Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mermin Volume 2 & 3: The Big Catch & Deep Dive by Joey Weiser

Mermin Volume 2: The Big Catch by Joey Weiser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 136 pages
Published December 17th, 2013 by Oni Press

Mermin (2)

Whoa! This is so much better than the first one; I'm really glad I continued on with this series. I love the art, Mermin is so cute but whereas the plot in the first one was lame here we have a very action-filled plot from beginning to end. The book begins with two guys trying to capture Mermin and doesn't end until, well I won't tell you how it ends. However, they are on the go from page one. One new character is added to the gang, a girl, a tough girl, which was needed as she seems to round out the main cast of characters nicely. We also learn Mermin's secret but there is a part he isn't telling us about and I'm looking forward to finding out with his next adventure in Book Three.

Mermin Volume 3: Deep Dive by Joey Weiser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 152 pages
Published September 23rd, 2014 by Oni Press

Mermin (3)

And the adventure continues! Book Three was delightful.. Of course, I had expected an underwater adventure and wondered if Atlantis would appear, and this is where it all happens. But Mermin is from the Kingdom of Mer and they and the Atlantians have had their bad feelings towards each other escalating for some time now. We finally find out the problems in Mer that sent Mermin up to the surface to escape it all. I love DC's Aquaman and this is a humorous kid's pastiche along those same lines. I liked how the book opened to a page of the characters with their names. Mermin is learning he has more powers than he thought he did, but how will he learn to tap into them and control them? Quite the adventure here, again with an action-packed plot and this time the book ends with a big crisis leaving us hanging in the wings until Book Four comes our way. This is a fun series, even though I really wasn't impressed with the first book I'm glad I continued on. I will certainly be keeping up to date with this cute series.

The Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz

The Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 112 pages
March 1st, 2015 by Graphic Universe
(available on amazon now)

Not exactly a riveting story but a decent read nonetheless. A memoir of the author's parents and what life was like for them in East Germany, especially during the early 1980s after they had applied for permanent relocation to the West. This is not a subject written about in kidslit very often but such an important one today. We must not forget the history of Socialism and Communism, how the first is needed to turn into the other, the tragic loss of freedoms, and the persecutions people lived through during this era of the Cold War. I certainly enjoyed the art, which is in b/w, despite the cover illustration; it quite reminded me of Zeina Abirached's work.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 2 by Adachi Toka

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 2 by Adachitoka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published November 18th, 2014 by Kodansha Comics
(first published in Japanese October 2011)

Noragami: Stray God (Vol. 2)

I am absolutely enjoying this manga. The plot is pretty much the usual fare for this type of Shounen featuring gods and demons, but it has a certain maturity to it. All the characters that were established by the end of vol. 1 have returned. I love each of them but as I mentioned before Hiyori is my favourite. Yato is still trying to gain followers, but his past keeps catching up with him so we're learning more about him. Also, Yato is learning new things he'd never known or appreciated before about shinkis. So lots of information and character development here and one of those "duh-duh-DAH" endings. I'm truly looking forward to the next volume.

Dracula & Frankenstein: Two Dover Graphic Novel Classics

Dracula (Dover Graphic Novel Classics) by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 48 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Dover Publications

Recommended for ages 8 and up this is a small graphic adaptation of the great vampire novel illustrated with black and white drawings which the introduction suggests be coloured. Of course reducing Dracula to a 50 page graphic novel leaves out many details of the story but the author does a very good job of putting the basic framework together while keeping the story exciting and not missing any major plot points. There are better versions out there but for $3.99 it's certainly worthwhile.

Frankenstein (Dover Graphic Novel Classics) by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 48 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Dover Publications

Recommended for ages 8 and up this is a small graphic adaptation of the famous novel illustrated with black and white drawings which the introduction suggests be coloured. This fell flat for me and I wouldn't recommend it as a first introduction to the story. The author fails to capture the obsession of Victor Frankenstien; in the novel he truly becomes the quintessential "mad scientist". He makes the monster not necessarily bad from the beginning but certainly frightening who then turns bad. This is how the story goes in the original but again the author fails to capture the essence of how wicked and *in*-human the monster actually is, except in man's most vile characteristics. Also the monster's object is to kill everyone that is close to Frankenstein to make him suffer through their losses, the deaths do occur here, but monster's intentions are never made clear. The basic plot outline of the original is here, but this graphic novel fails to capture any of the emotions, themes or frightening conclusions it makes about mankind

Comic Bento Box Subscription

I am behind in posting a review about this.  I received this in December but was immersed in the staggering pile of Cybil Award graphic novels that had to be read beore our Judges meeting.  Then of course Christmas came along!  Anyway ...

I was offered a complimentary box for review purposes.  I was sent Comic Bento's October box which I received in December a couple of days after they said it was shipped.  As you can see from the picture you receive a nice colourful big sturdy box.

There have been a few changes since I received my box so I'll tell you about them now: each month has a specific theme (February's upcoming theme is Feminine Mystique) and you also have the option of a "Kid Bento" which, instead of the monthly theme, is a box full of kid-friendly comics suitable for the whole family.

So my box had no theme and contained books for various age groups. I opened up the box to find the books wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in plastic with a stiff piece of cardboard which protected them very nicely.  Except one book was oversized and placed on top getting a bit of curlage since it was wider than the box.  It straightened out after being put under a pile of other books.  There is also a one-page letter (which I don't read at this point), a bookmark, sticker and 50% off my first box subscription coupon.

ETA (after posting this, I did read the newsletter and the themes are not new!  This box's theme was Funny Pages)

I'm not going to review the books here, I'll do that individually as I read them as the purpose of this review is my impression of this subscription box.  I received five graphic novels.  Comic Bento promises they will send you at least $60 worth of books so I imagine the number will vary depending on the prices of what you get.  Following is what I received and my impressions as I opened my surprise package. I'm also including the $ values so I can give a final value of the box versus the cost of the box.  I'm Canadian and the cost of the box is different for me than US Customers which will be cheaper and I'll discuss the value at the end.

The Most Dangerous Game: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner:  This is the oversized book and is thin.  The cover is interesting and it is from an indie publisher, Bread Pig.  I like that.  I wouldn't want to be getting books I could have easily already have myself.  Looking through I see it's a collection of comics, there's no summary on the back so I don't know what it's about but the contents look interesting. Looking it up on amazon, it has an average rating of 4.6.  I'm pleased. ($18.00) (only available from the publisher in Canada)

Archer & Armstrong: The Michaelangelo Code, Volume One by Fred Van Lente - This I'm excited about.  I've always wanted to read Archer & Armstrong! This is published by Valiant and there's no need for me to look at it anymore because I'm thrilled. ($9.99)

Yield to Me To Me (Least I Could Do: The Complete 5th Year Collection) by Ryan Sohmer & Lar Desouza - I haven't heard of this.  The cover is appealing, perhaps funy, makes me wonder the context but also makes me wonder if it might be too risque for my tastes.  This is from another indie publisher "Blind Ferret Entertainment". I'm interested, let's read the back summary ... I'm not sure if this will be for me, but I'm excited.  These guys are Canadian! It's kind of a "Friends" thing, but the main character is a sex-obsessed narcissistic 25yo corporate executive.  Browsing through it, it's not too risque for me. There are lot's of pics of him in bed alone or with a girl but the covers are always under the armpits and the f-word is spelt "fuq", which is funny itself because these guys are from Quebec and the French word for seal (the animal) is le phoque, pronounced "fuq".  Looking forward to this one! (19.99)

Rad Tats: Gunshow Vol. 4 by KC Green - Again something that I've never heard of by an indie publisher, TopatoCo.  Looks like the author might be Canadian too!  The cover has me as it is dark and gloomy.  Looking inside I see b/w art, skulls, people pouring coffee in their heads and what looks like dark humour.  This is my type of thing.  Again I'm happy to give this a go. ($15.00, only available from the publisher)

Rabbids #1. Bwaaaaah by Thitaume - This is the only disappointment and that's because I've read it and didn't like it.  *But* I did want to read it because it looked so cute and the only reason I got to read it is that I get review copies from this publisher, Papercutz, whose stuff I usually really like.  ($7.99)

So the total value of this bundle is a value of $70.97 which is over the promise of $60.00.

Now let's see how the subscription works out money-wise.  First of all I love getting mail, especially books in the mail so we have to keep in mind that there is a fun factor in here of opening this "present" each month.  If I were to subscribe I would start with the 3-month offer to give it a fair go which is $18.34 a month + s/h.

US - $18.34 + $5 = $23.34 received $70.97 in books (great value!)

CAD - $18.34 + $12.35 + $3.99 HST (for Ontarians) = $34.68 (sucks that it's so much more but still a good value!)

For Canadians, Comic Bento is situated in Quebec, so you will have to pay GST on the S/H and depending on your province, PST or HST and then again on whether you are taxed on books.

So, yeah, if I had the money I'd definitely give them a try and see if I was enjoying what they were sending.  If it's a wide selection of publishers with some indies and new-to-you stuff  that is not available on amazon and you are not likely to have already gone out and bought; it could be quite broadening for an avid GN reader.

Friday, January 23, 2015

UQ Holder 3 by Ken Akamatsu

UQ Holder 3 by Ken Akamatsu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by Kodansha Comics

UQ Holder (3)

This volume was all over the place for me. I wasn't liking it, then I thought I was, then I wasn't, then the ending had me hooked and the finish was fantastic. My main problem I guess is I don't like either of the two main characters, Tota or Kura. I do however like the other lesser characters and Karin was given a good amount of page time this volume. This volume is battle intensive and the art always gets really messy in these parts, which make it hard to really see what's going on. The ending was exciting though with the re-appearance of a past character and three new characters, who look totally amazing! We'll see where things go next volume.

Stones of Power by Azumi Isora

Stones of Power by Azumi Isora
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 168 pages
Published December 30th, 2014 by Gen Manga Entertainment, Inc.

The plot of this was good, but it was executed poorly. It jumped around a lot and felt like scenes were missing. People would speak to each other and reply as if they were having different conversations and the translation was very basic English. I almost didn't bother finishing it, but the plot did capture me enough half way through to make me continue to the end. Not something I'd recommend.