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review 2018-11-19 20:00
SuperMutant Magic Academy / Jillian Tamaki
SuperMutant Magic Academy - Jillian Tamaki

The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

 

My first thought on this is that I am wayyyy too old to truly appreciate this graphic novel! I liked the idea of a school for mutants and witches and I’m pretty sure that this would have totally been my jam when I was in junior high school. Because, let’s face it, we all feel like mutants when we’re in junior high.

It was definitely a creative way to illustrate all the problems that we have at that age: where do we fit in? What are our talents? What will be do after graduation? Or even today after school? Do our marks matter? Does that cute boy/girl know that we exist?

I can still relate to some of it—don’t we all still feel like mutants some days? But those days are fewer and farther between the older that I get. I know that I can support myself and run my life successfully on the majority of days. If I could talk to my teenage self that would be my message: you’re going to be okay. Loosen up and enjoy things more. Too bad that wisdom only comes to us once we’re short on the energy to appreciate it fully.

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review 2018-11-14 03:02
Crush, Berrybrook #3 by Svetlana Chmakova
Crush - Svetlana Chmakova

Jorge Ruiz is bigger than most of his classmates, but he uses his powers for good and helps keep the peace in the halls of Berrybrook Middle School, which, despite its utopian-esque levels of diversity and vibrant club-driven atmosphere, still has a bullying problem. Of course it does, because middle school. Anyway, Jorge is a decent guy and loves hanging out with his two best friends, but one day as he's musing about how complicated life is getting with everyone else pairing off and breaking up, he can't get his mind off of Jazmin.

 

This is a deceptively simple story about crushing, love, and friendship. I have zero criticism. Chmakova has a way of balancing her characters and making a tight story out of the swirling, hormonal chaos that is middle school. She focuses  on a few characters and realistic problems and captures something special. I mean, I hated middle school and yet this made me remember some of those fleeting moments of dizzy happiness. 'Crush' is sweet. I also appreciated how the crisis aspects of the storyline were resolved this time around. In 'Brave' Jensen's problems were solved, but in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. This felt like a more responsible and realistic way to deal with behavior problems.

 

Berrybrook Middle School

 

Next: '?'

 

Previous: 'Brave'

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review 2018-11-02 22:07
The Show Must Go On, Backstagers # 2 by Rian Sygh
The Backstagers, Vol. 2: The Show Must Go On - James Tynion IV,Rian Sygh

The heart of this one is an arc that seems to have been pared down and tweaked to be made into 'Ghost Light'. It was a touching story, but it failed to make the impression on me, it likely would have it I had read this before the novel.

 

The novel, by comparison, would then have made me a little angry. Oh well, competing branches of franchises will often rob from each other.

 

Jory and co. are driven to investigate deeper into the mysteries of the backstage then ever before, uncovering old heartache and meeting up with their counterparts from another school. This volume also addresses directly the possibility that time gets pretty messed up deep in the backstage and its possible to go missing for months when you only thought you'd been gone a few hours. Not the most comforting of thoughts.

 

Oh, and Jory and Hunter have confirmed their couple status, but there was so little build up it was more confusing than joyous. Have I forgotten how easily that happened in high school or was that a little weird?

 

The Backstagers

 

Next: 'Volume 3'

 

Previous: 'Rebels Without Applause'

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review 2018-11-02 21:53
Rebels Without Applause, Backstagers # 1 by Rian Sygh
The Backstagers Vol. 1 - Rian Sygh, James Tynion IV

After discovering the tie-in novel for this series, I sought the comic out. I was 100% in this for Jory and Hunter, and I got it, but it felt a trifle underdeveloped.

 

Jory has transferred to the all-boys school St. Genesius and is forced by his mother to join an after school program to make friends and keep him out of trouble while she works late at her new job. Jory is reluctant, but decides to join Drama Club. Confronted with some serious flake behavior, he retreats backstage and runs head over heels into crazy supernatural business.

 

The backstage is connected to an eerie, fascinating and often dangerous world of magic, rivers of psychedelic paint, and rumors of lost stage crews. But those are just stories, right? Hah! Jory joins veteran Backstagers Hunter, a whiz carpenter and shameless flirt; Beckett, mad lighting genius; Sasha, comic relief and loveableish klutz; Aziz, besties with Sasha and generally the one questioning any hi-jinks going on; and then there's the Stage Managers, two guys trying to keep a handle on things and get through their senior year intact - effectively non-entities, but they're in love, so....

 

This first volume mostly fleshes out the premise, but I have hopes for the rest of the series.

 

The Backstagers

 

Next: 'The Show Must Go On'

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review 2018-11-02 17:02
White Knight by Sean Murphy
Batman: White Knight - Sean Murphy

This is a perfect standalone Batman story. We're taken to a Gotham where Batman apprehends the Joker once again, but goes to far and assaults him after he's been restrained. These being modern times, Batman is filmed beating the shit out of Joker and force-feeding him pills.

 

Understandably, this sparks a crisis. The twist is, however, that shortly after this incident the Joker is reformed. This new man, Jack Napier, becomes an advocate for justice in Gotham, declaring that it needs to be out of the hands of masked vigilantes and, it appears, he succeeds at the expense of Batman.

 

Fantastically plotted, this is one that shouldn't be missed.

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