Tag Archives: first second

Review: Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter

It’s never easy living up to your parents’ legacy, or any one in your family’. Growing up to a West Indian Father and an Asian Mother, their standards were high in my mind and their “no BS” filters usually meant I could not get away with anything. As I grew older, I started to see the influence both had over our families and their friends.  I look back now and see how much they not only influenced those around them, but the indelible marks they left on each of them not including me and my sibling.

This became even more apparent, after my mother passed, as we found out that she more than mother to many people, she was a “light in the dark”, for those that know her outside our immediate circle. This standard is something me and my sister, will never be able to touch, maybe in our lifetime, but no time soon. This struggle is not isolated to my family, but children all over the world, as when we realize who our parents are, we either are disappointed or even more in awe, as we feel lucky, but of course not when you are an adolescent. In the devilishly good Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter, we find one young lady who is struggling to find her way in this world while struggling with the natural gifts she inherits from her parents.

We open on a monster attack that takes the life of a sailor, this prompts Scarlett hart on the scene with the help of her assistant, Napoleon. Of course, she is not the only monster hunter in town as her rival, is The Count, who looks to steal the monster from Scarlett, and offers a distraction, an innocent bystander, to distract her from capturing the monster and looks to get Scarlett in trouble. Her and Napoleon retreat to her home, Ravenwood Hall, where we find out more both, but especially about Scarlett’s and her long proud family history of monster hunters. We are also introduced the Royal Academy for the Pursuit and Eradication of Zoological Eccentricities, the place where all the monster hunters find their fresh leads on the latest monster sightings, where everyone seem to be gunning for Scarlett, who most think is not up to par, as compared to her parents, whose death and legacy are at odds with each other, as it mostly remains unsolved. The reader goes along with Scarlett and Napoleon as they embark on their many hunting jobs, as each one is more dangerous than the other. By book’s end, Scarlett and Napoleon uncover a grand conspiracy of one of the hunters creating monsters, only to hunt them and get a reward for doing so.

Overall, an entertaining book which tackles everything supernatural and anything classified as a monster. The story by Marcus Sedgwick is funny, multifaceted and enjoyable. The art by Thomas Taylor is gorgeous. Altogether, one of better books for children that adults will also will find to be a fun read.

Story: Marcus Sedgwick Art: Thomas Taylor
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Nameless City Vol. 1

Colonization of other people’s/countries, has been human way of life since anyone can remember.  The different nations of Europe, have bene colonizing other nations/countries for centuries. In Africa, different tribes did all over the continent, the most famous being Shaka Zulu, who united several tribes under him to suppress any outside forces. The British, being once an empire, have left their imprint everywhere from the West Indies to Canada. The Spanish, as well, have several churches in mostly Muslim countries, remnants of the Crusades.

America, although not necessary colonizing, to the extent of the examples above, we have left our marks in just about every country on earth, through military bases. This is exactly the root of the extenuating circumstances affecting the island of Puerto Rico, as it exists as U.S. territory, but derives none of the benefits of a state. The one thing that literature fails to explore on any substantial level is how these invaders/colonizers affect the people who are native to these lands. In Faith Erin Hicks‘ superbly created Nameless City Volume 1, one such situation exists.

We meet Kaidu, a member of the newest occupying nation for the metropolis known as Nameless City, and Rat, one of the city’s natives, both are unclear of the other motives and are a little weary as friends don’t come easily for either. The book dives into class warfare, misogyny, identity politics, racism, cultural bias and even on some levels, cultural appropriation, as the two become fast friends, each learning about the others culture, as Kaidu, becomes empathetic to the oppression his privilege that his upbringing, sex, and culture has afforded him. The two friends eventually team up to thwart an assassination attempt on the city’s military leader, a plan created by one of his very own soldiers. By book’s end, Kaidu foiled the attempt and the friends become closer, as the city feels more united than ever.

Overall, an excellent book, that is methodical, smart, nuanced and shines the light on the value of mutual respect. The story by Hicks is funny, fast paced, and fresh. The art by Hicks gorgeous, penetrating, and vibrant. Altogether, an excellent start to this trilogy of books as it presents a world much like our ow, where our differences are ever so present, but as they do in this book, they choose those differences to unite and not divide them.

Story: Faith Erin Hicks Art: Faith Erin Hicks
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas

My parents had stacks of vinyl in my house when I was growing up in New York. My parents grew up listening to music from the 50s on and even had some disco records lying around the house. The music my mother loved playing in the house was the music of 1960s. You can tell listening to any song of the era, that it was decade of reflection.

Especially Jim Croce, whose voice, much like Luther Vandross, you felt every word he sung and the sentiment it carried. John Fogerty, another singer of that era, when he was part of Creedence Clearwater Revival, had songs like Proud Mary but after recorded a song that spoke to that era, but came years later, Fortunate Son. Then there were the Mamas and Papas, whose penultimate anthem, California Dreamin, has been remade several times and is their most identifiable song. In Penelope Bagieu’s California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas, we get to find out about Mama Cass, before she was who we know her to be, as a struggling actress and how she became the cultural icon she is now.

In the opening pages, we get a deep dive into the family, from her grandparents to her parents and growing up in Baltimore. The reader is introduced to characters who all tell their story, occupying their own chapter, all playing a part in Mama Cass’s upbringing. Eventually her talents lead her to put the Mamas and Papas together, where they would go on to make 5 albums in three years, a feat which modern musicians cannot seem to match their output. By book’s end, their personal lives eventually brought ruin to their public lives.

Overall, Penelope Bagieu portrays these famous figures as actual people who just so happen to have extraordinary talent. The story of the band could not have been in better hands than Bagieu. The art by Bagieu is both realistic and alluring. Altogether, a great book that will in short time make you a fan of this supergroup.

Story: Penelope Bagieu Art: Penelope Bagieu 
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Pashmina

The myth about Pandora’s Box, has many meanings and many interpretations, which mostly to do with being careful what you ask for and getting answers, you may not want. In truth life has many twists and turns, and facing those hard truths is, in the vein of Pandora’s Box. Family secrets as well, can be part of Pandora’s Box, as some secrets are buried deep. I bring this up, because I recently heard the mention of Jack Nicholson’s family story.

This is where he found out his Mom is really his grandmother and his sister is his actual birth mother, and is the inspiration for the new Disney show, Andi Mack. As you get older, the longer these types of questions go unanswered, the more encumbered you are by not knowing. You mix that with teenage angst, and you have a thoroughly confused and emotional young adult. In Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani explores these complexities along with being a child of an immigrant and being a child of a single mother.

In this book, we meet Priyanka, a bright young Indian American teenager, who has a talent for drawing and has a deeply religious mother, who worries too much for her, much like most mothers, where the question that has haunted her more than anything is who is her father, a question that her mother never answers and always changes the subject once it is brought up. Her talent leads her to win a cartoon contest, which her teacher, Mr. Perry encouraged her to enter. Her whole world changes one afternoon once she finds a forgotten suitcase, with some old pictures and a pashmina, which once she wraps herself in it, instantly transports her to a magical version of India, where she meets Mayur, a talking elephant and a Kanta, a talking bird. The pashmina, ended up being a vessel for all the women in this family, a way to escape, a way to truth. By book’s end, Priyanka had to find herself by going to India, meeting her aunt, and finding the truth that binds her, her aunt and her mother.

Overall, an excellent book that shows how family secrets can have power over your relationships, especially familial. The story by Chanani is heartfelt, engaging, and lighthearted at the most unexpected times. The art by Chanani, is deeply alluring, vibrant and stunning. Altogether, a universal story that teaches us that ultimately love is  supreme over all.

Story: Nidhi Chanani Art: Nidhi Chanani
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Shattered Warrior

Strong female protagonists in stories are more than trend, it has become part of the new normal. As Shonda Rhimes, talked about diversity a few months ago, at a panel, when asked how she employs such a diverse cast in her shows, she said something in the way of she is “Normalizing America”. As she shows on her shows, not only diversity when it came to race, but also sexuality and mental health. This normalizing does not only include television and movies, but also include print media.

The past few years has seen, an increase in these type of characters, especially in the books written by Philippa Gregory, in her telling of the War of the Roses. Another excellent writer, whose work has been recently adapted into a television series, is Margaret Atwood, whose stories shows trauma in a realistic light but also employs fortitude in her female characters. I cannot speak on excellent writers without talking about Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick, who both have forged female characters who have more mettle than their male counterparts. In Sharon Shinn’s and Molly Knox Ostertag’s epic graphic novel, Shattered Warrior, she introduces another great female protagonist into this entirely too short of a list, who has nothing left to lose, but must resist or assimilate.

We are introduced to Collen Cavanaugh, whose world and family has been destroyed by an alien race, as we meet her, the reader soon realizes she is, very much dispossessed and embattled, but has one friend, in Jann, a member of the resistance against the aliens, knowns as the Chromatti, and ally in Angit, who is part of the alien race, but is very friendly to her. She nevertheless soon realizes she needs a purpose which she finds, when she finds out her niece, Lucy is alive. What gives Colleen, fortitude, is what all heroes realize eventually, they must do something for the betterment of all. By the end of the book, everyone who is not who they seem to be and moving on from tragedy is never easy but love overcomes everything.

Overall, a moving odyssey of feelings that will keep the reader questioning what would they do in these situations. The story by Shinn, has you rooting for those who are oppressed and keeps you wondering what are the limits before one resists, proving that  these characters, are a study in patience. The art is luminous within characters and settings, and grimy when needed, but emotion is the essential paint of Ostertag’s illustrations. Altogether, an affecting tale, that shows the connection that makes us human, is what gives these characters hope to live another day.

Story: Sharon Shinn Art: Molly Knox Ostertag
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Saints OGN

There is always two sides to a story, which is what makes every conflict so interesting. That is why when people talk about fights between groups, they usually use the comparison of the Hatfields and the McCoys as far as how bad it can get. When it comes to how these sides are told, it usually is lopsided. As within the research of these events, most authors tend to become more sympathetic to one group than the other. This is also what drives so many people to do reenactments of the Civil war and the Revolutionary War, as their lineage goes back to a participant, or they feel a kinship to that era/motivation.

As the biggest thing about the civil war, that took a lot of people by surprise, is the fact that actually brother against brother. As one thing that every teacher could not completely satisfactorily answer, is why did the Civil war, have more casualties than two wars combined? I felt that what was different is people’s belief in the reason for the fight and that very much is true for the motivation on both sides of the Boxer Rebellion. As with the Boxers graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang weaves a similar tale with a character, who has two interactions with Bao from The Boxers OGN. This person is, who we find out in this book, is called Four Girl.

In this second and final installment of this book series, we see the positive effect that these “foreign devils” have on the people they bring Christianity to. Four Girl, who is an outcast by her family and who her grandfather blames for her father’s death, soon discovers this new religion through an acupuncturist her mother takes to, to get rid of her “devil face” and who reads her bible stories. Her spiritual guide, throughout the book, is Joan of Arc, much like many of Bao’s folk heroes were his. By the end of the book, she is now, Vibiana, who the reader find someone who was deeply misunderstood and whose faith was true to the end.

Overall, a moving installment of this series, as we find a protagonist, who is more universal than one would ever imagine. The story by Gene Luen Yang is as moving as the first installment, providing the reader with a complete picture. The art by Yang is beautiful and keeps the reader engaged. Altogether, if Yang could explain all conflicts the way he did here, there is no other creator I would follow than him.

Story: Gene Luen Yang Art: Gene Luen Yang
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Boxers OGN

World history is often under told in American history textbooks. As the only events that usually (forgive the pun) governs History and Civics classes are the events in our country’s young life.

I bring this point up because much can be learned from the history of other countries.

As Edmund Burke once said:

In history, a great volume, is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.

This nugget of wisdom from Burke, pushes man’s intellect to think outside what he knows and learn from those different from him.

The most popular example of this in movies, as this particular example, has been explored multiples times in movies, but only two stand out in my mind. In the Last Samurai, Tom Cruise’s character talks about the Battle of Thermopylae, which was explored years later in Frank Miller’s graphic novel and eventual movie, 300. I must admit that the only time remembers hearing about the Boxer Rebellion taking place, is during my youth, where I remember watching “Kung Fu Theater”, and a Shaw Brother movie entitled the name of the historical event came one, which was otherwise forgettable, except for the fight scenes. This is something that Gene Luen Yang’s book, is not, as this book stays with you long after reading it.

In the first of a two-part series, this volume explores the side of the Boxers, as we are transported to 1864, in Chinese Province of Northern Shan-Tung, where we meet as his family calls him, Little Bao, a young man who loves his life. What follows next is a foreign invasion of religion, that of Christianity, Bao’s father had defeated a drunk, who, a week late brings a monk and chastises anything not resembling God as false idolatry. Thirty years forward, Bao is older and his province has changed a well, enter a stranger by the name of Red Lantern Chu, a medicine man and someone who ends up training the village in Kung Fu. Some tragedies befall his village and Bao must spring into action, as the atrocities by these” foreign devils” are too much. S the book ends, Bao not only becomes a man but a leader of the people, and the reader finds out just how bloody and complicated this conflict was.

Overall, a robust book that gives a better understanding to exactly what happened in this conflict through the eyes of a normal person whose love of heroic operas gave him courage. The story by Yang, is eloquent, touching and engrossing in the best way. The art by Yang, shines as well, as his style I have always been enamored with and glad to see it in an even grimmer setting. Altogether, a harrowing tale, that is lovingly researched both in historical fact and mythology, giving this book’s heroes their proper light.

Story: Gene Luen yang Art: Gene Luen Yang
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Joe

Top Pick: Grass Kings #1 (BOOM! Studios) – Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins are delivering a series that looks like it would come from Image or Dark Horse, but instead it comes from BOOM! The publisher has had multiple great series, but this looks like the start of something new from them, and boy did they get a hell of a creative team behind this book. Kindt is one of my favorite creators, and with Jenkins on art, this series looks fantastic.

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel) – RL Stine writing a Marvel comic about that other Swamp Thing dude?! Hell yeah! It’s about time Ted aka Man-Thing got his due with a good updated comic, and Stine may just be the perfect voice for that. Let’s hope he writes more Marvel stories!

Low #16 (Image) – Remender’s had some amazing series lately, and this is another one. I cannot wait to see what the heck is going to happen since this book left on a pretty crazy cliffhanger. Time to see if what I think happened actually happened. Knowing Remender, it did.

Action Comics #975 (DC Comics) – That last Superman issue was wild. What a way to kick start the “Superman Reborn” arc. I won’t give much away, but Fake Clark Kent is something else. I mean that kind of literally. This dude doesn’t seem to be human, and just made more questions than answers.

Old Man Logan #19 (Marvel) – Lemire is leaving the series after #24, and that makes me sad. Brisson has massive shoes to fill, and I can’t wait to see how Lemire ends this with the “Past Lives” arc, but we are not quite there yet. I am always excited for Logan, especially anything from Lemire on this run. It’s so good!

 

Brett

Top Pick: Secret Coders Vol. 3: Secrets & Sequences (First Second) – Gene Luen Yang and Mike Homes returns with the third volume of his kids focused graphic novel series. What’s wonderful about the series is that it not only entertains but also teaches how to code. Even as an adult I find myself learning more and more with each volume. Yang has a knack for teaching complicated (and at times boring) material in an engaging and fun way.

California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas (First Second) – This graphic novel is a biography of Mama Cass and the 1960s New York Folk scene. A fantastic graphic novel from Pénélope Bagieu taking a look at a music icon.

Grass Kings #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A new series by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins. Those two creators alone have gotten me to take notice. The concept of ” three brothers and rulers of a trailer park kingdom, a fiefdom of the hopeless and lost, of the desperate poor seeking a promised land” just makes it all the more awesome.

I Thought You Hated Me (Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics) – Retrofit/Big Planet puts out fantastic indie comic series and this one by MariNaomi is a great read that focuses on friendship through the years. This should be your small press buy this week.

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel) – RL Stine brings his brand of horror to this classic character and Marvel. This has been a comic I’ve been fascinated by and can’t wait for. I have no doubt it’ll be fantastic.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Inhumans vs. X-Men #6 (Marvel) – This is the end!  The X-Men and Inhumans face off to end the war between them and when the dust settles, both sides will be left affected whether good or bad.  This has been an action packed event and I can’t wait to see the outcome!

Jessica Jones #6 (Marvel) – We now know how and why Jessica’s life has been turned upside down, and we know the big bad and their motives.  Now we have to see how Jessica will get through it all.  I’ve really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to see how this all comes around and if Jessica can get back to some level of normalcy…at least as normal as a super heroes life can be.

Old Man Logan #19 (Marvel) – This title has consistently delivered and I’m looking forward to this new story.  The solicit tells of Logan righting a wrong and getting some help from an unlikely ally – given what we’ve seen from this book, that could be anyone!

 

Shay

Pick of the Week: Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys #1 – (Dynamite Entertainment) – It’s like the books we used to read when we were little, all grown up. Nancy Drew plays the femme fatale detective on a mission to prove that the Hardin boys, Frank and Joe, didn’t Menendez their dad.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1.MU (Marvel) – Groot has been kidnapped and the team reunites to get our fave monosyllabic nature man back from the bad guys.

Motor Crush #4 (Image) -An injured Domino might not be able to race and the origin of Crush is revealed.

Suicide Squad #13 (DC Comics) – Deadshot is getting out of the squad and the death of one of someone on the team is his way out.

Jessica Jones #6 (Marvel) – The new, improved bad guy is revealed and Jessica has got a lot of explaining to do.

 

Alex

Top Pick: Old Man Logan #19 (Marvel) – So…. I thought this was out last week… and it wasn’t. Anyway, having seen Logan twice now, I’m super excited to get my hands on this issue for the simple fact that Lemire has been writing so really good stories featuring one of my favourite characters.

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel) – I know nothing about this other than it’s a five issue miniseries on a character that’s always interested me.

Redline #1 (Oni Press) – Based on the preview text, this looks like it’ll right up my alley – which is strange since I normally don’t like much sci-fi.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

rough-riders-on-the-storm-1Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: Divinity III: Stalinverse #3 (Valiant) – The series, and all the tie-ins, have been excellent so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where Matt Kindt takes us from here on out.

Harbinger: Renegade #4 (Valiant) – It’s funny, but after getting into the Harbinger series more and more over the past few months reading the back issues whilst simultaneously following this series, I’ve found that my love and appreciation has grown exponentially – so much so that I’m salivating over getting this in my hands.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Hulk #3 (Marvel) – I didn’t know what to expect from this new (She) Hulk title, and only checked out the first issue to see what was up with Jen after the events of Civil War II.  And  I am so glad I did.  Only on its 3rd issue and I am loving the direction of this book.  It’s tackling Jen and some serious problems she facing after her injuries and doing so in such a great way, both in the writing and the art.  If you aren’t reading this book yet, jump in now while it’s still early, you will not be disappointed.

Extraordinary X-Men #19 (Marvel) – The tie-in issues to Inhumans vs. X-Men have been great, really tying in smaller stories to the larger conflict.  A few issues have been slower, doing some character building rather then focusing on action, but even that has added to the situation as a whole.  Really looking forward to this one.

Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 (Marvel) – The battle is raging on as we reach the second to last issue of this event that has delivered in every issue.  Buckle up kiddies, because I’m sure this is going to end with a bang!

Uncanny Avengers #20 (Marvel) – This title has been hit or miss with me, but with the latest issues finally bringing the team up against the Red Skull, things have gotten interesting.  The last issue saw the team trapped in their own minds by the Red Skull and his stolen telepathic powers, and this issue is promising to show us more of their torture.  I’m looking forward to see how they get out of this one, and if they will liberate Xavier’s mind from the Red Skull.

 

Shay

Top Pick: Suicide Squad #12 (DC Comics) – Suicide Squad goes up against some of the DC Universes deadliest inmates.

Justice League of America #1 (DC Comics) – Two words, Lord Havoc! There are extremists on the loose and the newly formed Justice League is coming to save us all!

Elektra #1 (Marvel) – Ninja Assassin tries to find her escape in Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas gets buried in Vegas.

Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 (Marvel) – Medusa sets out to release Black Bolt as the X-Men tries to rid the world of the rest of the deadly cloud.

SLAM! #4 (BOOM! Studios) – It’s a roller derby world and these are roller derby girls. As a derby girl myself, I can attest to its realness.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Rough Riders on the Storm #1 (Aftershock Comics) – It’s been three years since the first volume and the death of President McKinley has Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt convinced there’s a bigger conspiracy and he must get the band back together.

Heathen #1 (Vault Comics) – Originally released digitally, this Viking series by Natasha Alterici is awesome.

Highlander: American Dream #1 (IDW Publishing) – It’s Highlander, do you need any more reason to look forward to this? There can be only one!

Old Guard #1 (Image Comics) – Greg Rucka’s new series with art by Leandro Fernandez about old soldiers who never die. If the name Rucka is on it, it’s a must get.

The Time Museum (First Second) – A new graphic novel series focused on an internship at the Time Museum that leads to time traveling adventures. This is a great addition to the world of graphic novels aimed at a younger audience with lots of fun action and solid art.

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