Thursday, December 15, 2011

Graphic Novel mini-reviews

Girls (#1 - Conception)
By Joshua and Jonathan Luna

Synopsis:Ethan Daniels is a typical bachelor who suffers from one, infallible truth: dealing with the opposite sex can be complicated. One night, he bumps into a mysterious woman who will change his life... and maybe even the world.

My thoughts: This is part one in a three part series. It does a great job of setting up what I imagine is going to be a rather surreal series. After raging against the female townsfolk one night, Ethan finds a young, hurt naked girl in the middle of the road and takes her home to help her. The next day things get really, really weird. Murder, duplicates and giant sperm weird (bet that got your attention!). It starts rather teen drama-ish, but it moves into sci-fi/fantasy territory very quickly. This series is obviously a (not so subtle) allegory about gender/gender anxiety, but at this early stage it's hard to tell exactly what the Luna brothers are trying to say. The artwork is great, reminiscent of Paul Duffield (Freakangels) but dialled down, a little more simplistic and without the detailed textures. I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series, more due to curiosity about the story than as a result of a particularly high level of writing.

The Goon (#1 - Nothin' But Misery)
By Eric Powell

Synopsis: Bones will be broken and heads will roll! The Goon is a laugh-out-loud action-packed romp through the streets of a town infested with zombies. An insane priest is building himself an army of the undead, and there's only one man who can put them is their place: the man they call Goon.

My thoughts: The synopsis really says it all. This comic is a huge amount of fun, the writing, art and characters are all hyperactive and larger than life. It's a whole lot of fun, it doesn't take itself seriously and spends much of it's time poking fun at the stereotypes that were popular in comics that were produced during the era it is set it (1930s-1950s ish). For instance, the final comic is a three page sci-fi tale about a gangster alien coming to Earth to take it over only to be foiled by a barrel full of water. As our hero, The Goon, suggests water is like acid to the alien, a little Albert Einstein pops up and notes the inconsistencies this concept has. I couldn't help but think about the film, Signs, when I read that, which only made it more awesome! A definite must read for anyone with a sense of humour and a love for comics.

A History of Violence
By John Wagner and Vince Locke

Synopsis: In this suspenseful crime story, Tom McKenna is a family man who becomes an instant media celebrity when he thwarts a robbery at his own diner – a robbery attempted by wanted murderers. McKenna’s newfound fame draws the attention of a group of merciless mobsters who have been looking to settle a score with him for over 20 years. Now, as the killers descend upon his small town in Middle America, the Brooklyn native must face the actions of his youth and relive his past history of violence as he attempts to salvage the life he has built and keep his family out of harm’s way.

My thoughts: This is the graphic novel that the 2005 film of the same name was based on. I thought the initial idea of mistaken identity was far more interesting than where the story actually went.  I found it interesting, but after the initial "is he, isn't he" first chapter it just descends into your typical mob revenge story. Being a graphic novel that makes it a quick read, but I still think the author really missed out on an interesting story here, because let's face it, it's far more interesting to watch an average Joe plunged into extraordinary events, than an old street hoodlum return to his roots. While I respected the art style and think the sketchy style of black and white drawing suited the frenetic pacing, it was really difficult to distinguish one character from another. I just gave up by the end and concentrated on the writing, which defeats the point of a graphic novel if you ask me.


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