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Catwoman (Vol. 1): Trail of the Catwoman

I found this one on accident while looking for another Catwoman title – but once I saw the late Darwyn Cooke was one of the creators behind this title, how could I pass it up? =P

After faking her own death, Selina Kyle (and, by extension, Catwoman) has gone into hiding. But cash runs out quick, and she needs some more if she’s to go back home to Gotham. She calls in a few favors and rounds up some old friends to pull off one last, big, heist. As in “stealing from the mob” big. As in “train robbery” big. A load of unmarked mob money transported to Canada via train sounds just perfect. As Selina and gang pull their plan together, someone is on her trail. Someone knows Selina Kyle isn’t dead, and private eye Slam Bradley is hired to find out why. When their party is sold out to the very mob they’re stealing from, forget the cash; will Selina be able to get out alive?

I’ve tried reading noir crime graphic novels, most recently Criminal by Ed Brubaker (who, coincidentally, co-wrote this one) and Sean Phillips, and I just can’t seem to get into them. I’m not a big mystery reader, nor do I like a lot of violence in my reading, though I do enjoy psychological and interpersonal dilemmas. This one though? Hit the sweet spot.

Cooke and Brubaker created a stunning work with this one. The art is intense, line-heavy, and by turns bright neon and Gotham dark. It reads just like an old heist or detective movie. The imagery evokes the old Hollywood aesthetic: dangerous glamour glimpsed through a screen of cigarette smoke. It set the atmosphere perfectly.

The writing is excellent. We bounce between a few characters, some of whom giving conflicting information, so you never quite know who to believe. We hit the ground running and don’t stop until the last explosive has been detonated. Not only was there action, there were tense moments between characters that alluded to conflict in the past. There was just enough given for the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. I’m sure some is explained in previous runs, but it was fun to imagine =P

Having never read a Catwoman story before, I think I set the bar pretty high for myself with this one. It was exactly as I had pictured the perfect Catwoman story: a high-stakes heist, a little romance, a lot of drama and atmosphere. As for the big bad Bat? He was only mentioned a few times in passing, and seen twice. Readers who want to know what Selina Kyle gets up to without Batman around are sure to love it, as well as crime readers and those yearning for a bit of old Hollywood.

– Kathleen

Cooke, Darwyn, and Ed Brubaker. Catwoman (Vol. 1): Trail of the Catwoman. 2011.

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Green Arrow (Return, Vol. 5): City Walls

The Riddler is loose in Star City. Apparently he’s decided to expand his franchise outside Gotham. But Green Arrow and Speedy soon discover that Riddler is a front, a distraction, for something bigger and badder. A millionaire named Davis wants to keep Star City safe, whatever it takes. He summons a magical barrier around Star City, one that even Superman can’t penetrate. No one can get in or out. What’s worse, he’s also summoned demons who uphold the law to the letter. These demons will appear to uphold the peace; from grand theft auto to a shove, nothing is above their notice. Green Arrow will have to break the spell, but he can’t possibly fight an army of demons all by himself, right?

… Man, I’m pretty done with this run. I don’t know if this volume was truly subpar or if I was reading it in the car on a road trip I didn’t want to take in the first place and was projecting =P I remember being frustrated with the last volume for some Women in Refrigerators plot points, and while this volume didn’t have as much of that, I still don’t think I’ll be continuing this run.

The art continues to be the reason I keep trying to read this arc. I’m a big fan of the bold lines and graphic style. However, it continues to be the only constantly good thing in the run.

The writing for the most part is solid. Most of the stories in this run have been compelling, especially those that are dealing with heavy character introspection and development. This kind of writing only seems to be reserved for the male characters, however. Mia Dearden finally put on a mask in this volume. I’d been waiting for it for a few volumes now, but couldn’t bring myself to get excited when it happened, because it felt like I’d slogged through too much male resistance to get there. Gee, that sounds pretty familiar in a Green Arrow story…

This run started with so much promise for me, but petered out quickly. Hit me up if there’s an iteration of Green Arrow that isn’t so macho manly man centered!

– Kathleen

Winick, Judd, and Phil Hester. Green Arrow (Return, Vol. 5): City Walls. 2005.

Book Love

Book love- I know it well. If you too love books, then this is the book for you!

Author Debbie Tung has created a relatable book of strips that details how bookworms feel about their beloved books. Drawn in black and white within a simple four panel format, the comic showcases a woman obsessed with books (I assume she is based on the author herself) and her understanding husband. So many of the strips hit home for me, as I have loved books since childhood. Libraries have always felt like home, so it comes as no surprise that I am a librarian, surrounded by what I love.

The premise of the book is all about book love, so there is no plot or characterization, it is ALL about loving books and sometimes avoiding interacting with people in favor of the books. Each strip can stand alone. At times the strips become a bit one-note, yet that is the basis of the book. As I do all the social media for my library, I hope some of these adorable strips become available for re-print (with author credit, of course!) because posts on book love are always a big hit at my library.

Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy; I just wish it was being published a few weeks earlier, so people could scoop up copies to give to the book lovers in their life. So, if you are a bibliophile, this book of comics is for you, and will be available in January!

-Nancy

I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything.

As a mother, I feel bad and doubt myself every flippin’ day. Not a day goes by that I at least once (and up to 100+ times) ponder how I am messing up. So when this book popped up on my Goodreads suggestions list, I tracked it down.

Orli Auslander is a mum who shares her worries and regrets in 100 sketches of how exactly she feels bad. She opens the book with an introduction of how after she had her first child she began to journal and draw how she felt guilty in her daily life. In this collection she shares her worries on her parenting, sexuality, religious beliefs, extended family and the greater world around her.

(In my case it would be reversed, with me boring my family with my Star Trek thoughts)

At times she seems to over share, but the point of the book is for her to be brutally honest, and for readers to find situations in which they can relate to. I actually applaud her for showcasing her anxieties for it takes courage to admit in our social media obsessed world that we are not perfect. There are only a few people in my life I will share the REAL me with.

Auslander’s illustrations have been compared to Roz Chast’s, and I can see why. She captures the essence of the moment in a seemingly simple sketch, while letting her neurosis shine through. Her ink drawings have a distinctive feel, for she depicts expressive large eyes, and gives her pictures a swirling layered look.

As I do not watch a lot of television, I did not realize a new NBC comedy is based off this book, when I first picked it up.  I watched the pilot this morning and thought the diverse cast did a nice job with the source material. So, for anyone looking for a book on the realities of parenthood and adult life, give this collection of strips a read, and realize you are not alone!

-Nancy

Herding Cats

When I discovered Adulthood Is A Myth early this year, I was enamored with author Sarah Andersen’s humor and her trademark artistic style. Despite her city living vs my small town setting and the age difference between us, there were many parallels between her thoughts and mine.  I read her second book, Big Mushy Happy Lump, soon afterwards (review below) and then was doubly pleased when I was able to read her third book through NetGalley that will be out in March 2018.

What stood out in this third volume was her honesty about the creative process and how self doubt and self sabotage come into play even as she has now gained mainstream success.  There is a section in the back in which Andersen gives advice to new illustrators and shares how the internet has corrupted much of her former joy in sharing her work. Her guide for the “young creative” is actually appropriate for all ages as her practical advice about artist survival is from her own hard won experience. While this book is as funny as her previous two, there is definitely a maturing in her work that was welcome.

 

Andersen’s second book includes more funny cartoons about self esteem, relationships and the foibles of being a woman. She also shares some personal insight as to how social anxiety, over thinking and lack of confidence has affected her. This was a quick read that was lighthearted but also can help others with anxieties feel that they aren’t alone. The roller coaster cartoon was especially apt, as I too struggle with self esteem, and to see in print that others also struggle with it was reassuring.

I look forward to future Sarah’s Scribbles book, as the talented author and illustrator has created a very relatable set of books. Bravo!

-Nancy

Adulthood Is A Myth

We’ve all heard the phrase “adulting is hard” and usually I want to roll my eyes at whiny Millennials who say it. However, artist Sarah Andersen, has tapped into that feeling and produced this clever comic book. The art is drawn in an uncluttered style reminiscent of Hyperbole and a Half. The four to five panel strips are in black and white, but despite their apparent simplicity, she captures emotions perfectly. While I assume the artist is in her 20’s, and I’m older than that, some of the situations are universal and were laugh out loud funny.

adulthood2

The above strip captured me perfectly this weekend, as I had a final due on Monday in one of my grad classes, but spent some of my Sunday night emailing Kathleen with a long message about our blog and ideas for future posts. Then I got into a conversation with a blogging friend about Twitter wars and other nonsense. Final, what final?

adulthood3

Finally, this last strip is my overall feeling right now. With family, work, grad school, volunteering commitments and this blog- I am run down and feeling ragged. I read and admire other blogs, and wonder where do they find the time to write and create such beautiful posts?! All I could do this week was put up a video about Wolverine and add like five words to it, and read a book that took me 15 minutes, and then write a post that was mostly cartoon pictures!

See, adulting is hard.

-Nancy

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