Friday, May 24, 2013

Short booknotes on graphic novels 17

I continue my semi-regular series of short booknotes for graphic novels and comics. Usually, if I read short works, I prefer to put them together in a post featuring a few of them than making a lot of little short posts for each one. The first three volumes I borrowed from my local public library. For the last one, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volume, I read it as an e-book galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (So, there, we have appeased The Man, a.k.a. the FCC). Also, the first three titles go to WorldCat records. The last one, since the book is a galley, I did find a preliminary record at an online bookstore (the book should be available in July as I understand it).

Mark Waid, Daredevil, Vol. 1. New York: Marvel, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-7851-5238-5.

Volume covers the first six issues of Mark Waid's run on Daredevil. Matt Murdock, having been outed as the Daredevil, tries to rebuild his legal career after a hiatus. He starts by taking a police brutality case that seems to be a winner. From there, he gets involved in other cases including a wrongful termination case that turns out to be more than it appears. I will add that the art quality on this one is pretty good too. Overall, a good entertaining read.

Stuart Manning, Aaron Campbell (illustrator), and Guiu Vilanova (illustrator), Dark Shadows, Vol. 1.  Runnemede (NJ) : Dynamite Entertainment, 2012. ISBN: 9781606902752.

Apparently, this is a continuation of a television gothic soap opera from the late 1960s, which was then remade in the 1990s. I have not seen the original, and I barely recall catching an episode or two of the 1990s production late at night. I have not seen the recent movie made by Tim Burton (based on the trailers, it did not seem appealing), I come to the work as a casual reader. The volume compiles the first four issues of a series put out by Dynamite, which I understand take off where the series ended. The problem with that is that the author assumes that you are fully conversant with what came before. The story is alright, but not terribly suspenseful. For the most part, you are left to figure out what is going on, and why the characters act like they do. Quentin turning out to be a werewolf was a bit of a surprise, though not totally unexpected given we know the Collins family is cursed somehow. We know Angelique, a witch who is (supposedly) dead and buried, is obsessed with Barnabas, the man she turned into a vampire, but unless you followed the series,  you learn little of the conflict between them. She just wants him, and she will do anything to get him now that she has come back to life. Then there are loose ends such as why David, the youngest member of the house, seems to be misbehaving. It is mentioned in passing. Anyhow, if you are a fan of the show, you might enjoy this. If not, then, it is a passable story, but it leaves a lot of gaps for the reader.

Ed Brubaker, Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire. New York: Marvel, 2007. ISBN: 9780785125150.

This run of Uncanny X-Men comes after the events of the Deadly Genesis series; the compilation includes issues of Uncanny X-Men #475-486. It might help if you have read the previous volume, but you get enough here that you can figure out what is going on just fine if you have not picked up Deadly Genesis. The mutant Vulcan seeks revenge against the Shi'ar Empire, who killed his mother (among other wrongs), and he is just powerful enough to burn them all. The X-Men send a team, led by Professor X (who has lost his own mutant powers and is also a wanted man by the Shi'ar) to try to stop him. The series is epic in scope, and overall it is a series that packs a good amount of action and political intrigue. If you like political machinations with your stories, there are some here. The end of the tale sets up for the next story arc. Overall, I found this a pretty good adventure, nice blend of action and plot. The art was also pretty good. Fans of X-Men will probably enjoy it.

Mateus Santoluoco, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan. San Diego: IDW, 2013. ISBN: 9781613776094.

I think this is the best item I have read in this group. Let us note up front that the title is recommended for readers 16 and up, though I think younger readers who are good, mature readers will probably be ok with this story. The volume collects the issues of the mini-series Secret History of the Foot Clan. The TMNT get a history lesson on the past of their sensei, Master Splinter, and his time with the Foot Clan. Yes, he did spend time with the Foot Clan, as did the ninja who would become known as Shredder. A scholar is slowly finding more and more information about the Foot Clan, and the clan, led by Shredder, is concerned such discoveries may expose the clan and its operations. It falls to the ninja turtles to try to protect the man from the clan, but does he really need or want said protection? Along with that story, we get stories back in time to feudal Japan when the clan was founded. Back then, the founder had dealings with a kitsune witch, and she herself had dealings with a demon (a demon that readers of this comic will know very well). Back then, Shredder was betrayed by the clan and killed, but his spirit refused to die. With the help of the witch, his spirit was able to reincarnate in another ninja, rendering him immortal, at a price. So we get two great stories: the action-filled story of the turtles trying to save the scholar and keep a precious artifact from the clan and the story in feudal Japan that gives us the story of the clan. Overall, this makes for a good TMNT story that I think fans as well as casual readers will enjoy. The story is certainly a bit more mature; these are not the turtles from Saturday morning cartoons. The art is gritty, with a good style that is well suited the story. For me, this is how I envision the ninja turtles.

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