Zombie Alligators, Space Operas, and Shadowmen Lurk in These Graphic Novels

Continuing on with my back log of graphic novel reviews we find ourselves checking out a couple books that haven’t come out yet, some that have, and one that’s a reproduction of a young adult graphic novel released a good twenty years ago. There’s some really great ones in here and a few that I just didn’t get into.

But as I always say, if a book gets below a two star rating it’s usually just as much of a problem with the reader as it is the book.

If I don’t like something that’s not reason you won’t and no reason you shouldn’t look into it!

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Wonton Soup

2210700Author: James Stokoe
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Space Opera

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

I couldn’t get through this one. I’m quite certain it’s a fine story but the artwork didn’t engage me at all. Raw and unpolished, it was a bit of turn off. I’m no art enthusiast by any means but I really need to get into if I’m going to be reading a good 300 pages worth.

I was disappointed, too, because the premise seems like a lot of fun and I actually did enjoy the fifty or so pages I managed to get through before deciding I just wasn’t into it. It’s a space opera centered around basically space truckers. The added foodie bit thrown in there was a little weird, yeah, but who cares? I grew up watching anime so the story itself actually was really interesting. I’d love to see it colorized like the cover and on even on screen. Then I could probably enjoy it.

As it is, though, it just wasn’t my thing. Unlike some other books I didn’t like, though, I recommend you check this one out. See if you like the artwork. Because if you do I think you’ll probably enjoy this one. Especially if you’re a Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, or Space Dandy fan.

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The Wrenchies

20575438Author: Farel Dalrymple
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: First Second
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalypse

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

This is another book that almost lost me due to the art style. I’m not a fan of more grotesque styles and this one really toed the line on what I like but it was consistent enough that it grew on me.  You can get more of a look at it here if you want.

Set in a world parallel to our own or a the very least accessible to ours, the Wrenchies follows a group of children in a nightmare-ish, post-apocalyptic world where growing up is the worst thing anyone can do. The Shadowmen have a knack for turning those who get older and so only the youngest have a fighting chance. The Wrenchies are a ragtag crew doing their best to survive and fight back.

Enter Hollis, the real reason I decided to read on. This unfortunate and terribly nerdy kid who runs around in a “Super Hollis” outfit pretty much 24/7 leaves our world for this terrible future and joins up with the Wrenchies where he finally feels like he fits in. But things don’t exactly stay all happy and fuzzy for long. Because this is a dangerous world – a dangerous world that needs to end. Time travel, magic, technology, and more mix to bring the story to a relatively satisfying conclusion. Plus the characters are really interesting and well developed to that helps a lot, too.

At 300+ pages it’s a bit long and it was a bit tedious with the art style as unappealing as it is. Well, unappealing to me. But it’s more than worth a read.

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City of Dark, City of Light

9780545542562_p0_v1_s260x420Author: Avi
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: GRAPHIX (Scholastic)
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

A fascinating read from the mind of ubiquitous children’s author Avi, City of Light, City of Dark is a great graphic novel for kids. Granted, the narrative leaves a lot to be desired. There are number of plot holes that aren’t explained that probably should have been and if Avi had been working with his usual medium he probably could have. Instead, the graphic novel format seems to have robbed him of a bit of his storytelling ability.

In the book, Manhattan is controlled by a series of magical beings called Kurbz who power the city. Each year the Kurbz hide a token in the city and it’s up to a designated seeker to find it. If it’s not recovered, the Kurbz return to the city and take over once again, the power goes out, people freeze, and the world goes dark. In true youth writing fashion saving the day falls to a couple kids who have to navigate this urban fantasy to keep the city from falling apart. Along they way they have to foil the power hungry ideations of the treacherous Underton and keep the darkness from taking over the world.

I think my biggest issue with this book was that it really ought to have been a written novel and not a graphic novel. There are a number of very long written sections and I think having the whole thing written out would have helped with a lot of the plot wholes. I guess twenty years ago, though, the gimmick of a graphic novel by Avi was probably worth it.

I will say, though, that the illustrations were pretty great. I enjoyed them and I think Brian Floca did a good job with the whole book. If you see this in a library, grab it. Read it. You won’t regret it. Just don’t expect too much from it. Also, don’t worry if the cover is different. As I said, this book is twenty years old and only recently saw a reprint.

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The Other Dead

18853444Author: Joshua Ortega, Digger T. Mesch
Illustrator: Qing Ping Mui
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Horror, Zombies

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads | Amazon

There are few comics out there as random as this one. I mean, how many other comics feature skin heads, zombie animals, and President Obama? Yeah. Exactly. It’s ridiculous. Set in Louisiana post-Katrina, former vice president Cheney gets killed by a buck he had supposedly shot the same day that a group of skinheads looking to make it big decide to hold some kind of voodoo ritual by massacring a local man’s ducks. It seems like they screw up, though, and big time. Because the animals all start coming back to life – starting with the damn ducks they slaughtered. All of a sudden undead animals are attacking people all over the place and shit gets crazy.

The skinhead gang leader and his friends rescue his younger bother and later the President and some of his people before looking for a place to hide. It’s so stupid that it’s honestly kind of a fun read. Obama shoots a shot gun, hillbillies make peace with their racism, and it’s generally a good read if stupid.

My ARC didn’t have the ending to the story and, honestly, I have little desire to track it down to see how it ends. So while it was fun it wasn’t really that great. Maybe if I liked the art style – which was a sort of more realistic sort of artwork – I’d be more inclined to look up a final version. Still, it’s ridiculous enough to be worth a read if you’re looking for something new in the zombie genre.

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As always, let us know what you think in the comments!

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