Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee

A pretty short graphic novel I bought for school and  took the opportunity to take home and read while we’re closed. I love Meg Cabot’s writing so def had high hopes for this. Indeed, it was funny and fast. Reminded me a bit of Squirrel Girl. In fact, I would like Black Canary to meet up with Squirrel Girl, but alas DC vs. Marvel. No way are they meeting up in Gotham City.  This is definitely an origin story as teenage Dinah Lance is just discovering what her power is (and trying to keep it a secret and then discovering her own backstory secret.)  Looking forward to more of these because it would be satisfying to read a bunch together.

Terra Tempo: The Four Corners of Time by David Shapiro, Christopher Herndon

This is #2 in the Terra Tempo series, but it was fine that I hadn’t read #1 as they kindly filled me in on everything in a brief intro. This was an enjoyable graphic novel filled with adventure and so much interesting geology and natural history that it almost seemed like a Science Comics at times. At times some of the plot was a little confusing, including how and why a giant bird sometimes saves them, but overall I thought this was good time travel for kids.

A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay, Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Todd Mitchell, Alisa Kwitney, & Bill Willingham

angels(Reading Challenge: Great Graphic Novels)

Phew! That was a lot of contributors’ names to type out in the title field. But, they all deserve to be there because this is a story with different parts of it told and illustrated by different people.  A really neat frame story is set up to allow the different stories to be told. In a wood outside of regular civilization is where the faerie folk live. When one of them sees an angel fall from the sky they gather around and can’t decide whether or not to kill him. They decide to have a tribunal and each will tell a story to convince the “judge” that angels are essentially bad or essentially good. The judge is an innocent faun, who is the possession of a nasty hag. The frame story is illustrated in black and white with very angular lines.  Each story then told is by a different author with a different style-in both story and illustration.

The first story is by Louise Haws and called “Original Sin.” The illustration of this story was my favorite. Very beautiful, soft, romantic. Reminded me of painters such as Reubens and Botticelli.  It is the story of Adam & Eve and the angel who feeds them from the Tree of Knowledge, thus setting them into the world and apart from the animals. I thought this was a really beautiful telling of this story, and I especially liked when the Angel reveals to Eve who some of her daughters will be-such as Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth.

The next story is called “The Story Within the Story Within” by Bill Willingham. I didn’t care for this one as much in terms of illustration style. The setting is a bar for angels where a man sits down with a female angel who is drowning her sorrows and then she tells him her sad story, which is about another angel who is an old friend of hers, but whom she has been sent to kill.  The most interesting part of this story was reading about the target, a lovable f&*( up of an angel.  He keeps getting assigned to different departments but is never very good at them, until he finds he excels in the Cancer department as an angel of death.  I’ve always liked stories imagining that sort of thing (heaven as a workplace), so I did like that part.

The next story told is “Chaya Suvah and the Angel of Death.”  Darker pictures with striking dark lines immediately set the tone of this tale, set in a village in Russia. Chaya Suvah is an old woman who never leaves her house. She once made a deal with the angel of death that he could not take her unless she agreed to it–and she just won’t agree. This story has story has some witch-hunty elements, ancient Jewish tale elements, and also cycle of birth and death.

“The Guardian” comes next and I really liked the watercolor illustrations.  A clumsy young woman attracts the attention of a kindly angel who starts to be by her side constantly to prevent her from falling, tripping, dropping things.  As a maidservant these things make her the brunt of unkind words.  Soon the angel falls in love with her and takes human form so that they can enjoy their love together.  But such form is too difficult for an angel and she makes him leave her.  But, as a guardian angel he is never really far from her.  This was a lovely story start to finish!

The final tale is the story of how the angels fought in heaven and fell to hell and earth.  Those that did not fall all the way to hell are the ones who turned into the faerie folk.

And that brings and end to the storytelling and now the tribunal is over and the boy must decide the angel’s fate! Have angels been proven to be essentially good, or essentially bad troublemakers?

I overall really liked this. It was a very quick read and I was impressed at how successfully these different stories worked together. Because of the framework it made sense to have the stories have different styles both of writing and pictures.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

(Reading Challenge: Great Graphic Novels)

spidermanIf you follow this blog you know that I enjoy reading comics and graphic novels, but not in finding them. Therefore, I usually just read whatever comes out on the Great Graphic Novels list or that I read about (I bought Sailor Twain for Paul for Christmas and cannot wait to read it).  So, reading the comics for the reading challenge is a delight.  But all that it to begin this review by saying-wait, what? is this a new Spiderman series? What happened to Peter Parker??? Did everyone know about this? Why are some Ultimate Comics Spidermans with an earlier publication date listed in the library catalog and Goodreads? I’m a bit confused, but confident that I read the correct book. And I can happily just jump in and enjoy the story as is.

So basically a teenage boy, Miles, gets bitten by a spider that his uncle brought home (accidentally) from some secret excursion to a top secret lab (where the Green Goblin works??) and discovers that he has some powers. Miles’ friend (a charming side character!) is delighted and wants Miles to be a superhero. Miles, on the other hand, wants to keep it a secret.  Mutants are not respected in the city and he is afraid he’ll be militarily detained.  Doing well in the charter boarding school (!) he is lucky enough to get into is really important to his parents, and to Miles, too. He can’t hide his powers for long though and quickly comes to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attention.  This first volume definitely peaked my interest and I’d like to read more about Miles as he deals with his powers.

There’s a good sense of humor in this, especially in the running joke that everyone who sees Miles in a Spiderman costume remarks “that is in terrible taste.”

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci

I made the mistake of bringing this to read at the airport while I waited for my flight from Newark to Washington, D.C. Mistake because it is a short graphic novel and can be read in twenty minutes and my plane was delayed SEVEN HOURS. And then I was stuck with plainjane.jpgonly one other book, which it turned out I didn’t like. Fortunately, the twenty minutes I spent reading this were very happy indeed. I really enjoyed the illustration style, not to mention the story–somewhat outcast girl who’s been traumatized by a terrorist bombing bands up with other girls named Jane at her new suburban school. The Janes being doing random community art projects/statements around their town in the dead of night. Instead of the community appreciating the whimsy and beauty, town officials freak out and cry “vandalism!” and take stringent measures to stop the art from happening. I think, hope, that this is the first in a series, which is great, because I can’t wait to read more about the Janes and all that they do. By the way, this is a great graphic novel for people who don’t like graphic novels. I can’t see anyone not enjoying this!

The Long Way Home, Pt. 4 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) by Joss Whedon

I eagerly, eagerly awaited this next installment of Joss’s “season 8” of Buffy. As I’ve said for Pt. 3, my main complaint is that I read it in about 5 minutes and now I have to wait until August to read the next installment. I feel like it will take an entire year to read what would be one or two episodes on tv.

That said, the action picked right up and continued right through to the next cliff-hanger. Still too much Dawn for me (in that she exists, and I don’t care that she is a giant), and overall it was a little hard to follow some things. Mostly because of the time between issues, but also because of references to things long ago on the tv show. Skinless Andrew is a pretty awesome enemy, if disgusting to look at, I just wish Amy wasn’t his ally. I continue to like Xander in his new role and the tight bond between Buffy and Willow. One quibble–apparently Willow is getting lobotomized and having her eyeball sliced, yet when Buffy rescues her there is no blood and her body is intact. What gives??? In this arc Buffy’s enemy is the military (utilizing Amy and Andrew), which I find delightfully believable. The letters at the end leave us with the news that the next issue will have Faith in it-good thing or bad thing? I can’t quite decide.

The Long Way Home, Pt. 3 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) by Joss Whedon, etc.

This series of comics just started coming out and takes place after Buffy the show ended. So Sunnydale has been destroyed and then what? I read parts I and II a couple weeks ago and just picked up III today. It’s immensely satisfying to basically have the show continuing-written by Joss so it’s ok in this Buffy fan’s book. However, because they are serialized comics you can read each installment in 5 to 10 minutes and are left with a cliffhanger. Argh! So this one continued along–you definitely need to read in order and let’s hope they publish a paperback bound of all the issues so you can just read it as one big graphic novel-with Willow coming in to battle Amy. Alas, she gets captured by whoever has hired Amy. And who is that? Well the final page is a revolting skinless creature bent on getting Willow. I’m thinking it’s whats-his-name. Jonathan. I guess I’ll find out in a month! As far as the other Buffy characters go, I really like how Xander is portrayed. Matured, one eyed, but still funny and smart-assy. He really does seem as I would imagine him to be one year after the Sunnydale destruction. Dawn on the other hand? Well, I still wish she hadn’t survived. Another pleasant visitor from Sunnydale’s past would be Ethan Raynes! He pops up in a brief appearance in Buffy’s dreamworld. Dreamworlds and magical fighting action sequences are a bit difficult for me to follow in the comic format-it’s not always clear what’s going on-, but all in all I highly recommend these.