Hitting comic book shelves this week are a handful of books about intergenerational warfare; they join another title on the same topic that came out a few weeks ago but I’ve only gotten around to reading now. They all tend to side with characters who are young and stupid (or naive, if you prefer), rather than those who are old and jaded, which is of course understandable: I’d rather read about folks who don’t understand the world than those who’ve lived long enough to have answered life’s mysteries, only to find that the answers are all disappointing.
Thanks as always to Phoenix for helping to pick through the recent releases, and for giving me a peek at Yes, Roya, a particularly saucy-sexy adults-only book out this week. I’ve still got the vapors over that one.
CITY OF DRAGONS
This one came out back in September, but I’m just catching up now and I’m glad I kept it in my to-read pile. A young teenager named Grace has moved to Hong Kong after the death of her father, and is just in the middle of tentatively finding a friend-group when she stumbles across a newly-hatched dragon. This leads to all the fun hijinks one might expect — plenty of “how are we going to hide this from your parents” moments — but there’s also a deeper mystery about where the dragon came from and why it found its way to Grace. An excellent action-adventure mystery that straddles modern Hong Kong and Chinese antiquity, City of Dragons presents a likable ensemble of international teens armed with technology and magic. In fact, if anything, the ensemble might be a little too likable for my tastes; conflict between our main characters is largely nonexistent, and what few arguments occur are almost instantly resolved. Their diverse backgrounds and competing interests might’ve been an opportunity to add some depth to what is a fairly straightforward good-guys-versus-bad-guys adventure. Oh well! As adventures go, a bunch of youngsters running around a labyrinthine city with a mythological secret is still pretty spellbinding.
Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲 (4/5)
Author: Jamal Yogis. Illustrator: Vivian Truong.
WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE?
It’s Empire Records meets The Warriors. Civilization has collapsed, and among the factions of survivors that have established camps is a group of teens holed up in an old record store. The youngsters must abide by a rule: When one of them ages up, they leave the record store and journey out into the wasteland to join a neighboring clan of creepy pig-masked warriors; an uneasy truce is shattered when one of the recently-departed members returns. With them comes information that could transform the teens’ meager lives, and also two dangerous monsters. The book presents an intriguing political chess game at the end of the world, beautifully illustrated with a blend of shadowy grime and sickening neon color-splashes. And what a brilliant setting for a coming-of-age story — a music store in a crumbling wasteland, where teens struggle to assert autonomy against the vicious adults they know that they will inevitably become. Adulthood: The ultimate apocalypse.
Rating: 💿💿💿💿💿 (5/5)
Authors: Tyler Boss, Matthew Rosenberg. Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Alt cover: Marcos Martín, Skottie Young, Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oemind, Martin Simmonds, Courtney Mensard, Jenny Frison. Color assistant: Clare DeZutti.
MY DATE WITH MONSTERS
I’d like to thank this book for introducing me to my new favorite fictional character: Croak, a trans-dimensional demon who eats bad dreams and offers dating advice. My Date With Monsters is great fun: Half of it is a gory horror about a world in which scientists accidentally allowed nightmares to enter our waking world; the other half is a sweet story of a young woman looking for love amidst the chaos, aided by a horrible monster who has become her best friend. While he’s not the center of the story, Croak is fantastically-written — a magical devourer who talks like a casual watercooler buddy — and I’d gladly spend more time with him. Unfortunately, the book grows excessively wordy in his absence, and many pages feel waterlogged with dialogue that adds little. Fewer word balloons would have freed up more real estate on the page for horrible visions, all of which the grotesque art pulls off with aplomb.
Rating: 💤💤💤💤 (4/5)
Writer: Paul Tobin. Artist: Andy MacDonald. Colorist: DJ Chavis. Letterer: Taylor Esposito. Alt covers: DJ Chavis, James Harren, Cliff Richards, Juancho!, Mike Rooth, Matt Dalton, Sebastian Cheng, Martia Frantz, Hal Laren, Chinh Potter, Maggie Z. Logo and backmatter: Charles Pritchett. Editor: Mike Marts.