Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing – Amanda Conner et. al. I’m a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it was fun, on the other I’m not a fan of the new origin story which completely robs Harley of the agency that made her character so intriguing in the first place. As a Marvel fan, it also felt a bit too similar to Deadpool, especially when it was breaking the fourth wall.
Garbage Night – Jen Lee. In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of young animals fend for themselves, sharing tales of ‘garbage night’, a night when food was plentiful. The minimalist story does this book no favours, making it hard to ignore the fact that although at least one of the characters used to be a pet, all the animals are now walking around on two legs, wearing human clothes.
All-New Wolverine, Volume 1: The Four Sisters – Tom Taylor, David Lopez & David Navarrot. I’ve never been a fan of X-23 (I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine, for that matter), so I wasn’t expecting much from this. So colour me shocked that it was actually really well done. When a shady group tries to weaponise clones of X-23, she’s not overly impressed. But we’re not dealing with the X-23 we were introduced to all those years ago, we’re dealing with an X-23 who has felt love and loss, and learnt restraint. Her personal growth is given plenty of room to develop, and The Four Sisters manages to be both action packed and quietly beautiful.
The Midnight Library – Kazuno Kohara. An adorable look at a girl who works in a library that only opens at night. I can’t fault the illustrations which are charming, but, to be completely cynical about it, The Midnight Library presents a completely unrealistic view of a modern library. Yes, I know it’s a nursery book but libraries aren’t that well funded, okay? Even fantasy libraries staffed by children and owls!
Aquaman, Volume 2: Black Manta Rising – Dan Abnett et. al. Aquaman just wants Atlantis and the good ol’ US of A to be pals, but Black Manta is super not into it for REASONS. So, obviously, he takes over N.E.M.O. (a sooper sekkrit club bent on total domination of the world) and fakes an Atlantean attack on the US to start a war. Oh noes! Oh, and there are some mystical prophecies that makes Mera totes sad. Now, if that sounds like your cup of tea, good for you, but it’s a hard, hard pass from me. Except for the inclusion of a character with a stutter, because that’s actually pretty cool.
Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies – Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp & Laura Martin. I love Greg Rucka’s work, so I had super high hopes for this volume. As the characters reset yet again (seriously DC, stop), Diana remember multiple versions of her own origin story (a clever nod to all the Wonder Women who have come before) and fears that things are not what they seem. She figures out that she’s been somehow manipulated, but by who? The Lies does an admirable job of picking up a lot of sub-par Wonder Woman lore and stitching it together into something unsettling, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next.
American Vampire, Volume 8 – Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque & Dave McCaig. It’s been a while since I read volume 7 so this was tricky to get into for me. It’s also the midpoint of the story arc, which was frustrating as I don’t have volume 9. But, VAMPIRES IN SPAAAACCCCCEEEEEE!!!!! Two thumbs up!
Deadpool, World’s Greatest, Volume 6: Patience Zero – Gerry Duggan et. al. I’m so glad that this volume seems to have moved past the Mercs for Hire and Shiklah, two storylines I never really cared about. Without the Mercs and Shiklah bumming us out, we’re back to Deadpool and Preston, a team I never grow tired of with bonus Stryfe, of all people. Dun dun duuuunnn!!! (I liked it, just in case that wasn’t clear.)
Catwoman, Volume 6: Final Jeopardy – Will Pfeifer, David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez & Jeromy Cox. There’s a new bad guy in town and he’s set on taking Selina’s place as the top thief in Gotham. As he systematically takes her life apart, Selina finds herself facing some impossible storylines. Now, as stories go, that one has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, everything seems really perfunctorily handled. Selina’s protege is framed for murder and goes on the run. And that’s the last we see of her. Selina’s nanny gets beaten up and ends up in hospital. And that’s the last we see of her. Selina gives her baby away and then ends up on a prison planet four thousand light years from Earth. Wait… what? She somehow gets back to Gotham (there’s literally no explanation of how given in this volume so I can only assume it happened in another title), and then they bring back Black Mask which is so lazy, I can’t even think too hard about it without my head feeling like it’s going to explode.
Tuff Ladies: 24 Remarkable Women of the History – Till Lukat. Like many books, this was one I really wanted to love but sadly, it was too flawed. Featuring 24 illustrated ‘biographies’ of noteworthy women, Tuff Ladies is strongest when dealing with lesser-known women such as Miep Gies, who sheltered Anne Frank and her family. But there seems to be no organisation in the presentation of those included, so it bounces from Harriet Tubman to Malala Yousafzai to Beate Uhse to Princess Diana. Most of the time it seems to be pitched at a young audience, especially with the inclusion of a glossary of words readers might not have come across before, but an entry about Linda Lovelace makes it clear that the book is aimed at adults. Add in some spelling and grammar mistakes and I feel more disappointed in Tuff Ladies than not.
Night Shift – Debi Gliori. A stunningly beautiful book that helps explain depression to children. Instead of a black dog, Gliori uses a dragon as a stand-in for depression and chronicles the way darkness can overtake a person using lavish illustrations and minimal text. Utterly recommended.
Journey, Quest and Return – Aaron Becker. Told entirely without words, the books of the Journey Trilogy tell the story of a girl whose family are too busy to spend time with her. Using a crayon, she creates a doorway to another world where she has gorgeous, epic adventures, makes a friend, and saves a king. But what will happen when there is a threat to her imagination itself? Wonderful.