Graphic Novels: Bechko & Hardman, Butcher's Files, Lewis & Yarksy, and Piskor | Xpress Reviews

Longtime Green Lantern fans will enjoy seeing favorite heroes and concepts cast in a new light; Butcher’s many fans will not be disappointed with the action; a rich narrative, but the thrilling mix between art and message never completely jells; fans of Piskor’s previous work will thoroughly enjoy this well-designed volume

Week ending April 27, 2018


Bechko, Corinna & Gabriel Hardman (text) & Gabriel Hardman & others (illus.). Green Lantern: Earth One. Vol. 1. DC. Mar. 2018. 144p. ISBN 9781401241865. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401283971. SUPERHERO/SF

The latest installment in DC’s “Earth One” series, which presents classic characters with updated origins, finds Green Lantern Hal Jordan reimagined as an astronaut working on a mining operation in deep space. Stumbling across a wrecked spaceship, he takes possession of a green ring that imbues him with fantastical power, thrusting him into an epic adventure across an array of alien worlds. Soon he discovers that his ring is in fact a weapon formerly wielded by members of an intergalactic peacekeeping force, the Green Lantern Corps, which has been all but stamped out by rampaging robots known as Manhunters. The work of Bechko (Invisible Republic; Star Wars: Legacy) and Hardman (Invisible Republic) conveys the action well, with gritty, realistic ink tones that suit this darker, more grounded take on the character. But never fear—this is a fun, action/fantasy adventure through and through.

Verdict Longtime Green Lantern fans will enjoy seeing favorite heroes and concepts cast in a new light, and anyone eager to discover a specific character without having to understand decades of continuity will definitely be satisfied and intrigued by the promise of future volumes.—Tom Batten, Grafton, VA


starred review starButcher, Jim & Mark Powers (text) & Diego Galindo & others (illus.). Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Vol. 1: Dog Men. Dynamite. Feb. 2018. 128p. ISBN 9781524105440. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781524105471. Rated: T+ (teens and up). FANTASY

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s wizard for hire, has had a hard time of it lately. Facing down powerful enemies is finally taking its toll, and the flame of his anger is growing daily, fanned by guilt and loss. During this low point, a senior member of the White Council of Wizards, Listens To-Wind, asks Harry to help investigate a string of brutal murders in rural Mississippi. As the case gets under way, an unknown law enforcement group wants Harry and Listen To-Wind out of the way, and the Dog Men, thought to be the culprits in the killings, are not who they seem. Meanwhile in the town, a strong force of ghouls has gone undetected, until now. Ultimately, Dresden has to temper his rage and convince the Dog Men to help him battle the ghouls, otherwise they are all doomed. Complementing the text from Butcher (The Cinder Spires) and Powers (G.I. Joe; Drafted), artists Galindo (Red Sonja) and Mohan (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein) create stunning illustrations, every panel and page more exciting than the last. A slow start picks up to a heart-pounding pace that wraps up nicely.

Verdict Butcher’s many fans will not be disappointed with the action, and readers need no prior familiarity with “The Dresden Files” to enjoy this first volume in a stand-alone graphic series (collects six single issues). Highly recommended for older teens and adults.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY


Lewis, Sean (text) & Caitlin Yarsky (illus.). Coyotes. Vol. 1. Image. Apr. 2018. 128p. ISBN 9781534306479. pap. $9.99. Rated: Mature. HORROR/FANTASY

Women and children regularly disappear from the City of Lost Girls, accosted by despicable men who transform into killer beasts. Fortunately, a clandestine sisterhood known as the Victorias dares to remain fearless against the lycanthropic menace. Analia, the katana-wielding newest member of the group, seeks revenge for her mother’s and sister’s deaths, as well as to protect her last childhood friend Eyepatch. New policeman Frank Coffey wades into town as the battle between the Victorias and the coyotes intensifies, uncovering a hairy secret in the seats of power, while Analia unearths a mysterious clan whose wisdom and gumption may just deliver the vengeance the Victorias seek. Debuter Yarsky’s illustrations are unquestionably fantastic, and the scope and ideas behind the tale from Lewis (The Few) are in the best horror adventure tradition. However, these admirable traits are undercut by an overreliance on fist-pumping but ultimately rote homilies of resistance that run roughshod over character development and an emotional connection to the story.

Verdict A rich narrative, but the thrilling mix between art and message never completely jells.—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta


starred review starPiskor, Ed. X-Men: Grand Design. Marvel. Apr. 2018. 120p. ISBN 9781302904890. pap. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781302503680. COMICS

Alternative comics writer and illustrator Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) brings his unique artistry to the X-Men universe, here taking previously published story lines written by giants such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Chris Claremont that involve the X-Men and putting them together into one coherent narrative. Characters Watcher and Recorder narrate the entire story from afar as they orbit the earth. The origins of Professor X and Magneto are examined as are the beginnings of several X-Men favorites. Heroes include Cyclops, Jean Grey, the Angel, Iceman, and the Beast, as they battle many foes, including Toad, the Blob, and the Juggernaut. The overarching story includes the powerful Phoenix Force as it travels to Earth seeking its new physical host. Piskor’s illustrations reflect his retro–pop art style, which makes the panels visually enthralling. Volume 1 collects X-Men Grand Design issues 1–2 as well as the 1963 first issue of X-Men, newly colored by Piskor.

Verdict Fans of Piskor’s previous work, X-Men enthusiasts, and especially new readers trying to understand the provenance of the characters and series will thoroughly enjoy this well-designed volume.—Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI

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