Graphic Novels from Ferraris and Gibelin & Wendling | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 16, 2018

Ferraris, Andrea. The Battle of Churubusco: American Rebels in the Mexican-American War. Fantagraphics. Jan. 2018. 200p. ISBN 9781683960577. pap. $22.99. F
Having been promised land and citizenship, young Italian Gaetano Rizzo enlists in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War (1846–48). Throughout the story, he experiences racism and brutality and witnesses horrible deaths, forcing him to reconsider his decision to fight on the American side. With only a few colored pages, in subdued shades of brown and orange, creator Ferraris’s first graphic novel consists of mostly charcoal illustrations that tell a haunting tale all on their own. Wordless actions and body language show the effects of the conflict on both sides, with many full-page drawings depicting beautiful imagery, such as an early scene of a gorge Gaetano is ordered to scout.
Verdict This powerful story is for mature readers both familiar with graphic narratives or new to the medium. It could also serve as a strong choice for inclusion in high school English or history curriculum.—Taylor Silva, Fall River P.L., MA

Gibelin, Christophe (text) & Claire Wendling (illus.). Lights of the Amalou. EuroComics: IDW. Feb. 2018. 240p. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. ISBN 9781631409165. pap. $39.99. FANTASY
French writer Gibelin (Le Traque-Mémoire) and artist Wendling (Desk; Alone in the Dark IV) present the first English translation of this award-winning five-part series originally completed in 1996. The story follows an ancient power struggle between the powerful, immortal wizard Théo and an omnipotent Great Oak, who together created and populated the world of Legend. Enter a duo of anthropomorphic ferrets who find themselves teamed with the enigmatic Orane after their plane crashes outside her village. More mysteries present themselves as the group sets out to stop the wizard from killing the tree for its power. Gibelin’s storytelling lends itself easily to be binge-read in an afternoon. Wendling’s artwork is by no means lacking but definitely improves in character design and use of color as the plot evolves. Despite a few lines of awkward dialog, the translation seems to have been completed with care.
Verdict Recommended to fans of mature epic fantasies à la Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga who are looking for a much shorter read.—Taylor Silva, Fall River P.L., MA

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