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review 2017-02-27 11:26
Wraithborn
Wraithborn - Marcia Chen,Joe Benitez

[I received an e-copy of this comics through NetGalley.]

This first volume collects issues 1 to 6 of the 'Redux edition. Most of the book is actually a flashback (explaing what led to the events of the first pages), but reads as a full story nonetheless. It introduces us to the main characters of 'Wraithborn', starting with Melanie, a normal and shy teenager who only wants to go through high school life relatively unscathed and unbullied, and thus does her best to remain invisible and not attracted unwanted attention. Only that's what she does when she accidentally receives the power of the Wraithborn, intended for another, and finds herself pursued by an antagonist who wants nothing more than this power for herself.

I found the art in general fairly good, with dynamic action scenes and vibrant colours, although (as often in such cases) the women's clothing is nothing too practical, and Melanie's features seemed maybe too... mature? Including when she's still a clueless teenager. So at first I thought she was more like 25 instead of 15, which felt a bit weird.

Some characters were likeable, like Zoe, with her weird fashion sense and the way she helps Melanie. Mel herself was more subdued, so it took me more time to warm up to her. Val... well, I still kind of wonder if he's going to tell Mel the truth, or if he'll do the not-so-nice thing. Could go either way. He didn't act like the vindicative, jealous type he could've been, all circumstances considered, so bonus point.

The story itself was interesting enough, albeit not too original compared to other works with similar themes. The villains are ruthless, the heroes may or may not be set up for betrayal later by those they trust most, and there's the lingering mystery of why the original 'carrier' of the Wraithborn was outside, instead of preparing for the ceremony (and therefore had to give his power to the first passer-by who happened to be around): either there's something fishy here or it was a plot hole, and I really hope it's the former... but, of course, this is the kind of information that is likely to be revealed only later.

Conclusion: I may pick the next volume in ebook, but probably not in paper version.

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review 2017-01-30 11:56
Big Mushy Happy Lump
Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection - Sarah Andersen

(I received a copy of this book through NetGalley).

A little disappointing, compared to the first book, which I really liked. Although it was still spot on in many ways, it didn't feel as funny—perhaps because of the choice of panels this time, or perhaps because some of those were already present in volume 1, so I admit I didn't really see the point in including them again here. I was also expecting more 'summer-related' panels, owing to the blurb. Maybe the blurb was ill-chosen?

As mentioned above, it's still pretty accurate regarding many aspects of life (cats! And cats on Instagram!). But it's much too repetitive.

Conclusion: Only buy it if you never checked the author's website and haven't read book 1.

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review 2016-12-14 20:14
Battlestar Galactica: Six
Battlestar Galactica: Six - J. T. Krul

[I received a copy of this comics through NetGalley.]

In general, I found the artwork here problematic. The covers—both internal and external—are striking and often dramatic, and one of the reasons I requested this book; they easily evoked the internal turmoil and the ambiguity that I expect from Six. On the other hand, the inside panels, more specifically their characters, aren't consistent enough, and not really recognisable. Which is a problem, indeed, considering they should look like their counterparts in the TV series, but don't. Or not much. I probably wouldn't care as much about this if the comics was a series on its own, however when it's about translating real faces/actors to paper, it's all the more easy to notice when it fails. Moreover, it didn't convey the kind of feeling that would've paved the way to TV!Six, with her blend of seduction, ruthlessness and questioning.

I didn't enjoy the storytelling either. I was expecting something more enthralling, that would play on Six's psyche, what happened, what shaped her and set the foundations for how she would develop in the TV episodes. Well, it did try to explore those aspects, but the narrative(s) were too disjointed to make sense early, creating a sense of confusion—one that confuses the reader, rather than actually echoing the character's. Also, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who's never watched the series: some tie-ins are understandable even when you don't know the original universe, some others aren't, and this one is part of the latter category.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars.

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review 2016-09-26 19:00
Golem
Golem - Ceccotti Lorenzo,Ceccotti Lorenzo

[I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

 

Some pretty good artwork in places, although I expected something more original, especially considering the length of this volume.

 

The basic idea in itself is, I'd say, typical enough of dystopian stories: country (here, Italy) in the not-too-far future, dominated by an apparent benevolent ruler (president Oudeis) who's actually a tyrant, with "the masses" living day to day in blissful ignorance, smothered with all the latest technological toys and gizmos they could desire. Also a "terrorist"/"freedom fighters" group, because dystopian stories need that. All in all, terra cognita here, not bad, and not exceptional either.

 

The world depicted in this comics is interesting, and chilling, too, however it gave a strong Japanese vibe, and this felt a little strange. Lots of Japanese-sounding names (the Yoko brand, the Shorai "terrorist group"), aesthetics that clearly reminded me of quite a few cyberpunk/futuristic manga... Again, not bad per se, yet I couldn't reconcile this vision with Italy. Not to say I expected stupid clichés here (nope, I didn't want to see pasta everywhere, that's just as bad as the French baguette as far as clichés go!), just... something that would've felt more European-centric?

 

The art was pretty good in some parts, though average in others, and most often dynamic: the fights looked and felt like fights, bodies in movement giving an impression of speed. As a work of art, as in painting/drawing, it was definitely interesting to look at.

 

The characters in general were sympathetic. Not unexpectedly at all, the rebels all have their quirks and cool tech and moves (cooking, hooked on computers, a sort of probabilities-projecting technology allowing them to predict their enemies' moves by a couple of seconds...). However, I never got a real feeling for them, especially the two kids at the centre of it all.

 

 

Conclusion: In general, my impression was that of a story with good foundations, but not told as it would've deserved—both too long and too crammed considering its conspiracy aspect. The bland characters didn't help.

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review 2016-07-31 15:23
Monstress vol. 1: Awakening
Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Actually, I received the first 6 parts, now gathered in this volume, so I thought I might as well review everything at once.

The 6 books are a blend between "traditional" comics and manga, especially in the themes and graphic style.

I found the art gorgeous—the cover got me interested even before I read what the book was about—with its seinen-style style softened in parts with rougher lines, and the way it pictures a civilisation both refined and savage, through the auction and the Cumaea, on a backdrop of war with "monsters" (the arcanics). The Cumaea reminded me of a kind of medieval-flavoured order of "nuns" who hunt and capture monsters to perform cruel scientific experiments on them. Also, characters reminiscent of eastern folklore, like the kitsune-type child, coexist with more "western" characters (the little cyclops or angel-winged kid). Said art remains impressive throughout the whole volume, able to convey both harshness and a certain softness: gorgeous landscapes, expressive characters, and creepy features when it comes to the more monstrous parts. (It seemed slightly darker in issue 5, and I'm not sure if it's on purpose or a matter of different inks, but I find it's quite fitting, reflecting the way the story is evolving (towards darker revelations and purposes).)

The first part follows Maika, a fierce young woman who looks but isn't human, as she's "bought" by a Cumaea nun and brought into their compound. Gifted with a strange power she cannot fully control, Maika is looking for answers, and isn't shy about dirtying her hands to get them. The reader is also introduced here to a few other characters, some who will likely appear in other issues, and others who probably won't... but I suspect their shadow won't vanish as easily, and we'll still hear about them.

In the second part, we get to discover the world outside, and not through a couple of flashbacks only. While Maika and the little kitsune manage to find a friendly woman to help them travel, the Cumaea's badass and ruthless leadership is unveiled some more... and the world itself is not the least ruthless of all, what's with the war still looming over its inhabitants. Not to mention the various uses of lilium.

Part 3 highlights the gruesome truths of the world (that "mountain" on the last two pages...), among which what's hiding within Maika. Literally, may I add. The monster is revealing itself, and it is scary. Yet at the same time, beauty remains in that world, too: in its landscapes, in the costumes (Maika in her simple dress tends to make one forget the Cumaea's clothes), in the wonders it may also contain. Kippa the cute fox-kid also plays more of a role, discarding an opportunity for running away to behave bravely instead. It may not seem much, but... but that kid is cute, and a little cuteness is not unwelcome in that world.

Part 4 and 5 also introduce more players, like the Warlord and the Queen, and the plot thickens (hints about what happened in Constantine). And in part 5 and 6, we get to see more of the mysterious Dusk Court, who have their own sources of information and their own plans for Maika, and even sent a bodyguard sent to escort her to their lands. Meanwhile, the Cumaea make their moves as well, and some of them are also in a long game, more than meet the eye for sure. Also, what is being done to these poor kids downstairs, and are the cats their guardians, or here to suppress their powers, or?...

As for part 6, this collection of first issues ends with a cliffhanger that doesn't bode so well for Maika. Cosmic irony much? I am sad that I won't get to find all the answers now, yet I'm also glad that the plot isn't too simplistic noro "drowned" in pretty panels.

Notes:

- I find it particularly interesting that most important characters are females (men are mostly seen in passing), but in a way that doesn't get pointed at: they aren't strong or important "in spite of" being female (the way you unfortunately see in too many works of fiction), they just ARE, which is great. And speaking of the Warlord... haven't we seen that face?

- I'm not sure if the "Awakening" volume also containes the "cat lessons" that were at the end of each individual issue. I found them interesting, and I didn't mind the infoo-dump since it wasn't imposed within the story itself, so all's good for me in that regard.

Conclusion: Definitely a graphic novel I want to keep reading, for its wonderful art (both soft and harsh, a little weird, creepy in places, and with beautiful landscapes and buildings) as well as for the direction the story seems to be taking: Maika's stay at the compound is only the beginning. So many questions, and hopefully many answers to come... in the next collection of issues.

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