Total catnip for this feline’s fans.

CATWOMAN

SOULSTEALER

An iconic character morphs from panels to prose and back to panels.

Based on the 2018 Maas novel of the same name, Simonson’s graphic adaptation faithfully follows its predecessor, introducing readers to Selina Kyle, a gifted student and gymnast who has an abusive mother and a younger sister, Maggie, who has cystic fibrosis. Selina turns to a life of crime with the League of Assassins in order to pay the astronomical bills for Maggie’s medical treatments. When Selina arrives in Gotham City (disguised as socialite Holly Vanderhees) she meets wealthy and enigmatic neighbor Luke Fox. Both Luke and Selina harbor secret alter egos, but their chemistry—both with masks and without—is palpable. When Maggie’s condition takes a turn, Selina launches her own dangerous scheme to save her, bumping elbows with recognizable characters such as Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and the Joker. Dodge’s shadowy black-and-white art, accentuated with well-placed bursts of color, perfectly captures the tenor of crime-laden Gotham. Simonson’s reimagining switches points of view from Selina to Luke, clueing its audience in by speech bubble colors. With the popularity of high-octane franchises like the DC Extended Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe, this should have wide appeal based on name recognition alone, even if this offering feels somewhat diluted. Most characters, including Selina, appear White; Luke reads as Black, and Harley and Poison Ivy have a romantic relationship.

Total catnip for this feline’s fans. (Graphic adventure. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4012-9641-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

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Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

From the Manga Classics series

Manga that brings to life Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.

This third entry in Manga Classics’ adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays maintains their practice of reproducing the full text of the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow readers to easily follow the plot while also picking up on subtle themes that are significant to understanding the play. For example, the abundant imagery surrounding the moon is emphasized by the moon’s presence in the backgrounds of many panels throughout the book, drawing readers’ attention. Long dialogues are also explained visually, which allows young readers to grasp what is being discussed without the need for a glossary or translation into modern English. The nobility is portrayed in a typical manga fashion with large eyes, small noses, and well-defined ears—but with appropriate Grecian clothing—while the commoners are easily visually distinguishable from them in style. The guide to reading manga at the beginning unfortunately describes the right-to-left reading order as “backwards from the normal books you know,” a strangely judgment-laden description for a book using manga to broaden the cultural exposure of young readers. However, the creators’ notes at the end offer fascinating insights into the adaptation process and may inspire budding manga artists to attempt their own works.

Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience. (cast, creators’ notes, character design sheet) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-10-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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