A spirited cast propels a wonderfully entertaining comic-book series.

WITCH HUNTER

From the Hunt the Hunters series , Vol. 1

In Ferrante’s debut graphic novel, a 17th-century man uses magical powers and weapons to battle evil witches and creatures in the modern day.

In 1692, Jon Redmont’s mother, knowing her Coven of Light will burn at the stake, casts a spell to preserve her son’s soul in a crystal. Three hundred years later, Jon awakens imbued with the coven’s combined power. He’s essentially a superhero, complete with enchanted cloak, mask, and weaponry. Jon vows to combat the Scarlet Circle, a fiendish group of witches and other creatures, such as dark elves, threatening the contemporary world. He first retrieves a stolen witch watch—a device that allows him to open portals to “almost anywhere”—and after settling in “New Yorke City,” he offers his services to the general public in a magic-infused advertisement. His rescue of a kidnapped girl ultimately dredges up someone with a connection to the Scarlet Circle: Elesar Monmorte, who sets his sights, and minions, on Jon. Elesar was the mastermind of the Coven of Light’s massacre and now wants the man who somehow escaped death all those years ago. Ferrante’s graphic novel, which collects four comic-book issues, features a bevy of vibrant characters. For example, Jon’s mysterious aide, Kitty Allen, dons Venetian masks that allow her to see others’ “true nature,” and Elesar gets a lengthy, absorbing origin story. But although that villain and an assortment of henchmen provide a sense of menace, Ferrante keeps the tone light with one-liners, visual gags, and even a mock ad for Scarlet Circle Cookies. Some of the violence, too, is played for laughs; in one memorable scene, Jon chops and shoots his way through countless monsters—and one of them, post-beheading, asks to see a doctor. Although several different artists provided illustrations, the artwork is consistent, particularly when portraying Jon’s bright purple costume and perpetual smirk.

A spirited cast propels a wonderfully entertaining comic-book series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 145

Publisher: Monarch Comics, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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Chwast and Twain are a match made in heaven.

A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT

Design veteran Chwast delivers another streamlined, graphic adaptation of classic literature, this time Mark Twain’s caustic, inventive satire of feudal England.

Chwast (Tall City, Wide Country, 2013, etc.) has made hay anachronistically adapting classic texts, whether adding motorcycles to The Canterbury Tales (2011) or rocket ships to The Odyssey (2012), so Twain’s tale of a modern-day (well, 19th-century) engineer dominating medieval times via technology—besting Merlin with blasting powder—is a fastball down the center. (The source material already had knights riding bicycles!) In Chwast’s rendering, bespectacled hero Hank Morgan looks irresistible, plated in armor everywhere except from his bow tie to the top of his bowler hat, sword cocked behind head and pipe clenched in square jaw. Inexplicably sent to sixth-century England by a crowbar to the head, Morgan quickly ascends nothing less than the court of Camelot, initially by drawing on an uncanny knowledge of historical eclipses to present himself as a powerful magician. Knowing the exact date of a celestial event from more than a millennium ago is a stretch, but the charm of Chwast’s minimalistic adaption is that there are soon much better things to dwell on, such as the going views on the church, politics and society, expressed as a chart of literal back-stabbing and including a note that while the upper class may murder without consequence, it’s kill and be killed for commoners and slaves. Morgan uses his new station as “The Boss” to better the primitive populous via telegraph lines, newspapers and steamboats, but it’s the deplorably savage civility of the status quo that he can’t overcome, even with land mines, Gatling guns and an electric fence. The subject of class manipulation—and the power of passion over reason—is achingly relevant, and Chwast’s simple, expressive illustrations resonate with a childlike earnestness, while his brief, pointed annotations add a sly acerbity. His playful mixing of perspectives within single panels gives the work an aesthetic somewhere between medieval tapestry and Colorforms.

Chwast and Twain are a match made in heaven.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60819-961-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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