Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Love Letters to Jane's World by Paige Braddock


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I requested this from Net Galley's 'read now' collection which is always a bit of a hit and miss affair, and this was a miss I'm sorry to report, because I really thought I'd enjoy it. I was thinking that it would be a fun and amusing read, but it was neither.

I became bored with it quite quickly, which surprised me, and I made it only a third of the way through by which time I honestly could not stand to read any more. It's just not my kind of humor I guess: too cheesy and simple for my taste.

Worse than this though was that for a book which claims diversity as one of its qualities, there was one - perhaps two - people of color in the entire thing, which doesn't sound very diverse to me given that most people on the planet are people of color, and a third of them are Asian. But talking of so-called minorities, I guess I'm in the minority in disliking this since it has done well for itself over the years and been somewhat groundbreaking to boot for a comic whose main character is LGBTQIA. For me she was more LGBTMIA, though.

The story is a highly fanciful 'autobiography' it would appear, given that the main character is quite obviously modeled on the author, but I hope the author is smarter than the character depicted here, who comes across as quite stupid and thoughtless. I didn't like her, much less respect her, which didn't help to like the comic strip stories.

The artwork was very much 'Sunday Funnies' style, but in black and white line drawings, so no color diversity here either, and sometimes the text was hard to read because it was also hand drawn and rather scrappily so - something I've never understood about comics. It was large enough to read okay (for the most part) on a tablet computer, but I sure wouldn't want to try reading this on a smart phone or in a badly printed copy.

It's yet another graphic novel which doesn't acknowledge that there are ebooks, and the print book margins made it quite wasteful of trees, too. This is another negative against this comic book since trees are the only entity which is doing anything concrete to fight climate change, and here is another author/publisher seemingly determined to decimate them. And so it goes.

I wish the author all the best in her career, but I cannot recommend this one.


Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine by Anaële Hermans, Delphine Hermans


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is an interesting story told in graphic novel form, of a trip to Israel and Palestine by one of a pair of sisters (Anaële the writer), the other sister (Delphine the artist) remaining in Belgium. I never did get out of it why the one sister went and not the other, or how she financed her trip which lasted ten months, or what the actual reason was for her trip!

The other thing that was missing was any sense of history which would have put the present circumstances into perspective. This conflict (which is much too polite a word for it) between these two peoples, and which has religion at its root, did not arise yesterday! It's been going on for centuries, but most notably since 1948 when Palestine, as it was then, was carved into two, with the Palestinians being given what is now known as Jordan, and the Israelis being given a sliver of land along the Mediterranean coast.

On the day Israel was effectively created, it was invaded by four Arab nations (later joined by four others) and yet it held its own without outside help from anyone. It's been under siege ever since, with a continual rain of rockets and mortars (well over ten thousand combined) onto Israeli territory which has been beset by terrorist attacks for some seventy years.

Over just the last two decades, these attacks have killed over two dozen Israeli civilians, five foreign nationals, at least eleven Palestinians, and only five Israeli soldiers. None of this is ever mentioned in these stories. The wall which looms large, both figuratively and literally in this story is a direct outcome of these attacks, yet none of this is ever mentioned in stories like these.

None of this excuses the Israeli behavior towards innocent Palestinians, either, which is quite flatly inexcusable, but it does put it in context. This story focuses on Palestinian deprivations and hardships, and on efforts by both Palestinians and Israelis to address the conflict. For that reason, because it gives a different and very personal perspective and about country I have also traveled in (Israel) and visited many of the places mentioned here, I consider it a worthy read, because it tells a story which definitely needs to be told, and which was both saddening and heartwarming in almost equal measures.


Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears by John McNamee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was an unexpected gem I found in net Galley's 'read now' selection, which is always a hit and miss affair. This was a hit. The graphic novel consists of simply-drawn cartoons - several panels and sometimes more than one page to each topic, illustrating humorous and unexpected outcomes to stories arising from assorted inspirations such as fairy tales, pop culture, religion and so on.

The very first one, for example, shows Goldilocks entering a room and unsuccessfully sampling various servings of porridge, and eventually revealing that the reasons she cannot find one to her taste is that this is hell and it's where porridge thieves are sent!

That's the kind of humor, and sometimes it's hit and sometimes miss. There were several of these I simply didn't get, or I did get (or thought I did!), but did not find funny, but there are enough here that anyone is bound to find something to their taste. The closest better-known example of this kind of humor that I can reference are the cartoons of The Far Side, although this is a bit different from that. I had the same feeling of hit and miss with those cartoons that I do with this, but this was, overall, funny enough and original enough that I consider it a worthy read.


Sailor Twain or, The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a graphic novel written and illustrated by Siegel, which I read a while back and had forgotten to blog! I do not know how that happened, but now I'm correcting that mistake. I really enjoyed this. It went on a bit long to be truly perfect, and the ending was somewhat confused, but overall it was a worthy read.

I'm not a big fan of mermaid stories, despite having an idea for one of my own! They have never made a whole lot of sense to me, but to have the, what might be called 'vagina-shaming' and erroneous insult of a fishy smell taken ownership of in so graphic a manner whereby the lower half actually is a fish, is too delicious and intriguing a concept, and I have to love it.

My lack of fanship for these stories is admirably attested to by the fact that I've reviewed only one mermaid book in my entire blog of many hundreds of reviews, and I liked that one. I know I have another somewhere on my shelf which I should read and blog, but for now, this is the only other one. That said, I watched and enjoyed an entire TV series about these mermaids who live on the coast of Queensland, Australia. it was called H2O and had a kick-ass theme song (Ordinary Girl) written by Shelly Rosenberg and performed by Kate Alexa.

The reason I made this drastic decision was that I was working on my Terrene World novel Seahorses, a follow-up to Cloud Fighters, although featuring a different cast (I'm not a fan of series!). My characters are not mermaids, but they do have special powers in this environmentally-themed, female-empowerment novel for middle-graders which was also set in that same general vicinity, and I wanted some local flavor and accent, and in the end I became quite a fan of the show because it was so cute and amusing! Plus I've always been a softie for Australians.

Anyway! Sailor Twain plies the Hudson river in New York and he lands a mermaid one day. She's sick and he keeps her hidden in his cabin as he nurses her back to health whereupon the two become quite attached. The story then becomes highly embellished with shady characters, mysterious females, and undersea enchantments, and apart from the somewhat confused ending, it tells a fun story of intrigue, fantasy, and mystery and does quite a good take on mermaid mythology. I recommend it. Or maybe just commend it. I mean, why would I recommend it when I haven't commended it in the first place? Okay...so I commend it, and now I recommend it! Yeah, that's it!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Little Piece of Her by Zidrou, Raphaël Beuchot


Rating: WARTY!

This is NOT from an advance review copy for which I DO NOT thank the publisher.

I have to rate this negatively because of the shabby way the publisher treats people who ask to review it. The graphic novel was not downloadable as ebooks typically are, but set up in some ass-backward "copy protection" system that means you cannot load it, read a part of it, and get back to it later to finish it. You have to constantly download it. What this meant is that the book was locked away ("archived" they call it) before I could finish reading it, and that shabby treatment of a reviewer, I consider WARTY in the extreme.

I don't get paid for this work, except in that I get to read books! But I'd be read books anyway and thanks to Amazon's deliberate and calculated sabotaging of book prices, I could get all the free books I want from them if I didn't refuse to do business with Amazon.

Jeff Bezos in now the richest man ever, BTW. Ahead of Bill Gates. Ahead of Mark Zuckerberg. Ahead of Warren Buffett, and to my knowledge, and unlike those latter three, he hasn't signed on to the pledge to give away at least half his fortune. Yet the authors who publish with him are lucky to get a fraction of the ninety-nine cents he has very effectively forced many people to charge for their hard work. Ninety-nine cents! That's less than the old pulp writers used to get paid! It would be nice if he gave some of his fortune to help out the struggling authors who've helped make him a multi-billionaire, wouldn't it?!

No, I do this because I love books and I feel people have a right to a chance at being read and getting some exposure, but this publisher seems hell bent on sabotaging that process. The format had purportedly extra protection built into it such that it was not possible to download it - a reviewer like me, who can only get the ebook (which is fine - it saves a tree here and there!), has to read this one on a web page or some fly-by-night temporary platform. If you close the page, you then have to go through the laborious process of accessing it all over again.

Worse, there is no means of conveniently navigating from one page to another on my tablet, except by sliding each individual page up or down the screen. If you want to go back and check something at the start, it's a long chore in a two hundred page comic.

The idea behind this is purportedly to protect the work by specifically assigning it to a person's email address, and I can fully understand the need for protection of copyrighted work, but in practice, this method offers no protection whatsoever, since anyone who can read something like this on their screen can take a screen-shot and copy it very effectively and quite anonymously that way. So to me it made no sense, and all it offered in practice was an inconvenience and annoyance to honest reviewers who would never abuse the privilege we have of getting an advance review copy of a work. As I said, I will not be recommending this, and neither will I be requesting anything to review from this publisher (Europe Comics) ever again.


The World Book of Records by Tonino Benacquista, Nicolas Barral


Rating: WARTY!

This is NOT from an advance review copy for which I DO NOT thank the publisher.

I have to rate this negatively because of the shabby way the publisher treats people who ask to review it. The graphic novel was not downloadable as ebooks typically are, but set up in some ass-backward "copy protection" system that means you cannot load it, read a part of it, and get back to it later to finish it. You have to constantly download it. What this meant is that the book was locked away ("archived" they call it) before I could finish reading it, and that shabby treatment of a reviewer, I consider WARTY in the extreme.

I don't get paid for this work, except in that I get to read books! But I'd be read books anyway and thanks to Amazon's deliberate and calculated sabotaging of book prices, I could get all the free books I want from them if I didn't refuse to do business with Amazon.

Jeff Bezos in now the richest man ever, BTW. Ahead of Bill Gates. Ahead of Mark Zuckerberg. Ahead of Warren Buffett, and to my knowledge, and unlike those latter three, he hasn't signed on to the pledge to give away at least half his fortune. Yet the authors who publish with him are lucky to get a fraction of the ninety-nine cents he has very effectively forced many people to charge for their hard work. Ninety-nine cents! That's less than the old pulp writers used to get paid! It would be nice if he gave some of his fortune to help out the struggling authors who've helped make him a multi-billionaire, wouldn't it?!

No, I do this because I love books and I feel people have a right to a chance at being read and getting some exposure, but this publisher seems hell bent on sabotaging that process. The format had purportedly extra protection built into it such that it was not possible to download it - a reviewer like me, who can only get the ebook (which is fine - it saves a tree here and there!), has to read this one on a web page or some fly-by-night temporary platform. If you close the page, you then have to go through the laborious process of accessing it all over again.

Worse, there is no means of conveniently navigating from one page to another on my tablet, except by sliding each individual page up or down the screen. If you want to go back and check something at the start, it's a long chore in a two hundred page comic.

The idea behind this is purportedly to protect the work by specifically assigning it to a person's email address, and I can fully understand the need for protection of copyrighted work, but in practice, this method offers no protection whatsoever, since anyone who can read something like this on their screen can take a screen-shot and copy it very effectively and quite anonymously that way. So to me it made no sense, and all it offered in practice was an inconvenience and annoyance to honest reviewers who would never abuse the privilege we have of getting an advance review copy of a work. As I said, I will not be recommending this, and neither will I be requesting anything to review from this publisher (Europe Comics) ever again.


Bessie Stringfield Tales of the Talented Tenth by Joel Christian Gill


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I have to rate this negatively because it begins with the fictional version of Bessie Stringfield's life, and from that point onward, it necessarily casts doubt on the rest of the story. Bessie Beatrice White was born in Edenton, North Carolina, not Jamaica, and there was no dramatic crossing of the ocean to Boston during which her mother pretty much succumbed to consumption (or whatever) and her father abandoned her in a hotel. Why the author felt he needed to augment this story with pure fiction, even fiction she purveyed herself, is a mystery.

It's like he felt her story wasn't good enough without it. The author/illustrator seems strangely averse to illustrating faces too, such as her parents, the woman who runs the fictional hotel where she's fictionally abandoned, the woman who adopts her, and the woman who interviews her.

The frame of the story is a woman interviewing Bessie who then recounts her life. For me it failed because it made Bessie seem to be an extraordinarily selfish and self-centered person. It also skips a lot of detail. Like how did she pay for her gallivanting after she took off at age nineteen? It mentions later that she performed in carnivals on her bike, but there's nothing about how she financed her trips at such a young age or where her bike came from. The author seems to have bought into more fiction: that of divine miracles!

The story mentions that she had six marriages and no children, but it fails to discuss the fact that that her first marriage gave her three miscarriages. It also says nothing about why she married six times, whether she abandoned each of those husbands, split from them amicably, or they abandoned her.

It relates that she took off after college and started riding around the US, but her criss-crossing the country eight times was during her time as an army courier. Despite working for the US to help the war effort, she was subject to racism repeatedly, and they didn't even have the "excuse" of having a racist, misogynistic, homophobic jackass as president back then.

So while this is a story worth telling, I did not feel this was the version worth reading, and I cannot recommend it.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Infinity 8 Vol. 1: Love and Mummies by Zep, Lewis Trondheim


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This graphic novel was a bit of a ill-fated cross between iZombie and the Ood alien race from Doctor Who; it takes the worst elements from them rather than the best. I did not like the story. It made little sense and I DNF'd it about three-quarters of the way through. The main character is far too sexualized and without any good reason for it except that this is what comic books do, of course. It needs to stop.

For reasons unknown, the city-sized spaceship containing a variety of aliens is halfway between the Milky Way and Andromeda when it encounters a debris field. Space being only two-dimensional as it so often is in these stories, the ship can't go over the debris, so it's halted and the captain, again for no good reason, decides to investigate.

The investigation is a joke and goes nowhere nor does it try to go anywhere. Once again, just as in Star Trek, we're faced here with a futuristic society in which all of the robotics, and AI, and drones which we have today, has not only failed to advance, but has also somehow inexplicably been lost to history, so instead of robots going out to investigate, we have to send humans. Fallible. Distractable. Weak. Troublesome humans.

So poor is the management of this ship that aliens also get loose. One of this particular alien race (the Ood rip-offs) is in love with the main character while another of the same race wants her dead - again for no reason, while a bunch more of these aliens are trying to destroy the very ship they're traveling on - and the ship the size of a city evidently has no peacekeepers or law enforcement on board! I think that sense continued the journey while the ship got left behind. That hypothesis honestly explains a lot in this story.

I don't think very many sci-fi writers expend much energy on thinking about how their alien races evolved. They simply create the aliens because they think they look cool and that's the way it is no matter how ridiculous or improbable they all are. So these aliens were once again a poor and irrational assortment, all of them derivative of Earth species, so none of them really looked alien.

Worse, these writers have aliens falling in love with humans without giving any thought to the improbability of it. It would be like trying to get people to take you seriously while your story has a human fall in love with a shark or a boa constrictor. I can't take a story like this seriously, and I cannot recommend this at all.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Last Jungle Book by Stephen Desberg, Henri Reculé


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

In Rudyard Kipling's original Jungle Book stories, Mowgli is first introduced as a wild man living in the forest who is recruited into the forest ranger service because of his extraordinary jungle craft. He marries, has a child, and returns to the forest. In later stories, his childhood is related, but it really isn't quite like the sanitized Disney version (is anything?!).

I was very disappointed in this version, which let's face it is more of an introduction than a story. The blurb was completely misleading in that it suggests that Mowgli (rhymes with cow-glee) has returned to the scene of his childhood to write the last chapter in it - which I presumed would the the dispatch of his hated enemy Shere Khan (which means 'Tiger Chief', not 'lame'! 'Lungri' means lame - it was a nickname for Khan, who was lame). The problem is that none of this happens, nor will it since Mowgli is a silver-haired old man now in this story.

All we get is a pictorial re-telling of the popular version of Jungle Book with nothing new added. It makes Mowgli's vow at the end - to drape Shere Khan's pelt over the council rock of the wolves, all the more hollow, since no such thing ever happened in this story. It did happen in the original jungle books stories - not the draping but the capture of the pelt, so maybe there are more volumes to come, but even if there are, I was so disillusioned with this one that I have no interest in reading any more. This contributed nothing new, and while the artwork was acceptable and the writing not awful, neither of these offered anything truly new, original, or outstanding.

I can see why this was on Net Galley's 'Read Now' shelf. I cannot recommend it. I'd recommend going to Kipling's original material and reading that - and I believe it's all out of copyright now if you're looking for story ideas!


Little Mama by Halim


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a story of teen pregnancy and resultant child neglect and abuse and poor life choices, which effectively forced the young kid to become the mother of the household, but it was so heavy-handed and scrappy and the black/white/grayscale line drawing artwork so sketchy that it failed for me.

It was also sometimes hard to tell which character we were looking at and even what exactly was happening on occasion. It had the feeling, to me, of being unfinished - like a draft story roughed-out in some very quickly scribbled panels rather than something that was designed and crafted, and labored over. I did not like it.

The overall feel of the work was not helped by the copy protection "system" that was employed here. The format had purportedly extra protection built into it such that it was not possible to download it - a reviewer like me, who can only get the ebook (which is fine - it saves a tree here and there!), has to read this one on a web page. If you close the page, you then have to go through the laborious process of accessing it again.

Worse, there is no means of conveniently navigating from one page to another on my tablet, except by sliding each individual page up or down the screen. If you want to go back and check something at the start, it's a long chore in a two hundred page comic like this one.

The idea behind this is to protect the work by specifically assigning it to a person's email address, and I can fully understand the need for protection of copyrighted work, but in practice, it offers no protection since anyone who can read something like this on their screen can take a screen-shot and copy it quite anonymously that way. So to me it made no sense and all it offered in practice was an inconvenience and annoyance to honest reviewers who would never abuse the privilege we have of getting an advance review copy of a work.

So I have to say that other than the one or two other such books I already have lined up for review, I will not be requesting any more books to review that have this kind of protection on them. It's far too much of a hassle and inconvenience and simply not worth my time as a 'volunteer' reviewer, not when I'm also trying to put in time on my own projects.

As for this particular volume, I cannot rate it favorably because it simple did not tell a worthy tale for me. This is an important topic and it deserves a better medium than this to relate it.


Herakles by Edouard Cour


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a 'Read Now' graphic novel at Net Galley and a reviewer takes their chances with works in that category! I frequent it because there is a gem in there often enough to make it worthwhile. This was not such a read, unfortunately. The artwork was monotonous, indifferent, and dull, and the story was lacking in anything compelling, although I did finish it, since it's only 160 pages. Had it been longer I would probably have DNF'd it.

The story is of Herakles (more popularly known as Hercules in the same way that nuclear is too often known as nu-cue-ler in our illiterate society unfortunately). Legend has it that Herakles murdered his entire family and to atone for it, he had to live with his cousin, King Eurystheus, for twelve years, during which time, he could have his indentured servant do whatever tasks he saw fit to lay on Herakles.

Herakles was famously tasked with completing ten labors nearly all of which involved animals. I don't know what that says about ancient Greek society (maybe that it was agricultural back then?). In two of these tasks, he was disqualified because he had help, so he ended up doing the dirty dozen (so to speak!):

  1. Slay the Nemean lion, which was a shapeshifter
  2. Slay the Lernaean Hydra which had been created for the express purpose of slaying Herakles
  3. Capture the Ceryneian deer, which was faster than a speeding arrow
  4. Bring back the fearsome Erymanthian Boar alive
  5. Clean the stables of King Augeas which hadn't been cleaned in three decades and which held 1,000 cattle
  6. Defeat the carnivorous Stymphalian birds which had beaks of bronze
  7. Capture the Cretan Bull
  8. Capture the carnivorous Mares of Diomedes
  9. Retrieve the belt of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons
  10. Rustle the cattle of Geryon
  11. Retrieve some of the golden apples of the Hesperides
  12. Capture Kerberos, the multi-headed hound of Hades
Clearly these tasks are based on constellations!

The author tries to inject humor into the story but it fell flat for me, and I did not enjoy these adventures at all. I wish the author all the best in his endeavors, but I have no intention of reading any more volumes in this series.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Leaning Girl by François Schuiten, Benoît Peeters


Rating: WORTHY!

Since Belgium is having such a good run in the World Cup (as of this writing!) it seems like a good idea to review this graphic novel by Belgian comic artist François Schuiten and written by Benoît Peeters. It was such a weird tale that I couldn't not read it!

After a ride on the Star Express roller coaster, 13 year-old Mary Von Rathen starts going through some lean times. That is to say: she is constantly leaning in the same direction, no matter which direction she faces. So let's say purely for example, that she leans towards the east. If she's facing east, she's leaning forwards, if she's facing west, she's leaning backwards and is similarly inclined at every compass point there is. Except that she doesn't lean in an easterly direction - she leans based on something that;s not in this world - a scientific phenomenon that people are studying to find answers.

No one believes that Mary isn't faking this for attention, and she becomes an outcast and eventually she runs away and joins the circus where her balancing act (which requires no effort on her part or parts!) is a sensation, but when she discovers there may be a man who can help her, she runs away again to track him down, and ends up as one of Earth's first astronauts! There she finds what she's been seeking - people with a bent similar to hers, you might say!

This book was beautifully drawn in black and white shaded line drawings, and very well written and it mixes photography with hand drawing and real people with the comic versions. I recommend it.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Stéphane Melchior, Clément Oubrerie, Philippe Bruno, Annie Eaton


Rating: WARTY!

This graphic novel taken from the original novel by Philip Pullman, adapted by Stéphane Melchior, with art by Clément Oubrerie, and coloring by Clément Oubrerie and Philippe Bruno, and translated from the French by Annie Eaton was a disappointment I have to say. The text was so-so and the artwork was blah. Really blah. It told the story in a very workmanlike manner, with no flashes of anything exciting or remarkable. The colors in the artwork were muddy, and the artwork itself really was unappealing.

I cannot recommend this as a worthy read; instead I recommend either the original novel or the audiobook version of it, which is narrated by Pullman himself along with a cast who play the characters. I like the movie, too. It’s pretty sad when a movie makes well-over a third of a billion dollars and is considered non-viable, but the USA is a very fundamentalist religious society, first amendment be damned, and this is effectively what killed this movie series, I think.


冬には動物園 (Fuyu ni wa dōbu-tsuen - A Zoo in Winter) by Jirō Taniguchi


Rating: WORTHY!

Chevalier Jiro Taniguchi (he's a knight in France!) died last year at the age of 69. I understand that this book, published in 2008, but set in 1966, is autobiographical and tells the story of how he got into manga in the first place - on the production side, not the reading side. That distinction is important, because this work almost never shows him reading a comic! When we meet him, that's all we get: someone on a voyage, or more accurately adrift, apparently never having departed a port. There's no history here excepting in what we learn tangentially as he floats along, carried by life's currents rather than rowing his own passage. As an autobiography it also drifts from reality in that he's a character with a different name in the story.

He is working in a small textile business and hoping to get a shot at design when, on a trip to visit a friend, he finds himself hijacked into working for a major mangaka - a creator of manga. I'm far from convinced that exchanging the life he had in what I understand is a beautiful Kyoto was worth moving to megacity Tokyo for (the population there was ten million even in 1966!), but never having been to either place, knowing only what I read, I have to take his word for it! I do find it intriguing that Kyoto becomes Tokyo by simply moving the first three letters to the end of the word! This works equally in Japanese or English, but whether it means the same thing when switched in Japanese, I can’t say.

But I digress, as usual. His lowly job is filling in the blanks in the artist's work - painting backgrounds and so on. This seems highly suitable since he is himself a background to the lives of others as told in this story. Eventually he gets his own work published and the rest is history. The story is a bit weird at times and slow moving, but overall I liked it and I recommend it.


The Imitation game by Jim Ottaviani, Leland Purvis


Rating: WARTY!

This was disappointing graphic novel which spent too much time on the wrong topics, I felt. Plus it was too long and rambling, and tried to cover too much ground instead of focusing on the core points. That said, it did a better job than the movie of the same name, which was rife with inaccuracies, and no amount of arguing that no-one expects a painting to be a photograph can excuse some of the inexplicable changes that were made in depicting Turing's life at Bletchley Park in that movie, as engrossing and fascinating as it was in parts.

The story is of course Alan Turing's life and his World War Two work on cryptography. Both this and the movie are based on Andrew Hodges's Alan Turing: The Enigma, and at least this graphic novel inspired me to read that, but the biography is over seven hundred pages long, so it will be more of a skim with a detailed reading of points of interest since I do not have the time to read a seven-hundred-page book.

Alan Turing was gay during a time when gay meant something like 'party animal' and nothing more, and when homosexuality was literally illegal - and of course the punishment for a man who loved men was to incarcerate him with a whole lot of men. This made sense how? You could argue (if you were a spiteful SoB) that the way to punish male homosexuals should be to incarcerate them with women, but that seems to me like it wouldn't work either! It makes far more sense not to have it be illegal in the first place!

The art by Purvis was scrappy and unappealing to me and the text by Ottaviani was at times confused or at least confusing and lacking sharpness and clarity, so I took to skimming parts of this. Overall he story was interesting enough to make me game to consult the source rather than read this pale imitation, but as for this version, I can't recommend it.


World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alitha E Martinez, Roberto Poggi


Rating: WORTHY!

Is it just me, or did anyone else find it rather amusing that a writer named Gay tells a story here of a lesbian couple? Okay, just me then! Sorry! But Roxane Gay is bisexual for clarification and she was the lead writer here with Coates. This was a graphic novel and I was quite taken by it. The art (Martinez, Poggi) was glorious and the story was engaging and inspiring. It tells of earlier days of Dora Milaje than those depicted in the monumentally successful movie - days when Ayo is newly arrived in the guard and undergoing training. She and her trainer, Aneka, fall for each other and have to fight their confusion as well as each other when training.

Full disclosure: I was in love with Ayo before Aneka was! Not that it will do me any good, but after I saw that scene in Captain America: Civil War in which she says - to Black Widow of all people! - "Move or you will be moved" I was solid gone and wanted to see more of her. She had little to do in Black Panther unfortunately and less to do in Avengers: Infinity Wars, but at least I get to see her in this comic!

This story tells of the two's transition from Dora Milaje to their current comic persona as vigilantes known as Midnight Angels. Gay and Yona Harvey, who wrote a short story depicted in the back of this volume, are the first two black women to write a series for Marvel. Sadly the series was cancelled, so as far as I know, this is all there is. It's well worth a look.


Chimera Book One: The Righteous & The Lost by Tyler Ellis


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I have no idea what this graphic novel was about, even having read it! It made no sense and was so choppy and disjointed, jumping back and forth between sometimes seemingly unrelated events that even when they turned out to be related offered no clue as to what they were actually all about.

The art work was fine enough, but there was no coherent story there so all we had was a coffee table art book. The blurb claims that "...a crew of thieves is hired for a covert mission in the midst of a galaxy being ripped apart by an interstellar holy war." but I don't recall ever a crew being assembled. There was a rag tag group of four creatures who might be the crew referred to, but not a one of them was appealing as a character.

I did see relentless images of an artist's attempt to invent bizarre and threatening alien creatures, none of which had any inventiveness about them, and some made zero sense, which is what happens when an artist with no idea of biology, or evolution tries to invent alien organisms. I cannot recommend this at all.


Oothar the Blue by Brandon Reese


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This story was so tongue in cheek that that I had to go see an orthodontist after I read it. Oothar isn't literally blue, notwithstanding the book's cover. In fact, Oothar is not withstanding anything. He ignores bedraggled dragons. He can't be bothered with railing, wailing wraiths. And he certainly isn't interested in gouging rouge rogue ogres. Nothing seems to bring him pleasure until he finds, after a fit of constructive rage, that a career change is in order, and suddenly, everything is coming up roses!

I'm not sure exactly who this forty-some page graphic novel book is aimed at, but I think it would entertain anyone, especially barbarians with its Aryan barbs. It did me, anyway. I recommend it.


Mystery Society by Steve Niles, Fiona Staples


Rating: WARTY!

This was a graphic novel and it really fell short of the mark. This review is also full of spoilers, so beware. At some points during the reading, I was persuaded to consider it a worthy read, but at other points it made zero sense or was so flat and simplistic that it completely failed to entertain. Add to that the fact that there was no effort to craft a coherent story here and to my overall my feeling that I'm not remotely interested in reading any more in this series, and I'm forced to rate it negatively on balance. This is sad, because the basic idea had potential, and a couple of the characters were interesting. Unfortunately the main characters were a no from the start, and the plot was just silly, period.

The premise is that this young, wealthy, and unhealthily thin couple with the last name of Mystery, are interested in investigating the supernatural and are looking to recruit people to be a part of their investigation team (the Mystery Society). None of this had any background, and no part of the story involved in investigating the supernatural, even though one of their team turned out to be a perfect study subject. When she (a ghoul) joined the team, they showed not the slightest interest in her supernatural aspects! Worse, the couple was diabetes-inducingly sugary, "Darling" each other on every page that it was nauseating.

The story starts with Nick Mystery being taken to jail, yet despite the fact (as we learn later) that he was set up by the government in a huge cover-up and smear campaign, they let him stand there at the prison, and tell his whole story to the press. In what universe would that ever happen? That would be like allowing one of the inmates of Guantanamo to have a TV special to state his case! Read my whips: It's. Not. Going. To. Happen.

So the story he tells is of breaking into area 51 (yawn) to rescue twins who have been kept in suspended animation for decades. He does this single-handedly and without any expenditure of effort whatsoever. Meanwhile back home, metaphorically barefoot and in the kitchen, his wife is interviewing the ghoul with a view to hiring her for their team. So the guy gets all the adventure and the girl is a stay at home not-mom? Why did a female artist even agree to illustrate a story like this? Plus: if Nick is so damned good by himself, why do they even need a team?

Meanwhile, out of the blue, a robot containing the brain of Jules Verne turns up completely out of left field and everyone accepts this story at face value. I am so tired of comics bringing characters from the past into their stories. I guess I should at least credit this one with being someone who was not an American, but still! This happens usually in time-travel stories where the character from the past is always an American of note such as Betty Ross, or George Washington, Jesse James, or Francis Scott Key. It is so tedious to read that crap. So naturally, Jules robot Verne and the ghoul are sent looking for Edgar Allen Poe's skull which has gone missing. Who-the-fuck-cares? Really?

So does the rest of the team then pursue their stated goal of investigating the supernatural? Nope! They're all about breaking back into area 51 to steal the original security vids to clear Nick's name. Which they do again with minimal effort. That's pretty much it. The only interesting characters were the ghoul and the atomic twins. If the story had been only about them, and the other main characters had been omitted completely, this would have made an engaging story, unless of course the twins were rather sexualized as they were in some illustrations. But that failed to materialize and consequently this was a fail for me.


Comic Book History of Comics by Fred van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, Adam Guzowski


Rating: WORTHY!

As someone who reads and reviews graphic novels from time to time (especially lately!), I could hardly overlook this, and having read it I can say I recommend it. It's pretty basic stuff with regard the artwork (drawn by Dunlavey, colored by Guzowski, and the text (by van Lente) is quite dense at times, so it makes for a long and detailed read, but overall it was truly informative and on occasion eye-opening.

It also features female contributors from history quite prominently, but on the downside, it does not seem to do the same thing for people of color. Whether this is because there were (historically speaking) none in the business, or because what they contributed was relatively little (which i doubt!), or if they were simply overlooked I don't know, but the fact that they're not given a look-in is disturbing. In a similar vein, it features only US comic book creators. It covers nothing of comic book activity outside the USA.

With those limitations in mind, it does seem otherwise quite comprehensive, and it goes into a lot of history, and quirks and fights, and how some aspects of the industry came to fruition, but it doesn't really go into the minutiae of any particular character's creation. This is more focused on the business itself and the key players historically, and some technical aspects of comic production, but it's not so much focused on the actual content the people and business created. For me, I enjoyed it and learned a few things, but I didn't feel it was an outstanding read. It was worthwhile reading though if you're interested in a behind the scenes kind of story, so this is how I rate it.