Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, August 17, 2012

Week ending August 17, 2012

Dickens, Charles & Loïc Dauvillier & others (adaptation). Oliver Twist. Papercutz. (Classics Illustrated Deluxe, #8). 2012. ISBN 9781597073080. $24.99. F/CLASSIC
This latest adaptation of Oliver Twist by two established French comic creators is a compilation edition of five previously published graphic novels that chronicles the orphan boy’s trials through the streets of London and his eventual discovery of his parentage. Dauvillier’s text choices are easy to read and flow well, and while the adaptors retained Dickens’s original chapter summaries for the table of contents, the back matter, unfortunately, offers only a single-page biography and short time line of Dickens’s life. Compared with other graphic novel adaptations, this version is more fully developed; it provides readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the story a clearer integration of the many narrative threads. Oliver Deloye’s illustrations are done in an exaggerated, caricature style and are an interesting juxtaposition with the serious plot and realism from the original serialized novel.
While there is some violence, such as Nancy’s murder at Bill Sykes’s hands, teenage readers and up wanting a Twist adaptation would find this edition an involving read that doesn’t oversimplify the plot and retains some of Dickens’s passion for the plight of the poor.—Joanna Schmidt, Forth Worth, TX

Marraffino, Frank (text) & Fernando Blanco (illus.). Marvel Zombies Supreme. Marvel. 2012. 120p. ed. by Axel Alonso. ISBN 9780785151685. pap. $16.99. F/HORROR
A new story in the “Marvel Zombies” series written by Marraffino (Haunted Tank) and illustrated by Blanco (Thunderbolts), Supreme follows a military squad sent to explore a quarantined research facility. Among your usual brand of undead, they find zombified clones of Squadron Supreme, who have run out of food and are attempting to leave the facility. The plot is pretty shallow compared with other parts of the series and doesn’t leave much on which readers can chew. A last-minute, out-of-nowhere romantic subplot falls flat, coming off as confusing and unnecessary. A thin plot could be forgiven if the dialog were at least clever, but the jokes are pretty cringe-worthy. Even readers who love puns will wince. The most redeeming aspect of this story is the gore and artwork. The full-page illustrations and cover artwork are nicely done.
This title is only recommended for readers who can’t get enough of zombies and will forgive the comic its weaknesses just to get their fix of rotting flesh and blood-soaked illustrations.—Rachel Hoover, Thomas Ford Memorial Lib., Western Springs, IL

Shooter, Jim (text) & Eduardo Francisco & James Harren (illus.). Turok: Son of Stone; Aztlán. Dark Horse. 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781595826909. pap. $15.99. F/FANTASY
Think a buff Stone Age Native American hero who meets dinosaurs, a man from the distant future with a big lightning-throwing gun, a blonde Norwegian Valley Girl, and hostile pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican tribes everywhere! And everyone is ramped up on revenge. Now, that’s a rockin’ good time! Shooter, onetime editor in chief at Marvel Comics and a veteran comics writer, serves up a grand fantasy story, excitingly illustrated by accomplished Brazilian artist and author Francisco. The pacing is skillful, and the color choices are intelligent.
An entertaining, rollicking read for all ages with some bonus eye-popping battle paintings of Turok in action; a classic comic book in every way.—Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ

Struble, S. Steven (text) & Sina Grace (illus.). The Li’l Depressed Boy. Vol. 2: Moving Right Along. Image Comics. 2012. 110p. ISBN 9781607064640. pap. $12.99. F/WEB COMIC
Li’l Depressed Boy (LDB) is a bit lost. Having discovered his girlfriend, Jazz, was never really more than a friend who had another guy all the time, he is drifting, wallowing in gaming, TV, and graphic novels. Fortunately, he does have another friend—Drew Blood—who saves the day with a road trip to see indie band Andrew Jackson Jihad. Unfortunately, the road trip seems as doomed as the rest of LDB’s life. Grace’s artwork is cast in a pumpkin and cement wash, and Struble’s story contains current music references and allusions to John Hughes movies. This creates a fresh return to the Eighties outcast hero. Fine scratchy lines establish landscape and character; the deliberate exception is the ragdoll LDB himself, but his actions and body posture are eloquent, and the absence of specifics helps us read ourselves into his experience.
This is a story about a kind of postmodern Charlie Brown who speaks to the hopeless loser in us all but maintains our faith that one day things will work out. The low-key humor has teen and adult appeal in the second print installment of this cult webcomic.—Julia Cox, Penticton P.L., BC

Taylor-Taylor, Courtney (text) & Jim Rugg (illus.). One Model Nation. Titan. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9780857687265. $24.95. F
Set in 1977 Germany, this title is the story of a band whose music has become associated with dangerous riots and eventually connected to the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Though One Model Nation was originally published a few years ago, this new version includes not only supplemental material but also online content, such as a corresponding music album, website, and video extras. In his graphic novel debut, Taylor-Taylor—lead singer and songwriter for the Portland, OR, band the Dandy Warhols—creates a fictitious band with the assistance of historian Donovan Leitch. The remarkable accompanying album embodies the music of the characters and adds to the reader’s experience. Known from his works Afrodisiac, PLAIN Janes, and The Guild, Rugg offers illustrations with a distinct texture and point of view, while Jon Fell’s coloring creates a muted tone that accentuates the tumultuous situation with the government.
Taylor-Taylor’s perspective as a band insider contributes a layer of realism to the characters. Readers from teens through adults interested in music or band culture would find this an arresting read. Additionally, those who enjoy politics or history, especially of the 1970s, will appreciate how the band is interwoven into historical events.—Joanna Schmidt, Fort Worth, TX

Zubkavich, Jim (text) & Edwin Huang & Misty Coats (illus.). Skull Kickers: Five Funerals and a Bucket of Blood. Image Comics. 2011. 144p. ISBN 9781607064428. pap. $16.99. F/FANTASY
Zubkavich begins with his series’ mercenary duo on their way to Urbia to receive accolades for their victory over the giant zombie demon critter in the first volume (Skullkickers: 1,000 Opas and a Dead Body). Our nameless heroes, a hulking man and his dwarf partner, head for a dinner party to celebrate their arrival. The mysterious elven assassin, Kusia, and her faery accomplices from the earlier volume have other plans for the party, though, and it ends in bloody chaos with our heroes being blamed. Mayhem, monsters, and many more splashes of blood build as Kusia tries to implement her nefarious Maple Delight Marsh Plan. Meanwhile, our heroes must evade guards, mobs, and the local thieves guild. The funerals of the subtitle refer to those for a fallen squirrel and a horned ape.
Huang and Coats’s bright artwork is the perfect accompaniment to the offbeat story, with the whole thing raising silliness to new levels. This romp is the perfect anecdote to fantasy comics that take themselves too seriously.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"


  1. Tom Mukite says:

    I love the lil depressed boy series one thing though it started as a webcomic but only the material in the first two volumes (0 and 1) are from the web originally not volume 2. Anyone looking for something similar to Scott Pilgrim would like it as well.