Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, March 15, 2013

Week ending March 15, 2013

starred review starAzzarello, Brian (text) & Cliff Chiang (illus.). Wonder Woman. Vol. 1: Blood. DC. (New 52). 2013. 160p. ISBN 9781401235628. pap. $14.99. SUPERHERO
As part of DC’s “New 52” reboot, this title presents Wonder Woman as she is called on to protect a young woman pregnant with Zeus’s child from the wrath of Hera. Meanwhile, it appears that the throne Zeus once held is empty and could be up for grabs. Despite the well-trod plot of Hera’s anger, Azzarello (of 100 Bullets fame) and Chiang’s reinvention of the Olympians and their dysfunctional family politicking comes across as intriguing rather than soapy. We also learn of the true circumstances of Wonder Woman’s birth, which is not quite the miracle as was told. Happily, this side plot doesn’t distract, and Azzarello successfully transforms Wonder Woman from your average prepackaged hero into an appealing character with room to grow. Chiang’s artwork is good, but readers will especially enjoy seeing his creative character designs.
Verdict A New York Times best seller and one of the better reboots of the “New 52” series so far. Both the clever dialog and story progression keep pace with the heavy action. A must-read for Wonder Woman fans and those interested in seeing how she stands apart from the Justice League of America. [Wonder Woman. Vol. 2: Blood, was previously included in Xpress Reviews, 2/8/13.—Ed.]—Marlan Brinkley, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.

starred review starEdmondson, Nathan (text) & Nic Klein (illus.). Dancer TP. Image. 2012. 132p. ISBN 9781607066279. pap. $16.99. F
Ballet dancers and rogue government assassins have more in common than one would think. Both require a lifetime of intense training, endure a lonely, single-minded existence, and exercise inhumanely high levels of physical and mental discipline. For both, a tiny mistake can have disastrous consequences. The parallels between these two seemingly disparate professions are explored in Edmondson’s (Olympus; Who Is Jake Ellis?) newly collected series. Alan Fisher is a retired operative who thought he’d left his violent past behind, until a mysterious sniper starts playing target practice with his head. The sniper kidnaps Fisher’s girlfriend, prima ballerina Quinn O’Hare, and uses her as bait. The plot thickens when Fisher catches a glimpse of the sniper and realizes he looks oddly familiar.
Verdict A wonderful entry in the “aging assassins whose pasts just won’t let them retire” genre. Edmondson gives us a sophisticated script full of twists and turns, and Klein (Viking) sets the mood with beautifully evocative frames of the shadowy, snowy streets of Milan and Berlin. A highly recommended read, suitable for all adult and teen collections.—Ingrid Bohnenkamp, Lib. Ctr., Springfield, MO

Nocenti, Ann (text) & Harvey Tolibao (illus.). Green Arrow. Vol. 2: Triple Threat. DC. (New 52). 2013. 160p. ISBN 9781401238421. pap. $14.99. SUPERHERO
A lot of attention has been put on the character Green Arrow following the debut of the television series Arrow. In this second volume of his current series, billionaire playboy–turned–emerald archer Oliver Queen finds himself assailed by three hive-minded daughters of a man named Lear, a woman who believes herself to be a robot who thought she was human, and a Chinese businessman in the process of stealing his company. In more ways than one, the three collected adventures are truly Shakespearean. Writer Nocenti crafts the plots with a great deal of complexity and larger issues while at the same time making them relatable to the reader. Tolibao provides art befitting the adventurous yet flighty character of Oliver Queen and a whimsicality to the actions and expressions of the rest of the cast. Since DC rebooted its entire line, here we are seeing a very different Green Arrow as Nocenti skillfully depicts him in a fresh, novel fashion that will stand on its own for years to come.
Verdict This is the perfect book for anyone who wants a light, daring jaunt into superheroics, or fans of the TV series Arrow.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

Williams, J.H., III & W. Haden Blackman (text) & Amy Reeder & Trevor McCarthy (illus.). Batwoman. Vol. 2: To Drown the World. DC. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781401237905. $22.99. SUPERHERO
A New York Times best seller, Williams in this latest volume expands on the supernatural in Gotham. Medusa, a group consisting of mythological monsters and maybe a Batman villain or two, is snatching the city’s children, and Batwoman will do anything she can to get them back. However, this is not the only story being told. Katy Kane, when she is not Batwoman, is dating Maggie Sawyer, the lead detective searching for the kidnapped children, and hates Batwoman. Katy’s father stands by the bedside of her cousin as she fights for her life. All of these story lines go back and forth in time, keeping the reader off balance.
Verdict Williams continues his stellar work with his lead female superhero. While the chronology of the stories gets confusing, it allows for multiple views of the overarching plotline. The artwork, however, remains confusing throughout, with poor panel layout. Regardless, this graphic novel is great for fans of the Bat Family, stories of the supernatural, and gothic horror cases.—Ryan Claringbole, Chesapeake P.L., VA

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"