Friday, January 25, 2019

The Tea Dragon Society


Image result for the tea dragon society

The Tea Dragon Society

By Katie O'Neill

Published by Oni Press

Summary:
This story focuses on Greta, a blacksmith in training who stumbles upon a rare and lost tea dragon on her way home. When she returns it to its owner, a dragon named Hesekiel, he offers her the chance to learn how to care for tea dragons herself. There she meets Erik and min, two other tea dragon owners, and the four of them slowly grow and learn. 

Art:
The art is fantastic. The book is beautifully colored, with an art style that I quite like. The characters are lovely, though the designs are a bit simple in some cases. Panel structure and flow are excellent.

Characters:
The characters are all wonderful, but could use more. They are all interesting and enjoyable, but most of them could use a bit more fleshing out. I would love to learn more about who they are and where they came from, but this doesn't negatively impact the book. If anything it makes me want more.

Setting:
The setting it vague, but it's all it needs to be. There are hints of vast adventures throughout the story, but the plot doesn't go there. Instead we get a small, contained look at a fascinating world with hints of much more. 

Plot:
This is a sweet slice of life story. The plot is slow and meandering, but it has its moments. The tea itself is an interesting way for us to learn about these characters. The story doesn't have anything flashy, but it works.

TL;DR:
The one problem I have with the book is that there is so much unexplored. The book is well contained within a fascinating world that I would love to see more of.
9/10

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dead Endia


Image result for deadendia

Dead Endia

Written by Hamish Steele

Published by Nobrow

Summary:
Our story stars Barney, who after leaving home finds a place to stay and work at an amusement park with the help of his friend Norma. Turns out the park is actually a gigantic portal to the many angelic and demonic realms, and after a particular incident with a demon lord and Barney's dog Pugsley, the three must keep the park moving as cosmic weirdness unfolds, and odd timeline shattering consequences loam forbiddingly.

Art:
The art is cartoony and colorful. Now, given the summary I gave, that may seem to clash, but in this case it works, lending a whimsical tone to the book as it weaves in the darker elements. The characters are great. They are all varied and expressive.

Characters:
The characters are great! Though I do feel like their mannerisms may feel dated in a few years, I can confirm they talk like young people. All of them are interesting and likable. I especially like Courtney, a devil who also works in the park. What can I say, I like goblin types.

Setting:
The setting is wacky and all over the place, but in a way where everything fits. There are very interesting ideas regarding the overall universe outside the Park. The zaniness can be off putting at times, especially at the start, but it lessens as the book goes on and you get a sense of place

Plot:
The plot gets dark. It's told in short vignettes with flashbacks, but gets more strung together as the chapters go on. It covers some dark topics like rejection, isolation, and fighting against the impossibilities of death. It does lack flow at certain times, with the story being as allover the place as the art.

TL;DR:
This is a really good book. The storytelling and setting may be too chaotic for some, but I loved it.
9/10

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Divided Earth


Image result for the divided earth nameless city cover

The Nameless City: The Divided Earth

By Faith Erin Hicks

Published by First Second

This is the third book in The Nameless City series (reviews Here and Here)

Summary:
The final book in the series, we return to the Nameless city and our main characters Kaidu and Rat. war is impending, and with new leaders in power, everything is unstable. Along with that, The secret of The Napatha, an ancient weapon of great destruction, has been found, and our heroes must infiltrate the palace in a last attempt to stop a war to end all wars.

Art:
The art is still great. The use of color is great, though some scenes look muted. The character design remains great. One thing I only now noticed is that some of the panels seem to go off the page, lacking borders. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it was odd.

Characters:
The characters are still really good. Kaidu and Rat still have lots of chemistry, and all the other characters are interesting. The villains are also good, but one seems a bit too irrationally evil. 

Setting:
The setting is the same. Not much is added here, though I didn't speak about it much in my previous reviews. It's good, contained to the one city. The factions are reasonable and logical, and over all it leaves a few mysteries to think about. 

Plot:
The plot is a fitting end to the series, rapping it up well. There are a few moments where the plot is moved forward by a character revealing previously unknown information.

TL;DR:
Now that this series is finished, I'd recommend all three of them.
8/10

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Moon-King


Image result for Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King cover

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King

By Alex Alice

Published By First Second

This is a Sequel to Castle in the Stars (review Here)

Summary:
Returning exactly where the last book left off, we return to our five heroes as their spaceship is flung into space. With the schemes of Bismarck planning their demise, the only hope is to find a way back, to make sure that all nations have the knowledge instead of just the Germans. 

Art: 
The art is still fantastic, with great perspective shots and beautiful vistas. The character designs are still great, save one. One thing that irked me was layout and panel structure. A few pages felt rather cluttered, with too many text boxes clouding the pictures.

Characters:
The characters are all the same, but aren't quite as engaging as last time. The chemistry is still there, but none of them really grow throughout the story. The exception to this is King Ludwig II, having gone from social recluse to mad ideologue. His arc is understandable, but it could have been more, instead being a more generic anti-war message.

Setting:
There has been a major setting shift, and now we're on the moon! It's the moon, but with breathable air and fossils. Not to spoil, but there are some cool things there. Space also makes an appearance, and it's cool.

Plot:
The plot is no longer one of political intrigue, but now is our characters trying to get home, and it doesn't compare. The problems of long explanations and a lot of telling instead of showing return. Overall, the plot is lacking compared to the first.

TL;DR:
This book's story doesn't stand up on its own. It works as a continuation of the series though. The fabulous art and good characters are back, so it's work a read if you liked the first book.
6/10

Friday, October 19, 2018

Home After Dark


Image result for home after dark cover

Home After Dark

By David Small

Published by Liveright

Summary:
Home after dark tells the story of Russel, a kid growing up in 50s/60s USA who moves with his father to California after a messy divorce. There, Russel has to deal with the toxic climate around him, the drunken stupor his father has fallen into, and the constant social pressure of the age. It gets pretty dark in places.

Art:
The art is monochromatic watercolor and pen. It uses simple, jagged lines and few highlights to show the scene. It works well, and also gives the world around the story along with the characters an edge of meanspiritedness that reinforces the characters. The characters are decent, but the art makes them all seem like bad people, which they are for the most part.

Characters:
The characters can be flat at times, but they serve the story well. There are a quite a few characters that are one note and boring, but there are some strong characters here, like Russel's friends. Russel himself isn't the best, but he doesn't do anything out of character.

Setting:
The setting is the suburbs, and the book really gives them that bleak hopelessness they always try to hide. there were a few interesting choices made, but mostly it was boring and bleak.

Plot:
The plot is pretty heavy at times. It deals with a lot of big issues for this time, especially homophobia. The story gets dark fast, with few of the characters getting a truly happy ending. It is not a fun book to read.

TL;DR:
This is a depressing book for sure. Over all, it's good, but not spectacular. I would recommend it if you need a good dose of heavy stuff.
7/10

Friday, October 5, 2018

World Without Darkness


Image result for the dam keeper book 2 cover

The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness

By Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Published by First Second

This is is a Sequel to The Dam Keeper (review Here)

Summary:
The second book in the Dam Keeper series, we pick up with our three main characters Pig, Hippo, and Fox, guided by the strange Lizard Van, as they try to make it home before the storm. As they traverse across the wasteland, it turns out it isn't as dead as it seems, and there are many small settlements across the land, and the smoke isn't what it seems either, hiding a dark secret.

Art:
The art's just as good as last time. the colors are great, often going for much darker color pallets, with a great variety too it. The character design and composition is still great too.

Characters:
We get to see some growth here as the characters spend time with each other. They all have great chemistry, and the many side-characters are varied and well designed. The main trio has gotten closer, and it's nice to see them all getting along.

Setting:
The setting is vastly expanded in this book, giving glimpses of the world at large, and a few hints about the lore of the world. It's exiting to see all the different places around the wasteland, and I wish a little more time was spent with each of them. 

Plot:
The plot is good, but not the focal point. For the first half of the book it's more of a road trip story, cutting out the travel and showing us a bunch of cool and interesting places, then rushing off to the next one. The second half of the book heats up the story by focusing on one place, and that was great. I would have loved for the story to slow down a bit and spend more time in each place.

TL;DR:
This is overshadowed by it's predecessor. It's great, but it would be hard to live up to the first book.
8/10

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Lost Path


Image result for the lost path graphic novel

The Lost Path

By Amelie Flechais

Published by Lion's Forge

Summary:
During a treasure hunt at summer camp, our three main characters decide to take a shortcut through the woods to get ahead. Unfortunately this doesn't go as planned, and they end up in the cursed forest, where none may leave and all sorts of magical stuff happens. They must try and get out, while pursued by forces much greater then themselves.

Art:
The art is spectacular. It switches between two main styles: mixed medium colored sections that really get the awe of the place across, and black and white ink drawings rich with detail. The two styles really add to the overall dreamlike qualities of the narrative, and help the reader empathize with our main characters.

Characters:
The characters are bland and boring, save the one who thinks he's a robot. It doesn't really play into the story much, more serving as a brief section of comic relief. The characters don't really have agency in the story, instead merely wandering from one spectacular sight to another. Over all they aren't as fleshed out as they could be.

Setting:
The setting is interesting and varied, but underdeveloped. The cursed forest is beautiful and interesting, but we are only seen a very small snapshot of it. It mainly works on fairy-tale/dream logic, where anything goes. I would love to see more adventures in the forest.

Plot:
The plot's kinda bad. It's a railroad of interesting moments strung together by "the characters walk through the woods. You could cut it up and rearrange the pieces and the story would be the same. I would have liked more of a through-line with the characters making interesting decisions, but unfortunately it was just them walking through the woods.

TL;DR:
The book has a bland story and bland characters, but the setting and world make up for it. If you want something pretty for your eyes, this book will do you good.
6/10