Jamie, a young FBI agent who is posing as a senior on the local hockey team. They need to pose as a couple, and soon real feelings develop between them, as they with a senior FBI agent, try to figure out who is making and distributing meth in the community.

Daunis is very connected with her family and tribe and respects Ojibwe traditional medicine and lore. Daunis’ family relationships are messy and complicated, as she has a younger half-brother from when her Native father cheated on her white teenage mother. That scandal and her mother’s family’s prejudices are an intriguing layer to her character. We also are introduced to a lot of background knowledge that is built-in for readers to pick up on, which I appreciated. While I had guessed at who was involved in the drug trade, the action-packed ending brought it to an exciting close. While there was justice for some, there were several endings that didn’t wrap up neatly, but that added realism to the story.

This novel has built up a lot of traction in the last year and was chosen as the winner of the Printz Award, which honors excellence in YA books. I wish I had picked it up earlier, but the beautiful Native American-inspired art on the cover made me think it was a fantasy novel, vs the gritty thriller it actually is. The book is a love letter from the author to her Native culture, and I will absolutely pick up future books by Angeline Boulley, as she celebrates and honors her heritage while telling an excellent story.

Free Comic Book Day 2022

Finally, Free Comic Book Day is back at the beginning of May! I planned an event at my library to distribute free comics, and thus got a sneak peek at the titles. More than usual caught my interest which is great!

I’ve heard some buzz about this the upcoming graphic novel Clementine, which is set in The Walking Dead universe and is inexplicably based on a computer game. Written and illustrated by Tille Walden, an established YA author, it has potential for younger readers, but adults will notice some plot holes. Where is she going and why??? The issue also includes a story about a machine boy (skipped) and a fantasy piece about a pirate’s daughter that has lovely art.

Marvel Voices is a new series that are a collection of short stories around certain topics that have different authors and illustrators. This FCBD issue pulls together a few from already released collections, giving us an excellent sample so we will want to read the previous graphic novels. I think a YA audience will really connect with this series, as some of the topics addressed are Indigenous Voices, Pride, Words Do Matter, and Personal Heroes. The humor and art are a winning combination.

I always pick up the Spider-Man/Venom issue, despite my ongoing confusion between Venom and Carnage. In the Spider-Man story, Spidey has to battle a magical post office box that had turned into a monster. It somehow has to do with an evil Ben Reilly and Madelyne Pryor from the X-Men- so they are now pulling together characters from two franchises, which has potential. In the Venom story, a one-eyed Eddie Brock wants to keep his son safe, who is a symbiote himself. Don’t know the background for this family drama, but the last two-page spread with other monsters was cool.

I picked up this issue for the creepy front cover, plus I noticed that Jeff Lemire was the author. The art took some getting used to, but I warmed up to it. What intrigued me the most is that this is an introduction to a new horror universe that Lemire and artist Sorrentino have planned called The Bone Orchard Mythos. Stories will weave in and out of this universe in the next few years. This issue did the trick in capturing my interest and making me want to seek out future books by this duo.

Judgment Day sets up a battle between three groups- the Avengers, X-Men and Eternals. The Eternals are portrayed as smug assholes, who wish to eradicate deviants from the universe. So…the X-Men are mutants, thus deviants, and the Eternals have infiltrated their secret stronghold of Krakoa. Will the Avengers stand with them against the Eternals? I’m not excited about this storyline, for a few years ago I read Avengers vs X-Men, and came away disappointed.  The fighting among team members trope is over-done, so I don’t have high hopes, although the art looks good.

My last comic is Primos which introduces a welcome new Latino superhero to a YA audience that ends on a cliffhanger. The story is printed twice, once in English and once in Spanish, which will bring more readers into this new storyline that honors those with Mayan heritage. The art is appealing, and a letter from the author is included that gives some background.

Free Comic Book Day did exactly what it is supposed to do- introduced me to some new stories that make me want to read further into the series and buy the complete graphic novel!

Blog Changes

Many of you might have noticed in the previous post, is that Kathleen said farewell to our blog. She has decided to step away from the blog after an amazing run of 6.5 years, but after some reflection, I have decided to continue on solo.

Kathleen and I had a great partnership, and to make our workload equal, we agreed to each write a post a week. Mostly we wrote about graphic novels, but we also shared our thoughts on movies, tv shows, our favorite fandoms (Star Trek for me!) and a few books from other genres. But this constant posting schedule led to burnout on both our parts, despite our best intentions. So going forward, I will be changing the blog a bit to make some adjustments that work well for me.

First of all, I will be expanding the scope of our blog and will add in more book genres, as I read more than 100 books a year, and only a third of them are graphic novels. If you check out my Goodreads profile, you will see 1000+ reviews, some of which I plan to share here. While I still will be reviewing graphic novels also expect to see some YA books, as I am a teen librarian; plus some horror, thrillers, mysteries and non-fiction. Plus, I plan to post whenever I feel like it and wait for inspiration to hit, without being so locked into a posting schedule. Maybe I’ll post once a week, maybe twice, maybe I’ll have big gaps between posts…who knows!

So I begin my solo blogging with some trepidation, but excitement too. I will miss Kathleen, as I’m sure many of you will too- however despite me losing her as a blogging partner, she remains my friend IRL. There will be a few more tweaks in the weeks ahead, as I settle in and find out what works for me, but I’m glad to still have the opportunity to continue sharing my thoughts on amazing books and having an outlet for all my nerdy tendencies!

-Nancy (last time I will sign with my name, as all future posts will be by me- gulp!)

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