Bill & Ted’s Triumphant Return – Brian Lynch


The aspiring musicians Bill and Ted are the protagonists of two classic sci-fi comedies released around the time I was born. Something like a combination of Wayne’s World and Doctor Who, the films revolve around Bill and Ted using a time-travelling phone booth to guarantee their destiny as messianic rockstars who establish a bizarre future utopia. They’re great fun, though the bit where their evil robot doppelgangers open their skin seriously freaked me out as a kid. Last year Bill and Ted returned in Boom Studios’ comic called, er, Bill and Ted’s Triumphant Return.

Written by Brian Lynch, the main story begins after the conclusion of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Bill and Ted are having trouble writing their second song, so they decide to visit their future utopia to plagiarize themselves. (I have no idea how ethical that is…) They get sidetracked when they encounter a younger version of someone who tried to murder them, and he’s so pathetic that they befriend him. From there, the duo have to deal with parallel timelines, depressed Martian scientists and a tyrannical society where all forms of music have been banned.

It’s a fun story. It builds from the concepts and characters introduced in the original film, but takes them in new directions that seem inevitable in hindsight.

There’s also a few short stories at the end. My favourite was one about Dante irritating the Bill and Ted version of death, but the Ryan North’s story about robots being affected by email spam was also excellent.

The art was bright and colourful, suiting the cartoony feel of the original series.

If Bill & Ted mean anything to you, you’ll enjoy to this comic. Now I need to go watch the originals.


The Plot – Will Eisner


A documentary graphic novel about the horrible anti-semitic pamphlet The Elders of Zion. It’s a profoundly depressing read, but the subject matter is important and the medium accessible enough for this book to be a necessary addition to every school or public library. I’m serious about this, if more preadolescents read this sort of thing the world would be a more sensible place.

Return to Slumberland – Eric Shanower


A modern sequel Winsor McKay’s classic comic Little Nemo, Eric Shanowar and Gabriel Rodriguez ‘s Return to Slumberland tells the story of a young boy who is summoned to become the playmate of Slumberland’s princess. This humorous adventure is accessible for readers of all ages while the inventive layouts, particularly one recalling an iconic M.C Esher print, will impress even the most jaded comic readers. If you’re a school librarian looking for a graphic novel that’ll blow your students’ minds, check this one out.

Captain America: Prisoner of War – Ed Brubacker


After Bucky Barnes is thrown into a Russian gulag for his crimes, Captain America decides that rescuing him isn’t worth the international incident it would cause. After that main narrative there’s lot of nice little one-shot stories, involving Captain America uncovering an evil laboratory under a small town and fighting a rabid Nazi during the Second World War. I got the feeling that this book wasn’t Captain America’s finest moment, I’ll have to read some more to make sure.


Cemetery Girl: Inheritance – Charlaine Harris


I enjoyed Cemetery Girl: Inheritence more than I expected. From the premise, with an amnesiac psychic hiding from her anonymous persecutors in a graveyard, I was expecting an adventure heavily derivative from Johnny and the Dead or The Graveyard Book. Happily, Cemetery Girl successfully distinguishes itself from these precedents to stand out in the small young-person-hanging-out-in-a-necropolis genre.

After Alexa Dunhill’s kindly mentor and maternal figure is mysteriously killed, it is up to her to solve the murder. Complicating matters are a will that grants her everything the old lady owned, but there’s a sensible lawyer who may be able to help her out. The only supernatural element is Alexa’s communication with the victim’s ghost, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the strangers pursuing Alexa are involved in some occult scheme. We never actually learn who they are – presumably that will be resolved in the final book of the series.

Golden’s crisp and colourful art combined with Harris’ economical script to tell a tight, well-placed narrative that was satisfying in its own right while opening bigger questions to be answered later. My question is, will Alexa Dunhill be proud of her past once she remembers her past? That’s always the risk when you’re an amnesiac fugitive fleeing from an unknown foe, maybe they’ve got a very good reason to want to catch you, maybe you’ve been the problem all along.

So yes, I enjoyed Cemetery Girl: Inheritance. I’ll keep an eye out for the prequel and the sequel, and maybe one day I’ll try out some of the novels written by Charlaine Harris.


The Batman Strikes: Scarface is Gonna Go Boom


Here’s a children’s comic about Batman fighting an evil ventriloquist. The stylised art was enjoyable and the simple script was effective. At the end there were these educational questions inviting the reader to invent a story for the dummy’s scar, and asking them if they understood basic comic conventions or if they could understand why Batman was sad when another character mentioned his parents. I thought these insulted the reader’s intelligence, a kid smart enough to read this comic would know all about that stuff.

Saints – Gene Luen Yang

17210471This is a companion piece for Yang’s Boxers, concerning a Chinese girl who converts to Catholicism during the Boxer Rebellion. And it is excellent.The story of Saints interweaves with that of Boxers, showing us the same events from different perspectives. Reading both books gives you a decent understanding of the motivations and beliefs on both sides of the conflict.

To be honest, most of the things I said in my review for Boxers applies here. The art is beautiful, the characters likeable and the historical detail seems accurate. Just replace the Chinese gods with Catholic ones – I mean Jesus and Joan of Arc.

I still reckon that both Boxers and Saints belong on a secondary school curriculum somewhere. Get one class to read the former and the other the latter, and then get them to fight it out, debate-style.

I say this book is great. Go read it!