Title: Displaced Persons
Author: Derek McCulloch
Published: February 15, 2009
Publisher: Image Comics
From the Eisner-nominated creators behind Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo comes Displaced Persons, the story of a uniquely twisted and tragic family history spanning the most turbulent hundred years in the history of mankind – the twentieth century saw 99 wars, 19 pandemics, 14 genocides, and one family lost hopelessly in time!
I wanted to like this, with splashy art and an interesting story line. I couldn’t get past the bad narrative, slurs and random inconsistencies. I figured there would be a bit of offensive tone to this story considering the blurb, but it’s tasteless and really not something anyone should read. I can’t recommend this at all. Frankly I’m disappointed that I finished it.
Title: Kamen Volume 1
Author/Artist: Gunya Mihara
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Gen Manga
In a world of fantasy and might, a lone warrior emerges. Kamen, a mysterious masked man appears among prisoners of war in ancient Japan and becomes a legendary warrior and defender of the innocent while his enemies rush to uncover his secrets.
I loved this, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on volume 2. Set in Feudal Japan, Kamen puts everything upside down and upended, in a wild romp. The art is beautiful and vibrant, the characters well written and fully developed. There’s mystery and a lot of chances for plot development and even more character development arcs.
Kamen is a great shonen manga, which on the surface seems similar to other titles out there, but there’s enough complexity that keeps it from falling into the usual boring trap. It’s got great pacing and great action. I need another volume of this, and I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for it.
Title: Wasted Lands
Author/Artist: Dave Dorman
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Magnetic Press.
‘Wasted Lands’ is inspired by the high-adventure serials of the ’40s and ’50s and the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, but infused with a contemporary sci-fi, diesel-punk aesthetic.
I wanted to love this, I really did. I like science fiction, steampunk is becoming something that I’m really drawn to, and diesel-punk is a great offshoot of steampunk. However, that’s not the case here. The art is the only thing that I enjoyed. It varied from story to story, but there’s a commonality that didn’t cause any disconnect or confusion.
The stories themselves were the aspect that I couldn’t connect to. The art, frankly is the only reason I read this, making the omnibus a disappointment. I now know that I’m not fond of the spaghetti western genre. I’m not even certain that I’m going to seek out other titles by this author.
Overall: Not my style of storytelling, though the art is beautiful and unique.
Author/Artist: Jean-David Morvan, Huang-Jia Wei, Mike Kennedy
Published: August 26, 2014
Publisher Magnetic Press
Zaya tells the story of secret agent in the distant future who left her post to seek a normal life as an artist and mother. When a bio-mechanical threat destroys an orbiting colony station and former fellow agents start dying, she is called back into the field to find and stop the danger. Her investigation leads to many questions about her own past, filled with explosive revelations.
I really fell in love with the world that Morvan has created. Zaya is a retired covert agent called back into service when other agents, here called spirals are dying. The artist mother of a young pair of twins re-enters the world of spies and cloak and dagger assassinations.
The art is whispy and sketchy, with light lines. It’s an odd blend of Eastern and Western graphic novel art styles, but here in this case it works. The Bio-Mechanical aspect is something new to me, and I found myself really enjoying it. The story line is complex and weaves science fiction with steampunk and carefully constructed violence. It was original and well layered, keeping me guessing until the end.
Overall:Engaging and complex, I recommend this to those that are looking for something a little different.
Title: Les Miserables the Fall of Fantine
Author/Artist:Victor Hugo, Crystal Silvermoon, Stacy King, SunNeko Lee
Published: August 1, 2014
Publisher: Diamond Book Distributers.
Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo’s classic novel of love & tragedy during the French Revolution is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition!
The gorgeous art of TseMei Lee brings to life the tragic stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the beautiful Fantine, in this epic adaptation of Les Miserables!
The classic epic, Les Miserables is retold here with classic manga art. I’m not fond of this art style, the wide eyed, sparkly shoujo-kawaii style art. The art aside it’s a wonderful re-telling staying true to the classic, but presenting it in a way that’s easily understood. Some of the more delicate nuances of the source material are lost in translation, but it’s still a strong story. This volume focuses on Fantine and her story within Les Mis. I found that she was even more sympathetic in this version, causing me to feel really sorry for her.
Some of the narration is repeated throughout the pages, creating a double exposition effect. I wasn’t too bothered by this, as it happens in other volumes and series. If you’re interested in reading this, and you haven’t read manga, please be sure to read from right to left (so start at what would typically be the end of the book). The art style takes a little while to get used to, and the text is a bit overblown, but at it’s core it’s a great presentation of an iconic piece of literature.
Overall: Classic literature gets the manga touch, with overblown text and pretty illustrations. I’d present this to younger readers, or those intimidated by the massive tome.
Title: The Extinction Parade Volume 1
Author/Artist: Max Brooks, Raulo Caceres
Published: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Avatar Press
Max Brooks, the best selling Zombie writer in history, unleashes an all-new horror epic! As humans wage their losing fight versus the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive vampire race: our food is dying off. This is the story of the vampire’s descent into all-out war with the mindless, hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak as humanity tries to survive them all! This collected edition contains the entire first chapter of Extinction Parade
World War Z redefined the Zombie genre for me. Extinction Parade takes it one step further, by introducing a secondary supernatural creature: the vampire. In this volume Brooks sets up an epic battle of zombie vs. vampire and the winner maintains the right to hunt and feed on the dwindling human population. It’s a riotous bloodbath with gore and violence. The art is beautiful, and something that I’m drawn to when I’m looking for graphic novels to get into. The story line is something different and I’m interested to see where it goes in further volumes.
The aspect of vampires v. zombies is something that I’ve thought about–especially since both beings at their core are reanimated corpses. I found it fun to read and to see the differences between the two. The vampires that are portrayed in this book are what I consider traditional vampires. Strong, badass and rather nasty when it comes down to it. I am intrigued by the vampire’s caretaker and I am going to grab later volumes of this to figure out the story line that’s happening there.
Overall: Bloody, gory and violent this graphic novel throws together two of the undead supernatural creatures in a knock down drag out fight for food. It’s vampires v. zombies and the prize? Us.
Title: Black Science Volume 1
Author/Artist: Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White
Published: November 13, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics.
Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again?
To be completely up front and blunt, I enjoyed this. I like that straight off there’s a ton of action and story development. There’s a great underlying plot and it’s smart. The writing and dialogue are very smart and fast paced. There’s enough explanation and exposition that it’s not an info dump alongside great illustrations. It does remind me a bit of the television show Sliders (seriously, look it up it was amazing.)–but the differences are strong enough that I’m not feeling like it’s fan fiction.
The characters are well written and unique with their own voices. The aliens that they encounter aren’t the most creative, but I think with the way this story is going and conflict we as readers are thrust into when the story opens, it’s easily ignored. The art though—I keep coming back to it. The lines are great and the colors are brilliant and saturated with an interesting quality to them. I will be reading this series as it progresses, and I’m interested to see where it’s going from the ending point. I’ve been on a manga kick for so long that it was a little different to pick up a traditional graphic novel/comic book and read it, but I found Black Science to be a good trap door back into that genre.
Overall beautiful art with a clean, slick, well written story line makes up an interesting comic book. Worth checking out and reading.