REVIEW: Omni-Visibilis (2021)

A graphic Novel by Lewis Trondheim – Art by Matthieu Bonhomme

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

Omni-Visibilis is somewhat like a strange mish-mash of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and a Twilight Zone episode minus the big moralistic ending that usually accompany those programs. When we are introduced to Hervé, he is a thoroughly unlikable character. He is neurotic, disingenuous and somewhat conniving (he considers cheating on his girlfriend right from the get-go). His friends are only somewhat better, but act like the stoner tag-alongs in a Seth Rogan film most of the time. Rather than get a day-to-day account of man waxing poetic about his OCD symptoms, or the downside of accidentally urinating on one’s shoes, Hervé is soon “blessed” with the power to which every person on earth can see what he sees, hears what he hears, or many other sensations. It’s all Hervé all the time.

“Hervé’s awkward, irritating, and maybe a bit OCD, but in the end, he’s a normal guy. He has a job, his buddies, a girlfriend, and a mother who keeps close tabs on him. One particular day starts out just like any other, but on his way to work, he quickly realizes that things are anything but normal. Every person he crosses paths with not only seems to know him, but sees what he sees, and hears what he hears. And he soon discovers that everyone else on Earth is connected with him too. So begins a day unlike any other, with Hervé cast out of anonymity and into a nightmare of confusion and danger.”

I think one of my issues with this book is that there really isn’t a catalyst for this. Take the film The Parent Trap, wherein a mother and daughter switch bodies because each one feels that the other has it easy, and they come to a mutual understanding that life isn’t always great when it appears to be. Omni-Visibilis doesn’t really do this at all; aside from Hervé having obvious quirks that may impede his social life, there’s no real instance where he says “I wish everyone could see how I live” or something similar. As it is, the switch seems somewhat random, and Hervé doesn’t really come out the other side a better person. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but usually stories like this have a point – this one just felt random.

That said, the art style in this book is gorgeous. Everything in an old-school monochrome blue/black color scheme with white text boxes. In a world of most comics looking somewhat similar, this one definitely stands out stylistically. The writing, when it comes to dialog, is snappy and full of wit. Everyone’s worldview is very cynical, but the book never really comes off as dark – the whole ordeal has a very humorous tone despite the sheer terror one would be in if a similar situation were to befall literally anyone.

While I feel that the story was a bit lacking, this is all self contained and has a solid ending. The art is awesome, and I can’t really say that I’ve ever seen a premise like this before. I feel that this comic could have been a classic, but did not stick the landing resulting in a merely average story.

If this looks up your alley, please click HERE to get a copy for yourself!

REVIEW: Loonicorns – Book 1 Bleary Eye (2021)

A graphic novel by ced, Gorobei, Waltch

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

At first glance, Loonicorns – Book 1 – Bleary Eye looks like a children’s book, and it is, but its got more of an edge than most children’s books. It’s not vulgar or obscene in any way, but it reminds me of some of the cartoons one might see on Cartoon Network later on in the day – things such as Adventure Time or Regular show. Shows that are kid-friendly but subversive in some way, but also teach a lesson. hidden behind the cutesie characters are a couple of messages that would benefit some children (and some politicians tbh) now: racism, vaccination reluctance, and even strained familial relationships. Loonicorns isn’t preachy, but it does a good job of hiding it’s messages with goofy antics, which is probably the best way to get said messages to children.

“Welcome to the wonderful world of Looniland, filled with loonicorns, cyclopes, dodos, and other fantastical creatures! Life is good in Looniville… if you’re a Pretty. Meanwhile, the Uglies do all the work and get teased and ridiculed. Until, one day, a huge storm blows through, bringing with it a mysterious illness that only seems to affect the Pretties. And in the nearby forest, a strange new creature has landed. Her name is Penelope, and no one has seen anything like her before. Where did she come from? Could she be the cause of this nefarious disease?”

The art in this book is very imaginative, and is a parody of insufferably cute things found in other fantasy stories. by having a class structure of characters that do nothing more than jump around and dance all day, and cynical grumps that do all the work, it’s a post-modern satire on the very fantasy genre itself, but tailored for younger kids. In many ways, the tone is somewhat strange, I was never quite sure if this was meant for an older audience than I figured it was, but then I remembered how much kid’s media, at least in the United States, coddles children and infantilizes them for years and years. Having something like this could benefit a child more than something that talks down to them.

While not necessarily the audience for this book, I feel like it is very well done, and would be a fun read for a kid. the jokes are humorous, full of sight-gags and slapstick, and the tone is full of acerbic with that you don’t see in kids books too often.

If you would like more information, or a way to purchase this title, please look HERE

REVIEW: The Man for the Job (2021)

A graphic novel by Lou Lubie

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

The Man for the Job is hard to review simply because it’s one of those stories that is better served if one has no prior knowledge of the plot. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT read too much about the story before diving in, to hold up my part of this I’ll try to avoid spoiling too much here if I can. What starts out as a heartwarming tale of a man that has fallen on hard times, finding a new purpose in life tutoring kids, takes a few sharp turns as this story moves on. I honestly had no idea where the story was going towards the middle. I was afraid I had gone into some VERY dark territory, and was about to drop the book, but I’m glad I didn’t jump to any conclusions. What unfolds is a very intriguing read, and definitely isn’t what you think it’s going to be.

“Manu always embraced his role as a strong, protective man, until one day his world is turned upside down. In quick succession, his girlfriend walks out on him, and he’s passed over for a position at work in the name of gender parity. In an effort to regain his bearings, he clings to a family of seven troubled children, determined to rescue them from their social misfortunes. Thus begins a long descent into the heart of his fears…”

As I mentioned, there are a few instances where I was worried about where the plot was going. One example, that I will talk about, is that Manu (our protagonist) feels utterly disrespected when he loses out on a job promotion, and blames affirmative action-styled diversity hiring for his misfortune. He goes into a rage, and blames the woman that got the job since everyone sees her as unfit for the job. At this point I was REALLY worried this was going to be a right-wing misogynist story about a man getting trodden on by women, but thankfully that was not the case.

In fact, this insecurity and fear Manu was holding inside him, only briefly appearing as white-hot rage at an inopportune times, is one of the many causes for the drama in the story later on. There are a couple of other blips like racism against Romani, and inappropriate relationships that gave me pause, but they are never pushed, and largely exist as part of overall theme of the second-half.

What ultimately unfolds is a story about what it means to be a man, society forces men to cram their emotions inside of themselves, never to let anything slip out. For some men, this causes issues with accountability. One never looks at themselves when a bad thing happens, perhaps it’s this lady’s fault, or perhaps these people over here. learning to properly deal with emotions is important, and Manu is made that much more strong when he finally realizes this.

I enjoyed this a lot despite my fears of what this book was doing. I feel that, my only major quibble was that the third act flies past at a break-neck speed. Once the entire plot is revealed it’s a race to the finish that I would have loved to see explored more. That said, the book is overall solid, and I definitely recommend it. move past any red flags you get and see the story to the end, its worth it!

REVIEW: Yojimbot – Part 1 (2021)

A graphic Novel by Sylvain Repos

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

I’ve seen a couple of science fiction re-imaginings of various Kurosawa samurai films over the years – most notably an anime called Samurai 7. With most of them, they end up largely being the same story, albeit with a setting shift and slight alterations to characters. Yojimbot was interesting because it takes the idea behind “Yojimbo” (or The Bodyguard) and applies it to a dystopian hellscape where robots have seemingly taken everything over, and whatever humans are left appear to be a militarized force in a secured base.

In a dystopian not-too-distant future in Japan, Hiro lives with his father on an island populated by androids, where they eke out a meager existence while trying to keep out of sight. But when they run afoul of a troop of high-tech military thugs, Hiro’s dad sacrifices himself to save his son, turning Hiro’s already-bleak world upside-down. He is then rescued by a samurai robot called a “yojimbot,” and together they seek to avenge his father’s death and make contact with a mysterious associate known only as the “rights holder,” before the soldiers and their drones close in…

The artwork is nice and fluid, with mecha designs reminiscent of the works of Neil Blomkamp (Chappie for example). While the artwork is reminiscent of many Japanese comics out there, the artist did their own thing rather than try to copy the overall style of said comics. I think this was a good idea, as most western comics that try to be Manga seem to always fall flat for whatever reason, with few exceptions. As a result of this melding of a European comic art design style, mixed with Japanese storytelling techniques, Yojimbot stands out as something I haven’t really seen in a while, and it gives it it’s own character.

This was an entertaining book, and I’m eager to check out volume two. It seems like the story was just about to pick up when it hit “to be continued” so I’m somewhat sad that I’ll have to wait for the other half, that is assuming this is in two parts. This is well worth the read, especially if you are a samurai or manga fan.

If you would like your own copy, please look HERE

REVIEW: Gray (2021)

by Arvind Ethan David

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

Inspired by the classic 1890 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Gray by Arvind Ethan David takes queues from many revenge thrillers and brings them into the modern age by touching on many social topics such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter. In many ways, the story (at least with book one) is one part Saw, and one part The Count of Monte Christo in many ways. We don’t know much about Ms. Dorian Gray in the first volume, but we can assume she was sexually assaulted by a group of powerful men that ultimately became powerful men in various government and political positions. She has some sort of network that is collecting these men and getting revenge on them one by one. A couple of detectives are assigned to the case, but ultimately appear to have more in common with Gray than the powerful men they work for.

“A contemporary reimaging of the classic Oscar Wilde novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Gray is a supernatural revenge thriller about an alluring but violent woman, Dorian Gray, who seeks vengeance on a cabal of powerful men who wronged her years ago; and of the straight-laced African American detective with a past of his own, who is tasked with stopping her.”

While the story, so far, is fairly removed from the original novel the book is inspired by, its an interesting story full of thrills and shocking ends to some very despicable men. I have a feeling that we’ll learn more about Ms. Gray in book two, and what exactly happened to her that caused her to apparently dabble in some sort of magic (as with the original, she hasn’t aged for years) and set her plan in motion. With the introduction of an artist from her school towards the end of the book, I’m assuming the infamous painting itself comes into play at some point.

This book is very well done, and held my attention. Despite being a book about social issues, it’s not as “preachy” as one would assume it would be. Rather than trying to prove to the reader that whatever these men have done was wrong, Gray does away with the subtleties and just gets down to business. As you can surmise from my description above, this book could very well have triggers for people that don’t want to read such an intense story, so be warned.

REVIEW: Forever (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Assia Petricelli and Sergio Riccardi

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

Romance stories aren’t usually my thing. The various executives of the world rarely market them to any demographic other than either teenage girls or people that enjoy watching Hallmark Christmas films. It’s hard to find anything that treats it in any sort of mature and/or realistic way. Don’t even get me started one ones where men are the protagonist. With that said, I really enjoyed this new graphic novel, Forever by Assia Petricelli and Sergio Riccardi simply because it doesn’t do any of the stupid tropes that drive me crazy.

In many ways, by portraying the story of a girl largely alienated from her family and most of her friends grounds the book considerable. She not only finds love in a Greek boy obsessed with working on an old broken-down boat, but also a lasting friendship with a couple of lesbians on what could be their last vacation together. The authors tell a very compelling story full of ups and downs, and what ultimately the meaning of love is. It’s the kind of story you see in independent art films, reminiscent of things like Juno or 500 Days of Summer.

“What is this “love” everyone talks about? Viola doesn’t yet know. But it is a question she is asking herself more and more, because at her age there are some kinds of problems you feel even in the air that you breathe: your self-image and the way you think others see you, the relationship between you and your body and the other gender, couple issues, the freedom to follow your aspirations, and the need to fit in socially accepted categories. On vacation with her parents, during the idle hours of the afternoon while everyone is sleeping, Viola’s encounters and experiences will help her grow as a person and get answers to the hard questions that everyone has to face sooner or later, and she will reshape her identity, in a summer she’ll never forget.”

While this isn’t a sad story (for the most part) it captures those moments of one’s youth that really shape our lives moving forward. A lot of the characters aren’t the same after the events told, some for the better, some for the worse, but you can tell this summer in the mid-1990’s will be a landmark time in these characters lives, especially Viola. The story is somewhat simple, so talking about it too much would spoil more than what I like to do in my reviews, but I’d definitely recommend checking this book out if you get a chance. If anything, the art is stylistically out of the ordinary, and it alone is worth a peek.

If you’d like a copy, an ebook can be obtained HERE.

REVIEW: Love – The Mastiff (2021)

A graphic novel by Frederic Brremaud

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

A few weeks ago, I read another graphic novel by Brremaud called Brindille, that I enjoyed quite a bit. It was a simple but effective fantasy book that had great art and interesting characters, in that review I stated that I wanted to get another Brremaud book under my belt, so here we are with Love: The Mastiff. It appears that the author has produced an entire series of these books on various animals, and if this is like the others, they appear to be heroic stories featuring nature as protagonist, antagonist and everything in between. These are marketed to children, but this one does have a small amount of blood in it, so keep that in mind if you plan to purchase this for a younger child. I’m dating myself here, but this reminds me of Benji, Homeward Bound, or Milo & Otis without the spoken dialogue.

A loyal Australian hunting dog finds himself alone in the outback when his master is bitten by a poisonous snake. He must venture across the dangerous outback to find his way home alone. The fifth volume in the lavishly illustrated, award-winning series of wordless wildlife graphic novels, each depicting a day in the life of different wild animals, told through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling, like a nature documentary in illustration.

“I’m tired of these Motherf%$#% snakes in this Motherf%$#% outback” – The Mastiff, probably. All kidding aside, this book has no text bubbles in any way whatsoever, the book is presented as a silent nature documentary of a hunting dog faced with the plight of making it back home, alone. There are scenes that, despite the subject matter, really stir emotions in the reader. The mastiff has to battle every bad thing we hear about Australia, including all manner of poisonous snakes. Truthfully, if anything, that is my one takeaway about this – Australia seems insanely full of evil snakes, hellbent on killing anything they come across. There’s a side-story involving a platypus taking care of her young, that immediately made me mad at the author in an unfounded way. “You better not…”, I said, to myself, the moment they started being in peril. Thankfully, The Mastiff is basically an animal superhero here and keeps everything safe at his own expense.

In the back of the book, there is a section on the recent Australian wildfires and global warming that was interesting. It’s cool to see a book like this tell what is ostensibly a survival hero story, then come with a PSA at the end GI Joe style, I thought that was a nice touch.

If you have older kids interested in nature, or comics I would definitely recommend this. Even in a classroom, something like this would have been cool when I was younger. I mentioned blood earlier, and largely its all contained to a few instances where the Mastiff has to defend himself from either snakes or Dingos, and takes justice into his own paws. it’s nothing gratuitous, but that does need to be a consideration. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and hope to read more of these as he produces them!

REVIEW: Brindille (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Frederic Brremaud

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

I felt like reading a fantasy story today, so by Frederic Brremaud definitely fit the bill. The first thing that hits you when digging through the gorgeous pages is just how warm and inviting the artwork is. While this story has a few rough moments, and is not necessarily for children, the artwork is reminiscent of a children’s picture book in many ways. The pages are full of fantastical creatures, perilous situations, and the sort of epic fantasy tone that reminds me of 80s fantasy films such as Legend or perhaps The Dark Crystal.

“A frail young girl flees a roaring forest fire in the middle of the night desperately taking refuge in a cave where she quickly loses consciousness. She wakes up in a strange, tiny village populated by fairy-like creatures. Her hosts seem intrigued by the sparkles of light that seem to surround her. The village chieftain explains that one of their hunters found her passed out in the forest and brought her back here for treatment. He asks who she is, but she remembers nothing except for a wall and flames.”

Truthfully, I wasn’t completely sure I was onboard with the book at first. The story starts with the amnesiac girl being taken in by some forest creatures (elves, goblins, imps? I’m not sure what they are) with the story revolving around the girl trying to go back to where she was found in order to get some clues about her identity. She is met with resistance, and ultimately has to venture out on her own. It is not until she comes across a cunning wolf companion and we learn of the impending peril that is unraveling throughout the forest that I was hooked.

The story takes some turns, and ultimately ends in a way that I didn’t really see coming, so that’s good. At least it wasn’t predictable like other fantasy comics. Even though I read this as an Ebook for evaluation purposes, I’ve seen pictures of the hardcover that this review is ultimately tied to, and it looks awesome. This would be a great book to have around if you are a fantasy fan, or a great gift for a older kid. I just wouldn’t traumatize a toddler with it! There is also a digital version of this on Amazon that is pretty fairly priced, if you aren’t into having physical books around, look into that instead.

The story is self contained, and I don’t see how there could be more unless they do a prequel, so getting this is not a commitment for getting the start of a series or anything. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t want to wade into a new series very often.

All-in-all, I enjoyed Brindille, and despite my small quibbles with the pacing at the beginning, it was a thoroughly entertaining read. I will be reading another book by Frederic Brremaud pretty soon, so keep an eye out for that – let’s see if he can keep his winning record with me again!

REVIEW: Van Helsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter (2021) and Van Helsing vs The League of Monsters (2021)

Graphic Novels by Raven Gregory and others

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.


Today we have a double dose of monster fighting mayhem as I am reviewing a couple of new collected editions of Van Helsing by Zenescope Comics. Despite it really having nothing much to do with the property, the recent Syfy Channel show Van Helsing was based on this series. They must have gone the I, Zombie route as the vaguest premise and title are the only things similar. If you are a fan of comics like Vampirella, Lady Death, and maybe Witchblade, you will probably like this series as it takes characters from classic monster mythos and reinterprets them as kickass ladies that take no prisoners. The same company makes action-oriented comics based on various fairy tale princesses and other literary characters that I will need to check out at some point.

Despite these books being the eighth and ninth collected volumes in this series, I honestly had no issues understanding what was happening, so it seems like they aren’t bad “jumping on” points in any way. Having a passing knowledge of the classic characters is enough to understand what is happening. The second book has characters that I was unfamiliar with from previous volumes, but with them being a descendant of Robin Hood, A wolfman, and Frankenstein, it wasn’t hard to settle in. I may have to go back and read some past comics to see how we got here exactly.

“Introducing Helsing’s deadliest villain yet! Liesel Van Helsing returns in a brand new series set to turn the inventive huntress’ world on fire. A mysterious being rises from Helsing’s long forgotten past hell bent on revenge. A being whose secrets could very well destroy Helsing…and all she holds dear. Don’t miss this exciting new series written by fan favorite Wonderland writer Raven Gregory and artist extraordinaire Allan Otero!”

We are introduced to Liesel Van Helsing as she is continuing her fight against the many denizens of the night that insist of doing evil and harming mankind. With her steampunk attire, and collection of silver stakes and bullets, she is a formidable foe for many a creature. Somebody steals Dracula’s corpse (who was defeated in a previous volume) and its up to Van Helsing to figure out what’s happening. I enjoyed the simple plot set-up and great action scenes in the book. The author has taken characters that everyone knows (Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde for example) and altered them to a degree that keeps them fresh and different from other books and films like this.

The art is solid and easy to follow, the character designs are interesting and there are some interesting kills for those that like bloody monster demises. The dialogue isn’t spectacular, but I’m keeping in mind that I am jumping in at volume eight of a long-running series, so I’d imagine that the character building from previous volumes is somewhat unnecessary here as we are looking for cool fight scenes, where there are plenty!

“Van Helsing is still reeling from the revelations of recent events after her world came crashing down around her. But she won’t have time to catch her breath as something catastrophic is heading her way. Will she be able to handle some of the deadliest creatures in all existence? Alone any of these would be formidable foes, and Liesel will have the ultimate challenge laid before her, with taking them on all at once. The odds are not in her favor, and it doesn’t look good for the legendary vampire hunter.”

Van Helsing vs The League of Monsters directly follows Dracula’s Daughter and plays out a lot like a big budget blockbuster crossover ala The Avengers or Justice League. All of these monsters are being rounded up into an army with the freshly resurrected Dracula at the helm and his sinister daughter at his side. With Characters like The Wolfman, The Mummy, and even Frankenstein throwing their weight around, it’ll take an equally impressive army to fight back. Good thing Van Helsing has friends of her own.

I think I preferred the previous volume a lot more, but this volume has a lot to offer for fans of classic monsters. When Universal stumbled epically trying to make a shared “Monsterverse” a few years back, I look at something like this done very well and successfully, and wonder what they were smoking? So, if you want to see this concept done right, look no further than these comics from Zenescope.

While these books aren’t literary classics or anything, they are a ton of fun, and at the end of the day, that’s mostly why I read comics. I LOVE these sort of “cheesecake” books with pinup-styled art that harken back to comics from the past, and will support any company that does them.

REVIEW: The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers – The Masters of the Craft of Professional Wrestling (2021)

A book by Dan Murphy and Brian Young

Being a big professional wrestling fan, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to read this new book by ECW press. ECW Press, coincidentally not named because of the former company, occasionally does Wrestling books that are very good. If you haven’t ever heard of them, The Death of WCW by Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds is worth a read for sure. This book in question, The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers – The Masters of the Craft of Professional Wrestling has the initial experience of a typical curated top XX list, but what sets it apart from others is the source material for the list. The author went out to other wrestlers and asked “who would you say is a ‘Wrestler’s Wrestler?'”. The responses were varied and deep and not what one typically sees in these sorts of books.

The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers spotlights elite performers and analyzes exactly what made them your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestlers. Authors Dan Murphy and Brian Young interviewed more than 40 in-ring veterans, historians, referees, and promoters to get a unique insider’s look at the people who have made a lasting impact on the world of professional wrestling. It offers a special peek “behind the curtain” and a rare look into the top stars’ thoughts on their peers, their influences, and their personal favorites.”

Sputnik Monroe, one of the many men who is profiled in the book.

My biggest takeaway from this book are the sections about wrestlers that I am too young to have ever seen anything of. With the book spanning the 1920’s to modern times, information about wrestling in that post WWI era is always scarce despite hearing the occasional move being named after somebody today (Thesz Press comes to mind). Getting to read things about pioneers of the artform such as Karl Gotch, Strangler Lewis, and Lou Thesz was awesome, and with the latter, I have decided to pick up a copy of his book as it was the source for a lot of this material evidentially. One of my favorite recurring tidbits is the fact that in those early days of pure shooter styled wrestling, matches would sometimes last upwards of two hours in length. I can’t imagine sitting through that now, but it must have been a real sight to see back then!

This book occasionally has pictures to accompany the information presented, which is a nice touch. That way you can see some of these legendary men for yourself and see if the descriptions match up. All-in-all this book is a great addition to the bookshelf of any wrestling fan as long as they are willing to venture outside the recency barrier and see what the sport was like in the past. It doesn’t strive to be an encyclopedia or a definitive list in any way, but its interesting to see what qualities the actual wrestlers see as important to being a “Wrestler’s Wrestler”.

REVIEW: Old Norse For Modern Times – The audiobook (2021)

Great Odin's Raven!

I wrote a review a while back about a fun book from Outland Entertainment called Old Norse for Modern Times under their “Vikingverse” umbrella. It’s a hilarious book that reads a lot like a travel phrasebook with modern phrases translated into Old Norse (as the title would suggest). It includes all manner of useful phrases regarding social media, science fiction, and even menacing threats. My only quibble with the book was that I have no idea how to pronounce Old Norse, so I felt like an audio component was missing. Thanks to the fine folks over at The Vikingverse Twitter page, I now have a selection of chapters for the book in audio form!

As assumed, this completes the whole picture with this book entirely, I absolutely loved hearing these hilarious phrases as read by Siobhan Clark who narrates a podcast I really need to look into. If you are…

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REVIEW: The Tiger Awakens: The Return of John Chinaman – Book 1 (2021)

A graphic novel by Serge Le Tendre, Olivier TaDuc

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

I’m not going to lie, a book with a racial epithet in the title is somewhat of a cause for alarm to me, but seeing that this takes place during the goldrush, put my mind somewhat at ease. The term “John Chinaman” was basically a product of its time, where many nineteenth century people referred to just about any Asian person as such. It was interesting to see this book handle racial tensions of the time as well as it did – I actually loved seeing that. Apparently this is a volume in a long running series by these authors, but I was assured in the preface that it was stand-alone and that I needed no prior knowledge of the material to enjoy this.

“You’ve followed his adventures through the Gold Rush, the building of the Continental Railroad, and the taming of the frontier. Now Chen Long the Chinaman, the triumphant creation of Olivier TaDuc and Serge Le Tendre, is back for his greatest adventure of all: finding out he’s a father. Twenty years after his violent past drove away his true love Ada, the Civil War, prison camp, and opium have left Chen Long a broken-down shell of his former proud self. Can the tiger rise to save his son? A fitting conclusion to an epic series that explores forgotten pockets of western history.”

This is the second western-themed book by Europe Comics that I’ve absolutely loved, the first being Wild West. I have spoken before on the fact that I absolutely adore western comics for some reason, this is despite the fact that I’ve never really been a big western guy when it comes to TV or film, but for some reason I became hooked on them after DC’s new 52 initiative re-launched All Star Western many moons ago. I think the reason being that I’m not sued to them, and they seem to largely be resurrections of long dormant comics from the Golden and Silver Eras that I’ve never heard of.

Being informed that this book is after a long running series of other books definitely makes me want to go back and read the previous material. I have no idea if any of its available in English, but the way we are introduced to Chen Long, internally fighting decades worth of PTSD in an opium den, makes me NEED to know what happened. They especially draw on whatever experiences he had in the American Civil War, and how it has affected him the most. Perhaps if this does well, Europe comics can go backwards? Here’s hoping!

The writing, and more importantly, the translation is top notch – you can tell work was taken to make sure dialogue was made to be like other depictions of “The Wild West”. You always run the risk of having a depiction of American history from Europe come up feeling weird. I’ve listened to Doctor Who audio dramas that did an abysmal job of making the setting feel real, but these French comics always seem to hit their mark. Hats off to them! With great art, and no punches pulled when it comes to mindsets of the time, this book is every bit as dark as an HBO show, and would be a GREAT basis for a TV series or movie if they ever had an inkling to do as such. If you are in a western mood, I’d definitely recommend this!

REVIEW: The Breaker Omnibus Vol 1 (2021)

A graphic Novel by Jeon Geuk-jin and Kamaro

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

I wasn’t really familiar with The Breaker going into this, I understand it’s fairly popular outside of the US, and has been a hit in Europe. I’ve read a bit of Manhwa (Korean comics), but I will confess that I haven’t read nearly enough. At first glance, I was really afraid that this was a Korean knock-off of Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) by Tohru Fujisawa, coincidentally one of my favorite Japanese comics. We have a sloppy teacher joining a school as a total fish out of water, he has a shady past, and knows martial arts. He has a lecherous personality and buts heads with a strict Vice Principal that seems to think he shouldn’t be there. Sound familiar?

The only issue, is that Mr. Han is VERY unlikable at first (unlike Onizuka), it worried me that getting through this book would be a chore, as it seemed he lacked any sort of human compassion in any way. We later get hints as to why this is, and he finally shows a brief glimpse of being an actual protagonist when it really matters. Thankfully, this GTO similarity ends pretty quick as The Breaker becomes it’s own at around 1/3 of the way into the book.

“The story of The Breaker follows Shiwoon “Shioon” Yi, a timid high school student who becomes the disciple to Chunwoo Han, a martial artist who is an enemy to the secret martial arts society known as the Murim. However, Shioon is naive and unaware of his master’s shady past and the unseen underbelly of the society. How will Chun Woo manage to teach Shioon and help him survive in the world of Murim?”

Being a martial arts manhwa seeped in seedy underground mafia-styled intrigue, this is definitely not what I was initially expecting out of this; and once that starts to fall into place the book became pretty awesome. It almost seems like the writer was going for more of a comedy book at first, and switched gears for the better. Volume one ends on a pretty big cliffhanger, so I will definitely want to read more as I feel the story was just getting good when it ended. I’m very interested to see where the characters end up, and am hoping the main character, Shioon, finally destroys the school bully that plagues him for about half of the book.

Solid first volume (although I assume this is a merged version of 2 or 3 tankobans), would buy again if I saw this for sale – definitely recommended.

REVIEW: Hard Melody (2021)

A graphic novel by Lu Ming

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

Nearing forty years old myself, its easy to look back at the last twenty years or so, and look at every bit of missed opportunity I had, every bit of wasted potential, and every misstep. It’s important to move forward with one’s life to avoid falling into a trap of a mid-life crisis at best, crippling depression at worst. For the book Hard Melody, we see three guys in exactly the same predicament – having the potential to have been big Chinese Rockstars in the past, their lives have moved on leaving their dreams behind.

Three thirty-year-old friends reunite in Beijing after nearly 10 years apart. They used to be free-wheeling rock-and-rollers without a care in the world, but now, after tasting their own variation of freedom in new China, they are tormented by how unforgiving and unglamorous life had become. Nothing at all like the fame and fortune they dreamed about as kids.

This book is fairly tough due to its subject matter, and there was a bit of Chinese cultural stuff that I was unsure of, but between the mature storyline and the artwork (which is amazing) I was hooked. As a stand alone, this is a great book, and stands as both a societal look at Chinese culture, as well as a way for the reader to think about how they plan to move on with their lives. Many peak far too young, and their later life suffers due to it, hopefully nobody suffers the same tragedy as seen here.

REVIEW – Elle(s) (2021)

A graphic Novel by Kid Toussain & art by Aveline Stokart

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

When I first started this, I wasn’t too sure what to expect – the art style and setting made me worry I was about getting into a twee book for teenagers, but I was definitely wrong. While the premise may sound somewhat similar to the recent Disney movie Inside Out, only a superficial likeness is there – Elle(s) adds the extra layer of being about mental health issues, and what it means to love somebody with mental health issues into the mix, which makes this so much more. The depiction of “split personalities” is on par when accounts I’ve heard on various TV shows and podcasts – i.e. dominant personality controls everything and person sees everything in third person view – so that was interesting. It would interesting to see somewhen in the clinical psychology field review this.

Elle is just another teenage girl… most of the time. Bubbly and good-natured, she wastes no time making friends on her first day at her new school. But Elle has a secret: she hasn’t come alone. She’s brought with her a colorful mix of personalities, which come out when she least expects it… Who is Elle, really? And will her new friends stand by her when they find out the truth?

While volume one leaves this chapter as an unfinished mystery, and could easily turn into something supernatural and weird, I’m hoping it stays as grounded as volume one – as it was a surprise to me how much I enjoyed it.

Europe Comics continues its trend of quality comics that always seem to surprise me. I will definitely need to seek out the next volume upon publication to see where this story ends up going. Don’t let the cover fool you into thinking this is something other than what it is, and give it a try – It’s good stuff.