From the Underground series , Vol. 1

Gore-splattered lessons in anatomy as well as bringing the pain.

Testosterone soaks the pages of this ultraviolent urban martial arts comic.

In pursuit of the sneering giant who challenged him outside the gym one day and smashed his Olympic dreams along with his ribs, kickboxer Karim Yun dives into the corrupt and sordid world of no-rules cage fighting to pulp and be pulped by invariably larger opponents—notably proud boxer Leon Espinosa, who becomes an ally and second protagonist partway through after deciding that he doesn’t like being ordered to deliberately throw fights. Spatters of blood, sound effects (“WHAM,” “BOOM,” “URGH!”), and blurred figures capture the impact of heavy blows to heads and bodies during bouts; meanwhile the mix of vocal and inner dialogue delivers technical commentary on strikes and strategy (“A 540 hook kick knockout?!” “A one-shot kill liver blow!”) that is supplemented by detailed views, sometimes even X-rays, of cracked bones and mangled joints and organs. Aside from Maya Kang, a nurse who attaches herself to Karim to doctor him between fights and be rescued from assaults by leering louts, the only women here are lingerie-clad and shown fawning over fight promoters, but De Bard provides views aplenty of strutting, tattooed, massively chiseled males to gawk at. Names cue some ethnic diversity in the cast, as do differences in skin tone and hair texture in the monochrome art.

Gore-splattered lessons in anatomy as well as bringing the pain. (Graphic fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780760382363

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Rockport Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023


A hopeful coming-out story charged with motivation for local change.

A small-town basketball star with big ambitions fights for more than just a state championship for his team.

Sixteen-year-old Barclay Elliot, captain of the high school basketball team, watches the clock of his life tick down second by second. Nearly a month ago, Scratch, his beloved grandpa who survived the Vietnam War and cancer, died in a car crash. Ever since, Barclay has regretted never telling Scratch that he’s gay. Determined not to miss another shot at living openly, Barclay comes out in his speech at the pep rally before the first game of the season in front of his team, the school, and practically the entirety of Chitwood, Georgia. Following his big moment, Barclay expects cheers from the crowd and the support of his team, but instead, he is let down by nearly all the people he thought loved and admired him. This novel highlights the impact and urgency of paying attention to local politics. Hurt and surprised by the rejection from his team, for the first time—and with the help of friends who are more attuned to what it’s like to be marginalized—Barclay, who is White, notices flaws in his community, including discrimination and political corruption on the school board. Although Barclay faces homophobia, his family supports him. Within his relationships with friends, new crushes, and his family, Barclay learns important lessons about privilege, vulnerability, and accountability.

A hopeful coming-out story charged with motivation for local change. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9781534492622

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023


Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage.

Louisiana high school football star Russell Boudreaux chooses to take a stand.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick captured the world’s attention by kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against Black Americans. His courageous actions, which resulted in his expulsion from professional football, galvanized a generation of Black athletes to use athletic platforms to spotlight social injustice. This novel draws on this context to weave a tale about two up-and-coming Black high school football players trying to make the most of their final season and escape the harsh realities of their hometown lives. Russell is the Jackson High Jaguars’ formidable tight end, unstoppable when paired with his best friend and game-changing quarterback, Marion. Yet, when White players from well-off rival Westmond incite a fight during a game using racial epithets, Marion must deal with the unjust consequences of biased policing that not only land him off the team, but possibly in jail. Even worse, one of the officers involved was reassigned following the unprosecuted police murder of a Black boy in nearby Shreveport. For Gabby, Russell’s love interest and self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, this requires a courageous stand—but facing up to injustice brings unforeseen consequences; readers must navigate the complex ethics that inform a principled activist stance. Debut author Buford delivers a novel that bridges the mighty dreams of Last Chance Uwith the trenchant social critique of The Hate U Give.

Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-40251-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021