Friday, January 09, 2015

Short Booknotes on Graphic Novels 20, and a Bonus Item

Charles M. Schultz, The Complete Peanuts: 1963-1964. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2007. ISBN: 9781560977230.

This volume did have some heartwarming moments, but the mean girl bullying is still present. This volume features Snoopy's stay at the animal hospital, which did have its cute moments, and it has Charlie Brown's humiliation when the Red-haired Girl shows up to one of his baseball games.  Also this was the year Schultz introduced characters we'll never see again; this time it's "5" and his sisters "3" and "4." Given how forgettable they are, it is evident we won't be seeing them for long. Overall, I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

Charles M. Schultz, The Complete Peanuts: 1965-1966. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2007. ISBN: 9781560977247.

I was not terribly impressed by this volume. I liked it, but I did not find it particularly memorable. The highlights of this volume are: the first appearance of Peppermint Patty, and Snoopy starts his forays as World War I flying ace. The humor is soft, but only in instances. Lucy remains as obnoxious as ever, which for me after a while just takes away from the charm of the comic strip. So, overall, I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

John Ostrander, Star Wars: Darkness. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, 2002. ISBN: 9781569716595.

This is the story of Quinlan Vos, a troubled Jedi who survived an encounter with the Dark Side of the Force. Even though the Jedi Council has concerns, they assign him a mission to help the Guardians who watch over a prison planet. It does not seem like anything he can't handle, but Vos finds more than he expects. He gets reluctant help from a Devaronian mercenary, and finds a former apprentice of his who may or not be touched by the Dark Side. Overall, it was a quick and passable read. This was an OK book, so I am giving it 2 out of 5 stars.

Devin Grayson, Batman: Year One-- Ra's al Ghul. New York: DC Comics, 2006. ISBN: 9781401209049.

This was a mostly fun read. The framing story, Ra's posthumous letter to Batman, which goes into detail some of Ra's life and his discovery of the Lazarus pits, was interesting. Batman's present day problem of no one dying in Gotham, due apparently to Batman having destroyed all the pits, seemed a bit rushed and a bit of an afterthought. A good story but not particularly great. Fans who like Ra's character will likely enjoy the additional insights. I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

Ed Brubaker,, X-Men: Deadly Genesis. New York: Marvel Comics, 2005. ISBN: 9780785118305.

As I understand it, this come right before Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire, which I also read. The story is a bit complex, and it may help if you have read the rest of the series prior to this. This book is a serious mess where Vulcan is basically out of revenge (understandably so), but he basically becomes a homicidal asshole in the process. Professor X does not come across much better, more like an arrogant man making some decisions for others that he probably should not be making. A revelations come out a bit too conveniently; we get a lot of hidden and locked memories. This book was not so much an "event" as a placeholder for the next "event" in the series. Particularly annoying too where the small stories of individual mutants that had nothing to do with the main story. They disrupt the narrative and should have instead been put at the end as supplementary material. I am giving it one star as it was one I did not particularly like. 

Ed Brubaker, Uncanny X-Men: The Extremists. New York: Marvel, 2008. ISBN: 9780785119821.

This volume collects Uncanny X-Men issues 487-491, and for the most part it's another "between major events" placeholder. A few of the X-Men are back from space after the events in Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire.  Upon return, they find things at home are not good, especially for mutants. The Morlocks, underground-dwelling mutants, seem active once more, following some prophecy. It's up to the X-Men to investigate. This is an entertaining quick read by Brubaker with art by Salvador Larroca. It can stand on its own, but for some details, it helps if you have kept up with the series. This volume comes right before Messiah Complex. I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

And the bonus book:

Frank R. Paul,, Frank R. Paul: Father of Science Fiction Art. New York: Castle Books, 2009. ISBN: 9780785826095.

This is not a graphic novel. However, I wrote a very short note on it after reading it, so I am adding it here. This volume was a nice one, but it was not great. It is a nice exposition of Paul's art. It showcases his covers work as well as other art work. I found the various tribute essays to be repetitive in describing Paul's genius and significance (the man really was a genius and titan in science fiction and illustration). Instead, the publishers should have selected on essayist, then let the work speak for itself. I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

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