Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Frank Herbert et al. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3150-1

Reasoning that cramming the entirety of Herbert’s landmark 1965 space opera into one graphic volume could prove futile, veteran Herbert world expanders Brian Herbert (son of the classic’s author) and Kevin J. Anderson’s dutiful adaptation covers just the prose version’s first third, in a planned three-volume release. They break down the story into bright plot points drawn by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martin (the Harbinger Wars series). Thousands of years into the future, the royal house Atreides moves to the desert world Arrakis, recently vacated by their rival house Harkonnen. Though Arrakis is a valuable source of the coveted drug “spice,” Duke Leto and his Jedi-like concubine Lady Jessica realize it is also “infested with Harkonnen intrigues” and prepare their son Paul for a bloody power struggle. Herbert’s Middle East history—and ecology—informed universe is on full display, including imperial infighting, Medici-like assassinations, the Bedouin-like Fremen tribes, and extremist water conservation (for instance, spitting is a sign of respect). Though the arc moves swiftly, the traditionalist art feels stiff in talky scenes with characters poised mid-gesticulation—but it excels in broad action shots, such as the first spotting of a massive sandworm maw. This efficient take will whet appetites for more adventures to come. Agent: John Silbersack on behalf of Trident Media Group, and Mary Alice Kier, Cine/Lit Representation. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/06/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Blue Giant: Omnibus, Vols 1–2

Shinichi Ishizuka, trans. from the Japanese by Daniel Komen. Seven Seas, $19.99 (444p) ISBN 978-1-64505-864-9

Ishizuka’s page-turner applies the gung-ho spirit of action manga to an unlikely subject: jazz music. In the quiet, tree-lined city of Sendai, teenager Dai vows to master the saxophone, declaring, “I’m gonna be the greatest jazz player in the world.” As his classmates plan their future careers, Dai practices on a riverbank, busks on the street, meets professional musicians, and locates a gruff instructor. Ishizuka rises to the challenge of depicting music in a visual medium, dramatizing performances with dynamic collages. The characters’ expressive visages convey the inspiring, emotion-releasing power of music. Woven throughout is an explainer about the jazz musical tradition, which remains framed for its original Japanese readership, comparing jazz to improvisational Asian music using the taiko and shamisen. Refreshingly, Ishizuka’s pacing allows ample room to demonstrate the nonmusical nuances of Dai’s character as he plays basketball, works at a gas station, and hangs out with friends. It all takes place in a world where Dai’s relentless confidence overcomes setbacks and everyone in his life come to support his unusual dream. Combining optimistic storytelling with intense emotion, this bighearted musical celebration is a delight. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/06/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Came a Harper (Fox and Willow #1)

Allison Pang and Irma “Aimo” Ahmed. Outland Entertainment, $19.99 (170p) ISBN 978-1-947659-65-0

First published as a webcomic, this playfully erotic but derivative fantasy series follows Willow, a runaway princess traveling with a talking fox who morphs into a saucy naked half-man when the two are alone. Willow stumbles upon a skeleton in the woods, with one bony hand clutching an engraved pendant. She scoops up the jewelry, then makes her way to the nearest village to seek help. There, the miller’s flirty daughter offers her a meal and a place to sleep in her family’s barn. When Willow uncovers a stash of hidden keepsakes, she begins to suspect that something more nefarious is motivating these seeming Samaritans. The hijinx that follow call to mind tragic British ballads: a swan, a ghost, a harp, and several murders crop up. There’s a goofy energy driving the proceedings, but the plot is thin, characters tend toward stereotype (there’s a sexy murderous miller and other generic evil sorts), and the artwork loops through confusing stylistic shifts, with deviations in coloring that feel more like the artist trying out techniques than necessarily serving the narrative. This comes off as feeling rushed from web to print. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/06/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hypnotwist/Scarlet by Starlight

Gilbert Hernandez. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-68396-204-5

Hernandez collects two wild, woolly, sexually frank stories from the Love and Rockets: New Stories series in this rambunctious if slim volume. “Hypnotwist,” a wordless, surrealist fantasy reminiscent of early Daniel Clowes, follows a woman’s journey through a twilight suburban landscape peppered with symbols of sex, parenthood, consumerism, addiction, and dissipation. In “Scarlet by Starlight,” a ruthlessly cynical deconstruction of pulp science fiction, space colonists study and exploit the hairy, nonverbal “forest people” of an alien planet, with one explorer taking the forest woman Scarlet as his mistress. The two pieces have little in common except for their willingness to push the envelope and their repetition of Hernandez’s signature fascinations: pulp fiction and midnight movies, memory and obsession, and mysterious, alluring, impossibly top-heavy ladies. There’s a B-sides vibe to the volume, but it boasts an intensity that makes it hard to put down—and almost anything from Hernandez is worth a look. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/06/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Alienated

Simon Spurrier and Chris Wildgoose. Boom! Studios, $19.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-68415-527-9

Energetic artwork and an extraterrestrial element elevate this fraught tale of teen angst from Spurrier (the Hellblazer series) and Wildgoose (the Batgirl series). While wandering through the woods one day, high schoolers Samuel, Samantha, and Samir accidentally hatch an alien egg. The infant creature that emerges imbues them with nigh-godlike powers. They promptly spiral into cruelty, anger, and sorrow: Samir forces his absentee father to face him in a pocket dimension, Samantha confronts the ex who abandoned her after she became pregnant, and Samuel uses the creature to become an antiestablishment vlogger no one can ignore. The alien is visualized as an inhuman entity, rendered in fluid strokes of turquoise and orange. Though it acts primarily as a catalyst, it’s arguably the heart of the story: the tension between its omnipotence and babyhood shapes the narrative’s high points. At its best, this comic confronts the raw pain of adolescence with a refreshing lack of condescension. Unfortunately, it also settles for a few too many coming-of-age clichés, such as when Samantha’s undone by a baby doll she’s assigned in a home ec lesson straight out of a dated after-school special. The result is a decently done specimen of young adult sci-fi, but one that doesn’t leave a lasting impression. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
One of Those Days

Yehuda and Maya Devir. Random House, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-23143-2

The Devirs share upbeat, slickly drawn gag-glimpses into their married life in this collection of their viral online comic. Though each one-panel cartoon stands on its own, a loose plot forms as the couple moves to Tel Aviv and settles into marriage and, later, pregnancy and parenting. Their mild domestic antics include sharing a bathroom, bedroom escapades, watching the World Cup, and fighting off mosquitoes at the park. Though some installments turn epic—Black Friday shopping is depicted as a postapocalyptic battle—for the most part the comic remains grounded in mundane details. The big visual draw is the attractiveness of Yehuda’s and Maya’s lounging-around-super-hero-style cartoon selves, pinup characters who frequently appear in underwear or swimsuits and look good even when picking hair out of the drain. The book does have a padded feel to it, as each comic is printed twice (in black-and-white and in color) and they are interspersed with promotional illustrations from the couple’s Instagram, like a celebration of their one millionth follower. The material isn’t significantly different from other family strips, but this coffee-table volume should sate the couple’s sizable audience. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Co. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Under-Earth

Chris Gooch. Top Shelf, $29.99 (560p) ISBN 978-1-60309-477-1

Gooch (Bottled) delivers a claustrophobic tale of brutality, survival, and betrayal in a world where humanity must persist in the harshest conditions. In a toxic prison built inside a subterranean landfill, prisoners sift through debris to make a living. (“You work or you starve. Nobody cares either way.”) Reece, a new arrival, struggles to adapt, and connects with Malcolm, a towering fellow inmate who offers him unusual friendship—until the hostile environment puts their friendship to the test. When a gang beats up Reece, he looks to his friend for help—only to be let down. Later, Reece gives up Malcolm to the predators, who sell him into an illegal fighting ring. Meanwhile, two women navigate the underworld and take on a job that might get them out, but their employer betrays them. Desperate and wounded, they plot their revenge. These two threads unspool in alternating chapters as the spare drawings linger on acts of violence, with brilliant red blood set against muted shades of black and yellow. The hyper-grim focus amplifies the significance of every act of kindness, making those moments surprisingly moving. Told with superb rhythm, this pitch-perfect thriller gets dystopia down right. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Infinitum: An Afrofuturistic Tale

Tim Fielder. Amistad, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-296408-3

Fielder (Matty’s Rocket) digs deep into his pulp toolbox to fuse genre influences in this daring epic, which bristles with action and verve. African warrior regent Aja Oba commands a cavalry of giant canines to subdue rival kingdoms while amassing great wealth. But Oba and his queen are unable to bear children, and so he steals the newborn son of his concubine, who retaliates by cursing him to immortality. He sees his queen, son, and kingdom wither over time, and enters a never-ending loop of conflict, conquest, love, loss, and rejection as he wanders the continent for centuries. When he’s brought to the New World as a slave, he goes on to become an American folk legend, acting in modern history at key moments. As the narrative rockets forward from fable to space fantasy, Fielder stumbles in a final arc of interplanetary colonization, warring aliens, and Armageddon that lacks the depth of his earlier visions. The single-panel splash renderings writhe with giant beasts, battlefield landscapes, and close-up intimate moments and tortured emotional expressions. Aja’s hulking musculature is drawn just right, and Fielder portrays him as strong, cunning, and deeply flawed. This sweeping tale mirrors both the history of genre literature and the African American experience. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Sapiens: A Graphic History (Vol. 1)

Yuval Noah Harari, David Vandermeulen, and Daniel Casanave. Harper Perennial, $40 (248p) ISBN 978-0-06-305133-1

Humanity learns its relatively insignificant place in the universe in this witty graphic adaptation by Vandermeulen and artist Casanave with historian Harari of his popular 2015 anthropological examination of the human race. “Humans were just weak, marginal creatures for a good two million years,” claims Harari, who goes on to explain how humans jumped to the top of the food chain—causing ecological disaster along the way. Refreshingly, the co-creators don’t treat the original text as a sacred calf, and take risks as they transform the sprawling scientific history into an accessible visual narrative. Yuval narrates most of the science as a story told to his young niece, but some concepts are conveyed as old-timey advertisements, jokey “Prehistoric Bill” Flintstones–style comic strips, an imagined TV talk show, and a high-stakes trial of “Ecosystem v. Homo Sapiens.” While some panels are text-heavy, the storytelling and Casanave’s rich line drawings keep things zipping along. This appealing first volume elucidates often misunderstood basics of human evolution (i.e., that until 50,000 years ago, there used to be at least six species of humans) while also unraveling knotty existential questions about humanity’s role on this planet. Young science enthusiasts and adult philosophers alike will want to pick up this smart, snappy work. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/23/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Remina

Junji Ito, trans. from the Japanese by Jocelyne Allen. Viz, $22.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-974717-47-7

Eisner winner Ito (Uzumaki) builds relentless tension that explodes into chaos in this nightmarish science fiction manga epic. An astronomer discovers a new planet and names it after his teenage daughter Remina, turning both the planet and the girl into international sensations. Then the planet begins hurtling toward Earth, devouring the rest of the solar system along the way. The wealthy formulate escape plans, the rest of the population panics, and Remina becomes the most hated person in the world. The narrative opens with Remina being crucified by hooded cultists convinced that her sacrifice will placate her namesake planet, and the action only escalates from there, reaching a fever pitch of cosmic horror and mass hysteria. Less carefully structured than Ito’s greatest works, it nonetheless has a hypnotic energy, combining the frantic inventiveness of Osamu Tezuka with the dream logic of Kazuo Umezu—and an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, especially as Remina approaches Earth and is revealed to be something incomprehensibly alien. In Ito’s sleek, atmospheric art, even the most attractive characters have the haunted eyes, and he’s well up to the task of rendering disaster on a cosmic scale. With natural disasters, terrors from space, mountains of corpses, and swarms of screaming killers, there’s something here for every horror fan. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/23/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.