Friday, April 19, 2019

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Oni Press & Limerence Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans IdentitiesAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities
Creators: Mady G & J.R. Zuckerberg
Upcoming Release Date: April 23, 2019

Synopsis: In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and JR Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!


Review: This is a fun, informative graphic novel about queer and trans identities. The information is distributed through a snail teaching other snails about humans. Topics cover sexuality, gender identity, gender expression, relationship basics, dysphoria, asexuality, and more. There are personal examples from a friend's life. Interspersed is an adorable story about Sproutling, a group of creatures that come in all different identities. There's also a fun activity section at the end of the graphic novel. 

This is a fun, educational book. I learned a lot. The information is expansive, respectful, & inclusive. I give this graphic novel a 5/5.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Star Wars: Lando - Double or Nothing (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Lando - Double or Nothing
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artists: Andres Mossa & Paolo Villanelli
Release Date: November 6, 2018

Synopsis: Straight from the frames of the highly anticipated film Solo: A Star Wars Story swaggers a younger — and somehow even cockier — Lando Calrissian! Before his days in the Rebellion, before he ran Cloud City, even before he lost the Millennium Falcon, comes this tale of Lando's adventures and misadventures in search of love and money — leading right up to his appearance in Solo! Lando isn't one to stick his neck out…unless there are credits to be had. So when oppressed workers in a droid junkyard need his help, they'd better hope their freedom is worth something to him. But one of their number is out to turn Lando over to his enemies — and there are plenty of those. Will a galaxy of bad guys finally get their due against the ultimate thorn in their side?


Review: This graphic novel follows Lando and L3-37 as they adventure on the Millennium Falcon just before their appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story. I really enjoyed Elthree in this book. I want more stories involving her! There were plenty of references to the film including a mention of Crimson Dawn. 

This book is a fun adventure story, but there's not anything too exciting there in my opinion. I liked Elthree's commentary and the different perspectives shown as well as the discussions on empathy, but the story just didn't excite me. These one-shots can really delve into the character they focus on, but this one just seemed like a tie-in to the film. 

I give this book a 3/5. It's fun, but not something I will recommending for casual Star Wars fans.   


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Star Wars, Vol.10: The Escape (comic) -Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars, Vol. 10: The Escape
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Andrea Broccardo, Angel Unzueta, & GURU-eFX
Release Date: April 9, 2019

Synopsis: The rebels are reeling and on the run. Scattered. Scared. Hope is dead. Darth Vader tightens his grip, mercilessly hunting the scattered band down with his most dangerous servants. They will not escape him this time. But for Luke, Leia, Han and the rest of the Alliance, the fight against the evil Galactic Empire continues. The heroes will need to turn to allies both old and new if they hope to ever turn the tide and save the Rebellion in its darkest hour. COLLECTING: STAR WARS 56-61


Review: This series is improving, I think. I liked volumes 9 and 10 way more than Volume 8. The art style I've disliked is still there and I found it pretty distracting when a memorable film scene's imagery was used exactly. It just takes me out of the story. 

Sana Starros is back with our main crew. And there might be a certain stormtrooper team from this ongoing series, too. Luke, Han, and Leia are on the search for Chewie and the Falcon while being pursued. There's a lot more personal stories between the main three in this issue and I really liked seeing that. It foreshadows the dynamic the three have in The Empire Strike Back. Especially Leia and Han.

Luke gets a romantic interest in the volume and it feels forced, boring, and cliche. But the character herself is pretty cool. I hope we see more of Clan Markona in the future. And the ship they fly off in looks pretty similar. 

I give this volume a 4/5. I liked the personal connections between the main three paired with fun original characters. I guess I'm going to continue reading this series.     


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Star Wars, Vol. 9: Hope Dies (comic) -Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars, Vol. 9: Hope Dies
Writer: Kieron Gillen & Cullen Bunn
Artists: Salvador Larocca & GURU-eFX
Release Date: December 24, 2018

Synopsis: A New Hope led here! A secret rebel base. A secret rebel fleet. A chance of victory…but now, Darth Vader has found it. There is no escape. The Empire first strikes back here and now! Can the Millennium Falcon stand alone against the entire Imperial Fleet? Not to mention a TIE Advanced Starfighter with a certain Sith Lord as its pilot?! As the rebels' plans crumble, Princess Leia must discover the cause of this disaster — before it's too late! Her mission leads her aboard Darth Vader's personal Dreadnought…but he always seems to know when his enemies are near. If the Rebellion is to live on, sacrifice is needed…but if hope dies, what survives? Plus: Luke Skywalker and smuggler Sana Starros attend a high-stakes podracing event…but why? Place your bets!


Review: The volume before this one really disappointed me. I considered not continuing this series and honestly I'm still considering that. But, I just read volumes 9 and 10 and I enjoyed them more than Volume 8.

This volume feels like the third act in almost any Star Wars movie. It's a big ole space battle. The Rebellion has gathered its forces to showcase them before dispersing until the time is right, but things don't go as planned. Shu-Toren and its leader Trios have become a large part of this ongoing series. Sana Starros, another fave original character from the comics, also is back in this volume! There's even an Annual story at the end featuring her...and Luke...and a Sith lightsaber...and POD RACING! 

There are some fun references throughout this volume to other recent Star Wars stories like Rogue One (there are a lot of connections). Rogue Squadron makes its debut!

Leia is at the front of Rebellion in this volume. I'm glad they're putting here at the forefront of the comics. 

There was a weird inconsistency in this volume involving the state of a certain droid's body and it's a big part of the next volume. A few panels show something that isn't consistent with the later story.

This volume was an improvement from the last. I give this book a 3.5/5. I still do not like the art style at all. The photo-realistic drawings are just not good. I enjoyed both the "Shu-Torun Lives" short comic and the Annual's artwork. They just feel more magical and Star Wars-y. There are fun things in the background and all the art within the panels goes together, unlike the art of the rest of the volume.  


Monday, April 15, 2019

Pilu of the Woods (graphic novel) by Mai K. Nguyen - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Oni Press via NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Pilu of the WoodsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Pilu of the Woods
Creator: Mai K. Nguyen
Upcoming Release Date: April 17, 2019

Synopsis: A heartwarming story of friendship, loss, and finding your way home from debut author/illustrator Mai K. Nguyen!

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

But the journey is long, and Pilu isn’t sure she’s ready to return home yet—which infuriates Willow, who’s determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow’s emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger… and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all. 


Review: This graphic novel is adorable! It has such great messaging about some pretty serious subjects. Willow's mother has recently passed away and she's having a hard time processing it. She's being bullied at school and crying in the bathroom. She takes out her emotions on her older sister and runs off into the woods. In the woods, she meets a crying girl who helps her to understand more about how to process her emotions and how to be protective of nature. 

Emotions are compared to mushrooms is such a great way. Every forest has them; you just have to figure out which ones are good and which ones can hurt you. This book would be great for a middle-grade audience.  

This comic has the looks of the Netflix show Hilda or the tv series Over the Garden Wall and has the emotional pull of the Pixar film Inside Out.

I give this book a 5/5. It's adorable and tells a heartfelt story about emotions and nature.   


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Star Wars: Thrawn (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Thrawn
Based on the novel by: Timothy Zahn
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Luke Ross & Nolan Woodard
Release Date: September 11, 2018

Synopsis: Set between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Star Wars: Thrawn is a comic book miniseries adaptation of the 2017 novel Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. The story explores the rise of Grand Admiral Thrawn through the ranks of the Galactic Empire, setting up his appearance in Star Wars Rebels, the character's canon debut. The comic series will be penned by Jody Houser, writer of the comic adaptation of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and artwork will be completed by Luke Ross, who has illustrated various Star Wars titles.


Review: My prior knowledge of Thrawn comes from Wookieepedia browsing and the Rebels tv series. I haven't yet read Zahn's new canon or original legends books, yet. This book follows Thrawn's story from his first encounter with the Empire up until his time in Rebels. This is a story of a war strategist climbing the ladder. There's also the story of the politics of the Empire. Although Thrawn is at the center of all the action, Arihnda Pryce is heavily featured. I loved getting to see her backstory before her time as governor of Lothal in Rebels

The time jumps are frequent in this book, showcasing relevant stories about Thrawn and those closest to him throughout his time with the Empire. The references to Thrawn's encounter with Anakin Skywalker really made me want to read that story. I liked getting to see the inner workings of the Empire.

Knowing the ending of Rebels, I'm really excited to see where Thrawn's story goes in the future. There are little hints about the Chiss Ascendancy in this book. And I want to know more!!!

I give this book a 4/5. It's a heavier comic than most of the other Star Wars trade paperbacks since it's covering a bigger story. Because of this it drags a little, but there's a lot of great story and connections in this book.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Unnatural Vol. 2: The Hunt (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Image Comics via Edelweiss. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Unnatural, Vol. 2Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Unnatural Vol. 2: The Hunt
Writer & Illustrator: Mirka Andolfo
Upcoming Release Date: April 16, 2019

Unnatural, Volume 1 REVIEW

Synopsis: Leslie hides within herself a power that many are longing for. After losing her best friends because of an organization that is chasing her, the pig girl finds herself alone and confused with a group of rebels. Will she be able to join the fight against a government that blames the interpersonal relationships considered wrong, considering that she has difficulty keeping the wolf that lives inside her in check? Collects UNNATURAL #5-8


Review: This second volume in the Unnatural series picks up with Leslie on the run. This whole volume has a feel or urgency. Some more history is revealed, but there's always more questions that come with more information. 

This is an adult comic. There is nudity and sexual situations. It's done in a tasteful way that contributes to the story. The parallels to discrimination and prejudices in our world are done very well. It's a world full of animal people, but so many of the same messaging applies. 

I'm enjoying this series, but this second volume didn't keep my attention as much as the first. I give this book a 3/5. Definitely go check out the first volume if you haven't. The worldbuilding is so intriguing and the art style is beautiful.   


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 4: Fortress Vader (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 4: Fortress Vader
Writers: Charles Soule
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, David Curiel, Terry Pallot, Dono Sanchez-Almara & Erick Arciniega
Release Date: February 12, 2019

Synopsis: Continuing the imperious rise of the Dark Lord! A Jedi makes a desperate deal. The Inquisitors' mission evolves. And Darth Vader discovers a theft... And when the thief faces the consequences of their crime, Emperor Palpatine rewards Darth Vader with three gifts: A thing, a choice...and a voice. Seeking the path to his destiny, Vader returns to the place of his birth. There, echoes from the past reach out to him - both his own past, and the dark history of the Sith! Be here for a story that could only be called "Fortress Vader"! COLLECTING: DARTH VADER 19-25


Review: I have enjoyed this ongoing Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith series so much more than the original Marvel Darth Vader series. I think the reason is that this is such a more interesting time in Darth Vader's life. Anakin is still there behind the mask, figuring out his path. This is the finale of the series and everything comes to an excellent end. There are so many references that blend all the different time frames together: the prequels, Rebels, Clone Wars, Rogue One, and the original trilogy. And the connections aren't just passing allusion, but they make up this story. We get to see a former Jedi Council member at the start of this volume. Then a classic prequel ship. The Inquisitors are very present. There's a chase scene on Coruscant very reminiscent of Episode II. And then of course there's Mustafar!!!

The final chapter in this volume is done so well. I want more comic stories that connect the trilogies so well. There's even a reference to one of my favorite Episode I movie posters. 

This was a great volume. A great end to a great series. I obviously give this book a 5/5. I highly recommend this ongoing Marvel series if you're looking for a Star wars series to read.    


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Fence, Vol.2 by C.S. Pacat (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

Fence, Vol. 2 (Fence #5-8)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Fence, Vol 1 REVIEW

Fence Vol. 2
Author: C.S. Pacat
Artists: Johanna the Mad & Joana LaFuente
Recent Release Date: January 15, 2019

Synopsis: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place on the Kings Row fencing team, alongside sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, to win the right to go up against his golden-boy half-brother.

Tryouts are well underway at King’s Row for a spot on the prodigious fencing team, and scrappy fencer Nicholas isn’t sure he’s going to make the grade in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossibly odds, and his seemingly unstoppable roommate, the surly, sullen Seiji Katayama. It’ll take more than sheer determination to overcome a challenge this big!

From the superstar team of C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes the second volume of this acclaimed, dynamic series.


Review: I don't usually read sports comics, but I am really enjoying this series. It reminds me of the anime Yuri! on ice. All of the sports lingo is explained through context. There are plenty of fencing specific words and references, but you don't have to be familiar with the sport. There's so much wonderfully exaggerated drama in this series and I love it all. There's also great tension. Potential romantic tension? Rivals to Lovers? Friendship to Lovers? Friendship to Rivals? So many different dynamics of relationships. 

Although I am really enjoying this series, I wanted more to happen. There's a lot of build-up. With not much pay out yet. I'll give this book a 4/5, but i have already pre-ordered Volume 3!   


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mera: Tidebreaker (graphic novel) by Danielle Paige - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from DC Ink via Edelweiss. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Mera: Tidebreaker
Author: Danielle Paige
Illustrator: Steven Byrne
Release Date: April 2, 2019

About Danielle Paige
Danielle Paige is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die series and the Stealing Snow series. In addition to writing young adult books, she has worked in the television industry, where she’s received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She is a graduate of Columbia University and currently lives in New York City.

About Stephen Byrne
Stephen Byrne was born in Dublin, Ireland, where he studied at the Irish School of Animation. He has worked in Ireland and the United States in the fields of animation, TV advertising, satirical newspaper cartoons, and video games. He now lives in London, where he works on his true passion, comics.

About DC Ink
DC Ink is a new young adult graphic novel line from DC. The line will introduce DC’s most iconic Super Heroes to a new generation of fans with stories told by some of the most successful authors from the young adult publishing space. DC Ink titles will be standalone stories, not part of DC’s ongoing continuity, and completely accessible to new readers who have no previous knowledge of DC characters. The line will launch in April 2019 with the release of Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne, followed by Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart in May, Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo in July, and more titles to be announced.

Synopsis: Princess Mera is teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a penal colony ruled by Atlantis. Her father and the entire kingdom are expecting her to marry and introduce a new king. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown.

When the Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, Mera seizes the opportunity to take control of her own destiny by assassinating Arthur Curry—the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. But her mission gets sidetracked when Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love. Will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera’s side, or will he die under her blade as she attempts to free her people from persecution? Mera is forced to choose between following her heart and her mission to kill.


Review: DC Ink is bringing Young Adult stories about DC characters to the graphic novel format! The first book is Mera: Tidebreaker written by Danielle Paige. Steven Bryne illustrates this story in mostly blue tones with highlights of orange for Mera's (and her father's) hair.

This graphic novel tells the story of a young princess trying to live up to the model left behind by her deceased mother who was both a queen and a warrior. The royal politics of the underwater world is at the forefront of this story. There are a lot of princess tropes that Paige plays with. It's like if The Little Mermaid was on a mission to kill Prince Eric. 

This is a fun "fish out of water" assassin princess story. Mera thinks she has it in her to kill the Atlantean Prince Arthur and bring his head back to her father, but is that really the type of person she is?

I give this book a 3.5/5. Paige merges classic tropes with empowering characters, but it could have had more of an original feel to it, in my opinion. I'm looking forward to the other DC Ink titles. I already have downloaded Raven's!