Graphic Novel Review: Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra

Synopsis:

They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters–not your typical afterschool activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself–and the world–from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!

From Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors), this super-fun and heartfelt story of growing up and friendship–with plenty of magical-girl fighting action–delivers the most exciting new ensemble cast in comics!

First Thought:

I saw this the other day in a small local comic book store in Bethany Beach, Delaware. I like to support local businesses wherever I go and this one caught my eye. I always like a good magical girl story and this one caught my eye. So I decided to give it a try!

Overall Opinions:

I wasn’t very impressed. I’ve read and watched quite a few magical girl stories, it’s an interesting troupe that not everyone likes or can get right. Zodiac Starforce was just full of troupes from the genre and there wasn’t really anything new. Let’s check off the troupes, shall we?

The leader of the group has some sort of pink color pallet, either for her hair or outfit? Check. Leader is really nice and seen as flawless, or when MIA the team freaks out and thinks they’ll fail? Check. The thing that is different with Emma is that she is a woman of color, which was pretty cool. Also she obviously had some sort of PTSD thing going on in the story, but that was never really explored or touched on. She just was reluctant to get back into the swing of things with her friends and the whole Magical Girl Crusade, which you don’t see as often in the popular stories of the genre.

Next up, the girl with the pixie cut has reddish-brown hair and has water related powers? Check. Her outfit is arguably a blue or blueish-green? Check. She’s one of the smaller girls, height wise and has terrible luck with men? Check. Could she possibly be gay? Check. Savi was an okay character, but her boyfriend was used as a plot point and I didn’t feel like her romantic relationship with one of the other characters was really there. I thought it was cool that there was a gay relationship in the story, but it felt a little tacked on and I didn’t think it was handled correctly. Also, bonus, the modern planet for Pisces is Neptune, and in Sailor Moon Neptune was one of the lesbian sailor scouts.

Next! Can the one mostly red magical girl be seen as Asian or slightly so? Check. Does this character of long black hair? Check. This character really good at some sport and possibly had a falling out of some kind with the leader in the past? Check. Molly was one of my more favorite characters of the group just because she had some personality. Also, for whatever reason, she had the ability to open portals and banish the monsters which is normally an ability given to the leader, so that was something. Bonus: Aries’s ruling planet is Mars.

I think the one character that broke most of the troupes of the magical girl genre was Kim. She’s a punk-rock kind of chick that just wants to get the team back together and to keep her friends safe. Her relationship with her boyfriend is subtle at first and really adorable. She’s depicted as a butch woman but acts like a sweet dork. Kim is my favorite character because she was unique and straight forward.

Some of the other troupes include a group of clickish bullies who happen to be the villains in the end. Another was a magical girl gone rogue, trying to kill all other magical girls. A magical being is the one to give them their powers for no particular reason other than there are monsters about and an evil opposing force. Said magical being doesn’t really help them when needed and doesn’t play any real role in the story. Also magical girls are in high school, and started their careers at the beginning of high school.

Zodiac Starforce has a lot of troupes that aren’t used in a satirical or comedic way, which made the story seem unoriginal to me. For people who don’t read a lot of magical girl stories or only watched Sailor Moon as a kid would probably really enjoy seeing all these things and reading the story. Honestly, I think the story would have been better if it had started from the beginning and showed the building of their friendship and then the battle that put them into retirement. I spent so much time wanting to know what happened to Emma to make her feel so broken up about being a Magical Girl. You find out that she lost her mother, but how did she lose her mother? And why did the group break apart and not talk to each other until Emma was in trouble? There were so many questions that were left unanswered and the characters made so many references to things that I had no knowledge of. There was clearly a history between all the characters but it was never shown or talked about, which just weakened the overall story.

Ratings:

Art: 3

The artwork was okay. The character designs were pretty cool, especially Kim’s, but I wasn’t too impressed with their magical girl uniforms. I also wasn’t real impressed with the monster designs because they reminded me of the monsters in Steven Universe, they even had the gems that were related to corruption. The background wasn’t as developed and detailed as the main characters, even a lot of the unnamed or background characters were very nondescript and forgettable. Also there were details in the uniforms that didn’t stay consistent from panel to panel. The colors for this novel were various shades of pastel and red. Everything was either pastels or reds, which really overpowered some of the other colors. For instance, it took me a while to realize that Emma’s hair is blonde when she’s not transformed, but it was hard for me to tell because everything was so red or pink around her. Anyways, this wasn’t my favorite color scheme.

Story: 3

The story left something to be desired. First chapter you’re thrown right in two years after the girls gained their powers and saved the world. All you know is that they disbanded, people died, and they banished an evil goddess (Also where were the minions of that goddess then, hm???). Emma is very reluctant to get the team back together, possibly showing signs of PTSD, but not much is explained and you’re left wondering what exactly happened. You also start with some drama between some of the girls, but that is suddenly dropped and never touched upon again in chapter two. A lot of the story relied on coincidence to move the plot forward, which lead to unexplained entrances, characters, and events. The dialogue at times came off as too immature or Hollywood high school, so it didn’t sound natural coming from a group of girls that risked their lives to save the world and fought monsters on the daily. Most of the characters were extremely underdeveloped. The story was weak and was nothing to write home about.

Overall: 3

If you’re into Magical Girls and comics this might be a good read for you. It has strong leading women of color, an interracial gay couple, and a diverse line-up of characters. I’d be interested in reading the next volume, but I won’t go out of my way to buy it. I’ll read it if I happen to find it in a local comic book store.

Details:

Title:  Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4 (plus bonus material)

Publisher: Dark Horse Books

Writer(s): Kevin Panetta

Illustrator: Paulina Ganucheau

Colors: Paulina Ganucheau

Letters: Paulina Ganucheau

Released Date: March 9th, 2016

Pages: 136

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Girl

Graphic Novel Review: Giant Days vol.1

Synopsis:

Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of handwringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

First Thought:

I found Giant Days in a hole in the wall comic book store near Asheville North Carolina. I enjoy supporting small businesses and this brightly colored book grabbed my attention. So I decided to pick it up because it was about normal girls going to college, no superheroes or monsters, just the normal stressors of life and school. Some say it sounds boring, but I wanted to give it a try!

Overall Opinions:

It took me a little while to figure out that this story isn’t set in the US. I had a sneaking suspicion that this story took place somewhere in Europe, my leading guess being England, until it was confirmed by the mention of currency (£). Once I realized that the story was set in England, then the humor started to make more sense.

This story tries to explore the friendship between unlikely friends their freshman year of college by using humor. To a portion of Americans the humor in this story might go completely over their heads or they might not think it so funny if they’re unfamiliar with British comedy. As for myself, I thought the humor was very light hearted, nothing to cynical. However, there were some jokes that revolved around references that I wasn’t aware of and therefore didn’t understand the joke or what was going on. For the most part though, the humor was very light and fun to read. Nothing that busted my gut due to uncontrollable laughter, but good humor that made my day better.

I enjoyed exploring the friendship between Susan, Esther, and Daisy. These girls were an unlikely trio (a sheltered girl, a goth, and a tomboy) of loyal friends and their relationship was shown very well within the story. I would have preferred to see how they became friends, I think that would have been wonderful character development and background, but I understand that the story had to start somewhere more exciting first. There is a little background of the girls, but it’s so brief for Daisy and Esther that you don’t get much of their story. Instead, you get more into the background of Susan, and specifically her relationship with McGraw, which is full of tension.

Romanced is also explored in this volume. Esther is oblivious to the guy that likes her, they’re great friends but she doesn’t know his true feelings for her. I wanted to see more between Esther and Ed, he’s a cute dork of a guy and it would’ve been interesting to see where their friendship went. However, Ed plays a bit of a background role in this volume and helps to move the plot forward, but not toward Esther. The relationship that is more explored is between Daisy and Nadia. Daisy is a bit new to love, she doesn’t know what her preferences are and she’s never tried to figure it out until she meets her more adventurous new friend Nadia. The new girl is into partying and taking drugs to have a good time, nothing too hardcore (yet), and she takes Daisy on some of her adventures. Susan and Esther are cautious about Nadia, but they give Daisy advice when asked and they try to watch out for her. The relationship between Nadia and Daisy isn’t heavily explored, but I’m sure there will be more to them in a later volume.

Last thing, I really enjoyed how Giant Days portrays college. College is such a cluster of different personalities and youths trying to explore who they are. It’s also full of nasty people and terrible obstacles that no one should have to jump over anymore. Giant Days explores the insensitivity of some guys who use the internet for their own gain at the expense of others. It also shows how archaic some of the higher-ups are when it comes to sexual harassment and the internet, while illustrating more creative ways at getting revenge without breaking the law or making things worse. I also enjoyed how feminism can suddenly become a rabid beast and hurt those who actually want to stand behind and empower women. I’m all for feminism, but current feminism makes me sick and I see it attack the men in my life who have been my biggest supports (some even bigger supporters than the women in my life). In Giant Days a joke is taken too far and a real gentleman is attacked and hated because young girls target him under the name of feminism; he wasn’t even aware of the joke played on him and the girl who played it didn’t think it would get that out of hand. Anyways, I saw that little bit of the story as a way of showing that feminism, while a good thing, can be turned against those who don’t actually oppose it and want to support it instead.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art style reminds me of other stories by BOOM!, like Steven Universe and Lumberjanes. Overall, I really enjoyed the art but there were some things that just didn’t thrill me. For one, there were a lot of extra lines in various places. For whatever reason extra lines would appear below the characters’ eyes when they were surprised, embarrassed, angry, tired, sick, etc. I could understand the latter two, because it gave the characters a very badgered look that fit their mood. But what happened to showing a character blushing when they’re embarrassed? All the extra lines made the art look a little sloppy and rushed, drawing me out of the story at times. The background also wasn’t very consistent, sure the general idea stayed the same but the texturing changed from barely there to hyper detailed between single pictures. Other than that, I really enjoyed the character designs of main, secondary and background characters; it really reminded me of college and the wild people I see there. The colors were pretty good too, mostly bright but subdued colors that looked very natural.

Story: 4

The story was well written and the characters were interesting to follow. Allison did a good job of introducing the characters quickly. Within the first few pages you got a good feeling of who each of the girls were and their friendship. I would’ve liked to have had more background into each character and how the girls met and became friends, but this was a pretty good start as well! Some of the comedy either went over my head or just didn’t sound all that funny to me, but that’s something everyone will determine for themselves. Overall the story had a nice flow and made for a nice relaxing read after a rough day.

Overall: 4

I would highly recommend this story to anyone in college or entering college soon. There are some mature subjects mentioned in this story, but honestly it’s probably nothing an average American high school student wouldn’t know. But for those a little squeamish talking about sex and sexuality, this book might not be for you just yet. Honestly, I wish I was able to read this my first year of college!

Details:

Title: Giant Days

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Writer(s): John Allison

Illustrator: Lissa Treiman

Colors: Whiteny Cogar

Letters: Jim Campbell

Released Date: November 24th 2015

Pages: 128

Genre(s): Slice of Life, New Adult

Graphic Novel Review: Lady Mechanika vol 1

Synopsis:

Discover a beautifully illustrated steampunk world of airships, monsters, and one courageous but haunted heroine…

The tabloids dubbed her “Lady Mechanika,” the sole survivor of a mad scientist’s horrific experiments which left her with mechanical limbs. Having no memory of her captivity or her former life, Lady Mechanika eventually built a new life for herself as an adventurer and private investigator, using her unique abilities to solve cases the proper authorities couldn’t or wouldn’t handle. But she never stopped searching for the answers to her own past.

Set in a fictionalized steampunk Victorian England, a time when magic and superstition clashed with new scientific discoveries and inventions, Lady Mechanika chronicles a young woman’s obsessive search for her identity as she investigates other mysteries involving science and the supernatural.

This volume collects the entire first Lady Mechanika mini-series The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse, including its prequel chapter The Demon of Satan’s Alley, plus a complete cover art gallery.

First Thought:

I’ve been aiming to read this series for a while, but it was always hard to find any of the individual issues. Then I found the Free Comic Book Day issue and after reading it I was determined to read the entire series. That issue intrigued me enough to hunt down the first volume, hopefully the story ends as it started.

Ratings:

Art: 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork in this volume. I rather like the design of Lady Mechanika, she was elegant and attractive but she was normally portrayed in rather logical and conservative clothing. Based on some of the alternative covers and various artwork in the back of the volume, I was afraid that Lady Mechanika would end up in sexy and revealing costumes. However, her various outfits remained rather conservative and practical throughout the story. The other characters were rather interesting as well, their designs unique and easily distinguishable. My favorite character design-wise was Arliquinn, who was pretty much a pink Harliquinn ballerina. The various outfits for all the characters were well thought out and vary detailed, even down to the stitched patterns on corsets. The colors were well down as well. Most of the story was told in dark settings, but at times the light and dark colors contrasted very well. In fact, towards the end Arliquinn was used to add bright color to otherwise very darkly lit scenes.

Story: 3

This volume not only contained the first story but the prologue as well. The prologue was rather interesting as it introduces Lady Mechanika’s want to find her creator and her origin; it also serves to introduce one of the villains in the first story. I wish there was a little bit more to the prologue and that it served more of a purpose in the main story. The prologue only has a passing mention in the main story and Mechanika’s main mission, to find her creator, is mentioned within the main story near the beginning so the prologue really doesn’t serve a purpose but to introduce some of the villains.

The story of the first volume is pretty engaging. Lady Mechanika is trying to solve the mystery to a possible murder that may or may not have any connections to her past. It was interesting to read as she figured out the mystery, though I wish that there was more problem solving and more build up to the solving of the mystery. It felt like the plot advanced more because of conveniences than actual planning, I understand that graphic novels are a bit limited in time but that doesn’t excuse the fact the story was hindered by lack of proper development. There were also many scenes in which there was too much dialogue and it not only messed up with the flow but also cluttered up the panels.

Overall: 4

Volume 1 was very beautiful to look at and it has an interesting story, though I felt like it was held back by extremely long and wordy conversations between hero and villain. The art is very detailed and I spent a lot of time just looking at all of the various designs both scenic and character. If you enjoy steampunk and/or mysteries this story will be time well spent!

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika vol. 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse

Book: 1

Issue(s): 0-5

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer(s): Joe Bentez

Illustrator: Joe Bentez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Letters: Josh Reed

Released Date: November 18th 2015

Pages: 160

Genre(s): Steampunk, Mystery, Action

Graphic Novel Review: Ms. Marvel vol 1

Synopsis:

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

It’s history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (RUNAWAYS)! Collecting MS. MARVEL (2014) #1-5 and material from ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1.

First Thought:

My boyfriend has been reading this comic series for a while now and really enjoys it. At the time he started reading I had no interest in comics, but when he bought an action figure of the Kamala it peaked my interest. It wasn’t until after Marvel got thrown under the bus that I decided to read more of them, especially after I enjoyed reading the new Thor run!

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I really enjoyed this start to a new hero! I connected instantly with Kamala, more so than I have with a character in a long while. I related to her because of her relationship with her parents and how they treat her. In high school, my parents set hard expectations for me. They wanted me to get straight A’s and be better than what my brother had become, and at the same time they wanted me to be my own person and come up with my own ideas. However, whenever my ideas and thoughts didn’t agree with theirs that’s when they became disappointed in me and claimed I had changed or I wasn’t thinking clearly. So when I read the same thing happening to Kamala I instantly connected with her, especially when it was her mother who was giving her most of the grief and her father still showed her at least some support. And that’s what I like about Ms. Marvel and Kamala, there’s literally something for everyone to connect to the character with.

I really enjoyed seeing the steps that Kamala took to becoming Ms. Marvel. At first she tried emulating an established superhero because she didn’t feel like she could be a hero on her own. Then she starts to figure out that she could be a hero and you watch her try to figure out her new abilities and to control them. I loved the trial and error, and how Kamala actively works at improving herself.

Ratings:

Art: 4

I liked what Alphona did with the art. The characters weren’t super realistic, but they for the most part were well drawn and not overly sexual. In fact, all of the characters look either conservative or like normal high schoolers. Some of the bystanders and background characters look a little wonky, and by that I mean by that is they look a little too caricature-ish for me but not in a demeaning way. So occasionally I would be drawn out of the story but a background character because they stood out too much for no real reason. Herring did a wonderful job with the coloring though, I loved the bright softness to every page with no real hard shadows.

Story: 4

The story was pretty fun and entertaining. While there was some need for urgency at the end, overall the story was still pretty well balanced between comedy and action. The flow of the story was pretty smooth too, with a nice rising and falling action. I want to know how Kamala got her powers and what her strange encounter was in the first issue, but that reveal won’t be until later. Actually, with all that was going on with the story I didn’t spend much time wondering how it happened, I just wanted to see what was next.

Overall: 4

The story is pretty solid with an interesting mix of characters, relationships, and action. I can’t wait to see what the story holds and how the art will evolve!

Details:

Title: Ms. Marvel: No Normal

Book: 1

Issue(s): 1-5

Publisher: Marvel

Writer(s): Willow G. Wilson

Illustrator: Adrian Alphona

Colors: Ian Herring

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Released Date: October 30, 2014

Pages: 120

Genre(s): Super hero, Fantasy, Action

Graphic Novel Review: Thor: The Goddess of Thunder

Synopsis:

Who is the Goddess of Thunder?

The secrets of Original Sin have laid low one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. The God of Thunder is unworthy, and Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, a new hand will grasp the hammer–and a mysterious woman will take up the mantle of the mighty Thor! Her identity is secret to even Odin, but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants. Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: The Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer–it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor!

First Thought:

I’ve been a fan of the movies for a while and I have read a few Marvel comics so far. I’ve yet to be disappointed, but I had been a little leery about reading any of their more popular or bigger name comics. Until recently, I hadn’t felt like I was ‘ready’ enough to full appreciate the more popular Marvel comics, looking back that might’ve been a stupid outlook. Long story short, I got angry after reading about the most recent misunderstanding that has thrown the company under the bus and decided to read one of their most popular titles at the moment. I read a lot of good things about Thor: The Goddess of Thunder and I thought, why not give it a try!

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

Most of my experience with Thor comes from the movies, tv shows, and video games that he’s been in. I’ve read a few comics that feature him as a side character, but I have yet to read one with him as a main character. My knowledge of his character in the comics is limited, but I felt that this volume did a wonderful job of introducing this Thor, Odinson now, and the new Thor.

Thor, now Odinson in this line, had always appeared to be too overpowered for my liking. I enjoy his character in the things I’ve seen him in, but I always wondered what he would be without his power, without his hammer. The Goddess of Thunder introduces us to a broken, defeated Thor who can’t wield his magical hammer and who has to learn who he is without it. I rather enjoyed seeing that character development, seeing how attached he was to his hammer, how hard he would fight to prove himself worthy-to get it back, and ultimately give it up to someone else. I also enjoyed seeing him depicted as something other than an overpowered meat-head, true he’s still rather powerful but he’s more than that. You see recognition of past mistakes and transgressions, admitting that he was wrong or what he did wrong to those he hurt. Sure he still doesn’t quite get it sometimes, but he’s learning. You also get to see him adapt and welcome change, even defending it against powerful beings like his father, Odin.

I can see why some people might not like seeing a beloved hero lose his power and his name to another character. Why not call this Goddess of Thunder a feminine form of Thor or something else entirely? Why not give her a completely new hero identity and let Thor be Thor? Personally, I like this route. It allows a new character to try out the role that the original Thor held, and it allows Odinson the chance to be someone new, and maybe someone more like himself than the God of Thunder. I always enjoy seeing what happens when you mix a story up, so I’m interested to learn who Odinson will be without his hammer. So far I’m not disappointed in who he’s turning out to be or who this new lady Thor is!

The Goddess of Thunder doesn’t waste time in explaining who the new Thor is or how she came to wield the magical hammer, Mjolnir. Instead, it throws you straight into an action packed story with Ice Giants, an evil human company, and a powerful dark elf. Mayhem ensues as Thor tries to figure out her new abilities while saving Midgard from an army of Frost Giants. I enjoyed the little comments made by Thor as she figures out how to use the hammer. She has a fast learning curve, but she still experiences self-doubt as she fights Ice Giants and at times she wonders just who she is with and without the hammer.

Not a whole lot is shown about her personality, but I’m enjoying it so far. She’s strong and independent, but she’s not a shrew either. I’ve ranted about this before, but in the past a lot of strong independent women have been depicted with the same or equally unpleasant personalities. These strong women behave like the brutish military generals that are depicted all the time in media, which is also a horrible representation as well, and if they didn’t have these personalities then they weren’t considered ‘strong’. However, nowadays that characterization is becoming less and less popular and we’re getting strong female characters like the new Thor, who is strong but also full of self-doubt and compassion toward other characters. I also like that she considers herself a feminist, but isn’t some man-hating, bleeding, shouting feminist.

Ratings:

Art: 5

The art was fantastic! The character designs weren’t outrageous and seemed to really fit the characters well. I was pleased that Thor’s outfit wasn’t overly sexualized or revealing, her costume was conservative and practical, reminding me of the various Norse media that I’ve seen or read before. I would’ve been happier with a different chest plate, one that didn’t have actually breast cups, because I believe that it would be too uncomfortable and unpractical to have such cups. I also enjoyed the character designs for Odin and Freyja, they were ornate and powerful looking but still reasonable. Also, the various body types were great. Except for one character, and his was more comedic than anything, the body types were very realistic.

Story: 4

The story was pretty good, nothing amazing though. There was a lot of action and the story never really slows down much from start to finish. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of action, but it kept a lot of the questions from being answered. I understand keeping some questions for the next volume, but I felt there were too many. Some of the questions, I felt, could’ve been answered without breaking up the action and flow of the story too much. But I’m looking forward to reading the next volume of this story and discovering who this new Thor is!

Overall: 4.5

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this comic and I can’t wait to pick up the next volume!

Details:

Title: Thor: The Goddess of Thunder

Book: 1

Issue(s): 1-5

Publisher: Marvel

Creator(s): Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Writer(s): Jason Aaron

Illustrator: Russell Dauterman (1-4) and Jorge Molina (5)

Colors: Matthew Wilson (1-4) and Jorge Molina (5)

Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino

Released Date: April 15, 2015

Pages: 136

Genre(s): Super hero, Fantasy, Action

Comic Book Review: FCBD Lady Mechanika

Synopsis:

Introduce new readers to this steampunk bestseller, which has been remarkably successful with female readers as well as fans of the popular steampunk genre, with this FCBD special that includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I’ve seen Lady Mechanika floating around at the various comic book stores that I’ve been into and I’ve been interested in reading about her for a while. So when I saw this edition I decided to finally take the plunge and see if this dark, steampunk lady would suit my fancy!

Ratings:

Art: 4/5

I really liked the art. Everything was well drawn and detailed. You could see the detailing in her outfit real well, specifically on her vest. The patterns on the vest were faint so that it didn’t distract from the overall scene, but you could see it well enough to give her clothing a distinctive and authentic feel. The action scenes weren’t too congested with unnecessary lines, sounds, etc. that would draw you away from what was happening. Some of the facial expressions were a bit too dramatic but overall the people looked decently designed. My one complaint it that Lady Mechanika looks to have Barbie’s proportions. I understand how corsets work, they make the wait look thinner and the boobs stand out more, but her body just doesn’t look right. Overall the designs, detailing, and the colors are fantastic.

Story: 4/5

I really enjoyed the intro to the character, it was enough to a good glimpse at her personality and what drives but still leaves you wanting more. And boy do I want to read more about this dark, mysterious heroine! The other two previews to the later volumes were interesting, they were shorter than the excerpt from the prologue. I think I would have enjoyed the other two more if I knew more about the story and they were just too short. I’m really curious as to what happens in those volumes now, but I wish there was a little more to let me know what to expect. Either way, I’m interested in reading more from this series!

Overall: 4/5

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer: Joe Benitez

Art: Joe Benitez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Lettering: Josh Reed

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 28

Genre: Mystery, Science-fiction, Teen, Action, Steampunk

Comic Book Review: FCBD Colorful Monsters

Synopsis:

D+Q presents a giant sampler loaded with 64 pages of our most beloved comics for kids – delightful misadventures with Moomin and his family, strange and spectacular tales of Kitaro, and more hilarious antics from Anna & Froga. Enjoy a sneak peek into the rollicking sketchbook of cartoonist Elise Gravel, with colorful monsters, imaginary friends, and activity pages where readers can draw right alongside her!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I was interested in picking up some kid friendly comics and this one caught my eye!

Ratings:

Since there are four completely different stories I’m going to rate them separately. Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War will be represented by (K), If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel will be (EG), Anna & Frogga (A&F), and Moomin and the Brigands (M).

Art: 4/5 (M), 4/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): The artwork kind of reminded me of the Saturday comic stripes. It was simple but creative drawings with contrasting colors. The artwork wasn’t always consistent, but I enjoyed it well enough.

(EG): I really enjoyed the artwork for this. It reminded me of the things I used to doodle in notebooks or no the edges of notes/homework during school. The line work is simple and funny, and the colors are very bright. It was very nostalgic, like someone took pictures of a kid’s school doodles and decided to share them with the world.

(A&F): The art was very simple and colorful. Again something that reminded me of Saturday comics, especially with short stories! I actually don’t have much to say about the art. It was nice and well done, but nothing to write home about.

(K): The art in this story is the best. The characters are simply done with enough detailing to make them unique. The background is really well done, close up and far away. The trees, grass, even the structures look so real without distracting from the characters in the panels.

Story: 3/5 (M), 5/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): I know this is just an excerpt from the story, but the beginning didn’t make much sense to me, and the following scenes didn’t seem to fit together even though they’re from the same story. I found the story to be cute and funny but the actions of the characters and the progression of the story didn’t make much sense to me. I really enjoyed the ending of this one though, I think it was my favorite of this story.

(EG): This one doesn’t really have a story. It reads like someone’s journal and the doodles match the entry you read. I think this one would do very well for kids, or any adult needing to escape real life.

(A&F): This segment was made up of 3 different short stories, each cute and funny. The short stories didn’t have any correlation with each other, which was fine. The characters were odd but amusing, each different and well portrayed within their few pages.

(K): The story is simple with a good moral, don’t always trust those who ask for help. It’s normal for humans to try to help others, especially those who appear to be of poorer status. But looks can be deceiving, those who appear to be in need can make lots of money from those with big hearts, and this story serves as a lesson. I think this was my favorite!

Overall: 4/5

This was a pretty good sampler for the stories these excerpts came from.  Believe both kids and adults alike would appreciate these stories! Hopefully I’ll find more of these stories in the future.

Details:

Title: Colorful Monsters

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Writer: Anouk Ricard (A&F), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Elise Gravel (EG)

Art: Elise Gravel (EG), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Anouk Ricard (A&F)

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 62

Genre: Comedy, Humor, Children’s