Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC ev...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC event Final Crisis. Kane's a former marine, forced out of the U.S. Armed forces under the tenets of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military; however, her drive to protect Gotham, and her desire to overthrow a mysterious cult that tried to kill her six months earlier, motivates Kane to transform herself into the vigilante Batwoman.
As Kane rises to power, a new madwoman and her minions threaten the good citizens of Gotham with a toxic death cloud and an unrelenting urge for chaos. But Alice—the Lewis Carroll–quoting High Madame of the Religion of Crime—has more than poison in her arsenal, and the dizzying revelations she carries will alter Batwoman's life forever…
To start, I have to praise J.H. Williams III and his remarkable, panel-shattering artwork. Whenever Kane dons her iconic suit and takes to the crime-filled streets of Gotham, readers are treated to non-linear fight scenes saturated with Kane's taste for blood-red accents, and the very layout of Williams's panels take on a highly-stylized, shattered design that begs for hours of careful study.
Of course, due credit should be given to author Greg Rucka who's been praised for his nuanced, thoughtful depiction of Kate Kane, the modern incarnation of Batwoman herself. Here, Rucka takes the time to explore the motivations behind Kane's vigilantism and fills out her backstory with salient political issues, namely her dishonourable discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." She's sacrificed a career with the armed forces to live an honest life, and her aim to bring justice to Gotham's streets makes perfect sense in this context. When it comes to personable, complicated superheroines, I can think of no better vigilante to start with than Batwoman.
Ideal for: Readers craving lush, groundbreaking artwork and a capable, complicated superheroine; Folks who'd like to see LGBTQ issues rendered in a thoughtful, action-packed story arc; DC fans and members of the Bat-clan.(less)
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six tr...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six troubled teens pack their lives into a single suitcase each and tie up loose ends in their hometowns. Casey's thrilled with her scholarship, while Ike's mother can't believe the school would scout her psychopathic son. Zoe's a serial dater with a disinterest in school, Hunter's a Canadian sweetheart from a broken home, Jade (formerly Jane) has an obsession with vampires and a clear stalker streak, and Fukayama Jin has a quick wit and a killer's instinct. However, once the teens arrive on campus—in a drug-induced blackout, no less—their fight for survival begins, and the mysteries behind these hallowed doors reveal themselves one by one…
Nick Spencer's written quite the introduction to his series, and his main cast possesses quite the loveable crew of anti-heroes. I took an immediate shine to Casey, the blonde bombshell who's also the leader of the new recruits. She's clever, organized, and she puts a bit of fear into her über-sadistic teachers. Also, I will have to honour fellow Canadian, Hunter—his talents have yet to be seen at this point (aside from his good-natured, beta-male approach to this murderous new life), but I get the sense he's got a few tricks hidden up his sleeves.
I found Joe Eisma's panels were well-structured and the pacing of the horrific scenes was good—the nightmarish images averaged about one-per-comic and tended to occur after a page flip (again adding to the general warning at the start of this post…). I did find some of the artwork became repetitive at times and duplicate panels or panels with minimal differences between them were regular features.
I expect I'll pick up the next volume in the series, if only to delve deeper into the dark secrets of Morning Glory Academy. Of course, next time around, I'll make sure to start reading well before 10 PM…
Ideal for: Readers craving a labyrinthine mystery in their sci fi horror; Teens looking for clever, convoluted, sixteen-year-old protagonists; Fans of secret societies, government training programs, or other sinister (and lowdown) groups.(less)
The Anthology Project has a simple mandate: to collect comics from artists who pursue compelling narratives...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
The Anthology Project has a simple mandate: to collect comics from artists who pursue compelling narratives and have published notable works in sequential arts. In short, "[i]ts humble intent is only to delight"—and I assure you, the book delights on numerous levels. I have a soft spot for comic collections and literary journals for their variance and their promise of new talent to discover. And, for the first time in quite a few years, I've found an anthology that features strong storytelling and breathtaking art across the board. I feel this explains their 2011 Eisner Award nomination for Best Anthology, wouldn't you agree?
Immediate favourites include include Kim Smith's "The Nose and the Tongue", a tale of two duelling sommeliers with a contentious wine-tasting competition in their past, and a new Barrel Master score to settle in the present; Chris Makris's "Little World Runner", which examines the life of a young gamer girl who creates and maintains a virtual world known as Azria, and must handle the difficult decisions only a god could make; and Tom Rhodes's "The Box", a hilarious comic about an alien creature named Bardy and an android known as '06' who find a mysterious box at the edge of the universe. All three tales take place across different timeframes and illustrate different issues, but their narratives offer an excellent launch point into the world of sequential comics.
Beautiful, surreal, and endearing—The Anthology Project is a testament to the innovation behind Canadian sequential arts, and it ought to be the next addition to your graphica collection.
Ideal for: New readers to comic collections and sequential arts; Fans of short stories and literary journals who want to add some artwork to the mix; Graphic design and illustration students looking for a lesson on short, powerful storytelling.(less)
Tom Taylor's no stranger to the limelight—of course, the fame was never his to start with. Tom's father, Wil...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Tom Taylor's no stranger to the limelight—of course, the fame was never his to start with. Tom's father, Wilson Taylor, won critical acclaim and a massive, dedicated fanbase for his thirteen-book series about a boy wizard named Tommy Taylor—since Wilson's disappearance, Tom has toured the convention circuit in his father's place, and he's learned to pander to the legions of adoring readers who see him as the flesh-and-blood incarnation of Tommy. Tom goes through the motions, all the while pressuring his manager to land some decent acting gigs for the would-be performer.
While attending London's 30th Annual Fantasy Convention, a woman calling herself Lizzie Hexam challenges Tom and accuses him of being a fraud. Lizzie's in the process of completing her doctoral thesis, and she's uncovered some inconsistencies in Tom's personal information and his childhood records. As Tom struggles to deal with the fallout from these recent accusations, the young man finds himself drawn into an ever-widening mystery regarding his origins in the Taylor family and his father's whereabouts. As he sifts through the information at hand, and as he returns to the scene of Wilson's disappearance, Tom's life begins to mirror Tommy's life in eerie and dangerous ways…
An excellent introduction to a sinister, magical world—for starters, I loved how much bookish knowledge is required on behalf of The Unwritten's readers—of course, we're treated to Tom's in-depth awareness of London's literary geography and Wilson's obsession with his son's education on that front, but it's the subtle, insider's nudge that pleased me the most. So far, there are five books to the series, and I will certainly be checking out the others in the near future.
Ideal for: Book nerds checking out comic books for the first time; "Pott-heads" intrigued by a re-imagining of their beloved hero's archetype; Comic book readers looking to distance themselves from the usual superhero fare, or looking for a fantastic re-jigging of the everyday world.(less)
Runaways chronicles the lives of six "normal" Californian teenagers who are forced together each year due...moreOriginally published on Across the Litoverse
Runaways chronicles the lives of six "normal" Californian teenagers who are forced together each year due to their wealthy parents' annual (and top secret) business meeting. On a whim, Alex Wilder offers to relieve the teens of their boredom and suggests the group spies on their parents' charity fundraising initiative; however, their nosiness reveals a shocking truth: their parents belong to a secret criminal society known as The Pride, a collective controlling all illegal activities in Los Angeles. As if their criminal tendencies weren't foul enough, these duplicitous adults are also ritualistically murdering young women from the city—an act their children witness from behind a two-way mirror. With their true natures exposed, The Pride will take all measures necessary to protect their organization—even if it means destroying their own children to do so.
"GAWD, Mom and Dad—why do you have to ruin my life like this?!"
Brian K. Vaughan imagines the ultimate comeuppance for the under-twenty set—he takes those victimized and angsty kids, infuses them with otherworldly powers and tools, and sets 'em loose against the world order envisioned by their parents. Runaways offers the ultimate revenge fantasy of wayward teens jonesing for their chance to outwit the authorities and rise up against the status quo. On that note, Vaughan delivers in spades.
However, due to a massive principal cast (re: six teens, twelve parents, and numerous secondary figures), a large portion of the characters were underdeveloped and offered little to the story arc. In particular, Victor Stein proves to be an one dimensional meathead versus the gang, and Molly Hayes, an eleven-year-old girl, often acts as though she's in fact seven-years old.
Though I had a mixed reactions to this first volume, I'm willing to hold out for Runaways in the long run—maybe I'm hearing the echoes from my own teenaged years buried within me, but I have the sense these kids aren't finished their revolution just yet…
Ideal for: Superhero junkies looking for a fresh spin on the good vs. evil dynamic; Rowdy adolescents who are either comic book–obsessed or rarin' for their own rebellion; Folks who like a little surrealism in their graphic reads.(less)