A brooding, dark thrill ride that interrogates machismo.

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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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If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one.

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NIMONA

A not-so-bad villain fighting against a not-so-good hero teams up with a spunky shape-shifting heroine in a cleverly envisioned world.

Nimona, a plucky, punk-tressed girl, is determined to be the sidekick of the nefarious (in name only) Ballister Blackheart, the sworn enemy of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and their sporran-sporting champion, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Blackheart, intrigued by Nimona's moxie and ability to shape-shift, takes her on, and the two decide they're going to take down the Institution. Nimona and Blackheart learn that the supposedly benevolent Institution has been hoarding a great quantity of a poisonous plant, jaderoot. As they delve deeper into its inner workings, they soon find that the lines that separate good and evil aren't simply black and white. Stevenson's world is fascinating: an anachronistic marvel that skillfully juxtaposes modern conventions against a medieval backdrop. Imbued with humor, her characters are wonderfully quirky and play with many of the archetypes found in comics. The relationships among her characters are complex and compelling: for an antihero, Blackheart dislikes killing and mayhem, while Goldenloin is not averse to cheating and trickery. Stevenson's portrayal of the relationship between good and evil is particularly ingenious, as is her attention to detail and adroit worldbuilding.

If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one. (Graphic fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-227823-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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