Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, December 21, 2012

Week ending December 21, 2012

Busiek, Kurt & others (text) & Mark Bagley & George Pérez (illus.). Thunderbolts Classic. Vol. 3. Marvel. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780785162391. $29.99. SUPERHEROES
The group of villains that pulled the biggest trick in Marvel history is now leaderless and in trouble…until a certain Avenger decides that there might be a Hero in this group after all. Broken up into two stories, the volume chronicles how the remaining Thunderbolt members deal with their current low-grade status and then how they handle leadership from a legitimate hero. The book features the same swashbuckling sense of adventure and humor as the previous issues; the dialog focuses on humor, while the art competently captures the action.
Verdict This volume is more of the same Thunderbolts action. The series is a great representation of what comics were in the 1990s before the industry (and the title) grew a more mature and darker tone. This enjoyable “popcorn” read will entertain readers but won’t leave a lasting impression. For fans of Marvel comics, action, and adventure.—Ryan Claringbole, Chesapeake, VA

Loeb, Jeff & others (text) & Steve Skroce & others (illus.). X-Man: The Man Who Fell to Earth. Marvel. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780785159810. $34.99. SUPERHEROES
Nate Grey awakens to a strange world free from Apocalypse’s dark reign, where natural beauty abounds and humans roam unafraid. With fragmented memories, Nate searches for the answers to his interdimensional travel, the limits of his powers, and the purpose of his existence. He encounters fellow mutants eager to aid him, but he also clashes with those wanting to corrupt him and use his powers to ensure a future where mutants dominate the earth. In this volume, which collects issues from X-man, Excalibur, and Cable, writers Loeb (Heroes) and John Ostrander (Suicide Squad) attempt to weave another time-displaced character into Earth-616 continuity, stressing the importance of the Summers-Grey-Sinister connection even in alternate dimensions. Readers may be hard-pressed to find cohesion or resolution, as the references to previous arcs, subtle character interconnections, and pertinent issues in the Marvel universe are continuity-heavy and can be overwhelming. Typical of 1990s comics, the art here is anime-inspired, though because of its crossover with other titles, some of the characters are interpreted differently, making it confusing to read at times.
Verdict This volume best serves readers who are familiar with the Age of Apocalypse arcs or are interested in X-man’s Earth-616 origin story.—Laura Gallardo, Urbana, IL

Soule, Charles (text) & Renzo Podesta (illus.). 27. Vol. 2: Second Set. Image. 2012. 112p. ISBN 9781607065210. pap. $12.99. F
27: First Set introduced readers to Will Garland, aspiring rock musician who just turned 27. This age is significant in the rock world (referred to as the “27 Club”) after famous musicians, including Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and, just recently, Amy Winehouse, died at 27. Now, someone or something wants to make sure Will doesn’t make it to 28. This volume picks up his story and creative supernatural abilities, which are being thwarted by Valerie Hayes, a 1980s one-hit wonder who wants another shot at fame but needs Will’s special gifts to do so. With the help of the God of Fame, Valerie goes after Will with a vengeance, and, ultimately, a music battle ensues.
Verdict Although it does help to have read 27: First Set in order to understand the powers Will possesses and some plot points, this volume may be enjoyed on its own. The first volume is on YALSA’s 2012 Great Graphic Novel for Teens list.—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

starred review starWinick, Judd (text) & Ben Oliver & others (illus.). Batwing. Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom. DC. (New 52!). 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781401234768. pap. $14.99. SUPERHEROES
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, David Zavimbe, a member of the Tinasha Police Department and former child soldier, has taken on the new mantle of Batwing. Supplied and trained by Batman, Incorporated, he finds himself facing a villain called Massacre who has been slaughtering former members of the Kingdom, a revered pan-African superhero team. In trying to save the Kingdom, Batwing discovers that, under the mask, Massacre might be someone from Batwing’s past. Colorist Brian Reber uses an eye-catching blend of blues, yellows, and oranges for the present Batwing and substitutes green for his past.
Verdict Winick (Pedro and Me) has spun a gripping story with a unique setting, while Oliver’s lifelike art is nothing short of spectacular. With some graphic crime scene violence, this title is recommended for older teens and adults who are interested in comics that tackle serious international issues.—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

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"