Graphic Novel Weekly is back again, with another batch of new reviews for you to dive into! I hope you’re as excited as I am! This week, I’ll be looking at:
- The Only Living Girl, Volume 1: The Island at the Edge of Infinity
- Gideon Falls, Volume 2: Original Sins
- Robotech, Volume 4: Lisa’s Report
- The Woods: Yearbook Edition, Book 1
- Cemetery Beach
- Croquette and Empanada: A Love Story
I’m looking forward to sharing all of these with you, so let’s get started!
Coming Next Week
Next week, I have scheduled some new titles from BOOM!, Dark Horse, Lion Forge, and Image for review. I hope to see you there! And, as always, if you are looking for previous columns, just click right here to see everything the Graphic Novel Weekly has to offer.
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I got the chance to jump on early to this new series that is being Kickstarted. You can find out all the details on their Kickstarter page. The Kickstarter has already gone live, so get over there before it’s too late!
Frenemies will be a four-issue series following a group of cosplayers who find themselves turned into superpowered beings and thrust into a galactic mystery that will require all of them to unlock. Unfortunately for the universe, this group of people is a hodge-podge that finds itself just as interested in benefiting their own self-interests, whether that’s making money or gathering romantic partners, as they are in solving this galactic conundrum.
Overall, I enjoyed the start of this story. Only the first issue was available at the time of submission, and I don’t typically read single issues at this time, but I’m excited to see a new science fiction adventure comic coming out with a diverse cast and a focus on fun and excitement. At this stage, I think that Frenemies has a lot of potential. Admittedly, the start is a bit clunky, with some heavy-handed narration delaying the reader’s entry into the plot, but once it starts, it has the feel of a retro-futuristic indie sci-fi adventure, and I’m always excited about that.
I encourage you to give this title a shot if you are a fan of science fiction adventure. It’s a fun start, and there is a lot of potential. Frenemies needs your support to conclude the series, but it has already been written, so this feels a lot safer than some other Kickstarters that I’ve come across.
The Only Living Girl, Volume 1: The Island at the Edge of Infinity
A steady theme here at Graphic Novel Weekly is that I’m always keeping my eye out for young-reader friendly titles that I think would be a great fit for my stepdaughter. I was thrilled to come across The Only Living Girl, as I had heard great things about the series that proceeded it, The Only Living Boy, and it seemed like it could be just what I was hoping for.
Zee lives in a patchwork world that was created by the evil Doctor Once, who also was her father. Zee is afraid of standing out from her father’s terrible legacy. Along with her friend Erik (of The Only Living Boy fame), Zee sets out on adventures and strives to help the menagerie of aliens that live on this new planet. However, when a threat from another dimension puts everyone at risk, can Zee and her companions save the day?
The first volume of The Only Living Girl was so much fun. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of early Fantastic Four, as super-science must be used to combat threats from outer space. This story has lots of heart, spending time exploring Zee’s background and character, and balances this nicely with high adventure. I was also thrilled to be able to dive right in, and not feeling like I was confused for having not read The Only Living Boy.
I had a blast with The Only Living Girl, and I can’t wait for the second volume. This title is highly recommended for readers of all ages who are interested in science and adventure.
Gideon Falls, Volume 2: Original Sins
I’ve been reviewing Gideon Falls for pretty much the entirety of my time at GeekDad. I put up a review of the first volume here and reviewed single issues for the ever-wonderful Comic Book Corner. With my transition to Graphic Novel Weekly, I’ve been excitedly waiting for the release of the second volume of Gideon Falls, and it is finally here!
Norton and Father Fred continue to dive deeper into the mystery of the black barn, as well as their very different Gideon Falls experiences. A lot of the second volume of Gideon Falls is the culmination of events begun in the first volume, so it is difficult to talk too much about it without spoilers. Suffice to say, the mystery deepens substantially, and past, future, and alternate presents all start to draw closer together.
I didn’t enjoy the second volume of Gideon Falls quite as much as the first, as it felt like it began to lose its pace at times. The trippy art is really cool in isolation, but it began to feel like there was so much emphasis on alternative page layouts and designs that the story pacing was suffering. Most of the plot progression occurs in small bursts, interspersed among panel breaking meta scenes.
I really enjoy Gideon Falls, and encourage fans of existential horror to give it a spin. While this second volume wasn’t quite as impressive as the first, it was still a solid read, and I look forward to the third volume.
Robotech, Volume 4: Lisa’s Report
Titan’s new Robotech has been a blast so far, and with news of some major storylines coming up soon, it has the potential to keep getting better and better. I was really excited to get rolling on the latest collection.
The SDF-1 is making its way back to Earth following the disaster on Mars, but the trip continues to be far from a simple one. With enemies within as well as without, the crew doesn’t know who to trust, especially as it appears that there are more than two factions at work within the ship.
While Robotech is making some tweaks to create a new, original story, this volume seemed to do more retelling of the original series than the previous two have. The story is still rolling along nicely, but it felt like it was much stronger when it was dealing with the complex innerworkings of the various forces on the SDF-1 than when it was retelling the story of the attempt to drop off the civilian passengers on Earth.
I’m looking forward to the next collection, as it lays the ground work for the upcoming Robotech summer saga, Event Horizon, which will hopefully continue to bring fresh ideas to this series.
The Woods: Yearbook Edition, Book 1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Michael Dialynas
I’m a fan of Tynion’s work, especially his long run on Detective Comics and Batman Eternal, as well as his current work on Justice League Dark. I’ve actually encountered The Woods previously, starting the series in single issues during its original release but not able to get too far along with it before I had to drop comics for a while. Seeing its re-release in these new editions, I was excited to finally be able to give this series a worthwhile read.
On a seemingly-average day, a school in Wisconsin disappears, along with all of the students, teachers, and staff inside. They find themselves in a strange alien world full of large creatures and a hidden society, with violence all around them. As the basest survival instincts begin to come out, how will the school survive, and can it do so while retaining its humanity?
This feels like the ideal way to read The Woods. These “Yearbook Editions” contain three of the original trades, or 12 individual issues. These large chunks allow readers to see the full scope of what Tynion is doing with this new world. There are a lot of moving parts here, with different factions coming together and splitting apart, all while teenagers continue having to deal with teenager things like navigating relationships and finding meaning in life. The balance is really well done here.
The art feels very alien, with great colors and designs that feel familiar and alien all at once. There is a very deft hand at work here, as over the span of the collection the reader becomes more and more comfortable and familiar with the dangerous alien world.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with The Woods, and I think that these large collections provide the best avenue into the story. I strongly recommend these for fans of science fiction, especially that of the YA-friendly sort.
Warren Ellis has been diving back into science fiction with gusto lately, between Trees and Cemetery Beach, and it is exciting to see. I missed this series when it was in single issues, so I was quite excited to give it a full run through with its collected release.
Mike Blackburn is a forward scout exploring a human colony on another planet that was established decades ago. The planet is full of isolationists who don’t want Earth involvement, so when Mike is captured, that means it is torture time. However, he is much more than they expected, and when he breaks our alongside young rebel Grace Moody, the entire planet is going to fight to hunt him down.
First off, Cemetery Beach is a perfect example of why I have switched to reading trades. This collection doesn’t designate where one issue ends and another begins, and I honestly couldn’t tell you where those issue changes would be based on the narrative and the page layouts. I think I would have been frustrated reading this in single issues. As a complete graphic novel, however, I loved it.
In many ways, Cemetery Beach reminds me of Mad Max: Fury Road. The whole thing is basically one giant chase scene. And, much like Fury Road, Cemetery Beach does an utterly brilliant job of it. Mike and Grace have a great back and forth going on that reveals some of their deeper motivations, and the entire world and cultures seem to be well thought out. This story was brilliant, and I desperately hope that Ellis returns to this world and gets even more out of the heavy lifting he must have done to make this new planet so cohesive.
The art here is fantastic, as well. The transitions to different locales are handled magnificently, and the explosions are spot on. And there are a lot of explosions. The whole product felt so synergistic and complete. I cannot recommend this title highly enough to fans of science fiction and action.
CONTENT NOTE: Lots of violence. Consider reviewing before passing along to younger readers.
Croquette & Empanada: A Love Story
Long time readers of Graphic Novel Weekly will likely have recognized that I like to feature cartoons here when I can, because they feel like a very tight bond with other comic styles. I grew up reading Calvin & Hobbes, and I’ve featured a number of webcomic here at Graphic Novel Weekly. I was excited to take another crack at a title that seems to blend comics and cartoons, with Croquette & Empanada.
Croquette and Empanada have just moved in together and are beginning to explore what this stage of their relationship looks like. From parties to sharing the blanket, the pair grow in their relationship.
There isn’t a whole lot here in this volume. It’s intended to be cute and funny, but it mostly feels light and airy, without much depth. I had hoped for more from this, a fun, easy read, but instead it was a very quick read that left me feeling unfulfilled. I would love to see a little more depth and complexity out of this title.
This isn’t a bad title to grab for a quick read between books, but it isn’t strong enough to stand on its own.
When I snagged a copy of Clyde, I had confused it with a crime comic of the same name. Imagine my surprise when I saw the cover was a grumpy-looking cartoon bear! In the end, though, this was a pleasant surprise. Clyde is clearly geared for younger readers, but it has some moments that will make parents grin while kids laugh about the silliness. Clyde seeks to prove he is a bad guy, but finds out he might not be that bad after all, especially after a butterfly beats him up. When it comes time to save the day, Clyde will stand up to the fish prison, but he’s sure gonna be grouchy about it! A light story for all ages, this one should be popular with younger readers.
Luke Forney and/or GeekDad received copies of each of the graphic novels included in this list for review purposes. If you are reading this article anywhere other than on GeekDad or GeekMom, then you are reading a copy not authorized by the author. Please check out other Graphic Novel Weekly articles at www.geekdad.com