Despite occasional action sequences and all the skin, readers will be yawning.

READ REVIEW

IN DEFENSE OF THE REALM

From the Campfire Classics series

An info-comic wrapped in a sketchy, overloaded plotline, this historical tale chronicles a fictional clash between the ancient Indus Valley kingdoms and an invading army of Akkadians.

Pausing for frequent but largely speculative infodumps about a civilization that remains almost entirely unknown, the author, an archeologist, sends the modern-sounding prince (“Oh! I so wish I was down there”) of a besieged city and his pedantic mentor on a tour. They go to neighboring Mohenjo-Daro and then Harappa, both to gather an army of allies and to marvel at the “very efficient system of regulations,” the public hot baths (“Another miracle of systematic construction”) and civic organization (“I have heard it is divided into three parts—a citadel and two large population centers”). Sharma leaves plenty of skin exposed as the buff, shirtless prince battles a leering traitor and then, with help from a bangle-laden dancing girl (who happens to resemble the prince’s lissome but warlike betrothed), contrives to ambush the Akkadian general. Still, readers are unlikely to care much about the characters, the setting or the clumsily expressed theme that “tact can win kingdoms without much loss of blood.” A closing spread of information about the mysterious Indus Valley ancients veers off into a discussion of the Rosetta Stone.

Despite occasional action sequences and all the skin, readers will be yawning. (Graphic info-novel. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-64-4

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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Despite earnest undertones a richly imagined and capably carried-out thriller. (Graphic science fiction. 11-13)

THE NEVER WERES

Three of Earth’s last teenagers discover a long-hidden escape route for humanity in this suspenseful future tale, a solo debut for Smyth.

Fifteen years after a virus stopped all new human births, most of the aging population lives in overcrowded urban warrens while Mia, Xian and Jesse rattle around a steadily-emptying school with the rest of their thinning generation. Jesse’s controversial involvement in cloning studies, artistic Mia’s work in an old-age home and reckless Xian’s dangerous and illegal excursions into the miles of old tunnels and sewers beneath the city has turned their friendship contentious. Their bonds solidify again, though, when they discover clues that point to a successful but suppressed experiment in human cloning many years previous, thus drawing the ominous attention of a mysterious government agent. Smyth, a veteran illustrator, creates a credible futuristic world in which advanced technology and run-down infrastructure blend seamlessly in monochromatic ink-and-wash graphic panels done in an underground comics style. Showing particular chops with chases, escapes and even multiple actions like tantrums in single impressionistic mélanges of images, she creates back stories for each central character, cranks the tension up on the way to a climactic double surprise and closes with a tidy but upbeat resolution.

Despite earnest undertones a richly imagined and capably carried-out thriller. (Graphic science fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55451-285-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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