Graphic Novels Read in April 2015

April turned out to be an excellent month for graphic novels. I hope you’ll find something of interest here:

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The Motherless Oven (2014) Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)

I heard a lot of hype about The Motherless Oven last year and for once, the hype was justified. The book is very British and very odd, yet contains enough of the normal as not to be completely off-putting. In this universe, parents don’t make kids, kids make parents. Sort of. You know you’re not reading any paint-by-numbers graphic novel (It’s in black-and-white anyway…) when the opening shows a rainstorm of knives. If you’re dying for a plot, here goes: three teenagers skip school to see what the world is really like, even though one teenager’s “death day” is quickly approaching.

I could tell you more, but I won’t. If you decide to take up the challenge of reading The Motherless Oven (and you should), be prepared not so much to try and figure it all out, but to simply enjoy the ride. Certainly a graphic novel worth re-reading and exploring the worldview within. (teens and older)

4.5/5

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Digger: The Complete Omnibus (2013) Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)

Derek and I explored this massive webcomic – which is also published in book form (but unfortunately is out of print) – on The Comics Alternative Podcast during our most recent webcomics show. (teens and older)

5/5

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The Rise of Aurora West (2014) Paul Pope, J.T. Petty, David Rubin (First Second)

If you read Battling Boy, you probably remember Aurora West. Now, she gets her own book, and although it’s in black-and-white and smaller than Battling Boy, it’s got the same great adventurous spirit, great storytelling and artwork that made Battling Boy such a great read. (pre-teens and older)

4/5

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The Goon: Nothin’ but Misery (2003) Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

The Goon has been recommended to me for years, but I’m only now getting around to this wonderful mash-up of horror, noir and comedy. Even if you only enjoy one of those aspects, your best bet is to get the book and dive right in. (adults)

4/5

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Roche Limit (2015) Michael Moreci, Vic Malhotra (Image)

Possibly the best science fiction title of the year so far, Roche Limit combines several stories, but mainly two. One concerns billionaire Langford Skaargard and his dream of a new colony on a new planet, yet once the dream is realized, it devolves into a hotbed of crime and secrecy. The other involves a young woman traveling through the crime-ridden colony looking for her missing sister. Extremely well thought-out, Roche Limit is smart, exciting, and impossible to put down. Buy it: it’s only ten bucks. (mature teens and older)

5/5

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Rachel Rising, Volume 5: Night Cometh (2015) Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)

Terry Moore can flat out write. And draw. And creep you out big-time. Be thankful this title is in black-and-white; I don’t think I could handle it in color. Moore’s story of a dead girl climbing out of her grave trying to track down her killer(s) is enough to get me reading, but Moore’s characterizations are just plain stellar. This series is ending soon, so start it now. (adults)

4.5/5

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G-Man Volume 1: Learning to Fly (2009) Chris Giarrusso (Image)

This super fun all-ages comic is about two brothers who just can’t seem to get along while they’re saving the universe with their friends. The “Mean Brother/Idiot Brother” interlude stories alone are worth the price of the volume. The entire book is smart, clever, funny and colorful. Highly recommended. (all ages)

5/5

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Lazarus, Volume 3: Conclave (2015) Greg Rucka, Michael Lark (Image)

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way right now: any comic or graphic novel that’s got Greg Rucka’s name on the cover is something you should read. Rucka doesn’t disappoint and this story about a group of families who own the world and are defended by their Lazarus warriors is spellbinding. This series expertly combines science fiction, politics, action, family fireworks and so much more. (mature teens and older)

4/5

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Sleepless Knight (2015) James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, Alexis-Frederick Frost (First Second)

Previously discussed here (all ages)

4/5

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Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide & Revenge (2015) Josh Blaylock, Hoyt Silva, David H. Krikorian, Thomas S. Dardarian, Greg & Fake Studios (Devil’s Due Entertainment)

Previously discussed here (mature teens and older)

5/5

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The Leaning Girl (original French edition 1996, English edition 2013) François Schuiten, Benoit Peeters, Marie-Françoise Plissart (Alaxis Press)

Mary Von Rathen and her family visit an amusement park named Alaxis, where Mary steps off a dazzling ride only to discover that she now leans at a 45 degree angle. In another story, an astronomer named Wappendorf may have discovered a new planet, and in another, a painter named Augustin struggles to find himself as an artist. Although the three stories seem to have nothing in common, they all converge into a wonderful blend of science and fantasy, consisting of exquisite comic art and black-and-white photography. I’m hoping that all of the books from The Obscure Cities series will be released in English. This large, gorgeous book from Alaxis Press is a gem. Don’t miss it. (The book was recently discussed by Derek and Andy K. on The Comics Alternative Podcast.) (adults)

5/5

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The Flash, Vol. 1: Blood Will Run (issues 2002, collection 2008) Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Doug Hazlewood, Ethan Van Sciver (DC)

Other than Batman and the occasional Superman comic, I was never much of a DC reader as a kid. (I think the only Flash stories I read were the ones where he raced Superman.) My good friend Jess – an avid DC fan – suggested I start my Flash reading with Blood Will Run.

I enjoyed the real-life struggles of Wally West and especially how Johns integrates the police force of Keystone City into the stories, but thought the book really got going during the last third of the book. I’ll definitely read more. (teens and older)

4/5

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First Year Healthy (2015) Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)

First Year Healthy is only 48 pages long, but DeForge packs a lot into those pages, including the story of a young woman and her relationship with a strange Turkish immigrant. But there’s much more to it; DeForge touches not only on relationships, but also mental health, depression, family, fantasy and so much more. Spend some time with this one. (adults)

4.5/5

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