Newest Graphic Novels Reviews

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Ratchwood Dilemma by Duncan Watson and Brian Bicknell

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Well, this is a singular book and make no mistake. The first part of the trilogy led us in quite bewildered steps from a hive mind crash-landing at Roswell and infecting a scientist, through a religious espouser being shot live on TV and the death of Judas, right up to some kind of godhead having to better the existence of what, you know, the more commonly perceived God, had left us with. I think. Here we start with an A&E case where one of a pair of twins is left in near-vegetative state, but one advisor suggests that before the crash or whatever that caused the problem in the first place there might have only been one person. We see a man with the ability to snatch people out of space/time – in a world where that can happen who knows how stable anyone or anything or anywhen might be? And what might any slight imbalance in the universes mean? Full review...

Tarzan - And the Lost Tribes (Vol. 4) (The Complete Burne Hogarth Comic Strip Library) by Burne Hogarth and Rob Thompson

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Normally I turn against the most popular. If there's a book series that I know is, say, seven volumes long, I shrug and let people enjoy it. I've been bitten too often by series you think are complete being extended, for one, and the originator's death too often never puts the full stop you'd expect on things. But some franchises are much longer, but too important to ignore. Take, for example, the series (of series) surrounding Tarzan. Unless fully in the know, you will be surprised at just how many films there were back in the day. I'm not going to count up the number of official books he was in. He was also in comic strips, as you might expect, but for my sins they've never crossed my path until here. But boy isn't this just a wonderful way to see what I was missing… Full review...

The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke and Claude St Aubin

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

There is a huge hole in my history knowledge where North America is concerned. Slowly, from an opening of sheer ignorance, having never studied it whatsoever at school, I've got a small grip on things like the Civil War, the foundations of the USA and a few other things. But that means nothing as far as this book is concerned, for that huge hole is Canada. No, I didn't have an inkling about how it was trying to unify, just as the American Civil War was in full pelt just across the border. I didn't know what was there before Canada, if you see what I mean. The story does have some things in common with that of their southern neighbours – European occupancy being slowly turned into a list of states as we know them now, slowly spreading into the heart of the continent with the help of the railways etc; native 'Indians' being 'in the way'; past trading agreements to either maintain or try to improve on; and so on – but of course it also had the British vs French issue. But did you know how an American President getting shot at the theatre had a bearing on the story? Or the Irish? Like I said, a huge hole… Full review...

Children of Lucifer: Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Out of ninety-five diverse comic strip stories, the publication of this book leaves just the last three yet to be presented in these fabulous large format paperbacks. So if you haven’t yet met with the sassy brunette with her curves and her great crime-solving mind, and of course with her Willie, this is the last-but-one chance for you to do so. And if you have any interest in quick little action tales, or even dated kitsch, for both apply here, then you should eagerly be on board… Full review...

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History by Jon Morris

5star.jpg Graphic Novels

As much as I like comics – and I do, whether superhero ones or not – I have to admit one thing, namely that the villains in them are a bit pants. What is The Penguin but the world's worst Mafioso, with a hobby of waddling along like his pet birds? Where else do you win an Oscar of all things by playing a two-bit killer who just fell in a vat of random chemicals and changed colour, and got mardier as a result (although recently he's become a nanotech genius – but let's not go there)? And what is it with the gimp in the see-through plant pot because he is the embodiment of cold? And that's just some of the better-known enemies of Batman, one of the better goodies. You can imagine how awful the baddies related to the bad goodies can be. And if you can't, this is the perfect primer. Full review...

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard

5star.jpg Graphic Novels

When Jim's family halt at Dundray, his heart grows heavy. A new Buffer school for this Pavee boy to attend. Jim doesn't like school. He doesn't like Buffers. And you know, you couldn't really blame him because the distrust and suspicion is mutual. Prejudice against the Traveller community is strong and when Jim and his cousins turn up on their first day, it's to stares and muttered insults from the pupils and condescension from the teachers. Within days, Moss Cunningham and his gang have accused Jim of stealing a CD - he did no such thing - and have begun a campaign of threats, bullying and worse. Full review...

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Forget the moon being made of cheese, here the Earth looks like it's a huge dollop of the finest Swiss stuff. Horrid, giant insectoid alien things have taken over, and they have zapped anything technological they can find – pumping a blob of something over it, and turning whatever turns up in the resulting spheres into sand, or carting it off to larger ships. Our heroes belong to a travelling caravan of a village, keeping intact as much human knowledge as they can (think a digital version of those readers in Fahrenheit 451), but they've left their compatriots behind to go exploring. They'll never expect to find a magical, wondrous, robotic horse, though – which is where their problems begin… Full review...

Scotland Yardie by Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Things are grim in London. 'People of colour' can no longer stand at a bus stop or cross the road without white cops shooting them down, and planting drugs and guns on them. Heaven help them if their satnav leads them past certain corrupt coppers. But obviously one of the problems there is that there are no black police, so to encourage their growth Boris has built Jamaica a prison, and borrowed their finest – Scotland Yardie, a dreadlocked and heavily-armed skunkhead rasta. It's purely thought of as a PR exercise, but Yardie knows different. When you add on a mystery regarding a new chain of chicken shops, and the nasty cops, he has his work cut out. Seen? Full review...

Sins by Mary Telford and Louise Verity

4star.jpg Short Stories

Is there enough new to say about the seven deadly sins? We've seen them all shown to us, from school age and up to the movie Se7en, which we sincerely hope was NOT shown to anyone at school age. We can each recount them all, having been long familiar with them, even if we probably can't pin down when they were actually set in stone without help. Similarly, is there anything new in the world of fairy tale? We know the tropes - characters identified by their status or gender (the woman, the husband), a clear set of rules to obey, and a moral as strong as, if not stronger than, the formulae involved. Well, this volume demands we decide the answer to those questions as being positive ones, and if it's not always definitive in the writing here that there is something new, rest assured there will be something in the imagery that will definitely strike one as fresh... Full review...

Alpha by Bessora, Barroux and Sarah Ardizzone (translator)

4star.jpg Graphic Novels

It felt like there was boiling water inside my head. To cool it down, I had to leave… Those words aren't spoken by Alpha, the narrator of this graphic novel, but they might have been. Living in Abidjan, on the south coast of Cote d'Ivoire in Africa, he is determined to get out to go to Paris, and a relative's hair salon and a much better life. It's not just the boiling water that is causing him to jump out the frying pan into the unknown fire, but the fact that his wife and son went already, and he's trying to follow in their footsteps. Your feet become your head. Your body obeys them he observes at one point during the ordeal – but there are people smugglers galore, and blind chance to also obey along the way… Full review...

Ready for Pop by Hurk

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

London, The mid-sixties. In what appears to have been a murder attempt, Britain's greatest pop sensation 'Vic Vox' has been left a foot tall – the effects of a 'shrink drug' administered by assailants unknown. As Detective Chief Inspector Ladyshoe and his team at Scotland Yard try to find who did it and why, comedian Tubs Cochran prepares himself for his big come-back show. Can he keep his old fashioned comedy instincts relevant enough to entertain a new generation? Will Vic Vox's big rivals, 'The Small Pocks' be given a boost in Vic Vox's absence? And will June Scurvy get her hit (or maybe not) new single featured on the show they're all waiting for…Ready for Pop! Full review...

Griffin and Sabine 25th Anniversary Edition: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock

4star.jpg General Fiction

Oh Griffin and Sabine, where have you been all my life? I've loved epistolary novels and ones that take the narrative two-and-fro of letters and bring us closer to the sender than any omniscient narrator can hope to do. I've still got the childlike love of picking at an envelope stuck in a book to pull out a sheet of something else – not only is there the wonder at the handmade construction of something so bluntly and undeservedly called 'a book', but there is the frisson of being the first person to see this artefact ever. So how have I never seen this book before, and its cycle of sequels, concerning the correspondence between two completely different people? Full review...

The Beauty by Jeremy Haun and Jason A Hurley

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Don't we all just want that one little fillup to our looks – that tuck there, those pounds or wrinkles vanished, that little tweak to make us more sexually attractive and virile? Well, if you catch The Beauty, you will indubitably end up, in what colloquial language has it, fit. But The Beauty is not to be caught as in a passing fad or itinerant beautician, but as a sexual disease. And it's hit half the population – most of those willingly. You feel feverish with it, but it's taken off big time, and Big Pharma is happy with the situation. Some violent anti-Beauty activists aren't, so special police units exist regarding it, but they, the Powers That Be, and the underground scientists working against the disease are only going to be swamped when The Beauty shows its true face… Full review...

Modesty Blaise - Ripper Jax by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero

4star.jpg Graphic Novels

Is there any stopping Modesty Blaise? Well, inasmuch as there are only ten stories left that have not been anthologised in these lovely reprints, yes – just three books to go, by my reckoning. That reckoning should be quite accurate, if I can be immodest, for there is a lot that is routine about these stories. They all had three panels a day, six days a week (with one day's output being less relevant to the story for those papers that didn't carry the comic on weekends), for twenty-one weeks. But rest assured there is also a lot that is unusual about Modesty and her output, including a never-ending variety to the locations, to the manner of the baddy's crime, and to the action Modesty and her Willie are forced to undertake to win the day. And nobody, but nobody, has undertaken so much action and come out looking so attractive… Full review...

Alpha: Directions by Jens Harder

5star.jpg Graphic Novels

So, people might still ask me, why do I turn to graphic novels – aren't visual books with limited writing more suited to young people? Yeah, right – try pawning this off on juvenile audiences and the semi-literate. If you can't kill that cliché off with pages such as these I don't know what will work. I know the book isn't designed to be a message to people in the debate about the literary worth of graphic novels, but one side-effect of it is surely an engagement with that argument. What it is designed to be is a complete history of everything else – and in covering every prehistoric moment, it does just that, and absolutely brilliantly. Full review...

Hieronymus by Marcel Ruijters and Laura Watkinson (translator)

4star.jpg Graphic Novels

This is a book for those who find it amusing that a biography of someone who has been dead 500 years is called 'unauthorised'. This is a book where the detail is in the devil – people pissing in the street; the locals baiting blind people armed with cudgels in a pit with a pig, often failing to whack the beast and hitting their colleagues by mistake; farting demons visiting the sleeper. This is a book for those who don't mind a spot of ribaldry, an affront to religious piety or suchlike in their graphic novels. Whether or not this is a book for those seeking a biography of Hieronymus Bosch remains to be seen. Full review...

Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Play. It's a weird verb – it can mean many different things. Aimee intends to play – she's already put paid to several men playing at being hunters, but she has a different game in mind. Arriving at a very insular little town she scopes the big-wigs out, watching them over the bridge table and across the golf tees, and, seeing them bicker about each other at both play and work, she knows she can play with them. But what might happen, given these undefined rules, if they chose to play as a team against her? Full review...

Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor

3star.jpg Graphic Novels

What, in the real world, would be the least likely cover for a secret agent but that of super-model? Apart from the advantage of everyone thinking you were gormless, there is the implausible clothing and having to run around after baddies in high heels to consider. But the world of comics isn't the real world, and so you have to ask the opposite – what would be the most visually appealing band of secret agents, if not for a whole cabal of them working undercover as bimbo-looking models? The Showroom is one such, and its main agent is Scarlett Couture, daughter of a male cop and a female fashionista-cum-agency boss. Looking wonderful is incredibly easy for her – but sometimes saving the world is quite a bit tougher… Full review...

World War Two: Against the Rising Sun (Campfire Graphic Novels) by Jason Quinn and Naresh Kumar

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

World War Two – so often a lesson subject for our primary school children, even after all this time. Nazis, Soviets, Pearl Harbor – but wait. That last wasn't just the clarion call to the Americans to join in with the rest of our Allies – it was a mere episode in a fuller story – the half of the war that was never seen by those in Europe, beyond the fact the British Empire was certainly changed forever. The War in the Pacific is something I was certainly never taught much about in school, at any age. And here's a graphic novel version of the tale from a publisher in India that can serve at last as a salutary lesson. Full review...

World War Two: Under the Shadow of the Swastika (Campfire Graphic Novels) by Lewis Helfand and Lalit Kumar Sharma

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

One of the most common subjects at primary school, getting on for three generations since it happened, is of course World War Two. It has the impact that sixty million dead people deserve – but only if it's taught correctly. One of the ways to present it is this book, which comes from a slightly surprising place – an Indian publisher completely new to me – but succeeds in being remarkably competent, complete and really quite readable. Full review...

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Volume 3: Conversion by Al Ewing and Rob Williams et al

2star.jpg Graphic Novels

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want to judge the worth of a Star Trek TV series, you judge the theme tune. It's incontrovertible that they went downhill in unison, after all. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that the same applies to Doctor Who, for the opening credits have definitely had their ups and downs over recent years. But you can also define the entertainment value of a series through the companions. Or at least you can with the 11th Doctor comic versions, which decided to pick up a Token Smart, Ballsy, Ethnic one, a bizarre, mercurially disembodied robot-type-with-limited-vocab one, and, er, a cod David Bowie one who relives the entire Ziggy Stardust lyric sheet through his witterings. I know, right? No hope. But can you give up hope with the genius, energetic, effervescent and witty Doctor around? Full review...

The Quest for the Time Bird by Serge le Tendre, Regis Loisel and Ivanka Hahnenberger (translator)

2.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

In order to defeat a vengeful god, who is within days of getting out of his prison – a sacred conch shell – several things must happen. First, the conch must be united with the witch powerful enough to sustain the incantation keeping him locked up. Then she must use her helpers to endure great danger and find the information she seeks in the most perilous of places for knowledge of the ultimate part of the puzzle – the Time Bird. All this calls for heroes, but in the world of fantasy anyone can call themselves a hero – from the witch's own buxom daughter, Pelisse, to an old warrior called Bragon that the girl is forced to unite with and fight alongside. Full review...

Showman Killer: Heartless Hero by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nicolas Fructus and Ivanka Hahnenberger (translator)

4star.jpg Graphic Novels

A long way away, in terms of both time and space, the most perfect assassin is formed – genetically bred, adept at magical transformations, with the most athletic and deadly abilities, and with the complete lack of emotion needed. All he will ever seek is the highest price for the best job – a job that will, now and again, force him to meet with the most unusual people… Full review...

21st Century Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin and others

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

I sometimes wonder, when keying in book reviews, if ISBNs are not constructed by design instead of the formal accident that is supposed to create them. Surely it's intentional that this book has 666 in its code – it's the most devilishly brash, ugly and foul-mouthed comic around, and people who like that kind of thing will like this. Especially as this book is a return to waaay distant form, and waaay distant creative partnerships, with the original artist Jamie Hewlett back on board. It's time to cuss and roll once more… Full review...

Trashed by Derf Backderf

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

For those people who think graphic novels are rubbish, this is the epitome of that baseless argument. Its subject is junk, it's trash, it's landfill, and garbage. That's not a verdict on its qualities, which are great and fine ones, but its very topic. Straight from school, our author was actually a bin man for a few seasons – riding on the back of something like Betty, the garbage van featured here. It's a job nobody wants in all honesty, of course – but the book is fine enough to actually make the subject something most people should read about. Full review...

Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Hilda, a rather delightful small, blue-haired girl, is never far from an adventure. She is confident and excitable, brave and creative, and her stories are slightly mad, and very, very readable! Full review...

Wheels of Terror: The Graphic Novel by Sven Hassel and Jordy Diago

4star.jpg Graphic Novels

War books and anti-war books, in my mind, have a lot in common and only a couple of easy things need be changed to turn one to the other. This is dressed as an anti-war book, but here is the lead character surviving against all odds – the platoon whittled down several times while he and his few friends go strong; here he is overcoming all kinds of difficulty and adversity and still coming out the other end; here he is doing proper heroic deeds – or his colleagues saving the day at the last minute – and the war carries onwards towards its inevitable end. The difference perhaps is in the minutiae of what those difficulties and deeds need be, with the anti-war book having a simple honesty about them and their overall worth that the gung-ho, militaristic piece would patently lack. And when you face the guts and gore of the kind of warfare on these pages, you don't really expect jingoism and 'hoo-rah!' attitudes. No, even if the DNA is pretty much the same, the result here is definitely, grimly and firmly anti-war. Full review...

Username: Evie by Joe Sugg

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Meet Evie. She's surprisingly unwelcome and alienated at school – for a trendy and attractive girl, nobody at all seems to have any time for her, apart from the geeky card-collecting boy with the milk-bottle glasses on the bus. Perhaps it has something to do with her father's thatched house – after all, she must be a witch to live there. It's not that she would wish to live there, with nobody else around, and the memory of her deceased mother. But luckily someone is choosing a place for her –her father is able to put all his work into a cyber-world for her, the E-Scape, which is close to the perfect world. All that remains is to programme the humans to be her friends, and make the connection Evie has with them and them with her in return to be of mutual, confirming, happy benefit. But someone else has entered the E-Scape, and their influence seems all that much more powerful than Evie's tentative happiness… Full review...