Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, August 24, 2012

Week ending August 24, 2012

Hamilton, Laurell K. (author) & Jess Ruffner-Booth (adaptation) & Ron Lim (illus.). Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse Ultimate Collection. Marvel. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780785156529. pap. $34.99. F/HORROR
Adapted into graphic novel format from the best-selling Laurel K. Hamilton books of the same name, this series closely follows the plot and style of its source material. Set in modern-day St. Louis, the story centers on Anita Blake, who inhabits a bizarre world of supernatural crime that has integrated its way into normal society. As a court-appointed Executioner and freelance Animator of the dead, she is portrayed very much like a female Sam Spade, navigating among the police, courts, and the seedy underbelly of the supernatural world. Writer Ruffner-Booth and artist Lim interpret the plot with a predominance of thought captions, which allows for a faithful adaptation. In this installment (based on the second novel in the original series), a multimillionaire approaches Anita with an unorthodox request, a renegade Voodoo priestess runs afoul of the law, and a serial murderer of the undead variety plagues the suburbs, with the hint of a connection among the three.
The combination of Ruffner-Booth’s adaptation, Lim’s artwork, and Hamilton’s original story creates an entertaining, gritty detective story for the age of Twilight and True Blood.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

Kane, Shaky (text & illus.). Shaky Kane’s Monster Truck TP. Image Comics. 2012. 108p. ISBN 9781607064701. pap. $14.99. F/FANTASY/HORROR
Here, readers are taken on a psychedelic trip through American pop culture. Brit Michael Coulthard, under the pen name Shaky Kane (illustrator of The Bulletproof Coffin), writes and illustrates the travels of a monster truck that encounters zombies, dolls, pyromaniac clowns, and more fantastic creatures. Giant eyeballs that look like they’re straight off an album cover by avant-garde band The Residents haunt the pages. The driver says, “Bizarre scenes unfold. Beyond the windshield.” Frankenstein’s Monster and Mars Attacks aliens make appearances, while a giant astronaut and a human Empire State Building do battle. Is Monster Truck a dream recounted or a time travel escapade?
With stunning artwork inspired by Jack Kirby, this isn’t your traditional graphic novel filled with superheroes and stylized images. Monster Truck is a strange trip and recommended for folks with a warped sense of humor and love of 1960s nostalgia. Fans of the show Robot Chicken or Frank Miller and Geof Darrow’s Hard Boiled may also enjoy this strange tale.—Amy E. Galante, Bentley Univ. Lib., Waltham, MA

Sipe, Harold & Christoper Sebela (text) & Lee Leslie (illus.). Screamland: Death of the Party. Image Comics. 2012. 162p. ISBN 9781607064343. pap. $16.99. F/HORROR
Sipe, comics newcomer Sebela, and artist Leslie (Rigby the Barbarian) now offer the sequel to 2008’s Screamland (Image Comics) by Sipe and Hector Casanova. In both, the monsters from old horror films were monsters in real life and major celebrities in their time. Digital special effects have ended their success, and they must make money by working more mundane jobs. When one monster is found dead from unknown causes and another is murdered, werewolf Carl and his human friend Travis investigate. The mystery is complex, and the characterization is solid, but the story is disjointed and thin. Leslie’s art is cartoony but not simplistic, and he has an uncanny ability to portray motion. Unfortunately, this is obscured by the book’s dark, muddy coloring.
The nostalgic concept and world-weary characters, as well as the swearing, violence, drug use, and sex, make this a book for adults. Sipe and Sebela show potential, and Leslie’s skill is apparent, so keep an eye on these three. Nevertheless, this current book is not recommended.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN

Van Lente, Fred (text) & Wellinton Alves (illus.). Power Man and Iron Fist: The Comedy of Death. Marvel. 2011. 120p. illus. ISBN 9780785152477. pap. $16.99. F/SUPERHERO
Victor Alvarez, the new Power Man, returns to balance his time between studying theater at college and studying vigilante justice under everyone’s favorite millionaire, playboy and martial-arts master Danny Rand. In this story, they put on their detective hats to exonerate Danny’s former secretary of murder charges. When the woman they are defending appears to be guilty, Danny and Victor must trust each other as never before. Along the way, they encounter familiar faces Luke Cage (the first Power Man) and El Aguila, as well as new villains such as Noir, Pokerface, and a deadly team called the Commedia Dell’Morte. These slightly zany superpowered villains are counterbalanced by the all-too-realistic evil of private prison company Penance Corp. Van Lente (cowriter, The Comic Book History of Comics) avoids references to the Iron Fist’s rich mythology, and some fans may miss them.
Verdict Superhero readers will enjoy this new adventure. The combination of action and detective work (along with Danny’s rich and famous lifestyle) will particularly appeal to

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"