Ashlie’s #CBR5 Review 38 The Absolute Sandman Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

Real talk: I am too full of Christmas goodness to be any good at a book review. Blame the breakfast casseroles.

In short, Neil Gaiman is a god among men. I had high expectations for Sandman as “American Gods” was my favorite read of the year, and I was not disappointed.

He blends common mythology with his ever-rich imagination for a fanciful and dark tale about the ruler of dreamworld. It isn’t as dark as something like “Preacher” but it has it’s moments that are pretty black.

I’m intrigued by the news that JGL may be working to adapt it for the big screen and I don’t understand how it could be adapted for film, but I remain optimistic.

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Sara Habein’s #CBR5 Review #31: Simon’s Cat vs. The World by Simon Tofield

Simon's Cat vs. The WorldWe’re going to do something a little different this time because, well, to be honest, the idea amuses me. While I am certainly a great lover of cats and comics/cartoons,Simon’s Cat vs. The World struck me as something my six-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter would also enjoy. Anyone who knows my son knows he operates in his own amusing, creative universe, and my daughter is a voracious reader who can’t believe I’m not blowing through the Harry Potter series just once while she’s gone through it three times. (I’m about to start Book 4, at her insistence. Yes, I’m late to the party, as usual.)

So while I can tell you that Simon Tofield’s kitty creation is both very funny and full of detail, I wanted to know what my kids had to say.

Jack: “I like the part with the couch because he’s like AAAHHH!! with his paw. And the bird box is funny because the bird pops out and the birds are just like Yeah! I like the sticker with the arrow pointing into cat’s mouth because it’s like the cat is saying,Feed me.”

Grace: “I like the drawing lessons in the back because I like drawing a lot and I like cats. The book is really funny. The Godzilla part was my favorite.”

Jack: “And how could you conquer the Godzilla?”

Grace: “I don’t know, it was the shadow of the Godzilla toy. And Simon looked fiercer the dinosaur toy’s shadow.”

Jack: “Well, I don’t really see how that’s conquering it.”

(I think the cat’s ongoing war with the hedgehogs is my favorite.)

The included stickers and drawing lessons are also a great inclusion with the full color illustrations. The way Tofield explains his relatively simple way of drawing different animals is something even a semi-inept artist such as myself could handle. My daughter, on the other hand, could practically do it in her sleep. The kids got right to work on their own Simon the Cat artwork.

(Click on through to Glorified Love Letters for both their artwork and the rest of my review.)

Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #166: The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 3: 1955-1956 by Charles M. Schulz

Peanuts-1955-1956-Vol-3-9781560976479

To anyone who’s paying attention, I did skip a volume. I placed an interlibrary loan request for volume two as well, but it couldn’t be fulfilled. Not too surprising, considering the luck I have in similar situations.

  • Until my sister bought me The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I wasn’t able to read every story in the series due to the library’s only collection being incomplete.
  • The Pitt Book Center had The Gunslinger, and every other book in the series… besides its sequel, The Drawing of the Three.
  • The local libraries, oddly enough, have books one and three in Christopher Moore’s vampire trilogy (Bloodsucking Fiends and Bite Me), but not book two.
  • When I placed a hold request for all six parts of The Green Mile, I got them all at the same time… minus one.
  • The local libraries have the first two volumes of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but no more after them.
  • No branch of the Carnegie Library had a copy of the first Dark Tower graphic novel, The Gunslinger Born, but the Butler library, whose selection of graphic novels is slim and hidden upstairs with the non-fiction, does.

This may or may not have something to do with why I so rarely read series. I should’ve known, with as many volumes as The Complete Peanuts is up to, that this was inevitable. Doesn’t make it any less disappointing, especially given buying a copy is currently out of the question, given what each volume runs you ($20+). I’m sure I’ll find a way to read it eventually, but I can hardly stand reading things out of sequence, and only did it this time because that’s how badly I wanted my Peanuts fix. Continue reading

Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #24: Cursed Pirate Girl Volume 1 by Jeremy Bastian

Cursed Pirate GirlTarget: Jeremy Bastian’s Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition Volume 1.

Profile: Comics, Fantasy, Pirates!

Way back in June, I attended the Denver Comic Convention.  In the process of browsing the expansive artist alleys, I came across a curious man with a nose ring doodling some incredibly intricate, scrimshaw-esque pictures.  Next to him were copies of his book, Cursed Pirate Girl, bound in a distinctive light blue cover and filled with more of the same detailed black-and-white drawings.  It was easily the most interesting thing I’d seen at the Con so far.  I impulsively grabbed a copy.  Two hours later, covered with the paper flakes of Pirate Girl’s beautiful faux-old ragged pages, I was in love.

Now, to be fair, I love fairy tales.  And Cursed Pirate Girl is a fairy tale for people who love the idea of adventure on the high seas; being spirited away by a noble pirate captain and exploring forgotten ruins in search of treasure.  It’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making with more water.  And this is where the review comes off the rails, because I’m horribly biased towards this kind of storytelling, not only because it’s basically just a fairytale wrapped in salt-soaked ropes and topped with a talking parrot, but because it is a well-handled coming of age story that casts the girl as someone capable of anything.  Congratulations Mr. Bastian, you’ve punched all of my buttons.

Read the rest of the review…

Joe G.’s #CBR5 Review #3: Superman – The Unauthorized Biography, by Glen Weldon

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It seems like everybody’s got an idea of what Superman is or should be. He’s a guardian angel, he’s a big blue boy scout, he’s a Christ figure, he’s space Moses. He’s awesome, he’s lame, he’s relevant or he’s not. To a certain extent, everyone is right – over the course of 75 years of continuous publication, Superman has been a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In Superman – The Unauthorized Biography, Glen Weldon maps the history of Superman – his publishing history, but also the evolution of his portrayal in comics, film, radio, and every other medium imaginable. In doing so, he distills and analyzes the essence of what makes Superman who he is and why he has resonated with readers in one way or another for three-quarters of a century.

Half of the book’s opening chapter is about how creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster developed Superman; the remaining half-chapter is devoted to a close read/analysis of the original, 13-page Superman story that appeared in Action Comics #1. And if that sounds boring or tedious to you, then I can do nothing for you because you could not be more wrong. It certainly could have ended up that way, but the exercise is anything but in Weldon’s hands. He provides valuable context and commentary that makes this chapter – and the entirety of the book, really, though it rarely gets as nitty-gritty again as it does in those opening pages – comfortable.

And comfortable is probably the best word to describe how the book reads. It feels like you’re out at a bar, having a beer, and talking about Superman with a smart friend. Weldon clearly takes Superman seriously, but he also acknowledges the sillier aspects of the character’s history (various colors of Kryptonite, new powers, and a certain regrettable hairstyle). Even those aspects, though, which other people might choose to ignore, are important to Weldon’s thesis, acting as indicators of how the Man of Steel has changed over time and reinforcing Weldon’s conclusions about what makes Superman important.

It’s worth mentioning that I spend more time than is probably healthy thinking about Superman. I’ve read nearly every Superman comic of the modern, post-Crisis (the first one) era, and quite a few from before then, so I knew a fair amount of the information that Weldon includes in the book going into it. Maybe that’s why it felt so comfortable to me. That said, it also felt fresh and I was never bored. The analysis that he provides is both insightful and entertaining, and it made me consider stories with which I am extremely familiar in a new light. I can also say confidently that, even if you’ve never read a Superman comic but are interested in the character and his cultural evolution, this book is perfectly accessible. If you’re interested in the book, but you didn’t know what “post-Crisis” meant earlier, don’t worry. This is not a book for insiders only, with winks and nods and references without explanations. The book, like Superman, is for everyone.

If you want a taste of what the book is like, check out this extra piece that Weldon wrote about Krypto the Super-Dog, a character and topic that was left out almost entirely from the book. That piece should give you a pretty good idea of the tone of the book (though it is played more for laughs, because, as he writes, it’s a dog in a cape). I would’ve read 15 pages about Krypto if they were written like that, but that’s just me.

Literary nerds (of which I am one) will enjoy the book for its well-considered analysis. Comic book nerds (of which I am also one) will enjoy the history and the respect paid to a character that has endured for 75 years. Honestly, I wish the thing had been 1000 pages longer. Such is my combined love of Superman and enjoyment of Weldon’s writing style.

Shucks Mahoney’s #CBRV Review #52: Secret Six: Villains United/Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter/Six Degrees of Devastation/Unhinged/Depths/Danse Macabre/Cat’s in the Cradle/The Reptile Brain/The Darkest House

tumblr_mn5v9tYxNR1qlrpiko1_500For my final review in my Cannonball read, I wanted write about the Secret Six comic series I’ve been obsessively working through this year. This is going to be a very spoilery, squee-heavy, fan-girly post, so I’m sticking it under a cut.  Continue reading

Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #22-23: The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, Volumes 1 and 2 by Tom Hutchison, Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan

The Wicked WestTarget: Tom Hutchison’s The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West Volumes 1 and 2.  Art by Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan.  Collecting the original miniseries and Issues #1-5

Profile: Comics, Fantasy, Western, Oz

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is a truly stunning graphic novel.  Pitched as a reimagining of the L. Frank Baum masterpiece in a ‘Wild West’ setting, The Wicked West manages the difficult task of remaining true to its roots while exploring new territory.  But what stands out is the strength of the characters.  Both fresh and familiar, these new iterations of the much beloved Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are the driving force behind a story that is incredibly dynamic and compelling.

The Wicked West SouthThe Wicket West opens with Dorothy, who goes by her last name in this adaptation, making her way towards the Emerald City.  It has been three years since a twister pulled her and her horse, Toto, from their Kansas home and dropped them on the Wicked Witch of the East.  The Munchkins gave Gale the witch’s ruby spurs and gem-encrusted pistols as a reward and she’s been on the yellow-brick road ever since.  But the road has been pulled up by bandits and Gale has been lost for years.  Being lost has kept her off the radar for a while, but when she stumbles into a saloon filled with flying monkeys, the hunt is on again.

Read the rest of the review…