“Saga Vol. 4” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2014)

Saga Volume 4

In the fourth volume of the hugely popular Saga graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, fans can expect more of the same amazing and thrilling storytelling as the story continues to unfold in new and completely unpredictable ways.

The close-knit family – Alana, Marko and dear little Hazel – are enjoying some private time on a fringe planet called Gardenia, after being on the run from their respective governments for a long time. Alana is an actress in an underground entertainment outlet known as the Open Circuit, but there is a lot of stress and strain forcing her to take a drug to cope. Meanwhile Marko is raising Hazel and seeing very little of his wife, befriending another mother who begins hitting on him, and the overall stress is putting a strain on their relationship.

The secondary story focuses on the Robot Kingdom, where Prince Robot IV’s wife gives birth to his son. Then a plan is hatched by a disgruntled robot janitor, killing the woman and kidnapping the son. Then he travels to Gardenia to complete his nefarious plan, kidnapping Alana and Hazel. Prince Robot IV and Marko must then join forces to save their families.

The wild ride that is Saga continues in this addictive fourth volume which you won’t be able to put down. The art is great as always, filled with vibrant colors that bring these alien worlds and alien people to life. You won’t want it to end, but you also will want to find out what happens next.

Originally written on August 2nd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Saga Volume 4 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Saga Volume 1  Saga Volume 2  Saga Volume 3

“Pretty Deadly Volume 1” by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics, 2014)

Pretty Deadly Volume 1

The key to a good story is that it is compelling and immediately sucks you in. When it comes to a graphic novel, the same rule applies, both to the story and the artwork. In the case of Pretty Deadly volume 1, a new series from Image Comics that feels like a combination of Sandman and Preacher, the story and artwork does exactly this.

A young girl named Sissy is traveling with her guardian, blind Fox, learning from the stories he tells. The most surprising tale is of the death-faced Ginny who is looking for Fox with vengeance. As Sissy hears and learns of the entire tale (as does the reader), it sparks off a series of events that will eventually lead to Sissy’s destiny.

Told through the lens of the old west with plenty of mythology and magic thrown in, Pretty Deadly is a great new series with some vibrant, colorful artwork that makes it feel like a dark fairytale. Fans of Gaiman will want to get their hands on it as soon as possible.

Originally written on July 27, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Pretty Deadly Volume 1 from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora & Fauna” by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts (Image Comics, 2014)

Manifest Destiny: Flora and Fauna
starstarstarHalf Star

With a whole lineup of great comics making their debut in 2014, Manifest Destiny is one of the most eagerly awaited, now collected in the first graphic novel trade, Flora & Fauna. The year is 1804 and Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark are setting out from St. Louis, Missouri and are headed west in search of the Pacific and everything in between. But this isn’t your ordinary history lesson told in graphic novel form, for this is a different new world where everything isn’t as as it seems.

As Lewis and Clark, along with their contingent of soldiers and criminals (to be used as collateral in any fighting) set out on their journey of discovery they almost immediately come across a massive structure that looks a lot like the renowned gateway arch, only its over a hundred a fifty years before it is to be built, and it is covered in strange designs and flora. It is something both ancient and mysterious. And that’s when the group sees the first monsters, strange creatures that appear to be centaur-like creatures that are half human half bison.

They eventually meet up with a guide, Sacajawea, who is much more than a young and naïve Native American girl. And then there’s the strange plant virus running through everything and turning it into a zombie-like creature, including people. The group has more than enough to deal with in just staying alive, and it is then revealed that Lewis and Clark are actually on a secret mission appointed by President Jefferson to explore and classify the exotic and foreign life that exists in this strange place.

The story is an interesting one for the beginning of a new series and the title is clearly a play on the overused term. While the plant virus story seems a little simple, the other details (like the strange arch) hint at more mysterious and frightening things to come. The artwork is a little harsh and stark to perhaps match the tone of the story, but stronger and clearer details would do more to suck in the reader. Nevertheless, it is an engrossing and stimulating start to a new series that looks to go anywhere other than predictable.

Originally written on June 26, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Manifest Destiny: Flora & Fauna from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Saga Vol. 3” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2014)

Saga Volume 3
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In the third volume of the award winning graphic novel series, our strange cast of heroes finally make it to the distant planet of Quietus where they hope to meet Oswart Heist, a novelist of some acclaim who once wrote a trashy piece of romance that was supposedly secretly veiled as a story about two star-crossed lovers who should never been together falling in love. It was this book that Alana first read and came to believe to be something true and achievable, and when she met Marko and had him read the book also things took a great turn in their relationship.

A good chunk of this volume is spent in giving some important and useful back story to our main characters, as well as a past love of Marko’s, one Gwendolyn who has joined the small posse of bounty hunters looking to capture the married couple and end their union. Prince Robot is the one who has been tasked to make sure this mission is carried out without any mishaps, and so far he has been less than impressed.

This volume gives some good surrounding story to many of the characters we’ve already met, but in this story like any good one it is not always clear who is ultimately good or evil, because everyone is just so different and fresh and new and has never been seen before, not just in comic book form, but in story form. Volume 3 fills in some important history holes that the reader has been wondering about and keeps them on the edge of their seat with what’s going on on Quietus. It’s one of those stories where you want everyone to be fine and come out alive at the end, but you know that’s not going to be the case.

Originally written on April 19, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Saga Volume 3 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Saga Volume 1  Saga Volume 2

“Saga Vol. 2” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2013)

Saga Volume 2

In the first volume, Hazel, the beautiful child of Alana and Mark – two alien races who have hated each other for generations and are bent on each other’s imminent destruction – got to see what some of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy had to offer, as well as some interesting alien species. Now things get kicked up a notch when she meets family.

As the parents and child continue to travel across the galaxy in the giant tree that is their ship, along with the help of the incorporeal teenage girl who is bonded to Hazel and helping them however she can, they get a surprise welcome from Marko’s parents. Emotions rise as his parents have just magicked themselves onto the ship with supposed good reason, but ultimately they really wish to meet Hazel and introduce themselves as her grandparents. Meanwhile, things are not going well for our bounty hunter friend and his liar cat, but because they’re such interesting characters, the reader feels empathy towards them.

The second volume continues right along after the first, continuing this saga with some new characters that continue to show Staples’ range and ability as a brilliant artist, but also in the power of the story and its diverse cast. This is of course a fantasy world we would never want to live in, but we sure can’t seem to get enough of reading about.

Originally written on April 19, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Saga Volume 2 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Saga Volume 1

“Saga Vol. 1” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2012)

Saga Volume 1

Brian K. Vaughan impressed the world with his fun and bestselling comic book series, Y the Last Man. Now he returns with a new series, partnering up with a female artist once again, this time with Fiona Staples, in Saga. A space opera science fiction original that at heart is a simple story, but is surrounded by a complex world with fascinating characters and a mythology that immediately sucks in the reader and always leaves them wanting more.

Marko is a ram-horned alien while Alana is a moth-winged alien. Their people have been fighting each other for a long time, to the point where their own worlds now choose to fight each other on other planets in distant galaxies. But Marko and Alana are unusual in that they are madly in love with each other. The first volume of Saga opens with the birth of their child and begins to be told from her viewpoint at an older age as she looks back on this tumultuous time.

It is soon discovered that these two opposite aliens not only love each other but have created a supposed abomination and they must be stopped at all costs. And so bounty hunters are employed to end them and cover up this horrific union that should never have happened.

Vaughan and Staples have clearly had a lot of fun creating a unique world with some very strange alien characters that are both interesting and enjoyable, such as a giant cat named Liar Cat, because it always knows when you are lying and will be sure to tell you. After reading this first volume, you won’t be surprised to discover it was one of the biggest selling graphic novels in 2012 and 2013, as well as winner of a number of awards. And thankfully, volume 2 is already out for you to get your hands on.

Originally written on April 19, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Saga Volume 1 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Sword Volume 1: Fire” by the Luna Brothers (Image, 2008)

The Sword

Discovered on a recommendation from a friend, Fire is the first volume in the four-volume The Sword collection from the Luna Brothers.  The art style is good but not exceptional, the storytelling interesting in the way that great stories are: an captivating beginning that slowly deals out the details, hooking the reader in as they wonder what will happen next, until the full story is revealed to the reader’s complete and utter surprise.

Dara Brighton is an ordinary girl who has learned to live with being in a wheelchair very well, working her way through college and keeping her eye on the cute boys.  As she enjoys a hearty dinner with her family, three strangers of apparent strength and ability break into their home and accuse her father of hiding a secret sword.  He denies it, so the massacre begins as these strange assailants reveal their unbelievable powers, and Dara soon finds herself fighting for her life.  She ends up deep within the basement of her house; a place she hasn’t really searched before, and buried within it she finds the sword.  As she picks it up she feels the power run through her and miraculously stands up.

The first volume of The Sword series will hook any graphic novel fan, and the Luna Brothers reveal a good amount of explanation and back story at the end of Fire that will make the reader impatient to read the successive three volumes.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Sword: Fire from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.