Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, March 1, 2013

Week ending March 1, 2013

Abnett, Daniel & Andy Lanning (text) & Leandro Fernandez (illus.). New Mutants. Vol. 7: Fight the Future. Marvel. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9780785161615. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
Readers with no New Mutants experience can jump in at Volume 7, though familiarity with Marvel’s mutant mythos is helpful. The New Mutants are visited by the Defenders, who warn that the San Francisco–based team will be confronted by a world-changing event. What follows is a classic Marvel adventure involving characters visiting from the future and plenty of action. One Mutant learns that in the future he will use his power to enhance his comrades with alien technology and then use the technology to control his comrades—how can our heroes change this future? Readers will enjoy guest appearances by Doctor Strange, Wolverine, and Beast.
Verdict Current collections of superhero comics aren’t complete without one Marvel mutants title, and this is a worthwhile choice—the action, pseudoscience, and cliché-free writing speak to its favor—but these mutants may not be as recognizable as those featured in Kieron Gillen’s “Uncanny X-men” series. Superhero comics fans, and Marvel fans in particular, will appreciate access to both series, but small collections would get the most use out of the latter.—Brian Looker, Appleton P.L., WI

Cornell, Paul & others. Batman & Robin: Dark Knight vs. White Knight. DC. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781401235390. pap. $22.99. SUPERHERO
This New York Times best seller collects the final issues of Batman & Robin before the “New 52” reboot. Various contributors feature Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, pitted against Absence, a former girlfriend of Bruce Wayne’s who has mysteriously survived a massive gunshot wound to the head. Then there’s the White Knight, a glowing vigilante targeting the families of Arkham Asylum inmates, and the Red Hood, aka Jason Todd, a former Robin gone rogue. Original villains appear in this volume, which sometimes blurs the boundaries between good and evil in thought-provoking ways, while the lighthearted Grayson (the original Robin) is a fun alternative to Wayne as Batman. The art style varies from cartoonish to realistic to rough (Patrick Gleason and Guillem Marsh stand out).
Verdict An accessible volume recommended for fans old and new.—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

Gischler, Victor (text) & Adi Granov & Jorge Molina (illus.). X-Men: The Curse Is Broken. Marvel. 2012. 136p. ISBN 9780785161899. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
Taken in by the Forgiven, a clan of blood-abstaining vampires, the depowered Jubilee still struggles to fight the constant thirst caused by her vampirism. Though she views this as a curse, it has blessed her with powers that include superstrength and -speed and immortality. The Forgiven adamantly believe that Jubilee can overcome her dependence on Wolverine’s blood even when her fellow X-Men doubt her. In this miniseries, Gischler (Vampire a Go Go) shows Jubilee’s resilience and persistence to rise above her curse and to redeem herself. Included is a short story about Pixie’s attempts at leadership as she aids four Earth-stranded Skrulls to get home. Connections to the Jubilee arc and the curse motif are tenuous. Though his character interpretation can be off at times and the focal points of both stories are muddled by superfluous character cameos, Gischler produces a passable story that follows two minor, though beloved, X-Men.
Verdict Unremarkable but sufficient filler arc for Jubilee and Pixie character development. Readers who are interested in keeping up with either character after Kathryn Immonen’s Wolverine and Jubilee: Curse of the Mutants or X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back should give this volume a read.—Laura Gallardo, Urbana, IL

starred review starHama, Larry & others (text) & Anthony Winn & others (illus.). Essential Wolverine. Vol. 6. Marvel. 2012. 520p. ISBN 9780785163527. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
In this “Marvel Essentials” collection, Wolverine battles a colorful array of villains from various points in his past, hearkening from his mercenary days in Madripoor to his forays into China and culminating with the clash of his age-old nemesis, Sabretooth. This volume concentrates on the period when Wolverine’s skeleton was stripped of Adamantium. In light of this development, the ol’ Canucklehead undergoes the process of self-exploration and belonging, proving to his adversaries that despite the impairment he remains the best at what he does. With arcs penned by comics book legends Hama (G.I. Joe), Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-Men), and Warren Ellis (Planetary), this volume promises a satisfying, action-filled ride peppered with special appearances by the X-Men and Captain America. Though each author in this volume interprets Wolverine’s psychological adjustment to his new physical condition differently, the collection succeeds in portraying Wolverine’s struggle in adapting and accepting the loss of the powerful Adamantium metal that once made him the most invulnerable and fearful mutant to encounter.
Verdict Though the plots vary among authors, each arc is as dynamic and action-packed as the next, proving this “Essentials” volume an absolute treat for all Wolverine fans.—Laura Gallardo, Urbana, IL

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"