Comic Book Review: Empress #1

Synopsis:

Imagine you’re married to the worst bad guy from your favorite sci-fi movie. An alien dictator feared throughout the universe, who will kill you if you leave — but you need to escape for the sake of your three children. All you have are your wits, your bodyguard, and three guns.

What I First Thought:

I found this comic one day when I went with my boyfriend and his family to their local comic book store. They had the first four issues and it looked interesting enough, so I grabbed it. I’m still new to comic books, I still haven’t quite figured out how to judge whether or not I’ll like it before buying it. This time I went with my gut, so hopefully that was enough!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

I loved Stuart Immonen’s art! Not going to lie, but at first I was a little leery about the heroine’s character design because from the cover it looked like she would be an unrealistic “space babe”. After seeing the artwork, time and again Emporia was portrayed with realistic body proportions that weren’t too over the top. I think what I liked most about the artwork is that it already appears pretty smooth, some of the past comics I’ve read were a little rough in the beginning. Every line has a purpose, the scenes aren’t cluttered with too much detail, there’s just enough to give the readers all the information they need. The action sequences weren’t overcrowded or overpowered, just enough explosions when needed.

Story: 4/5

This was a pretty good beginning to the series. I’m really intrigued with the setting of this story. The story is set 65 million years ago with dinosaurs, aliens, and space travel; to date I don’t think I’ve ever read a story (outside of watching those few episodes of Doctor Who) in which those three are combined. I’m excited to see where Millar will do with this setting. Already I’ve seen a T-Rex fighting in an arena and a ship having to avoid a flock (?) of pterodactyls, but will there be more to it and will the dinosaurs actually play some sort of role in the story.

This story had just enough information to keep me from getting lost, but still left me with questions. I would’ve liked for a little more background, but I think that’s more my speed. I’m still curious to see what happens next!

Overall: 4.5

Details:

Title: Empress

Issue: 1

Publisher: Icon

Writer: Mark Millar

Illustrator: Stuart Immonen

Colors: Ive Svorcina

Letters: Peter Doherty

Released Date: April 6, 2016

Pages: 32

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Graphic Novel Review: Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection (book 1)

Synopsis:

Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo take the reins of Fantastic Four and deliver some of the most daring and humorous adventures these heroes have ever seen! Giant bugs! Living equations! Johnny Storm, CEO! Exploding unstable molecules! The secret behind the Yancy Street Gang! And witness the antics between the Thing and the Human Torch heat up like never before! Prepare to laugh and cheer at once!

First Thought:

Recently, my boyfriend and I were playing Lego Marvel Super Hero ©. While playing, I told him that I didn’t really care for the Fantastic Four characters because I was unimpressed by them in their movies. He agreed that their movie were terrible representations of them and decided to lend me a couple of his favorite storylines for the characters. Opening myself to change, I decided to give this book a read to see what this family was really about!

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

My original impressions of the characters were wrong, at least within this storyline by Mark Waid. I haven’t read very much of Marvel, but I was really impressed with this story. It was all about family, focusing on the group as a whole and the relationships between various characters.

I enjoyed seeing Reed and Sue as parents. They aren’t the perfect parents, they mess up from time to time it was great to see that, it was real and heartfelt. I smiled seeing Reed interacting with his new daughter, it reminded me of my relationship with my own father. It was nice to see how the young boy of super heroes messes up, royally so, and learns from the experience.

I enjoyed the relationship between Sue and Johnny. She did everything she could to help him, to raise him, to make him into a better man, and Johnny was able to realize that. I loved seeing the arc of their relationship, and I can’t wait to see more from them!

Lastly, I really enjoyed seeing the interactions between each of the before mentioned characters and The Thing. He played a different role for each of his team members and it was nice. Before reading this, the thing (eh, get it? Okay, I’ll stop…) I remembered the most about his character was the childish relationship between him and Johnny and not much else. After reading this novel, I see him as a dear friend to each of the other members and that they actually care for him too.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art changed for the last two issues in this novel. Both art styles were nice to look at and didn’t make me cringe, but I really enjoyed the first art style more. Overall, I appreciated that the artists made the characters a bit cartoonier to fit the overall mood of the story. I also loved the colors in this story; everything was so bright and colorful!

Story: 4

I found the stories to be fun and light, but serious when need be and I believe Waid did a wonderful job balancing the moods. I enjoyed seeing the Fantastic Four not as super heroes first, but friends, family, adventures, and pioneers before anything else. I believe the first issue did a wonderful job of setting up Waid’s vision for this story and I can’t wait to read more!

Overall: 4

Details:

Title: Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection

Book: 1

Issue(s): 60-66

Publisher: Marvel

Creator(s): Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Writer(s): Mark Waid

Illustrator: Mike Wieringo & Mark Buckingham

Colors: Paul Mounts, Avalon Studios’ Mark Milla & John Kalisz with Malibu

Letters: Bill Oakley and Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne

Released Date: June 29th 2011

Pages: 208

Graphic Novel Review: The Courageous Princess vol. 1

Courageous Princess vol.1

Details:

Title: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms (The Courageous Princess #1)

Author:  Rod Espinosa

Publisher: Dark Horse Books

Release Date: Dark Horse Books

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Young Reader

Pages: 245 pages

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, a greedy dragon kidnapped a beloved princess . . . But if you think she just waited around for some charming prince to rescue her, then you’re in for a surprise!

 

Princess Mabelrose has enough brains and bravery to fend for herself! From a mighty dragon with an army of troll to a tyrant tiger king, Mabelrose meets each challenge with pluck and intelligence, winning the help and friendship of the many kindred spirits she encounters in her quest to find her wat home.

 

My First Thoughts:

So I found this book while I was at the beach over Christmas and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. After finals and packing up my dorm room, I really wasn’t in the mood for a book so I decided to go with a graphic novel! Out of my huge stack this one jumped out at me first.

 

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This is by far the cutest story that I have read in a long time! For a children’s book, this story really took me by surprise and held my interest until the very end. There were some parts of the story that seemed to be a bit rushed or sudden, like there could have been more development. However, since this is a children’s story, I understand that a child wouldn’t necessarily notice or care for more development, they would want to jump straight into the action. With that in mind, Espinosa does a wonderful job setting up his world and characters enough without boring the reader. He also does an excellent job pacing his story as well, making it the action fast enough to keep up with a child’s attention span, but dragging it out enough to fit older readers as well.

I really enjoyed the world and characters that Espinosa created. His idea of a world in which every fairytale occurred, but you follow the stories of the children and grandchildren of those characters, was fantastic! It wasn’t spelled out, it was a happy little discovery after quite a few name drops were made and little elbow jabs to the original stories. I was actually really thrilled when I discovered that these characters were related to the ones that I grew up reading about in their fairytales, and I always wondered what it would be like if they all lived in the same world…

Anyways, I absolutely loved the characters! Mabelrose and her parents stole my heart in the first few pages of the story. Their relationship was so loving and adorable that sometimes I couldn’t help my slight happy squealing! Princess Mabelrose really surprised me, and I guess it’s because she isn’t your typical princess. She’s a bit of an outcast when it comes to royalty, not super proper or wearing the latest up to date fashion, but her interests and curiosity were quite genuine and so were her attempts at making friends. Still, I was surprised by how much courage she had in the beginning of her ordeal, I surely thought that it would take a rather defining moment for her to develop the courage she had. Instead, she relied heavily on her faith (something else I haven’t seen in a while) and took matters into her own hands. It was her stubbornness and independence that really won me over, making me wish that I had her along with Princess Leia when I was growing up!

I also enjoyed some of the themes that I found in the graphic novel. There was bravery in the face of danger, but also other lessons buried in this Coming of Age story. One lesson that really surprised me was keeping faith in your darkest hour. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something like that in a story, especially nowadays. I found it charming though, because a specific faith was never mentioned and it was clear that there was more than one that the characters, and supporting characters, believed in. It was a nice change to read a story that used faith to help their characters, and not see conflict between the various faiths. It was wonderful to actually read true coexistence amongst faiths.

Final Thoughts:

I recommend this graphic novel to any parent looking for something to read to their younger children, or for children that want to get into comics. Sure, there’re no super heroes and it’s set in a fairytale world, but Mabelrose is a wonderful role model for young girls and boys. The princess is the embodiment of courage and faith, showing that even in the toughest times you can do something great if you’re brave enough to try. I also recommend it to anyone who loves fairytales and wants a light graphic novel read! Not every reader has to be a child.

I do have to say that if reading about a story that focuses heavily on faith makes you uncomfortable, then this might not be for you. While no specific faith is named, there are at least a few different ones running around and the main characters do pray a lot throughout the story. It’s something that you can’t really skip either, because it’s one of the larger themes of the story.

Rating(s):

 

Story: 4/5

For a book targeted for children the story is pretty solid. There were some parts that seemed a little rushed that could’ve used some extension, but children wouldn’t really notice that anyways. The characters each had their little quirks that really made them lovable and enjoyable to read, even the minor characters really stuck out to me.

I’ve seen some complaints about the amount of praying in the story. Honestly, for me, I actually enjoyed how much the main character prayed and relied on her faith to help her find strength. It was also nice to see more than one religion in the story and not one bashing the other, just a subtle example of coexistence.

Illustrations: 5/5

I really enjoyed the art; it brought me back to my childhood when I would read illustrated children’s stories with similar art. I loved how simple the style was. Everything was simplistic, and the artist used color to really make the characters stand out. I also loved how the story used colors and shades to set the mood as well, something that can be hard to do sometimes with a simplistic art style.

Overall: 4.5/5

All in all, this will definitely be one of the stories that I’ll read to my kids one day!

 

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars Princess Leia

Princess Leia

Details:

Title: Star Wars: Princess Leia

Volume: 1

Issue: 1-5

Publisher: Dan Buckley (MARVEL)

Writer(s): Mark Waid

Penciler(s): Terry Dodson

Inker(s): Rachel Dodson

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover Art: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

Released Date: November 3rd 2015

Pages: 120

Genre: Graphic Novel, Space Opera, Action

Synopsis:

When Princess Leia Organa was captured by the Empire, she never betrayed her convictions – even after the complete destruction of her home world, Alderaan. When her rescue came, Leia grabbed a blaster and joined the fight, escaping back to the Rebel Alliance and helping strike the biggest blow against the Empire – the destruction of the Death Star! But in the aftermath of that victory, the question remains…what is a princess without a world? As Leia comes to grips with her loss, a new mission leads her to the underground world of Sullust. The Empire is rounding up fugitive Alderaanians, and that doesn’t sit well with their Princess! But what can one woman do against the Galactic Empire? They’re about to find out! Join the galaxy’s toughest Princess on a quest to save her people and rebuild her life!

First Thought:

I first found this graphic novel discounted in the reading isle of Walmart. I always loved Leia as a kid, but I never thought that she had enough to do in the movies, like she was missing on some action herself. Sure she had great roles in the movies, but I never felt like her entire character was explored in the originals. So when I found this in Walmart I swept it into my basket, happy to fulfil the little girl dream of reading a Leia centered adventure.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

As a little girl, I started watching the originals before I saw the prequels, I even remember watching all three of them before going to see The Phantom Menace in the theaters when it was first released. I never knew a time in which I didn’t know Leia, she will always be my first beloved Princess, but as I got older and the more I saw the originals I felt like her character wasn’t explored enough. Sure, from the movies you get that she is a stronger, independent, and sassy young woman who has a soft spot for a certain scoundrel, but you never see how her people saw her and you never saw her grieve for the loss of her homeworld. In a way, this graphic novel, while short, sheds light on those two missing aspects of her character.

Honestly, I am still getting used to the pacing in comics because they’re a lot different than novels and manga. With that said, I thought the pacing of this graphic novel was perfect and it fit beautifully with the action. Would I have liked this graphic novel to be longer? Sure, I would love to read more about the adventures Leia has between the movies, with and outside of the Rebellion. However, this story per se doesn’t really need much more to it. This story was about Leia doing what she could for the survivors of Alderaan, keeping them safe from the Empire, as her way of grieving for the loss of her people, what she believed to be her greatest failure. This story is short, but it’s sweet and to the point as well. Anymore added to this adventure wouldn’t aid it in the long run.

There were some parts of the story that were a little slow, but for the most part it was a thrilling page turner. A lot of the story was driven by the developing relationship between Leia and Evaan. Leia’s actions in desperate times gains the respect and friendship of Evaan, and with Evaan’s help Leia shows her true colors as a leader and allows herself to see past her ‘failure’ to Alderaan. The story was simple, nothing super elaborate and gut wrenching, but enough to fill in some of the color missing from the image of Leia that I had since being a little girl.

The artwork for this graphic novel was amazing, some of my favorite so far! They were able to make Leia feminine but also badass and sympathetic. The coloring made my jaw drop, especially with the different species they featured and some of the hair coloring of the different people. The character designs were pretty amazing; I loved all the elaborate fashions, the different aliens and the cultures they tried to flesh out. I do have to say that the poses sometimes were a bit dramatic, but that didn’t really hinder the art, it sort of enhanced everything, almost reminding people that this is more of a space drama than an action adventure story.

Final Thoughts:

Still hungry for more Star Wars after the recent film? Always loved Leia and wanted to hear more stories about her adventures? Want to read something that is actually canon? Have a little girl, or boy, that you want to introduce to the world of comics? Or even a friend or family member who is insane about Star Wars? Then look no further, because this novel is for you! It certainly was for me!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

I absolutely loved the art! I loved how feminine they made their female characters and how they added some extra sense of power or strength to the women who weren’t completely feminine. The coloring was fantastic, especially with the blending and color choices. I loved looking at the different character designs and how they portrayed different species, you could really tell a person’s character through their design. Have I mentioned the various covers? Well, I wouldn’t mind having them as actual posters to hang on my walls!

Story: 4.5/5

However short the story was, they did a fantastic job showing the different characters’ personalities and how they changed over time, it was fascinating to see especially the change in body language and dialogue. I honestly don’t mind that this graphic novel was short. I would love to see more Leia adventures, and who knows, maybe they will. However, this story was stronger because of its length. It was only supposed to be a quick adventure for Leia to have after losing her world, allowing her to see past her failure. It also served to add more to the picture of Leia for current and former little girls who idolized her as a princess, and gave fans another adventure in the canon universe of Star Wars, finally explaining what happened to the survivors of Alderaan’s destruction.

Overall (or average): 5/5

“We are not our enemy. We are Alderaan. We answer rage with wisdom. We answer fear with imagination. We answer war with hope.”

Maybe we should think about taking a few notes ourselves?

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COMING SOON!

Graphic Novel Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes Vol 1Details:

Title: Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Creator(s): Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Writer(s): Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Illustrator: Brooke Allen

Colors: Maarta Laiho

Letters: Aubrey Aiese

Released Date: April 7, 2015

Genre: Middle Reader, Action, Adventure, Paranormal, Friendship, Mystery

Synopsis:

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

First Thought:

It was the cover that drew me in. It looked like a mash-up between Gravity Falls from Disney and Adventure Time from Cartoon Network, granted I like the former way more than the latter but I wanted to give this a try. I was also intrigued by a cast of girls of different ages and personalities appearing as best friends in a camp for girls.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

First, I have to say that I love the setup, treating each chapter as a chapter in the Lumberjane’s Field Manual. At the beginning of each chapter (issue) there’s a little excerpt from this field manual describing a badge that is either gained by the girls or used by the girls within that chapter. The idea is clever and it allows the reader to guess what is to come in the chapter.

Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley were an interesting group of individuals. Each girl had her own personality and was easy to distinguish from each other. Jo is the boyish mathematician and Ripley is the youngest, and silliest of the bunch. April is the girliest of the group, constantly updating her diary. Mal is the punk, while Molly is the tomboy.  The minor characters were also pretty cool, especially their camp counselor, Jenny, and the camp director, Rosie, who were wonderful in their brief appearances. The design of each character definitely aided to their personalities, and I enjoyed the unique detailing of each one.

Now, let’s talk art. Some people have complained that the art style was too messy for them. Honestly, I rather enjoyed the art style, yes, it was messy but I feel like it added to the story. During the most thrilling or dangerous moments the art was the messiest, adding to the adrenaline rush of the characters, like when an author constructs their sentences more loosely in a similar situation in their story. I will say that the art style didn’t necessarily match up to what was on cover, but that’s because the artist of the cover was different than the main artist of the actual story. Yes, that’s a little aggravating, but I have seen it done elsewhere too, no need to whine about it.

As for the story, at first glance it appears that each chapter is an unrelated adventure. However, if you look closely, you can see the beginnings of a plot start to come together, especially in the last two chapters. A few people have complained about there not being enough plot, which I can understand, but this volume leaves a lot of room for the writers to branch out. I’m sure that there will be backstory to read in later issues to come and more story heavy issues later. For a first volume, I believe that this was a fine attempt at trying to draw people in.

Final Thoughts:

As a whole, I really liked Beware the Kitten Holy. If you don’t mind the messy, simple art style or the loose storytelling that isn’t heavy on plot, then this story is for you. If you enjoy a group of diverse girls in personality and skills, then this story is for you, especially if you like independent, go-getting young girls. If not to any of these, then this story may not be one of your favorites or well-liked.

Ratings:

Art: 4

While not the best art I have seen in a while, I definitely like it. The style has a sort of professional child-like appearance that I believe makes the story seem more kid-friendly than serious.

Story: 3.5

The story is a little hard to see at first, especially if you are not used to reading comics. Each chapter acts not quite like standalone adventures, but from the outside they appear that way. Towards the end you can see some of the things from the earlier chapters come together, and if you look close enough you can find the loose beginnings of a plot come together that will probably be addressed more in the later issues.

Overall: 4

Technically, the average was 3.75 but I felt like rounding up because I really enjoyed this graphic novel and I would definitely recommended it to people. If you’re looking for a graphic novel to start your young daughter with then I think I’ve got the one for you!

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