Readers should be eager for further developments in this promising superhero series.

THE FORMULA

This graphic novel tells the origin story of how two Black teenage brothers become superhero fighters for justice.

In 1999, Los Angeles fire battalion chief Ashley “Ashtray” Jones dies of his injuries after heading back into a blazing apartment to perform a final rescue. He leaves behind his wife, Inez, and two boys, Romeo and Jay. That was 14 years ago. Now it’s 2013, and drug kingpin Dexter Dre is finally going on trial for arson (retaliation against a rival dealer) and manslaughter charges in the fire that killed Ashtray. The brothers are in high school, where Jay is quarterback on the football team while Romeo produces rap music with his best friend. A new drug on the scene called Maze can grant different powers to its users, such as walking through walls or superstrength. Jay’s pressured by team members to try it, but his father’s spirit talks him out of it. When Maze-enhanced thieves violently strike chez Inez, the brothers vow to take revenge. They face a learning curve—but they’re just getting started. The Johnson brothers, who have collaborated on other creative projects, now offer this first installment of a graphic novel series. The setup is intriguing, providing a potent motivation for the Jones brothers and whetting readers’ interest in learning more about the storyline’s several strands. Dialogue, too, is a strength, deftly revealing plot and character across a range of voices: firefighters, a pastor, urban teenagers, a TV broadcaster, and more. The artists provide cinematically dynamic, varied compositions in rich, crisp colors that portray emotions, actions, and momentum with great effect. Lettering, too, is skillful; a villain’s acoustic attacks, rendered with soundwavelike jaggedness, are practically audible.

Readers should be eager for further developments in this promising superhero series.

Pub Date: July 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-7837-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

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Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times...

ROMEO AND JULIET

From the Campfire Classics series

A bland, uninspired graphic adaptation of the Bard’s renowned love story.

Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times oddly psychedelic-tinged backgrounds of cool blues and purples, the mood is strange, and the overall ambiance of the story markedly absent. Appealing to what could only be a high-interest/low–reading level audience, McDonald falls short of the mark. He explains a scene in an open-air tavern with a footnote—“a place where people gather to drink”—but he declines to offer definitions for more difficult words, such as “dirges.” While the adaptation does follow the foundation of the play, the contemporary language offers nothing; cringeworthy lines include Benvolio saying to Romeo at the party where he first meets Juliet, “Let’s go. It’s best to leave now, while the party’s in full swing.” Nagar’s faces swirl between dishwater and grotesque, adding another layer of lost passion in a story that should boil with romantic intensity. Each page number is enclosed in a little red heart; while the object of this little nuance is obvious, it’s also unpleasantly saccharine. Notes after the story include such edifying tidbits about Taylor Swift and “ ‘Wow’ dialogs from the play” (which culls out the famous quotes).

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-58-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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