Graphic Novel Review Bites

A Glance BackwardA Glance Backward by Tony Sandoval

With thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

My mother recently passed away and the most phenomenal experience for me has been watching my daughters deal with her death. They had a big cry when we told them she was dying, but after that, they have been content. They accepted it and had no qualms about seeing her on her deathbed, hugging her, and reading her one last story.

I’ve seen some reviews that question how this dark fantasy tale of a boy slipping into his imagination to deal with the struggles of life and death and growing up could possibly be for children. Frankly, I believe we don’t give children enough credit for what they can and will deal with in their own way, whether it be with rainbow unicorns and angels, or something dark like this.

The art is beautiful. Soft and intense, with exaggerated features that capture a child’s vision. My disappointment in the book is that it didn’t let the art take us where the story needed to go, relying instead on over-explanation of how a child sees the world, both real and fantastical. In spite of this abundance of explanation, the connection to the book’s deeper meaning comes as a bit of a surprise at the end, though again, I think it would have been better served with more emphasis on letting the imagery tell the story, rather than the words.

The Fade OutThe Fade Out, Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker

With thanks to NetGalley and Image Comics for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

I liked Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me, and really enjoyed Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent, but I think I hit my noir limit with this book.

The Fade Out takes place during the golden age of Hollywood and even features actual stars, including Clark Gable, a favourite thanks to my obsession with Gone with the Wind. The main character is a man suffering from PTSD after the war, who hides his pain in a bottle, and the mystery surrounds a beautiful blond actress, and the look-alike that replaces her. Brubaker is a great writer, but I chalk a lot of my jadedness up to having to see such limited roles for the few women who make it into the story, especially when one of them ends up murdered.

Perhaps noir just isn’t for me at all. The other two books I mentioned, as well as Brubaker’s Catwoman, Vol. 2: No Easy Way Down, have unique elements that really stand out from the noir backdrop, but this just… bored me.


Rat queensRat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Oh Gary. Gary, Gary, Gary.

What can I say about a series that I have loved so much from day one that I literally buy copies of it to hand out to any of my friends who dare say the words “Rat Queens? What’s that about?”

Volume one wrapped up nicely after introducing the brash, unapologetic Rat Queens, Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty, and their various compatriots. It also left us with a nice little cliffhanger involving the great tentacled god of Dee’s cult. Tentacles, cults, fantastic heroines? What more could we want! Well, how about a little back story!

I could see myself in each one of the Queens, but volume two digs a little deeper with background info that includes–my personal item of interest–Violet’s beard, as well as Dee’s existential crisis, and Hannah’s troublesome past. The Queens come head to–uh–tentacle with their enemy, and Wiebe continues to turn the tables on the usual genre tropes as they race to Sawyers rescue with the help of their friends and sort of rivals.

The art is spectacular, even with the switch in artist. Normally, I hate when books switch artists early on, but after the circumstances of Upchurch’s arrest, this is understandable. Stejpan Sejic steps into the job with his own great sense of humour and style.


7 Comments on “Graphic Novel Review Bites”

  1. I didn’t know any of them but I’m quite curious to discover the first one, it sounds like something different and I like the illustration on the cover. thanks for sharing


  2. I’ve actually not heard of any of these. The Rat Queens looks very interesting – I love the cover!
    So sad to hear about your mum. 😦 I guess in a way watching how your daughter’s handle it helps in a way because you’re all dealing with the sadness together?
    Lynn 😀


    • Rat Queens is fantastic. I highly recommend it! We’ve reviewed it a few times here.

      The girls have been my little rocks in all of this. Whenever they saw me getting too sad, they’d just cuddle up and give me a hug. And my eldest (9) did the most important thing for me … she read from Love You Forever for my mom when we went to say good bye. I couldn’t say much myself, but having her read those words for me … so important.


  3. My condolences, Wendy. But thanks for sharing that story with your eldest in the comment above and for your insights in the review. That was beautiful.

    Also – wow, did not know that about Upchurch until I saw that link. I’d wondered why the art had changed…


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