December 15, 2013

NextReads Newsletter, December 2013

December's 2013's NextReads newsletter on graphic novels and comics newsletter is now available, but because of some library website difficulties I'm sharing it here!  This month's list includes some titles dealing with identity issues, in coordination with John Davis' graphic book club, although I'm too late posting it here to be helpful.  Rats!

If I've got my intel right, NoveList is in the process of changing the format and delivery system from the NextReads newsletters, so the current Durham County Library's NextReads subscription page and NextReads archive page may or may not be working.  If anything changes, I'll be sure to post new directions and links here. In the meantime, enjoy this month's list. 

New @ Durham County Library
Avengers: Endless Wartime - Warren Ellis, Mike McKone
Publisher: Marvel Enterprises Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/01/2013 ISBN-13: 9780785184676 ISBN-10: 0785184678 reports that Endless Wartime is "a full blown Warren Ellis superhero story, [with] plenty of aspects familiar from his oeuvre. There is archeology, pulling a threat from the past. There are military folk doing military things beyond the ken of human minds. [And] there are horrors that man would not have made, and echoes of what the Nazis did, being replicated now... It is very much a superhero comic book about superheroes that doesn’t exactly challenge the medium. But there is enough about modern war, modern government, history, duty, pragmatic policy against idealism to provide plenty to chew over."

East of West book 1 - Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Diamond Comic Distributors Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 09/24/2013 ISBN-13: 9781607067702 ISBN-10: 1607067706

Death himself is "protagonist" of this story, for lack of a better term, and he's not making anyone happy.  He's angered the other three horsemen after abandoning them in favor of a quest to free his wife.  Leaders of world powers plot his destruction in response to his reckless path across their nations.  Traitors among this group allow his existence but are even less trustworthy than his more obvious enemies.  It's not looking good for Death. This promising book expertly combines elements of science fiction, alternate history, mythological fantasy, and western epics, and it's especially recommended for fans of Saga and the like.
Law of the Desert Born - Charles Santino, Louis L'Amour, Beau L'Amour, Katherine Nolan and Thomas Yeates
Publisher: Bantam Books Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/08/2013 ISBN-13: 9780345528124 ISBN-10: 0345528123

A Louis L'Amour short story adaptation!  In 1887, the drought-stricken New Mexico Territory sees a series of revenge killings that stir the blood of local law enforcement and citizen alike. The killer is hunted by a posse whose unlikely leader is a half-Mexican, half-Apache convict who has more invested in the capture than the lawmen who reluctantly rely on his guidance. A classic plot of betrayal and redemption lies here, told with naturalistic black-and-white artwork that reminds us of classic E.C. Comics or even Will Eisner at its best moments.  It's no Blueberry (which is sadly out of print), but hopefully this publication will usher in a new round of westerns for comics readers!
The Sixth Gun (series) - Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
Publisher: Oni Press Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/25/2011 ISBN-13: 9781934964606 ISBN-10: 1934964603
And speaking of westerns, here's a western of the weird variety, another subgenre we could use more of!  In The Sixth Gun, young Becky Moncrief is thrown headlong into a post-Civil War adventure with apolyptic consequences, thanks to her psychic tie to one of six cursed weapons that are in high demand by groups trying to bring about and/or prevent the destruction of the world.  Aided, sometimes reluctantly, by a group of gunmen who include an ex-Confederate soldier, a runaway slave turned freedman, and a faithful golem, Becky is drawn ever deeper into a supernatural plot that may take her life rather than free it.  This is a fun book with just the right balance of action and character, and its well-crafted artwork strikes a sweet spot between "cartoony" and realistic.  Recommended -- start at volume 1!

Secret Identities and Alter Egos
Superhero Origins and More 

It's no secret (get it?) that identity is an important issue in superhero comics, and rarely more than in origin stories.  Here's a selection of superhero origins and some other superhero books where identity is front-and-center.
  • Omega: The Unknown by Lethem, and Dalrymple (Editor's Pick!)
  • Batman: Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli (Editor's Pick!)
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing , book 1 by Moore and Bissette
  • Spider-Men (featuring both Peter Parker and Miles Morales) by Bendis and Pichelli
  • Identity Crisis , a gritty examination of amnesia in the DC universe by Metzler, Morales and Bair
  • Wolverine: Origin by Quesada and Jenkins
  • Top 10: The Forty-Niners , set in a world where everyone is a superhero and everyone's identity is a secret, by Moore and Ha
  • Watchmen (Moore and Gibbons) and The Dark Knight Returns(Miller and Jansen), two classic stories of ex-heroes finding themselves in uniform again
  • Dial H , about an ordinary guy who accidentally adopts numerous heroic identities by dialing letters on a pay phone, by Mieville and others
  • Sleeper , which features a superhero (or is he?) working undercover in a crime syndicate, by Brubaker and Phillips

Identity Issues in Other Genres 

And of course, identity issues aren't limited to books in the superhero genre.  Give these a try if capes and tights aren't your thing.
  • Petrograd by Gelatt and Crook (spy fiction): An Irishman working for British intelligence infiltrates both Tsarist and anarchist circles in pre-revolutionary Russia. (Editor's pick!)
  • Phoenix Without Ashes by Ellison and Robinson (science fiction): A member of an isolated community defies his elders to explore the edges of his world, causing him to doubt their teachings and his own identity.
  • Good Dog by Chaffee (period realism of a sort): Stray dog Ivan goes on a journey of self-discovery without leaving town in an attempt to find where he belongs -- on the streets, in a pack, under the care of humans, or somewhere else entirely.
  • Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Bechdel (memoir): Bechdel relates a series of recollections about childhood with her closeted gay father and repressed but artistic mother.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Parker (science fiction): This expert adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel (which was inspiration for the film Blade Runner) explores what it means to be human, particularly in comparison with the androids that the main character is paid to track down and "retire".
  • City of Glass by Karasik and Mazzucchelli (crime/mystery): In this Paul Auster adaptation, a mystery writer adopts the persona of writer Paul Auster (!) to solve a mystery.  Existential crisis ensues.  (Editor's pick!)

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