While nowhere near as nice as the William Joyce books that inspired the movie (and this comic), it's a fun little prequel that introduces several char...moreWhile nowhere near as nice as the William Joyce books that inspired the movie (and this comic), it's a fun little prequel that introduces several characters from the upcoming movie. The story helped whet my appetite, and the art was nice. A quick diversion, but fun.(less)
I enjoyed this book enough to finish it, and to want to read the next one, but I can't wholeheartedly embrace it. The pace is uneven, and the characte...moreI enjoyed this book enough to finish it, and to want to read the next one, but I can't wholeheartedly embrace it. The pace is uneven, and the characters aren't particularly well-drawn (ironic, in a story where magic comes from drawing). It also leaves a lot of plot threads dangling, without being clear whether or not a follow-up is intended. So, a qualified recommendation.(less)
The final part of this initial post-TV series story wraps things up nicely. The highest compliment I can pay it is that it feels like a good adaptatio...moreThe final part of this initial post-TV series story wraps things up nicely. The highest compliment I can pay it is that it feels like a good adaptation of a TV episode. Thanks to the participation of the show's creators, it carries the story forward and feels like it has substance, instead of just being a random, inconsequential adventure for Aang and his friends. I can hear the actors' voices saying the dialogue in my head, and the art really captures the look and feel of the animation, even without the motion.
Like the best episodes, the story puts Aang into the position of having to make a difficult decision, forcing him to search for the best solution instead of settling for the easiest one. (Although, in this case, even the easy, or obvious, solution was pretty harsh.) I also liked how Aang wasn't able to simply turn to previous avatar Roku for answers. This shows that why the world still needs a living avatar, instead of relying on the knowledge of past avatars.
While the sequel TV series, Legend of Korra, does show us the fates of many of the characters and several of the situations in this story, seeing the journey is just as interesting as arriving at the destination. (Also, as someone who was disappointed at how Legend of Korra did take the easy way out at almost every turn, it's nice to see that this series seems to be maintaining the complexity of the original.) So I'm glad that Dark Horse will be continuing this Last Airbender series, and appreciated how the end of this story led naturally into the next one. Cannot wait!
While I've enjoyed George Mann's other work that I've read, this book was a bit of a let-down. The story was exciting and fast-paced, and had some nic...moreWhile I've enjoyed George Mann's other work that I've read, this book was a bit of a let-down. The story was exciting and fast-paced, and had some nice set-pieces and imagery. However, the character development, particularly on the part of the villain, felt very sketchy. We never really get a sense of the villain's motivation, and this leads to him just feeling like he's doing bad things because he's evil, or crazy, or both. We also never really get a sense of what the evil, crazy rituals he's performing are meant to accomplish, or if they would have succeeded. The tension isn't there, because we don't know what's at stake.
I am interested in the stuff being set up with the main characters. Mann is building a number of conflicts between them, with Newberry's growing addictions, Veronica's secrets, and whatever is going on with her sister. These are the things that will keep me reading.
In addition, I've read enough other Mann work that I've enjoyed that I'm not going to give up on this series. And the short stories at the end of the book were much stronger than the novel, which is another reason for me to continue. However, I wish I could recommend this as strongly as I did the first book in the series. Here's hoping things improve with book 3. (less)
Comic book and comic strip creator Graham Nolan's Monster Island, originally published in 1998, is back in print in a nice new edition from Pulp 2.0 P...moreComic book and comic strip creator Graham Nolan's Monster Island, originally published in 1998, is back in print in a nice new edition from Pulp 2.0 Press. This fun adventure story combines the feel of comic strips like Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon, and most especially Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer with classic monster tales like King Kong or It Came From Beneath the Sea. It's a charming, fast paced thrill ride, beginning when two naval aviators crash on a mysterious island populated by giant monsters. They learn the truth about the island, and join a diverse cast of weird characters as they try to make their way back home.
Nolan tells his story economically, giving us all the information we need without slowing the reader down with unnecessary exposition or backstory. Above all else, this is a fun story, and has all the style and easygoing charm of a Warner Bros movie from the 1940s. Each character has his or her own distinctive voice, and Nolan proves himself adept at making each one feel like an individual.
When this book was originally released, I was already a fan of Nolan's art from his comics work. This story, however, was a revelation. Particularly striking is his use of Craftint shading, similar to that of Roy Crane's work on the aforementioned Buz Sawyer. That shading really adds a great deal of depth to his pages. His monsters and aliens are all very creatively designed, and express a great deal of personality through design and body language.
In addition to the original story, this book adds several special features. We see Nolan's attempts to redesign the story as a daily comic strip. While he wasn't able to sell it in that form, his attempts did lead to his finding work as the artist on Rex Morgan, M.D. There's also an interview with him about his career, and pages showing the progress of his art from layouts to pencils to inks.
It's great to have this book back in print. It's a lot of fun, and very well done. Highly recommended for adventure fans.(less)
This second Guardians of Childhood picture book (following The Man in the Moon) has the feel of a classic myth or fairy tale, one that has been told a...moreThis second Guardians of Childhood picture book (following The Man in the Moon) has the feel of a classic myth or fairy tale, one that has been told again and again. As with his other Guardians of Childhood picture books and novels, Joyce fuses fantasy, mythology, folklore and science fiction to create a truly interesting tale that feels fresh and original, while simultaneously feeling classic and timeless.
The picture books in this series (as opposed to the novels) necessarily tell simpler, more straightforward tales, giving the background of their main characters. As a comic book fan, they remind me of the origin issues of classic superheroes, telling you who they are and how they came to be, while creating anticipation for future adventures. I look forward to the Sandman's appearances in the other books in the series, as well as the upcoming Rise of the Guardians movie.
Joyce's art, as usual, is deceptively clean and clear on the surface, while closer examination reveals a great deal of detail. The design of the book and art echo the classic tone of the story, with strong art nouveau influences (if I'm getting my art terminology right). I keep using the term "classic," by which I mean it feels timeless. It doesn't feel old-fashioned, nor is it self-consciously trying to be contemporary, in a way that will feel incredibly dated after just a few years.
That this series ties in to an upcoming movie shouldn't put readers off; as I understand it, Joyce came up with the concept of the Guardians of Childhood decades ago, and the movie is adapted from his concept. Interestingly, work on the movie (which Joyce co-wrote and co-directed) influenced this book, as Joyce gives credit for some of the designs to artists working on the movie. Regardless of its origins, the whole Guardians of Childhood project is one that I'm really enjoying, and look forward to future installments in whatever medium they show up in.(less)