Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, June 7, 2013

Week ending June 7, 2013

starred review starEllis, Warren (text) & Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary (illus.). The Authority. Vol. 1. DC. (Authority). 2013. 296p. ISBN 9781401240301. $29.99. SUPERHERO
This first volume collects the original 12-issue run of The Authority by series creators Ellis (Transmetropolitan) and Hitch (StormWatch) to treat readers to a transition from the team members of Ellis’s StormWatch to this new iteration, featuring a slightly revised cast of characters under a new purview. The team had once been a subsidized branch of the United Nations’ Superhuman Security and Intelligence Bureau, but now StormWatch has been disbanded and reformed under its own “Authority,” unofficially serving as its new name. The result is a very hard-edged series that explores the role of superhero teams as fascist enforcers of the common good. Ellis and Hitch test the newly minted authoritarian group against a rogue, superpowered terrorist state, an alternate, transdimensional, imperialistic Britain, and a mechanized race that created the earth itself. These threats are far from bush-league, and each tops the last in scale.
Verdict Ellis delivers a stark superhero drama of epic caliber that plays off the nature of unfettered power in the hands of a small number of individuals on the verge of a new millennium, while artist Hitch provides dynamic, psychedelic art to complement the narrative’s overarching themes.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

starred review starHernandez, Gilbert (text & illus.). Marble Season. Drawn & Quarterly. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9781770460867. $21.95. LITERARY FICTION
In this semiautobiographical chronicle of young Huey and the 1960s California neighborhood he grows up in, the popular and talented Hernandez (best known for the innovative alternative comic Love and Rockets, cocreated with his brothers Jaime and Mario) captures a snapshot of childhood that will resonate with most readers. Neither overly rosy and romantic nor dark and dramatic, the book focuses on the real bulk of a child’s daily life: the long summer months in which nothing eventful happens, the neighborhood kids who come and go, the tomboys and bullies, the temptation of small-time crime, and the confusion and innocence of early sexuality. Parents and classrooms are never depicted; the action takes place in the real kid world—alleys, front yards, and friends’ bedrooms. Peppered with casual pop culture references to the Beatles (called “The Beatos” by the kids), Elvis, Mars Attacks, and, of course, plenty of pulp comics and monster magazines, the book features characters who hang in delicate, sweet balance between the separate worlds of childhood and adolescence.
Verdict This thoughtful homage to growing up (specifically, growing up geek) will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. An essential addition to all teen and adult comics collections.—Ingrid Bohnenkamp, The Library Ctr., Springfield, MO

Tardi, Jacques (text & illus.). Goddamn This War! Fantagraphics. Jun. 2013. 140p. ISBN 9781606995822. $24.99. LITERARY HISTORICAL FICTION
Tardi, a prolific graphic novelist and the winner of two Eisner Awards for his earlier masterpiece about World War I, It Was War in the Trenches, returns 15 years later with a new book on the same subject. A nameless, disillusioned French soldier narrates from his initial mobilization at the war’s beginning in 1914 to a year after its end in 1919. Loosely plotted, the story is mostly a collection of anecdotes strung together chronologically, with each chapter corresponding to a year of the conflict. To provide context for these anecdotes, French historian and author Jean-Pierre Verney (La Premiere Guerre Mondiale) writes a history that appears after the title’s main story. Tardi’s art is relaxed but detailed, as he skillfully uses style and color to mirror the narrator’s personal conditions.
Verdict The lack of a strong story line and any dialog conveys the soldiers’ lives—the constant boredom, mud, decay, and disease, broken up by horrifying injuries and gory deaths. The graphic monotony makes for a potentially slow read but one that is absorbing, moving, and personal. As the narrator describes the soldiers’ physical and psychological conditions, readers will wonder whether they would have been able to withstand the same experience. Recommended.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN

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"