Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography

RenegadeRenegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography by Andrea Grosso Ciponte
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

The life of Martin Luther, the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation, has been written about for centuries yet now it can not only be written about but visualized as well. Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography by Andrea Grosso Ciponte and Dacia Palmerino is exactly what its title says about the man who sparked a change in history.

Depicting the life of Luther from his childhood to his death, the biography focuses on his time as a monk led up to and through his break with Rome. At 153 pages there is only so much that can be covered and only so much context as well through sometimes the visual aspect of the graphic novel does come in handy. While the short length of the book obviously foreshadowed only the barest minimum that could be covered on his life, yet the graphic novel aspect seemed to offer a way to enhance the chronicling of Luther’s life. Unfortunately the artwork looks like screen caps of a video game with so-so graphics with only a few great pages of art, usually at the beginning of each chapter.

The overall quality of the biographical and artwork content of Renegade is a mixed bag of a passable chronicle on Luther’s life and so-so artwork. While some younger readers than myself might find it a very good read and hopefully make them want to know more about Martin Luther and the Reformation, I found it a tad underwhelming.

I received this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

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Blood Stain (Volume Two)

Blood Stain, Volume 2Blood Stain, Volume 2 by Linda Sejic
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picking straight up from where Volume One ended with a seemingly chilling end, Elly Torres is face-to-face with their new employer not knowing what’s going to happen next. Linda Sejic’s Blood Stain (Volume Two) continues Elly’s pursuit of a job though she not only has to contend with her employer but also herself in the process.

Elly’s first encounter with her new boss and her first day on the job is on in which both she and her new boss get their first impressions of one another. To say the least it is an adventure of awkward situations and verbal gaffs, for both Elly and her employer, Dr. Vlad Stein. Attempting to create a viable and productive working relationship between the two is Stein’s chef, Serge, who continually explains the good Doctor’s eccentricities to the very imaginative Elly while urging Stein not to send another assistant running away as fast as they can with his gruff behavior. Unfortunately for Serge, he doesn’t know what’s going on in Elly’s head.

Like my review for Volume One, this short description only gives a hint of what transpires in Blood Stain’s second chapter. The continued focus is on Elly, but now that the story is in its central location Sejic begins giving some light on both Serge and Stein. While Elly’s characterization is further along than her two male counterparts, the development on all three is both intriguing and raises questions about how all of them will interact with one another as time goes on and what situations they’ll get into because of their own quirks and misunderstandings.

As a longtime fan of Sejic’s webcomic, it was once again a pleasure to get on paper a story I’ve enjoyed online for years. Blood Stain (Volume Two) is a continuation of a fantastically drawn story with intriguing characters both familiar and that one is just getting to know. If you haven’t already picked up Volume One then I encourage you to get both it and this volume, you won’t regret it.

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The Sworn Sword: The Graphic Novel (ASOIAF- Dunk & Egg #2)

The Sworn Sword (The Hedge Knight, #2)The Sworn Sword by Ben Avery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The graphic novel adaptation of the second of George R.R. Martin’s Dunk & Egg novellas, not only stays true to the originally written story but gives it life with fantastic renderings of all the characters, the locales, and the action. Drawn by artist Mike S. Miller and livened by colorist Mike Crowell, The Sworn Sword gives both “Game of Thrones” book and show fans a great look into the history of the Seven Kingdoms as Ser Duncan (Dunk) the Tall and the future King Aegon (Egg) V learn about the greatest threat to the Targaryen throne nearly a century before Robert’s Rebellion—the Blackfyre Rebellion.

The story begins almost two years after The Hedge Knight, Dunk and Egg are in the service to Sir Eustace Osgrey who holds a small tower but reminisces about his family’s ancient glory and his own immediate family’s misfortune. A nearly two year drought has gripped Westeros after the Great Spring Sickness—think the Black Death—resulting in water and people being short, which is when Ser Eustace’s stream disappears. After Dunk and another sworn sword, Ser Bennis, search upstream they discover that Ser Eustace’s neighbor Lady Webber has built a dam to divert the water. Soon things escalate and the two nobles begin to lob threats and promise blood vengeance as Dunk tries to find a way to make peace.

Of the work surrounding the graphic novel itself, I can only praise the work of Miller and Crowell who not only brought into visual life Dunk and Egg but so many other historically important characters in very consistent way throughout the entire book. It is hard to find fault with the work of these two men save with pointing out a few continuity errors, which unfortunately happen in every graphic novel. But when it came to the memories of Ser Eustace Osgrey about the Battle of the Redgrass Field that ended the threat of Daemon Blackfyre, the artwork is fantastic and brings the memories of the battle alive and giving justice to some of Martin’s best writing.

If you’re a fan of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” world and haven’t gotten this book yet I, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend this graphic novel adaptation of The Sworn Sword as well as the novella itself, you won’t be disappointed.

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Oddly Normal (Book 3)

Oddly Normal, Book 3Oddly Normal, Book 3 by Otis Frampton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the third book of the Oddly Normal series, Otis Frampton’s titular character faces challenges and searches for answers. With quality artwork that enhances the story of Oddly, her friends, her enemies, the world of Fignation, and the impact of the narrative; this installment is a great continuation of the young adult series.

Taking up exactly where the previous book ended, Oddly and her friends enjoy a game of rocketball. However Oddly’s half-witch status once again results setting up the next conflict she must rise to, a broom race. But instead of acceptance from her peers, Oddly finds out that one of her teachers has been behind the attacks by her classmates. With her friends help, Oddly discovers a connection to her parents and confronts her teacher for answers.

In this third book, Frampton begins to address the inciting incident of the series and a powerful antagonist that Oddly confronts for the first time. After the challenging results of Oddly’s confrontation with her teacher, she decides it’s time to focus on finding her parents even if it meant failing at attempting to use magic. However, her Great Aunt prevents her to try any magical solution while encouraging her to live a normal life and giving both Oddly and the reader something to think about.

After two books of exposition in beginning the series, Otis Frampton introduces conflict into the Oddly Normal story arc. With more information on Oddly’s parents as well as a potential ultimate antagonist at the heart of the mystery of their disappearance, the narrative stage has been set for further conflict and the resulting character development for Oddly and her friends. Oddly Normal Book 3 is a critical installment in the series in which the overall story changes things from being introduces to conflict, Frampton makes this change very well making the reader want to get their hands on Book 4 sooner rather than later.

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Blood Stain (Volume One)

Blood Stain Volume 1Blood Stain Volume 1 by Linda Sejic
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An out-of-work college graduate with a chemistry degree has been trying to find a job for two years and desperately reaches out to her last chance, a rumored mad scientist with a creepy voice. This intriguing story idea is the basis for Linda Sejic’s Blood Stain (Volume One), a paperback imprint of Sejic’s webcomic of the same name.

Elliot “Elly” Torres is a twenty-something who does not know what she wants to do with her life or what use her chemistry degree will be to find a job. Living with her mother, sister and brother-in-law, Elly is drifting through life from failed job to failed job while being addicted to online gaming until her mother has to go to the hospital and her sister Claire gives birth. These changes put the entire family in financial straits and Elly has to help make ends meet, it hasn’t gone well for a variety of reasons. Finally in desperation she inquires on a years old job posting from her old college, it’s then that her life gets really interesting and seemingly in jeopardy.

That short description of the first chapter of Blood Stain only gives you a glimpse of what actually transpires in this volume of Sejic’s work. What I can’t elaborate on is the varieties of humor interwoven throughout the approximately 100 pages of story nor the fabulous characters of Elly and her sister Claire that dominate most of the story nor their interactions, which only add depth to their characterizations. In fact the one thing I forgot to mention above in my description is that all the male characters that appear are secondary in this chapter to both sisters, who’s interaction with and reaction to one another drives this first chapter of Sejic’s larger work. It is only when the scene shifts to Elly’s new work place that the rest of the eventual main cast is introduced.

Comics in all forms depend on three things: characters, story, and visuals. Sejic’s art is fantastic not only in her characters but also the scenes in which she sets that add atmosphere to the scenes and layers to the story in their own way. In addition to her work on the story itself, the end of book bonus material finds Sejic showing the creative process of how Blood Stain came about not only the story idea but how ideas turned to sketches that turned to pages. Not only do readers see the evolution of Elly and her two fellow “cast” members, but long time readers of the webcomic get the added pleasure of seeing some of Sejic’s non-continuity one-shot images of humorous and/or sexy nature that she has been inspired to create through her own imaginative process on paper instead of just on their computer screens.

As a longtime fan of Linda Sejic’s webcomic, I could not wait to have Blood Stain (Volume One) in my hands and to see the story in paper. It’s hard for me to articulate to those who have never heard of the webcomic or of the author about why they should buy this book, so I hope at least those who are intrigued by this review will at least search out the Blood Stain webcomic and view it for themselves. That way Linda Sejic’s work will speak for itself more than I ever could.

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Death Vigil: Volume I

Death Vigil: Volume 1Death Vigil: Volume 1 by Stjepan Šejić
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The battle of good and evil is front and center in Stjepan Sejic’s “Death Vigil: Volume I”. While there are certainly white hats, well hair, and black hats there are some important grey figures intermingling among them with amazing art by writer-artist Sejic keeping the reader engaged through the entire book.

The basics of the story is Death, aka Bernie, selects individuals who die valiantly to become Death Knights to defend the living from Necromancers who attempt to bring primordial beings to Earth. The lead character is Sam, a veteran of the Vigil, who explains the structure and way of life of the Vigil to the newcomer Clara whose induction into the group is hiding something from the primordial realm that pops up in important situations for her character throughout the book. On the other side, the Necromancers are “led” by numerous individuals however the prime mover throughout this book is Maria Benes bargains with ‘the King’ for the translation of a powerful Necromancer in exchange for her taking Bernie’s place. And added to the mix the necromancer characters Alistair and his daughter Mia who side with the Vigil though Alistair and Bernie do like one another

After the initial introduction to the concept of the Vigil, Sejic introduces new things throughout the book interesting ways and foreshadows many things that the reader obviously only recognizes when it comes up against in important points of the story. Throughout the book, the Vigil aligned characters are fond of puns, bad puns at that but all of them acknowledge that the puns are bad which adds a little comic flare. A constant throughout the entire book is the excellent art of Sejic who’s long list of credits gives one the idea about how much his talent is wanted and acknowledged by the comic industry.

Upon finishing “Death Vigil: Volume I” the reader will find like myself that they want more and the dangling story arcs continue and grow over time. But the only way for that to happen is for this book to sell good giving Sejic incentive to writing Volume II. Trust me, you’ll not be sorry about reading this book and will agree on wanting more.

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Oddly Normal (Book 2)

Oddly Normal Vol. 2Oddly Normal Vol. 2 by Otis Frampton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oddly Normal’s life in Fignation continues in Book 2 of Otis Framption’s young adult series, as the half-witch learns about her parent’s past while beginning friendships with some of her new classmates. With nice character development and wonderful artwork, this second installment is a wonderful continuation of the “Oddly Normal” series.

After surviving an attack by some of her more nefarious new classmates, Oddly wakes up and talks with her Great Aunt about her parents including looking through some of her mother’s possessions that she kept stored in Fignation and going through one of her mother’s memories. Then Oddly gets an invitation from Ragnar (along with his brother Reggie and friend Misty) to join them at his family “secret” lab, which she does only to return Ragnar’s delivery robot that lost its rockets. Soon Oddly not only finds herself friends but also a pet. But once the weekend is over, the school day seems to go just like her first though a little better with friends.

After establishing his title character in the first book, Frampton expanded Oddly personal history and gave the story some important secondary characters that young adult readers would find engaging that will no doubt help Oddly fit in better in Fignation while her Great Aunt searches for her parents. The wonderful artwork by Frampton is perfect for the age range of the intended audience, though pleasing to those older like myself, and adds to the story being told from panel to panel.

“Oddly Normal Book 2” is a fantastic continuation of Otis Frampton’s young adult series, not only through dialogue and story but most importantly with artwork. Even if you aren’t in the book’s target audience, take a look at Oddly Normal if only to see if your own children or niece/nephew might be interested in following the adventures of this half-witch in an imaginary world.

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