400 BC: THE STORY OF THE TEN THOUSAND

Despite plenty of spattered blood and armored warriors sporting the oversized thews of Conanlike barbarians, this fictionalized graphic rendition of Xenophon’s Anabasis fails to give the renowned retreat much life or drama—or even to tell a coherent story. The narrative of foot soldier Eustachius opens with the realization of the Greek mercenaries that they’ve been suckered into taking on the entire Persian army and then follows the core that survives the battle of Cunaxa (and the death of Cyrus, their employer) on its more than 1,000-mile march through hostile territory back to Greece. It is brought to grinding halts first by an overlong flashback to peaceful times and later by a lurid but superfluous dream. Not only does the soldiers’ relentless bickering form a distracting backdrop to the exhausting marches and costly battles, but much of the visual action is squeezed into small inset panels where it shares space with boxes of wordy dialogue and commentary. Furthermore the art looks sketchier in some panels than others, and the characters (particularly when their faces are obscured by wraparound helmets) tend to look alike. Fans of Frank Miller’s epic 300 (1999) may be lured by the similar title, but will come away disappointed. (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-61-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video...

KUNG FU HERO AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY

A COMEDYSHORTSGAMER GRAPHIC NOVEL

YouTube sensation ComedyShortsGamer takes his signature blend of hilarity and hijinks on an unbelievable journey into the fantastical Beijing underground with his brother/nemesis, KSI.

With over 9 million subscribers and 3 billion views on his YouTube channel, Olatunji has become an icon of sorts for his idiosyncratic mix of gamer culture, internet pranks, and viral challenges. First published in the U.K. in 2017, this graphic novel allows Olatunji to bring some of the more costly “crazy ideas that go on in [his] head” into print, embracing the adolescent ridiculousness that brought him and his brother international fame. The plot: In an effort to bring the family together—and get the boys away from video games—the Olatunjis take a family trip to Beijing, where one intricate Deji-led prank leads the Triad crime syndicate to believe he may have heroic kung-fu powers and pose a threat to their takeover of the Forbidden City. All this is further complicated with a stereotypical (if not just downright problematic) pseudo-Chinese mythological quest that has world-ending implications. These characters might as well have been stolen from bad gamer archetypes: the “smokin’ hot love interest,” the street punks and the crime boss with “bad ass haircuts,” and let’s not forget Shi—a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, woman-ogling, “very inappropriate”–talking, animated Chinese lion dog statue. A clue to the tale’s end is noted in Deji’s introductory character bio: “It’s usually some freaky twist of fate that gets Deji out of sticky situations.” This whole ordeal seems nothing but a sticky situation.

Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video game–inspired graphic fantasy but delivers nothing more than cheap prepubescent thrills. (Graphic fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4091-7428-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Trapeze/Hachette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A.L.I.E.E.E.N.

Designed to look like a weatherworn comic found in the woods, this outrageously imaginative graphic novel touts itself as the “first extraterrestrial comic book on earth.” Through a series of untitled nonlinear vignettes, the wide-eyed and seemingly innocent-looking alien characters embark on a series of adventures (and misadventures) that capture intrinsically human characteristics. In some episodes, bright, boldly colored cutesy aliens—who bear a toy-like resemblance—juxtapose violent situations, portraying both beauty and horror, in smart cohesion. Evincing the cruelties, the comedies and the oft-bizarre traits of the protagonists through an inventive and unique format, Trondheim distinguishes himself as a trailblazer in the youth graphic-novel market. Readers will be delighted by the wordless tale with its endearing, yet rascally alien characters and the sometimes crude plot that encompasses a variety of motifs, from invoking compassion to scatological humor. Not for the younger set, but an accomplished offbeat selection worth considering. (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59643-095-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more