A brooding, dark thrill ride that interrogates machismo.

KRISS

THE GIFT OF WRATH

Kriss is not like the other men in his remote medieval village.

With a sickly gray pallor, a lithe, decidedly nonmuscled physique, and long, lank hair falling over black-ringed eyes, orphaned Kriss was left to live in a Game of Thrones–inspired village with an uncaring farmer and his wife. Kriss’ solace is best friend Anja, who is beautiful, blonde, and unwaveringly loyal to him. After a viciously victorious fight with an enchanted wildcat, he is offered the gift of wrath, which manifests as a sinister internal voice. Kriss tries to carve a place for himself in the village, finding a knack for blacksmithing in Anja’s father’s smithy. However, when Anja’s machismo-drenched, square-jawed brother attempts to murder him in a fit of jealousy, Kriss is the one who finds himself ostracized when he defends himself. Alone again, Kriss ventures out to uncover his shadowy past and learn where he fits in to his world. Naifeh’s (Night's Dominion Vol. 2, 2018, etc.) graphic novel is an utterly enjoyable first volume with accessible worldbuilding and an eye-catching goth-tinged aesthetic. While the cast is abundantly white, Kriss thoughtfully explores male gender constructs and toxic masculinity. Most of the men Kriss encounters have some air of entitlement that he squashes with force, however he must confront his own violent impulses and bring his own accountability to the forefront.

A brooding, dark thrill ride that interrogates machismo. (Graphic fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62010-661-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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THE ODYSSEY

Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An exciting look at girl power gone wrong.

SQUAD

New student Becca can hardly believe her luck when Arianna, Marley, and Amanda, who sit at the top of the Piedmont High School hierarchy, pick her to join their exclusive friend group.

She does her best to remain in their favor, taking cues from Marley and Amanda about how to go along with whatever Arianna requires of her. One night, the three girls arrive just in time to rescue Becca from being assaulted at a party, revealing themselves to be man-eating werewolves who target predatory boys. It doesn’t take much to convince Becca to join their ranks and help them enact vigilante justice. There is a price, however: a hunger that must be satisfied by consuming human flesh during the full moon. But the girls assure Becca that with the four of them looking out for each other the risk of discovery is low. The story highlights important topics, including internalized misogyny and codependent friendships. Becca yearns for the support and closeness that the squad offers, and this fuels her willingness to overlook their offenses—from microaggressions to murder—until things get out of control. The color illustrations are reminiscent of classic comics; the familiar normality of the everyday high school scenes portrayed stands in stark contrast to the werewolves’ meting out of justice. Becca is gay and Asian, Amanda is Black, and Marley and Arianna read as White.

An exciting look at girl power gone wrong. (Graphic paranormal. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294315-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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