An entertaining, colorful adventure with a striking hero.

THE SAGA OF EVIL MONKEY MAN!

SEASON ONE

In this debut graphic novel, a man-turned-monkey dodges authorities while searching for a way to reverse the lab experiment that transformed him.

A lab explosion rocks the quiet hamlet of Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. Mike Ross crawls out of the rubble, quickly alarmed upon realizing he’s a giant monkey. He can still talk, but that doesn’t placate locals, who flee from his sight or attack him. Fortunately, Lina Chin, who runs a kung fu studio, sympathizes. She and Mike head back to the lab, where they find scientist Dr. Menke Moon, a fully conscious head in a jar, and his odd assistant, Manny. Moon explains that his “project” was transport; he intended for Mike to switch places with a baboon, not to form a hybrid. When Moon promises he can “fix” Mike, their small group travels east to locate several necessary items. Meanwhile, FBI agents investigate the explosion and, in little time, pursue the monkey man. Mike and the others try staying ahead of the agents, though the hardest part seems to be keeping him hidden, especially once media outlets pick up the story. Seals’ breezy novel, which collects his comic book series’ first four “episodes,” is madcap fun. The tale is primarily visual. A flashback, for example, shows Moon—before he was just a head in a jar—brandishing a syringe for a project “volunteer.” And feds are depicted unknowingly passing by their monkey fugitive more than once. Bizarre turns sometimes unfold with nary an explanation, as when Mike and his friends apparently time travel. But as this book is the first installment of a trilogy, readers will hopefully learn in later volumes such things as the purpose of Moon’s key items (for example, a golden helmet). Mapa’s artwork is pristine, right down to characters’ facial expressions, from Moon’s maniacal grins to Mike’s scowls. This novel also includes the story’s genesis, which Seals based on a friend’s song, and its original five-page one shot, illustrated by Angelo Ty “Bong” Dazo.

An entertaining, colorful adventure with a striking hero.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73583-682-9

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Monarch Comics, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth.

SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN

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: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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