Graphic Reads #2

In Graphic Reads I share my thoughts on the graphic novels I’ve read most recently.

Anya’s Ghost
by Vera Brosgol
First published in 2011

Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend wasn’t one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century. Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend – even a dead one – is just what she needs. But Anya’s new B.F.F isn’t kidding about the “forever” part…

“A masterpiece!” says Neil Gaiman’s blurb on the cover, and I’ve come to trust Mr. Gaiman when it comes to book recommendations. Anya’s ghost is a delightfully well-drawn and tightly plotted graphic novel. Anya is a typical teenager with body issues who is a bit embarrassed by her family. Added to this are the supernatural elements and a mystery plot, but they work very well with the more everyday material.

Although the book is over 200 pages long, it reads very quickly because it isn’t crammed with dialogue. The pictures play a strong part in moving the story forward – not everything needs to be put in words. I searched out Vera Brosgol’s earlier work in the Flight anthologies I own, and I can see that in Anya’s Ghost her style has really matured into a pleasing, professional and original whole.

Favourite character: Anya. I liked watching her grow in self-confidence.

Runaways vol.4
by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, Craig Yeung
First published in 2006

When a group of teenagers discovers that their parents are actually super-villains, they run away from home… but that’s only step one. Now that the evil Pride is gone, nearly every bad guy in the Marvel Universe is trying to fill the power vacuum in Los Angeles, and the Runaways are the only heroes who can stop them.

I saw this trade paperback in the library and picked it up, since I had heard a lot of good things about the title. I was interested in the premise of a group of teenage superheroes, especially when girls made up the majority. The characters, their powers, and the baggage their super-villain parents left behind, were intriguing. I enjoyed the dialogue and the main theme of are people responsible for their parent’s actions, and the actions they themselves might make in the future.

I thought I was reading the first TPB, but it turns out this was the fourth – the issue numbering was reset after the first 18 issues, because the series was originally canceled then. I had no trouble in jumping right in, though, since the characters were properly introduced and this was the start of a new story ac. I’ll definitely continue this series, as well as read the previous installments.

Favorite character: Nico. I just love goths and mages. The idea of being able to cast every spell only once was also intriguing.

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs 1
by Mike Mignola et al.
First published in 2011

In 2001, Hellboy quit the BPRD, leaving Abe Sapien to lead Liz Sherman and a bizarre roster of special agents in defending the world from occult threats, including the growing menace of the frog army.

The book consists of the first three TPBs of the Plague of Frogs, and is massive. There are short stories mixed in with the longer ones. I hadn’t read any Hellboy GNs before, so this might have been a weird place for me to start. Still, I wasn’t confused, although some previous plot points were mentioned once in a while.

I gravitated more towards the longer stories with more character interactions, with the short ones leaving me a bit cold. The characters were very interesting, especially the amphibious man Abe Sapien, the homunculus Roger, and Johann Kraus, a medium who exists in ectoplasmic form inside a body-shaped bag after his physical form was destroyed during a seance.

Favourite character: Abe Sapien. He’s cool and collected. I’ve liked him ever since seeing the movies, although the movie and graphic novel character have slightly different nuances.


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