Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, April 26, 2013

Week ending April 26, 2013

Dezago, Todd (text) & Craig Rousseau & others (illus.). Treasure Obscura. Image. (Perhapanauts, Vol. 2). 2012. 128p. ISBN 9781607066583. pap. $14.99. FANTASY
In Dezago’s stories of a motley crew of extraordinary people (and creatures), the Perhapanauts explore strange happenings and protect innocents around the world. Reminiscent of Warren Ellis’s Planetary, driven more by developing character relationships; the short stories compiled here may be appreciated on their own, but the opening two tales are best read having familiarity with Volume 1. Dezago pens stories in this volume himself, keeping a consistent feel despite the variety of artists. Even though the art changes for practically every issue, it is a pleasure rather than a burden to see such a variety of talented interpretations. A pleasant appendix to this volume includes three fully illustrated short stories previously available only on the author’s website. One piece includes an attempted rape, and several include fantasy violence and death.
Verdict Appropriate for middle school ages and up, this second volume is a worthy successor to the first. A fun romp, it will appeal to fans of urban action and fantasy stories.—Tammy Ivins, Rogers Lib., Francis Marion Univ., SC

Gauld, Tom (text & illus.). You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons. Drawn & Quarterly. Apr. 2013. 160p. ISBN 9781770461048. $19.95. ESSAYS
Following on the heels of Goliath is cartoonist Gauld’s (The New Yorker; The Believer) collection of weekly cartoons originally created for The Guardian. Considered the best in the field, Gauld uses a minimal, clean style that owes more to the classic elements of art than to over-the-top sight gags, giving the panels a restrained beauty to complement the oddball world they represent. This small sampling of work runs the gamut of subjects showing the author’s range of talent, although literature and academia are popular topics. Readers are treated here to a Feminist Fairy Godmother and the Brontë Sisters video game, as well as a host of acutely observed thoughts on popular culture, literature, science, and human nature that use the absurd as a touch point.
Verdict Intellectual and wryly funny and a treat for literary graphic novels readers.—E.W. Goodman, Art Inst. of Pittsburgh

Jenkins, Paul & Dan DiDio (text) & Bernard Chang & Jerry Ordway (illus.). DC Universe Presents: Featuring Deadman and Challengers of the Unknown. Vol. 1. DC. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9781401237165. pap. $16.99. SUPERHEROES
Writer and recipient of the 2006 New York Times Academic Librarian of the Year Award, Jenkins (director, library services, Coll. of Mount St. Joseph; Batman: The Dark Knight) presents an anthology that spotlights the lesser-known but no less captivating comics characters. This first volume collects a five-issue Deadman arc and a three-issue Challengers of the Unknown arc. Boston Brand is Deadman, the ghost of a trapeze artist bound by goddess Rama Kushna to perform quantum leaps into the body of people in crisis, serving a personal path to redemption. The Challengers of the Unknown by DiDio and Ordway reimagines the classic Jack Kirby team as a group of D-list celebrities/reality show contestants globe-hop on a quest to reclaim magic artifacts.
Verdict The Deadman arc is easily the strongest part of the book, with its focus on the nature of Deadman’s mission and his relationship to Rama Kushna. The Challengers of the Unknown, on the other hand, presents forgettable characters and a worn-out plot. An optional purchase for most graphic novels collections.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

Tully, Tom (text) & Joe Colquhoun (illus.). Johnny Red: Angels over Stalingrad. Vol. 3. Titan. 2013. 104p. ISBN 9781848564381. $19.99. HIST
This third volume in the series takes hero ex-RAF pilot Johnny Redburn into the hell of Stalingrad. Flying alongside the all-female Angels of Death and a group of penal-squad pilots who make the misfits from Falcon Squadron look like an honor guard by comparison, Redburn frequently finds himself in the crosshairs of friend and foe alike. Colquhoun’s (Charley’s War) art lifts the material immensely by capturing the split-second intensity of aerial combat and driving the reader relentlessly from page to page. Garth Ennis’s introduction identifies this title’s significance as a British war comics mid-1970s march toward maturity. Despite its essential nature as an action-packed boys’ adventure story, its grittiness and moments of moral ambiguity hinted at what was to follow in the coming decade.
Verdict Like a big bowl of sugary breakfast cereal, Johnny Red is dead-simple but loaded with nostalgic energy. Recommended for fans of Sgt. Rock, Fightin’ Army, or other classic combat comics.—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"