Graphic Novels from Azzarello & Risso, Hennessey & McGowan, and Unferth & Haidle | Xpress Reviews

Week ending July 7, 2017

Azzarello, Brian (text) & Eduardo Risso & others (illus.). Moonshine. Vol. 1. Image. May 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781534300644. pap. $9.99. Rated: M. HORROR/MYS
In this first volume of a new series by Azzarello and Risso, the renowned creators of 100 Bullets take readers deep into a well-constructed Prohibition-era werewolf horror story. A successful mob boss of the New York City underground sends his smooth-talking boy Lou Pirlo to the backwoods of West Virginia to obtain some high-quality Appalachian hooch. Hiram Holt’s moonshine is worth dying for, and it’s kept that way in order to protect not only the alcohol but also Holt’s family and secrets. Lou doesn’t take any of the opportunities given to him to get out of the situation and soon finds himself last on the moonshine receiving line. By the end, the werewolf guarding the Holt liquor could be any one of the mountain people claiming to be part of the proprietor’s clan. Perhaps the creature’s true identity will be revealed in Volume 2.
Verdict Moonshine stands up against Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta’s Outcast with its supernatural and voodoo witchcraft elements. Recommended for anyone interested in fantasy-tinged mob thrillers who are not turned away by foul language or gore.—Teresa Potter-Reyes, Helen Hall Lib., League City, TX

Hennessey, Jonathan (text) & Jack McGowan (illus.). The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution. Ten Speed: Crown. Oct. 2017. 192p. ISBN 9780399578908. pap. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399578915. GAMES
The history of video games is a complex one, full of both technical wizardry and business maneuvering, which can be confusing for anyone studying the medium’s evolution. This volume offers a nice balance for readers seeking highlights of the major events and figures and wishing not to get lost in a labyrinth of detail. Crisp, sharp, full-color art from McGowan, more than a little inspired by modern animation, speeds alongside a researched yet readable narrative from Hennessey (The U.S. Constitution; Alexander Hamilton), showcasing the technological advances that propelled the growth of the industry and the company ventures that in turn strengthened and weakened the products’ commercial greatness. Hennessey uses definitive games (e.g., Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Minecraft) as touch points, and few industry experts would argue with his selections or their role in radically altering gaming throughout time.
Verdict An approachable introduction for those starting a deeper study, though still a bit too academic for casual and/or younger gamers or anyone more interested in competitive gaming.—M. Brandon Robbins, Goldsboro H.S., NC

Unferth, Deb Olin (text) & Elizabeth Haidle (illus.). I, Parrot. Black Balloon: Catapult. Nov. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9781936787654. pap. $18.95. F
This surprisingly ordinary tale by National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Unferth (Revolution) and artist Haidle (Illustoria magazine) tells of Daphne, a woman struggling with the loss of custody of her young son, Noah; the devolution of her romantic relationship; and her inability to keep gainful employment. As the book begins, our protagonist is bird-sitting her new boss’s large colony of rare, expensive parrots. In addition to this responsibility, she must deal with Noah’s terrible stepmother, bird mites, overdue rent, and an unlikely case of grand theft auto. All the bizarre struggles, particularly the fancy, vocal parrots, quickly reveal themselves as signifiers of adulthood’s many discontents—checking to-do boxes, signing checks, and feigning respectability while feeling inauthentic—that Daphne feels she must do in order to hold on to the child she adores. Drawing on the parrot metaphor, wildness ultimately wins in this story, though the reality of the ensuing custody arrangement remains somewhat hazy. Haidle’s accompanying illustrations, filled with beautiful birds often in flight, are shadowy and moody in a style a bit too reminiscent of the work of Brecht Evens.
Verdict A promising premise complete with exotic creatures and complex conundrums becomes an overly simplified tale of self-realization, with artwork bested by more ambitious cartoonists. I, Parrot has the bones of a better story but not the meat. [See Douglas Rednour’s graphic novels preview, “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17, p. 40.—Ed.]—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX



  1. Martha Cornog says:

    Does The Comic Book Story of Video Games mention the Gamergate controversy?

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