Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, May 10, 2013

Week ending May 10, 2013

Casey, Joe (text) & Charlie Adlard (illus.). Rock Bottom. Image. 2012. 120p. ISBN 9781607066194. $19.99. SF
Reminiscent of Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis is Casey’s (X-Men: Children of the Atom) Tommy Dare, who is convinced he’s slowly turning to stone. He’s juggling a messy divorce, a woman friend’s unexpected pregnancy, and a mother with Alzheimer’s. The calcification of his bones and the transformation of his skin into rock is another level of life where Tommy has lost control. The tale’s larger story looks at the societal ramifications of Tommy’s transformation, from the doctors administering his treatment to the people trying to get rich off of his unusual circumstances.
Verdict Casey has written a quiet and meditative piece, full of magical realism; aside from a man turning to stone, the story follows a mature development. The black-and-white artwork by Adlard (The Walking Dead) is spare but clean. Recommended for general sf/fiction graphic novels readers.—Peter Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA

Fushimi, Tsukasa (text) & Sakura Ikeda & others (illus.). Oreimo. Vol. 2. Dark Horse. 2013. 168p. ISBN 9781616550554. pap. $10.99. MANGA
Although he was never close to her in the past, high schooler Kyosuke Kosaka is suddenly covering for his beautiful, brainy, and popular younger sister Kirino’s secret life as an otaku obsessed with a collection of little sister–themed erotic anime and games. Volume 2 opens with a tense situation as Kyosuke defends Kirino’s stash in the face of strong opposition from their father. Afterward, he runs interference as a suspicious package arrives for Kirino during a visit from a group of her decidedly non-otaku friends. Despite the cutesy art style and warm-and-fuzzy jacket description, the story’s basic premise may represent a significant cultural barrier to Western audiences. In Japan, Kirino risks social ostracism, at worst, for her interest in underage incest-themed entertainment. In the United States, however, she might be looking at jail time.
Verdict An oddly heartwarming family comedy built around what many readers would consider an extremely uncomfortable topic. Recommended for larger graphic novels collections and devotees of the otaku subculture.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

Lobdell, Scott & others (text) & Chris Bachalo & others (illus.). Generation X Classic. Vol. 2. Marvel. 2013. 248p. ISBN 9780785166863. pap. $24.99. SUPERHERO
One of Marvel’s many X-Men-related titles from the mid-1990s, Generation X recalled the original X-Men concept: mutant teenagers at an exclusive boarding school learn to use their powers while fighting supervillains. Rather than the team’s original mentor, Professor X, this team features longtime X-Man Sean Cassidy (aka Banshee) and Emma Frost, formerly the villainous White Queen. Several stories continue or begin in this volume, including the return of characters from Cassidy’s past and the machinations of Frost’s younger sister. Writer Lobdell (Superboy. Vol. 1: Incubation) prioritizes the emotional relationships of the students and teachers over the plot’s action, creating an enjoyably soapy boarding school story. Unfortunately, it takes place within the tangled continuity of Marvel’s “X” titles from the 1990s. Because much of that continuity has been rewritten, rebooted, or erased, Generation X will be confusing to those familiar only with the current X-Men. Adding to the confusion, an assortment of artists worked on the issues, and the inconsistency is noticeable in this collection.
Verdict For those versed in the X-Men of the 1990s, the continuity works here; readers should begin with Volume 1. For others unfamiliar with the earlier works, this title is not recommended.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. PL, Columbus, IN

Lo Porto, Tiziana (text) & Daniele Marotta (illus.). Superzelda: The Graphic Life of Zelda Fitzgerald. One Peace. 2013. 176p. tr. from Italian by Antony Shugaar. ISBN 9781935548270. pap. $16.95. LIT
Creators Lo Porto and Marotta’s debut chronicles the life of Zelda Fitzgerald (1900–48)—before, during and after her marriage to American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald; her biography deserves telling rather than relegation to anyone’s footnotes or coattails. At first glance, the novel appears to do justice to Zelda’s story, judging by the detailed, graceful artwork (black and white, colored in blue) and a script based on research rather than speculation. However, Lo Porto and Marotta never truly grapple with either the untidy truth of Zelda’s fascinating womanhood, nor do they have anything original to write about her. One well-rendered drawing follows another, each portraying a documented event or featuring a quotation; even the most decadent, excessive episodes are depicted with the same elegant remove consistent throughout the work.
Verdict Superzelda’s virtues are readily apparent and superficial, resulting in a biography that is eye-catching and informative yet closer to Madonna’s portrayal of Eva Peron. With scenes of and references to dissolute behavior, this is suitable for YA and up. An optional purchase.—J Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., N.B.

Martin, Alan C. (text) & Jim Mahfood (illus.). Everybody Loves Tank Girl. Titan. 2013. 80p. ISBN 9780857687500. $19.95. FANTASY
UK writer and Tank Girl creator Martin and artist Mahfood (Grrl Scouts; Clerks) deliver a dream wrapped in a graphic novel, in which the only person who really understands is the dreamer. Still, this collected edition of the “Tank Girl” miniseries follows the long-running title character, her mutant kangaroo boyfriend Booga, and a cast of other oddball characters on disconnected adventures in a postapocalyptic world that includes a spelling bee swearing contest, an LSD-assisted ninja battle, and a highbrow gunfight with the Wee-Wee Brothers. The frenetic (and short) stories are intercut with surprisingly poignant poetry and meditations on life that accompany splash pages of art.
Verdict Although the collection contains precious little in the way of traditional narrative or character background, it doesn’t matter. Too much knowledge would probably detract from the fun of reading these bizarre bits of story. Mahfood’s graffiti-style artwork adds to the acid-trip aesthetic of the writing. Recommended for mature indie comics fans and anyone looking for a strange, bawdy, laugh-out-loud read.—Peter Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA

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"