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A medieval fantasy slaughter-fest that subtly questions the morality of all the carnage.

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A war-hardened Templar knight teleports through a mystic portal into a savage realm of demonlike monsters in Emmons’ fantasy graphic novel.

This dark tale opens during the third of the medieval bloodbaths known as the Crusades (no Christian/Islamic background is offered here, for those fearing History Channel exposition). A nameless, helmeted Templar knight, ferocious in deadly sword battles (“Never retreat in battle. Under pain of mortal sin”), finally arrives in the Holy Land, only to find a satanic ritual and human sacrifice in progress. Outraged at the blasphemy, the Templar knight hacks apart the cultists. Somehow, this propels the hero to a realm called the Beastlands, populated by humans as well as grotesque creatures. A small, goblinlike being called Grimbel, who is apparently benign, becomes the knight’s guide and odd-couple sidekick as the realm suffers the predations of a ghoulish trio of skeletal wizard-things called the Masters, the alpha villains of the Beastlands. Their prime servant, the sadistic and orclike Pilgrim, basically cannot be killed, no matter how often it’s dismembered, burned, or drowned. The fearless Crusader battles on regardless, seemingly acquiring some superpowers of his own (his sword levitates to his hand) and becoming unable to remove his helmet or even recall his own name. Slashing-and-bashing combat takes center stage here, supported by a few side themes about the zealot Templar beginning to temper his propensity for violence and murderous retribution (particularly as realization dawns that nobody in the Beastlands recognizes the messianic religion he serves or the Holy Land he has spilled so much blood over), and to recognize that not all scaly reptile-people are necessarily the bad guys. With no major female characters, the material sidesteps Frank Frazetta–style cheesecake fan service, which is fortunate, though the butchery earns an R rating on its own terms. Emmons’ illustrations, suitably, resemble something between old woodcuts or stained-glass windows and more splattery imagery that a heavy metal fan might sketch out in high school study hall.

A medieval fantasy slaughter-fest that subtly questions the morality of all the carnage.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781952303807

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Mad Cave Studios

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2024

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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

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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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