NEW GRAPHIC NOVELS
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Various
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Last review of the year. Let’s get to it…
THE LAST BATTLE (Image Comics) is a nice surprise; a nifty work of historical fiction set in the time of Julius Caesar, something I would normally have zero interest in reading. But artist Dan Brereton’s name in the credits meant that it had my attention, and I’m glad for that. He and writer Tito Faraci have created a compelling (and beautifully drawn) action story with compelling characters- a combination you just can’t beat. We follow retired General Rodius as Caesar sends him on one last mission- to kill his former protégé, a rebel named Cammius who threatens Rome’s standing and security. Thus we get a true emotional stake to go along with a liberal dose of hacking, slashing, and beheading. Throw in a nice, low price point of eight bucks, and this one is a winner across the board.
NBM delivers SALVATORE VOL.2 by artist Nicolas De Crecy, and it is every bit as fantastic as volume one, if not better. SALVATORE is one of the more unusual books to cross the pond in the last couple of years- told with anthropomorphic characters, Salvatore is a dog whose lady love has moved across the ocean, and he has worked as a mechanic in order to finish building a machine that he can both drive and sail to South America and be reunited with her. In the passenger seat is his assistant/pet human, and in a secondary plot we follow a pig who has lost one of her litter and begins a strange odyssey to try and find him again. Both plots get a lot of play in volume two, but it is Salvatore’s journey into temptation when he picks up a hitchhiking beauty that carries this book along. Rich in character and filled with one remarkably strange moment after another, this one is well worth your time.
Many years back, I read some really good minicomics by writer/artist Aneurin Wright that focused on his work as a caretaker for his terminally ill father. Now it is a great pleasure to see he has completed his journey with the story and collected it all in one massive volume. THINGS TO DO IN A RETIREMENT HOME TRAILER PARK (Myriad Editions) is a 300pg+ tome that tells the whole story of Wright’s move to his father’s side during a bout of unemployment, the progression of his father’s disease, the last sputtering gasps of their tortured relationship, and much more. This is one of the most involved and affecting portraits of how terminal illness affects both the afflicted and the survivors that I have ever seen, and Wright’s naked emotional honesty makes it work. Intriguingly, he draws both his father and himself as anthropomorphic characters, though every other important character is presented as standard human. This ultimately has the effect of showing just how Wright and his father presented masks to each other for their entire lives, and it’s only when Wright takes his off that he connects to everything happening to him. This is an outstanding book, and well worth the effort you might have to make to get it (it doesn’t have a U.S. publisher yet, only a U.K. edition).