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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Interview by Manuele Fior, Anne-Lise Vernejoul

Rating: WORTHY!

Translated from the original Italian (L'intervista) by Jamie Richards, this graphic novel tells a strange story of an alien invasion - or maybe it doesn't? Maybe it's just a collective breakdown of society.

Set in the near future, it had a feel to it like Stephen Speilberg's Close Encounters of the third Kind but without the embarrassingly juvenile effects. This was especially highlighted by a a parallel encounter with oddity at a railroad crossing at the start of the story, but rest assured this is much more subtle and a much deeper story than that ever could have hoped to be.

I loved the artwork. The book was gorgeously and richly illustrated in a soft, dark, gray scale palette, and I adored the main female character Dora. Both she and the main male character Raniero were not your usual comic book icons of masculinity and femininity and yet both achieved that end.

In an acknowledgement at the back, the author gives thanks to Anne-Lise Vernejoul for conceiving and creating special effects, but it makes no specification as to what they were or on which pages they appeared. I wondered if it was some of the night scenes, particularly the encounter between Raniero and Dora between pages 86 and 115. I don't know.

I can say this made for a wonderfully illustrated and entertaining story, if slightly confusing over the ending! I enjoyed reading it though and in the end, that's all that matters! Do note that it is a quite graphic graphic novel so be prepared!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

In Clothes Called Fat by Myoko Anno

Rating: WORTHY!

Author Myoko Anno is married to director Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame. This story was first published as a serial in Shukan Josei (主観 女性 women's matters), Japan's first magazine aimed at mature women. The story was published as a manga in 1997. I don't normally go for books that depict weak women, but this one was compelling because it was so very real in its story.

Society, it does not matter whether it is western or eastern, is quite obviously intent upon treating women like cars. If the vehicle is not new and sexy, it's really not worth anything, so women are raised by society to understand that they really are worthless if they are not young, beautiful, slim, readily available, willing, and compliant. A woman can't be too willing otherwise she's a slut. She can't behave like a man otherwise she's a lesbian slut. On the other hand, men can never be sluts no matter how willing they are. Those are the rules society has imposed upon women from birth, and one consequence of that is women like Noko.

Noko Hanazawa is like every other middle class Japanese woman: she wants a respectable job, she wants to perform well in the job, she wants a happy love life (and note this is a very graphic novel!). Noko seems to have all of this, but her success hides a diseased mind which constantly struggles with her body image. She binge-eats to cover emotional stress, and constantly berates herself for being fat, despite having an apparently loving boyfriend who has dated her for many years.

As depicted in the illustrations, Noko isn't really fat. Maybe she has a few extra pounds but she doesn't look bad except in the tightly-focused and highly-critical lens of societal pressure. The biggest problem with this novel I feel, is that Noko's 1mage isn't helped by the rather inconsistent artwork, and by some portions of the story feeling more fantasy than reality, so paradoxically, it's quite hard to get a good idea of what Noko looks like despite this being a graphic novel! Or more accurately, despite it being a manga, since it reads backwards, which I found rather less than usually irritating in this case for reasons I cannot define! It occurred to me more than once that perhaps Noko is not a reliable narrator and perhaps she isn't being honest about everything that happens to her.

As each chapter rolls by, we realize that we are reading an onion, with each new layer peeling back to reveal underneath it a glistening, slightly sticky, white vein that seems to pulse with scarcely understood animation, and which may well bring tears to your eyes. Noko's best friend at work secretly conspires to undermine her both professionally and socially, even while promoting their friendship. She's secretly seeing Noko's boyfriend, but not because she wants him. Instead she seems to want to punish him for choosing Noko over her, and consequently takes the role of Dom to his submissive.

Noko lives only for Saito, the boyfriend, and at first the relationship seems loyal, loving and healthy, but as we continue to read about it and more layers are peeled back for us, it reveals itself to be as diseased as everything else in Noko's life. Saito wants only sex, it seems, and it also seems that he seeks to punish himself for wanting Noko.

The novel feels claustrophobic and repetitive, and I think this does an admirable job of depicting Noko's state of mind as she binges and purges, and pays for expensive diet plans which in real life almost never work, and neither does it here. The only diet plan that works is eat healthily and exercise, and hold a realistic and accepting view of your body. Not everyone can be a runway model and I am personally glad of it because runways models are ridiculous. They are broken toys; dolls for men to dress up. The problem is that giving good advice doesn't work in cases like Noko's because it's not a matter of lack of willpower or laziness. It's not stupidity or simply not caring; it's a medical problem and can only be properly aided with competent and qualified medical care.

And that's the problem in a nutshell. No one seems to want to help Noko, not even Noko herself, and so the story comes to an unsatisfactory, if realistic close. There's no Disney ending here; it's more like an Infinity Wars ending. In this it is perhaps most realistic of all because people with eating disorders are like those with a drug problem: they're never really cured and it's a long, hard climb back from those depths. It's a constant and ongoing fight, and the battleground is the cold light of each new day and every long. lonely night. I recommend this book for a great story, if a slightly depressing one!

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Castoffs Vol3 Rise of the Machines by MK Reed, Brian Smith, Wyeth Yates, Kendra Wells

Rating: WORTHY!

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

The machines march relentlessly onwards in vol 3, but I must confess up front that I have not read volumes one or two. I asked to review this one because I thought it sounded interesting, and though it was rather hard to get into because I'd missed two-thirds of this story so far, I have to say overall I liked it even though some of it made little sense to me.

'Rise of the Machines' sounds suspiciously like an entry in the Terminator movie series, doesn't it? Wait! It is and entry in the terminator series! Couldn't we have 'Onslaught of the Machines' or 'March of the Machines' here, since they're already quite risen it would seem?! A little more originality never goes amiss.

The story itself was a bit slow-moving and it was rather side-tracked from the main issue which was, believe it or not, the march of the machines. I found it hard to believe that if this were a real life adventure, the main characters would be so distracted by relatively petty village problems that they would forget that an army of robots led by an evil woman were bearing closer with each passing minute.

Instead of going out to harass and attack the machines, or prepare traps for them, they spent their time fixing village issues which would be rendered completely irrelevant if the village was razed by the oncoming machines! They evidently didn't take the threat seriously until it was almost upon them.

I'm sure we've all been there, but sometimes people become so desperate to tell a certain story in a certain way that that they forget the reality of the characters in the story they're telling. They forget that they are people with strengths and weaknesses, and with hopes, dreams, and desperation, and with problems and pains, and so end-up with a story in which characters exhibit unrealistic behaviors. I always let the characters tell the story once they've been fully-created, because it makes for a much more realistic story-telling for me, and it often takes me (and the characters) in interesting and quite unexpected directions.

That said, this story was interesting and the relationships quite engrossing. The art work was decent, but initially, it was hard for me to tell the gender of the characters from the illustrations. That's not necessarily a bad thing and normally I would approve of it, but having missed the first two parts of this story, I felt a bit lost, and a little more cluing-in would have been appreciated since the names were not a good guide! I spent most of this story thinking Rosaiba was a female! It wasn't until close to the end that I realized he was not!

So in conclusion, while I do not personally feel compelled to pursue this story any further after this volume, I did enjoy what was offered to a certain extent, and so I recommend it with the caveat that you start with volume one! These are not stand-alone volumes!

My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly

Rating: WARTY!

This was a waste of my time. There is no story here, just female nudity and random bloodletting. The inexplicably named Clover isn't in such. She's a vampire who demands blood. Her brother kept her confined for several years in order to protect her and humanity both, but Clover is hardly the sharpest canine in the dentition.

She breaks out and seeks fresh human blood. No excuse is given for why she simply doesn't drink her brother dry. She clearly has no morals, yet for reasons unknown, she leaves the man who has imprisoned her for years, untouched, and picks-off assorted, random innocent people she encounters. She's too stupid to know she must get out of the sunlight until she starts broiling herself. She's not remotely likable, and the ending makes no sense at all mostly because it's not really an ending in any meaningful sense. Story? What story? Art? What art? At least it was short.

Comic book writer Jaime Hernandez recommends this. I have no idea who he is so you'll have to remind me never to read anything by him if he thinks this is so great. He either hasn't read it and therefore is completely clueless, or he's just completely clueless. I don't get why idiot publishers think a recommendation by a writer most people have never heard of somehow carries any weight. I honestly do not give a damn what other writers think, even if they're writers I like. I want to make up my own mind, and I did. I certainly cannot recommend this waste of time.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, Hope Larson

Rating: WARTY!

This is my third attempt at getting into Madeleine L'Engle's work and I finally realized the problem: it's a Newbery award winner which more than adequately explains why I can't stand it. Why I even imagined continuing after I tried the actual novel in May of 2015 and did not like it, is a mystery, but I saw the movie recently and did not like that, and now even a graphic novel gets the thumbs down.

Hope Larson's adaptation I suppose is not bad, but her artwork leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. The real problem though, is the original story which tries so hard to be cute and ends up being a nonsensical pile of centaur crap. Or is it flying horseshit? I'm not sure there's any real difference. There's no point in going on about this because I already covered it in the original review, so I'll say this did not work for me but at least I made it all the way through! I cannot recommend it though. Just the opposite. It's a great pity that this didn't end with Tesseract One.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Hexed by Michael Alan Nelson, Emma Ríos, Cris Peter

Rating: WORTHY!

This was an awesome graphic novel written beautifully by Nelson, drawn gorgeously by Ríos, and colored richly by Peter.

Luci Jennifer Inacio das Neves, or Lucifer for short(?!), is no ordinary thief. She steals magical artifacts which often have dangerous magical protections. Unfortunately, the job she turned before immediately leaving town is coming back to bite her in the form of Dietrich, who insists that since she skipped out on him, she owes him and will steal something for him as well as introduce him to The Harlot. Or else.

Dietrich aims to become number one in the magical underworld, which makes him number two right now, and he behaves like it towards Luci. After he threatens her employer Val Brisendine, a vulnerable art dealer, she feels like she has no choice but to go along with his plan even as she plots to get out permanently from under his thumb.

The stakes grow higher and Luci dives deeper, and it's starting to look like maybe she can't fight her way through this. Or can she? I ain't tellin'! But I do promise you this is an awesome novel and well worth the time to read it if you're into magical fantasy work at all.

I knew as I was reading this that I would welcome a sequel and it looks like I'm in luck, because the author appears to have written such a thing in at least two parts: Hexed: The Harlot & The Thief! Unfortunately that has a different illustrator: Dan Mora. I'm not a big fan of male illustrators' habit of hypersexualizing characters, but I may still take a look at this in the hope that Dan Mora is not focused on physical. Don't go searching for this series on Boom! Studios's site though: their sad search engine can't find it even though I know for a fact that it's on there! Look elsewhere for information about it or do a site search from outside of the actual website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Algeria is Beautiful Like America by Olivia Burton, Mahi Grand

Rating: WORTHY!

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

This story had an interesting effect on me because I liked it even though it's not the normal sort of story I like. Most stories that involve people recounting a travelogue - finding their roots or worse, finding themselves, bore me to death, but this one sounded interesting and miraculously it actually was. I think the author can thank Michael Palin for preparing the way with his story of his adventures in the Sahara, which I enjoyed immensely. This story was well-told to begin with, and very competently illustrated by Mahi Grand with sweet, gray-scale drawings.

The one thing I really honestly neither got nor liked about the story was the last two words of the title. Why "Like America"? It seemed like shameless pandering to an American audience. Why not "Like France"? Why not just leave it at "Algeria is Beautiful" or better yet, "Algeria The Beautiful" which both makes a powerful statement and harks to the poem Pike's Peak by Katharine Lee Bates.

The author's family hailed from Algeria, but as French citizens, they had to flee during the civil war in the 1960s, when her grandparents literally flew across the Mediterranean and settled in France. Unlike most people, the author's grandparents did not view the South of France as a paradise. Instead they viewed it as a poor man's Algeria which amused me! After hearing so much, one way or another, about Algeria, the author decided she had to visit and check out her grandparent's roots. She gave up on her hope of collecting some friends to travel with her. She should have asked me! I would have loved to have gone had I been single.

So, alone, with only the name of a contact in Algeria, she traveled. It's no spoiler to say she made it there and back safely since she could not have written this had she not (this is why first person voice horror and thriller fiction doesn't work! But I digress!). Anyway, she has some great fun, some disturbing moments, some confusing ones, and some very happy ones, and a lot of other emotions in between. The story was well-told, was entertaining, and kept me reading. I recommend this as a worthy read.

Ocean of Secrets Vol2 by Sophie-chan

Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher. Note that I have not read volume one of this series. This is volume two and starts at chapter five. And no, I really don't think my view would of this volume would have improved had I read volume one first. I'm quite sure I would never have read this had that happened!

This sounded like an interesting story from the blurb, but then don't they all? (Not really!). The problem was that the blurb didn't remotely match the story. I have to wonder if it matched volume one, because it bore no relationship whatsoever to volume two, so I felt like I was drawn into this under false pretenses.

The blurb claims that "Lia, a 17-year old orphan living by the Atlantic is swept away by the ocean currents during a ruthless storm. She is then saved by Moria and Albert, a duo of illegal runaways on their magical ship!" No! Instead, try a guy flying home from a trip who espies a landmass floating in the sky very reminiscent of Asgard from the original Marvel Thor movie. That's what happened in this novel.
No orphan. No storm. No sweeping away. No magical ship.

When he lands, the guy who is evidently a geology student, reports this experience to his professor who, instead of calling in a psychiatrist, inexplicably allows the guy to take a solo flight in a light aircraft to go find this floating island. He does, and non-adventure ensues.

I'm sorry but this story was awful and the black and white line-drawing artwork indifferent. I was sorely disappointed. It was so juvenile and the plot so thin and childish that it honestly felt like I was reading something a child had written. I wish the author all the best, but I cannot recommend it at all.

I am not a fan of the manga format. I get why it is the way it is, I do, but when this is translated to the west, just as the language is translated, so too could the pages be reversed, especially in an ebook. It's just laziness and hide-bound, blinkered obstinacy that prevents it. For some stories which are worth my time to read, I can put up with this even as I do not like it, but it was just another irritant in this case. It's 2018. No, publishers, it really is! Less than two years from now we shall all require 2020 vision. You read it here first. We do not have to follow method X because that's the way it's always been done, y' know?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

This Is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose, Josh Shipley

Rating: WORTHY!

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

This short, illustrated story was hilarious. Told as a children's story about a perky and rebellious (and it must be said, slightly corpulent) little squirrel, it starts out innocently enough, introducing us to the squirrel and its habitat and foods, but as the descriptions are trotted out, the squirrel becomes more and more disappointed in its own story. "Wait I eat bark?" (or words to that effect) it complains at one point. Its preferred food is, of course, tacos, and who can argue with that? I can say without fear of common diction that some of the best squirrels I know are partial to tacos. They don't like the soft ones, only the hard ones. This completely explains corpulent squirrels.

Now you know those redheads are feisty (at least that's what every YA writer, and not a few grown-up writers, would have us believe), so it's not surprising that the story deteriorates further (for the squirrel, not for the reader!) when we learn that the hawk likes to prey on squirrels. I won't go into any more details otherwise I'll start laughing and won't be able to finish this review. Oh! Too late! I feel the titters and giggles coming on! if you can't find a laugh on the Internet, then Giggle it! Let me finish quickly by saying: this is hilarious and the work thinks marvelously outside the book. I fully recommend this for a highly amusing read.

The Lost Path by Amélie Fléchais

Rating: WARTY!

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

I have to say, up front, that I was disappointed in this story, which is depressing because back in August of 2017, I reviewed this author's The Little Red Wolf and loved it. This was a different kettle of comic though, because I'm not even sure what happened in it, despite reading it all the way through.

It felt unfinished for one thing, and on top of that it was disjointed and confusing. I had a hard time following it, which was fine, because it seemed to be going nowhere anyway. The story is supposed to be of these three kids who remain nameless, and who get lost in the forest and encounter strange and magical creatures, but while I found nothing magical in the story, I'm sorry to say I found a lot of strange, and not in a good way. I ended-up being glad these kids were lost and hoping they were never found, thereby decreasing the surplus boredom - as Ebenezer Scrooge might have wished!

The weirdest thing about the graphic novel was that it started out in full color - and quite well done as it happened, but then inexplicably switched to black and white line drawings. I thought at first that maybe this was to indicate that it was nighttime, but it wasn't! Later the color came back - again for no apparent reason, and then went away once more.

Was there a reason for this? Who can say? It was a gray area, but I could see no purpose in it! There was at least one image which had a splash of color, like the artist had begun to color it, but hadn't finished. The only conclusion I could draw by then was that this was unfinished because it was an advance review copy. Alternately if the author/artist was trying to say something with the absence/return of color, it was lost on me, as was the bulk of this non-story.

I was truly disappointed in it, and I cannot recommend this at all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Graphix Goes to School by various authors

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a cute, small format, and amusing little graphic collection of stories related to school. It's mostly an advertising flyer (or a sampler, if you like) for full length comics, but that's not a bad thing when you get an amusing story (at least amusing if you're middle grade or thereabouts!), and it's a good way to find comics that might interest and entertain you. Graphix is an imprint of Scholastic, and I have no affiliation with either, fyi!

There is less than seventy pages and eleven stories all told (so to speak!), so they're very short:

  1. Dream Jumper: Permanent Detention by Greg Grunberg, Lucas Turnbloom, Guy Major is a poor kid trapped in a dreamworld (or maybe a nightmare world...) of detention until he's busted out by a friend. It has a certain element of gross-out, but it's not too bad. Graphics and color are nice.
  2. Amulet Stonekeeper School by Kazu Kiribuishi is semi serious fantasy tale about kids with magical amulets. Who can ask for more?! Nicely drawn
  3. Bird & Squirrel by James Burks is about bird and squirrel - what did you expect?! Very stylistic illustration which might be useful for young kids to copy.
  4. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm is how I spent my summer kind of a story and it's a doozy. Artwork scrappy but effective.
  5. Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson features kids and aliens in a satellite school. Nice art.
  6. Twist and Pout by Jimmy Gownley is about a shy kid at a school dance. Simplistically, but nicely drawn.
  7. Newsprints by Ru Xu is about a first day at a new school and has great art.
  8. Nnewts (yes I spelled it right!) by Doug TenNapel is not so well illustrated but tells a fun tale of a school for...yep, you guessed it - newts! Talking newts. We've all been there.
  9. Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack. What more is there to say? Maybe that the art is quite good?
  10. The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti is am amusingly and startlingly illustrated story of a strange people. Really intriguing art.
  11. Ghosts! by Raina Telgemeier is an intro to a new comic (or at least new at the time this was published) about a new girl at school who seems to be quite pleased that it's not haunted. But she could be mistaken.... Art is simply but not awful.

So all in all I think this is a fun read, and a chance to maybe find something you might like to follow on a longer-length more permanent basis. As such, I recommend it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Poorcraft by C Spike Trotman, Diana Nock

Rating: WORTHY!

This book was awesome! It tells you how to survive economically with scores of practical ideas and a host of references, and it covers a huge variety of topics, and will be of particular interest to college students, but also to anyone who is living on very limited means. It's also humorous and beautifully drawn in very bold black and white line images by Diana Nock.

It covers housing, food, fashion, health, transportation, entertainment, education and emergencies, and it has an appendix of links and resources. It offers advice on how to take out a loan, how to avoid taking out a loan, and how to pay back loans even if you feel you're sinking rather than swimming. It offers tips on how to save on groceries, how to find a place to live, how to make sure your housemates are good ones, how to find cheap or free furniture, how to put together a collection of tools for do-it-yourself projects and fixing-up places. In short, it covers pretty much everything you need to know to live cheaply and successfully. I fully recommend this one as an entertaining read and a useful tool to have around in itself!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Christian de Metter

Rating: WORTHY!

I favorably reviewed the print version of this novel in November of 2017. This graphic novel version is also a worthy read, although I have to say I wasn't overly enamored of the artwork. It was mostly sepia-toned and was passable. Others may approve of it more than I, but to me it looked rather muddy and scrappy. These shortcomings - at least the scrappiness - became much more apparent in the full color images. However the story overall was well told and the art work was not disastrous. Please read my review from November for my full take on the novel. This version would make a decent substitute if you don't want to read the full-length story.

Justice League Vol 1 Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair

Rating: WARTY!

This was as poorly executed as the DC movies have been, although the recent (as of this writing) movie of the Justice League was much better and far more amusing than this comic was. The comic precedes all of the ill-conceived DC 'universe' movies (which officially began with Man of Steel in 2013), and you can see some of the ideas in this (or similar DC comics) have made it into the movies, such as Wonder Woman's love affair with 'ice cream' from her own movie, which for me is still the scintillating gem in the sadly tarnished DC movie crown. The 'demon' flying characters in the Justice League seem to have also been lifted from this or a similar story.

This story is an origin tale - not of the individual characters in it, but of the Justice League itself, and it's a pretty sad and dysfunctional story. We have Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman joining forces (or in the case farces) to defeat Darkseid the laughable villain featured in the movie.

The drawing (Jim Lee), inking (lead by Scott Williams), and coloring (lead by Alex Sinclair) were actually not bad at all, but the story honestly sucked. It begins with Batman and Green Lantern fighting, then they go find Superman and fight him; then Flash arrives and fights Superman. Aquaman shows up and starts bitching about Green Lantern who bitches about him in return. And so on, rinse and repeat. It's boring. It's juvenile. It's not a story at all. It's more like watching little kids play with their 'action figures' (read dolls - we all had them!), which is all this writer is doing, apparently.

The problem with this comic is that Geoff Johns wrote the entire story as one of endless fighting (between the super heroes), and of sniping, bickering, whining, and complaining, and it's not pretty and it's not entertaining. It makes these super heroes look like kids in a playground. Wonder Woman here is depicted as she traditionally has been, which means either in a skimpy skirt, or in a pair of bikini briefs. In this case it's the briefs and she looks idiotic. She didn't look that much better in the movie, but at least she had an excuse for her all-too-brief costume there.

Supergirl dresses exactly the same way, and that's one reason why I never did start watching that dumb show after I saw the pilot. Skimpy skirt, thigh high boots, and dark panty hose? Seriously? Is she a super hero or a dom? God forbid, after all the prattling about DC liberating the female super hero with Wonder Woman, that we should bring any other females to the big screen like Supergirl or Bat Woman! Not that Marvel is any better, but at least they do have a cadre of kick-ass females prominently featured in the movies they have released, especially after Black Panther brought us four who could hold their own in a movie (or four!). And god forbid we have the same characters on the TV and in the movies! Now they have two flashes? Two jokers? This is one reason I'm not overly fond of the DC world.

The only one who looks good as depicted in this comic is the Flash, who I've always thought has a really cool costume, which was ruined in the DC TV series. That's another DC comics TV representation that I actually watched for a while until I grew bored with the repetitiveness of it. Every season became exactly the same as the previous season: flash has to go up against some dude who's faster than he is. How pathetic! How boring!

In Arrow there was never-ending kung-fu fighting every single episode which was so ridiculous. If they'd taken a gun (even a stun-gun!) to a kung fu fight they would have been done with every fight in thirty seconds, but no, we have to stage the same fight sequences over and endlessly over again and let the villains escape. And the villain is always Damien Darhk. Barf. What's with these dumb-ass spellings? Darkseid? Dahrk? Give me a break! These are juvenile.

Worse, we have to have mind-numbingly endless flashbacks to the boring time Oliver spent on the island? Barf squared. Get a clue DC! Get some originality into your shows and movies. For my money, the only DC TV shows worth watching are Legends of Tomorrow which is hilarious and has kick-ass characters and fun plots - despite the Damien barf Darhk never-ending villain crap, and Gotham, which is just plain awesome. Apart from that, you can keep DC for me.

This comic is symptomatic of that lack of a clue - or that is symptomatic of the boring same-old, same-old world the comics purvey. Or is is Saiym-Ohlde, Saiym-Ohlde? One or the other. I cannot support this clueless puerile crap, and I will not recommend it. DC seriously needs a new shtick and they need it badly. The new 52 ain't cutting it. I'm forced to conclude that 52 is its IQ.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Ghost The Owl by Franco, Sara Richard

Rating: WORTHY!

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

This was a different kind of story, beautifully illustrated by Sara Richard in almost day-glo colors, with a swirling impressionistic style reminiscent in some parts, of van Gogh's rather impressionistic The Starry Night. Not that Van Gogh ever liked that painting! But let's not get too pretentious: the images were lovely and had an inherent ghostliness in them and still carried the dark threat of a deep night. If that's what the artist was aiming for, she nailed it!

The story is short (less than fifty pages), but it would have dragged had it been longer. It's just long enough. The animals see this young ghost wandering aimlessly through their forested, swampy world and discuss her raison d'être. The owl decides to do more than this, and it leads to an interesting tale since both the ghost and the owl have a backstory, and it seems that each one crosses paths with the other in interesting ways.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of the story which couches a slightly more complex tale within, and the whole thing comes together in finely-wrought style. It has ups and down, and not predictable ones either, and it has some great story-telling. I liked it a lot and I recommend it as a worthy read.

Puerto Rico Strong by various contributors

Rating: WARTY!

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

This comic collection of shorts was put together quickly with the intention of raising money to aid victims of Hurricane Maria, which hit In late September 2017, and from which Puerto Rico is still recovering, hampered by failure to get the same rapid response that Texas got after Hurricane Harvey hit just a month before.

Texas is back on its feet. No one talks about the hurricane any more. But where is Puerto Rico? Still mired. Why? Puerto Ricans are American citizens, but Puerto Rico is poor and has no voting rights. The response to their plight has been nothing short of shameful, and my feeling is that this comic doesn't help because it's just as much of a mess as Puerto Rico is right now. In this case it's not due to a hurricane, shameful mismanagement, a clueless president, and a poor response from the US government; it's due to poor editing and an indifferent selection of stories which could have been better presented.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth territory of the United States of America, and to describe it as the poor cousin is about as on-target as you can get. Unemployment is double what it is in the rest of the US, which is why people leave Puerto Rico to move to the mainland, and this out-flux of population reduces the tax base and contributed somewhat to throwing the island further into debt. Poverty there is rife and the USA has treated this territory, gained after the American Spanish war of 1898, shabbily to say the least.

The problems are not all because of Maria though. Puerto Rico was poor and in debt to the tune of seventy billion dollars before Maria hit because its own government has mismanaged everything, but it's not all on that government. Puerto Rico is also strapped by an act of Congress that will not let foreign ships deliver goods directly to Puerto Rico. This is the act that the president had to waive for a period after Maria came roaring through, in order to maximize the aid that could be brought in. That waiver was short though, and arguably ineffective.

Why this insanity hasn't been overturned is as much a mystery as it is a tragedy, but since Puerto Rico has no say in its own destiny, due to being very effectively a vassal "state" of the US, things aren't likely to improve until Congress and the Senate both are cleansed of special interests and those members owned by big business, the oil companies, the NRA and so on, are tossed out on their bribed ears and Puerto Rico is either admitted to statehood or granted independence and full self-determination whichever its population wants.

It has a population higher than thirty of the fifty US states, and that's with the majority of Puerto Ricans now living outside of Puerto Rico. If they all lived on the island, and it was a state, it would be the thirteenth most populous state while having by far the lowest median household income. But you won't read that in this comic.

Puerto Rico is so badly-off that it has also been getting about two billion dollars yearly through the Nutrition Assistance Program since the early nineteen-eighties. Complaints are that this assistance has been flat, but Puerto Rico's population has shrunk a lot, too, so maybe it's not so flat? But you won't read anything about that here either.

You'll also learn very little of the history of Puerto Rico from this graphic novel. Yes, there is a lot of history shown, but it's a very biased and repetitive history showing stories of the Taíno people and little else. The contributors ought to have collaborated more so that instead of a dozen stories of the Taíno, we got one or two of those and more stories of other aspects of Puerto Rico's history which, as the name suggests, is very rich, unlike the financial circumstances of the people who live there, especially post-hurricane when more than fifty percent of Puerto Ricans were left in Poverty. But you won't read of that in this comic book either. Again, a better spread of information, and a move diverse subject matter would have made for a better comic.

The problem with the stories of Puerto Rico's history is that they all tell the same stories mostly of older history and nothing recently. There are too many stories of of the Taino for example, and of Puerto Ricans serving in the US military from World War One onwards, and these stories leave little room for anything else to be told. I believe one story even suggested that Puerto Rico was granted the status it has so that the US could draft troops during World War One, but that seems unlikely given the facts and how Puerto Rico was viewed back then by the US government (as primitive, backward and substandard).

What's missing is recent history. What's too often missing is the rich culture. What's missing is geography and wildlife. One glaring example of omission is the onslaught of the Zika virus which ran from 2015 well into 2017, causing 8,000 cases per month for a while. It was declared over (in that cases had dropped to very low levels) only three months before Maria hit. Maria probably killed off the last of it by destroying the mosquitoes which carried it, but they'll be back. There's not one mention of the Zika virus epidemic. Has the Puerto Rican diaspora forgotten about that already? Or where they never aware of it?

The Taíno were the original inhabitants of the island which have largely been wiped-out, or subsumed over the last five hundred years through inter-marriage with the Spanish invaders and the African slaves. They spoke an Arawakan language. Smallpox killed ninety percent of these people, but you won't read that in this graphic novel, although there is a brief mention, if I recall, of the depredations of 'imported' diseases. In 2010, less than one tenth of one percent of the island's population self-identified as native American although you won't read that in this graphic novel. All you;ll read about is how many have "Taíno blood." The representation of the Taíno in these stories makes it look like everyone in Puerto Rico is Taíno, but that's very misleading.

There are 41 stories here in 190 pages (excluding additional material), which means that they are all short, some of them very much so, and once again I have to take the editors to task because sometimes it's really hard to tell where one story ends and the next starts. Some of the stories were really good, but most of them were average to very poor, and this assessment includes both writing and artwork, so the consistency is really patchy. Note that the contents page has the page numbering wrong (nor is it clickable/tappable to jump to a given story or to return to the contents page), and one story "From Within" is not evident in the actual content without a search. Here's a brief mention of each:

  • Hereby Ronnie Garcia told a story bemoaning Puerto Rico's fate, but telling us little else. While it was well-drawn, the text was almost illegible in parts, so the story was significantly diminished and it was not that impressive to begin with.
  • Madre de Dios by Daniel Irrizarri Oquendo is a single image and a poem incorrectly telling us that juracán was the Taíno god of chaos. In truth, it was the goddess, Guabancex (aka Gua Ban Ceh) who was of chaos - or more specifically of earthquakes, storms, and volcanoes. Juracán was merely the name of the winds she spawned from time to time.
  • Helping Hands written by Alan Medina, art by Ariela Kristantina. It was only the change in artwork which announced this since the title was nowhere in evidence on the first page of the story. It shows up on page three which is the last page of the story. The artwork had a scrappy look to it, and I rather liked it, but I had no good idea what this story was about.
  • Pasitos Grandes written by Tristan J Tarwater, art by Cynthia Santos. Pasitos means little steps, so this title is a contradiction in terms: Big Little Steps. It's set in 2062 and looks back over Puerto Rican history, but it says barely a word about Hurricane Maria. the artwork is abysmal.
  • Areytos written by Vita Ayala, art by Jamie Jones. Areyto or areíto refers to a religious song/dance which the Taínos enter-Taín-ed themselves with. This story has interesting, moody art and tells of the resistance, led by Agüeybaná Segundo, aka El Bravo to Spanish depredations in the early sixteenth century.
  • Gods of Borikén by Sabrina Cintron. Borikén is another name for Puerto Rico. This is just a very average one page image.
  • Stories from my Father written by Adam Lance Garcia, art by Heidi Black. This tells of a young girl visiting Puerto Rico. It's nicely drawn and colored, but it really doesn't say anything. It's trying to say that people who have ancestry in a certain location ought to try to reconnect to that location, but there is absolutely no good rationale as to why anyone should do this, and there's certainly no point in trying to make people feel guilty if they don't! Way to domineer!
    If they want to, then fine, but it's every individual's choice and there's no obligation whatsoever on anyone to connect with or even acknowledge your roots. To portray a young girl as somehow lacking something because she can't connect with Puerto Rico is an abuse as far as I'm concerned and the author should be ashamed. For goodness sakes, we all come from Africa originally, so there is as much of a 'call' to reconnect there as there is anywhere else, so why not tell that story? This one made no sense whatsoever!
  • Resiliance (sic) by Lamplight written by Aldo Alvarez, art by Sofia Davila. The word is actually Resilience, editors! The Spanish word for it is resistencia, so this is simply a case of misspelling. It appears to be only a two page non-story consisting of a title page and a pointless drawing of two people's heads as light bulbs. I assume it has to do with the sluggish return of electricity to the island, but who knows?
  • From Within by Nicole Goux. This was in the contents, but I could not find it in the actual stories unless it is the untitled and unattributed pastel-shaded story that actually precedes Resilience by Lamplight. It was not of interest to me.
  • A Broken PROMESA by Rosa Colón. PROMESA is the acronym for the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. This story, more text than art, is one of the few which actually makes a coherent, worthwhile, informative, and educational contribution, but it's not a story, merely a five-page précis of the comedy of errors in governing Puerto Rico. It's one of the few which blames the island for at least a part of the post-Maria woes. I liked this one very much.
  • Thanks for Nothing by Tom Beland. Simplistically drawn and sarcastic, this is an entertaining view of the mismanagement of aid post-Maria.
  • La Casita of American Heroes written by Anthony Otero, art by Charles Ugas. This is another story which has no title at the beginning. The thing that looks like a title is 'Fajardo', which is actually the name of a small town in eastern Puerto Rico, but it's not the title of the story! We don't see that until nine pages later, on the last page of the story. Is this a manga that I should read it backwards?! This story has very average art work and starts out well enough, but then it dives headlong into another tale of how many Puerto Ricans fought in how many US wars. It tells us not a single thing about the ravages of Maria. You now, the wars are history, I've never understood the morbid American obsession with them. The problems with Maria are now! Can we deal with those, please?
  • Yúcahu and the Creation of the First Man by Little Corvus. Yúcahu (known by several similar names) is the of fertility in Taíno mythology. This is simply a one-page illustration that shows two near-naked guys together in a pond. Fine if that's how two guys want to spend their time! I have no problem with that per se, but neither of them look Puerto Rican or Taíno, so what, exactly, does this have to do with anything?
  • A Taíno's Tale written by Shariff Musalam, art by Alejandro Rosado. This is another poorly illustrated history. Didn't like it.
  • Of Myth and Monsters written by Marco Lopez and Derek Ruiz, art by Jamie Jones. This was a mildly amusing and amusingly illustrated story about the Chupa Cabra which is typically taken to mean 'goat eater', but which actually means 'sucks goat' which could have led to an interesting and amusingly perverse story, but this wasn't it; however, it was better than too many of the other stories here.
  • El Vampiro de Moca by Leonardo Gonzalez is a really scrappy one page image which ought to have been left out of this collection.
  • Family Ends with Me written by Lilliam Rivera, art by Allison Strejlau is a tale of how women were sterilized but it places the story in 1969 long after these sterilizations ended - unless the author knows something I don't. When I say ended, I mean in Puerto Rico - they were still going on for Latina wimen in the sixties and seventies in California, believe it or not. American Nazism has never died out.
  • La Operación by Ally Schwed is also the name of a documentary film by Ana María García on the same topic. While sterilization had been instituted many times in Puerto Rico, the only one that really succeeded in its evil aim was begun on May 13, 1937 and ran unhindered until the law was overturned as late as June 8, 1960! This story has the sterilizations going on into the 1970s, but I cannot find independent documentation of that. However, it doesn't matter when they ended, because they should never have begun and the people who did this should be in jail.
    No matter how long it actually lasted, in the end about a third of women of childbearing age had been sterilized in Puerto Rico. How is the US government any better than the Nazis in this regard? Seriously? This was an important story, but I would have liked it better had it delivered more information in a less sensational manner. The story implies that no one was informed about the permanence of tubal ligation, which cannot be guaranteed to be successfully reversed by any means.
    There was a study in the mid-sixties which indicated that only a third of the subjects/victims did not know it was permanent, which is a nauseating number admittedly, but I don't know if that means that the other two-thirds learned of this beforehand (or figured it out for themselves) or if some or all of them did not know this until later. I don't believe Puerto Rican women are completely stupid or gullible. They can be misled as anyone can, but do we know if any elected to have this operation as a deliberate and deliberative choice to take charge of their own family size - or were they all duped as this story implies?
    I find that latter option rather insulting to Puerto Rican women and their intelligence. Is it possible that some women, even if it was a small percentage, knew what this was all about from the off and chose it as a means of birth control? I believe it is, but there seems to be no readily available information one way or the other about this, which is concerning, but not as concerning as this whole affair is, let's face it.
  • The Puerto Rican Birth Control Trials by Ally Schwed. This is a sort of sequel to this author's previous story, and this one is about the testing of the birth control pill on Puerto Rican women - a pill which contained significantly more medication than is considered appropriate now. Women got sick, a handful died.
    The artwork is equally as simplistic as it was in the previous story (and has the same color scheme), but that's acceptable to me because this story is an important one and needs to be widely known. It's yet one more inexcusable abuse.
  • Breaking Bread written by Tara Martinez, art by Rod Espinoza. This was a breath of fresh air. It was a beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated story and my favorite of the whole collection. It tells a simple but important story of keeping hold of the little things and the simple pleasures in life no matter what. All of us need that.
  • The Dragon of Bayamón written by Jeff Goez and Fabian Nicieza, art by Adriana Melo. Bayamón is a city just south of Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan and this tells of a young kid visiting this area where he's never been before and knows nothing about. He fears his father of whom he has little and not good recollection, but his mother sent him to Puerto Rico, so he has to put up with it. It's a little predictable in that you know from the start that he's going to start feeling at home there, so there were no surprises, but the story was decent and the artwork pleasant.
  • On Traditions & Being Homesick by Jesenia Santana wasn't of interest to me at all, but the art was not bad. And she has a very cool name! And it was short!
  • Con Amor LES by Kat Fajardo was an uninteresting one page postcard of an illustration. Com Amor means with Love, but I have no idea what LES stands for.
  • Cocinar written by Vito Delsante, art by Yehudi Mercado was yet another one which had no title at the beginning (it was at the end again). It looked like Kat Fajardo's one page illustration was the opening page for this story! Bad editing. The story is about a cook (which is what the title means) who is starting a new job and pleasing the restaurant's owner by turning out a family treat which she happened to like, but I have to ask if she wants Puerto Rican cooking so badly, then why not go back and live in Puerto Rico? I don't have any time for whining and nostalgia. Deal with where you are, or go back home!
  • Family written by Grant Alter, art by Manuel Preitano. Having one family title after another (especially one that's also about food, at least in part) I think is another example of bad editing. Maybe if certain editors had quit trading Voltron GIFs and spent more time focused on their job, this would have been better put together? That's not this author's fault though. The problem here is that this story really doesn't tell us anything except to help with hurricane relief any way we can. One page would have sufficed for that, although it's actually self-evident.
  • Dreamer by Kristin Van Dam was an untitled, unattributed, unsigned single page. The art was not bad, but I don't see what it had to do with anything else where. It's a pity the editors didn't wake up and credit her for this contribution though, but these guys are the worst editors I've ever encountered. Always sign your work, Kristin!
  • Taíno Online by Joamette Gil. Yet another story on Taíno ancestry. Yawn. Joamette is a cool name though.
  • Knowledge of Self by Javier Cruz Winnik. Yet another story on Taíno ancestry, but better illustrated than the last one. Yawn.
  • Blame it on 'Rico by Alberto Serrano. This was an amusing story about a Puerto Rican muralist who is constantly questioned about his ancestry. I can relate. I liked this one.
  • Macondo, Puerto Rico written by Javier Morillo, art by Dan Méndez Moore. Another Puerto Rican history telling the same story over again, but with indifferent art and way too much text. Yawn.
  • Faceless by Matt Belisle was a misleading one page illustration that preceded yet another story which had no titles at the beginning, Really getting annoyed by this crap by this point. What's the Spanish for 'the editing sucks'? Chupa Editando?
  • I Dream of Home written by Greg Anderson-Elysee, art by Dennis Calero. This was a weird story which I did not get, but the art was excellent.
  • Hope written by Neil Schwarz, art by Ramón Sierra. This is a story about a guy who takes his kid to Puerto Rico. Nothing special. Predictable. Art not bad.
  • Puerto Rico Strong by Alejandra Quintas is a simple on page illustration of some exploitatively scantily-clad Puerto Rican woman holding the Puerto Rican flag (which was actually banned at one point a half century or so ago, believe it or not). Not impressed.
  • Reality Check written by Tony Bedard, art by John R Holmes. This was a nicely drawn ironic look at Puerto Rican history and it made a pleasant change from what had gone before. I liked this one.
  • Heroes of Our Own by Marco Lopez and Derek Ruiz, art by Brett Booth. Yet again a single page illustration indifferently drawn right before yet another story where the title page was the last page. Really pissed off wit the editors by this point. Ready to tell them where they can shove Voltron. Why did a single page need two writers? Was there something missing from my copy? Who knows.
  • The Last Pirate in the Caribbean written by Mina Elwell, art by TE Lawrence. The title page was the last page. I got nothing from this story. The artwork so bland as to be almost impressionistic in style.
  • Todavia Tengo Puerto Rico en Mi Corazon written by Eugene Selassie, art by Orlando Baez. The title means "I still have Puerto Rico in my hear, and this was a clumsily illustrated futuristic story of robots, which I skimmed because it held no interest for me. It's yet another of those where you want to say, if you love it so much, quit whining about it and go home!
  • The Heart of Puerto Rico written by Alexis Sergio, art by Jules Rivera was a nicely illustrated and welcome story. It was teasing and playful, and it was about a young queer couple who had a sense of adventure and a love of Puerto Rico such that they actually lived there! I liked it.
  • Ojala by Mike Hawthorne was the only one page illustration I actually liked. Beautifully done. Ojalá, pronounced 'Ohall-a' (slight emphasis on the last letter) means 'hopefully'. It was perfect and should have been the first illustration in the collection, Another bad editing choice.
  • What Remains in the Dark by Amparo Ortiz, art by Eliana Falcón-Dvorsky was about Julia Constanza Burgos García, better known as Julia de Burgos. She was a nationalist, a teacher, a civil rights activist, a poet, and an advocate of Puerto Rican independence. She died a tragic death in that she collapsed and died in a place in New York City where no one knew her, and her body went unidentified and unclaimed, so was buried in a 'potter's field' until some people heroically tracked her down and had her remains repatriated. This was a story worth telling, and a very different approach from the others.
    It made me wonder why there were not more stories about such Puerto Ricans and somewhat fewer about soldiers? There are renowned Puerto Ricans from all walks of life. Don't go by the 'famous Puerto Rican' lists on the web. Yes, these people have Puerto Rican ancestry, but very few of them were actually born in Puerto Rico, so I certainly would not classify them as "Puerto Rican" without qualifying it. That's cheating!

You know, comic book writers and illustrators can work anywhere! Not that there's an abundance of electricity in Puerto Rico right now, but there is sunshine and solar panels are relatively cheap these days, This is golden opportunity for Puerto Rico to shine - literally. Why was there no story about that? About rebuilding? About hope? The stories seemed to be all downers about nostalgia and loss. I refuse to believe that the Puerto Ricans - at least those who actually live there - are like that. Why were there no stories about Puerto Rican diaspora returning to help their island by living there and bringing their relatively rich US income with them? Now that would have been something different, something worth writing about, something worth reading.

I was very disappointed and disillusioned by this graphic collection. I admire and respect the desire to put something out there to aid the hurricane victims, but I can't help but feel in this case that contributing the price of the comic (and then some if you can afford it) directly to a hurricane victim charity will do more good than buying this comic. There is nothing in the comic that I saw, which indicates how much of the sale price goes directly to the needs of Puerto Ricans, which seemed very strange to me. If you love comics, then by all means buy this one as opposed to some other, but I cannot recommend it based on my reading of it.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Gamora: Memento Mori by Nicole Perlman, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa

Rating: WARTY!

I wanted to like this - I really did, but from the unnecessarily sexualized full first page image of Gamora, my stomach started turning. One reason I picked this up was because it was written by a woman (Nicole Perlman who co-wrote the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie); the problem was that it was drawn by a guy (Marco Checchetto). Maybe it if had been the other way around, it would not have been so bad? Once that first image was done though, the depictions did seem to improve, but the story never really did.

Gamora is given a 'gift' by her adoptive father: the knowledge of where the people are who wiped out her own people. After she slaughters all of the royal lineage, she seems to think the job is done but she's not fulfilled. Why killing the royals would destroy their society is a complete mystery which is never gone into in the writing which is sadly very sketchy. Would they not simply appoint a new lineage or open elections? It's not like if the British royal family were all wiped-out Britain would simply fall apart and come to an end! Ad how does she know she's got them all? They all look exactly alike - how do you tell royalty from commoner?

As it happens, she didn't get them all. Gamora discovers that this highly patriarchal society has a princess - the last of these supposedly crucial people of the royal bloodline, and so after torturing one of the lizard people, she embarks on her own crusade to kill this last royal. It's all downhill from there. The story made zero sense. If these people - the green lizards, literally do smother all female children at birth as we're told, then how do they ever procreate? It made absolutely no sense whatsoever! With whom did the king mate to produce this princess? Apparently the author doesn't care because she never mentions it.

I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, but now I find myself wondering what parts of it, exactly, did this author write because it was far more entertaining, thoughtful, and provocative than this graphic novel ever was. The story could have been a truly engaging one, but it got lost somewhere along the way and never improved. I cannot recommend it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Eternity by Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, David Baron

Rating: WARTY!

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

This was available on net Galley as a 'read now' and sometimes such books can be gems; other times they can be awful; upon another occasion, they can be simply just not appealing. This was in the latter category, I'm sorry to report. mat Kindt's writing was nothing out of the ordinary - not bad, but not really anything new or special. The drawings (ink by Ryan Winn, pencil by Trevor Hairsine) were okay, but nothing thrilling. Colors by David Baron were brilliantly hued, but still failed to impress somehow.

This new world felt drab despite the bright colors. It felt confusing, and uninteresting, and full of vague new-ageisms instead of anything solid or gripping. The story is of a black couple whose child is taken into this parallel dimension (or whatever it was) to replace an 'observer' who was killed. The only observation worth making here is that he evidently didn't see it coming!

The way the child was drawn made him look far older than the way he was depicted through his behavior. I don't know if any of these artists have young children of their own, but they should probably study a few crawling kids before they draw any more of them.

This death of the observer creates a panic for reasons which are entirely unclear. The rest of the story is of a battle between human cavemen who wish everyone to have self-determination, and the parallel world people who apparently don't. The bottom line is that none of us truly has free will (changes have occurred in our brains long before our conscious mind becomes aware of us making a decision), so if the people in this story had been less new age mysticism, and more science-based empiricism, they would have realized their conflict was pointless! I couldn't get anything out of what proved to be a very forgettable graphic novel, and I cannot recommend it.

On a technical note, my iPad, using Bluefire Reader, had issues with disappearing speech on pages 8, 60, and 77 (as measured by the Bluefire Reader page count - the graphic novel has no page numbering. When I loaded this into Adobe Digital editions, however, the text was there =- there were no blank speech balloons, so be aware of this issue.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Little Pierrot Amongst the Stars by Alberto Varanda

Rating: WARTY!

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

I reviewed Little Pierrot Get the Moon favorably back in August of 2017, but I cannot say the same for this volume. It's in the same format, comprised of sepia-toned sketches that are, in this case very disjointed, more-so than in the first volume. Many of them made no sense to me. Some of them seemed like a response to something which had gone before, but which wasn't included in the book! Nearly all of them were not interesting or amusing. The artwork was of the same high standard, but overall, this seemed like a completely different book compared with the first one I reviewed. Of course, it is a different book, but it's so different that it seemed totally unrelated to the first book.

I wish the author all the best, but I cannot recommend this volume.

Bettie Page Vol 1 by David Avallone, Colton Worley, Craig Cermak, Esau Figueroa, Bane Duncan Wade, Sarah Fletcher, Brittany Pezzillo

Rating: WORTHY!

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

This took me by surprise, and pleasantly so because it wasn't at all what I expected. Frankly I'm not sure what I expected except that I hoped it would be fun - and it was. It was a great romp and put the renowned Bettie Page in a spotlight I'm willing to bet she was never in before - that of government agent! bettie was a real life pin-up girl, probably the last of the truly "innocent" models there was; her pictures were very cheeky but seemingly to outside eyes to be all in good fun. At least, she seems from her expressions in her images to be having a rare old time.

But this novelization isn't about that at all. All of that is just background to her 'real' life, in which she helps fight pinkos and weirdos in New York and Los Angeles. The story collects a four part serial story and a bonus one-off story together into one volume. Bettie doesn't plan this career, it simply befalls her as her modeling plans take an unanticipated wrong turn at the start of the story. Everything else is more like a comedy of errors, with Bettie being in the wrong place at the wrong time until she takes charge of her own fate and starts making things happen instead of having them happen to her.

The story is right on - with a nice line of fifties banter, and the artwork is wonderfully evocative - except for once or twice when the blue-eyed Bettie is shown with brown eyes or even green eyes at one point! She's also depicted as being a little more lanky and boney than the more normally -proportioned real-life Bettie who was only five-two and comfortably rounded without being overweight.

No one obsessed about not being skinny enough back them - at least not as commonly as we encounter it today because women were not conditioned to feel inadequate in the way our modern society seems intent upon rendering them (when it can!). It would have been nice to have seen this reflected better in the drawings and not just on the 'covers'.

Virtually all models were short and normally proportioned back then! As were actresses: Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe for example, were the same height as Bettie and no more "hourglass" than was she, and no one consider what today would be described as 'chubby' knees, as being out of place, nor was body hair for that matter. How far we've slid down the wrong chute since then!

ost of the fifties pop-culture references were right one as well, as far as I could tell, except for one mention of Ian Fleming. The story was set in 1951, and Fleming was unknown at that time since he had not yet penned his first James Bond adventure. He didn’t write Casino Royale until 1952 and it wasn’t published until 1953. It wasn’t published in the USA until 1954! The only other problem i spotted was on page 89 (as depicted on the tablet reader - the comic pages themselves are not numbered) where I read “The exist to be ruled." I'm guessing that should have been “They exist to be ruled”

There was the welcome but unlikely addition of a black female police officer. It was welcome to see a person of color in this story, but there were no female police officers in the USA 1951 to my knowledge. Atlanta did, believe it or not, have black male cops as early as 1948, but even then, they weren’t allowed to patrol white neighborhoods or work in police headquarters! We've come a long way but nowhere near far enough.

So, overall, I loved this story and look forward to reading more. I recommend this as a fun and original adventure series with a strong and fascinating female lead.