Book Reviews: Graphics Again

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A. Heinlein

As longtime readers of this blog—wow, couldn’t get through that without laughing—can tell, I’ve been on a graphic novels kick lately, after years of ignoring them. They do take less time to read, and some of them are drawn real purty.

The Rattler
In the middle of nowhere a couple’s car breaks down, and when someone stops the female half gets kidnapped, leaving the guy alone and no doubt thinking you shouldn’t call someone an asshole when they have a working vehicle and you don’t. Ten years later he thinks he’s getting psychic messages from her and goes off to search for her; this is not as easy as it sounds.
Though this graphic novel is done in black and white, the blood is definitely red, and there’s lots of it. In his first fight he gets lucky, but after that it’s his sudden craziness that keeps him alive, as well as some helpful insects that keep him from being the star in a snuff film.
There’s a car chase/crash scene that was simply too confusing to follow, as all the cars look alike.
Definitely did not see the big twist coming, though the scarecrow part was easy to anticipate. The reveal of his long lost love wasn’t much of a surprise either, but there was really no other way of ending it.
“Did you hear Ben Affleck is going to play you in the movie? Tough break.” Guy who made that joke really paid for it.
The artwork is, for lack of a better term, angular, and as stated all black and white with red highlights. Sometimes that can work, but I don’t think this was one of those times.
Extras include the true-to-life background of the story and—first time I’ve seen it in a graphic novel—deleted scenes.

Battlestar Galactica (Classic): Starbuck
Once you ignore the clunky exposition, the story takes off with Adama and Tigh back when they were the Apollo and Starbuck of the fleet, fighting off a Cylon attack on a home planet. Adama gets shot down and is helped by a little blonde kid. . . gee, I wonder who that could be? Next we see how Starbuck first meets Apollo and Athena—of course—and gets “mentored” by a cigar-smoking pyramid-playing pilot. I’m having some vague recollections from the novels about how Starbuck grew up, so it might be sticking to that.
The plot that threads everything together concerns a conspiracy in the attack that left Starbuck an orphan.
All the familiar characters are here, like Jolly and Greenbean. Good to see Zac, considering he died minutes into the series premiere. He makes a lot of funny faces. And I had no doubt Athena was definitely as kickass as shown here. There’s a surprising amount of humor; not that there wasn’t in the TV show, but it’s better here. When Zac can’t get away from an attacker, he’s simply told, “Stop whining, Zac.” He used to be the same about spiders. Later he gets another putdown: “One sniff of a toaster and they wet themselves.” I laughed way more than I expected, especially since not all of it came from Starbuck’s mouth.
Despite it being labeled as Starbuck-centric, it also served as an excellent prequel to the series.
Most of the artwork is true to life, especially Starbuck; Athena could have been done better, though.

Blood Stain Volume 1
Starts with: “Somewhere in the asscrack of the Mediterranean.”
This story features a recent college graduate with a degree in science-y stuff who can’t hold a job, in science or otherwise. Her sister berates her—for quite a while—about all the occupations she’s already screwed up in her young life; it’s a longer list than expected, at least in the context of how long it takes to get to the plot. It also serves to show that her sister’s a bit of a jerk.
The first thing you need to know about the heroine is that she looks just like Anna Kendrick. That works for me. She’s pretty insecure, but I love how snarky she can be, definitely more fun than I expected. Finally she has no choice but to accept a job opportunity with a scientist that everyone calls creepy or worse; she’s given three hours to get her stuff together and herself to the airport, so of course it’s raining, because everything turns out wrong for her.
There’s one place called “Spatula Shore.” The humor is the best part. Unfortunately this volume ends just as she meets the doctor, appropriately during a blackout.
It’s too bad I don’t know enough about graphic arts to tell you why I liked this artwork more than most. There’s one part that completely blew my artistic mind: a profile of the main character as a waitress in full run; it just looks so beautiful I’d love to have it hanging in my home.
The blurb made me think this would be horror, but it’s surprisingly funny. Other than the doctor’s bloodstained lab coat, there’s nothing here that’s chilling in any way, but I suppose that can change in future editions.
Page 90 starts 40 pages of extras, including a “documentary” on how this was created; it’s more fascinating than the story. And as promised, there’s plenty of sketches. Pretty funny how she tried to force some fanservice with her character dressed as a maid, but thought better of it.
So just how funny is this character? There’s one point where she looks directly at the *camera* and pronounces, “I farted!”

Bob’s Burgers: Well Done
The characters from the animated TV show drop down to static figures in stories that have little to do with burgers. (What, I love burgers! I could go for one now. . .)
There’s Tina’s Erotic Fan Fiction Presents, in which she plays Bogart in Casablanca, appropriately done in black and white. Another story deals with why the town has far too many pest control trucks. “Quick show of hands: who thinks there’s some weird conspiracy?” Simply could not have put it better myself. There’s a twist near the end right out of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Those two were okay, but then came a rhyming story about Atlantis which never got off the ground; somehow they end up at Machu Picchu. After that was a strange retelling of Romeo and Juliet which I just didn’t get, following by Peter Pants (Yes, it does sound like “Peed your pants.”) At least the line “Ops, I’m rhyming again” made me laugh. The last one was an X Files parody about missing sandwiches.
At first it felt a little strange to have a story continued later, until I remembered—duh—these were collections, so each chapter was in a separate edition. There were running gags like how the attempts at family photos in front of the store always get screwed up. There’s a page featuring a burger race car which looks incredibly cool. Alternative covers are strewn throughout, plus a lot of them at the end. There’s a cute Western version with just about everyone on a poor horse, and another that’s right out of Indiana Jones. Some are exclusive to certain events, like Free Comic Book Day.
It’s good, but too uneven to be called great.


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