Saturday, February 08, 2014

Comic Book February - Week 1

The Runaways - Volume 2: Teenage Wasteland by Brian K. Vaughan and

Completed: February 1, 2014
Length: 144 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Still on the run from their super-villain parents, this motley crew of super-powered kids finds a kindred spirit in a daring young stranger and welcomes him into their fold. But will this dashing young man help the teenagers defeat their villainous parents...or tear them apart? One troubled member finds out, as she leaves the group's hideout with their new recruit, who reveals his startling secret, putting the entire team in jeopardy Plus: Who do you send to catch a group of missing, runaway teenage super heroes? Marvel's original teen runaway crimefighters, Cloak and Dagger, making their first major appearance in years.
I don't think I ever reviewed Volume 1 of this series, which I read back in 2013, so maybe I should start there. I am reading this series because I really like Brian K. Vaughan. The illustrator, Adrian Alphona, is also Canadian. So, I bought Volume 1 and was all excited to see what was in store for me. I am not sure I like it. I think a lot of it is that I find the characters just too young for my current frame of mind. I am tired about teenage drama. I know this is different teenage drama, but I wasn't able to see it that way. I thought it might be just a mood thing, so I determined I was going to read Volume 2 to make sure.

Fast-forward to February of this year when I finally decided to retry the series. If anything, there was way more drama and I just find it isn't working for me. It could also be that I don't read a lot of 'superhero' comics. I don't know. I just know that compared to everything else I have read by Vaughan, this is my least favourite. The art is good, though. I had the mass-market size for the first book and the hardcover for the second. Alphonsa has a great style that I wouldn't mind seeing more of, but I just don't know if it will be this series. If my library had it I would happily read the rest just to complete the series, but I don't want to buy a series I only kind of like.

This book was just okay.

Saga - Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Completed: February 3, 2014
Length: 160 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make."
This was a reread, actually. I originally read the comic on December 7, 2012. I bought Volume 2 right away when it came out; but then I seemed to not read any graphic novels at all the second half of 2013. I was determined to get back to the series this year because Volume 3 will be out in April. See, this is why The Runaways is just okay. Saga is an example of Vaughan at the top of his game. I enjoyed this comic just as much the second time as I did the first. (Not surprisingly, I do not have a review to prove that...) Basically, this is the story of a man and a woman who meet and unexpectedly fall in love. They are supposed to be enemies, but the man has been arrested and the woman is his jail-keeper. They wind up coming together over a book and when the fate of the man is dire, they wind up as a couple on the run.

The story is told by Hazel, the daughter that Marko and Alana wind up having together. She is born at the very beginning of this comic and gets caught up in her parents escape. She even gets a baby-sitter in an expected way after she saves her parents and comes along on their adventures. Isabel is a spirit who often plays the comic relief in the story. After getting away from the people that are following them, they find themselves on a space ship that looks like a tree. Maybe that is why we haven't gone beyond the moon? We don't make space ships out of wood...

I love this series, folks! If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend this volume!

Saga - Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Completed: February 3, 2014
Length: 144 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The smash-hit ongoing epic continues! Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents!
I can't believe it took me this long to read this book... What is wrong with me?? Volume 1 ended on a cliffhanger and everything. I should have been devouring Volume 2 as soon as it arrived. I know that I can't wait to see how the cliffhanger in this volume plays out... I just have to wait until April for that! I was so happy that I once again loved this comic. (I am going to need something for when Fables ends next year... I hope they plan to keep going for a while!) In this Volume Marko, Alana, Isabel, and Hazel are still in their wooden space ship. They are headed to the planet where the author of the book that brought them together lives. Things don't go completely as planned, though. Marko inadvertently summons his parents and interesting things happen...

One thing I really like about this series is that while it is written by a man... It plays with gender roles. Marko is the nurturing part of the relationship and Alana is the kick-ass part. Both of them are capable of taking care of themselves, but this is played up more when it comes to Hazel. Then Marko's parents show up and you see it again, so obviously an intentional thing. It is not the case with all the 'species' in the book, but Marko's father sews and takes care of Hazel. Marko's mother banishes Isabel and then heads out to save her when Marko does. I look forward to seeing that investigated more.

I should point out this is a very 'adult' series. If you want to try Vaughan for a younger audience, I would go with Runaways. There is violence and nudity throughout both volumes. But, they are just so good! Also, the art is fantastic. I have heard good things about Fiona Staples and look forward to more from her!

Strongly recommended!

Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1) by Gene Luen Yang

Completion Date: February 5, 2014
Length: 325 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.
Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."
Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.
Yep. Another reread. Another situation where I read book 1 and then never read book 2. And, another book I never reviewed when I read it in June of last year. Frankly, as much as I love graphic novels... I hate reviewing them... Standalones are okay, but I find series impossible because I hate spoiling stuff. Apparently 2013 was just not the year of the graphic novel for me. I did really bad with keeping up on things. This year is about fixing that! Gene Luen Yung has quickly become one of my favourite graphic novel authors. I originally read him in 2009 and have made a point to pay attention to his releases ever since. When I first heard of this duology I knew I was going to have to grab a copy.

I really enjoy a book that makes you want to read more books. That is what was the result of Boxers. I don't know very much about this period in history. Yung's book was a nice introduction, but I really want to explore the topic more in the future. I appreciate that Yung has done this because other people I know also have mentioned wanting to know more. This comic follows Little Bao. Circumstances come together to make Bao grow up very quickly and lead a rebellion against the 'devils' of China. They have moved in and taken over. There has been much death since. There has also been loss of ways with the influx of 'white' believes pushing out the older Chinese customs. It is time for the Chinese to take action and they do in a very spiritual way. (I want to say it is like Magic Realism... I know it isn't really, but from our modern standpoint it is close to it.)

Little Bao is an interesting character. You get to see him grow throughout the book. He doesn't always make the right decisions, but he does what he thinks is in the best interest of China. It made for a very interesting story that I enjoyed just as much the second time as the first.

Strongly Recommended!

Saints (Boxers & Saints #2) by Gene Luen Yang

Completed: February 5, 2014
Length: 170 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity.
But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie...and whether she is willing to die for her faith.
I wish I had read this last year. I really liked this book! What Yang essentially does with this story is go back to the beginning with a character that will appear a couple times in Boxers. We see her difficult up-bringing and how she winds up turning to Christianity. Her grandfather would not give her a name; so she grew up being called Four-Girl until she is baptised and can rename herself to Vibiana. This is her story and I really liked the female-viewpoint. There is a female character that prominently appears in Boxers, but the story is only told from Bao's point of view. So, in just 170 pages Yang talks about gender issues, growing up a girl in China, Christianity, and the Boxer Rebellions. It is about half the size of Boxers but just as powerful.

I felt really bad for Vibiana. Her goal in life was just to get her grandfather to love and accept her, but nothing she tries works out. This leads her on an entirely different path away from her family and up-bringing. It gives her a chance to be herself and break away. It is not always perfect, though. She really struggles with her identity and her decisions. But, it is worth reading. I would definitely read Boxers first, though. And don't be like me, read them both at the same time! They really flow well together and like all of Yang's work, they are worth checking out. Not to forget, but this book also ties in Joan of Arc!

Strongly recommended!


  1. I really liked Runaways, but read them a long time ago. I loved the rest of the books, but haven't picked up Saga 2 yet... :)

  2. I've got the 2nd Saga sat waiting to be read at some point during the month. Loved the first one.

  3. Of all of those, I'd probably enjoy Boxers and Saints the most.

  4. I agree with you on Saga. What a fantastic series! Vaughan and Staples make some amazing work together. I'm hoping to read Boxers and Saints real soon.

  5. I think I would like to try the Saga series and Boxers and Saints. I'm going to have to hit my library catalog to see if they have them. I'm kinda struggling on how to review books in series as well. It is never easy and sometimes I all that I want to say is "Read this series already!" Ha! Great reviews :)

  6. Love, love, love Saga! I think it is my new favorite!!

    I have not yet read Boxers and Saints. I need to add these to my list!

  7. I have a tough time reviewing graphic novels as well--not really sure why but I can never seem to convey just how awesome they are. I just wrote about Boxers and Saints this morning. I think you liked Saints better than I did. I loved the story of Bao and channeling the ancient gods. Though I did love seeing the alternate story!


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