Graphic Novels, October 12, 2018 | Xpress Reviews        

Loving animals helps, but it isn’t essential for enjoying this didactic but thrilling and oft-hilarious collection; Lee’s novel remains a sobering challenge to our nation’s conscience, in graphic form as formidably as in print; Murphy delivers breathtaking action sequences and enough fresh ideas to more than make up for an occasionally overly complicated plot

Week ending October 12, 2018

redstarAtwood, Margaret (text) & Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain (illus.). The Complete Angel Catbird. Dark Horse. Oct. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781506704562. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781506704579. FANTASY
Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Christmas (Firebug), and Bonvillain (Wayward) pay affectionate tribute to comics’ golden and silver ages with the heroic exploits of the titular part-man/part-cat/part-owl, complete with a colorful supporting cast of other human/animal hybrids, a dastardly rat villain and his minions, muscular artwork, and wisecracks galore. The intent to educate readers on the effects of cats on bird populations is indicated by pertinent facts that appear in black-and-white footers. Extras include three illuminating forewords, a covers gallery, interpretations of the characters by a host of illustrators, and artist sketchbooks; suitable for YA and up.
VERDICT Loving animals helps, but it isn’t essential for enjoying this didactic but thrilling and oft-hilarious collection. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Jody Osicki’s “Graphically Speaking,” LJ 6/15/18.]—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Lee, Harper (text) & Fred Fordham (illus.). To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper. Oct. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062798183. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062798213. F
What is there to gain from adapting a book that’s required reading for almost every American high schooler? A story as deliberately crafted as Lee’s 1960 classic novel feels sacrosanct in this regard. Thankfully, Fordham’s (The Adventures of John Blake) adaptation takes its text directly from the original and focuses visually on character interaction above all else, steering clear of gimmick or embellishment, perhaps to a fault. The Southern gothic setting is evocative in the narrative, and a few summertime vistas or precise images of small-town life could easily have made the artwork flourish. Instead, Fordham focuses on biting dialog, zeroing in often on Scout’s face, furious at the unjust ways of the world.
VERDICT Fundamentally, this adaptation captures the nuances of class conflict and entrenched racial injustice that bear repeated examination by every new generation of readers. Lee’s novel remains a sobering challenge to our nation’s conscience, in graphic form as formidably as in print. [See Prepub Alert, 4/30/18; previewed in Jody Osicki’s “Graphically Speaking,” LJ 6/15/18.]—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

Murphy, Sean (text) & Matt Hollingsworth & Todd Klein (illus.). Batman: White Knight. Black Label: DC. Oct. 2018. 232p. ISBN 9781401279592. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401289867. Rated: Teen+. SUPERHERO
Writer/illustrator Murphy (Tokyo Ghost Deluxe Edition) reimagines the seven decades–old dynamic between Batman and his greatest adversary, the Joker, in this action-packed and morally complex thriller. After a particularly brutal clash with Batman, the Joker finds himself suddenly cured of the madness that has compelled him to wreak havoc across Gotham City. Determined to redeem himself, the former clown prince of crime joins forces with his longtime paramour Harley Quinn in order to cure the city of its ills. Before long he finds himself unraveling decades of corruption within the police force and regarded as a hero by many, although still at odds with Batman, who refuses to believe that his nemesis has changed his ways. Will the Joker save the city and destroy Batman once and for all by simply negating the need for his brand of vigilante justice? Is the Joker actually cured, or is this yet another scheme to stir up chaos?
VERDICT Murphy delivers breathtaking action sequences and enough fresh ideas to more than make up for an occasionally overly complicated plot.—Tom Batten, Grafton, VA

LJ Reviews

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