Tale of Sand is the graphic novel adaptation of a screenplay by Muppet-creator, Jim Henson. It's mostly billed as an homage to the late, great visiona...moreTale of Sand is the graphic novel adaptation of a screenplay by Muppet-creator, Jim Henson. It's mostly billed as an homage to the late, great visionary and it shows the mark of Henson's dreamy and surrealist conceits.
The strongest thing about the graphic novel is the artistry brought by Ramón Pérez. His character designs are a perfect blend of almost Warner Brothers extension cartoony with some grounded realistic anatomy and sense of balance. The expressions and scenes carry this largely wordless journey and, although there are scenes you can tell were always meant for film, he adapts them in a way that feels organic to this adaptation. For example, the prospector-like person who never stops talking having his background chatter spill out of the word balloon, or the juxtaposition of some unrelated scenes to represent the chaotic pellmell of the chase scenes.
Henson, when at his best, would have delivered a rich and memorable world surrounding this story, but the script is not his strongest work. It delivers the visuals but lacks a certain heart in his characters' reasons (or even a concrete lack of reasons), and while you are interested in seeing how the journey progresses, you are not invested in discovering the hows and whys of what's going on. And when all the goings on end, you're not quite sure what happened. It's still engaging, but if the art wasn't a gorgeous as Ramón Pérez's, the readability would be severely hampered.
Definitely a read for Henson fans and those who enjoy trippy post-modern concepts. Definitely read for Ramón Pérez's beautiful artwork. But I think most readers who are looking for a dreamlike story with surrealist elements might be disappointed in Tale of Sand's unsustainable influence, which delights while you're in the middle of it, but seems to slip through your mind once you put it down.(less)
More of a 3.5 than three personally, and a higher rating for other audiences. Salt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty has brothers Jack and Benny mo...moreMore of a 3.5 than three personally, and a higher rating for other audiences. Salt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty has brothers Jack and Benny moving up to Chowder Bay, only to discover strange goings on in the form of a legend of Old Salty. Taffy stealing lobsters, a briny old seafarer, and a mysterious agent keep them all on their toes with plenty of humor and charm.
The artwork has very clear and distinct lines, making it easy for younger readers to see what's going on. Loux's style is very angular and, while not always perfectly realistic, has a great sense of movement and stylized motion that keeps the landscape artwork popping with interest. I'm really impressed with his sense of balance in black and white. The only drawback I could think of is that it sometimes makes Jack and Benny appear much older than they are.
The story is charming. Jack is the older, more jaded of the brothers who wants nothing more than to play with his Gameboy or watch TV. Benny is the younger and more gullible of the pair. Their relationship, while typical, is rendered in a realistic fashion that never feels rushed or expository. The fact that the story takes time to have them bicker or do silly brotherly things like jumping on each other is a sign of a well plotted story.
The humor comes in various types, from Jack's outlandish ideas on capturing Old Salty, to some absurdest plots, such as lobsters stealing taffy or (view spoiler)[seagulls dressing up like secret agents (hide spoiler)], which has something for everyone. For graphic novel readers, this is the kind of quirky Oni Press fare that makes the company such a quality publisher.
For reluctant readers who want adventures with some lighthearted humor in it, this is a fantastic read to hand them. It's wonderful fun.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Pet Robots is an all ages book written by Scott Sava and art by Diego Jourdan. The plot is a straightforward romp, where four kids get lost on a field...morePet Robots is an all ages book written by Scott Sava and art by Diego Jourdan. The plot is a straightforward romp, where four kids get lost on a field trip to a toy factory and stumble onto four robots. After accidentally activating them, the kids leave and the robots following them home afterward, having imprinted on them. Adventures happen, culminating in a fight as the evil toy manufacturer attempts to get them back.
Sava's script is well-suited to an all ages audience, with humor skewing to younger with booger and fart jokes. The story has a pace that seems more suited to a television show than a graphic novel, but for the most part it works in his favor, since early readers don't have to worry about compressed text or too many details passing by. This is a complimentary read for kids who like shows like Codename: Kids Next Door, Phineas & Ferb, or Jimmy Neutron.
The art is the weaker component of the graphic novel, where Jourdan has an accessible style and a good command of page layouts, sometimes his drawings seem stilted. The action scenes, in general, do not have the sense of movement so vital for keeping the story moving. The fight at the end has panels where punches are delivered and robots are tossed around, but they lack the cartoony movement one would expect from the style.
In the end, Pet Robots is nothing entirely new or inventive, but what it offers it delivers well. The kids have distinguishing traits, if not wholly fleshed out. One of the stronger aspects is how the relationship they start to develop between their robots is given time to feel organic. The humor doesn't condescend, although it doesn't invite older readers in the way something like Jeff Smith's Bone could do. While the art is weaker than the script, it is bright and colorful, hard to mistake for anything other than an all ages read. (less)
This collects "Weapon X: First Class" issues one through three, "Wolverine: First Class" issues one and two, and Power Pack #2. For a compilation grap...moreThis collects "Weapon X: First Class" issues one through three, "Wolverine: First Class" issues one and two, and Power Pack #2. For a compilation graphic novel, the stories are better connected than most, although it retreads a lot of Wolverine's major characterization marks. Always a loner, "the best he is at what he does," and constant symbolic references to his inner turmoil of fighting the animal within. For people just getting into the character, this is a nice--if not sometimes redundant--introduction. For long standing Wolverine fans, there's not much original to recommend aside from some supporting cast moments.
Weapon X gives another retelling of Wolverine's backstory where he rediscovers his memories about the Weapon X program. Charles guides him through the barriers of his mind and he fights mental manifestations of Sabertooth and himself. It's a quick and straightforward adaptation. The good parts are the interspersing comments focusing on Sabertooth, Deadpool, and Gambit, as their lives are tangentially intertwined with Wolverine's. Gambit's story makes the most sense to include in this story, as Deadpool's deals more with his own origin and Sabertooh's backstory seems a little redundant since he appears in two of the other issues to play as a foil.
The best parts about this collection are the Wolverine: First Class issues, which take a lighter and more humorous turn with Wolverine's gruff mentorship. I think these were better served because we are taken out of Wolverine's head with his long-standing angst, and given fresher perspectives through Kitty Pryde and the Pack kids in Power Pack #2. The humor is better paired with the adventures than Wolverine's mental anguish, and the collection finishes off stronger than it started. The art by Gurihiru in Power Pack is also lively and light, great for younger viewers to follow.
If you're a dyed-in-the-wool Wolverine fan, this collection is nothing you haven't seen before and nothing done in a spectacularly new way. However, its real strength is being more appropriate for all ages, especially younger readers. The book works as a nice summation of the popular character, with some nods to his supporting cast, and is easily digestible in the single issue vignettes rather than one giant story.(less)
Justice is a return to old school DC, where the original vanguard face off against some of their most memorable foes. The plot is an old concept turne...moreJustice is a return to old school DC, where the original vanguard face off against some of their most memorable foes. The plot is an old concept turned on its head. What if their dangerous villains banded together like the Justice League, forming a coallition that rivals or even surpasses their heroic counterparts. The really interesting set up is that they initially seem altruistic in their motives to cooperate and become greater heroes than their old foes. The villains have received distressing nightmares of the end of the world, mass destruction that not even the world's superheroes are able to circumvent.
This plot entanglement of supervillains who turn over a new leaf is discovered to be part ruse and part mind control scheme between Brainiac and Luthor, who need the other villains to agree to their schemes. It's really a way for a fascinating character study on how the villains are the heroes of their own stories, but sadly Justice is not that story. Instead it is still a highly engaging work that discusses how the heroes are initially beaten and then return and fight back from this villain conspiracy.
The artwork in here is nearly flawless. Anyone who has seen Alex Ross's art in Kingdom Come or the Astro City covers knows the attention to detail and realism found in here. The full painted spreads really are eye-catchers here, detailed and understandable in each spread. If I could name any moment something appeared off it would be Arthur Jr.'s baby face was sometimes awkward looking and some of the fight panels, while gorgeously rendered, weren't always clear in the scene. Still, where his work in Kingdom Come felt more like a humanized story of people, the artwork here is bright and larger than life and breathes a sense of believability to the Silver Age conceit.
Jim Krueger's story is well constructed, with twists and moments of humanity that keep people interested even when the epic scope of the story threatens to overwhelm. If I thought there was some untapped potential in having a story be about villains outdoing the heroes in their deeds, he still provides a great plot for people to read through. I think I was most impressed with the throwaway moments, such as Joker's true monsterous insanity that his mind couldn't be swayed to altruism even with the promise of the whole world's destruction, or the opening in one chapter where a cured inhabitant of the city writes to explain her decision to her parents.
Some moments do provide wallbangers of suspension of belief, such as Zatanna being able to survive being dropped in space simply because she held her breath, or the fact that these exceedingly organized supervillains only carried out an assult on a select group of superheroes, leaving heavyweights like Captain Marvel to retaliate. But as a whole you don't question the logic. It makes perfect sense in the realm of demigods and aliens parading around in costume. And the best part about Justice is that it embraces that atmosphere. There's no sly winking or trying to hide it between some metatextual commentary on superheroes. It's just a damn good superhero story. Funnily enough that seems to be in short supply right now, so I'm all the more grateful for Justice being what it is.(less)