Book Review

Mini(bot) Reviews: Comics Round Up

Playing catch-up with my 2019 reviews and I wanted to share a few quick thoughts on four great comics/graphic novels I read at the end of last year (and one from the beginning of this year.)

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
My Edition: Paperback – 229 pages – 2018 – Disney/Hyperion – ISBN: 9781368022804

This is a comic series about a couple of friends born and raised on a space station. Tallulah is always on the lookout for adventure and Sanity is a genius who both encourages and tries to restrain Tallulah.

I love that the focus here is on female friendship, science, and technology. The girls make a great pair and really balance each other out, giving the book a good mix of levity and seriousness. In the first volume, we get to see just how smart Sanity is when she literally creates a living creature from materials she’s siphoned from the lab.

I really enjoyed the limited color palette, though it may not work for everyone.

Sanity & Tallulah: Field Trip by Molly Brooks
My Edition: Paperback – 227 pages – 2019 – Disney/Hyperion – ISBN: 9781368023771

In the sequel, the girls get to go on a field trip and actually leave the space station. This is a rare occurrence, and of course something goes wrong.

I enjoyed seeing Tallulah take a little more of the spotlight in this book. The girls work well together, using their strengths for different situations. But the first volume focused more on Sanity’s science skills and this one puts the emphasis on Tallulah’s social skills. She comes off as a bit bird-brained, but it benefits everyone in this adventure. Also, bee-squids! (Yep.)

I think this is a fun series so far and I look forward to where Brooks takes it. I would definitely recommend it for fans of middle-grade sci-fi.

Stargazing by Jen Wang
My Edition: Paperback – 214 pages – 2019 – First Second – ISBN: 9781250183880

Jen Wang is back with another beautiful, bittersweet story of friendship with a touch of fantasy. Wang is really shaping up to be a favorite storyteller/artist of mine.

This is a touching and somewhat sad coming-of-age story that shows the challenges of making new friends in middle school. There’s a lot of culture here, revolving around what it means to be Asian, defined by different families and also how to balance that culture with “fitting in” at school. The Asian culture also brings in the slightest fantastical elements as well, if you like a sprinkle of magic in your contemporary reads.

I have a friend who dislikes reading about bullying in middle-grade novels (it’s definitely a bummer) and I want to point out that there’s some light bullying in this book. More so, it tackles the topic of when someone is mean to their friend for the sake of fitting in. That sort of thing really depresses me, because I’m aware it happens only too often, but I love the realism of the story and I love feeling them feels. I wanted to put that out there in case there any of you prefer to avoid this topic.

Mystery Society by Steve Niles – illustrated by Fiona Staples
My Edition: Paperback – 132 pages – 2017 – IDW – ISBN: 9781631409622

If you’re looking for a quick, action-packed, funny comic about a secret society with some super-hero/mutant-esque characters, then this is it. Mystery Society doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a high-tech, low stakes, easy to enjoy little romp about a husband and wife who start a team to track down paranormal secrets. There’s a bit of the found-family theme here too.

Come for the mystery, stay for Secret Skull and Verne. Seriously, I would love a Secret Skull spinoff series. I would love this comic as a Netflix series actually, but only if they did it right! No stupid CGI mask for Secret Skull.

As usual, I love Staples’s work and that’s the main reason I wanted to read this, though I do love the oddball group with various skills and powers coming together to fight crime/solve mysteries/fight the patriarchy, etc. Sadly there seems to only be this one volume comprised of five issues. I really wish there were more!

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