Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, March 22, 2013

Week ending March 22, 2013

Burney, Nathaniel. The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Jones McClure. 2012. 340p. ISBN 9781598391831. pap. $24.95. LAW
New York City defense attorney and former prosecutor Burney turns his lawcomic.net blog into a published book series. With concision, Burney illustrates the definition of crime, purposes of punishment, elements of determining guilt, and types of criminal charges and defenses. What follows is a brief history of criminal law, its contemporary flaws, and suggested solutions. Burney concludes with theoretical cases to show how a prosecuting attorney builds a case and anticipates a client’s sentencing; he avoids referencing historical cases.
Verdict Burney’s writing is enlightening and frequently humorous, bringing levity to his discussion of sometimes disturbing cases. The large print and illustrations make this subject matter less intimidating and more appealing to general readers. Those who are already in or considering the legal profession will be curious to see how Burney’s career was adapted as a comic book. Burney has promised a follow-up volume on criminal procedure. Recommend.—Brian Looker, Appleton P.L., WI

starred review starDurieux, Christian. An Enchantment. ComicsLit: NBM. (Louvre Collection). 2013. 72p. ISBN 9781561637058. $19.99. F
In this stunning addition to NBM’s “Louvre Collection,” the renowned Paris museum’s director absconds from his retirement celebration to join a mysterious young woman on the most unusual tour of the Louvre that one is apt to see. In the process, this unlikely couple revisit the director’s past, elude the posse searching for him (he’s the party’s guest of honor), and literally interact with the museum’s art, which leads to a charming and believable conclusion that must be seen. Published as a storybook-sized hardcover and billed as “A Graphic Poem,” author/artist Durieux’s volume renders a reverie rich with carefully detailed sepia-toned illustrations that incorporate photo reproductions of the museum’s celebrated artwork. Some of said artwork features nudity, and some references to sensuality and death may disturb impressionable or less mature readers.
Verdict Anyone who sees art as something more than a rectangular object on a wall will be, well, enchanted. Highly recommended for all print collections.—J Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Fraction, Matt & Kieron Gillen (text) & Alan Davis & others (illus.). The Mighty Thor: Journey into Mystery; Everything Burns. Marvel. (Mighty Thor). 2013. 216p. ISBN 9780785161684. $29.99. SUPERHERO
Compared to his Avengers buddies, Thor has always been a hard character to warm up to; he is the only character tied to Norse mythology and is bound to the Asgard realm in every way including speech. Author Fraction and crew here attempt to create an epic tale: the fall of Asgard and the other Nine Realms courtesy of Surtur, the fire demon. Where the story shines is through Thor’s stepbrother and nemesis Loki, who has many layers and as the God of Mischief manages to fool the reader throughout. This is not a bad story—the characters are written so the reader sees both their attributes and flaws. What keeps this volume from being great is its lack of context—readers can only truly appreciate everything that is happening if they have read the previous issues. The art does a great job of showing the grandeur of the Nine Realms; the facial expressions are exceptional.
Verdict This book is not a good pick for anyone to jump into as they won’t learn about the full cast. Recommended to readers into the character of Thor and lovers of mythology.—Ryan Claringbole, Chesapeake P.L., VA

Wilson, Sean Michael (text) & Carl Thompson (illus.). Parecomic: The Story of Michael Albert and Participatory Economics. Seven Stories. May 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781609804565. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609804572. ECON
The Great Recession has sparked heated debates about economic reform, but advocates for the discussion of a replacement rather than a repair of American capitalism have largely been relegated to the fringes of society. This graphic biography of Michael Albert, one of the founders of participatory economics (parecon), introduces his views to a new audience. Prolific comic book writer Wilson (Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost) traces Albert’s growth as an activist at MIT during the Vietnam era through his post-expulsion experiences at the “radical” economics department at the University of Massachusetts to his current roles in publishing, education, and electronic media. Aspects of his personal, political, and philosophical viewpoints are well-balanced and presented skillfully through Thompson’s (English, Nottingham Trent Univ.) expressive illustrations. Unfortunately, the story loses steam roughly two-thirds of the way as the focus shifts from the human details of Albert’s activist journey to the abstract economic theory. Creative framing boosts some sections; the final 30 pages consist of dialogs between Albert and a rotating cast of critics, colleagues, and literal talking heads, who border on the pedantic.
Verdict Pacing issues aside, this is an accessible and serviceable introduction to the principles of parecon and the vision of one of its founders. Recommended for readers interested in alternative economic models and the legacy of the radical 1960s.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

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"