Gets beneath the mask and tights to humanize the henching life.

HENCH 2012 EDITION

For once, the henchman gets to tell his origin story in this beautifully rendered graphic novel.

In comic books, every costumed villain bent on elaborate schemes, whether a jewelry heist or world domination, needs a few henchmen. It’s these bit players who drive the getaway cars and provide the muscle. Mike Fulton is an ordinary guy whose college football career was shattered along with his knee after a rough game. Trying to buckle down to a normal life, he marries, has a child and works a low-paying job, but he never stops missing the excitement of competition, cheering crowds and team spirit. Football was the only thing he was ever good at. As a linebacker whose mentality is “Just tell me what to do, and turn me loose,” Mike doesn’t know how to make things better. Then he meets Randy, another ex-athlete whose career was ended by injury, who asks him: “Have you ever considered henching?” Former football players are in demand: They have size, speed and can follow orders. And despite the huge risks, Mike has no better offers. After a successful heist, Mike is nabbed on another job and sent to prison. He promises his wife he’ll go straight, but when their son, Cory, needs expensive medical treatment, he gets back into the life. This choice will have tragic consequences that Mike eventually must face. Beechen (Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond, 2014, etc.), Bello (Dugout, 2008) and Beavers (Bad Weather!, 2014, etc.) have created an entertaining, thoughtful spin on the superhero comic, cleverly focusing on the kind of character always left in the background: “This is me,” read several helpful arrows pointing Mike out among a crowd. (This technique is used to excellent, increasingly poignant effect throughout.) Mike’s character is interestingly, realistically developed. Touches of humor and a well-informed understanding of the genre (several panels are hat tips to comic-book greats) help bolster the story. The artwork is strong, bold and dynamic while still providing fine details that help set the scene.

Gets beneath the mask and tights to humanize the henching life.

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4776-4957-2

Page Count: 134

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Of late, there have been many unsuccessful attempts to adapt Shakespeare into the graphic-novel format; Hinds’s beautiful new offering now sets the standard that all others will strive to meet. Presenting readers with deftly drawn characters (based on live models) and easily read dialogue that modulates over the course of the work from adapted prose to the original Shakespeare, he re-works the classic Shakespeare play of deception, greed and revenge. Though located in a modern setting, readers will easily follow the premise and find themselves lost in the intricately lovely Venetian backdrop. While this adaptation may leave purists sniffing at the omission of entire scenes and characters, Hinds carefully explains to his readers in a note why and how he made those choices. A deceptively simple graphic novel on the surface, this volume begs for multiple readings on a closer level, at the same time acting as a wonderful introduction to the original. Easily on a par with his stellar adaptation of Beowulf (2007), it’s a captivating, smartly executed work. (Graphic novel. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3024-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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