Graphic Novels from Bevilacqua, Ellis & Davis-Hunt, Rubio & Efa, Stein, plus More Superman | Xpress Reviews

A gateway to introduce new readers to the graphic novel medium; a fast-paced story that will attract all sf fans; this beautiful, evocative story will please fans of biography, art history, and impressionism; Stein’s enjoyable autobiographical vignettes; plus Tomasi and Yang redo Superman

Week ending December 8, 2017


Bevilacqua, Giacomo. The Sound of the World by Heart. Lion Forge. May 2017. 192p. ISBN 9781941302385. $24.99. Rated: M. DRAMA

The newest graphic novel from Italian creator Bevilacqua (G.I. Joe: Future Noir) follows the experiences of young photojournalist Sam, who attempts to live in New York City for 60 days without speaking a word to anyone. What begins as a challenge of self-control becomes a journey of self-discovery, as Sam unearths various black-and-white photos that not only feature the same red-haired woman but he doesn’t remember taking in the first place. Sam desperately tries to find out who this mysterious woman is while remaining loyal to his challenge. Bevilacqua’s beautiful illustrations of various New York landmarks beg to be viewed multiple times; he also offers a well-written exploration, without the use of much dialog, of finding love in one of the world’s busiest cities.

Verdict A wonderful work that can be enjoyed by adults and those who may not regularly seek out graphic novels, it may be used as a gateway to introduce new readers to the graphic novel medium.—Taylor Silva, Fall River P.L., MA


Ellis, Warren (text) & Jon Davis-Hunt & others (illus.). The Wild Storm. Vol. 1. DC. Oct. 2017. 176p. ISBN 9781401274184. pap. $16.99. SF

Ellis (Injection) and Davis-Hunt’s (Clean Room) reboot of “The Wild Storm” series begins with one act of selflessness that is the tipping point for a war that has been brewing for years. When engineer Angela Spica saves the life of Jacob Marlowe, the CEO of a prominent technology company, she reveals her secret to the world: an advanced cybernetic suit hidden under her skin. Now, two powerful organizations, International Operations and Skywatch, have Angela in their sights, aiming to gain control of the technology she has gone to great lengths to hide. Ellis’s talent as an sf writer shines as he revitalizes a universe that has not been advanced since 2010. Surveillance and what institutions do with information are among the hard-hitting topics here, enriched by Davis-Hunt’s highly detailed cityscapes, memorable character designs, and brutally violent action scenes. This volume collects single Issues 1–6 of the series.

Verdict Ellis and Davis-Hunt kick off the series with a fast-paced story that will attract all sf fans. Coarse language and violence may keep this out of the hands of younger readers.—Taylor Silva, Fall River P.L., MA


starred review starRubio, Salva (text) & Efa (illus.). Monet: Itinerant of Light. NBM. Oct. 2017. 112p. tr. from Spanish by Montana Kane. ISBN 9781681121390. $24.99. FINE ARTS

For their English-language debut, Spanish creators Rubio and Efa join forces in this biography of French painter Claude Monet (1840–1926), one of the founders of impressionism. The story opens with Monet as an old man recovering from cataract surgery. As he awaits the return of his eyesight, he reminisces about his past. What follows is a pretty straightforward telling of his life, from his early days as a rebel student to his relationships with fellow artists Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and others. We witness his early struggles, financial hardships, creative conflicts, and eventually great success, all in an effort to capture the light and beauty in nature. Monet himself narrates, and most of the text focuses on that narration, which allows the imagery to open and explore much of the same visual landscape that occupies his paintings. Efa’s illustrations are stunning; full of strong, lush color and bold impressionistic brush strokes that call forth Monet’s style but never imitate. Many panels are designed to resemble the painter’s work in order for us to see the world as he did.

Verdict This beautiful, evocative story will please fans of biography, art history, and impressionism. Highly recommended.—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI


Stein, Leslie. Present. Drawn & Quarterly. Oct. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9781770462946. $21.95. COMICS

Stein’s (Eye of the Majestic Creature) latest work collects her comics for along with some new material. Cartoon lovers with an appreciation for autobiographical storytelling and vibrant, minimalist watercolor drawings will admire Stein’s use of text size, shape, and color to convey emotions within the narrative in a unique and eye-catching way. The stories are at times funny and also poignant and relatable. Some take the reader through the author’s days in New York City as a bartender, substitute teacher, and waitress; others glimpse her personal life by way of her relationship with her mother, aging grandfather, and friends. Short anecdotes about everyday routines such as eating at a restaurant by herself and overhearing conversations or youthful remembrances like going to a rave are especially amusing and touching.

Verdict Stein’s enjoyable autobiographical vignettes will please both adult and teen lovers of comics.—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI


Tomasi, Peter J. & Patrick Gleason (text) & Doug Mahnke & others (illus.). Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition. DC. (Rebirth). Oct. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781401271558. $34.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401282141. SUPERHERO

For those familiar with the Superman story lines of DC’s “New 52” reboot, this collection may initially confuse. The “Rebirth” series, launching off the end of the “New 52” books, restores the Superman who is married to Lois Lane. Early on in this deluxe edition, which collects Superman Issues 1–13 and the stand-alone Superman: Rebirth, the “new” Superman lives north of Metropolis on a farm with Lois and their young son Jon. Jon knows his father’s secret identity and struggles with the use of his own emerging powers. Over several episodes, a battle ensues against the Eradicator, a sort of artificial Superman construct. The Eradicator houses the dead souls of Krypton and is bent on destroying young Jon because of his mixed heritage. Other issues feature a visit to Dinosaur Island and a contentious and humorous yet ultimately friendly and rewarding team-up with Damian Wayne, Batman’s son.

Verdict Tomasi (Light Brigade), Gleason (Batman and Robin), Mahnke (The Mask), and a host of other artists ably bring these colorful stories to life. The focus on family dynamics, small-town life, a few cameos, and interactions with superheroes such as Batman and Wonder Woman make these rebooted tales inviting and fun. Recommended.—Jeffrey W. Hunter, Royal Oak, MI

Yang, Gene Luen (text) & Billy Tan & others (illus.). New Super-Man. Vol. 2: Coming to America. DC. (Rebirth). Oct. 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781401273903. pap. $16.99. SUPERHERO
This is the second volume in the “New Super-Man” titles featuring Kong Kenan, a young Chinese man who inherits powers of the original Superman. The arc opens with Kong possessing only invulnerability and strength. Attempting to regain his use of lost powers, Kong trains with mentor “I-Ching” and fights alongside the Justice League of China, including Baixi Wang, a Chinese Bat-Man; and Deilan, a Chinese Wonder-Woman. When Kong’s parents are murdered, he seeks to uncover those responsible. Then Lex Luthor brings Kong to Metropolis and tricks him into opening a dimensional door and inadvertently releasing demons from hell. When Superman appears to vanquish the demons, he teaches Kong to use his superhearing and to aid those in need. A battle against a giant stone turtle concludes the work, with Super-Man Zero, a faulty prototype for Kong, flying to the rescue. Deilan is severely injured and a cliff-hanger sets up the next run of episodes. Yang’s (American Born Chinese; Avatar) script is entertaining, and clean pencils from artists Tan (Dark Reign) and Viktor Bogdanovic (Batman: Arkham Knight) illuminate the narrative, although readers will benefit from reading Volume 1 first.

Verdict Recommended for libraries building superhero collections.—Jeffrey W. Hunter, Royal Oak, MI

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