A distinctive horror tale with stark characters and radiant artwork.

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When the mob uses a fortuneteller’s predictions for its criminal benefit, things quickly turn violent and macabre in this graphic novel.

Psychic Helen Wilson charges a meager $25 for a reading at her Naugatuck, Connecticut, home. Those who pay for her services witness her astonishing abilities to foresee future events and apparently speak with the dead. But Luigi Nicolo watches Helen guess plays during a baseball game. Once his mob boss uncle, AC Nicolo, gets wind of this and believes Helen is legit, he sends Luigi to intimidate her. After all, she can boost the gangsters’ capital with predictions that make bank robberies a cinch. When one of those heists goes bad, AC suspects Helen betrayed him, and he responds in typical mob fashion. But Helen may be the wrong person to cross, and her retaliation is more horrifying than anything AC can imagine. In a concurrent plot, Helen seemingly derives her power from her “zodiac table.” This story gradually reveals the origin of the table, which, though clearly antique, is much older than it looks. Xalabarder’s tale is based on a 2014 book by Evans, Biltz, and Bousquet called Horrorscope. Xalabarder’s graphic novel, though predictable (even for nonpsychics), establishes memorable characters. For example, Helen is an empathetic woman who uses her powers to help others, while police Detective Merton Howard succumbs to a growing fascination with the fortuneteller and her enigmatic table. The narrative’s latter half, in which zodiac-inspired creatures take the narrative reins, bursts with bloody, graphic imagery. It’s a fine display of Xalabarder’s art, particularly the assorted colors; muted blues adorn night scenes and contrast with intermittent sepia-toned flashbacks. In a standout 1950-set sequence, the only color among black-and-white images is the glaring red of blood. The story’s open ending as well as a few unknown character fates suggest that a sequel will follow.

A distinctive horror tale with stark characters and radiant artwork.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021


Page Count: 81

Publisher: WestWinds Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021


A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth.

Superman confronts racism and learns to accept himself with the help of new friends.

In this graphic-novel adaptation of the 1940s storyline entitled “The Clan of the Fiery Cross” from The Adventures of Superman radio show, readers are reintroduced to the hero who regularly saves the day but is unsure of himself and his origins. The story also focuses on Roberta Lee, a young Chinese girl. She and her family have just moved from Chinatown to Metropolis proper, and mixed feelings abound. Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane’s colleague from the Daily Planet, takes a larger role here, befriending his new neighbors, the Lees. An altercation following racial slurs directed at Roberta’s brother after he joins the local baseball team escalates into an act of terrorism by the Klan of the Fiery Kross. What starts off as a run-of-the-mill superhero story then becomes a nuanced and personal exploration of the immigrant experience and blatant and internalized racism. Other main characters are White, but Black police inspector William Henderson fights his own battles against prejudice. Clean lines, less-saturated coloring, and character designs reminiscent of vintage comics help set the tone of this period piece while the varied panel cuts and action scenes give it a more modern sensibility. Cantonese dialogue is indicated through red speech bubbles; alien speech is in green.

A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth. (author’s note, bibliography) (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77950-421-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020


From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

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

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


Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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