This month I have been working on mixing up my reading patterns a little. I found that for a while every book I read followed a certain arc and was always just a little, or a lot, sad. With that in mind, I remembered that I had been collecting some graphic novels over the months that I had not had a chance to read. So, one Saturday I sat down and read two of them.... and guess what! You need to read them too!
I have to admit that I bought this because of Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you have not read his works of non-fiction : stop what you are doing right now and go out and read. Then come back and finish this review.
This group of comics focus on the character of Black Panther who was one of the Avengers. His story really started as the king of an fictionalized African nation called Wakanda. His country has been made rich because of its production of a unique mineral that everyone wants. That is a basic back story that is about all of you need to know in order to enjoy this.
This story starts with the fact that Wakanda is in civil unrest. The people are unhappy with their ruler and have started to revolt. In trying to deal with the uprising, the Black Panther has had to make some very tough decision, that have lead to the death of a number of civilians. This only feeds more into the civil unrest. He tries to get advice from others. The comic gives you a number of different perspectives and the reason that the country has wound up in the situation that it is in.It also does a great job of giving you enough history of the country as well.
I will admit that I was a little confused at first, because I did not know all of the characters or the back history. But I just had to give it time. They do a good job of getting you up to speed quickly. Ta-Nehisi Coates ads a sense of political urgency that I have not seen in many comics that I have read in the past. I was on the edge of my seat regarding what would happen next. The story moves along and keeps you interested with vivid pictures. The art is amazing, If an action scene, you are right there inside it. If you are focusing on a face you can see the pain or decision that are being made. It is so very good. I don't usually recommend superhero comics to many people but trust me this one is worth it!
The second graphic novel I read was Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. This is so very different than Black Panther. This is a fun, science fiction story set in the late 1980's. The story focuses on 4 paper girls who get wrapped up in a time traveling intergalactic fight between two groups. I have heard this compared a lot to Stranger Things from Netflix, and it is a very apt comparison.
I do want to say that there was one thing that made me uncomfortable in this story. Right off the start of there is a situation where three of the girls saved another from some guys. It is here that a gay slur is used, and it was a struggle for me to get past it to be honest. I think that I understood what the author was trying to do - but it did disappointment me a little that this slur was used in that manner. It did not stop me from enjoying the story or the art. But I think about it every time that I think about the novel.
The fun thing here is that this story is more about the adventure. The girls find a space ship that can time travel. The meet two boys that are disfigured and from the future that convince the girls to help them. But we don't really know if these are good guys, or are the the enemy. They are clearly being hunted by another group. There is a lot of suspense as more and more information is given to you. And the cliff hanger at the end! Oh my - I went and bought the 2nd volume immediately.
The art style on this one is different. All the color and drawing has a sense of nostalgia to it. It was set in the 1980s and the drawing style really added to this. I also thought that the drawings of the items from the future are creative and uniquely drawn. I feel that this was a very good introduction to graphic novels. If you have not read them or if you are wary this is a fun, exciting adventure. I highly recommend it.
4 Books Each