Saturday, May 15, 2021

#IReadsYou Review: SURFACING #4


STORY: B. Alex Thompson – @ApproBAT
ART: Kevin Richardson
COLORS: Santtos
EDITOR: Denise Thompson
MISC. ART: Kevin Richardson
COVER/BACK COVER: Cesar Grego and Alivon Ortiz
32pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (2019)

Rated: “M” for Mature

“The Milkmaids and the Mermaid”

Surfacing is a comic book franchise created by B. Alex Thompson and published by Approbation Comics.  The four-issue miniseries, Surfacing: Depth Perceptions, focuses on a series encounters, sometimes violent, between humans and mermaid-like creatures.  The eponymous Surfacing is an anthology series in which each issue offers a story in which a mermaid finds herself trapped in the world of humans.  Besides Thompson, artist Kevin Richardson; colorist Santtos; colorist Krugos, and cover artists Cesar Grego and Alivon Ortiz currently comprise Surfacing's creative team.

Surfacing #4 (“The Milkmaids and the Mermaid”) opens in the 1400s in Holland (then, a western province of The Netherlands).  In the town of Edam, in West Friesland (a region in North Holland) resides the Ruis familyPapa, Mama, and sisters, Berna and Gisla.  A recent heavy storm raised the waters of the North Sea and destroyed the dykes, flooding the nearby lands.

Berna and Gisla (the “milkmaids” of the story's title) are in a small canoe rescuing the family's dairy cows when they spot a human hand sticking out of the water.  Upon investigation, the girls find and rescue a mermaid, and bring her back to their farm.

Papa Ruis, despite objections from Mama Ruis, tends to the mermaid's injuries.  Eventually, they take the mermaid into the family – like an indentured servant and prisoner – and name her “Elin.”  After several years, Elin becomes a local curiosity, “Elin the Zeewijf.”  But what is “Elin's” real story?  Where does she come from, and how does she view her stay in the human world?  Is this a heaven or a hell, and what does her future hold?

THE LOWDOWN:  As much as I enjoyed the miniseries, Surfacing: Depth Perceptions, I did not know what to expect of the Surfacing anthology, which was apparently intended to be a three-issue miniseries.  However, I can always rely on writer B. Alex Thompson's imagination.

Initially, Thompson presented Surfacing in a way that reminded me of dark fantasy, anthology television series like the classic  “The Twilight Zone” (1959 to 1964) and the 1980s “Tales from the Darkside.”  The third issue of the series even offered a tale set in the “old West, “A Promise of Home,” that reminded me of American “Western” films.

“The Milkmaids and the Mermaid” reveals a different side of Thompson.  His best known work includes horror, comedy, relationship drama, horror-comedy, and contemporary drama.  However, Thompson sometimes reveals a side of his writing the skews toward fantasy and fairy tales.  That is what “The Milkmaids and the Mermaid” is, a fairy tail, albeit a melancholy one.  This story is not so much about plot, character, or setting as it is simply a story.  It is the kind of tale of the supernatural that pops up from time to time in one book of fairy tails or another.  Once it comes into existence, it never dies.  It just waits to be rediscovered or told again.  [There is a Dutch folktale, “Meermin van Edam,” of which there are a number of variations, that may have inspired “The Milkmaids and the Mermaid.”]

Artist Kevin Richardson presents an imaginative take on the deep waters world of the mermaids.  However, Richardson also conveys the banal evil of slavery and the dishonesty of those who insist that they can do anything in the name of bringing god to the savages and heathens.  The coloring by Santtos eschews pretty hues less this fairy tale becomes a lie, and Krugos makes the art feel like a narrative told on tapestry.

I am glad that there is a Surfacing #4, and “The Milkmaids and the Mermaid” is the kind of surprising and wonderful story that justifies more Surfacing.  So I hope more issues of this series … surface.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of fantasy comic books published by DC Comics' late imprint, Vertigo, will want to read Surfacing.

10 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


I Reads You Juniors: May 2021 - Update #51

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon.


SONY MARVEL U - From ScreenRant:  "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," the sequel to Sony's hit "Venom" film, will introduce the "Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane."  Some consider Ravencroft to be the equivalent of DC Comics' "Arkham Asylum."

COLLECTIBLES - From YahooNews:   You may or may not have heard that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on some kind of Pokemon card collecting mania.  Retail chain, Target, has announced is suspending in-store sales of Pokémon and sports trading cards amid safety concerns as customers vie for the collectibles.

COMICS - From GamesRadar:   The 2015 cult film, "Turbo Kid," is getting a comic book prequel, "Turbo Kid: Apple's Lost Adventure."

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  Marvel promises that the Marvel Universe will be changed forever by June's "Planet-Sized X-Men."

COMICS - From BleedingCool:   eBay changes its comic book categories - much to the chagrin of collectors.

TOYS - From BleedingCool:  "Marvel Legends" reveals three new toy sets related to the "MCU Infinity Saga."

DARK HORSE - From TheBeat:  Paul Tobin and Ron Chan talk about their new graphic novel, "Earth Boy," which is out now.

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  "Old Man Cable" is back in "Cable: Reloaded #1.

MEMORIAM - From CBR:  Jesse Hamm, a comic book writer and artist and essayist, has died.  His works include the graphic novel, "Good As Lily" (for DC/Minx), and issues of "Batman '66" and "Hawkeye" for Marvel Comics.  Many knew him for his "Tips from Jesse Hamm" Twitter account.

MARVEL - From CBR:  Marvel Comics has offered a first-look preview of its upcoming "Moon Knight #1" by Jed MacKay and Alessandro Cappuccio.

STAR WARS - From BleedingCool:  Alan Dean Foster is among the writers who will now be paid by Disney for the "Star Wars" novelizations they wrote.  Disney had stopped paying royalties since assuming the publication rights to these novels.

IMAGE COMICS - From THR:   Oscar-nominee Ryan Coogler will produce and Oscar-winner Regina King will direct a film adaptation of the Image Comics titles, "Bitter Root."

EUROCOMICS - From BleedingCool:  Publisher NBM has released a preview of its Free Comic Book Day 2021 (Aug. 14th) offering, "FCBD 2021 Dungeon is Back."

SONY MARVEL U - From YouTube:  Sony has released the official trailer for "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," which is due in theaters Sept. 24, 2021.

MILLARWORLD - From FastCompany:  Is Netflix using "Jupiter's Legacy" to launch its own superhero universe?

DC CINEMA - From ComicBook:   "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot has confirmed what fellow "Justice League" actor, Ray Fisher (Cyborg), has previously said:  Joss Whedon did indeed threaten her career, Gadot confirms in an interview with Israel television, "N12."

DARK HORSE - From TheBeat:  Dave McKean talks about his new comic, "Raptor: A Sokol Graphic Novel."

MARVEL - From GamesRadar:   Artist John Romita, Jr., who is returned to Marvel Comics, has drawn some promotional art for the upcoming story arc, "The Trial of Magneto."

YAOI MANGA - From BleedingCool:  SuBLime Manga announces the release of four titles for "Pride Month" (June 2021), including "Dick Fight Island, Vol. 1."

DC COMICS - From DCBlog:   Writer, Ram V, talks about bringing magic and myth to "The Swamp Thing" and "Catwoman."

DC TV - From DCBlog:  The DC Comics' title, "Naomi," is now a TV series from The CW.  "DC Blog" has a first look at the series' lead, Kaci Walfall.

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  Marvel has announced that real-world celebrities will appear as characters in its "X-Men: Hellfire Gala" event story line.  One of them is Grammy Award winning rapper Eminem.

DC COMICS - From BleedingCool:  DC Comics will resume publishing a print edition of its "DC Connect" monthly solicitations for retailers and readers.

MARK MILLAR - From Deadline:   Mark Millar talks to "Deadline." One of the bits of news from the Q&A is that the series adaptation of Millar's comic book, "The Magic Order," is back on track with Netflix.
From Deadline:   Mark Millar, comics creators and Netflix exec, has announced several new film and TV projects based upon his creator-owned comic books.

COMICS TO FILM - From THR:   Actress Hannah John-Kamen, who played Ava Starr/Ghost in "Ant-Man and the Wasp" has reportedly been cast as the lead in Millennium Film's "Red Sonja."  The character was created for Marvel Comics' "Conan the Barbarian" comic book and was an amalgamation of several Conan the Cimmerian characters created by the late Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan.

COMICS - From WeGotThisCovered:  Robert Kirkman, the co-creator of "The Walking Dead" comic book, is working on working on a film that will be a spin-off of "Dracula."  Kirkman says the film will be "an extremely violent comedy."

DC CINEMA - From CBR:   Actor Michael B. Jordan offers an update on the live-action "Static Shock" film that he is producing.  The film has a writer and a draft is coming together.

DC CINEMA - From THR:   Apparently, Warner Bros. Pictures is committed to hiring a black actor to play Superman and also to hiring a black director to helm the film.  The film is currently being written by an African-American, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

INTERVIEW - From 2000AD:  "The Walking Dead" comic book artist, Charlie Adlard, talks about life before and after "The Walking Dead."

LOS BROS - From YouTube:   "Love and Rockets" creators, brother Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, were live at this year's virtual MoCCA fest in this video.

FANTAGRAPHICS - From ComixExperience:   In a rare video interview, Barry Windsor-Smith talks about comics and his new book, "Monsters."

From IGN:   The site has nine preview images from Barry Windsor Smith's "Monsters."

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  The site has learned that Oscar-winning screenwriter and also comic book writer, John Ridley, will be the writer of a new "Black Panther" comic book series with Juann Cabal as the artist.  The new series will reportedly begin in August.

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:    The mutant character, "Fantomex" will headline the prose novel, "Triptych."  The novel is part of Marvel and Aconyte Books' "Xavier's Institute" line.

TITAN COMICS - From YouTube:  Titan has produced a preview video trailer for its new comic book series, "ExtraOrdinary," which is set in the world of author V.E. Schwab's "Vicious" and "Vengeful" novels.

ALAN MOORE - From TheGuardian: Two years after announcing that he had retired from comics, Alan Moore, the illustrious author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has signed a six-figure deal for a “groundbreaking” five-volume fantasy series as well as a “momentous” collection of short stories.

ARCHIE - From BleedingCool:  The site has a preview of the new trade paperback collection, "She's Josie."  The book reprints stories from various "Josie" comic books published by Archie Publications in the 1960s.  Eventually, the title would become known as "Josie and the Pussycats."

EN MEMORIAM - From BleedingCool:  The veteran American comic book artist, John Paul Leon, has died at the age of 49, Saturday, May 1, 2021.  Although Leon began his professional career with Dark Horse Comics, he first gained fame drawing the groundbreaking comic book series, "Static," for DC Comics' Milestone Comics imprint.  His most recent work was the four-issue miniseries, "Batman: Creature of the Night" (2018-20) with writer Kurt Busiek.

DC COMICS - From DCBlog:   Arriving July 20th is the first issue of a four-issue "Shazam" miniseries that spins out of "Teen Titans Academy."

DC COMICS - From DCBlog:  DC's new horror imprint, "DC Horror," will launch with a tie-in comic book to the upcoming film, "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It."

BLACK COMICS - From LATimes:  Comics have been racist for decades, and a new generations of African-American comics creators are re-inventing them.

MANGA - From CBR:   Mangaka Naoki Urasawa, the renowned "Monster" and "20th Century Boys" author, is launching his next project: an official YouTube art channel.

ARCHIE - From BleedingCool:   Here is a preview of FCBD 2021 Archie Past Present & Future Fun.  The comic book is described as a sort of "Crisis on Infinite Archies," and will be given away on Free Comic Book Day, which has been moved to August 14th.

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  Here is a first look at "Heroes Reborn Young Squadron #1."

DC TV - From DCBlog:  Actor Finn Wittrock will play "Green Lantern/Guy Gardner" in the HBO Max series, "Green Lantern." 

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  Here is a first look "Reptil #1," the first issue of the upcoming Marvel Comics four-issue miniseries.

DC CINEMA - From VeroZackSnyder:  "Justice League" director Zack Snyder has posted some production photos of actor Wayne T. Carr filming scenes as John Stewart/Green Lantern for "Zack Snyder's Justice League."  Warner Bros. did allow those scenes to be included in the final film.

CARD COLLECTING - From VICE:   There is some kind of dire situation going on in the world of collecting "Pokemon" cards ... according to the website, "Vice."

MARVEL - From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics announced a new middle-grade original graphic novel starring Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel set to hit stores in September 2021 from writer Nadia Shammas and artist Nabi.

DC COMICS - From SupermanHomepage:   July 2021 begins a new era for DC Comics' "Superman" line of titles.  New direction means new logos, and artist Darran Robinson gives readers a look at his designs for the new logos for several "Superman" titles.

DC FILMS - From Deadline:  "Young Rock" actor, Uli Latukefu, who plays the college football era Dwayne Johnson on the NBC hit series, is reuniting with the action star for New Line/DC’s "Black Adam."

DC FILMS - From BleedingCool:  Voice actress, Stana Katic, talks about the new animated DVD film, "Justice Society: World War II," and the character she plays in the film, Wonder Woman.

DC CINEMA - From BleedingCool:  Voice actress, Elysia Rotaru, talks about the new animated DVD film, "Justice Society: World War II," and the character she plays in the film, Black Canary.

DC COMICS - From DCBlog:   The blog details the big changes coming to the Superman line of titles in July.



From BleedingCool:  Ablaze for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Archie Comics for May 2021 
From BleedingCool:  Black Mask for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  BOOM! Studios for May 2021 
From BleedingCool:  Comic House for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dark Horse Comics for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  DC Comics for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dynamite Entertainment for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Hero Collector for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  IDW Publishing for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Image Comics for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Mad Cave Studios for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Vault Comics for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  VIZ Media for May 2021
From BleedingCool:  Zenescope Entertainment for May 2021

From BleedingCool:  Ablaze for June 2021 
From BleedingCool:  AfterShock Comics for 2021
From BleedingCool:  BOOM! Studios for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dark Horse Comics for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  DC Comics for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dynamite Entertainment for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Eaglemoss for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Hero Collector for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  IDW Publishing for June 2021 
From BleedingCool:  Mad Cave Studios for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Scout Comics for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Source Point Press for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Valiant Entertainment for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  VIZ Media for June 2021
From BleedingCool:  Zenescope Entertainment for June 2021 
From BleedingCool:  Artists, Writers & Artisans for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Bad Idea for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  BOOM! Studios for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dark Horse Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  DC Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Dynamite Entertainment for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Heavy Metal for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Hero Collectors for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  IDW Publishing for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Image Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Titan Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Valiant Entertainment for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  Vault Comics for July 2021
From BleedingCool:  VIZ Media for July 2021

From BleedingCool:  Free Comic Book Day for August 14, 2021


Friday, May 14, 2021

#IReadsYou Review: THE BATMAN'S GRAVE #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Warren Ellis
PENCILS: Bryan Hitch
INKS: Kevin Nowlan
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Richard Starkings
EDITOR: Marie Javins
COVER: Bryan Hitch with Alex Sinclair
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (December 2019)

Rated “T+” for “Teen Plus”

Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

The Batman's Grave is a new twelve-issue, comic book maxi-series.  It is written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Bryan Hitch (pencils) and Kevin Nowlan (inks).  Ellis and Hitch worked together on the comic book, StormWatch (1997), and are best known as a team for their run on the hit comic book, The Authority (1999), which the two created.  Colorist Alex Sinclair and letterer Richard Starkings complete the creative team.  The Batman's Grave finds Batman a.k.a. “The World's Great Detective” forced to inhabit the mind of a murder victim with a half-eaten face in order to solve the crime.

The Batman's Grave #1 opens at Wayne Manor, the stately home of Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman.  We find Bruce's butler and Batman's brother-in-arms, Alfred Pennyworth, tending to the graves of Bruce's parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne.  There is a third grave.  It is empty, and Bruce will one day fill it.

In Gotham City, Batman saves a young couple and their child the way no one saved young Bruce and his slain parents.  Alerted to an unanswered 911 call, Batman finds himself at a rundown apartment building.  There, he finds the corpse of Vincent William Stannik.  By his own admission to Alfred, Batman can only think like a victim.  And this almost psychotic identification with murder victims causes him to immerse himself in the lives the victims and to obsess over every detail of their deaths.  But will this focus on the victim as he approached death lead Batman to his own grave?

I often lament that comic books featuring the world's greatest (comic book) detective are more often than not more superhero-action comics than they are mystery comics.  After reading this first issue's 24 (not 20) pages, I think that The Batman's Grave will be a mystery comic book that will have Batman play detective to solve murder cases.  At the same time, The Batman's Grave's creative team will investigate the minds of both Batman/Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth.

In fact, I love (and yes that is the word I want to use) Warren Ellis' depiction of Alfred Pennyworth as a tired, old friend, exhausted by a war on crime of which he wishes Batman was also exhausted.  Ellis presents Bruce Wayne and Batman as one in the same – psychotic.  I am especially curious to see where Ellis takes this series.

The artists of The Batman's Grave, Bryan Hitch on pencils and Kevin Nowlan on inks, are a dream team.  Hitch's eccentric, stylish pencils can only be inked by a veteran and/or supremely talented inker, and of course, that is Nowlan.  The resulting art is beautiful, mysterious, and haunting – the perfect graphical storytelling for a tale of murder, obsession, and graves.  Alex Sinclair, as usual, colors the crap out of the art and embellishes this story with a perfect mood that recalls Edgar Allen Poe.  Letterer Richard Starkings, as usual, does standout work; I guess if you have Ellis, Hitch, Nowlan, and Sinclair, you have to have Starkings on the team, also.

So I am ready for more, and truthfully, this is the only Batman comic book I feel like I have to read right now.  I recommend that you try at least The Batman's Grave #1.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Thursday, May 13, 2021

#IReadsYou Review: THE SCUMBAG #3

IMAGE COMICS/Giant Generator

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Rick Remender
ART: Eric Powell
COLORS: Moreno Dinisio
LETTERS: Rus Wooton
DESIGN: Erika Schnatz
EDITOR: Will Dennis
COVER: Eric Powell
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Dave Guertin; Joelle Jones with Moreno Dinisio
28pp, Colors, 3.99 U.S.(December 2020)

Rated “M/ Mature”

“Snowblower Indemnity” Part 3

The Scumbag is a new comic book series from writer Rick Remender.  Described as a “comedy espionage series” by publisher Image Comics, The Scumbag's tagline reads, “The fate of the world rests in the hands of the worst person on it!”  The series features a rotating crew of illustrators.  Thus, artist Eric Powell; colorist Moreno Dinisio; and letterer Rus Wooton complete the current creative team.

The Scumbag introduces Ernie Ray Clementine.  He is a rundown, raggedy, filthy man.  He is a profane, illiterate, drug-addicted biker and ne'er-do-well with a fifth-grade education.  However, he meets Sister Mary and “Central Authority” and inadvertently absorbs the power-imbuing serum called “the Formula Maxima.”  Now, Ernie is the only thing standing between humanity and total Armageddon... because he has suddenly become the world's most powerful super-spy.

The Scumbag #3 opens on the roof the Sipkin Building.  There, “The Prosoma,” leader of reactionary cabal, Scorpionus, speechifies about his “Gold Bomb.”  When it detonates, this “alchemy bomb” will turn everyone in and around the Sipkin into solid gold – a bid to create enough gold to crash the world economy.  While super-agent, Sister Mary, fights Scorpionus' big white asshole, “The Ultra-Nationalist,” our hero, Ernie Ray, of course, struggles with golden temptation.

THE LOWDOWN:  I didn't have a lot to say about The Scumbag #1.  I had a little more to say about The Scumbag #2.  What I have to say about The Scumbag #3 is that the series has hit its stride; this third issue is the funniest issue, yet.

Eric Powell, creator, writer, and artist of The Goon comic books, is the artist for The Scumbag #3, but it makes no never mind – as the saying goes.  Don't get me wrong; Eric Powell is good at what he does.  Still, he does not distinguish himself from the series' previous two artists:  Lewis Larosa (#1) and Andrew Robinson (#2).  These artists have done good work, with Robinson and Powell managing to draw in a graphical style similar to Larosa's.

The star here is Rick Remender.  As I said before, I have enjoyed what few Rick Remender comic books I have read, and I have not read much.  However, his mix of political commentary and witty asides and his dialogue peppered with acerbic observations about our current social and cultural climate are … well, golden.  Plus, his super-spy/secret agent set pieces are as good as anything readers will find in one of the Kingsman movies.

Yeah, I could say that Remender is “killing it,” but I want to wait on that.  I will say that if the fourth issue is as good as or better than The Scumbag #3, then, no comic book readers looking for really “good comics” will be able to skip The Scumbag.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Rick Remender, of mature comedy, and of reprobate-type anti-hero lead characters will want The Scumbag.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2021


DC COMICS/DC Zoom – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Michael Northrop
ART: Gustavo Duarte
COLORS: Marcelo Maiolo
LETTERS: Wes Abbott
EDITOR: Sara Miller
ISBN: 978-1-4012-8413-8; paperback; (July 31, 2019 – Diamond / August 6, 2019)
176pp, Color, $9.99 U.S., $13.50 CAN

Age Range: 8 to 12

Dear Justice League is a 2019 original graphic novel staring DC Comics' marquee super-team, the Justice League.  It is written by Michael Northrop; drawn by Gustavo Duarte; colored by Marcelo Mailol; and lettered by Wes Abbot.  Dear Justice League features some of the greatest superheroes of all time answering questions sent to them by young fans via text, email, and letter.

Dear Justice League was originally published under DC Comics' “DC Zoom” imprint, which offered original graphic novels for readers that were 8 to 12-years-old or that were classified as “middle grade” (MG) readers.  DC discontinued many of its imprints in 2019, so Dear Justice League would now fit under a new designation (“DC Graphic Novels for Young Readers”?).

Dear Justice League finds its members going about their usual business, but they occasionally take time to answer questions sent to them by young fans.  In a “Dear Superman” letter, the Man of Steel is asked, “have you ever messed up?”  In “Dear Hawkgirl,” the high-flying hero, who is also known as Kendra Saunders, is asked if she, as Hawkgirl, eats small animals.  In “Dear Aquaman,” Black Manta has high-jacked a nuclear submarine, but Aquaman wonders if he smells like fish, as one fan has asked.

In “Dear Wonder Woman,” a young fan who is about to turn 11-years-old wants to know if Wonder Woman remembers her eleventh birthday.  In “Dear Flash,” two envious boys, “T-Bone” and “J-Dawg,” pose a time-centered challenge to “the fastest man alive” via a dishonest question.  In “Green Lantern,” the newest Lantern, Simon Baz, is asked if he has ever suffered a fashion faux pas.

In “Dear Cyborg,” a young fan asks for Cyborg's screen name so that the fan can challenge the hero in an online video game.  Meanwhile, Cyborg/Victor Stone is monitoring a possible alien invasion.  In “Dear Batman,” the new kid in town asks Batman if he has ever been the new kid in town.  Finally, in “Dear Justice League,” eight of the world's greatest heroes, the Justice League, battle an invasion of “Insectoids” from the planet, “Molt-On.”  So a fourth-grade class sends a letter asking the members of the League, “How do you always manage to show up just in time and save the day?”

Well, how do they do it?  And have they done it this time in order to stop an Insectoid invasions?

I am slowly making my way through DC Comics's first wave of original “DC Zoom” and “DC Ink” titles.  I still have a few to read before the lines were discontinued.  I have to say that I am quite surprised by how much I like Dear Justice League.  It is not a great work, because it has some missteps, but it is exceptional because there is nothing else like it on the superhero comic book market.

In Dear Justice League, Michael Northrop has written a funny comic book, and some of the fan questions are quite good.  Asking Aquaman if he smells like fish falls flat, although asking Hawkgirl if she eats small animals seems just perfect.  Asking Wonder Woman to recount her eleventh birthday strikes the right story notes, and that question carries over into “Dear Flash,” in a clever little bit about two jealous boys.  Batman gets a great question – has he ever been the new kid in town – but Northrop doesn't execute the answer as well as he could have.

Gustavo Duarte's illustrations and graphical storytelling are perfect for a kids-oriented Justice League comic book like Dear Justice League.  His stretchy drawing style, which recalls classic Looney Tunes cartoon shorts of the 1940s and 1950s, captures the funny side of the eight particular heroes of Dear Justice League.

Marcelo Mailol's colors on Duarte's art look as if he used color pencils and also recall classic four-color comic book coloring (but is better than most of it was back in the day).  Letterer Wes Abbot turns on a symphony of lettering fonts that provide a colorful and varied graphical soundtrack for a story that offers a lot of different sounds, from the noise of battle to the rackets of errors and mistakes.

I highly recommend Dear Justice League to readers who want to share Justice League comic books with younger readers.  It would also be nice as a semi-regular series.

7 out of 10

Dear Justice League includes the following extras:

  • A six-page preview of the original graphic novel, Dear Super-Villains, by Michael Northrop and Gustavo Duarte
  • A six-page preview of the original graphic novel, Superman of Smallville, by Art Baltazar and Franco
  • the two-page, “Hall of Justice Top Secret Files”
  • the one-page, “Auxiliary Members” (pets of the Justice League)
  • biographies of Michael Northrop and Gustavo Duarte
  • “Dear Michael Northrop,” a letter from younger Michael Northrop to older Michael
  • a mock-up of a page of lined paper so that the reader can write a letter to the Justice League
  • bonus illustrations

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

#IReadsYou Book Review: Anne Hillerman's STARGAZER

STARGAZER – (A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel #6)

AUTHOR: Anne Hillerman
ISBN: 978-0-06-290833-9; hardcover (April 13, 2021)
336pp, B&W, $27.99 U.S., $34.99 CAN

Stargazer is a 2021 novel from author Anne Hillerman.  Recently published, it is the sixth novel in the “Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito” book series, which began with Spider Woman's Daughter (2013).  This series is a continuation of the “Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series” written by Hillerman's late father, bestselling author, Tony Hillerman (1925-2008).  In Stargazer, Navajo tradition and the stars collide with murder and deception in a possible case of suicide that also might be homicide.

Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito starts out having a typical day, as she serves a bench warrant, while also dealing with a herd of cattle obstructing traffic.  Then, the day takes two unexpected twists.  First, Bernie stumbles across a crime scene where she makes a grisly and heartbreaking discovery.  Then, Bernie learns that her old college roommate, Maya Kelsey, has confessed to the murder of her estranged husband, Steve Jones.

The case takes Bernie to Socorro County, where she helps her friend, Sheriff's Detective Tara Williams, who has Maya in custody.  Bernie finds Maya uncooperative, and while Detective Williams is willing to believe Maya's confession, Bernie is not.  Steve was a prominent astronomer, and Bernie wonders if Steve's work at the radio telescope facility, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and with some of his colleagues might explain the mystery of his death, which was originally considered a suicide.

Meanwhile, Bernie is experiencing an unexpected rift with her husband, Sgt. Jim Chee, who is sure that Bernie is headed for trouble.  Chee is also currently Bernie's new boss at the Shiprock police station, because their boss, Captain Howard Largo, is away on official business.  Chee's increased workload and Bernie's case make each short-tempered with other.

Chee is at a crossroads, burdened with new responsibilities for which he did not ask and does not want.  Still, he must decide what the future holds for him.  Also at a crossroads is Bernie and Chee's mentor, retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn.  He is dealing with a case from the past after learning that a woman who claims he once saved her life now wants to meet him.  Leaphorn must also decide if he is going to make a trip by plane with his companion, Louisa.  Leaphorn is afraid of flying, but declining the trip to Washington D.C. could be detrimental to his relationship with Louisa.

Will the past and the future provide the guidance for Chee and Leaphorn?  Will the Navajo heroes that dot the starry sky and the never ending celestial dome help Bernie find the answers to the questions about Maya's case that vex her?

THE LOWDOWN:  I have been crazy about Anne Hillerman's work since I first read Spider Woman's Daughter.  I had read two of her late father, Tony Hillerman's novels a long time ago, so I requested a review copy of Spider Woman's Daughter from HarperCollins when it was offered to reviewers back in 2013.  It was a fortuitous decision, as I have come to view the “Manuelito, Chee & Leaphorn” novels as my favorite current literary series, and I have been awaiting a new novel since the release of The Tale Teller back in 2019.

Thematically, Stargazer focuses on two threads.  The first focuses on the bonds and obligations of family and kinship and the duty and obligations to colleagues and friendship.  The second is how both what has happened in the past and what could happen in the future shape the present.

Bernie's relationship with Maya, which was stronger in the past than it is now, is actually what drives Bernie's investigation.  Bernie certainly has fidelity to her vocation and also a deep and abiding sense of justice.  Still, she cannot believe that Maya is a murderer, although Maya insists that she has killed her estranged husband, from whom she hoped to obtain a divorce.  Throughout Stargazer, author Anne Hillerman portrays how Bernie's relationships with her family, friends, and colleagues push her forward.  These relationships shape how she thinks about a case, and what she expects from people.  It seems that such connections with people are what makes Bernie pay extra-special attention to what they say or communicate in other ways, such as by email.  This attention to intimate details leads Bernie in where she should look for clues.

Hillerman makes Bernie the primary focus of Stargazer, but she does not neglect Chee and Leaphorn, revealing that each is at a crossroad in his life.  Each must examine the past and the future as his present circumstances demand decisions for the future.  Stargazer is truly a turning point novel in the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series.  The main characters will begin heading in different professional directions, to one extent or another, the next time we see them.

By my reading, Anne Hillerman is also making it clear with this novel that Bernie Manuelito is really the lead character of this series.  I don't have a problem with that.  As crime fiction lead characters go, Bernie lights up the sky just like her ancestors and heroes.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:   Fans of Anne Hillerman and of her late father, Tony Hillerman, will want to read Stargazer.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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