Review: The Black Mage

Title: The Black Mage
Author: Daniel Barnes, D.J. Kirkland
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The School for Good and Evil meets Dread Nation in this subversive original graphic novel where race, history and magic collide. 

When St. Ivory Academy, a historically white wizarding school, opens its doors to its first-ever black student, everyone believes that the wizarding community is finally taking its first crucial steps toward inclusivity. Or is it? When Tom Token, the beneficiary of the school’s “Magical Minority Initiative,” begins uncovering weird clues and receiving creepy texts on his phone, he and his friend, Lindsay, stumble into a conspiracy that dates all the way back to the American Civil War, and could cost Tom his very soul.

Review:

Tom was the first black student admitted to the magical academy, St. Ivory. He discovers that there was another black student who went there before, which sends him on a search to find out what happened to her.

There was a lot of racism in this book. The school was completely run and attended by white students, and the teachers all wore white hoods like the Ku Klux Klan. That was really disturbing to see.

The racism in the story made me really uncomfortable. I understand that the story was meant to show how extreme racism is, but it was disturbing to see illustrated in this book. Even though it isn’t the intention of the book, I worry that this could normalize the racism, rather than point out how wrong it is.

I liked the idea for the plot, but I think it should have had less racism.

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu, Suzanne Walker

Have you read The Black Mage? What did you think of it?

Review: She-Hulk, Volume 2: Let Them Eat Cake

Title: She-Hulk, Volume 2: Let Them Eat Cake
Author: Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Julian Lopez, Pierfrancesco Gaston
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Marvel
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Let them eat cake! Jennifer Walters is only just getting used to her new Hulk alter ego when an internet-famous cooking show host transforms into a hideous monster – on camera! Now, Jen must come to terms with her own monstrous side in time to help. Can she find an antidote for the host before the drug that caused it hits the streets – and its horrific effects start to spread? Maybe with a little help from Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!

Review:

In this volume, Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk has to figure out what is causing a man to turn into a monster. He was given a drug that turned him into a giant green creature. The incident of him consuming the drug and changing was caught on his cooking vlog. She-Hulk investigates the problem through her job as a lawyer.

Most of the volume was about the man who turned into the creature. There wasn’t as much stuff for She-Hulk to do, with most of the story focusing on him. The story jumped around to many different settings every couple of pages so it was hard to focus on one plot.

I liked the final comic, which was a story about Jennifer going on a date. It didn’t work out too well for either of them, but it was entertaining because she kept interrupting the narrator of the comic.

I liked this graphic novel, but I hope the next volume has more about She-Hulk.

What to read next:

She-Hulk, Volume 3: Jen Walters Must Die by Mariko Tamaki

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read She-Hulk, Volume 2: Let Them Eat Cake? What did you think of it?

Review: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Title: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Author: Mariko Tamaki, Steven Pugh
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Ink
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Harleen is a tough, outspoken, rebellious kid who lives in a ramshackle apartment above a karaoke cabaret owned by a drag queen named MAMA. Ever since Harleen’s parents split, MAMA has been her only family. When the cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that’s taking over the neighborhood, Harleen gets mad.

When Harleen decides to turn her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: join Ivy, who’s campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join The Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is at once a tale of the classic Harley readers know and love, and a heartfelt story about the choices teenagers make and how they can define—or destroy—their lives. This is the first title in DC’s new line of original graphic novels for middle grade and young adult readers.

Review:

I love Harley Quinn, so I was really excited to see her as a kid in this graphic novel. Her mom goes to work at a cruise company, so Harley is sent to live with her grandmother. When she arrives at her grandmother’s apartment in Gotham City, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away. The man who owns the apartment let’s Harley stay in the apartment for a while. When the town is taken over by Kane Enterprises, Harley has to work with her friends to save their homes. She tries to pay back the vandals who destroy their homes, but she meets a vandal who goes by the pseudonym, The Joker.

This origin story was really different from the other ones I’ve read. In the traditional story, Harley was a psychologist at Arkam Asylum, where she met the Joker who corrupted her. However, this story still had elements of the original Harley. She became friends with a girl named Ivy at school, like Harley’s best friend Poison Ivy. She also lived above a drag queen club, like in the original Harley story.

There were a lot of important issues in this story too. Ivy fought to have films by women shown in the film club at school. Ivy also called out the principal for disrespecting her. Harley didn’t wear the skimpy costume that was left for her, and opted for something that was more covered up. I liked that these feminist issues were addressed in this graphic novel, because they are not present in most comics.

I loved this book! I hope there will be a sequel.

What to read next:

Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle, Isaac Goodhart

Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu, Stuart Moore, Chris Wildgoose

Have you read Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass? What did you think of it?

Review: Guts

Title: Guts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears. 

Review:

This book talks about Raina’s experience with IBS and anxiety as a child. I could relate to that, because I have both IBS and anxiety. It is something that isn’t talked about much, especially in children’s books, but it is very common.

Even if readers can’t relate to Raina’s sick stomach, they could relate to her being stressed out in class or the stresses that her friends had. One of her friends was moving away, so she was worried about that. It was a different kind of stress than what Raina had, but still relatable to young readers.

I really liked this book. I wish it was around when I was a kid. I’m excited to see what Raina writes next!

What to read next:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Have you read Guts? What did you think of it?

Review: Topside

Title: Topside
Author: J.N. Monk, Harry Bogosian
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Source: Thomas Allen and Son (book distributor)
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way.

When Jo, a headstrong maintenance technician, makes an error that destabilizes her planet’s core, she only knows one way to fix things: leaving her underground home for a trip to the planet’s dangerous, unruly surface. Soon she’s wandering through deserts, riding on the back of giant beasts, and cutting deals with con artists and bounty hunters. Meanwhile, agents of the core are in hot pursuit. J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (co-creators of the web-comic StarHammer) present a wild outer-space fantasy about fixing your mistakes and the friends you meet along the way. 

Review:

This was a fun sci fi graphic novel.

Jo is a maintenance worker in the core of the planet she lives on. She makes a mistake one day that will take a long time to get the supplies to fix. Instead of waiting, she goes to the surface of the planet, or the topside, to get the supplies. She ends up leading a bunch of people on a chase around the planet.

There were some funny parts to the story. When the workers were chasing Jo to reprimand her for making the mistake, they had to keep stopping to get approval for different tasks. They couldn’t pursue her without permission. That was funny, because every time they caught up to her, she got away because they had to wait for permission.

I didn’t like the colours used in the graphics. The colours were good when the characters were on the top side, but when they were in the core, the colours were monochromatic. That made it difficult to tell what was actually happening in the graphics, since everything was the same colour.

I enjoyed this graphic novel.

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Unplugged and Unpopular by Mat Heagerty, Tintin Pantoja, Mike Amante

Have you read Topside? What did you think of it?

Review: Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight

Title: Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight
Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy, Emma Rios
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Marvel
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The “Mightiest” of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is back! 

Ace pilot. Legendary Avenger. One hundred percent pure bad-@$$. Carol Danvers has a new name, a new mission – and all the power she needs to make her own life a living hell. As the new Captain Marvel, Carol is forging from a challenge from her past! 

It’s a firefight in the sky as the Banshee Squadron debut – but who are the Prowlers, and where has Carol seen them before? And how does secret NASA training program Mercury 13 fit in? Witness Captain Marvel in blazing battlefield action that just may change the course of history! Avengers Time Travel Protocols: engage! 

Review:

I liked this graphic novel much more than the first Captain Marvel graphic novel I read.

This story wasn’t an origin story, but it told the story of how Captain Marvel got her powers through time travel. She travelled back in time to figure out why she was left a plane by her mentor, Helen. Through this adventure, I learned about how Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel.

In the middle of the story, Captain Marvel went to a battle in World War II. I didn’t really understand why that was included in the book. It didn’t tie into the main plot of Carol learning about Helen’s past, but it did show what it was like to be a female pilot during that time.

I really enjoyed this book!

What to read next:

Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: Down by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christopher Sebela

Have you read Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight? What did you think of it?

Review: Angel Catbird, Vol. 2: To Castle Catula

Title: Angel Catbird, Vol. 2: To Castle Catula
Author: Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillain
Genre: Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The cat-centric adventure continues, in the all-ages follow-up to best-selling novelist Margaret Atwood’s debut graphic novel. Genetic engineer Strig Feleedus, also known as Angel Catbird, and his band of half-cats head to Castle Catula to seek allies as the war between cats and rats escalates. 

Margaret Atwood, the respected, worldwide best-selling novelist, and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas continue their action-packed adventure!

Review:

The cat/humans had to run away from the rat creator, Murtroid, in this second volume. They travel through the forest to Count Catula’s castle.

I love the cat references in this series! There were new cats in this book, including NeferKitti (who is the real Nefertiti) and her mummykittens, as well as the bird human Athen-Owl (who is the Greek goddess Athena). These were really funny references.

There were more great cat facts in this book, too. Every few pages, there are some facts about cats and their impact on the world. This included how many people abandon cats and how many species of birds that cats have been involved in making extinct.

I love this series! It’s funny and great for cat lovers!

Other Books in the Series:

What to read next:

Angel Catbird, Vol. 3: the Catbird Roars

Have you read Angel Catbird, Vol. 2: To Castle Catula? What did you think of it?