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Graphic Novelty²

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Nancy

I'm a busy mom and teen librarian! I manage to fit in some time to be the co-writer of the blog Graphic Novelty².

Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord podcast

“In a post-apocalyptic future, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord finds Peter Quill and Rocket a little paunchier, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during the glory days of the Guardians of the Galaxy. They quickly discover the Earth isn’t what it used to be either, when they crash land 30 years after all the world’s super villains seized control.”

I’ve been very pleased with Marvel podcasts- Wolverine: The Long Night, Wolverine: The Lost Trail, Marvels and Black Widow: Bad Blood. On a whim, I checked if a new podcast was out and was pleased to see that Wastelanders had just started. Not typically a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, I gave it a try because I had felt the same way about the Fantastic Four and still enjoyed Marvels.

Record of a Fallen World

Quill and Rocket are sent to Earth on on mercenary mission, under threat of death to find a sacred object called the Black Vortex, just to find Earth in ruins and controlled by Doctor Doom. An alien-created “skinbot”, nicknamed Cora, accompanies them, and it is through her narration of record keeping that we find out a lot of background information. This introductory episode gave us a lot of worldbuilding but in a way that didn’t seem like huge info dump and seems to correlate with the Old Man Logan graphic novel timeline.

The Wastelands

Bickering constantly, Quill and Rocket explore South Dakota’s Badlands and are helped by a local named Red. Past trouble is inferred, but we are in the dark about what happened to the former Guardians of the Galaxy or the fates of their former teammates. At times the actor’s voice are hard to distinguish between Quill and Rocket, as they sound very similar.

Blood Farmer

Red gives them refuge on his farm, where he shares what happened thirty years ago, and how this apocalyptic world came to be. They lay some traps and lay in wait for the local thugs to come looking for them. After defeating them and taking their horses, Quill, Rocket and Cora head into the hills to begin their search for the Black Vortex.

Deer on a Spear

As Quill and Rocket head towards the contact that Red gave them they pick up on a signal for a broadcast that is televising Kraven the Hunter following the very man they were hoping to speak to in a Running Man/ Hunger Games type of scenario. Quill tries to save the man to no avail, and now their contact is gone, and Kraven is on to them. The broadcaster was so wonderfully smarmy, you could really visualize the hunt from his commentary.

Heaven and Hellfire

Although this duo is older, they are none the wiser, and luckily a former X-Men Emma Frost who owns a local bar, comes to their aide. But she is keeping her cards close to her vest, so they are unsure if she is there to help or hurt them. I do need to add that Emma’s overuse of the word darling became grating. She sounded like Joan Collins from Dynasty and isn’t how I imagined she’d talk.

Trust Exercise

Splitting up to see if they can obtain the Black Vortex and get their guillotine collars off, nothings goes as planned (of course). But Cora ascertains that Emma is there to help, so there’s that.

Catching Fire

A Quill-centric episode establishes that Emma’s powers are fading as she ages, but she has given Quill and Rocket a window of opportunity after putting Kraven the Hunter out of commission for a few days. Quill thinks he has a lead on where the Black Vortex is located after interviewing the town’s forgotten librarian. Hell yea- a librarian to the rescue!

Buried

Some backstory on what happened with the Guardians is established showing how Quill is racked with guilt and wants to atone for the deaths of his friends. An ally returns, but so does a foe, so all paths are converging as they try to infiltrate Doom’s compound.

Kraven’s Hunt

In this penultimate episode, Quill and Rocket are moving towards discovering the Black Vortex with Kraven on their heels, in another narrated hunt. Cora and Emma Frost rally their allies that include the Ghost Riders to prevent Kraven from killing the duo. Rocket’s poor health can’t be hidden anymore and he tries to prepare Quill for a future without him.

Dawn and Doom

Sacrifices are made, with a devastating death, but Quill and Emma Frost prevail. So although they have scored a victory, we know it’s not over, as the episode is only half over. There is a surprising double-cross with a new villain emerging, with definite tie-ins to what has happened (or will happen-I’m unclear exactly of the timeline) in Logan’s story. I am left wanting more, but that’s good storytelling, for I will definitely tune into future podcasts.

I started this podcast apprehensively, as I’ve never been a big fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the bickering between Quill and Rocket was annoying to me. Yet, this podcast grew on me so kudos to Benjamin Percy who also wrote the two Wolverine podcasts I enjoyed last year. In fact, I recently read a short story horror collection by Percy, Suicide Woods, that I found excellent. This podcast is supposed to be the lead-in to a new universe set in the Old Man Logan future with Hawkeye, Wolverine, Black Widow and Star-Lord. I’m excited, as Susan Sarandon will be voicing Black Widow and I can’t wait for that story and how they will all tie-in together!

-Nancy

Voice Cast:

Timothy Busfield as Star-Lord

Chris Elliott as Rocket

Nadine Malouf as Cora 

Patrick Page as Kraven the Hunter

Vanessa Williams as Emma Frost

Danny Glover as Red

Elizabeth Francis as Joanna Forge

Hawkeye, Black Widow, Wolverine, Star-Lord

Invincible: Ultimate Volumes 2-4

When I read the first volume of Invincible back in 2016, I loved it! Yet, it took the awesome new animated series on Amazon Prime Video for me to dive back into the series. Cory Walker, who was the co-creator with Robert Kirkman and did the illustrations for the first ultimate volume, was replaced with artist Ryan Ottley for all the remaining volumes and this change was pretty seamless. So expect me to go through the rest of the 12 ultimate volumes in the next few months! Some spoilers ahead.

Volume Two:

Mark aka Invincible and his mom are dealing with the fallout from the reveal that Mark’s father, Omni-Man, was actually a bad guy who was planning to take over Earth for his alien planet. His disappearance has left a void and Mark is struggling with his grief as he also tries to keep up with his senior year of high school, a girlfriend and of course fighting villains. There is a lot of character development as he struggles with balancing everything and keeping his identity secret. There are many many plot threads- the underwater duel ceremony (so ridiculous but so flippin’ funny), the Mars mission, an evil scientist on his new college campus, the multi-verse of Angstrom, the anti-hero Titan, and a love triangle with Eve and Amber. Sometimes the stories could become confusing, they’d drop a storyline, pick it up again unexpectedly, and then drop it again. This volume concludes with a story about Allen the Alien and gives some interesting backstories to Monster Girl, Rex Splode, The Immortal, Dupli-Kate and Atom Eve. I’m still digging the art and loving the font they use for explosions, with all the interlocking O’s.

Volume Three:

Mark is settling into his new role as a superhero and adjusting to the loss of his father, but wait- an alien comes looking for help and brings Invincible to his insectoid planet, and guess who is there! Mark is a hella lot more forgiving than I would be, as he suddenly has to adjust to being introduced to his baby half-brother and helping fight off Vitrumites who come to collect Omni-Man. But that’s not all! Once he’s back on Earth with his brother in tow, he has to deal with the multi-verse of the villain Angstrom (I love all the dimensions that Mark was thrown into- with some digs at Marvel & DC heroes and an obvious Walking Dead dimension), the mad scientist at college and a scheme between Robot and the Mauler Twins. To top it off, he’s trying to keep his romance with Amber going, but all his adventures pull him away from her. It’s hard to be a superhero…

Volume Four:

There are so many plot threads that run in and out of these volumes, but the evil scientist who has created the Reanimen and the Mars mission get some significant storylines. But the fact that Mark is half- Viltrumite is always an issue, so the Viltrum Empire is an underlying concern especially when they send Anissa, a woman soldier to scare Mark and give him a warning. Allen the Alien also gets mixed up with the Viltrumites, letting himself be captured so he can meet Omni-Man who is in jail awaiting execution. Those are significant storylines, but that’s never enough, as Mark has some additional curve balls thrown at him. His mother has agreed to raise his half-brother Oliver who is growing quickly and his romance with Amber is floundering. Mark is never there with her since he’s always on some mission that Cecil, who leads the shadowy government agency, is always sending Invincible off to. Their relationship ends realistically, with Eve waiting on the sidelines.

Now I am far enough in the series to make some observations- Kirkman makes several uncomfortable jokes about being gay and is pretty damn sexist at times. The storylines can be hard to follow, as there is no transition between scenes and location, just bam, you’re somewhere new (The Walking Dead did this a lot too). There are Easter eggs and connections to other Image publications such as Brit or Savage Dragon showing up unexpectedly is some group scenes. At times there is a lack of consistency between panels- Allen was a completely different color at one time and sometimes his head is drawn at different ratios, and at one point Mark was inexplicitly the same color as Oliver. While I am still very much a fan of this series, I can’t completely fan-girl over it, due to some problematic issues.

-Nancy

Love Death + Robots

I am late to the game in discovering this outstanding animated anthology series on Netflix. With a scifi/fantasy concept, the different episodes somehow play to the themes of love, death and robots (although not every episode has a robot per se) and are very adult in nature. In fact, a quote that they are for “mature, messed up adults” is right on the money. I feel seen by that description!

Season one (18 episodes) came out in 2019 and season two (8 episodes) recently came out in May, with a third season promised for next year. Another bonus is that the episodes are all short- the longest about twenty minutes, but several less than ten. Instead of summaries for all the episodes, here are my favs with some spoilers:

Suits:

A farming community is under attack by aliens and they use their advanced technology to combat them. The portal closes and they are safe once again, but as the episode concludes you realise this group are actually the invaders as they have created domed communities across the planet.

Beyond the Aquila Rift:

A spaceship captain awakens from suspended animation in a space station that he wasn’t piloting to and is confused when an ex-girlfriend greets him and tells him his ship and crew accidentally came thousands of light years to this station. He rekindles his relationship with her, and they have a very graphic sexual encounter, but afterward he keeps on questioning her on how his ship got so off course. Then the horrific truth is revealed, his ship is caught in a huge space web and the spider-like alien is giving him and others caught in the web dreams based on their memories.

Shape-Shifters:

Two soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are revealed to be werewolves who are assets to their teams, yet derided by many of their fellow soldiers. When one of the soldiers is killed by a local werewolf, the first soldier wants revenge. Dog tags take a new significance in this poignant episode.

The Secret War:

Red Army soldiers stationed in Siberia valiantly fight other-worldly creatures. A high-ranking government official is shown to have accidently unleashed demons when a ceremony goes awry, but his mistake is covered up, so as to avoid bringing blame upon the higer-ups. Instead hundreds of lives are lost, with the potential of more, just to save face.

Snow in the Desert:

Snow, an immortal man with regenerative abilities, lives alone in a desert hideaway. Hirald, a woman bounty hunter, helps him escape from some others, but tries to convince him to come with her so scientists can study him. When other bounty hunters come to ambush him, a secret of Hirald’s is revealed, but it ends on a hopeful note, as Snow and Hirald might have a chance at love. The world-building in this episode was superb, and I read in another review that the author Neal Asher has a science fiction series that this episode fits into.

All Through the House:

Two English children think they hear Santa and sneak down to see him, but instead see a grotesque alien creature creeping around. They are cornered by the monster but found to be good and given a slimy present. Later they muse what if the alien had found them bad. This was a fun tongue-in-cheek episode.

The animation styles differed wildly episode to episode, with some being cartoony while others were photo-realistic. Some of the stories were funny, others heartbreaking, but all were good in their own way. Often in a collection of short stories there will be some clunkers, but all of the episodes were strong. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t watched it yet. I look forward to season three!

-Nancy

Header picture is from Luckbox Magazine and grid picture from El-Shai.com

Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology

This second Covid Chronicles short story collection (that came out a few months after the similarly titled Covid Chronicles that was penned by Ethan Sacks and illustrated by Dalibor Talajić ) is an anthology that incorporates many different authors and illustrators. It gives these creators chances to recount their experiences or share commentary about the pandemic to varying degrees of success.

My favorites:

COVID-19 Diary by Jason Charfield

This first story in the collection kicks off with a cartoony day-by-day diary of the author’s experience when he had COVID-19.

Librarying During a Pandemic by Gene Ambaum & Willow Payne

As a librarian, I was of course interested in how other librarian’s dealt with patrons once they reopened. While I didn’t run into the scenarios illustrated, it was an amusing story.

And This Is How I Leave You by Sean Seamus McWhinny

A poignant recounting of the author’s last days with his mother as she lay dying in a hospital and he was unable to be with her.

Small Acts by Stephanie Pitsirilos & Seth Martel

We can’t save the world, but our small acts of kindness can help. Lovely use of color in one of the best illustrated stories.

My New Normal: Rinse and Repeat by Rob Kraneveldt & Mike Garcia

A woman goes about her new normal routine and all her issues are swept under the rug in a fake blog entry in which she pretends everything went well that day.

Between Two Worlds by Julio Anta, Jacoby Salcedo & Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Excellent side-by-side comparison of how white people and POC have to deal with authority figures when they start venturing outside during the pandemic. The POC are harassed while whites flaunt the rules with no recourse.

Covid Hardball: World Leaders Step Up To The Plate by Rich Johnson & Eli Neugeboren

Illustrated to look like trading baseball cards, leaders have the facts about their response to the pandemic shared. Trump is vilified (in this story, in addition to a few others throughout the book). Dr. Fauci gets the MVP card.

Same by Jazmine Joyner & John Jennings (the only artist I was familiar with)

A woman locked down in a city apartment begins to experience paranoia and visions. But her cat shows her an alternate way out…

Author/illustrator Rivi Handler-Spitz was given several one page spreads throughout the entire book, and they were always spot on.

Frankly, I was not a fan of this very uneven collection of 63 stories. I’ve read many other anthologies such as Love is Love, Puerto Rico Strong and Where We Live (the best of the bunch), but this book just didn’t pass muster. Many of the stories lacked depth, were trite or were not illustrated well. I hardly recognized any of the contributors, so while I so appreciate their effort and intentions, readers who want a timely and poignant retelling of the horrible pandemic we all have been suffering under should read the Sacks/ Talajić graphic novel instead.

-Nancy

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

I consider Chris Claremont’s God Loves, Man Kills an outstanding and definitive X-Men story, but had never picked up another classic by the same author, Days of Future Past, despite a 2014 movie being based off it. Reading through this 1980 story was both wonderful and a bit cringy as it was so very dated, as it is now considered part of the Bronze Era of comics, before a more modern way of storytelling began in the mid 80s.

There are actually five stories found in the graphic novel- stories are added at the beginning and end to pad the book. The first story is narrated by Cyclops after Jean’s death, and he gives a very thorough retelling of the X-Men’s story as he prepares to leave the team. The second story has Storm take over as team leader and features Dr. Strange who helps when an enemy wants revenge against Nightcrawler. We are introduced to Kitty Pryde at this time, only thirteen, and brand new to Professor X’s school. The third story has Wolverine heading to Canada and helping the Alpha Flight team battle Wendigo. The last story is a strange little tale about Kitty fighting some demons the night before Christmas when she is alone at the school.

And now back to the main attraction-Days of Future Past! The story opens in a devastated NYC in 2013 (I love when we pass the future imagined years ago, such as in the book 1984 or even the movie Back to the Future) and Kitty is now a woman in her 40s secretly meeting Wolverine for a power jammer, to combat the power-dampening collar she and other mutants are forced to wear. We find out most mutants and Avengers are long dead because of a political assassination years ago that led to anti-mutant sentiment and the Sentinels being activated. The plan is to send Kitty’s soul back in time to 1980 to her young body to warn the X-Men and prevent the sequence of events that led to the current apocalypse. Of course it works, and without too much trouble she convinces her team to fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique. An all-out war entails but Senator Kelly is saved, whose new fate should pivot the timeline, although a new threat is hinted at. Going back in time to right a wrong is a popular plot device, but it works here. The 2014 movie changed the person going back in time to Wolverine, but in this comic Kitty was a good choice, and she was incorporated into all the stories in some way in this novel so I enjoyed a more in-depth look at a character I wasn’t as familiar with.

The artwork by John Byrne was classic Marvel of that era, with great costumes and fight scenes. The modern day clothing and hairdos that the X-Men wear around town are so deliciously dated, but hey, it was high fashion then. Kitty’s eyes were extremely large and odd looking to me. Kitty crushs hard on Peter/Colossus at way too young of an age and it came off as quite creepy, although there is mention that they marry in the future in the chapters of DOFP. (Aside- why then did they call off their wedding at the very last moment in a recent storyline, when they have been established for years as a couple??) This was a fun blast from the past, as this and God Loves, Man Kills are must reads for Marvel fans!

-Nancy

Look at these (now) retro costumes! 😉

Mid Year Freakout #5

I’m freaking out for the fifth time! I like this post idea, as it forces me to reflect on my reading halfway through the year instead of just at the end when Kathleen and I do our Best Of list. I had fun going through my Goodreads data, and bonus, it highlights the other genres I read since I read way more than just graphic novels.

Best book you read in 2021 so far

The novel Valentine by author Elizabeth Wetmore blew me away. It is a beautiful but heartbreakingly honest book set in 1976 in Odessa, Texas. Told primarily from several women’s perspectives, it shares the limited options, prejudice and violence that many women had to endure.

Best sequel you’ve read so far 

While I wouldn’t call it great, the sequel Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline gave a send off to characters Wade, Art3mis,  Shoto and Aech from Ready Player One. It continued to have nostalgia for the 80s era, and I enjoyed the audio edition narrated by Wil Wheaton.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I’m a big fan of author Kristin Hannah who has written The Great Alone and The Nightingale, so I am anxious to read her newest book The Four Winds, set in the Great Depression, that came out a few months ago.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I want Volume Ten of Saga released! In fact, no one has any idea when the next volume will come out, as fans have been waiting anxiously since 2018 after a heartbreaking last page in Volume Nine. ( I said this last year too- and still no word of when it will be released)

Biggest disappointment

b, Book, and Me by Kim Sagwa was a short YA novel about two friends in South Korea who have a falling out. Both teens were utterly reprehensible and I did not enjoy this surreal tale.

Biggest surprise

I just finished reading Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World by Pénélope Bagieu and was engaged by the 29 short biographies about women who were rebels for their times. The stories were cheeky yet educational and I’m surprised it took me so long to pick this book up.

Newest fictional crush

Duncan from the graphic novel series Once & Future that twists the King Arthur legends in delightfully warped ways. He’s a stand-up guy who has handled finding out his Gran is a monster-hunter and has taken meeting his long-lost murderous mother and half-brother in stride.

Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

I’m going to say Jupiter’s Legacy that premiered on Netflix recently. The graphic novels by Mark Millar had some great source material to pull from, and the multi-generational superhero series showed promise, but proved to be very uneven. I watched all the episodes, but wasn’t terribly surprised when it wasn’t renewed.

Newest favorite character

Author and illustrator Stjepan Šejić gave Harleen aka Harley Quinn an excellent origin story and really gave this anti-hero a nuanced backstory. I’ve always found her annoying in the past but this book transformed her for me.

Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

Stjepan Šejić from the above mentioned graphic novel was new to me. His illustrations are amazing and I am surprised it was the first time I ran across his work. He is an author and an artist I will now seek out.

Book that made you happy

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back follows the format of the previous book that has 40 authors sharing 40 stories about life in the Star Wars universe for background or supporting characters from the ending of A New Hope to the ending of TESB movie. These are fun books to read and I look forward to the next based off Return of the Jedi in two years!

Book that made you sad

The graphic novel Covid Chronicles was a sobering book at what the world has been going through for the last year and a half. “True stories from the front lines of Covid-19” is the tagline for this somber but excellent collection of ten short stories about the current pandemic. Published in December of 2020 these timely vignettes utilize the stories that NBC News used online that visualized life for front line and essential workers early in the pandemic.

Favorite review you have written this year 

For the third year in a row, Kathleen and I participated in a Fiction’s Fearless Females series, and this year I choose Nyota Uhura, for all strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt of gratitude to her. Beautiful, smart, ambitious, and an equal to the men – she is the original Star Trek role model. Even Uhura’s name has important meaning – Nyota means star in Lingala, a language from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Uhura is the Swahili word for freedom. My post also included info about her real-life counterpoint Nichelle Nichols who helped NASA recruit women and minorities into their space program. Uhura and Nichols have merged into one incredible icon – who is fine, fierce, and fearless! 

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Marvels by Kurt Busiek has Alex Ross as it’s artist… nuff’ said.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year? 

I review YA books for the School Library Journal magazine and they have been sending me a lot of middle school graphic novels recently. But I can’t mention titles until they publish the review first. But they all have been delightful and worth buying for my library.

I gave myself a Goodreads goal of reading 120 books this year, and I am already at 67, although some of those are short stories from the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. I look forward to reaching my goal and enjoying more excellent books this year!

-Nancy

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World

I loved Brazen! Stories of 29 kick-ass women are shared- spanning centuries and continents.

I only recognized a few names- Margaret Hamilton, Josephine Baker, Temple Grandin, Betty Davis, Nellie Bly, Hedy Lamarr, Mae Jemison and Peggy Guggenheim. The other twenty women were new to me, but now I want to know more about all of their lives!

Author and illustrator Pénélope Bagieu gave each woman three to five pages and would start their story at their birth before proceeding chronologically and would touch on what made each woman so unique. Many of the women are from years past, but Bagieu is able to capture the time period and mores of the era, to showcase how the woman (or sometimes women as there were two groupings of sisters) were rebels for their generation. She covers their lives in broad strokes, glossing over many aspects of their lives, yet sharing the fundamentals and getting to the essence of the story. These stories were also perfect to read in bite-sized portions, I could read about a few women at a time, and looked forward to the next time I could pick up the graphic novel and read a few more short biographies.

Nellie Bly

Each page typically has nine panels and is done in a cartoony manner, yet is accurate in how the women looked and their various environments. Color is used sparingly, to add contrast or to heighten the effect of a momentous event. Bagieu saves the real artistry for a closing two-page spread that is filled with color and symbolizes what they stood for. I looked forward to how she would convey their lives and what art style she would use- Art Deco, Surreal, Nouveau, Impressionism (both Neo and Post) or Modern Art are among the different types. My favorite was Betty Davis’s, for I had to turn it sideways to understand it, and all it’s parts perfectly came together to form a complete picture and vibe.

I applaud the diversity found within, for Bagieu choose an Apache warrior, a Chinese empress, an astronaut, a volcanologist, a Greek gynecologist, athletes, singers, painters- even a bearded lady! I do wonder where she got her information from, for a brief work cited would have led additional weight to her character studies. But I have spent time myself looking up additional information about the women in this book, and that is always a good sign of a strong non-fiction book when I want to know even more about the subject or person at hand. In the end, she lists 30 additional women to learn about, and I’m all in for reading another book about more brazen women!

-Nancy

The Down River People

Best described as a Southern Gothic tale, the story begins with a narrative about grief and loss before taking a sharp supernatural turn in the last half. 

Meyer is a young man whose single father recently committed suicide, leaving a speakeasy for him to run. His grief runs deep and there are poignant scenes as Meyer copes with anxiety, the new reality of running a bar and dealing with the local police. Suddenly his long-lost mother reappears with news that he has a younger half-sister from her second marriage to a pastor. After meeting his sister Meyer seems to bond with her, and you are rooting for him to heal. 

But then the story goes sideways and his affable step-father is revealed to be a cult leader. Not only do I want to avoid spoilers, but I also couldn’t explain what happens next even if I wanted to. The river plays a big part in the dream-like conclusion and I question what was real and what wasn’t. 

The artwork is evocative with a subdued color palette that moves almost exclusively to blue at the end. Panels are small with four to eight per page that established a solid riverfront setting. The southern community was realistically shown with varied townspeople. 

I’m on the fence with this story. Normally, I’m a fan of supernatural stories, but it didn’t mesh well with the beginning that was off to a strong atmospheric start before changing course. I wish the first theme of losing someone you love and how to cope afterward would have remained the focus. But still, it was an interesting read and I’m glad that I got to read an early online copy through NetGalley. 

-Nancy

Incredible Doom

It’s 1994 and the internet is new. In this coming-of-age tale, four teens come together in an unlikely alliance as their home lives fall apart around them.

We are introduced to Allison, whose manipulative and abusive magician father tries to control every aspect of her life. She finds refuge in the new computer he brings home and discovers an online community and really connects with a young man Samir (Sam). We also really get to know Richard, a teen who has recently moved to a new high school, where he runs into someone he knew years ago from summer camp, who starts to bully him and creates false rumors about him to his new classmates. While being attacked in the hallway by this bully, an unlikely punk savior appears to help Richard- Tina, a tough computer expert who lives with other teens in a house in the country.

Eventually, Allison escapes from her violent father and she and Sam are on the run in the middle of the night. On a parallel journey, Richard is thankful for Tina’s help, but feels confused and trapped with Tina’s housemates, recognizing they aren’t true friends like his group of friends from his old school. But circumstances and their connection online lead the two pairs to meet on the last page, opening up further adventures for this new quartet.

This graphic novel effectively captures the early 1990s and reminds us of that era of technology -computer usage before the World Wide Web via dial-up with a text-based bulletin board system (BBS). It looks so very primitive now, but was cutting edge for a new generation of youth who would come of age with home computers. I remember being in awe of a family that I babysat for in my neighborhood who had a computer and then a few years later in college when one of my rich sorority sisters was the first to have her own computer vs the rest of us who had to use the college’s computer lab. Now everyone seems to have their own private laptops- how far we have come in a relatively short time.

The art is done in black and white with blue accents for shadows and to infer other colors. A variety of panel placements and computer screens successfully pull you into this world of technology and limitless possibilities. The art style reminded me somewhat of Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and Daniel Clowes of Ghostworld. Clothing and hair-styles of the grunge inspired youth, are captured well in the minimalist illustrations, with solid line art.

Incredible Doom is set up to be an ongoing series, and I’m invested enough in the disenfranchised and realistic characters to look for future volumes. These tail-end Gen X teens are looking for connections, and I have enough nostalgia for that era to tune in for more.

-Nancy

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