A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth.

SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN

Superman confronts racism and learns to accept himself with the help of new friends.

In this graphic-novel adaptation of the 1940s storyline entitled “The Clan of the Fiery Cross” from The Adventures of Superman radio show, readers are reintroduced to the hero who regularly saves the day but is unsure of himself and his origins. The story also focuses on Roberta Lee, a young Chinese girl. She and her family have just moved from Chinatown to Metropolis proper, and mixed feelings abound. Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane’s colleague from the Daily Planet, takes a larger role here, befriending his new neighbors, the Lees. An altercation following racial slurs directed at Roberta’s brother after he joins the local baseball team escalates into an act of terrorism by the Klan of the Fiery Kross. What starts off as a run-of-the-mill superhero story then becomes a nuanced and personal exploration of the immigrant experience and blatant and internalized racism. Other main characters are White, but Black police inspector William Henderson fights his own battles against prejudice. Clean lines, less-saturated coloring, and character designs reminiscent of vintage comics help set the tone of this period piece while the varied panel cuts and action scenes give it a more modern sensibility. Cantonese dialogue is indicated through red speech bubbles; alien speech is in green.

A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth. (author’s note, bibliography) (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77950-421-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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THE ODYSSEY

Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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