Graphic Novels from DuBay & Co., Graham & Churchland, and Moore | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 14, 2017

DuBay, William & Budd Lewis (text) & Luis Bermejo & Paul Gulacy (illus.). William B. DuBay’s The Rook Archives. Vol. 1. Dark Horse. May 2017. 128p. ISBN 9781506702841. $19.99. SF
A lone hero travels in an unusually shaped time machine, battling evil and picking up companions. No, it’s not the Doctor—it’s intrepid scientist/adventurer Restin Dane, the Rook, created for Eerie magazine in 1977. This hardcover brings Restin’s earliest appearances together in book form for the first time. Restin invents the Time Castle (shaped like the titular chess piece), hoping to save the life of his ancestor Parrish Dane, who fought in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. On that quest, Restin meets another ancestor, Bishop Dane, who returns to the future with him, and runs afoul of dastardly gunfighter Gat Hawkin. Eerie specialized in horror, but this is pure sf-as-men’s adventure (the ladies love the Rook). Its old-fashioned fun is wholly unburdened by consistency and logic and leavened by much attempted comic relief in the caricatured villain Granny Gadget and the episodes teaming crusty old Bishop with Restin’s C3PO-esque robot valet Manners.
Verdict Worth a look for old-school fans of Doctor Who, Buckaroo Banzai, or British comics such as Judge Dredd, provided they don’t set their expectations sky-high.—Stephen Raiteri, Greene Cty. P.L., Xenia, OH

Graham, Brandon (text) & Marian Churchland & Ariana Maher (illus.). Arclight. Vol. 1. Image. Mar. 2017. 128p. ISBN 9781534300972. pap. $14.99. Rated: M. FANTASY
Is originality overrated, much less enough to make a creative work succeed? Case in point: the recent four-issue fantasy miniseries collected here, complete with original cover art and selected preliminary sketches. Add Arclight to the list of similar efforts by artists who intend to invent worlds that audiences haven’t seen before rather than just tell a story. Creators Graham (Prophet) and Churchland (Beast) have ambitiously set this work in the 8HOUSE shared universe, to which Churchland has already contributed the “From Under Mountains” series. Although the story’s ingredients are familiar—magic, shape-shifting, hostile aliens, and embattled kingdoms and their noble houses—as rendered by Churchland, they become glacially beautiful. Which is problematic, since this tale of Lady Kinga and her faithful knight pitted against a usurper who has taken on the former’s identity and a foreign power is so inscrutable that it’s merely a clothesline decorated with pretty pictures.
Verdict An admirable yet unsatisfying opus. Arclight is singular enough to make only readers of challenging fantasy curious about what else the 8HOUSE universe has in store. Some disturbing imagery, yet suitable for all but the youngest readers. An optional purchase.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Moore, Dan Méndez. Six Days in Cincinnati: A Graphic Account of the Riots That Shook the Nation a Decade Before Black Lives Matter. Microcosm. (Comix Journalism). Jun. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781621068006. pap. $11.95. HIST
sixdays041417Moore’s latest book updates his earlier work, Mark Twain Was Right, with a new collection of shared perspectives on the 2001 Cincinnati clashes, the first large-scale, 20th-century U.S. riot. The narrative and artwork lend plenty of authenticity, as if Moore were sketching events on a napkin as they were happening. And while one could point to the 1966 Cleveland protests as the precursor to later demonstrations in New York City, Ferguson, MO, and other places nationwide, this book takes on the Over-the-Rhine community and its pushback against the city and police after 15 black men had been shot by authorities in a few short years. The death of the final victim, 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, ignited what began as several peaceful protests, with isolated incidents of looting and violence. The best moments are when other members of the community share where they were and what they saw during those six days, bringing the reader behind the scenes of the uprising.
Verdict A solid purchase for YA collections, this work introduces readers to an event that in a few years may be representative of the recent reemergence of community demonstrations against excessive police violence. Readers interested in a different perspective on social justice and the history of U.S. protests will also be intrigued.—Ryan Claringbole, Wisconsin Dept. of Pub. Instruction, Madison