Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sequel Sunday!

Today, I am going to check in with the latest entries in a couple of promising series to see how they are progressing and if they are living up to the great expectations I had reading the first volumes. I think both series feature examples of exceptional world-building and strong character work.
The Chase is the third book in the Last Man series (my first two reviews are here), what has so far been a tale set in a small fictional town, focusing on a fighting tournament. All of those provincial matters from the Valley of the Kings get left way behind here. Mom Marianne has taken her son Adrian out of town to track down his former fighting partner, the scalawag Richard Aldana, who has skipped town with the trophy. Amazingly, she has a badass motorcycle, a map to strange lands, and hitherto unknown ability to summon powerful spells.

The emergence of Marianne's secrets is just one of the surprises this book holds. There are also a massive trek through a wasteland, a battle with corrupt policemen, a surprise rescue from some quite remarkable firemen, a visit to a crazed city, some duck and covering in a brothel, and a trial that is part professional wrestling, part kangaroo court. A lot of the reviews I have read compare it to Mad Max, and there definitely are similar insane energy and situations at play here. There is so much that goes on that it is sort of hard to believe this is the same series as before, but the action is frenetic and breathtaking. And I continue to be won over by the winning characters. They are so much fun to read about and see in action.
Don't mess with Mama, dude...
The artwork is as excellent and expressive as ever, a great mix of European and manga comics conventions. I have not been able to find many reviews of it as of yet, but the ones I have read have been positive. Matthew Garcia called it "engrossing, gripping, and a lot of fun." Comic Bastards called it "another really impressive addition to the Last Man series and a bright spot in the dull year that 2015 has been for comics."

A lot of the action in this book is set in a whorehouse and there are a few threats of sexual violence, so I wonder how kid-friendly this book is. But at the same time I can't help but think that the fast-paced action and broad humor cannot help but win readers over. I'd recommend it for older young adult readers.

Verdict: I am still hooked on reading what will happen for two reasons: 1) to see what awesome and insane venues this adventure will lead, and 2) to see what other surprising twists and turns lay out there for these endearing characters.

Battling Boy was one of my favorite books of 2013, and I was very impressed by the dark turn and  truly scary tone of its follow-up The Rise of Aurora West. Fall of the House of West very much continues in the same vein, and in this book we learn more about the plans and intentions of the monsters. And more importantly we learn the full story about the death of Rosetta West, Aurora's mother. There are a great many revelations in this book, and I have to say that the narrative is very well thought out and quite heartbreaking. It is also quite impressive how all three book's narratives fit together and compliment each other in suspenseful and satisfying manner.

I know that many people are down on the fact that Paul Pope is not drawing this book, but I have to say that I don't miss his artwork because David Rubin's artwork is simply stunning. It is simultaneously realistic, cartoonishly animated, and monstrously frightening. The layouts and storytelling are masterful. He really takes all of the nuances and affordances of sequential and uses them to his advantage here. Even in the smaller paperback format, his art pops and really sells the book.
In his hands, even a moth can be menacing...
All of the reviews I have read about this book have been strongly praising. Dustin Cabeal impressively called this series "the best superhero stories being told in comics to date. Nothing is even remotely close to being as good." Tobias Carroll concluded simply that it was "a terrific ride." Lindsey Morris summed it up as  "Recommended reading for any comics fan."

The monsters and family issues in this book are quite horrible and harrowing, so I don't think this book is quite for younger elementary school students, but I think it would be a great for grades 4 and up, especially if they can handle scary stories.

Verdict: I am very eager to see what the next follow-up in the Battling Boy series will be. It has been a fantastic series full of action and a surprising amount of heart.

Both books were published by First Second. They provide previews and much more information for The Chase here and for Fall of the House of West here.

No comments:

Post a Comment