Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Graphic Novel Round-Up

Read a bunch of graphic novels over the past few months and, well, since I'm trying to put a review of every book I read on here may as well include these! But I'll try to keep these to a few short sentences.

1. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman. Starts better than it ends. Sets up a bunch of creative, conflicting stories. The resolution, unfortunately, mimicks a particular car commercial. But seeing the characters interact is great, and the idea -- Batman's funeral -- is definitely intriguing.
2. Rasl by Jeff Smith. The same magic as Smith's Bone series in a totally different realm: bleak but inventive present-day sci-fi for adults, rather than semi-fairy tales for children. Does one of the best jobs of talking about Tesla of anyone, and lots of people have tried. You're left with a nice, clear set of mysteries as you wait for the next book.
3. The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Yang. I like to see more by Yang, and these stories were good examples but not that deep. Maybe if you think about them together. Each has a nice twist.
4. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley. Feminist Chaucer in a comic book. In a good way. One of my favorite things about graphic novels is an artist who can capture a good expression and Medley is excellent at that. Celebrates some quiet, ordinary moments along with the traditional "this is a story" moments. Very, very good, just not a personal favorite.
5. Stumptown Investigations, Portland, Oregon by Greg Rucka. Successfully captures Portland and uses it as a setting for a competent and well-told crime story. I love the first scene and the way it's explained. So much better spending an hour reading this than TV!
6. Life with Mr. Dangerous by Paul Hornschemeier. Story of a young woman making her way through life. Very good at capturing the alienation and distancing of modern life without wallowing in it. I never quite got the TV show angle -- it's always hard to replicate the feeling of a hit TV show if said hit TV show doesn't exist. The inner motivations of the protagonist should be stronger I think, because I didn't quite understand what took her so long or what really changed in her by the end of the book.

Of all these, #2 was best, but #4 and #5 were very very good for their genres, and #1 and #3 were always-enjoyable expressions of their always-enjoyable authors' voices. All were worth the time to read (especially from the library!).

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