Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, June 28, 2013

Week ending June 28, 2013

Leka, Kaisa & Christoffer Leka (text & illus.). Expedition No. 3: Cycling Around Iceland. Absolute Truth. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9789529937899. $30. MEMOIR
This feisty Finnish couple turn their long cycling trips into comics. Christoffer introduces their Iceland report by explaining that they were motivated only by their faith and their conviction in cycling. They set out with Kaisa riding lead and Christoffer behind, towing their gear. Immediately, they hit strong winds, and Christoffer doubts his ability to keep up with Kaisa—even though as a double amputee she has prosthetic feet. Ultimately, he maintains confidence through Kaisa’s boundless energy and optimism. And, indeed, among the wind and fog and rainstorms come splendid soaks in hot tubs, enjoyable encounters with fellow travelers, and beautiful evenings. A gentle mysticism underlies the travelog, which is drawn in Kaisa’s simple art showing her husband with a duck’s head and herself and others with Mickey Mouse ears.
Verdict This charming work embodies the notion that the “journey is the destination.” Teens and adults wishing to assay DIY travel and perhaps illustrate it later would gain much from the Lekas’ accounts, including Tour d’Europe. Note also I Am Not These Feet, Kaisa’s extraordinary account of her amputations.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Mohapatra, Saurav (text) & Vivek Shinde & others (illus.). Mumbai Confidential. Bk. 1: Good Cop, Bad Cop. Archaia. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781936393657. $24.95. CRIME/MYS
A face-off between a dirty cop and a dirtier cop opens this Asian noir drama based loosely on reports about real-life Indian “encounter cops” who illegally kill criminals in cold blood. Former cop and newly widowed Arjun Kadam fights to investigate the hit-and-run killing of a street urchin who offered him a rose. Getting to the bottom of the crime—and avenging the victim—sends Kadam spiraling into an incestuous Mumbai criminal underground, where alliances and antagonisms among criminals and crime fighters eat up the guilty and less guilty alike. As characters flip between good and bad, the story flips back and forth in time, pushing the reader to work out the complete picture through a haze of blood, monsoons, smoke, and Hindi phrases interwoven for atmosphere.
Verdict The twisty plot, well-tuned slang dialog, and unpredictable characters make this an appealing read for adult crime noir buffs looking for an international take on classic tropes. Shinde’s fine-painted art, in subdued color realism, is truly suited for this tale. Plenty of violence and strong language plus some inexplicit sex.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Wiebe, Kurtis J. (text) & Riley Rossmo & Owen Gieni (illus.). Debris. Image. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9781607067207. pap. $14.99. FANTASY
Young warrior Maya battles mystical, mechanical monsters as she crosses a postapocalyptic wasteland in search of water for her dying village. Reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind), Wiebe and Rossmo’s work favors storytelling over exposition: an explanation for the world’s current chaotic state is offered in a mere one-page dialog near the end, for example. Though this style may infuriate some readers, the book’s emphasis is on Maya’s struggle, so the dehydrated world being stalked by mechanical spirit creatures becomes less interesting. The pages are a treat for the senses, filled with lush artwork in a soft color palate and sketchy drawing style. While Rossmo’s slightly risqué cover (originally a pinup drawn for Emerald City ComicCon’s “Monsters and Dames” series) served as the story’s inspiration, it belies the quality of both the art and the tightly written script within.
Verdict Not for fans of “hard” sf, but readers who enjoy creative world-building and character-driven stories will be captivated. Appropriate for upper elementary school readers and above.—Tammy Ivins, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC

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"