BooksOfTheMoon

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Five

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

The major arc in this volume of the always marvellous Fables series describes Boy Blue’s return to the Homelands on a secret mission. And in the process, he retrieves huge amounts of intelligence, and finally uncovers the identity of the Adversary. Despite hints in previous volumes, I must confess that it took me by surprise, but it totally works (and his description of his rise to power is chilling). And Boy Blue is pretty awesome as a lone hero, cutting a swathe through the Empire on his mission.

Back in Fabletown, we see a delegation of Arabian fables arrive in embassy, and how the European ones struggle to deal with them, as well as seeing just how well, or badly, Prince Charming is dealing with being mayor. Some other old favourites get screen time too (including a surprisingly awesome role for King Cole, who’s been a bit of a comedy side character until now), and there are some surprises in store for others. Snow and her boys appear, but in a side capacity, just driving the plot forward.

Oh, and there’s also the preparation for the spinoff Jack of Fables series, which actually starts the book. I must confess that Jack has never really done an awful lot for me. He’s arrogant, lazy and a bit of a grifter. His escapades in Hollywood were mildly amusing, but I don’t really have any interest in seeking out the spinoff.

So, apart from Jack, another complete success. The whole ‘Adversary’ plot is picking up pace and after five volumes, I’m pretty invested in the major characters. I look forward to the next one now.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401234966
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2012

Lumberjanes: To the Max Edition, Vol. 4

By Shannon Watters

Rating: 4 stars

The fourth ‘To the Max’ edition of the Lumberjanes series first sees a group of Lumberjanes elders show up for an inspection, and promptly get kidnapped by a giant bird. It’s up to Roanoke to save them, with some help, of course. Later, we get the return of Diane from the first volume and the volume is rounded off with a little story, told by April to her notebook, about a bird-boy who starts following her around (spoiler: he doesn’t eat any of their faces).

I enjoyed the first two stories in this book immensely. Kittens, giant birds, Greek gods, courtship and friendship come together in deeply touching stories that make us think that the world will be all right, whatever happens. Some of us have great families, some not so much, but friendship and found families make it all better. The last story didn’t grab me quite so much, with a lack of depth and of the things that make Lumberjanes so great to me. I wasn’t hugely as fussed by the art style used in it either, although it did suit the story.

Book details

ISBN: 9781684151837
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Year of publication: 2018

The Incorruptible Library (The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne Volume 3)(Girl Genius #16)

By Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio

Rating: 4 stars

Volume (*checks notes*) 16 (sixteen!) of the collected Girl Genius webcomic takes Agatha and her companions beneath Paris to some of the micro-kingdoms that lie beneath and on to the Immortal Library itself, in search of an expert in time who Agatha hopes can help her unlock her city from the time-bubble it’s currently trapped in. En route, she finds heroes, villains, a new Muse and the Storm King.

Phew, there’s so much going on now that even reading a whole volume at a time feels like it’s difficult to keep track of what’s going on. It’s only a matter of time before I have to binge-read the whole thing again from the start. I’m still enjoying the story and the art and, of course, the J√§germonsters. The Beast and the Castle in miniature form are both adorably sociopathic and homicidal in their devotion to their mistress.

So yet more twists, more characters and more mayhem. Lots of fun, although I do wonder if there’s an end planned for this series.

Book details

ISBN: 9781890856656
Publisher: Studio Foglio
Year of publication: 2017

Rivers of London Volume 6: Water Weed

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 3 stars

I don’t think that I’ve got much comment to make on the 6th Rivers of London graphic novel. This one concerns a cannabis operation, one that has worrying vestigia attached to the final product. It’s practically a Peter one-hander; Nightingale is in some scenes, but doesn’t do much, Beverley and her two younger sisters get a bit more screen time, but poor Molly gets practically nothing, and Guleed doesn’t appear at all.

The art is consistent, and has been since the start of the graphic novel series. This is the first one that I’ve seen with Aaronovitch credited only as ‘creator’ while Andrew Cartmel is the sole writer. I don’t think it made a difference, I always find Peter’s narrative voice somewhat muted in the graphic novels anyway.

So a fun, if short, read that’s enjoyable but doesn’t offer any more insight into the characters.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785865459
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2018

Saga, Vol. 9 (Saga, #9)

By Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Rating: 4 stars

Aww, bloody hell, Vaughan, really? Really?! Did you have to do that to us and then just leave for a year? This volume of Hazel’s story is more sedate and familial than of late, as the Family and their companions just try to adapt to life together. The Will and his captor, however, are very close behind them and it won’t end well if they catch up.

Vaughn and Staples are still fantastic storytellers, although I don’t know if I can take much more of this emotional roller-coaster. The highs are magnificent, as the creative pair make us revel in such small things that a family should be able to enjoy together – building sandcastles, bickering and loving each other. The lows, on the other hand, come thick and fast towards the end of the volume and I both am dreading and can’t wait for the next volume (whenever it does come).

Book details

ISBN: 9781534308374
Publisher: Image Comics
Year of publication: 2018

Mister Clip-Clop: Intergalactic Space Unicorn (EDGE: Bandit Graphics)

By Tony Lee, Neil Slorance

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve been a fan of Neil Slorance for a while now, so when I saw on his Twitter that he had a limited number of this fun little comic back in stock, I snapped it up. It’s a slight little thing, coming in at 32 pages, but 32 pages of pure delight. Neil says it’s suitable for ages 7 and up, and I’m definitely up! It’s drawn in his trademark cutesy style, and is a lot of fun, as the titular space unicorn falls to Earth and has to team up with a couple of young girls to save the world from invisible Ooze monsters.

Technically I bought this for my niece, but since she’s not seven yet, I’ll just have to *cough* “take care” of it for her for a while…

Book details

ISBN: 9781445157061
Publisher: Franklin Watts

Astonishing X-Men Ultimate Collection Volume 1

By Joss Whedon

Rating: 4 stars

I must confess that I’m not hugely familiar with the X-Men. I used to watch the cartoon when I was young, and watched the first couple of films. This first half of Joss Whedon’s run with the X-Men covers two story arcs. In the first, the idea of a cure for mutation is introduced, along with an alien who has a vendetta against the X-Men. In the second, a damaged sentinel attacks the X-Men mansion under the orders of an unseen mastermind and there is danger from within.

The volume focusses on a core group, missing Professor X, who reform the X-Men as a superhero team to be visible and a beacon for the good that mutants can do in the world. Scott Summers and Emma Frost are co-leaders, with Hank McCoy, Kitty Pride and Logan filling out the ranks (superhero codenames are hardly ever used). It’s a fun book, filled with Whedon’s trademark humour (a particular favourite is a fight where Kitty and Colossus have thought bubbles that are mostly angst, and then we cut to Logan who’s just thinking how much he loves beer). It’s a great way to cut the tension and stop it feeling too “woe is me”.

It’s also a decent introduction to the characters, even for someone like me, whose knowledge of the X-Men and the universe is limited. We get up to speed with who everyone is, what the setup is and what the factions are quickly, and without infodumping – as you would expect from a writer of Whedon’s calibre.

The art is pretty good, although I wouldn’t call it special. There are some good splash pages and it fits the superhero style well. The one disconcerting thing for me in terms of the art is that Nick Fury is white. As far as I’m concerned Nick Fury is, and has always been, black (and looked like Samuel L. Jackson). This series predates the MCU by a good four years, but it’s still disconcerting for someone who’s main entry to Marvel has been the MCU.

So a good entry to the X-Men universe, with good characterisation of the cast and a fun book to read, enhanced by Joss Whedon’s ear for dialogue.

Book details

ISBN: 9780785161943
Publisher: Marvel
Year of publication: 2004

Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 3 stars

This fifth graphic novel of Peter Grant’s adventures concerns some posh scum who re-enact the film A Very Dangerous Game for fun (i.e. hunting, but with the prey being humans, not foxes), except they choose Peter’s cousin Abigail as their next victim, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

There’s some interesting stuff here, including the involvement of Reynard Fossman, who’s out for revenge against the Folly, but there’s little in the way of development here, either for the characters or for the world (although there’s a nice section with folklore of foxes throughout the world at the end, alongside the usual ‘Tales From the Folly’ and issue covers). Overall, it felt like a novella, a nice snack, but not as satisfying as a full novel. The main issue I had with the storytelling was that there never felt like any real danger for any involved. I don’t normally have a problem with that, but that, combined, with the short read, just felt a little underwhelming. Well, maybe not underwhelmed, maybe just whelmed.

I appreciate that comics are hard work to do, but I think that if they did want to continue producing them alongside the prose, Aaronovitch et al could risk tackling longer storylines. That way, the compiled graphic novel would have more depth to it (and take longer than half an hour to read).

Book details

ISBN: 9781785861727
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2018

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Four

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

The fourth deluxe volume of Fables starts with a story arc involving Bigby Wolf during the Second World War, which is a nice war story, and reinforces what we already know about Bigby, that he’s loyal, a bit soft and hard as nails. Next we have a four issue arc about Snow White and Bigby’s babies, with one of them being very different to the others. This sees Snow have to leave Fabletown for the Farm (since most of the babies can’t pass for human) but Bigby is banned from the Farm, so chooses to go into exile. We also see Prince Charming have to face the realities of power, and Beauty and the Beast also deal with the roles they’ve taken over from Snow and Bigby respectively. I’m slightly confused when the North Wind shows up and nobody seems to be particularly surprised or confused as to how he got into the mundane world, given that all the gates to the Homelands are supposed to be shut.

The second half of the volume is taken up with 1001 Nights of Snowfall, a prequel story where Snow ventures to the Arabian fables to try and build an alliance, but ends up having to tell stories to the sultan every night for her life. There are a number of guest artists here, including Charles Vess (who illustrates the prose framing story) and although they each have differing art styles, most of them have a soft edge to it, appropriate to stories within stories. The stories that Snow tells are all of the Homelands, generally during the invasion by the Adversary, and we learn more about King Cole, Bigby, Snow herself and others in the process.

I’m still loving this series. We’re drip-fed details about the past and the Adversary, but it’s the characters who make it. The tragic history of Flycatcher, the ongoing tension between Snow and Bigby, the smarm and machinations of Prince Charming. These are all characters that have become fleshed out over the last four volumes, and I look forward to spending more time with them all.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401233907
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2012

Lumberjanes: To the Max Edition, Vol. 3

By Shannon Watters

Rating: 4 stars

The third of the hardcover ‘To the Max’ editions of the still-excellent Lumberjanes sees co-creator Noelle Stevenson leave the series after a ‘prequel’ issue to open the volume. This shows how the occupants of Roanoke cabin arrived at the Lumberjanes camp at the start of the summer. This is a nice little flashback to characters we already know and like (and a nice way to remind the reader who they after, after year or so since the last volume!).

After this, we have a story about merfolk, and April’s attempts to help two former friends repair their friendship through the medium of song. As you may expect, things don’t entirely go according to plan. I must confess that I wasn’t as taken with this story, although I don’t know how much of that was to do with the artwork, which has a different artist to before and with whom I didn’t really gel. The characters didn’t quite look right. It wasn’t that it’s a more cartoony style to before (the story that comes next also takes quite a cartoony style — with another new artist — but I liked it better) but YMMV as always.

The final story in the collection concerns selkies and the bear woman and it’s quite a strong one, and ties back to the previous volume and the ongoing strange goings on at and around the Lumberjanes camp. Again, the art is quite cartoony here, but I liked it better than the previous story. Maybe because I thought the story was a bit stronger too.

So definitely still much to enjoy here. The characters are all loveable in their own different ways, and show very different ways of being girls, all of which are equally valid. It’s definitely something that I’m excited to introduce to my niece (and nephew) when they’re a bit older

Book details

ISBN: 9781684150038
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Year of publication: 2017

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