Graphic Novels, January 4, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

Excellent for readers seeking a fresh, modern take on supernatural fantasy; Lafrenais’s creative, thoughtful collection manages to be both enjoyable and disturbing; conservative-leaning readers may enjoy laughing at Alex and Michael while liberal-tending ones will sympathize with their plight; the magic of the original “Prisoner” proves irreproducible

Week ending January 4, 2019

redstarConnell, Bridgit. Brother Nash. Titan Comics. Nov. 2018. 160p. ISBN 9781785864568. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781785869082. Rated: Teen+. FANTASY
Taking place largely in the cab of a tractor trailer, Nash and his friends encounter ghosts, monster insects, shape-shifters, and spell casters on an adventure to hunt down and stop a powerful gang bent on trading human lives for profit. Debuter Connell (contributor, Killer Queen Anthology) combines supernatural elements with Native American Choctaw mythology in a fast-paced narrative, weaving in humor, terror, and magic among a diverse cast of characters. The mood is set by the colorwork, which features shades of purple, orange, and red to reflect the culture and landscape of the American Southwest and contrasts nicely with the fantastical creatures in shades of yellow, green, and brown. The choice of design for the characters’ speech balloons reminds readers that they are uncanny, unknown, and best to avoid at all costs, and while at times the work can feel rushed, this is barely noticeable to those who will be keenly keeping pace with the story. Collects singles issues of the series 1–3.
VERDICT Excellent for readers seeking a fresh, modern take on supernatural fantasy. Recommended for older teens and adults owing to mature language.—Jackie Watkins, Kennesaw State Univ. Lib., GA

FTL, Y’all! Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive. Iron Circus. Oct. 2018. 336p. ed. by Amanda Lafrenais. ISBN 9781945820205. pap. $30. Rated: Teen+. ANTHOLOGIES
Now available for everyone: a faster-than-light engine you can build yourself, with plans downloadable cheap off the Internet. But people remain people in these 21 inventive selections from a host of creators. For even if sf-style transport beckons, it’s still up to us to build it. Red tape gets much worse. Chaos, greed, and incompetence frustrate utopian notions. Things go wrong in new kinds of ways, yet resourcefulness triumphs. Humans meet odd life forms and sometimes marry them, with peculiar outcomes. Trolling follows vloggers and bloggers into outer space. Pirates take over a luxury space station gone rogue, while hopeful colonists quit Earth to escape the environmental crisis. Two kids chase their stepfather through time and space to reclaim their beloved dog. And with “Failsafe,” Rachel Ordway tells of an unexpectedly unsuccessful suicide in a standout, wrenching piece. All of the stories convey small, personal dramas, not sweeping epics. The striking black-and-white art varies in style and sophistication but always sells the agile, sometimes lighthearted plots.
VERDICT Lafrenais (Tim’rous Beastie) pulls together a creative, thoughtful collection that manages to be both enjoyable and disturbing. Inspiring fodder for sf fans and storytellers, adults and teens.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Lonon, Elly (text) & Joan Reilly & others (illus.). Amongst the Liberal Elite: The Road Trip Exploring Societal Inequities Solidified by Trump (RESIST). PowerHouse. Oct. 2018. 156p. ISBN 9781576879054. $19.95. SATIRE/HUMOR
Imagine the most cringe-worthy characters on IFC’s Portlandia, and you’ve got an approximation of Alexandra and Michael, the detestable protagonists of this gleefully self-mocking graphic travelog. Devastated and disoriented by the 2016 presidential election, Alex and Michael pack their yoga mats and long-suffering cat into a VW camper and head toward the center of the country in search of the World’s Largest Frying Pan, hoping to mingle with red state commoners along the way and gain insight into what, exactly, happened. Originally appearing in Lonon’s column of the same name on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Alex and Michael’s expanded print adventures don’t add much depth to their characters, despite pitch-perfect illustrations by Reilly (coeditor, The Big Feminist BUT: Comics About the IFs, ANDs, & BUTs of Feminism ). By the time the couple’s VW reaches its destination, readers will wish the woke folk would check their privilege and hush up already.
VERDICT Conservative-leaning readers may enjoy laughing at Alex and Michael—the very picture of everything the right loathes about the left—and liberal-tending ones will sympathize with their plight to make sense of the political landscape. Suitable for adult collections.—Ingrid Bohnenkamp, Springfield-Greene Cty. Lib. Dist., MO

Milligan, Peter (text) & Colin Lorimer (illus.). The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine. Titan Comics. Nov. 2018. 112p. ISBN 9781785859151. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781785867798. Rated: Teen+. MEDIA TIE-IN
The four-issue miniseries collected here, with alternate cover artwork, is a contemporary espionage thriller set in the world of the classic titular TV series (1967–68), created and released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the series’ U.S. debut. Veteran scribe Milligan (Hellblazer) updates some of the concepts for the 21st century, with Lorimer’s finely rendered illustrations, albeit with shade and shadows replacing the show’s ironically bright, colorful aesthetic. However, the plot uses standard-issue spycraft and Le Carré–esque duplicity to introduce both its protagonist—who is, of course, dubbed Number Six, in deference to the TV production—and the events that bring him to the mysterious Village, where nothing is what it seems, not even the possibility of escape. Ultimately, Milligan and company swap the original production’s philosophical depth for the chills and spills of a Jason Bourne film...and one heck of a twist ending. Some violence, disturbing scenes, and mature themes make this suitable for young teens and up.
VERDICT The original Prisoner’s magic proves irreproducible, but this acceptable addendum should appeal to readers of dramas such as Queen and Country and The Coldest City as much as it will to fans of the source material.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

LJ Reviews

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