I’ve read a number of comics and graphic stories in the last month-ish and have not mentioned one of them so I thought I might try doing a sort of round-up of mini reviews.

bookBlack Panther, Volume One is not a story I was particularly interested in until I heard there is going to be a movie and Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the current Black Panther series. Volume one is Coates’s first foray into writing comics and, while the story is good, it jumps all over the place and is sometimes hard to follow. The story takes place in the fictional African country of Wakanda, a technologically advanced and wealthy country. Black Panther is the name given to the king and protector of the country. T’Challa has been away and his sister has been ruling as queen but was assassinated and the country is in turmoil. Volume one is complicated because it tries to provide backstory at the same time it is trying to advance the current story. Eventually it all comes together enough that I am interested in continuing to the next volume. The art is well done with vivid color and sharp lines and detail.

bookPaper Girls 2 picks up right where one leaves off. The girls have been time travelled from the 1980s to present day. Twelve-year-old Erin gets to meet 40-year-old Erin and she isn’t impressed. One of the four girls is missing and they set out to find her with the help of “old” Erin. In the process these friends learn they had drifted apart in the future and their fates are not all happy ones. It is a fun, fast-paced story about friendship, growing older, trust, and facing both the past and future. And it ends leaving the reader wanting more. But now I have to wait until the next volume is published. I hate waiting.

I borrowed Snow White by Matt Phelan from the library because of Danielle’s review of it. Snow White has been updated to Depression era New York. The mirror is now a stock ticker machine. The seven dwarfs have become street urchins. The ending is not what you expect. It is a delightful book with gorgeous art done in mostly sepia tones but for a few key elements that pop out in red. Aimed at children, the panels are larger and the words few, but that doesn’t mean grownups can’t enjoy it too!

bookMarch, Book One by John Lewis is a beautiful and remarkable graphic memoir of Lewis’s childhood and involvement in the civil rights movement. I loved the childhood scenes of Lewis, who wanted to be a preacher, practicing sermonizing to the chickens on his family’s farm. This volume also covers his college days and the lunch counter sit-ins. I was fascinated to learn that everyone involved spent quite a long time preparing for the protests. The goal was nonviolence, and they had meetings talking about the philosophy and helping each other prepare by role playing with the protestor getting yelled at and insulted and whatever attempts at incitement they could think of. I am currently waiting my turn for the next volume.

Ms Marvel, Volume 6, Civil War II was most enjoyable. What I like about the Ms Marvel series is not only that Ms Marvel, aka Kamala, is Muslim but also that the stories deal with moral issues that are not just teenage related. In this volume, Ms. Marvel is convinced by grownups she trusts to be part of a kind of pre-crime law enforcement team. They catch criminals before they commit the crimes. They get locked up and, Kamala believes, eventually let go after the point in time their crime was going to be carried out. But things turn out to not be so cut and dry and Kamala is faced with having to either go along with her elders and do wrong in the name of doing good, or stand up to them and refuse to comply. It’s good stuff!

bookBecause I am all caught up with Ms Marvel and stuck waiting for the next volume to be published and I like G. Willow Wilson so much, I decided to look into what else she has done and borrowed Cairo from the library. Oh was this wonderful! It is set in modern-day Cairo and is a sort of magical thriller. The story has a djinn trapped in a hooka that is stolen by a drug dealer who runs drugs across the border into Israel. There is an Israeli soldier who, when she ends up stuck on the wrong side of the border, learns that things aren’t as black and white as she had thought. There is a young man who travels to Cairo in order to commit an act of terror. This is a story about how things aren’t always what we believe them to be. It’s about crossing borders and breaking down barriers. It’s about finding your better self. And the art is fantastic too. I think it is a self-contained story and not a series, but I wouldn’t mind at all if the story somehow manages to continue.

bookAnd finally, Pretending is Lying by Dominique Goblet. This is a graphic memoir. Goblet is Belgian and the book is translated from French. I am not certain I have ever read a graphic story in translation before. The memoir is told in fragments and through these fragments we learn of Goblet’s alcoholic and sometimes abusive father, her abusive mother, her relationship with her daughter and with her partner, and other pieces and moments of her life. It is equal parts disturbing, sad and beautiful. The art is gorgeous and does well in expressing the emotional tone of various aspects of the fragments. It is sometimes harsh and sometimes delicate.

As interesting as this memoir is, I did not love it. I was prepared for a more linear story and couldn’t get the fragmentariness of it sorted enough to enjoy it. I also found her alcoholic father very upsetting, his sudden explosions into verbal violence is unpredictable and those around him would often try to conciliate him or just quietly take the abuse. If it was only a text memoir I don’t think I would have been so affected, but the visuals make it so much more powerful and impossible to disassociate and look away that I ended up feeling icky and that affected how I felt about the memoir overall. Still, I appreciate what Goblet has done.

Phew! That was a lot of graphic stories to catch up on!