Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, April 4, 2014

Week ending April 4, 2014

Brown, Box (text & illus.). Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. First Second. May 2014. 240p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781596438514. pap. $17.99; ebook available. BIOG
Few professional wrestlers transcended their field like “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” Andre Roussimoff (1946–93). Ignatz Award–winning artist Brown (Everything Dies) brings readers Roussimoff’s story from the French farm of his boyhood through worldwide wrestling stardom and his fondly remembered movie role as the giant Fezzik in the 1987 classic The Princess Bride. Brown’s expressive, stylized illustrations serve the story well, doing justice to both the larger-than-life personae of his subjects and their massive physiques. The layouts and pacing also bring layers of nuance to the narrative. In particular, the use of frequent time skips effectively and subtly highlights the stagnant nature of life on the road as the years pass. This work will satisfy Roussimoff’s longtime fans and, one hopes, introduce a new generation to one of the true legends of the squared circle.
Verdict A compassionate and entertaining picture of a one-of-a-kind man and the unique world he inhabited. Highly recommended for pro wrestling fans, pop culture historians, and readers who enjoy outsider biographies.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma

starred review starSpurrier, Si (text) & P.J. Holden (illus.). Numbercruncher. Titan. 2014. 90p. ISBN 9781782760047. $19.99. SUPERHERO
numbercruncher040414Often the universal workings of reality are thought to be either completely arbitrary or the product of divine intervention, predicated on emotions and virtue. In Numbercruncher, writer Spurrier (Crossed) proposes that it is, in fact, not random nor is it predicated on anything as capricious as emotion. An all-powerful being known as the Divine Calculator factors different souls into the living world mathematically and determines in the same manner what happens to them after death. Numbercruncher follows a gangster who is punished in death to serve the Calculator as a bureaucratic enforcer, only to lock horns with a mathematical genius who finds a loophole in the system.
Verdict Spurrier’s storytelling is crisp and straightforward, while having complex workings beneath the main narrative that explore quite comprehensively the concepts of life, death, predetermination, free will, and reincarnation. Artist Holden (Judge Dredd) provides expressive artwork that demarcates life in lustrous color and the afterlife in stark black-and-white illustrations accentuated by flowing grey ink washes. Tensions run high in this volume, setting up a truly engrossing read.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI