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Rick Remender

Death or Glory (Vol. 1): She’s Got You

Glory’s adopted father is dying. He needs to have a major surgery in order to have even a chance at survival. The money’s all run out, and Glory is getting desperate. She decides to set up a series of heists, stealing money from drug lords, to pay for Red’s surgery and save his life. It’s not really stealing if you’re already stealing from a criminal… right? But the first heist goes awry, and Glory soon finds herself in way over her head. Soon she’s dodging crooked cops and her ex-husband, all of whom trying to bring her in no matter what, in addition to well-meaning members of her trucker family. When things go from bad to worse, can Glory pull off her plan and save Red?

I admit I had to skim this one after a certain point. The story is interesting enough, but it was too violent for my taste. Strong language is fine with me, as are love scenes, but soon as one guy starts cutting another guy open with a chop saw, I check out. That said, most of it seemed well-suited to the story, and there were only a few scenes that I deemed excessive. Because of the violence, I’d have to say this one is adult only.

What I did enjoy about this one was Glory herself. She’s not some hero, and she’s not pretending to be one. She is straight up hurting for money and not willing to let go of someone she loves. She’s ready to do whatever it takes to save that person, even if it means breaking the law. Is that ethical? It’s up to the reader to decide. I’ve always been fascinated by stories like hers – it’s why I think Mr. Freeze from Batman is such a good villain. When written well, you question whether or not he’s even a bad guy. I questioned whether or not Glory was good here, and I loved it.

The art is great. The backgrounds and environments are rendered in sort of a dusty ’50s meets Wild West style. They’re rendered a little more carefully than the characters, grounding the reader in a plausible reality. The characters are a little more sketchy, a little more exaggerated, to suit the action-oriented story. Even though there is a lot of action, the panels are still laid out in a straightforward and easy-to-follow format.

Skip this one if you mind a lot of violence; but if you don’t, this story will take you on a ride-or-die roller coaster that has you questioning the morality of everyone involved.

– Kathleen

Remender, Rick, and Bengal. Death or Glory (Vol. 1): She’s Got You. 2018.

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Deadly Class: Reagan Youth

This book came highly recommended to me by the two of the best comic book gurus out there- Kevin and Charles from Graham Crackers in DeKalb. They don’t steer me wrong when I ask for purchasing selections for my library, so I was anxious to read it. I did not love it at first. Confused I went  to the store yesterday to talk to them about it before I finished my review. I had the best conversation with them and wish I could have taped it, for they shared such passion and deep insight about the book, that I was then able to see it through another lens and it upped my opinion of the story.

Set in San Francisco in 1987, Marcus is a Nicaraguan immigrant whose parents died soon after coming to America in a freak accident with a mentally ill woman who was committing suicide. Sent to a group home for several years, Marcus, who is now a teen, escaped and was living on the streets.  One night he is recruited by a daring young woman named Saya to join Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, a high school for assassins. Attended by children of the world’s top crime families, the cliques in the school are literally killer. Marcus gets involved with a motley group and must follow the professor’s assignments of killing a vagrant who has committed a sin and “deserves” to die. He and his partner Willie bond, and a true friendship is formed under dire circumstances. Later these two, plus Saya and a few others, set out on a road trip and are a followed by deranged man from Marcus’s past. The group’s confrontation with this villain sets up story lines for the future.

More than the actual story, it is the themes of this series that set it apart. Marcus is a symbol of the disenfranchised and is morally ambiguous. He is no hero, but brings to light the discontent that some youth feel when faced with a threatening future. Damaged by society, these youth on the margins feel they have no recourse except through violence. As Charles and Kevin opined, some big changes in our world have only come to fruition through violence. Martin Luther King Jr was able to further the Civil Rights Movement through love and non-violent means, but he was counterbalanced (and helped) by Malcolm X’s methods, as Gandhi was also helped by radicals. Their musings were thought provoking and made me look at this comic in a new way. This story takes those thoughts to an extreme, but as a tagline on the back cover says “Change the world with a bullet”. See my review for Genius: Siege that also worked with the idea of using violence for change.

The artwork is stellar with a coloring palette that sets the tone for the narrative. The era of the 1980’s is accurately represented through the art, with an authentic and gritty vibe. The panels are varied, with some bold choices, and visuals that stand out. Another strength is the introduction by David Lapham and afterward written by the author, both which delve further into the fascinating background of how this comic got started.

Initially, I struggled connecting to the story. I had a rather straight-laced upbringing and didn’t easily connect to the youth of this school. However, by the ending everything came into focus. No matter what, teens (and adults) are looking for connections with others, and that is a universal need.

-Nancy

Aside: If you live in the northern Illinois region, you must go to Graham Crackers in DeKalb for your comic and graphic novel selections. Located on the NIU campus, this store has superb customer service and the best employees. It would save me time at work if I ordered our graphic novels online, but I refuse, I must go in and browse.  Kevin and Charles guide me on my purchasing selections, and they happily expound on books that they feel would be worthy of purchase and warn me against books that are weak (I wish I had listened about Civil War II!) or aren’t being continued.

Reminder, Rick, Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge. Deadly Class: Reagan Youth. 2014.

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