Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

The New AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER Comic is a Must-Read for Fans of the Show!

I had the pleasure of reviewing the first volume of the new Avatar comic, titled Avatar: The Last Airbender – The promise, Part 1. Not being a huge comic reader (though I do enjoy them from time to time), I was curious to see how well it captured Aang, Katara, and the whole familiar beloved gang from the television series. Written by award-winning Gene Yuen Lang, who closely collaborated with show creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, I can say with absolute certainty that any fan of the television series will absolutely LOVE this comic.

The story actually picks up where the show ends. The first few pages are a recap of the disappearance of the Avatar, Aang’s progression, and Aang beating Fire Lord Ozai to set the world free of his evil clutches. New Fire Lord Zuko is determined not to become his father, and so is working with the Earth kingdom to help re-locate all of the Fire colonies that are within its borders.  Sokka aptly names it The Harmony Restoration Movement, and Aang offers to head up the relocating. Things seem to be going well… until Zuko is attacked in the middle of the night by the daughter of a mayor of one of these colonies. She wants him to understand how he’s ruining the lives of the colonists, and when Zuko takes her home to confront her father for her behavior, he’s convinced (through some pretty rough emotional taunting) to stay and see what the colonies are really like in the hopes that his mind will change.

There is also a pretty deep scene towards the beginning where Zuko begs Aang to end his life if he ever becomes his father. Aang reluctantly agrees, but that decision hangs over his head the entire comic.

I didn’t want this comic to end! I haven’t enjoyed reading something like this in a really long while. I forgot how much I fell in love with these characters when I watched the series last year, and re-entering their world made me want to watch the show all over again, just to be able to experience the joy I felt once more.

The wonderful thing about this comic is it is the continuation of the story fans know and love. We see Aang and Katara are together, which makes my heart happy, and they have taken to calling each other Sweetie, funnily enough (and much to Sokka’s chagrin).  And how can we forget Toph! Wonderful, feisty, spunky Toph. She’s her usual charming self, and adds a lovely balance to the serious nature of some of the scenes.

There are also some pretty cool elemental fight scenes that go on for a few pages, and they are drawn so well that I can practically hear the fire burning and see the water swishing by. The artist Gurihiru nailed it, capturing all of the nuances of the characters’ different personalities and the elements of this lovely world.

This first volume hit shelves this past Wednesday, January 25th 2012. Part two is set to release in May, which feels like forever. What can I do to pass the time? Oh yeah, re-watch the series, that’s right!

 

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

Holiday Recommendations 2011: Comics

Have a comic book fan in the family? The comics gurus here at Lytherus have put together a fantastic list of new comic books (and a book about comics!), along with a few oldies but goodies, that will make a great addition to any library.

 

DC Comics: The New 52

Released Dec. 13, 2011

Author/Illustrator: Various

In the mood for some last minute shopping? (Don’t have a choice because you procrastinated?) DC Comics: The New 52 is a 1,216 page compilation includes every #1 issue that will not be released until December 13.  This book is a perfect way for new comic fans as well as those who have been out of the game for a while to easily get an idea for the  flavor of each of the new series. The catch is that the list price for this item is $150.00 but don’t worry both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are selling this book for $89.99 (still ouch, but much more reasonable). Pre-ordering is an option for those who don’t want to cut it close.

 

Absolute Sandman Vol. 5

Released Nov. 8, 2011

Author/ Illustrator: Neil Gaiman and Various

Absolute Sandman Vol. 5 is a little different from the first 4 (though we’d highly recommend those too) – The first four volumes collect the series in chronological order. Vol 5 brings together a good amount of side material that doesn’t fit easily into the regular chronology. It is broken into three sections. The first section “Endless Nights” is a gather of stories about The Endless who are “a family of magical and mythical beings who exist and interact in the real world”. Secondly is “Sandman: Midnight Theatre” showcasing Golden Age superhero Wesley Dodds (The Sandman) as he goes on a mission to un cover fascists in London. Lastly is “Sandman: The Dream Hunters,” which is the tale of a monk who falls in love with a kitsune and is subsequently endangered by dream eaters who want to kill him. The kitsune and the monk must learn how to save one another.

This is another expensive buy at about $73.64 on Amazon, but anything coming out of the Sandman line or, really, from Neil Gaiman is a pretty safe bet.

 

The Walking Dead: Compendium One

Released May 2009

Author: Robert Kirkman

Illustrator: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Tony Moore

We’re cheating here. This is a repeat suggestion from last year – but here’s the thing, The Walking Dead on AMC just keeps getting more and more popular! How can we NOT keep pushing the comic series, which is even better. The Walking Dead Compendium is great because it assembles the first 8 volumes worth of collections (which you also have the option of buying individually) into a giant, 1088 page book. This is the equivalent of the first 48 issues. The nice thing about an older book like this is that you can get a crazy amount of comics for a decent price –you can find this on Amazon between $30.00 – $35.00.

TV show aside, this is a great series and a New York Times Best Seller. Follow Rick Grimes from the moment he wakes up in the hospital to find himself in a post-apocalyptic world filled with the un-dead to about the point where the survivors find Hershel’s farm.

 

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command

Released Nov. 22, 2011

Author/Illustrator: Haden Blackman, Rick Leonardi, Dan Green, Wes Dzioba

Taking place shortly after Anakin Skywalker transformed into the Sith Lord, about 19 years before Episode IV, this great graphic novel showcases the between period of psychological transition from one to the other. Vader is haunted by the memory of Padme and the life the two of them could have built together. He feels ultimately responsible for her death. Though these feelings plague him, he has no time for such a sentimental way of being; he has been given a mission by the Emperor to find the missing ship of Grand Moff Tarkin’s son, Admiral Garoche Tarkin which is somewhere in the Ghost Nebula of the Atoan System. Turmoil quickly ensues upon their arrival as they realize that civil unrest awaits them in this overlooked corner of the Republic. See the full Lytherus review here, where you will also find a preview of the book.This new 120 page hardcover collection goes for about $17.00 on Amazon.

 

A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel

        Released 2008

Author: Sean Michael Wilson (Adapter) Charles Dickens (Author)

Illustrator (Mike Collins)

Love the tale, don’t like the length of the original book? Sometimes things are just more interesting with pictures. This beautifully constructed graphic novel is a well-written representation of the classic Dickens story that we all know so well. The cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits on Christmas eve as they attempt to show him the love of mankind existing all around him and ultimately save his soul.  This 134 page book also includes interesting support material with educational information detailing the life and work of Charles Dickens and a description of life in Victorian England. (So in other words this is a great way to entertainingly trick kids into learning something.) Because this graphic novel is older and of an educational nature, you will be able to find it online for about $10.00.

 

Marvel Firsts: The 1960s

Released October 26, 2011

Authors: Stan Lee, Gary Friedrich, Jack Kirby Roy Thomas, Gardner Fox

Illustrator: Gene Colan

This is the first of a set of two books and the only one to be released before the Christmas deadline. “Compiled in one titanic tome: the famous first issues of dozens of your favorite super heroes and super-hero teams…” including the Hulk, Dr. Strange, Nick Fury, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Defenders.  You will get about 488 pages of “firsts”, equaling 26 issues, for about $20.00. The up side to this is that you get to physically hold, in one organized compilation, the first issues of so many fan-favorite characters. The down side is that if you are a Marvel digital comics subscriber then you can read these anyway because most of their old stuff is included in your yearly digital rate. Still – if you can’t have the originals, this is the next best (physical copy) thing. Expect the second book, featuring the firsts of the 1970s to be released in March of 2012.

 

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby: The Wonder Years

Released Nov. 30, 2011

Author: Mark Alexander

Who couldn’t love a book about comic books! (On second thought, don’t answer that…) We do! Stan Lee & Jack Kirby: The Wonder years was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fantastic Four #1. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are renowned for their creativity which kicked off a decade of comics that we are still feeling the effects of today. “Calling on his years of research, plus new interviews conducted just for this book [with Stan Lee, Flo Steinberg, Mark Evanier, Joe Sinnott, and others], regular Jack Kirby Collector magazine contributor Mark Alexander traces both Lee and Kirby’s history at Marvel comics, and the remarkable series of events and career choices that led them to converge in 1961 to conceive the Fantastic Four.” (book synopsis) Learn about the first decade  of the FF, details concerning Lee and Kirby’s working relationship as well as their fateful parting of ways in 1970. The book also includes of some of the classic Kirby artwork.

This book won’t break your bank at $20.00. This particular recommendation is for the die hards in the audience who don’t just want to read the comics, they want to read about the comics.

 

Flashpoint

Released Nov 1st, 2011

Author: Geoff Johns

Illustrator: Andy Kubert

The event that turns the entire DC Universe upside down and leads directly into the New 52, Flashpoint, is THE comic event of the year. With great writing from Geoff Johns and stunning art from Andy Kubert, the hardcover graphic novel collecting all five issues is the perfect gift for your favorite comic book fan.

Barry Allen(better known as The Flash) wakes up one day to find that the entire world has been changed. His mother, who has been dead for years, is alive and well, and his fellow superheroes, including Batman, have undergone changes too. On top of that, Aquaman and Wonder Woman prepare to wage war against each other. The Flash, with the help of Batman, Cyborg, and the other superheroes, must find a way to stop the war and set things right before it is too late.

Not only is this a fun read with superb storytelling, it also basically starts the entire DC Universe all over again. A comic with such an impact on its universe and its characters should not be missed by anyone who claims to like comic books. Find the Lytherus review here!

 

Batman: Noel

Released November 8th, 2011

Author/Illustrator: Lee Bermejo

One of this year’s best graphic novels, Batman Noel puts a fun, original spin on the classic A Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens. Written and drawn by the talented Lee Bermejo, this original graphic novel will get you in the holiday spirit while satisfying your desire for a good Batman story at the same time.

In this story, Batman is put in the role of Scrooge, unfriendly, detached from other people, and cruel at times. Superman and Catwoman function as two of the spirits who come to Scrooge and attempt to make him change, while the Joker kind of functions as the third spirit.

Well-written, original, and deeply satisfying, Batman Noel stands apart from the countless other graphic novels being released this month and just might make a Batman fan out of anyone who reads it. Click here for the Lytherus review!

 

War of the Green Lanterns

Released Nov. 22nd, 2o11

Author/Illustrator: Various

Another winner from DC Comics, War of the Green Lanterns stands as one of the best Green Lantern stories to date, and features some of the best work we’ve seen from writer Geoff Johns.

A new foe threatens the universe, and Hal Jordan, along with his fellow Green Lanterns, must stop him before it’s too late. But sacrifices must be made, and the consequences of Hal Jordan’s choices are shocking.

Those who lost hope in the Green Lantern series after seeing the movie can rejoice. Not only does this story arc offer plenty of thrills and breathtaking action,  it also changes Green Lantern comics forever. Those wanting to know more after the shocking cliffhanger will have to read The New 52 Green Lantern series. This  graphic novel  is definitely worth your money.

 

 Ultimate Comics: Death of Spiderman

Released Nov. 2nd, 2011

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator: Mark Bagley

In this collection from thepopular Ultimate Spiderman series, one of Marvel’s most beloved superheroes meets his end. It is an event that has been heavily marketed and highly anticipated, but now that it has hit store shelves, does it live up to the hype? The answer is yes, it more than lives up to the hype.

In this stunning collection, we witness Peter Parker fight off a group of his greatest enemies, collectively known as the Sinister Six, with the help of his friends Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake.  He prepares to fight his most powerful foe and the leader of the Sinister Six, the Green Goblin. This amazing graphic novel showcases the last stand of Spiderman, and it truly is a spectacular book. It all boils down to Spidey taking on one of his oldest foes in one final, glorious fight.

Anyone who wants to see one of the most historic showdowns in comic book history will love this incredible collection.

 

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

“A Game of Thrones” Is Now in Comic Form, and it is a Lovely Addition to Martin’s World

The first thought in my head when I heard about the new A Game of Thrones comic was,”Way to milk a series already!”  The books are ridiculously successful, the HBO television show was a hit, and now, jumping on the popularity wagon, a comic has come out. However, having read it and thought about it a bit, my tune has changed. I think this comic is a great way for people who are curious about the series, but are intimidated by the size and depth of the books, to explore the wonderful world that Martin has created.

Since I read and reviewed the book not that long ago, I am not going to re-hash out the basics of the story, but rather jump right into the comic. Issue #1 starts at the beginning of the story in the novel, with the little prelude that happens on the other side of the wall. The comic then continues through all the different beginning chapters of the book, switching between the Lannisters and the Targaryens and setting up the scenes for future events. Since it is just the first issue, we are only barely getting into the story, but it is enough to captivate a reader. Within the few pages of the comic we meet a scary frozen north monster, See Eddard Stark cut off a head and take home some wolf puppies for his kids, and discuss the king’s impending visit with his wife at the heart tree. The comic then continues into Daenerys and Viserys discussing her upcoming marriage to the dothraki warrior Khal Drogo. There is some nice back story here, about their past. The issue ends with Daenerys meeting her future husband.

The first thing I noticed, even before the images, is the fact that the narrator voice is quoted verbatim from the book, mentioning all the main thoughts that aren’t spoken sections. These narrative transitions bring Martin’s voice to the comic and keep the feel of his writing.

At first the transition between the different character stories was confusing, as there was no stop or block in the pages to show that I was moving on to another set of characters. But upon closer inspection, I noticed that the narration boxes changed colors, depending on what section I was reading. Now that I know, that will help me a lot for future issues. Perhaps this is a common comic thing, but since I’m a newbie comic reader, as far as that goes, I thought I’d mention it for those of you out there curious about the story who aren’t as familiar with comics.

The art by Tommy Patterson and the colors by Ivan Nunes were such a wonderful addition to the tale I am so familiar with. I think I might even like the comic a bit better than the actual book, for a quick catch-me-up, since it is so vividly illustrated. The shadowed faces and intense expressions added so much to the words, and I found myself once again getting swept up in the story that I loved. And the color tones added way more than I expected, the cold segments being an icy iron grey, Ned’s parts a rich hunter green and brown, and Daenerys’s parts beautiful warm tans.

The comic came to an end much too quickly for my taste (this is why I’m only now starting to get into comics, as I’m way too impatient to wait for the next issue!), but I enjoyed the set up for future story lines, and I’ll be looking forward to reading the next issue.

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

Need A True Blood Fix? Drink Up Some Fantastic Character Histories in the Graphic Novel

Is the new season of True Blood not enough of a fix for you? Then check out the Graphic Novel! True Blood Volume One: All Together Now, published by IDW, is a must-read for any avid True Blood fan. I had the pleasure of devouring this book a few days ago, and I must say that it complements the show (and Charlaine Harris’s books) wonderfully.

On a hot, stormy night in Bon Temps, Merlotte’s is filled with the usual clientele and employees: Sookie, Sam, Lafayette, Tara, Jason (with a trashy date, of course!), and eventually Eric and Bill. In addition to a few additional redneck customers, there is one individual who isn’t expected. His name is Ted, and he’s an Imp Shaloomp, a spirit worshipped by the local native Americans that feeds on the evil, guilt-ridden thoughts of those around it. Ted has a bone to pick with someone, but until the truth of that grudge is revealed he’s going to get thoroughly stuffed on everyone’s worst memories.

This book was fantastic addition to the True Blood world. Alan Ball, the creator of the show, plotted out the novel. He wanted to add on to the True Blood experience by providing some great back story into the people and creatures we love, which is delivered really well. The reader gets to journey into the heads of each of the main characters and gain a little more insight into their past, which only adds to us understanding why they are the way that they are.

I was worried that the feel of the book wouldn’t fit with the story as I know it, but luckily I was proven wrong. Using the story plotted by Alan Ball, writers David Tischman and Mariah Huehner nailed it. The writers managed to capture the voices of each character to a T, and it made it just like watching a featurette to one of the television series. Jason had his sweet southern ignorance, Tara her foul mouth, and they even rip on Sookie pronouncing Bill’s name “Beeel”, which made me chuckle out loud. I was also impressed with the art, which was drawn by David Messina. Though not as accurate as photographs (which is to be expected), the artist managed to capture the gestures and expressions of the main characters, from Eric’s brooding stares to Sookie’s exasperated shout-matches with any number of people who piss her off.

I was a bit thrown with the accelerated nature in which the reader was thrust into the story, when in both the novels and the television show there is a little more time for build up. But having said that, it didn’t jar me that much, and once I realized what was happening it wasn’t anything different than seeing Mary Anne’s clawed hands appear or watching Sam turn into a dog.

I would highly recommend this as a companion to the show. I know what it’s like to be an avid fan of something, and everything that goes along with that, including getting everything you possibly can on the characters you love so much. This book feeds that need in the best way possible. Getting insight into the characters, reading stories we’ve never heard before, only adds to the characters’ appeal.

This is the first in a series of Graphic Novels by IDW, and I know that the upcoming ones will hold me over in the long winter months between new seasons on HBO. Season 4 is just beginning; you can check out this Graphic Novel to get yourself re-acquainted with these characters after the hiatus. You won’t be disappointed!

Book one hit shelves on February 15th, 2011.

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

TCR: Yets- Cuteness Overload With Substance!

No, you aren’t seeing things, or clicked on a book review by accident. I am hijacking Jackie’s Thursday Comic Review to review my very first Graphic Novel, Yets #2: Dragons, Dreams and Dangerous Deeds!

Before I delve into the review, I want to give some background on this story. I encountered this book at the recent Pittsburgh Comic Con. The author/illustrator Mike Bocianowski was selling prints of his work, and I was instantly drawn to them. They are, in a word, adorable. Whimsical, beautiful images of dragons (technically they are called Yets) doing various cute things. I had to have one (actually I bought two!), and as I spent some time talking to him, he introduced me to the Graphic Novel that used the delightful creatures.

Being really good friends with the comic person here on Lytherus, I have definitely picked up some of the backsplash of what is in and happening in the comic world. I knew this story wouldn’t be like the mainstream stories, based simply on the cuteness factor of the art. But what it did do is remind me why children are so drawn to comics.

The book I received is number 2, but there is a summary in the cover of number 1, which brings the reader up to speed:

The peaceful era on the TreeWorld of Chlem shatters when a creature falls from inside the tree onto the ground. A Guinea pig, Perry, and a Chihuahua, Spec, return the lost creature and discover a forgotten world of magical critters who long for companionship. These critters offer to build a ship for Perry to explore the TreeWorld if he brings the critters’ children. So now Perry, Spec, and Perry’s mate, Peg, are on their journey of discovery with the dragon-like critters who have no name… as of YET!

The Graphic Novel was broken into three mini-stories, each one propelling the story ahead, yet having a beginning, middle, and end. The first is Peg telling the young Yets a story while Perry loads the ship. The story is how she and Perry met, after she was kidnapped and he rescued her. Part two was all of them trying to get some sleep on the floating ship, but Vance, one of the adult Yets is snoring, keeping them all awake, creating a dilemma of how to shut him up. And the third part was about Perry and Spec falling off the ship and landing on a cloud. They wonder how they will get back to the ship, but lucky for them, the cloud shepherd finds them, saving the day.

This book definitely didn’t have the depth that a lot of more adult comics, but I can see the appeal of this story for children. It was fun and whimsical, and the plot still had nice substance while maintaining that cute factor. Part two felt a lot like a Looney Tunes episode, which was fun and comical, pardon the pun. And I have to say, I was curious at the end of the comic about where they were heading on the awesome floating ship. So as a writer, he did his job well!

Baby Yet

All in all, a charming read that I think children in particular will really enjoy. And I thought it was a nice foray into comics for me, since I missed out of the joy of them in my childhood.  Interested in getting a copy? As far as I know they aren’t sold in traditional comic book stores, so here’s a link to Mike’s website and his blog; I’m sure he’d be happy to accommodate!