Graphic Novels from Barbucci & Canepa and Giménez | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 22, 2016

starred review starBarbucci, Alessandro & Barbara Canepa. Sky-Doll: Decade. Titan Comics. Feb. 2016. 232p. ISBN 9781782767367. $34.99. Rated: M. SF
skydoll042216Welcome to a parallel universe where the inhabitants resemble adorable Disney characters and the church rules all. Corruption and perversion are at an all-time high and a war is brewing between the sanction supporters of Popessa Ludovica and the rogue group of Agape lovers. Agape, the long-lost Popessa and sister of Ludovica, is believed to be reborn, but no one is sure as whom just yet. Noa, an innocent android doll who is working at a car wash for a tyrant boss and forced to entertain the lascivious pleasures of customers, is about to embark on an adventure that will change her life. Rescued by “missionaries” unknowingly sent to help Noa fulfill her destiny, which is not clear even to Noa, our protagonist learns to feel love and discovers she has the power to heal. Is she Agape reborn?
Verdict Former Disney employees Barbucci and Canepa (W.I.T.C.H.; Monsters Allergy) have created something beautiful and unique, with truly breathtaking artwork that potentially overpowers the story. That said, this volume delivers an intriguing message about the influence religion can have on society. Recommended for mature audiences owing to the sexual content.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

Giménez, Carlos. Paracuellos: Children of the Defeated in Franco’s Fascist Spain. Vol. 1. EuroComics: IDW. Mar. 2016. 136p. tr. from Spanish by Sonya Jones. ISBN 9781631404689. pap. $24.99. HIST/AUTOBIOG
Acclaimed Spanish creator Giménez (b. 1941) depicts brief vignettes from his life and that of other boys who lived in the fascist social aid “homes” that were by turns horrifying, pathetic, and poignant in this first English translation of this work. After the fascist victory in the Spanish Civil War, the state established social aid “homes” (Giménez always puts the word in quotation marks) for orphans of the conflict, children of the jailed or the ill, and the youth of families with too many mouths to feed. The author was one such inmate of the system, and here he portrays his own recollections and those of his fellow sufferers. They endured daily humiliation, punishment, and extreme deprivation at the hands of fascist and Catholic administrators. Not unexpectedly, some children turned on others. Giménez’s characters are pitiful creatures with huge eyes and hang-dog expressions, while the facility personnel are grotesque. The occasional older brother or kindly young women on staff are good-looking, representing as they do the boys’ hope of kindness.
Verdict Fascist Spain does not impinge on most peoples’ lives today, but these memories of the ease of a society in turning to cruelty against its least members is a cautionary tale for us all.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids