Friday, May 30, 2014

How the World Was

Creator:  Emmanuel Guibert

First Publication:  August 12, 2014

Graphic Novel Challenge Book #4

If you told me that I would enjoy reading a 160 page graphic novel about someone's pre-World War II childhood, I would have been suspicious.  It is not the usual type of graphic novel I pick up.  Guibert does a great job of telling the story of his friend's childhood.

One of the things that impressed me was the mixture of art styles.  Guibert switches between photo realism and a cartoon style with all sorts of stops in between.  The opening pages with the highway scenes sets the stage using the photo realistic style.  As the story switches to Alan's life story the art becomes more cartoony.  It is a difficult job changing styles within a story but Guibert makes it work.  In some respects his art reminds me of Will Eisner's more personal work (see "Contract with God" and his later works).  That is high praise.  Very few artists are able to do this level of work in the same style as Eisner.

If you like biographical stories, or are a fan of Eisner's later work, I recommend picking this up when it goes on sale in August.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Aquaman Vol. 4: Death of a King

Writer:  Geoff Johns

Artist:  Paul Pellitier and Sean Parsons

First Publication:  2014

Graphic Novel Challenge Book #3

Summary from Amazon:  Unfolding out of the events of "THRONE OF ATLANTIS" comes a mystery that sends Aquaman to the ends of the Earth to solve an ancient murder--one that will reveal a horrific truth about Arthur Curry and threaten those closest to him today.
Also, as the Scavenger compiles more Atlantean weaponry and artifacts, Aquaman enlists the aid of The Others to help find one missing relic in the Southwestern United States before his enemies can get to it and possess untold power.

Collects issues #17-19, 21-25 of the monthly series.

I enjoyed the way Geoff Johns has introduced the Others.  The idea that Aquaman headed up his own version of the Justice League appealed to me.  Johns kept the suspense at a high level while building on the characterization of the many different players in this series.  The mystery of the Atlantean artifacts is especially intriguing.

While Ivan Reis made this his series in the previous issues, Paul Pelletier was a solid choice to follow him.  Pelletier started out following Reis' art style but has transitioned to his personal style as he drew more issues.

I highly recommend reading this series beginning with the first issue.

Cover for Aquaman #37 (1968)
On a side note, it is hard to believe that the Scavenger first appeared in the original Aquaman series (issue #37) in 1968.  

His first appearance featured art (including this cover) by the legendary Nick Cardy.  Cardy was one of my favorite artists of that era and one of the best cover artists ever.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Cage

Creator:  Martin Vaughn-James

First Publication:  1975

Source:  Net Galley

Graphic Novel Challenge book #2

Summary (from Amazon):
First published in 1975, The Cage was a graphic novel before there was a name for the medium. Cryptic and disturbing, it spurns narrative for atmosphere, guiding us through a labyrinthine series of crumbling facades, disarrayed rooms and desolate landscapes, as time stutters backward and forward. Within the cage's barbed-wire confines, we observe humanity only through its traces: a filmic sequence of discarded objects - headphones, inky stains, dishevelled bedsheets - scored by a deafening cacophony of breaths, cries and unsettling silence.

This book is very intriguing.  The artist focuses on the cage while time might be flowing forwards...or maybe backwards around it.  The lack of people, including a protagonist, makes it difficult to understand.  Some people say that the author is not really sure what it is about.  So if you are a reader who loves dialog and the interaction between people, avoid this book.  In other words if you are someone who prefers the destination to the journey, this is not for you.

On the other hand, the "journey" of this story is amazing.  The art varies in style but is very good.  Martin Vaughn-James does a great job of using the items in and around the cage to show changes.  I would like to see what the creator could do with a more traditional type of story.  I give the art a higher grade than the story but the way it is done makes the art the focal point of the pages.  Fans who enjoy good art will like this book.

Overall, I am glad I had the opportunity to read this novel.  It is worth getting a copy.


Author:  Chris Roberson

Artists:  Alex Ross, Dennis Calero

Publisher:  Dynamite Comics

  I enjoyed this team up of many of the classic pulp characters. Most of my early pulp reading was in the Doc Savage universe but I also read some of the Shadow reprints with the Jim Steranko covers. This series brought back fond memories of those books. The villain was a surprise to me. I am anxious to start reading Roberson's "The Shadow" in that character's regular series. Recommended.