Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty

This collection reprints the first five issues of the cop comic by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark. It’s a blend of Law & Order and CSI, complicated by being set in Batman’s city. Rucka and Brubaker have populated the cast with a variety of detectives, and Lark’s art is terrific at keeping the dialogue-heavy investigative scenes visually involving. He does a wonderful job with character expression as well. While investigating a kidnapping, two detectives encounter Mr. Freeze, who […]

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Romance Without Tears

Romance Without Tears sets out to collect love stories from the 1950s that feature “lively, independent… outrageous” girls who don’t spend all their time crying or pining away. The opening essay by compiler John Benson provides an overview of romance comics from their early days through their later over-reliance on the cover image of “the tear-stained face”. The comics reprinted here, originally published by Archer St. John, contrast with those types of stories. These attempt to portray realistic dating scenarios […]

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Three Days in Europe

I love romantic comedies. There are too few of them in comics (which is one reason I’ve been reading more manga, where the genre is more firmly established). When I saw the publicity for this screwball story, I was eager to try it, but I was disappointed. It’s not that Three Days in Europe is a bad story, although it’s got some problems (of which more later). The problem is all the false advertising, from the cover quotes to the […]

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Strange Detective Tales #1

I’m no fan of zombie comics, but this one caught my attention favorably due to the odd combination of elements in the premise. In 1958 Los Angeles, Igor Vorlic (as in Frankenstein) and Renfield (as in Dracula) are struggling private detectives, serving a community of monsters and zombies hanging around the movie community. Just as the main characters are best known for supporting bigger stars, they work with those left around the edges of Hollywood. Their client is the ghost […]

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Clan Apis

Clan Apis is the biography of a honeybee. It’s educational, as you might guess, but it teaches more than biology facts. Each chapter of the story also illustrates a life lesson as well as being wonderfully entertaining. I never thought I could care so much about, or learn so much from, a bee. The story opens with a bee’s version of the creation of the universe, which turns out to be a tale an older bee, Dvorah, is telling Nyuki, […]

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Armageddon & Son

Doonald Feeney wants to be tough, but he’s a selfish loser. He’s never known his dad, until one day, Father Feeney reappears in Armageddon & Son. It turns out that Dad is a supervillain out to destroy the world, only he’s not as good at it as he portrays himself to be. As a result, some of his cohorts have stolen his plan, so he enlists Doonald to help him save the world (because if he can’t destroy it, no […]

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Nancy Drew: The Demon of River Heights

This graphic novel take on the classic detective heroine opens with Nancy, her boyfriend Ned, and her best friends George and Bess making a monster movie. George is technologically savvy, while Bess is boy-crazy. Conveniently, that leads the three into a mystery, as the other students Bess was flirting with have disappeared. The girls set off to find out what happened in Nancy Drew: The Demon of River Heights. While following their trail through the woods, the three come face-to-face […]

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Embroideries

The author of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, returns with a light collection of stories involving the sex lives of her female relatives, Embroideries. After a family meal, as the women clean up, they discuss the history of their loves and relationships. There’s a certain amount of prurient interest involved in hearing these respectable foreign women talk about their most intimate secrets. The introduction reveals the grandmother, the instigator of the discussion, to be a thrice-married opium addict, setting the stage. The […]

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