Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, October 19, 2012

Week ending October 19, 2012

Brubaker, Ed & Marc Andreyko (text) & Chris Samnee (illus.). Captain America and Bucky: The Life Story of Bucky Barnes. Marvel. 2011. 112p. ISBN 9780785151241. pap. $14.99.
In 1964, when Marvel Comics returned World War II hero Captain America to its stable of characters, it established that the captain’s former teenage sidekick, Bucky, died in an explosion during the war. Bucky remained dead until the 2005 story line brought him back, explaining that a combination of brainwashing and suspended animation at a secret Soviet agency had kept him alive as an assassin. Writers Brubaker (Captain America: Winter Soldier) and Andreyko (Manhunter) and artist Samnee (Ultimate Comics Spider-Man) follow Bucky from boyhood through his post-assassin years. The story is told from Bucky’s point of view and gives the reader a new look at the war hero who is more than Captain America’s chipper sidekick. Samnee’s heavy lines and blocky figures recall the 1940s comics where Bucky began.
Verdict Although the book’s first half is engaging, with developed characters, the second half is rushed, with an unsatisfying conclusion. Serious Captain America fans will enjoy Life Story; for everyone else, it is not recommended.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. Lib., Columbus, IN

Kirby, Jack (text & illus.). Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus. Vol. 3. DC. 2012. 396p. ISBN 9781401235352. $29.99. F/SUPERHERO
This volume presents issues from Kirby classics such as Forever People; New Gods; Mister Miracle; and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. In portraying battles among villains like the Lump, Magnar, and Kalibak who seek to destroy heroes such as Orion, Vykin the Black, and Superman, Kirby provides astounding creative and imaginative art. His writing, while ambitious, lacks the same punch. Kirby, best known for iconic artwork for superheroes such as the Fantastic Four, Thor, and the Avengers, cocreated those works with Stan Lee. Here, he imagined his own worlds and characters for DC titles in the 1970s. Kirby’s art is stunning, the illustrations imbued with dramatic poses and crackling energy; even simple panels impart a sense of nobility, awe, doom, confusion, angst, and terror. Unfortunately, much of the content is too familiar—the art is still gorgeous and innovative and the title does include a new cast, but it echoes earlier work. Readers may seek out Volumes 1 and 2 first to get acquainted with the warring worlds of Apokolips and New Genesis and characters like Big Barda, Mister Miracle, and Darkseid.
Verdict Kirby obviously had a sprawling epic story in mind, but his penchant for exclamation points and double-quotes around phrases proves annoying. Hipster expressions abound and may yank readers out of the story. However, this retrospective is highly desirable eye-candy for fans of Jack “King” Kirby.—Jeff Hunter, Royal Oak, MI

Pekar, Harvey (text) & JT Waldman (text & illus.). Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Hill & Wang: Farrar. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780809094820. $24.95. F
In the realm of comics, Pekar (1939–2010) was an iconic voice of candor, intelligence, and counterculture cynicism. This, his last work, is a collection of musings on the state of Israel recorded by his young protégé, Waldman. Adapted and drawn by Waldman, it reads very much like Pekar’s seminal work and autobiography, American Splendor, with both Pekar and Waldman narrating the book as they write. Pekar grew up a Jewish kid in Cleveland, the child of immigrants fleeing pre–World War II Europe. His formative years were bombarded by views of the necessity of a Jewish state. As he grew older, the political realities of the situation in the Middle East became all too apparent. Delving headfirst into Jewish history and the history of Israel as a nation, Pekar via Waldman presents his findings of culture and geopolitics that are at the very heart of one of the greatest conflicts of all time.
Verdict Engrossing and enlightening, Pekar’s work entertains and educates, with the help of a bright young star of independent graphic fiction.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

TenNapel, Doug (text & illus.). Cardboard. Graphix. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780545418737. pap. $12.99.
TenNapel’s previous graphic novels Ghostopolis and Bad Island are both critically acclaimed, and it looks as if his latest work will continue the run of success. Out of work and struggling to raise his son alone, Mike is down on his luck. He knows times are tough when the best present he can afford for his son Cam’s birthday is an empty cardboard box. But this isn’t ordinary cardboard, and the humanoid sculpture they build from it comes to life. When the neighborhood bully gets a hold of some of his own magical cardboard, trouble ensues, and the father and son must figure out a way to save the day. Beautifully drawn, with powerful characterizations, this graphic novel goes much deeper than its simple story and style would suggest. TenNapel creates an existential morality tale in a fun, silly world of cardboard monsters.
Verdict This is the perfect choice for families, as its quirky story will appeal to young readers, and its deeper meaning will hold the interest of their caregivers.—E.W. Goodman, Art Inst. of Pittsburgh

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"


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