BooksOfTheMoon

Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 7: Synthesis (Gunnerkrigg Court #7)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

Volume 7 of Gunnerkrigg Court collects chapters 60-68 of the fabulous webcomic. It starts where volume 6 left off, finishing the story of Jeanne that ended the previous volume. After that, we have a couple of chapters of fallout, first with the fairies and then with Kat and her father. Anja spends a chapter telling a story of how Annie’s mum and dad fell in love. We also have the formal introductions of Juliette and Arthur and the Shadow Men organisation (and, may I say, that these two are a somewhat delightful pair) before the story moves on to what seems like its next phase: Coyote’s gift to Ysengrim and the emergence of Loup.

At times, reading the story online, page by page, three times a week you can sort of lose track of its threads. Reading a large chunk in one go not only reminds you of why you love the characters, but helps clarify the story again. And the story is still hugely engaging. I thought that the end of the Jeanne storyline would be the beginning of the end, but instead Siddell has found really interesting new directions to take the comic, and I’m glad of it. It means I get to spend more time with Annie, Kat and all the rest (even Anthony).

Book details

ISBN: 9781684154418
Publisher: Archaia

Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 6: Dissolve

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

Volume six of Gunnerkrigg Court collects chapters 50 to 59 of the eponymous webcomic. This starts with Coyote showing Annie more of what she needs to do as the forest medium, taking the soul of one of the animals into the Court to be decanted into a new body. After that, we get into something more serious, as Annie’s dad returns to the Court. When I read this first time round, in the comic, it made me really angry, the way that Tony behaved and the control he exerted over his daughter. That anger returned as I re-read it, but having it condensed, especially with the following few chapters, as Tony unburdens himself to Donny Donlan, makes it flow better and it’s easier to follow the story. This arc is followed by more with Robot as he gains his first biological component, and he continues to gather a cult of Kat around himself (although his burgeoning romance with Shadow is oh so adorable) and then we have more between Annie and Reynard and the guilt that Annie still feels over letting him go without putting up a fight. The relationship between Reynard and Annie is one of the most interesting and complex in the whole story (and that’s saying something). They obviously care about each other very much but there is still tension between them, despite Reynard’s forgiveness of Annie. We end the book with Annie and the gang finally starting on the plan to free Jeanne and what feels like the conclusion of something that’s been with us from the earliest days of the story.

I don’t think that I’ve got a lot to add to this other than I still adore this series and love the way that both the art and the storytelling have developed over the years. It’s the comic I look forward to most in my RSS feeds every week and it’s the one that I most consistently buy the hardcopy volumes as they’re released.

This is a another great step in Annie’s story and that of Gunnerkrigg Court itself and I look forward to much more of it!

Book details

ISBN: 9781608868308
Publisher: Archaia
Year of publication: 2016

Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 5: Refine (Gunnerkrigg Court #5)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

The fifth collected volume of of the utterly marvellous webcomic takes us to the end of Annie and Kat’s year nine at Gunnerkrigg Court. Annie is now medium of the forest and her friend Andrew is medium of the Court. She has to balance her new duties with her education, not to mention all the ups and downs of being a teenage girl.

There are some lovely stories in this volume, especially that of Mort and how Annie helps him find peace, while at the same time finding out more about Jeanne, the ghost trapped in the Annan Water. The new romance between Kat and Paz is incredibly sweet and Annie’s initial reaction to it is very believable for the girl that we’ve come to know over the last forty-something chapters.

The chapter that followed Renard and Hetty was beautifully told as well, with Renard’s obvious pain over his past choices contrasting with the selfishness of Hetty. Renard is now one of my favourite characters in the story, which is saying something, in a story that has so many wonderful characters to choose from.

The final chapter is a suitably dramatic end to the year for the kids of the Court but it’s the last couple of pages that really make it, with the revelation of the deepening of Robot’s involvement in the cult that grown up around Kat.

Every time I think that Gunnerkrigg Court can’t get better, it does. Siddell is growing as both a storyteller and an artist. However, now that the volume has ended, it’ll be at least a year until the next one. Many webcomics work okay running a few pages a week (and Siddell has been nothing if not reliable at doing so) but I find GC impossible to read on such a schedule. I usually let a chapter or two build up and read them then, but it’s really when you have a whole book in one go that you can appreciate the story properly. I don’t know how much more there is to come, but I look forward to the day when I can put the entire set next to my chair and just work through them all in one giant binge. Until then, I’ll keep reading one chapter, and one book, at a time.

Book details

ISBN: 9781608866915
Publisher: Archaia
Year of publication: 2015

Gunnerkrigg Court, Vol. 4: Materia (Gunnerkrigg Court #4)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

The fourth volume of the most excellent webcomic picks up the story at the start of Annie’s third year at the eponymous school, having returned from a summer spent in Gillitie Wood. Her first task is to make up with Kat, who doesn’t know how to deal with her running away at the end of the previous volume. This volume sees existing relationships between familiar characters deepen and new ones formed.

Robot appears to be becoming somewhat obsessed with Kat, but not so much that he doesn’t form a close relationship with Shadow; Kat seems somewhat confused, but not so much that she doesn’t start translating the evolved programming of the Court robots; and as for Annie, well, we get to see some of the fire buried within her as she attempts revenge on Jack for the spider incident in the previous volume and a little more of her relationship with her father.

There’s a weird chapter that I had forgotten about where she is in a coma and Zimmy helps her out. There’s a lot of foreshadowing going on there, and I can’t help but feel that her father is somewhere at the heart of it.

At the time of writing, this is the last paper collection of Gunnerkrigg Court, so I’m reduced to following it, three pages a week, online, which, given the pace of the storytelling, is grindingly slow. I can’t wait for the next volume now, although given that this one was only released this year, it could be some time away yet.

Book details

ISBN: 9781936393992
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Year of publication: 2013

Gunnerkrigg Court, Vol. 3: Reason (Gunnerkrigg Court #3)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

Volume three of Gunnerkrigg Court picks up the story of Antimony Carver and her friends at the eponymous school mid way through her second year through to the end of the year, culminating in a row and a blaze of revelations. The story of the Court, and of Annie, start to gather pace a bit and we learn more about Annie, seeing more into her character. Having read the webcomic and coming back to read the hard copy, I see things that I missed the first time, things that were set up early, in passing, and come back to be important later on.

Annie’s best friend Kat continues to grow as well, with revelations regarding the beginning of the Court and its genius inventor hitting her hard. Seeing her dealing with this, and her growing importance to the robot community of the Court is lovely.

I continue to love the art, the story and the characters of this comic (Parley and Andrew in particular are really sweet). Reading the whole thing in graphic novel form condenses it and makes it even better. And I also continue to be impressed with the quality of the physical object. The hardback is physically solid, with high-quality, glossy paper that really makes the story come alive.

As always, highly recommended.

Book details

ISBN: 9781936393237
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Year of publication: 2011

Gunnerkrigg Court, Vol. 2: Research (Gunnerkrigg Court #2)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

The second collected volume of Tom Siddell’s marvellous webcomic follows Antimony Carver’s second year at Gunnerkrigg Court, after a summer where her father failed to contact her. She and Kat soon fall back into their old ways, finding a robot shrine, sneaking out in the middle of the night to watch Science, meeting the denizens of Gillitie Forest and more.

We also learn more about Annie’s history, her mother, and her powers, as Kat’s mother starts to teach her to use her innate powers, and to start training to potentially take over her mother’s former role as medium to the Forest.

The first volume could feel a bit bitty at times, but in this second one, the story is firmer, the art is improving under your eyes and the characters remain as true to themselves as they ever were.

We get to find out some of Reynardine’s history (and he cemented himself in my heart from the moment that he chased off the bullies mocking Annie and Kat, early in this volume), more about the ghost at the bottom of the chasm, more insight into Zimmy and Gamma and much more. The first volume was entitled ‘Orientation’, which seemed right. Now we know the characters and Siddell is showing us more about them, and making us care for them.

Volumes three and four have already been ordered, and I await them impatiently. Even though I’ve already devoured the webcomic, I want to read them again. I find it frustrating even reading through webcomic archives: it took me a week or more to get to this stage in the archive, while I read the first two volumes on paper in an afternoon.

Book details

ISBN: 9781932386776
Publisher: Archaia
Year of publication: 2009

Gunnerkrigg Court, Vol. 1: Orientation (Gunnerkrigg Court #1)

By Thomas Siddell

Rating: 5 stars

This beautiful hardback volume tells the story of young Antimony Carver’s first year at her school, the eponymous Gunnerkrigg Court, collected from the marvellous webcomic. A strange place, blending magic with high technology, Antimony sets out making friends, building robots and meeting gods and spirits, some of whom try to kill her.

Any lingering comparisons with boy wizards going to school in magical castles are soon dissipated: Gunnerkrigg Court is far more interesting than Hogwarts. The first volume focusses very much on Annie and her best friend Kat, along with the spirit Reynardine. Their blossoming friendship is a lovely thing to watch developing, and the mystery surrounding the Court, Annie’s parents and the forest on the other side of the chasm is built up slowly, with just enough answers being drip-fed to avoid too much frustration.

The art is beautiful, with a manga-esque twist to it, that emphasises the humour. The lines are bold and cartoony, and match the storytelling perfectly. The only thing that I could wish for is for Mr Siddell to work faster!

Book details

ISBN: 9781932386349
Publisher: Archaia
Year of publication: 2007

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