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Greg Rucka

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Godwatch

Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is definitely not a Wonder Woman fan. She’s watched Diana on the news, read about her in the papers, and thinks she is a sham. It doesn’t help that two of her gods, Phobos and Deimos, sons of Ares, have stolen her daughter’s soul. They’re holding it ransom until Veronica can lead them to Themyscira. Veronica sacrifices much in the journey, in developing the technology to get there. But to save her daughter – Veronica will do just about anything.

Rebirth WW does a lot of skipping around in the story. I can see why they utilize that method – revealing hidden truths and all that – but it’s not ideal for light reading. I really had to pay attention! That said, I loved that they went in a slightly different direction in this volume and made Veronica Cale the focus. You see her make the descent from a woman who just wants to save her daughter to a villain, and neither you nor her realizes until it’s too late. Cale is an excellent foil for Diana. I’m kind of a sucker for villain stories like this, and I enjoyed it very much.

Bilquis Evely’s art is lovely in it’s subtlety. The focus is more on expression as opposed to great detail. The color palette gets more muted and darker the more you read, echoing Cale’s descent into villainy. My favorite part had to be Jenny Frison’s covers at the back, though… I can’t get enough of them!!!

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Bilquis Evely, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 4): Godwatch. 2017.

Best Reads of 2017

As we did last year, we went through all the graphic novels we read and reviewed this year to give you a Top 10 list – the best of the best!

RoughneckNancy: Roughneck is a beautifully told standalone tale of a brother and sister’s quest to reconnect with one another and their cultural identity written and illustrated by the talented Jeff Lemire. Lemire handles the storyline of Derek and Beth’s Cree heritage with grace and respect. The reality of native families becoming disenfranchised from their cultural heritage, is mirrored in the excellent book The Outside Circle, which also deals with First Nation individuals whose circles of community were broken which led to fragmenting generations of people with no connection to their tribe anymore. The ending is open to interpretation, and while I at first looked at it one way, re-reading it I saw a more melancholy but poignant way of concluding the story.

 

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Kathleen: A review of this book is upcoming, but last week I read this graphic memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow . The illustrations were all drawn by hand by the author, who suffered from anorexia when she was younger. This is the story of her recovery, and all the difficulties and choices that came with it. I don’t want to spoil my own review (edit-added link!), but suffice it to say for now that the illustrations are among the most beautiful and effective that I’ve seen this year.

 

Nancy: This graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s story, Kindred, was extremely well done. Butler’s original novel, published in 1979, was a ground breaking story that liberally dipped into historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy within a time traveling framework. The author herself called the story “a kind of grim fantasy”, and this adaptation shows just that. This was a heartbreaking story, and through the juxtaposition of Dana’s (the main character) experiences in two different centuries, this fantasy novel actually gives a highly realistic view of the slavery era.

 

 

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Kathleen: Beauty is an adult fairy tale in graphic novel form. It tells the story of Coddie, a fishmonger, who wants nothing more than to be beautiful so she’ll stop being the laughingstock of her small village. When a fairy grants her wish, however, she quickly learns that she can now have whatever she wants – at a steep price. The child-like art belies the serious messages and themes within. The figures are loose and almost caricature-like. The writing is phenomenal, with unconventional characters and fairy tale tropes turned slightly askew. If you like your fairy tales with more of a brothers Grimm than Disney flavor, this is perfect for you.

 

Nancy: Although the Superman: American Alien has Superman in the title, it is really Clark Kent stories. The seven stories are chronological and fill in the gaps in the Superman canon. We start with Clark as a boy learning how to fly, move through his adolescence, and finally settle in his early years in Metropolis. Every story is strong, and fits in seamlessly with what we already know about Superman. I highly recommend this book, for it humanizes Superman. The seven stories are all excellent, and they flow and connect into one another, to form the larger picture of who Clark Kent is and who he will be. A must buy for Superman aficionados!

 

5820769-21Kathleen: Unfortunately, DC Rebirth has been a hit or miss for me, but the one story that I’ve consistently loved is Wonder Woman. Bringing Greg Rucka back to her title was the best decision they could have made! After discovering that she’s been tricked into thinking she could return to Themyscira at will, Diana sets out to discover the truth of herself and who has deceived her once and for all. She is vulnerable and human here, and I’ve cried shamelessly as she struggles to figure out the truth – her own truth, the truth of who she is. Greg Rucka is without a doubt one of the best writers of Wonder Woman. The art is nothing to sneeze at, either, beautifully detailed as it is!

 

Nancy: Vision- Little Worse Than A Man is as far from a superhero story as possible. While grounded in the Marvel universe, with cameos by other Avengers and villains, this book is about our definition of humanity. This quietly ominous story had such power, and felt especially moving to me to read at this time when I worry about our nation’s future. I feel some in our country have embraced a bullying rhetoric, and turn a blind eye to facts and justice for all.

 

 

 

 

91epsqx38slKathleen: The memories of her childhood ice-skating days became the subject of Tillie Walden’s graphic memoir called Spinning. The uncertainty of moving to a new city, starting middle school, and discovering her body and her sexuality make Tillie’s ice-skating routine comforting to her – until she starts questioning that, as well. The art is fantastic: only purples and yellows are used, and yellow quite sparingly, to highlight important parts of the story. Great blocks of deep purple around a single figure illustrate Tillie’s loneliness and uncertainty more than her words could.

 

 

Nancy: Briggs Land is an absolutely riveting new series about “an American family under siege” by both the government and their own hand. Set in rural upstate New York, Briggs Land is a hundred square mile oasis for people who want to live off the grid. Established in the Civil War era, the Briggs family would give sanctuary to those who wanted to live a simple life, but this anti-government colony has taken a dark turn in recent times. The village that grew within it’s fences has morphed into a breeding ground for white supremacy, domestic terrorism and money laundering. The second volume is scheduled to be released in late January, and I dearly hope it stays as strong as it’s debut volume was.

 

 

gunslinger-rebornKathleen: Like the rebel that I am, I read the graphic novel adaptation of The Dark Tower series titled The Gunslinger Born before I started the books. But let me tell you, it left me desperate for more and started my new-found obsession. The young Roland sets out with his two best friends to Mejis, where they are sent by their fathers to stay out of trouble. What they find in that sleepy little town is a conspiracy loyal to the Crimson King – and Roland’s true love, Susan, who may doom them all. I can’t say enough about the art in this book. I was in love with the stark contrasts and the way the figure’s faces were usually in shadow, leaving the reader to guess at their true intents. If the seven book series scares you, try reading the graphic novel first and seeing how fast you devour the books after that 😉

And there you’ve got your must-reads of 2017! We spanned several genres and publishers, and each of us had a DC and Marvel choice. Surprisingly Image didn’t make the cut. Here’s hoping 2018 brings us many more excellent graphic novels… we don’t think they made it hard enough for us to choose ;D

– Nancy and Kathleen

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth

Diana is completely devastated after learning she has never been home. She has been deceived into thinking she’d been able to go back and forth between Themyscira and Man’s World at will. Her mind breaks, and Steve hastily admits her to a psychiatric hospital before fleeing to find Etta. Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is still after Wonder Woman, thinking she can lead them to Themyscira. Steve, Etta, and Barbara Ann need to throw them off the trail. But Cale is relentless, and it’s only a matter of time before she catches up to them. How can they stop her when what she wants – Wonder Woman and the way to Themyscira – may be lost forever?

This comic hit me harder than it should have. Wonder Woman losing her sense of self, becoming hurt and confused, is very emotional. Rucka is not afraid to let her be human. With this volume, we are reminded that our heroes are human, too. We are also reminded that we can pick ourselves up, forge on, and eventually our faith will be rewarded. This is by far the best Rebirth title I’ve picked up, and I’m eagerly looking forward to more.

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Liam Sharp, and Laura Martin. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth. 2017.

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One

Y’all should know Wonder Woman’s origin story like the back of your hand by now from dealing with me, so I’ll gloss over that part of this book =P After returning Steve Trevor to Man’s World, Diana finds herself detained in a military base. She’s alone, scared, and she can’t make anyone understand her. But then, she’s visited by the gods. Each of her patrons bestows upon her a gift, but what they are, they say will reveal themselves in time. By the time Lieutenant Etta Candy and Steve manage to find someone who can understand the language Diana is speaking, Diana has gone pretty stir crazy. She accidentally rips the bars off her cell, and Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva decides Diana was telling the truth about her heavenly visit! More gifts reveal themselves at the mall they take Diana to, during an attack by the Sear Group… who are familiar to both Dr. Minerva and Diana. What do they want?

This may be a Year One, but it’s especially interesting after reading Volume 1, because we are going back to the beginning after glimpsing the ending. The middle will be a great ride! I adored that they actually utilized a language barrier here when Diana enters Man’s World. It makes sense, and it made for some pretty fun moments! The art is wonderful, and I love that Diana was portrayed with especial wide-eyed innocence here. It was fun to watch her learn her gifts for a change instead of knowing them immediately. There were lots of little cameos and hints to WW past that made me smile. I can’t wait for more!

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Nicola Scott, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One. 2017.

Free Comic Book Day 2017

 

The library I work at has hosted Free Comic Book Day the last three years (thanks to me!!!) so I was excited to get a sneak peek at the comics before the public did. There were four that I zeroed in on. Quick recaps follow.

I had most been anticipating this comic, as Skottie Young released the cover awhile back and I loved the mash up of Image characters with Gertrude the foul mouthed sociopath from I Hate Fairyland. She encounters and brutally attacks members from The Walking Dead, Saga, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Paper Girls, Invincible, Chew, Revival and The Wicked +The Divine. The ending with the Image partners was a fun shout-out. This comic was definitely a winner for it’s sick humor.

The Next Generation crew is looking pretty bad-ass here. This prequel to an upcoming comic series features Captain Picard, Troi, Data, and Tasha Yar on the Starship I.S.S. Stargazer in a alternate universe in which the Klingon/Cardassians alliance is powerful.  Low ranking crewman Barkley gets a chance to shine in this issue, and reestablishes equilibrium of one person’s fate no matter what universe they belong in. An after note by the authors whets my appetite for further story lines in this Mirror Broken universe.

An appealing prequel to the upcoming movie, this comic gives us a duel narrative of Diana on the island of Themyscira and Steve Trevor in military training. Although both arcs show them with good friends, both seem dissatisfied and yearning for more. My only small criticism is that if this was a prequel to the movie, I was surprised the characters weren’t drawn more similar to the actors that will be portraying them on the screen.

I was most leery of this title, as Marvel has had uneven success with their events, and I’m of very mixed feelings if I want to invest time in the Secret Empire, after being so dissatisfied with Civil War II. Captain America comes out as a secret agent of Hydra, and his former friends and heroes fall in battle against him. This very short introduction to the upcoming series has me torn. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t sucked in either. Time will tell if I want to continue. The last half of the comic was a fun Spiderman vs The Vulture story. It had some snappy dialogue between the two about “you’re so old that…” and had a tease for future story lines.

All in all, all four of my choices were solid. I plan on continuing with most of the story lines, and isn’t that the intent of the event, to make us want to buy future issues?

-Nancy

Wonder Woman: Down to Earth

I opted for Down to Earth as the only one to pick up from Diana’s 75th Anniversary box set… it was the only one I hadn’t read yet! XD

Jonah McCarthy has been hired as another assistant to Diana, Ambassador of Theymiscira to the UN. They could use the extra help at the office. She’s poised to publish her first book, titled “Reflections,” which collects some of her best speeches and essays from her time in man’s world. There are some who aren’t happy with what she says. Her words promote ideals like peace, feminism, taking care of the earth, but some twist that to mean she’s promoting pagan worship and deviance from the American way of life. Despite the divide, everyone is reading it, including the gods of Olympus. Could the controversy be good for Diana’s image, or will it destroy her and all she’s worked for?

Rucka is an exceptional writer. The story sucked me in and held me there until I finished. The art was decent. It reminded me a little of Birds of Prey (they were written around the same time), but simpler. Some things nearer to the foreground should have been more detailed in places. The character design of some of the gods especially were updated for a new millenium, which was kinda cool.

The state of the world in 2002, when the series was originally published, is very obvious in this comic. People are scared. People are looking for inspiration – a hero. People are also tearing down the truth and replacing it with fear-driven nationalist rhetoric. It bears striking resemblance to what is happening in the world today with the recent change of management, if you will. I will definitely be reading more.

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Drew Johnson, and Ray Snyder. Wonder Woman: Down to Earth (75th Anniversary Edition). 2016.

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