Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, December 14, 2012

Week ending December 14, 2012

Gage, Christos (text) & Jorge Lucas (illus.). Sunset. Image. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781607065739. $19.99. F
Long ago, Nick Bellamy stole millions from his mob employer, Mr. Gianelli. He left the mob and married the woman he loved. It’s 30 years later, and Nick’s now-comatose wife requires most of his time while his life is less eventful. But Gianelli has found Nick and is determined to destroy his life. Although Nick avoids Gianelli’s every attempt at ending his life, his wife is murdered, and this one-time enforcer returns to violence to get revenge. Gage (First X-Men) makes minor additions to the “one-man killing machine takes revenge” story line but forgets about character development. Lucas’s (X-Men: Colossus–Bloodline) artwork isn’t suited for black and white; it’s difficult to follow and distinguish one character from another.
Verdict This isn’t a bad book, but nothing original sets it apart from the other countless comics, novels, and movies with a similar theme. Readers wanting a story of bloody vengeance will be better served by Frank Miller’s artistically innovative Sin City: The Hard Goodbye.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L.,Columbus, IN

Shapiro, Howard (text) & Joe Pekar (illus.). The Stereotypical Freaks. Animal Media. 2012. 140p. ISBN 9780578112176. pap. $11.95; ebk. ISBN 9780578112183. F
Shapiro (Hockey Days), acclaimed for children and tween books, introduces his latest for music fans. The book takes place in a high school where a group of four friends start a band named the Stereotypical Freaks. Each boy represents a stereotype: the jock; the weirdo; the brainiac; and the outcast, but none of the boys represents these stereotypes in real life. As the story progresses, the boys mature and learn more about themselves and their abilities. Without giving too much away, the story also focuses on one character’s serious tragedy. The story culminates with the high school’s Battle of the Bands competition, which is a significant turning point for the boys’ friendship and their futures. The story realistically portrays adolescent angst, heartbreak, and growing maturity but with the kind of requisite humor and sensitivity that tweens will appreciate.
Verdict This book is recommended for tween boys who love music. Although some of the music referenced may be unfamiliar to this age group, these readers’ enjoyment of the story may make them seek the answers!—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Spencer, Nick (text) & Joe Eisma (illus.). Morning Glories. Vol. 3: P.E. Image. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781607065586. pap. $14.99. F
Everyone wants to go to Morning Glory Academy—it’s a great school, isn’t it? Mysteries deepen in this third installment of the series when the students are pulled out of class to participate in Woodrun, a seemingly competitive scavenger hunt played in the forest. But at MGA, darker things lurk beneath the surface, for example, time travel, family secrets, sacrifice, and murder. Plenty of action and unanswered questions will keep the pages turning, and the gradual revelation of individual backstories is effective. The color artwork offers shifts in the layout and perspective that maintains balance between depicting the characters’ emotions and the larger events unfolding. The skilled use of light and shadow creates changing moods.
Verdict Fans of the series will definitely want to keep reading, but those just joining might be lost. Following an ensemble cast makes identifying with characters a challenge, but the momentum of the plot should carry readers along. Coarse language, violence, and sexuality make this a thriller for mature teens and adults.—Julia Cox, Penticton P.L., BC

West, Max (text & illus.). Sunnyville Stories. Max West. 2012. 128p. ISBN 9780615653921. pap. $8.99. F
In this debut volume, Rusty moves to Sunnyville with his parents and their family of cats. They quickly meet new neighbors and make new friends including Samantha and Rose. Later, in the Squirrels’ store, Rusty and Samantha stand up to Rose, whom they find teasing another child. This confrontation results in a pinball showdown between Rusty and Rose. West’s black-and-white illustrations are decent, though the setting appears bare in places. West is slowly getting his footing in this work, as the dialog appears stilted in parts. This volume contains three stories, but there isn’t a cohesive theme throughout separating one vignette from another.
Verdict This book is best for young readers, i.e., early elementary age, or readers who are looking for a graphic novel with clean artwork and an idyllic story line. Also for readers who enjoy anthropomorphized characters. West’s website (sunnyvillestories.com) offers a free episode for readers to get a sense of his work.—Joanna Schmidt, Fort Worth, TX

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"