Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

Nate Powell

Two Dead

Tagline: “Stunning crime-noir graphic novel exploring the intertwining threads of crime, conspiracy, racism, and insanity in the post-World War II Deep South.”

When I saw this graphic novel was drawn by Nate Powell, the artist of the excellent March trilogy, I knew I wanted to give it a chance just based on that and eagerly requested it from NetGalley. His collaboration with author Van Jensen proved to be strong and I enjoyed this historical drama.

Gideon Kemp is a soldier who is fighting PTSD, who has recently returned from WWII and accepts a job as a police lieutenant detective in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1946. As Gideon is an idealistic rookie, Mayor Sprick warns him against the mob in the city and problematic Chief of Detectives Abraham Bailey. The officers are fighting a sadistic serial killer, and this white police force comes up against Chief Jacob Davis and his black police force when a victim is found in their jurisdiction. Ugly racial prejudices are shown, with postering and threats made, when the two groups should have been working together for the greater good.

Mob activity increases and Chief Davis tries to keep his brother Esau out of it, as racial tensions are about to explode. In the midst of this Chief Bailey is shown to be unstable, with lingering effects of guilt and schizophrenia affecting his everyday actions. All four men are caught up in the ugly cycle of violent segregation and are drawn together in an explosive finale. A fellow cop’s statement becomes symbolic, “Stay a cop long enough you go down one of three paths: you become a cynic, a reformer or a drunk” as justice is not always achieved.

Powell helps the book come alive, and makes the narrative flow through his powerful black and white illustrations. His work is historically accurate and he faithfully duplicates the era. Black backgrounds when there is violence was emblematic, but on the other hand, hard to follow. With a lot of speech bubbles to keep track of, I felt I was missing part of the story, for I was trying so hard to read the conversations that had small lettering. A second read of the story when it is published will be necessary to catch what I missed in the online version.

Far from a light read, author Jensen created a layered thriller, that was inspired by true events. I applaud him and Powell for showing how some deep-seated issues resulted in social ills for everyone in the community, and that they didn’t shy away from showing the tragedy that unfolded because of it.

-Nancy

Jenson, Van and Nate Powell. Two Dead. 2019.

March: Book Three

march-3
Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell. March: Book Three. 2016.

The conclusion of the March trilogy of books took me longer to read than expected- but I felt that was a good thing, for I was able to truly enjoy and understand the message more fully. There were many times during my reading of the three books that I would stop and do some additional research on the person or situation described in the book, and that to me is always a good sign of a non-fiction book…I want to know MORE.

The second book ended with the tragic bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham AL in 1963, and the third books picks up there to give us a tableau of the destruction that killed four innocent girls. I appreciated that an effort was made to highlight other everyday heroes of that time period, plus share other lesser know casualties such as the two boys who lost their lives following the chaos of the Birmingham bombing. They all deserve the respect of having their stories shared and their names remembered.

Representative Lewis is honest in admitting that there was a significant amount of infighting among members of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) as different agendas were presented and voted on, in how the groups could further the Civil Rights Movement. There were so many injustices being inflicted on Blacks all across the nation, especially in the south, thus there were many different perspectives on ways to combat these issues. Lewis chooses to concentrate on voting rights, although his wishes and actions don’t always match the stated goals of the SNCC. The narrative does a full circle in this book, as the undated march across the bridge in the first book is clarified in the third as being the pivotal Selma AL march to demonstrate the need for voting rights.  The march and the media attention it garnered helped push through legislation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

As with any memoir, all recollections are those of the author and are prone to their spin on the events. While an effort is made to be fair and partial, some bias still seeps through the narrative.  John Lewis clearly aligns himself with the non-violence philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr, and throws some (mild) shade at some of his former SNCC co-leaders who took another path in the Civil Rights Movement. No matter, he is still a giant of the movement, and others can stand tall because of their different but still significant contributions.

I feel I have not given enough credit in the past two reviews to the co-author Andrew Aydin and the artist Nate Powell. Aydin helped Lewis organize his recollections and put it together in a cohesive story. The books were originally his idea, and he masterfully connects the story arcs and did extensive research. Powell helps the books come alive, and makes the narrative flow through his powerful black and white illustrations. His work is historically accurate and he faithfully duplicates what many real people looked like, for as I did further research on some of the people, real photographs show that he captured their essence. This book series would not have been half as excellent if not for their collaboration with Representative Lewis.

While this book is the stated conclusion to the series, there remains a possibility of further stories. Who is calling on the last page and why? I’ll pick up any additional books from the amazing trio of Lewis, Aydin and Powell!

-Nancy

Review of March:Book Two can be found here.

Review of March: Book One can be found here.

March: Book Two

march_book_two
Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell. March: Book Two. 2015.

Congressman John Lewis continues to share his inspiring story of the Civil Rights Movement, and his part in it, from 1960-1963.

The book’s title becomes very evident from Mr. Lewis’s desire to march in protest, despite the possible cost in freedom and life. He and many others band together under the Nashville Student Movement. Groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) grow in prominence with different agendas that will promote racial equality such as voter registration and direct action.  These brave groups participated in the Freedom Rides in the deep South that got the nation’s attention.

What impressed me was the planning and education that went into the movements and the protests that they were part of. Before the modern era of computers and cell phones, coordinating everything was a tremendous amount of work, in helping the protesters follow the law and stay safe. On the flip side, seeing the abuse that the protesters endured was sickening. People can say that many white citizens were raised with racial bias and they didn’t know any other way due to their cultural upbringing, but the hate and violence that some participated in can not be excused in any way.

The protesters have an ally in Martin Luther King Jr, who preaches about the injustices heaped upon the Freedom Riders and shares these prescient words about Governor Patterson of AL, “His consistent preaching of defiance of the law, his vitriolic public pronouncements, and his irresponsible actions have created the atmosphere in which violence could thrive”. 55 years later, and these words could describe another leader in our midst. Y’all know who I’m referring to!

The book ends with the tragic bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in 1963. This became a turning point for the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that Book Three will cover. The message of the March books is certainly timely with the important Black Lives Matter movement going on today.

I have found so many parallels in these March books and what is going on in Standing Rock, North Dakota, right now. Please consider supporting the Sioux Nation and the Dakota Pipeline Protesters, who have been protesting peacefully since April. This article in Bustle gives five ways in which we can help- we should no longer stand by and see people sprayed with tear gas and water hoses.

These books are a must read for all youth (and adults) today, who don’t remember the sacrifices that were made for the freedoms we hold dear today. We must understand the past, so as not to repeat those mistakes in the future.

-Nancy

*Review of March: Book One can be found here.

*Review of March: Book Three can be found here.

March: Book One

marchbookone
Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell. March: Book One. 2013.

 

A vivid account of John Lewis’ human rights struggle and the greater Civil Rights movement that he was an integral part of.

The book opens with African Americans marching across a bridge and bravely facing a squad of white policeman. The story then quickly segues into modern day (2009) in which Congressman John Lewis is preparing to attend President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration. He speaks to a visiting woman and her two grandsons, and through their conversation, he reminisces about his past and early days of the Civil Rights Movement. His story of growing up poor in rural Alabama and overcoming severe discrimination to attend college, which leads to him meeting a young Martin Luther King Jr, was a lesson in determination and diligence.

March would be perfect to use in a classroom to better understand the Black Civil Rights Movement for the graphic novel really brings the struggle alive to the reader. The evocative black and white illustrations make you truly see what was happening, for words can be glossed over, but the pictures make you experience it. Any text book for young readers can’t go into much detail about this era, so this book and the sequels, will add much needed dimension to a student’s understanding. The reader will get the big picture of the movements that changed American race relations for the better. John Lewis and all the protesters were everyday people, who had had enough, and were true heroes for their choices. Could people today do the same?

I did have a few small quibbles though- some information given does not provide enough background. The book opens with a march across the bridge, but it is unclear that John Lewis was one of the leaders, for the date and his name are not given during this scene. Plus the grandmother and boys stopping by Mr. Lewis’s office was a contrived way to make John Lewis start reminiscing about his past to get the narrative going. More information is needed to complete the story, but perhaps that’s the point, to make people research more about this era and to set the stage for the next two books.

I look forward to reading Book Two and Three, and learning about the continuing saga of the Civil Rights movement, for John Lewis is truly a man to be inspired by!

-Nancy

* Review of March: Book Two can be found here.

*Review of March: Book Three can be found here.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑