Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, January 3, 2014

Week ending January 3, 2014

Adams, Scott (text & illus.). I Sense a Coldness to Your Mentoring. Andrews McMeel. (Dilbert). 2013. 127p. ISBN 9781449429386. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781449447328. COMICS
dilbert10314Retaining the sardonicism that has kept the comic strip Dilbert as the long-running staple in office humor and aiming the focus on the follies of the Pointy-Haired Boss as well as the CEO, this volume calls attention to all the worst traits possessed by every supervisor any office worker would ever know: incompetence, lack of empathy, sadism, and mismanagement, to name only a few. Adams makes this work relatable and contemporary by referencing current events, relevant corporate practices, and up-to-date technology all framed within the familiar world of Dilbert and his colleagues. Longtime fans of the comic as well as astute readers who enjoy satirical office wit will enjoy this most.
Verdict Consistently funny and bitingly witty, I Sense a Coldness to Your Mentoring is a pleasurable read for any individual who has ever had to work with a bad boss.—Laura Gallardo, St. Louis

Jones, Sabrina & others (illus.). Radical Jesus: A Graphic History of Faith. Herald. 2013. 128p. ed. by Paul Buhle. ISBN 9780836196214. pap. $24.99. REL
Prolific contributor and editor of many successful graphic nonfiction adaptations, including A People’s History of American Empire with Howard Zinn, Buhle turns his focus to chronicling Christianity’s challenges to the established social order. The first of three sections, illustrated by Jones (Race To Incarcerate), is the most successful, neatly juxtaposing the words of Scripture with deliberately anachronistic images of modern social and economic injustice. Unfortunately, the title’s following sequences fail to build on this momentum. The second part, by artist Gary Dumm (Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History), which briefly covers nonconformist Christian sects over a span of about 500 years, is hurt by its drab, limited color palette, which makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish among the nine separate vignettes. The final section, by illustrator Nick Thorkelson (The Legal Rights of Union Stewards), is framed as a worship group discussion touching on various points of modern progressive Christianity. Many of these accounts are interesting, but the secondhand nature of the presentation undercuts their impact considerably and gives the section an unpleasant, pedantic feel.
Verdict Lack of cohesion, both narratively and artistically, hurts this title badly. Not recommended.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

McCreery, Conor & Anthony Del Col (text) & Andy Belanger (illus.). Kill Shakespeare. Vol. 3: The Tide of Blood. IDW. 2013. 140p. ISBN 9781613777329. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623023966. FANTASY
It sounds good: put William Shakespeare’s most famous characters together in a universe created by the Bard himself (now a mysterious wizard), add dialog borrowed from or inspired by his writings, render with moody artwork, and collect the hosannas. In the third KS limited series collected here, a foe thought to be vanquished lures Hamlet, his new love Juliet, a spurned and despondent Romeo, and a haunted but unflappable Othello to Prospero’s island for purposes most foul. This conceit proves to be too clever. As the story endlessly twists and turns, the Shakespeare savvy will enjoy the verbiage while being constantly reminded that his plotting truly seemed to grow out of the characters and not vice versa, even when Shakespeare acknowledged historical facts in the story. A fine prolog and a gallery of stunning cover art are included.
Verdict Whether the tangled narrative causes readers to overlook Tide of Blood’s strengths is a matter of individual taste; newcomers to Shakespeare’s work should look elsewhere for accessible introductions (perhaps the series “No Fear Shakespeare”?). Some off-color language, violence, and gore make this suitable for YA and up; an optional purchase.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Morrison, Grant & Sholly Fisch (text) & Rags Morales & others (illus.). Superman—Action Comics. Vol. 3: At the End of Days. DC. (New 52). 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781401242329. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401247379. SUPERHERO
Volume 3 of DC Comics’ “New 52”–branded Superman brings together issues 13–18 of the series to wrap up writer Morrison and artists Morales and Brad Walker’s run on the title. Largely following Superman’s early years, this collection finds the superhero confronting Fifth Dimension nemesis Vyndktvx. Vyndktvx wages a multipronged war on Superman stretching from Smallville to Mars, from the recent past through CE 3030. Like most of Morrison’s work (e.g., Batman: R.I.P.), Action Comics rewards close readers and takes a serious look at what was formerly Silver Age silliness. The sections dealing with Superman’s dog, Krypto, are unexpectedly poignant, and the classic villain Mr. Mxyzptlk benefits from an expanded origin. The artwork is nothing less than phenomenal, whether capturing Clark Kent’s grief at the loss of his parents, or Superman in an epic battle against a weapon designed solely to destroy him.
Verdict This will be of most interest to readers who’ve read the first two volumes, but with Superman’s cinematic resurgence, this will be popular to a broader audience—although they may be surprised at its depth.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI