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365 Graphic Novels

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Rising Stars
Rising Stars
by J. Michael Straczynski
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Rising Stars (Hardcover)
As this contains all of the original series and the spinoffs it’s hard to imagine why it is marked as Volume One. Everything you need for the whole of Rising Stars is contained in this massive doorstop including a comprehensive cover gallery.

This is the softback version so your spine will end up cracking no matter how careful you are. Even the cover is no thicker than a normal TPB. If you are a collector go for the hardback. If you want a cheap and easy way to experience this series then this is all you need.

Thumbs Up!


Rising Stars Volume 5: Untouchable/Visitations: Untouchable/Visitations v. 5 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
Rising Stars Volume 5: Untouchable/Visitations: Untouchable/Visitations v. 5 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
by Fiona Avery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
This is a competent little tale that fleshes out the backstory of one of the named characters from the original story. It doesn’t add anything to the Rising Stars mythos and you won’t be missing anything if you don’t read it.

The art has the same high gloss ethos as the original series and eschews anything too dynamic or innovative. There is a lot of narration and talking heads but you are used to that by now.

Thumbs Up!


Rising Stars Volume 4: v. 4 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
Rising Stars Volume 4: v. 4 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
by Fiona Avery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up., 17 Mar. 2016
Rather than attempt the disastrous task of continuing the story past its definitive ending this volume presents two spin-offs that focus on individual characters. We have three issues about Matthew Bright's days as a cop and Lionel Zerb’s communication with the dead.

These have been written intelligently and with reverence for the original source material and timeline but don’t compare to the epic story Straczynski was telling. There are some interesting techniques used but the Zerb story wanders all over the place as if being written as it was published.

The art and colouring is excellent. It is vibrant and detailed and even the lettering gets the odd flourish.

If you can’t get enough of the Specials then check it out otherwise you won’t miss anything vital.

Thumbs Up.


Rising Stars Vol. 3: Fire & Ash
Rising Stars Vol. 3: Fire & Ash
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Farewell and Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
This is the last volume in the series and it does not disappoint. There is plenty of story left to tell and while the ending might not be as dark and gritty as you would like it does certainly maintain the spirt that has pervaded this work.

It begins with an excellent recap for those who put down the last volume some time ago. With less characters now everything seems more focussed. This story has aged and matured and this is the wisest book looking to impart a lesson and maybe some optimism we can all take away.

The art feels just as good and thematic as it always has done. There are a lot of night scenes and plenty of good contrast.

Farewell and Thumbs Up!


Rising Stars Volume 3: Fire And Ash: Fire and Ash v. 3 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
Rising Stars Volume 3: Fire And Ash: Fire and Ash v. 3 (Rising Stars (Image Comics))
by J. Michael Straczynski
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Farewell and Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
This is the last volume in the series and it does not disappoint. There is plenty of story left to tell and while the ending might not be as dark and gritty as you would like it does certainly maintain the spirt that has pervaded this work.

It begins with an excellent recap for those who put down the last volume some time ago. With less characters now everything seems more focussed. This story has aged and matured and this is the wisest book looking to impart a lesson and maybe some optimism we can all take away.

The art feels just as good and thematic as it always has done. There are a lot of night scenes and plenty of good contrast.

Farewell and Thumbs Up!


Rising Stars Vol. 2: Power
Rising Stars Vol. 2: Power
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Double Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
Now the world-building is done and the Specials are no longer kids this really ratchets up a gear. Several gears in fact as politics and humanism enter the agenda. Through a series of twists the action hots up and takes off in a new direction.

Just like the first book this volume has everything dotted and crossed. Things you didn’t realise were being set up in the previous act neatly pop up and dovetail into place. This is a masterpiece of plotting and everything neatly follows on without any jarring deus ex machina. More importantly these are human beings, fallible ones, who don’t always make the right or the expected decisions.

The art is great. Despite the series having several artist changes everything looks consistent and well-polished.

For the big ideas this deserves a Double Thumbs Up!


Rising Stars Vol. 1: Born In Fire
Rising Stars Vol. 1: Born In Fire
Price: £7.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 17 Mar. 2016
This collects the first eight issues of the 24 issue series Rising Stars. Normal people get superpowers then it all goes horribly wrong.

It is a dense read both in wordcount and ideas. Having up to 113 protagonists is a hell of an ensemble and following them though their childhood and adult life is a tall order. Straczynski does pull it off by being extremely good at his job. The amount of foreshadowing and flashbacks can drive you crazy in the beginning but once he has hooked you and got you up to speed with what you need to know the ride becomes smoother.

This type of story is something Straczynski has told before in Supreme Power and The Twelve but this time these are his own characters and they are people before they are heroes. It does start off as a whodunit and feels uncomfortably familiar but the twist in the middle takes it in a new direction. You can see this as the blueprint for TV shows like Heroes and the 4400 or even the first season of Smallville as each character has a random power.

The art is strong stuff and you can see Straczynski’s TV background in the composition and cutting between panels. That said he isn’t afraid to drop the pictures and resort to prose having a character’s diary deliver a couple of pages of exposition. This is another indication of the volume of ideas he wants to convey.

The length works well and we reach a dramatic yet satisfying place to end this first book.

Thumbs Up!


Dead inside Do not enter
Dead inside Do not enter
by Chronicle Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Think of World War Z done as Post-It notes., 17 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This isn’t a graphic novel no matter how thinly you stretch the definition. It isn’t telling a narrative story but it is painting a picture and building a world through pictures – pictures of text. Think of World War Z done as Post-It notes.

It’s a ‘found footage’ zombie book. I guess that would be ‘found writings.’ The premise is that this is a collection of scribblings found by the survivor of a zombie apocalypse who has gathered them up through the outbreak. Most are single notes but sometimes you can spot more than one from the same character.

It is more of a tone poem and an exercise in atmosphere building, or depression generating. Things are quite bleak and there isn’t a defined structure or resolution, happy or otherwise.

It’s a great idea particularly as this was a collaborative effort from lots of different participants. Effort has gone into making each piece of paper, from lined stationary to the back of a flyer, different and realistic.

But if you look too closely things unravel. Many of the articles written are actual thoughts that would probably enter people’s minds but they would never write them down. You might discuss these feelings in conversation but why would you put them in a note, presumably to yourself. Most are hand written but you can tell some are a computer generated font pretending to be handwriting. There is also a text message exchange. Who got hold of both parts of this conversation and why did they print them out individually?

It is a wonderful idea. It is a fine piece of collaborative art and storytelling but just not that entertaining. There is an artificial timeline, presumably that each writer used for their contribution.

Thumbs Up for the idea.


Empowered Volume 9
Empowered Volume 9
by Adam Warren
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Still a Thumbs Up!, 16 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Empowered Volume 9 (Paperback)
This is certainly an unpredictable book with definite highs and lows. It starts off with what you think is a great recap. Which after 70 pages you realise is the comic book equivalent of a clip show. But the story does kick off, and make sense and progress.

Emp reveals some new powers which have a great payoff. But then there is the lurid spanking fanfic part. Which is supposed to be ironic so that is all right. Right?

Thankfully the dire verbiage of the intergalactic conqueror only lasts a page. But for some reason every other character that turns up has an atrocious word-mangling dialect.

There is a lot of author politics (as in party politics) on display which is unusual for an Empowered title. Plus a grumble at the state of the comics industry and the internet. And the whole thing could be an allegory for the debate on Civil Rights verses Government Responsibility.

The art has settled down. The black pages are terrible fingerprint magnets. But there are finer lines and more subtle shading returning to displace the nasty black outlines of previous volumes. There is a Parental Advisory sticker on the front. You wonder why it is there until you get to the scenes where you don’t.

Is the book cleverer than you worry it is? Is it actually empowering or is it just cheesecake of the bad kind. Or is Warren dangerous enough to court both camps. You decide.

Still a Thumbs Up!


[ Womanthology: Heroic Kesel, Barbara ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2012
[ Womanthology: Heroic Kesel, Barbara ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 16 Mar. 2016
It’s an anthology written by and drawn by women that started as a Kickstarter. Is it all gimmick? Well it might be some gimmick but it is certainly more than that. As an anthology it is going to be hit and miss particularly as it is a blend of experienced and novice creators. It favours very short stories some of which don’t seem to articulate much narrative. The focus is very much on quantity.

The format is full colour oversize hardcover so it shows off its content very well and makes a great coffee table book. There are creator bios, pro tips and a stick figure strip running along the bottom of the pages too.

What it lacks in coherency it inherently makes up for in diversity. Every kind of art and storytelling is on show here. If you have any interest in either of those two this is a wonderful resource and a wealth of ideas and perspectives. That’s not all. There is an extensive section of interviews with well-known female creators and a comprehensive guide to how comics are made and even how to draw. This coupled with lots of industry tips and a history lesson about women in illustration makes it invaluable reading for anyone looking to break into comics in any role.

Thumbs Up!


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