Different media create different kinds of stories. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve found that some stories work incredibly well in a semi-graphic medium. I also happened to grow up on comics. So, for the last rundown of what I read this last year, I’m going to give the highlights of comics and graphic novels I read. I read much more than I report here, so… just the highlights!
Step by Bloody Step
by Si Spurrier, Matias Bergara, and Matheus Lopes
The girl awakes in a snowy wasteland. She has no memory, no language. All she has is a gigantic robotic guardian. Together they will walk through the snow, through jungles, past predators, to a place called civilization.
This comic blew me away. The main characters have no language. There are no words in this book. It’s all art—beautiful art. Everything is told through facial expressions, movement, and the use of the “camera” of the pictures. I highly recommend this to show how comics can tell a truly unique story.
Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld
by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Asiah Fulmore
Amy is a normal middle-schooler. Well, she was. Then her best friend (she doesn’t remember) shows up from another world (that she’s pretty sure she’s never been to) to bring the princess home (she’s a princess?). Now Princess Amethyst must reclaim the destiny that was stolen from her three years ago, refind the friend who still remembers her, and maybe save the world.
So, Amethyst is a comic from the 80’s that I adored. The concept then was a modern girl in the 80’s transformed into an adult princess in a place called Gemworld. She then needs to balance the fantasy adventures and her normal everyday life. I also love the comics Shannon and Dean Hale have done together. Put them on a property I already enjoy? Oh yeah. This is great stuff. It is not the classic setup from the original comic, but a great reboot. I really hope Amy’s adventures continue in this format.
Ms. Marvel: Metamorphosis
by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and more
Kamala has survived her first set of adventures as the new Ms. Marvel. What happens when she meets her idol, Captain Marvel? Can she survive the end of the world? And what happens when her best friend falls in love with her? Ms. Marvel’s stories continue!
I read the first year or so of Ms. Marvel’s adventures and I loved them. I eagerly read this second volume of stories. Everything is still great. Kamala’s energy is fantastic, her supporting cast continues to shine, and the drama just cranks it up a few notches. The Disney+ series is fun. If you like that, check this out. It’s that much better.
Galaxy: The Prettiest Star
by Jadzia Axelrod and Jess Taylor
Taylor has the perfect life. Starting position on the basketball team? Oh yeah. Loving family? There it is. Good looks and good grades? What more could he ask for?
Well, it would be nice if his life was actually his own. See, he’s actually an alien princess in hiding. Hiding so far away, she has even become he so no one could suspect. But the pressure’s building. She can’t pretend anymore. What happens when everyone finds out the truth?
This book blew me away. I’ve got some transgender friends, and this book describes their experiences so, so well. It takes a science fiction/ superhero concept and uses it to perfection. Beautiful art, a thought-provoking story, and some great twists I honestly didn’t see coming bring this package into a book I’m happy to have read. This is another character I hope comes back.
Mr. Miracle: The Great Escape
by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles
Scott needs to get out. He doesn’t want to be a soldier for Apokolips. Granny Goodness whips him and all his classmates into shape, though. He’s going to escape, and when he does, they’ll all call him Mister Miracle. Well, that’s the plan, at least. Too bad he’s fallen in love with Big Barda, the soldier tasked with watching his every move.
You know how some stories seize you and don’t let you go until it’s done? Yeah. This is one of those. The action doesn’t let up, the characters punch you in the gut, and you desperately want to see the good guys triumph, even though you’re certain there’s no way they can. This is some great, intense storytelling.
by Thom Zahler
Danielle’s ex cursed her. Every guy who asks her out gets to see a warning label, showing all the luggage they’ll have to deal with if they go out on a date. Jeff still pursues her, though… and he’s in for the ride of his life.
Zahler has written some fantastic romance comics. I’ve got his Time and Vine (highly recommended!) and Long Distance. This is just the latest, and just like the others, check it out. If you’ve got a romantic bone in your body, you’ll enjoy it!
Hawkeye: The Saga of Barton and Bishop
by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Clint Barton isn’t always an Avenger. Sometimes he’s just a guy who lives in an apartment. And sometimes that apartment needs someone to protect it. And sometimes Clint’s friend Kate shows up and helps him. Also she annoys him. Well, he annoys her, so it’s mutual.
I’d heard many good things about this acclaimed comic. I’d read Kate Bishop’s solo series and loved it. That spun out of this book, so… time to read it! Yes, it’s fantastic. Aja’s art pops. It’s not as strong as I’d been lead to believe, but you know what? I enjoyed it, and I’m not upset I spent money on it. (The art though… the covers alone are worth the price of admission!)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The IDW Collection, Vol. 1
by Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, and Brian Lynch
The turtles don’t know where they’ve come from. They don’t know why they’re turtles. They don’t know why some cat person named Old Hob wants to capture them, nor who the Shredder is. All they know is that they’re brothers, and that they must stay together if they’re going to survive.
IDW started publishing brand-new TMNT comics about a decade ago. I heard such good things about them, and I finally saved up enough pennies to get the swanky hardcover of the first year of the series, along with all the tie-ins. This series… man. So, there have been a LOT of versions of the turtles over the years. This set takes all the good stuff from previous iterations and brings them together in a delicious new story. It’s a fairly complex take with lovable characters. If you’re a turtles fan, you’re missing out if you’re not looking at this.
And that’s it for the 2022 Year of Books! Next week I return to talk more about writing, publishing, and storytelling!