Sunday, October 25, 2015


In THE BLACK HOOD #4: THE BULLET'S KISS, CHAPTER THREE, Officer Greg Hettinger confronts two of The Connection's major henchmen in a cemetery. The fight doesn't go well for either side, but The Black Hood is unmasked in the conflict and Hettinger's real identity is revealed. Wounded and with the police hot on his trail, Hettinger is forced to leave the scene and his assailants are captured. He knows he only has a limited amount of time to find The Connection and get his revenge before he's hunted down and killed by The Connection himself. His circumstances force Hettinger to take drastic actions and seek help from those he trusts the most. The story keeps getting better and I look forward to the next chapter of The Bullet's Kiss. The end of the comic includes an essay about the problem of graft and corruption in Philadelphia.


In THE BLACK HOOD #3: THE BULLET'S KISS, CHAPTER THREE, after being framed for drug possession, Officer Greg Hettinger fully embraces his alter-ego as The Black Hood and begins full-force vigilantism, seeking to locate man (known as The Connection) ultimately responsible for framing him. Slowly he begins to unravel the names of the drug-cartel ladder until it leads him to a cemetery and his most violent confrontation, yet.  I really enjoyed THE BLACK HOOD #3: THE BULLET'S KISS, CHAPTER THREE and found it to be the best chapter in the series, yet. I'm looking forward to more in the tale of The Bullet's Kiss. The comic has a short essay at the end about crime in real-world Philadelphia and the difficult in finding people to report criminals and criminal activity.


MUDDY MAX: THE MYSTERY OF MARSH CREEK is a graphic novel about Max. Max seems to be a fairly typical pre-teen. However, his parents are obsessive about mud: they won't let a drop of it touch him or enter their home. This is particularly difficult for Max because he lives near a marsh in a town that is famous for its mud. One day while trying to escape from the school bully, Max falls into the mud and he eventually discovers it gives him superpowers. Max and his best friend Patrick are determined to see what else Max can do when he comes in contact with the mud. They also begin to suspect that Max's parents are hiding something from him and that the secret has something to do with muddy Marsh Creek.

I enjoyed reading MUDDY MAX: THE MYSTERY OF MARSH CREEK. The book moves along at a nice pace with no slow moments. There are a few loose ends that make me believe that a sequel might be in the works. As for the illustrations, readers should be aware these are not colored-illustrations. They are done in more of sepia-tones: lots of browns with some black and white.


THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES is a graphic novel anthology consisting of two Hans Christian Andersen adaptations and one new and original story by the authors. The stories in the book are:

"The Red Shoes" – a poor girl named Karen loves to dance. Karen loves to dance. At her mother's funeral, Karen is presented with a beautiful pair of red shoes. When Karen moves in with her aunt, her aunt throws the shoes away. She then buys Karen a new wardrobe of clothes, including a beautiful pair of red shoes. However, an evil shoe shiner curses the shoes and Karen begins dancing and is unable to stop.

"The Glass Case" – this is an original story by Metaphrog. A young boy named Sam falls in love with a beautiful doll in a museum. The doll is actually alive and Sam begins spending more and more time with her. Sam's father beats him and he is picked by other children for his unusual interests. He makes plans to run away and start a new life.

"The Match Girl" – this is one of Hans Christian Andersen's more famous stories.  A young girl lives alone with her abusive father.  Her job is to sell matches to people. However, on one cold winter day, the young girl is unable to sell any matches and knows if she returns home without having sold any matches, she will be beaten. To keep warm in the cold, she lights a match and magical things begin to happen.

While the illustrations in THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES aren't spectacular, they do a great job of capturing the mood of each one of the stories. With that said, these stories really aren't for kiddies. Hans Christian Andersen is known for his "fairy tales", but very few of his fairy tales are actual fairy tales. Good doesn't always conquer evil in his stories and sometimes there are no lessons to be learned. For instance, in Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", the Little Mermaid doesn't get the prince to fall in love with her and she returns to the sea and dissolves in foam.  "The Red Shoes" can be viewed as a lesson against pride and greed, but Karen really isn't a very prideful or greedy person; she just likes to dance and for some reason really likes red shoes.  "The Match Girl" hasn't done a single thing wrong and what ultimately happens to her might be viewed as a blessing, but it's incredibly dark and depressing. "The Glass Case" is an original story, but it's just as dark and depressing as any of Andersen's tales.

That's not to say I didn't like THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES because I did. However, readers should be aware that these aren't light stories and some very violent things happen. Overall, the book is a nice visual adaptation of the stories with illustrations that do a good job of capturing the tone and mood of the stories.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: THE SMURFS #19: THE JEWEL SMURFER

THE JEWEL SMURFER is the 19th volume of collected Smurf stories by Peyo and released by Papercutz. This book is a full book-length story. The central character is Jokey Smurf.  After a prank with Brainy goes awry, Jokey is captured by two traveling human street entertainers. At first they aren't sure what to do with the little blue elf. However, when he is able to get their pet mouse to perform all the tricks they were unable to, he becomes their prized possession. A man who sees their show promises them that they can gain all kinds of wealth if they use the blue elf for other purposes: stealing from homes at night. When the life of the pet mouse is threatened, Jokey feels he has no choice. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf and some of the other Smurfs set out on an adventure to find Jokey and bring him back home. I really enjoyed THE JEWEL SMURFER. I've discovered that I enjoy reading longer Smurf stories instead of the shorter ones that the Smurf collections normally have.  THE JEWEL SMURFER is just a really good story and has all kinds of great elements; it even references Hamlet at one point!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: SMURFS MONSTERS

SMURFS MONSTERS is a themed collection of Smurf stories. Each of the stories in this collection revolve around the theme of monsters.

"Motro, the Forest Monster" – after "purchasing" Mother Nature's garden, a man named Fatso and his bruisers awaken the forest monster Motro to destroy the garden and hunt down the Smurfs. Papa Smurf has to seek the aid of the good magician Homnibus to help.

"The Golden Acorn" – when Grandpa Smurf becomes ill, Papa Smurf, Hefty Smurf, and Sassette Smurf set out on a dangerous journey to find a golden acorn to heal him.

"The Wild Carrots" – Apprentice Smurf dumps his useless potions and elixirs onto the dying carrots that Farmer Smurf hasn't been able to grow. However, the mixture causes the carrots to grown and to become living animals that wreck havoc in the village and the forest.

"The Ice Castle" – a group of sibling travelers are captured and imprisoned by Mauvebeard, the Lord of Ice. Papa Smurf finds a message tied to a young fawn and sets out to rescue the prisoners.

"Bigmouth and the Lizards" – in exchange for a month's worth of meals, Bigmouth brings Gargamel a pair of lizards that he has trained to hunt for Smurfs.

I enjoyed SMURFS MONSTERS. I found it to be a really nice collection of themed Smurf stories. Great Smurf collection for Halloween-time!