In case you haven’t guessed by my lack of posting this week, I’m on vacation, which means you get a smattering of short reviews this week as I attempt to do as little work as possible.
No Pasaran! Vol. 3
by Vittorio Giardino
I haven’t read the first two volumes in Gardino’s Spanish Civil War saga (featuring his dapper, bearded spy protagonist, Max Friedman), but despite that fact, I thankfully didn’t feel completely lost — I was able to figure out who all the major characters were and what their relationships with each other consisted of without too much effort on my part. In fact, I can honestly say I enjoyed the series enough that I’ll probably go back and track down the first two books at some point. Not necessarily right away though — I wasn’t as enthralled as I have been with certain manga series (Naruto, Death Note) that I’ve stumbled into midway though. It’s a bit too much talking heads ultimately, and not enough skulduggery to make me unabashedly recommend. Giardino’s a consummate artist though, and he can draw beautiful women like nobody’s business. For many, that will be more than enough to warrant purchase.
Flight Volume Five
Michael’s already discussed this volume at length over at his column. I don’t have too much to add to the discussion except to say that my feelings about the Flight books remain consistent with this latest offering. The artists whose contributions I’ve liked in previous volumes (Scott Campbell, Graham Annable) I continue to enjoy and feel provide the best work in this new book (though some attention should be paid to John Martz’s “Scenes in which the Earth Stops Spinning”). The work whose people previously left me cold or indifferent continue to do so. Whimsical fantasy continues to dominate, and there’s still an emphasis on craftsmanship and artistry over characterization and plot. It’s a likeable, but still somewhat shallow collection of stories. Much like the Flight volumes that have come before.
In the Small
by Michael Hague
Little, Brown, $19.99.
What an extremely odd and terrible book this is. I’m really not sure where to begin. Do I talk about the premise — a mysterious, apocalyptic event that shrinks every human being on earth down to barbie doll size — and how it has a unsavory sexual edge that you usually find only in certain fan fiction ciricles? Do I discuss the horrible, laughably stilted dialogue? (“I know this sounds crazy, but I have a feeling something terrible is about to happen. Catastrophic. Not just to us but to all mankind.” “Are you telling us you saw the end of the world?”) Do I focus on Hague’s stiff, awkward artwork and his ugly, waxish faces? Or should I talk about how the level of violence and gore seems wildly inappropriate for the tween audience the book is aimed at? Either way, this is the sort of book best avoided on any and all occasions, until it becomes the sort of odd obscurity that gets made fun of on blogs.