A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel.

DARK ONE

A 17-year-old faces his destiny in a divided and distant land.

Paul seemingly has a tenuous grip on reality. He sees visions of an unreal, fantastic land, and Nikka, a blue-tinted hallucination of a girl who claims to be his sister, insists on keeping him company. Living apart from his mother, with whom he has a strained relationship, Paul tries to keep up a normal life with frequent visits to his therapist. When a sword-wielding warrior disrupts a session, Paul is flung into Mirandus, the world of his visions. With a clear flow between panels, the implication of time passing in a montage of wide, epic scenes of Mirandus; brilliant and emotive color schemes; and a cleanly minimal drawing style provide a strong visual aspect to the story. Inexperienced graphic novel readers will easily be able to follow the flow of dialogue, and the clear depiction of speech and narrative bubbles provide further visual literacy cues. While the discussion of good versus evil is a bit heavy-handed despite attempts to subvert the binary, the overarching theme of destiny as depicted by the Narrative adds an intriguing twist. Paul’s relationships with Nikka and other characters are engaging, but the pacing makes them feel rushed. Paul is biracial (Chinese/White); the humans of Mirandus appear mostly White. (This book is available now as a digital edition, with print release currently scheduled for May 2021.)

A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939424-45-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vault Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A Rand primer with pictures.

ANTHEM

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

A graphic novel for devotees of Ayn Rand.

With its men who have become gods through rugged individualism, the fiction of Ayn Rand has consistently had something of a comic strip spirit to it. So the mating of Rand and graphic narrative would seem to be long overdue, with her 1938 novella better suited to a quick read than later, more popular work such as The Fountainhead (1943) and the epic Atlas Shrugged (1957). As Anthem shows, well before the Cold War (or even World War II), Rand was railing against the evils of any sort of collectivism and the stifling of individualism, warning that this represented a return to the Dark Ages. Here, her allegory hammers the point home. It takes place in the indeterminate future, a period after “the Great Rebirth” marked an end of “the Unmentionable Times.” Now people have numbers as names and speak of themselves as “we,” with no concept of “I.” The hero, drawn to stereotypical, flowing-maned effect by illustrator Staton, knows himself as Equality 7-2521 and knows that “it is evil to be superior.” A street sweeper, he stumbles upon the entrance to a tunnel, where he discovers evidence of scientific advancement, from a time when “men knew secrets that we have lost.” He inevitably finds a nubile mate. He calls her “the Golden One.” She calls him “the Unconquered.” Their love, of course, is forbidden, and not just because she is 17. After his attempt to play Prometheus, bringing light to a society that prefers the dark, the two escape to the “uncharted forest,” where they are Adam and Eve. “I have my mind. I shall live my own truth,” he proclaims, having belatedly discovered the first-person singular. The straightforward script penned by Santino betrays no hint of tongue-in-cheek irony.

A Rand primer with pictures.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-451-23217-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot.

ON A SUNBEAM

In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe.

After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family.

An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17813-8

Page Count: 546

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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