Friday, March 30, 2012

DC Universe: Legacies by Len Wein art by Various artists YP FIC WEIN

See the entire DC universe’s grand super history through the eyes of everyman Paul Lincoln.  From the start of the mystery men to the modern era, Legacies shows every major DC event worth showing.  This hugely packed edition also includes loads of extra short comics that call out standouts from the DC history.

This is a MUST read for DC comics fans.  It is a short primer of every major DC period form the Golden Age to non-hero comics to Silver Age to the relevant 70s, the grim and gritty 80s and 90s, and ending with the modern DC.  Especially since DC has rebooted everything, this makes a great way to take an informal tour through DC history.  Best yet is the art, which is done by artists from the respective periods that the book covers.  Hardcore fans will get lots of great references, but newbies will enjoy the scope and scale even if they wonder at all the references.  Fortunately we have the DC Comics Encyclopedia (Call number 741.50973 DC) if you want to dig deeper.  If you enjoy this, definitely check out the brilliant take on 1960s Marvel comics from the eye of a normal man, Marvels by Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross (YP FIC BUSIEK).  

Check our catalog for Legacies here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tina’s Mouth: an Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap Illustrated by Mari Araki YP FIC KASHYAP

Read through the pages of Tina Malhotra’s existential diary, a high school assignment to answer the all-consuming question: who am I? Well, for Tina it’s complicated.  She’s a non-religious East Indian-American, she’s looking for a use for her mouth, she’s in love with the father of existentialism Jean Paul Sartre, and she’s about to learn more about herself and life then she ever thought possible in one year. 

Think a high school, demented, profound, slightly profane, edgy, existential Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a totally awesomely out there female protagonist and you start to see the appeal of Tina’s Mouth.  The book is marketed as a good companion to the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (YP FIC SATRAPI or DVD PERSEPOL), but it really is quite a stretch.  Both are about young women coming of age and both are quite good, but that’s the only comparison point.  Mari Araki makes a great artist for the book.  The designs are simple and you can really believe the book is written and drawn by an artistically-inclined, inward-seeking teenage girl.  That leads to some of the books weaknesses.  Tina’s views on life, love, friendship, and cliques are witty and feel honest, but hardly groundbreaking or original.  The fact that this feels like it is a honest look at high school means that much of the ground covered has been covered (and sometimes better) by plenty of YA novels.  The saving grace is that this is a graphic novel diary and that elevates the occasionally unoriginal material to something fresh and new.  Not for all comic fans, but if you want something funny and unique in your comics this is a good, quick read.

Check our catalog for Tina’s Mouth here.

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos Illustrated by Nate Powell YP FIC LONG

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies...but the silence of our friends." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mark Long was just 11 years old in 1967.  His world seemed so simple until the night his father covered a protest that led to the death of a police officer and fraudulent murder charges for five African-American students.  Now Mark’s family faces social isolation, hatred, and danger if his father tells the truth in court.  A tale of friendship, loyalty, and courage in the face of bigotry, hatred, and racism.

This is a slightly fictionalized account of real events in Mark Long’s life growing up in Houston in the 60s. The fact that the venomous hatred Mark encountered for befriending a black family that moved into his all white neighborhood and for his father defending innocent men is chilling.  It shows how far our society has come and reminds us to always look to justice and fight bigotry wherever it comes from, because it eventually affects us all. Nate Powell (Artist/author of Swallow Me Whole reviewed here) is an inspired choice to draw this tale.  He captures subtle human emotion and feeling remarkably well.  The combination of the shocking story, the relatable characters, and the excellent art make this a real contender to be a modern classic.  I’d recommend it to any fans of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (FIC LEE) and to anyone that wants a great story about a Houston not too long gone.

Check our catalog for The Silence of Our Friends here.

Zahra’s Paradise Amir illustrated by Khalil YP FIC AMIR

After the fraudulent Iranian elections of 2009 many took to the streets in protest.  Many of those were taken and never seen again.  This is Medhi’s story; the  story of his mother and brother who fought corruption, tyranny, and intimidation to find the truth about his disappearance.  A fictional tale about all too realistic subject matter.

This is a truly poignant and moving story about loss, family, and tyranny.  It puts a human face on current events and gives us a look at a society all too often shrouded in secrecy.  One of the most powerful parts of the book is an end-note that lists all the people that have died while protesting the Iranian government.  This very long list of names speaks volumes about the magnitude and seriousness of this issue.  Iran is in the news quite a bit these days with fears of nuclear armament, so this book offers a way to better understand the nature of the Iranian regime.  But more than that, Zahra’s Paradise is a way to understand tyranny all over the globe and by comparison the importance of freedom.  This is a must read to fans of serious comics or anyone that would like to know more about Iran.  I would also heavily recommend it to fans of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (YP FIC SATRAPI or DVD PERSEPOL) a book and film about growing up around the Iranian revolution.  

Check our catalog for Zahra’s Paradise here.

Infinite Kung Fu by Kagan Mcleod YP FIC MCLEOD

The world we know has ended and a new world governed by the mystic arts and kung fu has replaced it.  The balance of life and death is off kilter and the dead rise from the grave because the cycle of reincarnation cannot be completed. Now a Ghost Emperor and his generals seek the armor that can return him to life so he can destroy the world.  Only Lei Kung, a lowly foot soldier, can learn long forgotten secret arts and save all life on Earth.

This book had me with zombie kung fu fighting, but it offers so much more. Disco kung fu masters, using detachable limbs as weapons, martial arts that make people explode, shaolin robot training, and more and more and more awesome ridiculousness.  This perfectly captures the feeling of finding an insane kung fu movie on at 3am and watching it get crazier and crazier and never believing your own eyes.  The storyline has plenty of melodramatic twists and turns, the kung fu is first rate, and the fluid Asian-inspired brushwork makes it a one of a kind visual feast.  This is a must read for any kung fu fan and will likely make kung fu fans of most any one that reads it.    

Check our catalog for Infinite Kung Fu here.