A well-done terrorist tale for those with a taste for in-your-face, rage-fueled, vicious carnage.

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YOUNG TERRORISTS

A radical underground group fights against tyranny in this graphic novel set in the near future.

After a wealthy white businessman is killed in a suicide bombing, his high school daughter, Sera Solomon, is framed as a terrorist; his son’s whereabouts are unknown. Sera is taken to a black site and tortured for information that she doesn’t have—but she’s no helpless victim, having spent a lifetime being physically and mentally toughened up (some would say abused) by her father. Scarred but unbroken from guard-run fight clubs, Sera escapes two years later. The story turns to Cesar, a young man on the run whose parents are illegal immigrants from Guatemala. He’s dedicated himself to the cause of animal liberation by any means necessary but often finds himself beaten, hungry, and naked. Baby, an intimidating black man, appears and muscles Cesar to Detroit, where Sera and her crew, an exotic bunch with big plans, have a secret base. Confused and appalled but low on options, Cesar agrees to join them, especially when he gets a chance to rescue animals from a factory farm. But the real mission turns out to be far bloodier, more shocking, and more complicated than that. Additional material includes Sera’s backstory, an interview with the author, and an image gallery of characters and alternative covers. Pizzolo (Calexit #2, 2018, etc.) delivers a high-octane mix of anger, violence, gore, sex, and rebellion, with a sprinkling of humor, snappy dialogue, and human connection. Cesar, for example, trying to hide out with clothes stolen from a trucker, is discovered and chased: “I’m literally the worst at going underground,” he moans. Ironic commentary is provided by Christopher Johanssen, an Alex Jones–like character whose Infocide online broadcast offers paranoia, his patented survival kit, and, sometimes, the truth. Nahuelpan’s (Calexit #2, 2018, etc.) illustrations depict action and characters boldly, with exciting cinematic scenes and wordless panels. But under the scar tissue and punk haircuts, Cesar, Sera, and her band possess perfect bodies (the women with large, gravity-defying breasts), which seem awfully conventional for terrorists and rebels.

A well-done terrorist tale for those with a taste for in-your-face, rage-fueled, vicious carnage.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62875-209-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Black Mask Comics

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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

THE CANTERBURY TALES

A RETELLING

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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Rich, creamy art and playful paneling make for a fun read.

THE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL

Cartoonist Collins’ debut graphic novel is a long, smooth fable of a man whose unkempt facial hair ravages the tidy city of Here.

Here sits on an island, surrounded by the sea, separated from the far-off land of There. And whereas Here is all row houses and trimmed trees and clean cheeks, There is a dark, disordered place that would mix your insides with your outsides, your befores with your nows with your nexts—unpleasant business brilliantly depicted in panels breaking across a single body as it succumbs to chaos. So the people of Here live quiet, fastidious lives, their backs to the sea, and neighbor Dave delights in doodling it all from his window as he listens to the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” on repeat. But an irregular report at his inscrutable office job triggers the single hair that has always curved from Dave’s upper lip to be suddenly joined by a burst of follicles. Try as Dave might, his unruly beard won’t stop pouring from his face in a tangled flood—and soon it threatens the very fabric of life in Here. Collins’ illustrations are lush, rounded affairs with voluptuous shading across oblong planes. Expressions pop, from the severe upturn where a sympathetic psychiatrist’s brows meet to the befuddlement of a schoolgirl as the beard’s hypnotic powers take hold. With its archetypical conflict and deliberate dissection of language, the story seems aimed at delivering a moral, but the tale ultimately throws its aesthetics into abstraction rather than didacticism. The result rings a little hollow but goes down smooth.

Rich, creamy art and playful paneling make for a fun read.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-05039-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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