NEW GRAPHIC NOVELS
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Various
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Three spiffy new hardcovers have hit my desk lately. Let’s take a gander at them, shall we?
I was a huge fan of the Louvre-inspired graphic novel series even before I went to work for NBM Publishing, and I remain one after my departure. Thus, I was pleased to see another entry as ROHAN AT THE LOUVRE hit shelves recently. As with each of these books, it is radically different than the previous one, and in this case, than any of the others, period. ROHAN brings manga to the world of the Louvre, and Japanese artist Hirohiko Araki is the first non-French artist to participate in the endeavor. The story itself also ventures into horror territory, melding Euro and Japanese influences sweetly. Rohan, an artist, meets a mysterious woman who tells him of a painting made with the blackest ink ever, a story he forgets until one day he visits the Louvre and tries to see the painting. There, tragedy and terror unfold as the consequences of seeing the piece set in for Rohan and those around him. Everything here works; the art is lovely, the colors are striking, the story is interesting, and the presentation (hardcover and in proper right-to-left format) is excellent. The Louvre series continues to be absolutely magic for readers.
GENETIKS (Archaia) is also quite visually striking, and has the usual excellent production design I’ve come to expect from the publisher. The story is the real standout here, though. Thomas Hale, a research in a bio-lab, had given the company a blood sample when he started work. Unknown to him, they have been attempting to decode the human genome, and in Thomas’s case, they actually succeed. However, in order for the company to protect its assets, they want him to do something highly unusual: sign himself over to them as their property. Thus, he becomes privately owned by his employer. (Raise your hand if you think that turns out well. No?) Protest groups, friends, conspiracies, and machinations upon machinations… the whole mix is here, and writer Richard Marazano pulls out all the stops to keep the pace moving quickly and keep the reader guessing as to what is really going on. The art by Jean-Michel Ponzio is heavily photo-referenced, but never stiff, and it helps the story flow. The one real downside here is that this is listed as volume one, and you get left with an awfully large cliffhanger. Dunno when part two ships, but “soon” would be good.
While it seems to be sweeping up geeks and non-geeks alike, I have never quite gotten the fever for George R.R. Martin’s GAME OF THRONES (Bantam). It just isn’t my thing, in neither prose nor television. Thus, I’m probably not the best person to tell you about the graphic novel either. That said… this beautiful-looking book certainly presents the material well. Writer Daniel Abraham does a solid job of taking the material and shifting it to the comics medium and making it understandable and accessible and artist Tommy Patterson does effective work in keeping the storytelling clear and effective. This hardcover collection of the Dynamite Entertainment single issues gets a number of added bonuses, including a preface from Martin himself, and a lengthy sketch and design gallery. If you’re a fan, this is something you would definitely want to have on your bookshelf.