Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, September 7, 2012

Week ending September 7, 2012

Bendis, Brian Michael & others (text) & Mark Bagley & others (illus.). Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man Fallout. Marvel. 2012. c.136p. ISBN 9780785159131. $19.99. F/SUPERHERO
Spider-man is no more. What happens to the world after one of its greatest heroes vanishes? How do those closest to him react? These are just a few of the questions addressed in this moving tribute to Marvel’s greatest hero in the company’s Ultimate line. All the writers (including Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer) and artists (including Eric Nguyen, Sara Pichelli, Gabriel Hardman, Luke Ross, and Mitch Breitweiser) do a decent job of trying to tell two stories: the loss of Spider-man and what is going to happen now post-Ultimatum. The writers struggle with containing all of the story threads, but the art captures the power of the moment across these 130 pages. There isn’t much background given, so those new to the Ultimate lineup will be a little lost.
Verdict This entry does a good job of moving forward with the post-Spider-man plot. Though this narrative shifts focus away from Spider-man to the rest of the Ultimate heroes and villains, the authors effectively show how the world will embrace both the loss of Spider-man and the gain of Spider-man. Recommended for fans of Spider-man, closure, and comics.—Ryan Claringbole, Chesapeake, VA

Campbell, Eddie (text & illus.). The Lovely Horrible Stuff. Top Shelf. 2012. 95p. ISBN 9781603091527. $14.95. MEMOIR
Eddie Campbell became famous for illustrating Jack the Ripper as part of Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel From Hell. Campbell then continued to be famous for producing the Bacchus series and the semiautobiographical ALEC comics, among other well-regarded titles. In his newest volume, Campbell invites us into his world of near constant, panic-induced spendthrift-ery. Yes. This reviewer made up the word spendthrift-ery. But it fits the action and the tone, which bounces from historical exposition to neurotic grousing. There is never enough money, and Campbell is an expert at falling into sticky situations such as investment in his father-in-law’s nasty housing project. Sadly, though, none of this adds up to edge-of-your-seat material. At points, this narrative is overly lyrical and at others too didactic. The art is a collage of digitally altered photographs that are then sketched over with shaky lines for a result that is a little unappealing.
Verdict May be of passing interest to die-hard Campbell fans or as a supplement to a popular economics collection.—John Piche, San Francisco

Huizenga, Kevin (text & illus.). Gloriana. Drawn & Quarterly. 2012. 118p. ISBN 9781770460614. $19.95. F
These four short stories, previously published as minicomics, follow “the adventures of Glenn Ganges,” the chief protagonist of author and illustrator Huizenga’s work (Curses; Or Else; Ganges). Ganges invariably loses himself in thought as he ambles through the ordinary. Seemingly straightforward actions such as putting away groceries, watching a sunset at the library, explaining the science behind harvest moons, and recollecting high school sports offer Ganges an opportunity for cosmic reflection and intricate self-examination. Huizenga’s art is simple yet imaginative and accomplished, combining traditional comic strip styles such as Chic Young’s Blondie with contemporary layouts similar to Chris Ware’s. The book’s design is extraordinary, with a retrocomic feel, innovative panel layouts, and enjoyable extras including supplemental diagrams and full-color cover art from previous publications.
Verdict Huizenga has a reputation for poignancy, and this collection remains true to his voice even if it is quiet at times. While the understated nature of the story lines won’t appeal to every reader, fans of Huizenga and readers who value deliberation over plot will adore this work.—Willow Fitzgibbon, Fayetteville P.L., AR

Powell, Bob & Craig Yoe. Bob Powell’s Terror. Yoe Bks./IDW. (Chilling Archives of Horror Comics, Vol. 2). 2011. 148p. ISBN 9781613770672. $24.99. F/HORROR
The 1950s were the high point of the horror genre in comic books. Series such as “Black Cat” and “Chamber of Chills” provided a showcase for gruesome and macabre stories to titillate readers before the Comics Code Authority forced publishers to tone it down. Powell, who also drew superheroes, romance comics, and some of the original Mars Attacks trading cards, is highlighted in this volume of the “Chilling Archives of Horror Comics.” The art is carefully reproduced from the original magazines, and the introductory materials include Powell’s biography, photos, and correspondence. Powell’s artwork is distinctive to the period, and the writing’s simplicity belies a level of originality. Although the collection is not comprehensive, it does provide an interesting sampling of what comic books used to be and highlights Powell’s contribution to the canon.
Verdict Although these horror comics were considered obscene at the time that they were published, modern readers might find them to be hokey. Recommended for those interested in the history of comics and fans of pulp and cult art.—Pete Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA

Williams, J.H., III (text & illus.) & W. Hayden Blackman (text). Batwoman: Hydrology. Vol. 1. DC. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781401234652. $22.99. F/SUPERHERO
Following her stunning introduction as a solo character in Batwoman: Elegy, the enigmatic Batwoman, aka Gotham socialite Kate Kane, gets her own series and slips into a unique subgenre of Gotham City crime. With the disappearance of several children by a supernatural abductor whom witnesses describe as La Llorna (the Weeping Woman), Batwoman and her alter ego’s love interest, Det. Maggie Sawyer, must delve into Gotham’s occult underbelly in the hope of finding these children alive. However, the things that go bump in the night aren’t the only dangers facing Batwoman. A clandestine government organization has taken an interest in her nocturnal activities, and their intentions are less than noble. Right out of the starting gate, Batwoman faces a maelstrom of hazards and obstacles.
Verdict This volume is art in every possible sense. Williams and Blackman write a perfect story, and Williams as illustrator offers a flowing, nonlinear style that pulls the reader onward as if through a dream—a dream that is sometimes pleasant, sometimes a nightmare, but always vivid.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

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"