LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Graphic Novels from Nicholson, Remender & Co., and Zick | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 10, 2017

Nicholson, Hope. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History. Quirk. May 2017. 240p. index. ISBN 9781594749483. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781594749490. COMICS STUDIES
sisterhood031017The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen has a slick exterior—pretty ladies in primary colors, pop-art paneled, under a clear plastic dustcover. The interior is a visual reward, too—every female character featured gets a few color panels to showcase their style and skill. Formatted as an encyclopedia, this volume is organized by decade, from the 1930s to the 2010s, with an introductory historical summary, about a dozen brief character essays, and a look into one “Icon” for every ten years. Though the compilation is skewed toward comic book heroines, be they superdetectives, virtuous nurses, or babes from space (such as Barbarella and Vampirella), Bedside Press founder Nicholson does her best to highlight a diversity of characters and genres. Casper’s friend Wendy the Good Little Witch, the erotic elf Leetah of Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest, and Kate Beaton’s Saucy Mermaid all get their moment here. The entries are a bit repetitive but show Nicholson’s devotion to research—as she suggests ways to access comics with brief or obscure runs. With all the threads of cultural and artistic trends strewn through each entry, it left this reviewer yearning for a bit more comprehensive sociological scrutiny.
Verdict More encyclopedia than analysis, this is a great place to whet one’s appetite for further exploration rather than a definitive guide.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

Remender, Rick (text) & Jerome Opeña & Matt Hollingsworth (illus.). Seven to Eternity. Vol. 1: The God of Whispers. Image. Feb. 2017. 128p. ISBN 9781534300613. pap. $9.99. Rated: T. FANTASY/ADVENTURE
How far would you go to keep your honor intact? Would you sacrifice your life and of those you love? Zebadiah Osidis, an old Mosk Knight, refuses to kneel before the evil Mud King, the God of Whispers, who has tainted the land of Zhal, giving people their desires and in return trading their freedom for a life of fear. As a result of his denial of the king, Zebadiah has cursed his name and condemned his family to a slow, eventual death. Now his son Adam is tasked with protecting his people. Adam is dying, however, and honor does not hold much comfort for him. In a last-ditch effort to redeem his kingdom and his legacy, he goes to the Mud King. After all, how bad can it be to listen to the ruler’s offer, if it means saving everything he cherishes? Remender (Low; Fear Agent) slams readers into a fantastical, postapocalyptic, Western-style story that takes off running and doesn’t slow down. Artists Opeña (Uncanny X-Force; Fear Agent) and Hollingsworth (Tokyo Ghost; Wytches) add tension and a feeling of despair with their gritty style.
Verdict Fans of Remender’s work will be captivated by this story. Other readers may struggle to keep up with the instant immersion into this world; everyone will take away some enjoyment. Recommended for older teens and adults owing to violence and graphic content.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

Zick, Bruce. The Zone Continuum: Legacy. Dark Horse. Nov. 2016. 128p. ISBN 9781506700762. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781630088132. SF
This volume collects the four single issues of Zick’s (Terminal Point) 1992 cyberpunk series. On the rooftops of New York City, the ancient Dar race fight a war far outside human awareness using a combination of cutting-edge technology and arcane ritual. From his water-tower base, protagonist Talon seeks to thwart Spere and his army of techs from destabilizing Zone 27, which is itself threatened by humans and their global pollution. Talon is a tragic figure, separated from his wife and tortured by his responsibility as a Zone protector and an advocate for humanity despite the problems they present to his existence. Spere has his own moral code that elevates the struggle beyond a simple fight between good and evil. Zick’s frenetic monochromatic art contributes to the noirish feel, which frustratingly ends on an unresolved cliff-hanger.
Verdict Zick revisits his earlier crafted world in 2016 with an all-new story line. Die-hard fans of the series may appreciate this raw, unfinished protowork. However, the convoluted worldbuilding and underdeveloped narratives make this a confusing and unsatisfying selection for most readers.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

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