Deftly unorthodox and wickedly delectable; not so much a story as an experience.


Godkiller, Vol. 1


In Pizzolo’s stellar graphic novel—the first three issues of his debut comic-book series—an orphan boy braves a desolate, post-apocalyptic land in search of a heart for his sister.

Tommy Stark and his 14-year-old comatose sister, Lucy, live in an orphanage in a world that’s barely survived a nuclear holy war. The markets for clean blood and fresh organs are thriving, and Dr. West is ready to give up on Lucy to harvest her organs for profit. Tommy hopes to save Lucy by finding her a new heart, but tracking a couple of organ thieves takes him to Outer City, a savage region where undesirables crave his exceptionally clean blood. Dr. Mulciber, who has the power of insight, sees something special in the boy and enlists prostitute Halfpipe to help save Tommy from the likes of Beezal, a vicious pimp. There’s a lot going on in Pizzolo’s wonderfully bizarre story, but its most distinctive feature is a barren, nearly dead world. The outside world is filled with decrepit, abandoned buildings, and even characters’ bodies are in disrepair, adorned in lacerations and stitches. The people, too, are lost souls: Tommy defies the reputedly civilized Republic in Silver City and swears an oath to the Burnt, an order he’s only read about in comic books (he took a hot iron to the face, the corresponding bandage serving as a constant reminder of his want for independence). The decidedly adult novel features a good amount of sex and violence, though never in a typical fashion. Characters tend to walk away from bloody assaults, and sex isn’t always for personal gratification: Angelfuck, an organ thief, claims her orgasms are weaponized, and sexual indulgence for Mulciber unlocks his extraordinary gift. Wieszczyk and Templesmith’s artwork is enchanting and a true visual companion to Pizzolo’s story. Characters are etched in chaotic scratches as if carved in stone, and pages are saturated in a rusty hue, like the soot and dirt corroding the atmosphere. The ending, of course, saves plenty for the second volume.

Deftly unorthodox and wickedly delectable; not so much a story as an experience.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1628750546

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Black Mask Comics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.



Continuing his apparent mission to refract the whole of English culture and history through his personal lens, Ackroyd (Thames: The Biography, 2008, etc.) offers an all-prose rendering of Chaucer’s mixed-media masterpiece.

While Burton Raffel’s modern English version of The Canterbury Tales (2008) was unabridged, Ackroyd omits both “The Tale of Melibee” and “The Parson’s Tale” on the undoubtedly correct assumption that these “standard narratives of pious exposition” hold little interest for contemporary readers. Dialing down the piety, the author dials up the raunch, freely tossing about the F-bomb and Anglo-Saxon words for various body parts that Chaucer prudently described in Latin. Since “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale,” for example, are both decidedly earthy in Middle English, the interpolated obscenities seem unnecessary as well as jarringly anachronistic. And it’s anyone’s guess why Ackroyd feels obliged redundantly to include the original titles (“Here bigynneth the Squieres Tales,” etc.) directly underneath the new ones (“The Squires Tale,” etc.); these one-line blasts of antique spelling and diction remind us what we’re missing without adding anything in the way of comprehension. The author’s other peculiar choice is to occasionally interject first-person comments by the narrator where none exist in the original, such as, “He asked me about myself then—where I had come from, where I had been—but I quickly turned the conversation to another course.” There seems to be no reason for these arbitrary elaborations, which muffle the impact of those rare times in the original when Chaucer directly addresses the reader. Such quibbles would perhaps be unfair if Ackroyd were retelling some obscure gem of Old English, but they loom larger with Chaucer because there are many modern versions of The Canterbury Tales. Raffel’s rendering captured a lot more of the poetry, while doing as good a job as Ackroyd with the vigorous prose.

A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02122-2

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.



This black-and-white historical narrative, written and illustrated by Lutes, collects eight volumes of his ongoing comic book set in Berlin during the late ’20s. It’s a multilayered tale of love and politics at the beginning of the Nazi era, as Lutes follows the stories of three characters: a 20ish art student from the provinces, a textile worker, and a young Jewish radical. Their lives intersect in only the subtlest way—Lutes depicts them crossing paths at some great public events, such as the Mayday march that closes this part of his book. And Lutes plays with perspective in a visual sense as well, jumping from point-of-view frames to overhead angles, including one from a dirigible flying above in honor of the Kaiser. At street level, Lutes integrates his historical research smoothly, and cleverly evokes the sounds and smells of a city alive with public debate and private turmoil. The competing political factions include communists, socialists, democrats, nationalists, and fascists, and all of Lutes’s characters get swept up by events. Marthe, the beautiful art student, settles in with Kurt, the cynical and detached journalist; Gudrun, the factory worker, loses her job, and her nasty husband (to the Nazi party), then joins a communist cooperative with her young daughters; Schwartz, a teenager enamored with the memory of Rosa Luxembourg, balances his incipient politics with his religion at home and his passion for Houdini. The lesser figures seem fully realized as well, from the despotic art instructor to the reluctant street policeman. Cosmopolitan Berlin on the brink of disaster: Lutes captures the time and place with a historian’s precision and a cinematographer’s skill. His shifts from close-ups to fades work perfectly in his thin-line style, a crossbreed of dense-scene European comics and more simple comics styles on this side of the Atlantic.

An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-896597-29-7

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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