Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wednesday Bonus! - Comics Roundup

I was on a mini break this past weekend and found myself reading quite a few comics and graphic novels over it. I hadn't planned on reviewing them for the blog but since I read so many, I figured I'd give each of them a short blurb for a mini-Wednesday update! Enjoy!

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Volume One - David Tipton, Simon Fraser, Scott Tipton, Lee Sullivan

November 23, 1963: A day that changed the world forever. 

That day saw the broadcast debut of Doctor Who, which was to become the longest-running science fiction series on television. 

And now, 50 years later, we pay tribute to one of the greatest pop-culture heroes of all time with this special series, which tells an epic adventure featuring all 11 incarnations of the intrepid traveler through time and space known simply as... the Doctor.

As you may or may not know, I'm currently watching all 50 years of Doctor Who in order and documenting it in my Doctor Who blog. As such, I saw Ian, Barbara and the First Doctor on the cover of this book and yanked it in an instant. Volume One was amazing as it covered the first three doctors (aka the doctors I have watched so far). It follows each of them on a typical adventure with some of their most famous companions but each ends with a strange disappearance. I will definitely be on the lookout for Volume Two because this was great!

(Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Volume One comes out June 4 from Diamond Book Distributors)

Capote in Kansas - Andy Parks, Chris Samnee

Murder. Not an intricately plotted "whodunit" or fiery passionate fury. But dirty, sad, disturbing actions from real people. That's what Truman Capote decided to use for In Cold Blood - his bold experiment in the realm of the non-fiction "novel." Following in that legacy is Capote in Kansas, a fictionalized tale of Capote's time in Middle America researching his classic book. Capote's struggles with the town, the betrayal, and his own troubled past make this book a compelling portrait of one of the greatest literary talents of the 20th century.

I had just read In Cold Blood last week so this was right up my alley. I enjoyed the exploration of Capote's effect on the people of Holcomb and Garden City. While it's well researched, there is a bit of fantasy that was either going to elevate or hurt the book. While I was a bit eh on it for awhile, I thought the last five pages or so were lovely. Not a great work of art but definitely worth checking out if you enjoy Capote or In Cold Blood.

(A new edition of Capote in Kansas is out July 24 from Diamond Book Distributors)

Genius - Steven T. Seagle, Teddy Kristiansen

Ted Marx works hard at his career as a quantum physicist. But lately the demands of his job have begun to overwhelm him. Then Ted makes a startling discovery: his wife's father once knew Einstein and claims that Einstein entrusted to him a final, devastating secret—a secret even more profound and shattering than the work that led to the first atom bombs. If Ted can convince his father-in-law to tell him what Einstein had to say, his job will be safe. But does he dare reveal Einstein's most dangerous secret to those who might exploit it? In their comic book Genius, acclaimed duo Teddy H. Kristiansen and Steven T. Seagle have created an exploration of the heights of intellectual and scientific achievement and the depths of human emotion and confusion.

I'm still unsure on Genius. The setup is great and I appreciate the climax but it felt a bit too lackluster for me. The art is very different and lends it a unique quality, playing around with focus and seeming more emotive than a typical graphic novel. I think I would have liked this story more in another medium as it felt rather blah. However, the story in and of itself is quite good. I guess what I'm saying is that I liked the story but it didn't excite me.

(Genius is out July 9 from First Second.)

Strange Attractors - Charles Soule, Dan Duncan

In 1978 Dr. Spencer Brownfield saved New York City from itself, bringing the city back from the verge of collapse and ruin. And for 30 years, his small, minute, and unnoticed adjustments to the city’s systems have, à laThe Butterfly Effect, kept the city afloat. Or so he claims to Heller Wilson, a young graduate student that Dr. Brownfield has chosen as his successor. But are Dr. Brownfield’s claims about "complexity math" and its application to the city’s patterns of life real, or are they the ravings of a man broken by the death of his wife and daughter, desperate to find some kind of control over the world around him? Strange Attractors is about control — what you can control in your life and what you can’t, and how important it is to recognize the difference.

Strange Attractors is a really interesting idea. I enjoyed watching Heller try to figure out what was going on and seeing how his life started to crumble under the strain. If you asked me what happened in the book, though, I don't know if I could tell you. It seems like the author knew exactly what was going on and had trouble explaining it to the reader. I understood the basics, of course, but I couldn't explain it to you other than "well, I guess it's basically the butterfly effect but, like, huge." I never understood what the big evil was other than it was a big evil and I never understood quite what was going on to prevent it. I was riveted either way but I wasn't entirely following along and I think that's a bit of a problem. Interesting idea, though.

Bad Machinery Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit - John Allison

Shauna. Charlotte. Mildred. Three schoolgirl sleuths. Jack. Linton. Sonny. Three schoolboy investigators. Tackleford. One mid-sized city with a history of countless mysteries. Is there enough room at Griswalds Grammar School for two groups of kid detectives? There better be, because once these kids have set their sights on solving a mystery there's nothing that can derail them. Nothing, except maybe gossip, classwork, new football player cards, torment from siblings, or any number of childhood distractions.

My friend Alex has been telling me to read Bad Machinery for at least a year now so I figured I'd give in and I'm so delighted I did! This book is absolutely lovely! Well crafted and genuinely funny, it follows a bunch of middle school kids while they investigate crimes and grow up in a small English town. It was charming, seriously hilarious at parts and all around great. Pick it up!

The Cute Girl Network - MK Reed, Greg Means

Jane's new in town, and the only people she knows are her new roommates and the dudes at the skate shop where she's just been hired. Then Jane wipes out on her skateboard right in front of Jack's food cart, and finds herself agreeing to go on a date with him. Jane's psyched that her love life is taking a turn for the friskier, but then her roommate — and her roommate's friends — find out about Jack. And it turns out that Jack has a spotty romantic history, to put it mildly. Cue the Cute Girl Network — a phone tree information-pooling group of local single women. Poor Jane is about to learn every detail of Jack's past misadventures… whether she wants to or not. Will love prevail?

OK, I kind of loved this but I also had a few issues with it. Jane and Jack are adorable and completely relatable. The dialogue is grounded and sprinkled with wit, including a great bit where Jane's roommates are reading a Twilight-esque novel to each other around the dinner table. The actual Network bugged me a bit because, as I truly believe this could be a real thing (I think there's a website like this?), it made all girls with the exception of Jane and Jack's roommate (and I guess Jane's roommate who I wish we saw more of) seem awfully petty and awful. Not that men were painted in a better light but there was more of a focus on this. I did like Jane going off on a few men about how they treated women skaters though. Overall, I really enjoyed the story, loved Jack and Jane and wish the book was a little bit longer. :)

(The Cute Girl Network is out from First Second on November 21)

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