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Review: The Reason for Dragons, The Dark Crystal Creation Myths Vol. II, Cyborg 009, Rubicon

The Reason for Dragons

Front Cover-The Reason for DragonsWendell lives a lonely, suburban existence, losing himself in books in order to avoid his motorcycle-driving stepfather, Ted. When the school bullies convince Wendell to venture into the forest around their neighborhood and explore the long-abandoned Renaissance Fair grounds they all believe to be haunted, Wendell is surprised to find a man living in the barn—and even more surprised by the man himself. Believing himself to be a medieval knight named Sir Habaersham tasked with the duty of slaying the dragon he insists is wandering the woods, Wendell’s new acquaintance seems the definition of crackpot. But when Wendell starts hearing rumblings—and listening to Habaersham’s stories—he starts to wonder if perhaps it could all be true. In a heartfelt coming-of-age story, Wendell must defy logic in order to follow his heart…and face the dragon of the forest!

Released the same week of San Diego Comic-Con, The Reason for Dragons is an excellent graphic novel was drowned out by the noise from the convention. What people missed is an excellent coming of age story in a fantasy world.

The first thing to enjoy about this graphic novel is the main character Wendell and what he deals with. Bullies at school, a stepfather he can’t relate to, these are things many people experience every day. That makes Wendell’s reactions and struggles all the easier to relate to.

And the fantasy setting makes those issues fun to deal with in a way. The fantasy like setting is great, allowing us to escape into a world where knights and dragons might exist. Chris Northtrop‘s writing keeps us guessing in that department. It’s not until the last act do we have an idea of what is fantasy and what’s real.

In addition to Northrop’s solid writing is Stokely’s art which is a perfect fit. The style adds to the fantastical feel of it all and his style is a true find.

Overall, The Reasons for Dragons is an excellent graphic novel taking on issues many children face with. It’s a great read for the entire family.

Story: Chris Northrop Art: Jeff Stokely
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Dark Crystal Creation Myths Vol. II

Dark Crystal Creation Myths v2 GN CoverThe Great Conjunction is at hand in this dramatic second volume of Archaia and The Jim Henson Company’s prequel graphic novels that tell the origin of the Dark Crystal. Aughra, the beloved guardian of Thra, has gone into hiding, while her son, Raunip, leads a team of emissaries to the Crystal Castle. There they will bear witness as the visiting Urskeks attempt to use the Conjunction to power their voyage home. But pain and mistrust fostered by the group leads to events that will corrupt the world to its very core and transform the Urskeks into two distinct races: the gentle urRu and the terrifying Skeksis. Brian Froud, legendary fantasy artist and conceptual designer of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal film, returns to oversee this crucial chapter that reveals the tragic events that caused the Bright Crystal to darken and shatter. This book also includes an Afterword written by David Odell, never-before-seen production stills from the film, and a Brian Froud concept sketch gallery!

The Dark Crystal is a movie I remember from my childhood, a movie that scared the crap out of me. But, other than the fact I was a bit terrified of the film and it’s amazing visuals, that’s about it.

This second volume continues the “origin” story continuing to introduce us to this world and the events that lead up to the world of the film. It again made me want to re-watch the film.

If you’re a fan of the film and world, this is an absolute buy like the first volume. It’s a great point to get kids interested in the world and reading and has a nice factor of nostalgia for those of us who remember this from our childhoods.

Story: Joshua Dysart Art: Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.25 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Cyborg 009

Cyborg_009_GN_CoverAwakening in a futurist military installation with no memory of who he is or how he got there, a young man known only as Cyborg 009 has been stripped by his captors of not only his freedom but also his humanity. His body augmented by cybernetic technology, Cyborg 009 joins forces with 8 other men and women, Cyborg 001-008, and sets off on a journey to learn the truth of why they were turned into weapons of mass destruction, and to prevent a conflict that could very well be the start of World War III.

I didn’t know a whole lot about the series until recently. After reading this graphic novel, I want to go back and find out what I missed! This graphic novel continues on from the zero issues Archaia teased us with in may.

The story is solid full of excitement, never a dull moment at all. This is going full throttle with an interesting mix of characters and moments that is beyond entertaining. It’s everything I want in a story and more!

Then there’s the art, which is amazing. There’s an updated look to these classic characters, an East meets West manga style that’s just beautiful to look at. The use of panels, the flow, everything is spot on and had me lingering checking out each page.

That art is enhanced with a beautiful presentation. Archaia is known for that but the cover has an acetate dust jacket and layered cover art revealing the inner workings of the cyborg in peel-away layers! That alone will catch folks’ eyes and become a topic of conversation.

I’m hoping this is just the first of a long line of releases. The first volume has me hooked and wanting more…. now!

Story: F.J. Desanto and Bradley Cramp Art: Marcus To
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Rubicon

Rubicon-GN-CoverFive paramilitary Navy SEAL operators defend the residents of a remote mountain farming village in Afghanistan from attacks by marauding Taliban. Led by the war-weary Hector, the operators and villagers form mutual bonds of honor and respect leading up to a climactic battle where the “Lions of Panjshir” are desperately outnumbered.

Written by Mark Long from an idea by Christopher McQuarrie and story by Dan Capel, Rubicon is basically Seven Samurai set in Afghanistan.

The story is straightforward and not all that complicated. The characters are cookie cutter and what I’d expect from this type of tale. What really drew me in was the interaction between all of those characters. It gives a bit of an insight into the mindset of them all and a glimpse of what mentally goes into being a Navy SEAL.

This tale is about brotherhood and honor and doing what’s right no matter the odds. It doesn’t go into the political hotbed that is the war in Afghanistan and how it’s being fought, instead it’s focus is the men that are fighting it.

There’s also an interesting twist in that it brings us into the tactics that might be deployed in this sort of battle. It’s fascinating to me to see what might be done and how things would be handled. The fact this was put together by military men makes it even more interesting.

The art by Mario Stilla is solid and fits the grizzled feel of the story. It’s a cool look that almost has a bit of an anime vibe about it.

The graphic novel also Includes an envelope of printed artifacts from inside the story world, expanding the narrative experience, again showing off the excellence in packaging Archaia is known for.

Rubicon is a fantastic read for anyone that enjoys a good war story or fans of the classic movie Seven Samurai.

Story: Mark Long Art: Mario Stilla
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Archaia provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review