A spirited cast propels a wonderfully entertaining comic-book series.

WITCH HUNTER

From the Hunt the Hunters series , Vol. 1

In Ferrante’s debut graphic novel, a 17th-century man uses magical powers and weapons to battle evil witches and creatures in the modern day.

In 1692, Jon Redmont’s mother, knowing her Coven of Light will burn at the stake, casts a spell to preserve her son’s soul in a crystal. Three hundred years later, Jon awakens imbued with the coven’s combined power. He’s essentially a superhero, complete with enchanted cloak, mask, and weaponry. Jon vows to combat the Scarlet Circle, a fiendish group of witches and other creatures, such as dark elves, threatening the contemporary world. He first retrieves a stolen witch watch—a device that allows him to open portals to “almost anywhere”—and after settling in “New Yorke City,” he offers his services to the general public in a magic-infused advertisement. His rescue of a kidnapped girl ultimately dredges up someone with a connection to the Scarlet Circle: Elesar Monmorte, who sets his sights, and minions, on Jon. Elesar was the mastermind of the Coven of Light’s massacre and now wants the man who somehow escaped death all those years ago. Ferrante’s graphic novel, which collects four comic-book issues, features a bevy of vibrant characters. For example, Jon’s mysterious aide, Kitty Allen, dons Venetian masks that allow her to see others’ “true nature,” and Elesar gets a lengthy, absorbing origin story. But although that villain and an assortment of henchmen provide a sense of menace, Ferrante keeps the tone light with one-liners, visual gags, and even a mock ad for Scarlet Circle Cookies. Some of the violence, too, is played for laughs; in one memorable scene, Jon chops and shoots his way through countless monsters—and one of them, post-beheading, asks to see a doctor. Although several different artists provided illustrations, the artwork is consistent, particularly when portraying Jon’s bright purple costume and perpetual smirk.

A spirited cast propels a wonderfully entertaining comic-book series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 145

Publisher: Monarch Comics, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

THE CANTERBURY TALES

A RETELLING

Continuing his apparent mission to refract the whole of English culture and history through his personal lens, Ackroyd (Thames: The Biography, 2008, etc.) offers an all-prose rendering of Chaucer’s mixed-media masterpiece.

While Burton Raffel’s modern English version of The Canterbury Tales (2008) was unabridged, Ackroyd omits both “The Tale of Melibee” and “The Parson’s Tale” on the undoubtedly correct assumption that these “standard narratives of pious exposition” hold little interest for contemporary readers. Dialing down the piety, the author dials up the raunch, freely tossing about the F-bomb and Anglo-Saxon words for various body parts that Chaucer prudently described in Latin. Since “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale,” for example, are both decidedly earthy in Middle English, the interpolated obscenities seem unnecessary as well as jarringly anachronistic. And it’s anyone’s guess why Ackroyd feels obliged redundantly to include the original titles (“Here bigynneth the Squieres Tales,” etc.) directly underneath the new ones (“The Squires Tale,” etc.); these one-line blasts of antique spelling and diction remind us what we’re missing without adding anything in the way of comprehension. The author’s other peculiar choice is to occasionally interject first-person comments by the narrator where none exist in the original, such as, “He asked me about myself then—where I had come from, where I had been—but I quickly turned the conversation to another course.” There seems to be no reason for these arbitrary elaborations, which muffle the impact of those rare times in the original when Chaucer directly addresses the reader. Such quibbles would perhaps be unfair if Ackroyd were retelling some obscure gem of Old English, but they loom larger with Chaucer because there are many modern versions of The Canterbury Tales. Raffel’s rendering captured a lot more of the poetry, while doing as good a job as Ackroyd with the vigorous prose.

A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02122-2

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times...

ROMEO AND JULIET

From the Campfire Classics series

A bland, uninspired graphic adaptation of the Bard’s renowned love story.

Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times oddly psychedelic-tinged backgrounds of cool blues and purples, the mood is strange, and the overall ambiance of the story markedly absent. Appealing to what could only be a high-interest/low–reading level audience, McDonald falls short of the mark. He explains a scene in an open-air tavern with a footnote—“a place where people gather to drink”—but he declines to offer definitions for more difficult words, such as “dirges.” While the adaptation does follow the foundation of the play, the contemporary language offers nothing; cringeworthy lines include Benvolio saying to Romeo at the party where he first meets Juliet, “Let’s go. It’s best to leave now, while the party’s in full swing.” Nagar’s faces swirl between dishwater and grotesque, adding another layer of lost passion in a story that should boil with romantic intensity. Each page number is enclosed in a little red heart; while the object of this little nuance is obvious, it’s also unpleasantly saccharine. Notes after the story include such edifying tidbits about Taylor Swift and “ ‘Wow’ dialogs from the play” (which culls out the famous quotes).

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-58-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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