Monday, June 25, 2007

Short Booknotes on Graphic Novels 14

Another roundup of recent graphic novels I have read:

Rucka, Greg. Wonder Woman: Land of the Dead. New York: DC Comics, 2006. ISBN: 1-4012-0938-6.

This volume features two stories, and Rucka provides an excellent continuation of the tale from Eyes of the Gorgon. First, Wonder Woman must team up with The Flash when Cheetah frees Zoom. Then, Diana, Cassandra, also known as Wonder Girl, and Ferdinand the minotaur must travel to the Underworld in order to free Hermes. However, not all is at it seems. With Athena in the throne of Olympus, the deposed Zeus and his brothers plot revenge. Is Ares joining them as well, or does he have an agenda of his own? Overall, a fast paced story with a good plot and great art to complement the tale.

Frampton, Otis. Oddly Normal, Volume 1. Irving, TX: Viper Comics, 2006. ISBN: 0-9777883-0-X.

This is the first volume of a series, and I highly recommend it. Though mostly for young readers, I think any reader of graphic novels will enjoy it. Oddly Normal is a young girl of mixed heritage: her mother is a witch, and her father is a human. When on her birthday, she makes a wish common to many kids in a brief disgruntled moment, her parents actually disappear. Her great aunt comes to care for her, taking her to Fignation to live. While there, it seems the challenges of school never change as there are friends to be made and enemies to avoid. In the meantime, Oddly has to find her parents. And why is that teacher giving extra credit to everyone else? Find that out and more in this series. A light and entertaining read.

Hing, Lee Chung and Hui King Sum. Resident Evil Code: Veronica, #1. La Jolla, CA; Wildstorm, 2002. ISBN: 1-56389-899-3.

After the events of Raccoon City, Claire Redfield is captured by the Umbrella Corporation and sent to an isolated prison island facility. However, the prison is attacked, and soon chaos follows as the zombies resulting from Umbrella's experiments are unleashed. Now Claire's only chance of survival rests in finding her brother while having to trust another prisoner with an agenda of his own. This is the first of a series of comics based on the video game. While it is labeled "Suggested for Mature Readers," it is mostly due to some gore (if you have played the video game, it's that level of gore). Fans who have played the video game will likely like this too. Very fast paced story with a lot of violence leaving little room to catch your breath.

Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second Books, 2006. ISBN: 1-59643-152-0.

This was a book recommended by one of my colleagues, so I knew it would probably be good. It was great. It contains three seemingly unrelated stories: the story of Jin Wang, who just wants to fit in at school when his parents move into a new neighborhood; the story of Danny and his very Chinese cousin Chin Kee; and the story of the Monkey King. At first, the book seems to be a set of separate stories, but as one reads, the connection becomes apparent. The book does have some very funny moments too, and there are some lessons here and there as well. And when you get to the end, you just don't quite want it to end. A pleasure to read, and a fast read as well. I highly recommend this one.

Dick, Philip K. A Scanner Darkly. New York: Pantheon Books, 2006. ISBN: 0-375-42402-4.

This edition is the graphic novel adaptation of the movie A Scanner Darkly, which is based on Dick's novel of the same title. It is a scary and creepy story. Bob Arctor is addicted to Substance D. Fred is the police agent who is chasing him. The problem is Substance D splits the user's mind into separate personalities. So, it turns out that Bob is chasing himself. It is a paranoid tale where no one knows who is watching who. However, Bob may not be the only one who is not what he seems. And watch out for that ending. This is a great classic of science fiction, and it is definitely Philip K. Dick at his best. This edition uses stills from the film version to tell the story. I recommend it, though some readers may want to seek out the book anyways. A great work overall.

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