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graph·ic nov·el

1.  a novel in comic-strip format.

I read them all.  The good and the bad, so you don’t have to.

Welcome to The Pull List.

And, as always…Spoilers ahead!

Emily and the Strangers HC
Writers: Rob Reger, Mariah Huehner
Artist: Emily Ivie
Cover: Emily Ivie, Buzz Parker
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $12.99
Release Date: May 7, 2014

We all either knew someone, or perhaps we were that person, who would damn any band with faint praise for being on MTV simply because they were on MTV.

Some did it to keep up with the status quo of the elite few that were actually in the know when it comes to music.

Others did it simply to stand out and be different even though it was a false sentiment.

Emily Strange is the former and she is unlike any character you will read about in a comic book.

The story follows Strange as she wins a haunted guitar owned by her favorite musician. The catch is that she has to form a band and win Battle of the Bands in order to keep it.

Rob Reger and Mariah Huehner do a phenomenal job of making Emily adorable enough where she doesn’t come off too cutesy while making her likable despite her self-absorbed personality. This, along with her rock n’ roll counter culture state of mind, produces an individual who tends to be the smartest person in the room.

These moments shine during her interaction with her bandmates who also carry their weight thus serving the story well. While the late addition of a sixth band member named Trilogy served as the missing piece of the puzzle, it fell flat and took away from the story to a degree because more time was spent giving her street credit by matching musical knowledge with Emily instead of highlighting her talents. Emily Ivie’s art direction was clean, precise and creatively moved the story along at a nice pace.

Besides efficiency, you can tell she has fun drawing this book, especially during the scenes in Emily’s lab where her many cats constantly get in the way of her work. These moments are not funny on their own, but it’s Emily’s nonchalant reaction to them that puts a smile on the readers face.

This 6” x 9” sleek hardcover will look good in your collection on the shelf and comes with some neat concept art and some vintage looking concert posters of the band. Emily and the Strangers is a well delivered tale that will appeal to comic book and music fans because it speaks to them both on a level that is entertainingly qualified in subject matter.

Score: 8/10

Batman: Volume 4 Zero Year Secret City HC
Writer: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artist: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascencia, Dave McCaig
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $24.99
Release Date: May 7th, 2014

The critical success of Zero Year has done nothing to dethrone Batman’s place on top of the comic book sales mountain, but there is some credence to living in the here and now instead of delving in the past. Especially when it has been re-imagined ad nauseam.

However, Scott Snyder is working within the frame work of a new universe where he decides what’s canon.

Certain aspects of the Batman’s mythos ride with Bruce Wayne during his formative years which makes the reader appreciate the past, present, and future of Caped Crusader.

Greg Capullo’s artwork is beautiful and an incredible example of visual storytelling. Action scenes, body movement, and facial reactions are all drawn with a sense of dreary vigor. The way he highlights Gotham makes the city almost as important as Batman, which serves as a constant reminder of what Batman will ultimately fight for.

I’m not a fan of Zero Year, but reading this collected work of issues 21-24 made me appreciate it more. All of the subtle details carry more weight because I’m not forgetting them all a month, or longer, from now.

With this year being Batman’s 75th anniversary, why not take a trip down a different memory of The Dark Knight’s past that is entertaining and intriguing.

Score: 8/10

Hero Bear and the Kid Volume 1: Inheritance TPB
Writer: Mike Kunkel
Artist: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $19.99
Release Date: May 14th, 2014

The belief and imagination of a child is a magical because of the innocence behind it.

Hero Bear and the Kid: Inheritance is a story about a boy named Tyler who is grieving over the loss of his grandfather. As stated in the title, Tyler receives an inheritance in the form of a stuffed bear. Squeeze its nose and it comes to life as the red cape wearing Hero Bear.

Mike Kunkel has created a story that everyone can enjoy. Kids can relate to the trials and tribulations of recess and not wanting to be seen with a stuffed bear, adults can reminisce about their first crush, and everyone can recall that feeling of anxiety during the first day of school or day one of a new job.

What I loved about the artwork is how I felt everyone emotion Kunkel was trying to convey.

Watching Tyler fight crime alongside his super powered polar bear made me smile at every turn while seeing him embrace his grandfather’s tombstone will make the shrewdest pundit choke up just a little bit. I know panels of these design are meant summon a desired emotion. However, the flow of the imagery makes it easy for the reader to immerse themselves into the moment on the page.

The decision to only use color on Hero Bear’s cape was a nice touch. Not only does makes him stand out but it reminds the reader of how special he is to Tyler, especially when he is flying on his back. There also a mystery central to the plot that gets a little bigger which each chapter and the end result brings about a heartwarming conclusion that you will never see coming.

I can’t say enough good things about this series and I think it would make a wonderful gift for a child getting into comics or one who likes a great story because Kunkel puts this together in a way where the significance of lessons learned will not be lost on them.


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