Thursday, March 31, 2011

Captain America: Two Americas by Ed Brubaker Illustrated by Luke Ross

Steve Rogers, the original, Captain America is back from being trapped in a mental time loop in his brain (long story), so now he has to decide if he will take up his shield or leave it in the hands of the new Captain America, his former side kick Bucky Barnes. Whoever gets to carry the shield has to fight a totally different and TOTALLY INSANE Captain America from the 1950s before he and his terrorist squadron kill millions!

This is a straightforward action showcase with a fun espionage feel. The often times heavy handed super hero obsessing over the burdens of power is kept to a minimum for loads of awesome action sequences that pay off big time. Long time super hero fans will definitely appreciate how much page time The Falcon gets, because his adventures with Captain America have long been a highlight of the series. The art by Luke Ross is superb and harkens back to the great Marvel artists of the 70s like Jack “The King” Kirby”, Gene Colan and Neal Adams. Several panels are laid out to look exactly like their work as homage. So if you want to read a classic adventure super hero tale with great art then look no further.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Odyssey by Homer Adapted and Illustrated by Gareth Hinds YP FIC HOMER

Odysseus fought for years in the Trojan War, helping to win it with his cunning strategies, but he did not receive a hero’s welcome. Instead he is opposed by the God of the sea, Poseidon and sent through many strange and perilous adventures, while his kingdom and very home are supplanted by suitors attempting to marry his wife and take his throne. He must defy terrifying creatures on land and sea, witches, Gods, fate, and the sea to make it home and win back his life.

This is EPIC! Not just because it is an Epic Poem, but also because it is Epic as a visual translation of an epic poem. Hinds does a perfect job of bringing the language of Homer to the page and making it relatable. His art is excellent. I found myself reading several chapters multiple times just to savor the art. He makes you truly care about the characters with how well he captures faces and emotions. He is just as skilled at rendering believable monsters and showing fast and bloody action. I read the final climactic battle scenes five times to really appreciate all the carnage and bloodshed (poetically described, of course)! Any and every person should also read the original The Odyssey (883.01 HOMER), but any one that enjoys the Odyssey or wants help in understanding it should absolutely read Gareth Hinds’ adaptation.

A Perfect Day for Love Letters by George Asakura YP FIC ASAKURA

Five manga stories of anonymous love letters and the bonds that are formed from them. A young librarian hunts in books for hidden love letters from an unlikely source, a girl finds a love letter from the toughest guy in school, anonymous love letters help a troubled young woman confront the past, a girl tries to solve the mystery of a love letter with several suspects, and a mailman sends love letters to help a blind woman come back to life.

This is pretty straight forward shojo (romance comics) fare. Boys and girls that seem to hate each other at first fall in love, love seem impossible but overcomes the odds, love is the most important thing ever!!!, etc. The art is good with a straightforward style that will be familiar to any manga fan, but not exceptional. None of the characters are very deep, because they are only around for one comic a piece. That being said, even though this is a straight forward shojo manga that doesn’t do much new, it is still a really good read. The stories all move very quickly, but they don’t feel rushed. Shojo fans should find themselves liking these characters and rooting for them. What makes it work best is that if you don’t like a particular story it’s over fast! So while it will be unlikey to win over any shojo haters, the shojo fans should dig it!

Diana Wynne Jones 1934-2011

Diana Wynne Jones has passed away and the world of children's and young adult literature is poorer for it. Author of classics such as Howl's Moving Castle and The Dark Lord of Derkholm ( as well as many other truly wonderful, brilliant books), she was a singular voice in literature, a part of countless childhoods, and a inspiration to countless authors.

Her work was filled with fascinating worlds and unforgettable characters. She wasn't afraid of challenging young readers and never 'wrote down' to them.

One such person, the also brilliant Neil Gaiman has written a wonderful post about his friendship with Diana Wynne Jones here.

You can read her wonderful books at the library by finding her in J FIC and YP FIC JONES.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali by Denny O’Neil Illustrated by Neal Adams TP FIC ONEILL

Have you ever wondered who would win in a fight between Superman and boxing legend Muhammad Ali? Of course you haven’t! That is a preposterous notion that no sane person would consider! No one except, of course, for the fine creators of the comic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Aliens have a super armada of space ships waiting to rain fiery death on all humankind if Earth’s greatest champion doesn’t defeat their greatest champion…in a boxing match. Makes sense, kind of like Space Jam (J DVD SPAVE) is a reasonable premise for a film! So Superman and Muhammad Ali have to box it out for the right to box an alien. However the fight is under a Red Sun which (of course) robs Superman of his powers, so any one can win! Who will be Earth’s greatest Heavyweight Intergalactic boxing champion and will Earth prevail?

This is an AWESOMELY fun comic. It has an insane (but fun) premise, art by comic book master Neal Adams, seriously great boxing action, and Muhammad Ali! It is definitely a product or its era. It is so 70s it will turn your pants into bell bottoms just by reading it! I was truly impressed by how well they captured the verbal style and attitude of Ali in comic book form. I think they accurately describe how Ali would act when confronted with boxing aliens. If you are at all a fan of superhero comics or a boxing fan, then this is a weird and wonderful gem that you need to give a shot.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Check out TeenBookCon

Big news! All your favorite Young Adult authors are coming to Houston! TeenBookCon is a conference of some of the biggest and best authors writing for teens to today. And it is TOTALLY FREE!!! Authors at the con are:

Keynote speaker: Deb Caletti, author of The Six Rules of Maybe, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, Queen of Everything, The Nature of Jade, Wild Roses, Honey Baby Sweetheart, The Fortunes of Indigo Skye and the upcoming Stay
Brent Crawford, author of Carter Finally Gets It and Carter's Big Break
Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade and the upcoming Wolfsbane
Gail Giles, author of Dark Song, What Happened to Cass McBride?, Right Behind You, Playing in Traffic, Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, Shattering Glass, and Breath of a Dragon
Rachel Hawkins, author of Hex Hall and the upcoming Demonglass
Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout and the upcoming Perfect
Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost and the Goth and the upcoming Queen of the Dead (find her on
Lindsey Leavitt, author of Princess for Hire, and the upcoming books The Royal Treatment and Sean Griswold's Head
Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer and Vespertine (find her on Twitter)
Lauren Myracle, author of Peace Love and Baby Ducks, Bliss, Ttyl, Ttfn, l8r g8r, bff, Joyride, Kissing Kate, Rhymes with Witches, Eleven, Twelve, The Fashion Disaster that Changed My Life, How to be Bad, Thirteen, Winnie's Journal, Luv Ya Bunches, Thirteen Plus One, and the upcoming Speechless and Ten
Blake Nelson, author of Paranoid Park, The New Rules of High School, Destroy All Cars, They Came from Below, Prom Anonymous, Gender Blender, Rock Star Superstar, User, Exile, Girl and the upcoming Recovery Road
R. A. Nelson, author of Throat, Days of Little Texas, Breathe My Name and Teach Me
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door Joy Preble, author of Dreaming Anastasia and the upcoming Haunted
Elizabeth Scott, author of Bloom, Perfect You, Stealing Heaven, Living Dead Girl, Something Maybe, Love You Hate You Miss You, Miracle, The Unwritten Rule, Grace and the upcoming books Between Here and Forever and As I Wake
Kristen Tracy, author of Lost It, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers, Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus, Crimes of the Sarahs, Sharks and Boys and the upcoming The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter
Brian Yansky, author of My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World, Wonders of the World, and Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (find him on Facebook)

Graphic Novelists:

Mark Crilley, author of the following series: Miki Falls, Akiko, Billy Clikk, and Brody's Ghost

Misako Rocks, author and illustrator of Biker Girl, Rock and Roll Love, and Detective Jermain
Raina Telgemeier, author and illustrator of Smile, X-Men: Misfits, Babysitters Club graphic novel on
Doug TenNapel, creator of Earthworm Jim, author of the kids series Strange Kids' Chronicles and is author and illustrator of Ghostopolis, Power Up, Monster Zoo, Flink, Black Cherry, GEAR, Iron West, Earthboy Jacobus, Tommysaurus Rex, and Creature Tech

For full details head to