Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, September 6, 2013

Week ending September 6, 2013

Irvine, Alexander & others (text) & Tomm Coker & others (illus.). Marvel Noir: Daredevil/Cage/Iron Man. Marvel. 2013. 328p. ISBN 9780785184041. pap. $34.99. SUPERHERO
This collection features Marvel titles Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron-Man reimagined in the film noir genre. The concept lends itself perfectly to Marvel’s cast of characters, who are typically characterized internally rather than externally. Meaning who they are defines how they use their powers/skills, not the other way around. Set in New York City—the quintessential backdrop for noir—the three series’ main characters fit nicely into their new environment with little change. Daredevil still works with his friend Foggy in Hell’s Kitchen trying to make a difference legally, while moonlighting as a vigilante. Luke Cage goes to prison, is experimented on, and emerges as a streetwise “private dick” that navigates the underbelly of 1930s Harlem. Iron-Man is a billionaire adventurer living a life of excitement to fill a hole (literally) inside him.
Verdict The writers and artists of all three series create a mesmerizing immersion of classic, contemporary characters into a vibrant time period preceding their original creation. For comic book aficionados and fans of 1930s film, this collection will take the reader on an unforgettable journey.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

starred review starMoore, Alan (text) & Kevin O’Neill (illus.). The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Omnibus Edition. Vertigo. Sept. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781401240837. pap. $29.99. F
This paperback reprint edition comprises the first two volumes of writer Moore (From Hell) and illustrator O’Neill’s (Marshal Law) classic metafictional adventure series finds the League firing on all cylinders, delivering entertainment as well as stories and ideas which are both clever and substantial enough to justify the basic conceit: characters from public-domain literature (e.g. Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Murray, Jekyll & Hyde, the Invisible Man & more) brought together Justice League-style to fight outsized dastardly doings such as world domination by air (Volume 1) and a Martian invasion (Volume 2). Fans of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells may be shocked by the dark tone and the blunt graphic portrayals of sex and violence. Others will see the consistency of Moore’s MO: sequential art which acknowledges the exhilarating qualities of the work of his predecessors without ignoring the unsavory aspects. No new extras here, but the cover galleries and additional artwork and prose included remain delectable.
Verdict Essential for all but the most easily offended readers of graphic novels or popular fiction. Violent, sexual, and drug-related content; suitable for teens & up.—J Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., N.B.

Trotman, C. Spike (text) & Diana Nock (illus.). Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less. Iron Circus. 2012. 168p. ISBN 9780979408052. pap. $10. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Who would have thought that a detailed guide to living within one’s means could be so entertaining? Creators Trotman and Nock provide information that is smartly conveyed through the story of Mil, who’s in debt and needs to reorganize her life, and her guides, the efficient-living Penny and her mischievous dog, Nickel. The story is told in fun black-and-white comics and covers topics including finding and choosing affordable housing, cooking, buying clothes, managing transportation, paying for health and education, and more. Within the story itself, characters reference resources that can be used to make smart financial decisions, and an appendix includes even more informative resources. Also included is a helpful table of contents, not common in graphic novels. Readers will return to this book for its useful content, such as the recipes in the section on food.
Verdict This would make an excellent high school graduation gift, but all readers are likely to learn something from this superb work. Highly recommended.—Brian Looker, Appleton P.L., WI

Will, Elaine M. (text & illus.). Look Straight Ahead. Cuckoo’s Nest. Nov. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780991866908. pap. $19.95. F
In her debut graphic novel, Will expertly illustrates the regenerative power of art as depicted in the story of aspiring artist Jeremy Knowles. A seemingly typical angst-ridden teen, Jeremy suffers a mental breakdown after feeling he is the target of hypocrisy at every turn. Jeremy uses his art to try to make sense of the world. His confusion manifests itself in a book of incomprehensible glyphs that he pens and claims were given to him by God. He is haunted by feelings of inadequacy, which take the form of an imagined demon who taunts him to end his life. Ultimately, Jeremy realizes that, as with his drawings, he can take control of the direction and form of his life, flip a page, and start anew. Will’s art is as emotive as her story, and the work is peppered with rich layouts that contribute to the puzzle that the protagonist and the reader must solve.
Verdict Raw and rough, Will’s exploration of the mind offers an opposing view from that of Glyn Dillon’s sleek and realistic The Nao of Brown but is just as beautiful and powerful. Will’s novel is deep, thought-provoking, and a delight for readers who enjoy introspective, character-driven stories that examine the meaning of reality and sanity.—Laura Gallardo, St. Louis

Annalisa Pesek About Annalisa Pesek

Annalisa Pesek (apesek@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Book Review
[photograph by John Sarsgard]


  1. Darwin says:

    Annalisa, thanks for posting. Enjoyed this write up alot. Love Marvel (especially when I was a kid – flashlight under the covers past bedtime)..

    Take care and best wishes,


  2. Ali says:

    Marvel rules! I can remember a long time ago reading them on the way home from school on the bus. Now, kids play on their cell phones. Crazy huh? Maybe not to you, but to me the world is a completely different place (I’m 44 not 75). I am a genx’er and I grew up around computers. I like how they are starting to integrate technology into comics now. More interactivity. I don’t know how kids sleep at night now with all this stuff to do (I know some that don’t). Anyway thanks for this write up.