Cairo Graphic Novel Review

CairoErica Gives This Comic Four Stars

Cairo by G. Willow Wilson
Art: M.K. Perker

I continue to love the magical realist stories told by Wilson, especially in how her characters adapt to the world that doesn’t necessarily behave in the ways they think it should. She uses magical realism as a great tool to show the different qualities and personalities of the various characters and of her setting, Cairo.

Perker’s art is wonderful here. And I really appreciated the black and white art instead of it being colored. I felt that it allowed for more detail to pop in his work. As much as I enjoyed his pencils in Air, I almost like them better here. And I feel having the book in black and white makes me focus more on the characters’ different features than using short-cuts based on coloring like “so-and-so has brown hair.” Which that Perker can make them all look different enough from each other to be distinguishable speaks volumes of him as an illustrator.

Okay, onto Cairo‘s story… On one hand, I love what Wilson says about Cairo and the changing Arab world in the story; but the ending, it kind of kills it for me. Continue reading “Cairo Graphic Novel Review”

The Best and the Worst of 2011 Comic Books

Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to 2011 and ring in 2012. Here’s a look back at the Best and the Worst of 2011* Comic Books.

The Best On-Going Series

Echo #261. Echo by Terry Moore
Average rating: 4.7/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

Moore’s Echo finished with a bang (or did it?) this year. A story of Julie, the unlikely superhero, and stopping the end of the world, Moore’s work is consistently great and on-point. For those scared of the tome that is Strangers in Paradise, check out this much shorter work.
Read my reviews of Echo.
Purchase Echo.

Punisher #52. Punisher by Greg Rucka, Marco Checchetto, Matthew Clark, and Matthew Southworth
Average rating: 4.3/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

I never thought I’d like a Punisher book as much as I love this one from Rucka. Dive into the gritty world of Frank Castle, his mission, and the fall-out of villains, reporters, cops, and victims. With some beautiful art to accompany it.
Read my reviews of Punisher.
Purchase Punisher.

Batwoman #23. Batwoman by J.H. Williams, W. Haden Blackman, and Amy Reeder Hadley
Average rating: 4.3/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

The most anticipated comic (for me) ever. Anyone reading my blog is probably not surprised that I love Batwoman. Kate Kane is probably one of my favorite characters ever, and in combination with Williams’ art, this title has been making me very happy. I only want more.
Read my reviews of Batwoman.
Purchase Batwoman. Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2011 Comic Books”

Air (Vol 4): A History of the Future Graphic Novel Review

Air: A History of the Future Vol 4Erica gives this comic five stars

Air (Vol 4): A History of the Future by G. Willow Wilson
Art: M.K. Perker

I really enjoyed this volume. I think it brought the story right back to where it needed to go. Yes, Blythe getting her wings (her official hyperprax pilot’s license) was the next logic step in her story. It also provided some grounding, which I think the last volume lacked.

The stability of this story rang through extremely well in those first few pages. Just that fact that Blythe woke up next to Zayn without needing to search the universe for him provided a large helping hand to keeping this narrative very tight. I could not put Air Vol 4 down once I began to read it.

I love that Blythe takes Mrs. B and Fletcher with her on her adventures, and I felt that her meeting with Quetzalcoatl was really well done in that Blythe recognizes him fully as her crutch.

I thought it was a great tie-in that they go to Russia and meet up with their ballerina friend Valentin. And that they get to make a joke about him always being in his ballerina tights. A lost luggage storehouse does make a great vault for treasures. I can’t wait to find out how Jules Verne was able to write a novel all about Blythe’s life.

Renee becomes a lot more intriguing as a character in this story. Continue reading “Air (Vol 4): A History of the Future Graphic Novel Review”

Top 5 Miniseries in 2010

One thing I really appreciate about a miniseries is that there’s going to be a short, self-contained story to tell. The big two companies (Marvel and DC) also tend to take some chances in giving backgrounds to lesser known characters or spotlighting up-and-coming artists and writers in miniseries. All of these miniseries I read as single issues, not collected. Sadly, my favorite miniseries on this list was not intended to be a mini, but an on-going, before it was cut off at the knees.

Without further ado: My Top 5 Miniseries in 2010.

Gorilla-Man #15. Gorilla-Man by Jeff Parker and Giancarlo Caracuzzo

Parker certainly excels in writing Ken. It’s clear, he’s having a lot of fun. I love how we’re pulled in with an action story and how that story ties into a deeper one about Ken’s origins. Especially who Ken was before he became the Gorilla-Man. We know he was a mercenary of some-sort, looking for immortality, but we don’t know a lot more about him otherwise.

The battle with Borgia Omega and his henchmen of art was fun. And that’s what I was expecting when I bought this comic. I love the steampunk sensibilities of how Caracuzzo depicts Borgia Omega. And finding hidden treasures and heads inside sculptures and behind paintings is perfect, classic Agents of Atlas. I also loved Ken recruiting some of Borgia Omega’s henchwomen, and Jimmy lecturing Ken on how they don’t need more people on the payroll.

I love little Ken the orphan, and how yes, in the 1930s, rich people could basically buy children as J. Avery Wolward does with Ken. Everything about Parker’s presentation of Wolward says that he’s a collector. A collector whether it’s a collector of orphans to mold to his ideals or whatever else he’s going to send Ken after.

The little bit of humor with Bob’s holo-projector wristwatch works well to keep it light. As does Ken’s brief knife fight with Ji Banda, who never learned the secret password to prove Ken’s on his side.

I’m really looking forward to finding out the connection between Wolward and Mustafa Kazun and their snake-headed canes. Because you know, snake-headed canes are a short-cut for evil.

Read my review for the entire miniseries and buy Gorilla Man.

Girl Comics #14. Girl Comics by Abby Denson, Adriana Melo, Agnes Garbowska, Amanda Conner, Ann Nocenti, Carla Speed McNeil, Christine Boylan, Colleen Coover, Colleen Doran, Cynthia Martin, Devin Grayson, Emma Rios, Emma Vieceli, Faith Erin Hicks, G. Willow Wilson, Jill Thompson, Jo Chen, June Brigman, Kathryn Immonen, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Laura Martin, Lea Hernandez, Louise Simonson, Lucy Knisley, Mariah Benes, Marjorie Liu, Ming Doyle, Molly Crabapple, Nikki Cook, Ramona Fradon, Robin Furth, Sana Takeda, Sara Pichelli, Sho Murase, Stephanie Buscema, Stephanie Hans, Trina Robbins, and Valerie D’Orazio

#1: I really loved this comic. I loved being the audience. I loved that it showcased women writers, artists, and editors. Yes, not every story knocked me out of the park with awesome. A few did though. I appreciate the spirit and the ability to discover writers and artists I might not have otherwise read stories by.

#2: I love the concept of this series. I love this as an anthology of women authors and artists. I love the spirit, even if not every story rocks my world. Say what you will, but it matters that Marvel Comics took the time to do this.

#3: I think I’m rather sad that this series is ending, and it’s taken me longer than normal to put together my review, post-reading it. I hope Marvel continues to make an effort in hiring talented women to write, draw, color, ink, letter, edit, etc. their comic books. I would hate to see this “marketing stunt” turn just into that.

Read all my reviews for this miniseries and buy Girl Comics.

Chip #13. Chip by Richard Moore

After reading Moore’s Boneyard, I really wanted more of his wacky horror-humor mix. Even though he writes about vampires, ghosts, gargoyles, etc., they’re never scary. And that’s the basis of Chip. Chip’s a 4 1/2 inch gargoyle who isn’t scary. But he really wants to be. He lives on a farm in upstate New York where chipped gargoyles are put out to pasture. But Chip’s not chipped, he’s just not scary.

His best friend Ash is a pixie, and there’s a cat Burble, who’s in love with him and always rubs against Chip. Interestingly enough, Burble cannot speak and is just a cat.

After all the other chipped gargoyles make fun of him and give him a demonstration of their scaring power, Chip sulks away. He finds Ash and starts hatching a plan to learn how to be scary. Chip decides they must go to the haunted farmhouse to find ghosts, which can then teach him.

Of course, Chip himself is scared of everything in the house and the wild. This book is really cute and well worth the read.

Read my entire review for this miniseries and buy Chip. (OMG, there was a second miniseries. I must buy it.)

Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Black Cat #12. Spider-Man: Black Cat by Jen Van Meter, Javier Pulido, and Javier Rodriguez

I love that this is a comic book about a woman’s job. Sure Felicia has friends and some co-workers, but this is all about her. I treasure that in a comic book about a female character.

The thief tone of this book felt perfect. Pulido did a wonderful job with the art and making it a great read. It adds to the fun. I do think fun best describes the comics I’ve read by Van Meter. They’re delightful and fun, and I’m so glad she’s getting writing gigs with one of the big two. She’s definitely very talented.

I love that Felicia the thief goes after what she wants no matter what. That she’s worried more about her reputation than her safety. That she could dress up in her Black Cat costume and steal the Faberge egg, but instead, she steals it in daylight. She steals it while in her civis and talking on her cell phone.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of this comic.

Read my review of the entire miniseries and buy Spider-Man: Black Cat.

S.W.O.R.D. #51. S.W.O.R.D. by Kieron Gillen, Steven Sanders, and Mike Del Mundo

I’ve had my ups-and-downs with Joss Whedon over the years, but if there’s one thing he can do, it’s create an interesting character. Agent Brand’s a good one. I’m so happy she gets her own comic because really out of all the Marvel comics, there needs to be a human (or half-human in Brand’s case) in space story. Plus, I’ve really enjoy Gillen’s creator-own comics.

The bits that play with gender roles in the Beast-Brand relationship work really well. Gillen doesn’t forget that Beast’s a scientist or that Brand does have a soft spot for Beast. He’s just her blueberry muffin. Adorable. But in all seriousness, it does take a special kind of mind to be able to work day-in and day-out with your significant other, especially when you’re in life-threatening peril.

I like Brand’s background being explored not just in dialog with Beast, but actually having her half-brother show up. There’s more of that showing, not telling.

This comic’s really great. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to pick up something new and awesome.

Read my entire review for this too short-lived series miniseries and buy X-Men: S.W.O.R.D..

Top 5 Graphic Novels in 2010

I know, my blog’s been getting neglected as of late. Blame it on GeekGirlCon, or more importantly, donate to help us raise funds in order to secure our venue. We’re 50% of the way there.

Anyway, in the next couple of days, I’m going to be doing some best of 2010 posts. I should start with the big disclaimer that these are comics I reviewed in 2010. They may have been published earlier than 2010, but I published my review of them in 2010.

To start off: Top 5 Graphic Novels in 2010

Air Vol 15. Air: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker

Air came highly recommended from several friends, and it held true to its hype. On the back cover, there’s a quote by comic author Jason Aaron saying Air is a “post-9/11 fairy tale, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, part Lost.” Which I think is the best summation of the adventures of Blythe, the somewhat odd flight attendant with a panic attack-inducing fear of heights. Apparently, the Clearfleet employment recruiter gave her a good talk.

Blythe meets a strange man calling himself Javad/Niko/Manuel, and in the post-9/11 atmosphere, she assumes he’s a terrorist. In fact, when she stalls Javad, her friend and fellow attendant Fletcher even questions her ethnic profiling.

Read my entire review and buy Air: Letters from Lost Countries by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker

Madame Xanadu Vol 1 Disenchanted4. Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley

Madame Xanadu is just an awesome tale that spans centuries. Thanks to the staff at Dreamstrands Comics for recommending the series to me. You were right; I did love it.

Madame Xanadu starts off as the young Nimue Inwudu in the world of Camelot. She is the sister of Morgana le Fey and Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake, and they are descendants of the elder folk, each on having magical powers. Nimue is particularly connected to the earth. She’s able to foresee the future by using nature.

Nimue is also the lover of Merlin.

Read my entire review and buy Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley.

Atomic Robo Vol 13. Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener

Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne is perhaps one of the most brilliant comics I’ve read in a while. Love it little pieces: the humor, the mixing of genres, Robo’s solution to everything being blowing it up. It just works so well.

I love the care and detail put into designing Atomic Robo. He doesn’t look like other robots. I don’t think Cybermen, Data, or Cylons. I think Atomic Robo, the wacky fighting scientist who’s pretty indestructible.

This story is smart in how it frames Robo’s first battle against Dr. Helsingard and how he becomes Robo’s nemesis. Actually, I like that it was by accident. I like Helsingard being the obsessive one and swearing revenge on Robo, but Robo not really caring. He’s almost taking down Helsingard’s evil plans by accident.

Read my entire review and buy Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood2. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is very engaging. I sat down and read the memoir in a couple of days; I couldn’t put it down. Satrapi’s story isn’t just that of a young girl growing up in Iran, but also a historical viewpoint on the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Satrapi’s art fits perfectly with the story. It reflects the youth in the story, and the stark black inking works well with the dourness of Marji and her family’s story. But at times, Satrapi’s illustrations are masterful with showing the warmth and love that Majri and her family have for one another.

Read my entire review and buy Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi.

Batwoman: Elegy1. Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Batwoman: Elegy is by far my favorite book of 2010, and one of my all-time favorite origin stories about a superhero. I love comic books, but face it, most of the time, they’re written for men. Batwoman is the book that I feel I’ve been waiting forever for. Like Batman, Kate Kane (Batwoman) is a socialite from Gotham City. But unlike Batman, she’s a bit of rebel with a rockabilly sense of style and a military background. Both of her parents were in the service, and she follows their lead. However, she is discharged from service under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and her sense of justice and service leads her to become Batwoman.

Elegy follows the story of Batwoman meeting her first villain Alice. Alice is a sharp contrast to Kate with her blonde curls, white outfits, and Lewis Carroll dialog. And since Alice and her crew are determined to sacrifice Kate to their otherworldly gods, Kate has no choice but to confront her. Rucka, a fabulous crime and mystery author, writes a tale of intrigue here, including a big secret about Alice herself.

The art by J.H. Williams III is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a comic book. It enhances the story in every way possible from giving hints to the mystery to switching styles when we see Kate in and out of her Batwoman costumes. Lush and gorgeous.

This is the perfect story for the reader interested in comic books/graphic novels, but doesn’t know where to jump in as Batwoman: Elegy is a self-contained tale. I’d also recommend it for fans of art, crime and mystery stories, military family tales, LGBT narratives, superheroes, and anyone who wants to challenge my assertion that Batwoman makes a better Batman than Bruce Wayne.

Read the original review on Ink-Stained Amazon and buy Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III.