Thursday, January 28, 2016

Graphic Novels Roundup

Rosalie Lightning. Tom Hart. St. Martin’s. 272 pages. $19.99. 
It’s a shadow, a stain, the pain that never goes away. There’s nothing like the death of your child, and conveying its mad mosaic of emotions, moods, thoughts and depths of grief is impossible. Artist, writer and teacher Hart stubbornly transcends the horror and invokes his craft to capture the array of mundane and extraordinary events he and his wife (amazing cartoonist Leela Corman) experience as they wrestle with the joy and horror of their infant’s life and death.

Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi. Anthony Bourdain. Joel Rose. Ale Garza. Vertigo. 160 pages. $22.99. 
The prequel to Bourdain and Rose’s first bloody and outrageous Get Jiro story serves as the secret origin of their protagonist sushi chef. More of a crime drama than a culinary tale, the narrative is nonetheless engaging and well told by Bourdain and his collaborators, especially journeyman artist Alé Garza. Though often an orchestrated buffet of violence, it’s mostly harmless and tasteless amusement.

City of Clowns. Daniel Alarcón. Sheila Alvarado. Riverhead. 144 pages. 22.95.
Killing and Dying. Adrian Tomine. Drawn and Quarterly. 128 pages. $22.95. These little shards of life nicely convey Tomine’s meticulous and expressive storytelling. The art is up to his usual high standards for the stories that are funny, sad, poignant and mysterious. The title tale, a cringeworthy account of a young woman’s attempt at standup comedy and her awkward parents’ reaction, is a gem. But Amber Sweet, about the travails of a woman who resembles a porn star, and Go Owls, an indescribable vignette about love, recovery, possessiveness and minor league baseball are stellar and could only have come from the mind and pen of Tomine.

Comics Squad #2: Lunch! Jennifer L. Holm. Matthew Holm. Jeffrey Brown. Nathan Hale. Jason Shiga, et al. Random House. 144 pages. $7.99. 
This tasty midday-meal-themed all-ages collection of serious and silly stories by a super squad of hungry and talented cartoonists even includes a new Peanuts strip. Every kid has had to deal with lunchroom politics and the other scenarios outlined here, so this highly relatable collection is a sneaky and painless way to introduce some history and science to accompany the cafeteria hijinks.

Electricomics. Leah Moore. John Reppion. Nicola Scott. Alan Moore. Colleen Doran. Peter Hogan. Garth Ennis et al. Free. 
This experimental webcomic platform launched with unquestionably first-rate content. Editor-overseer Leah Moore contributed terrific tales in collaboration with partner Reppion and comics veterans Hogan, Ennis and Doran, along with her inestimable paterfamilias, whose Big Nemo with Doran is not only a great demo for the platform, but also a tour de force of art and story — and one of 2015’s very best comics.

The Fall of the House Of West. Paul Pope. JT Petty. David Rubín. First Second. 160 pages. $9.99. The second sequel spun off from Pope’s Battling Boy (soon to be a major motion picture) world is even better than the first. West is a great protagonist as she fights crafty and cunning monsters and tries to avenge her mother’s death. Pope and Petty’s story is smart and surprising, and Rubin is a terrific artist, so as great as this chapter is, the next one can’t come soon enough for me.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Frank Miller. Brian Azzarello. Klaus Janson. Brad Anderson. DC Comics. 32 pages. 8 issues. $5.99 each
The sequel that almost no one asked for — nor expected — is actually pretty damned good. The first part was groundbreaking and redefined the Batman mythos. The second was far less beloved. But Miller, here abetted by Azzarello and Kubert with incumbent inker Janson, exceeds admittedly low expectations and weaves an interesting tale featuring the breakout star of the original series and a new Robin. Wonder Woman, Superman and their offspring also appear, as well as Milleresque versions of other members of the DC pantheon, and the result is entertaining and surprisingly worthwhile.