comics

Mini Spotlights on Graphic Novels

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The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage

The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage by Jan van Meter and Robert de la Torre is a fantastic story. Dr. Mirage is a parapsychologist. She helps people connect with the spirits of their lost loved ones and can cross over, when necessary, to the world of the dead. She’s been hiding out since her husband’s death. He’s the one spirit she cannot speak to.

Things that rock about The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage:

I want to say everything, but let’s be more specific. There’s some really fun artwork with great attention to detail. In the trade, they talk about the lettering process, the way that the lettering is presented. The very deliberate choices that are used are apparent and really help to set the tone. The coloring in dynamic and entertaining. AND Dr. Mirage is awesome. She’s complicated, constantly growing, and a fascinating character. The plot was pretty heart breaking, but man it was worth it.

Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth*

Oh, Rat Queens, how I love thee. Rat Queens, vol. 1 is fantastically funny, blending some of the best parts of fantasy, D&D and girl power. It’s drawn beautifully and has a fantastic sense of humor. Volume 2 is no less fantastic. It shines a light on the backstories of our heroines (I’m using the term liberally) and manages to still retain humor and a new extension of the plot. INCLUDING GIANT SQUID!

Just. Do. It. You’ll thank me.

Low Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope*

This one admittedly wasn’t my favorite. It’s a far future story. Humanity has moved under the sea and there is huge conflict. It revolves around one family that has the power to move the underwater ships humanity is living in. I’m not really sure why it didn’t click with me. It’s got some fun dialogue and great, colorful, and scenic illustrations. I’m guessing it was just a mood problem. I’m going to revisit it and will update later.

*I received marked titles from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review

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Mini Spotlights on Graphic Novels

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Rat Queens, vol. 1

Rat Queens is pretty epic. It follows the (mis)adventures of the Rat Queens, a questing group composed of D&D esq classes of rogues. This all girl gang gets in trouble repeatedly. A combination of risk taking, self destructive habits, and collusion means they’re destined for trouble. And now, it’s found them and won’t rest until the Rat Queens are gone.

This was described to me as Kevin Smith meets D&D meets girl power. I think it’s even better.

The art is compelling and the story rocks. There’s a fantastic sense of humor throughout the entire thing. Despite its light-hearted approach, Rat Queens also tackles some more serious interpersonal issues and builds some fairly complex characters pretty quickly. I’m glad I picked this up this month, because vol. 2 is out in trade on the 19th. I don’t think I could have waited much longer.

The Fade Out, vol. 1

And now for something totally different (though still pretty good).

The Fade Out is a classic Hollywood noir type story with a fantastic sense of chaos. It blends classic story tropes with a more realistic approach to the types of struggles people deal with. The art is dark and emphasizes the story’s plot. I loved the look at the politics of the 40s and 50s in Hollywood. It wasn’t always overly fast paced and it’s not very funny (though it has its moments), but overall I was pretty please. Three for you, Ed Brubaker, you go Ed Brubaker (though I think it actually ranks higher than a 3/5)

Let’s Talk | Comics and Graphic Novels [Video Post]

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In which I talk about comics and a bit of their history and context.

Spotlight on Graphic Novels: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

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Zita the Spacegirl
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl is available here.

Overview: We open to Zita, a human girl of elementary school age, on trial for destroying an asteroid, stealing a spaceship, and interfering with the migration habits of an endangered species (All of these done in pursuit of good). Zita is sentenced to imprisonment and to working in the mines searching for a crystal that her warden will use to invade Earth and takeover. Zita must escape and defeat the warden before it’s too late and all of Earth is destroyed. The only way to do so will be to gather up her friends (quirky robots, some space pilots, and other animated objects) in order to save Earth.

The villain
Zita is an intrepid young girl with an immutable sense of good, easily a great role model for young children. However, she is questioned about how her good acts may impact others. When she’s brought up on charges, we see that even though she has been doing good, there have been repercussions: potentially endangering others, theft, harming a species. Though it’s clear that Zita has done good, I think it’s also a good reminder that we can’t always foresee the ramifications of what we do, but that thinking them through is still a necessity.

The humor is in the tradition of both traditional superhero stories and web comics. It’s nothing a younger child couldn’t understand, but it also appeals to a broader audience that includes adults.

Zita also has a focus on teamwork and collaboration with adults that I think is awesome. It’s not uncommon to see television shows and comics that downplay the role of adults and teamwork in a successful endeavor. Zita features a cast of characters that help her that includes two adults who, unlike many stories, are not blundering fools or overwhelmingly suffocating for the main character. Instead, the supporting characters are valuable and fun to meet and watch.

Zita's friends to the rescue!
The artwork in Zita is great. It features striking contrasted colors, high color saturation, and design that draws on webcomic and more traditional comic traditions.

Rating: 4
All photos in this post are creations of Ben Hatke.

Spotlight on Graphic Novels: Chew #1

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Chew #1 is available on ComiXology electronically or in print form here*. 

After a Bird Flu outbreak, the Constitution was amended. Now chicken is illegal. Tony Chu is a vice cop for the Philly police department. He’s sent in to examine D-Bear, a chicken smuggler with an underground chicken restaurant. But Tony is a cibopath and can see visions through the food he eats, and there’s more than just chicken in the soup.

Image

Highlights:

  • There’s a really great color palette in this series. Going back and forth between eye-catching color and muted, dark tones, the pages are stunning.
  • The artwork catches exaggerated expressions and has  a great sense of humor and timing.
  • The sense of humor extends to the writing and storyline. It’s funny enough to think about some guy walking around and seeing into people’s lives just by eating, but the characters all have humours names and proclivities. For instance, Tony’s brother is named Chow and went on a tirade about the chicken ban on national television.

Chew is funny and has a lot of room for growth. Be warned it’s pretty graphic as far as gore goes. It’s not for the feint of heart.   

*Amazon recently acquired ComiXology, but ComiXology’s current electronic viewing system is optimized for the comic. I don’t know if Amazon’s has been updated to host at the same quality.