cover image Ball Peen Hammer

Ball Peen Hammer

Adam Rapp, . . Roaring Brook/First Second, $17.99 (134pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-300-7

In an eerie postapocalyptic urban world, humanity is turning on itself. This graphic novel revolves around a trio who were likely downtown hipsters before the crisis began. Welton, a musician, and Aaron, an author, still have the energy to discuss the purpose of art, but find themselves committing unpardonable acts to save themselves. Exley, an actress, unexpectedly ends up caring for Horlick, a young boy who is teetering between playing childish pranks and becoming a menacing criminal like his older brother. All three adults reminisce about previous loves, and one tries to seek out a passionate one-night stand from the past. Rapp, best known as a novelist and playwright, reflects on the ways we cling to art and passion in the face of destruction and the horror we feel as those things slip away. His story can be thought provoking, although at times his plotting and metaphors—and the unrelenting grimness of the story—feel heavy-handed. O'Connor's sinister, stunning artwork, with rich coloring by Hilary Sycamore, helps propel the story and, in the end, is the most haunting aspect of the book. (Oct.)