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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A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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ROBOT DREAMS

A wordless graphic novel provides a plangent meditation on the nature of friendship. When a dog buys a mail-order robot kit and puts it together, the two become fast friends. On an ill-fated trip to the beach salt water works its corrosive way on the robot, and the dog is forced to leave his immobilized friend lying on its towel on the sand. Their separate stories unfold over the next 11 months, as the dog makes an effort to repair his friend, only to discover the beach has closed, then turns to other friendships, while the robot lies suffering the ravages of weather and neglect and dreaming of friendships past and possible. Varon’s muted blues, grays and browns set the emotional tone for this tale, angularly regular hand-framed panels that only rarely vary with frameless images serving to emphasize the emotional confinement of her protagonists. The resolution is psychologically ambiguous, denying readers the satisfaction of a happy reunion but offering them the harder-edged truth that friendships change and die—but others can rise in their place. Witty and plaintive by turns, this is thoughtful, provocative pleasure. (Graphic novel. 8-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59643-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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