Comic Book Cache – Round 3

17 May

Sorry for the delay on Comic Book Cache, guys.  I got distracted by school and what not.  Anyway, we return with three more indoctrinations into the world of comic books.  We have some great books up for review by people who typically do not read comics (or, at least, not as many comics as I do).  I hope you enjoy this great experiment and become interested in some diverse and eclectic reading material.  Check out Round 1, Round 2, or the Master List by clicking on the linknames.

Who I am:

I am Beverly Gayle (II) Schlegel. I’m a student at Lane Community college where I earn my meager income as a writing tutor . . . cuz’ I right reel good.
Book: Tales of Woodsman Pete: With Full Particulars by Lilli Carré

My Comic History:

I’ve read a wee bit o’ comic books. The first example that comes to mind is Calvin and Hobbes. Like many of the kids in my generation, Bill Watterson opened the door for me to a mystical realm. Over the years that door musta’ blown shut, but thanks to comic-fanatic friends + the interweb, I’m once again a fairly avid reader/viewer of comics, web comics and graphic novels. I like the format, the combo of words and images. Sometimes, what an author conveys with a single, simple frame cannot be captured in 1000 words –  its like what people say about a photograph. And if you think of how much information is packed in a WHOLE book filled with images, you can see the dimension that illustrations add to written language.

My Selection:

So, Tales of Woodsman Pete. Did you catch the subheading? “With Full Particulars.” Naturally, the darling title combined with homey cover art – a portrait of good ole’ Pete looking like an aloof Santa or a gnome in a hunting cap – drew me to Lille Carre’s book quicker than a hoarder to a junk sale. I’ve enjoyed this quick read several times (estimated time required for completion: 30-60 min.), and I always find myself coming back to the simple, expressive drawings and endearing characters.

Why I dig it:

In its truest essence, Carré’s book is the story of an old man living utterly alone in a cabin in the woods. Yet the absurdity of Pete’s situations, telling campfire stories to a bear rug or picking flowers to spite a tree that fell on his roof, create humor and interest in seemingly dull subject area. This book takes a tough look at perhaps the most painful human condition: loneliness. But it didn’t leave me disinterested or depressed. The delightfully plain illustrations and clever twists of language offer a digestible, though sometimes hard to swallow, reflection on the absurd ways we cope with being alone.

What I do not dig:

To put it simple, I just want MORE. I would love to see a second collection of tales, especially featuring Paul Bunyan and Babe. The few inserted in Tales of Woodsman Pete, perhaps on a whim by the author, deserve more of a spotlight and could be expanded into their own collection. Maybe even a feature length comic book. Yay!

Name: Adriana Flores
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Book: Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai by Stan Sakai

Ever since my junior year of high school I’ve been hooked on Graphic novels. The first graphic novel I ever read was Watchmen, followed by many others such as V for Vendetta, Maus 1 & 2, Owly, Robot Dreams, and Blankets. I love the integration of images and words and their ability to draw the reader into the world of the story, even more so than a regular novel.

When volunteering for this project I told Elliott he could give me any book he wanted; I wanted a surprise and a challenge if I was going to spend time reading outside of my schoolwork. Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai was, in fact, both surprising and challenging! Usagi is an incredibly beautiful book; every page is vibrant and bold. The artistic style is a little different than I’m used to when reading graphic novels but, especially in character depiction and facial expressions, but there is no denying that Stan Sakai worked incredibly hard on this book and it shows. This book, however, was a tad difficult to read. There were many points in the text where Japanese myths or creatures were referenced and I had to look up what they were, which made my reading a bit disjointed. Additionally, although I enjoyed reading the book I was particularly grabbed by the plot; it was interesting but I wasn’t all that invested in the storyline. I’m not sure if this was just because I’m not accustomed to Sakai’s storytelling style or if I was rejecting a type of graphic novel that I wasn’t used to.

Overall, I’m glad that Elliott gave me a type of graphic novel that I wasn’t accustomed to. It’s easy for me to get stuck in my mainstream and cutesy graphic novels and reading Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai was a nice reminder that there are other types of graphic novels out there. The one thing I’ll take away from this experience is the beautiful artwork that Sakai has created; it never ceases to amaze me how truly beautiful graphic novels can be. I hope to read more books like Usagi in the future to expand my knowledge of the world of graphic novels.

Brendan Joanou

Comic Book Review:  Identity Crisis

By:  Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Mike Bair

Let me start this review by saying that I am not by any means an expert or connoisseur of comics.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading them.  I know many of the major comic book characters and their groups, but that is about it.  That being said, Identity Crisis tells a story that contains a large amount of DC characters both major and minor.  However, the comic is written and presented in such a way that makes the story entertaining and understandable to readers of any level of superhero know-how.

Identity Crisis revolves around the murder of Sue Dibny (wife of Elongated Man a.k.a Ralph Dibny) and the massive investigation launched to find and punish the killer.  Families of the superheroes are being targeted with little evidence being left at the crime scenes.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and other big league DC heroes make their appearances, but most of the story focuses on a faction of the Justice League.  Green Arrow, Elongated Man, Atom Man, and The Flash are especially critical.  These heroes have an especially strong and personal stake in the mission.  After suffering casualties and seemingly exhausting their leads, the person responsible for the crime is finally discovered and apprehended.

While the conclusion of the story was an unexpected twist, it struck me as slightly unsatisfying.  To be fair though, I did appreciate the fact that the ending was not carried out in the grand predictable fashion that is usually seen. The art of Identity Crisis was neither unique nor striking, but it was effective at portraying the characters and critical moments. Crisis also set up too many open-ended plot situations and unnecessary additions (or at least they seemed unnecessary to me).

Despite these draw backs, I found Identity Crisis to be very interesting and entertaining.  The frustration, sadness, and desperation that the characters felt during their investigation were very well conveyed.  Even though the plot followed a pattern of character in danger, trace lead, pummel bad guys, back to searching, the sense of mystery was well maintained.  There were two scenes that I thought were particularly well written.  One was a battle with Deathstroke (Slade) in which he manages to completely trounce the heroes by exploiting their weaknesses in a way that utilized intelligence over super powers. The other was a scene in which Batman and Robin race to save Robin’s father.  This was a particularly emotional scene, and I definitely felt that this scene was the moment when I was most absorbed in the story.

If I were to give this a nominal sort of ranking, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. There were the occasional plot holes and unrealistic moments, but overall I felt that it was a very engaging and interesting read.


One Response to “Comic Book Cache – Round 3”


  1. Comic Book Cache – Round 4 « MechanisticMoth - August 9, 2011

    […] readers had a choice from check out the Master List.  Also, check out Round One, Round Two, and Round Three for some other great […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: