To say that I was excited when I found out Audible was adapting The Sandman, the iconic Vertigo comics series written by Neil Gaiman, into a multi-part audio series, would be a massive understatement. I'm an avid audiobook listener, Neil Gaiman is one of, if not my favorite author, and I'm a massive fan of comics. This was tailor made for individuals like me. Yet I found myself tempering my expectations a bit based on previous experiences with efforts at adapting comics. Perhaps the widest spread examples are the Graphic Audio adaptations of numerous DC and Marvel superhero romps. They are almost exclusively cheesy and often problematic. Locke & Key was adapted using a similar audio drama structure, but it's lack of a narrator made it un-listenable for me, despite my love of the source material. I should have known better. Gaiman and crew absolutely nailed it.
Verona Comics is the latest novel from author Jennifer Dugan. It's a YA romance novel that follows the intersection of two teens following a chance encounter at a comic con. Jubilee is a cello-playing prodigy whose stepmom runs a popular indie comic book shop. Ridley is high-strung and anxious and his parents own a huge chain of comic book superstores. At a comic con prom event, the two meet in costume and shortly thereafter begin to text, not knowing the other's identity. From there, romance blossoms and family secrets and business put the new relationship in jeopardy.
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is one of the latest entries in DC's recent effort at targeting original graphic novels at the YA audience. I've found the campaign to be largely successful, including some great entries like Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass and Shadow of the Batgirl. DC recruited NY Times bestselling YA author Laurie Halse Anderson to pen Tempest Tossed and got one of my favorite artists, in Leila del Duca, to illustrate. Any book with art by del Duca is about as close as you'll get to an auto-read for me. The book's creative team is notably comprised of only women. Colorist Kelly Fitzgerald and letter Siena Temosonte round out the team.
Dragon Ball Super, vol. 3 is the third volume in the revived Dragon Ball series from Akira Toriyama. This series finds Toriyama himself taking over the story telling duties on the series for the first time since Dragon Ball Z concluded. With the help of artist Toyotaro, Toriyama is once again telling stories about the characters and in the world of one of the most well-known manga of all time.
Pure Invention by Matt Alt is a new release that chronicles that wide-ranging impact that Japan's pop-culture has had on the world from the years following World War II through today. The breadth of topics is fairly wide-ranging, rather than focusing on a single industry or phenomenon. It's a testament to the sheer size of the pop-culture juggernaut that Japan has become over the 70-plus years that the book covers. While Pure Invention isn't an "own voices" history, Alt lives in Tokyo and seems to have a deep love for Japanese pop-culture and has crafted a compelling and well-researched history.
November volume 2 picks up in the immediate aftermath of the first volume that came out last year. This volume is about the same length as the first volume, coming in at about 80 pages. I think the release model for the series is pretty interesting. You'll end up with amounts to a pretty hefty graphic novel coming out in three chunks over the course of about 18 months.
This was absolutely bonkers. Usually I start a review by giving a brief synopsis of what the book is about, but I felt this one warranted a bit of commentary first. Crocodile Baron is a manga about a talking, high-class crocodile novelist who is always on the search for the finest culinary treats that Japan has to offer. Donning his top hat, with his side-kick, Rabbit, in-tow, Crocodile departs to a new area of Japan in each chapter after hearing about the best place to get Japanese favorites like Udon or Takoyaki. If that sounds like a pretty crazy premise for a book, it's only because it absolutely is.
Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston is the latest entry in the Disney-era line of Star Wars novels. It's the second time that Johnston has penned a novel about Queen Amidala, after writing Queen's Shadow last year. Whereas Queen's Shadow found Johnston expanding on Padmé's time in the Galactic Senate after stepping down as Queen of Naboo, Queen's Peril bookends the Padmé story by going back to the time immediately after she was elected Queen. Johnston again focuses heavily on Padmé's relationship with her handmaidens, and fans of the series are sure to recognize some familiar faces as the Queen assembles the group. Much like Queen's Shadow, Queen's Peril is mostly targeted at a YA audience.
LaGuardia is a 4-issue series written by Hugo award winning author Nnedi Okorafor with art by Tana Ford. The series is part of the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse that's run by legendary former Vertigo editor Karen Berger. Taking place an indeterminate amount of time in the future, LaGuardia finds an Earth where aliens are now integrated with human society. Future, a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor, is returning home to New York City after several years living in Lagos, Nigeria. Future's stated reason for returning home is to raise her child at home in America, but some mystery surrounds Citizen, the father of her child, and the sentient illegal plant named Letme Live that Future has smuggled into the United States.
The City We Became is the latest from acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. Building off of the short story The City Born Great, The City We Became is a fantasy/horror novel about a group of 5 people that have been chosen by New York City to protect itself from an evil threat seeking to destroy it. When I say chosen by New York City, I'm not talking about a democratic election. Jemisin utilizes the mythos of New York City as a core fabric of the book and personifies the city to make it both a character and setting. It's something that I felt to be very unique and original.