Friday, July 31, 2015

Grab Bag Post: League of Seven sequel, Six of Crows, and Zander Cannon's KAIJUMAX!


Just a bunch of quick notes this month about a couple of books and a comics series I've been reading that have me really excited.

Last year I mentioned Alan Gratz's new series League of Seven. Well, now the sequel, The Dragon Lantern, is out, and it's just as cool! Like the first book, this is a steampunk alt-history extravaganza. This has lots of the same cool worldbuilding, but here we get even more of the cool alt-United States, funny and surprising looks at this magical, mixed-up history (Jesse James is a clockwork bandit!), and some clues as to the secret history of this world and the newest members of the League. I saw a comparison between this series and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is apt, but with historical and mythological links as opposed to literary, and more giant monsters. If you haven't read this series, pick it up! The first book, League of Seven, is now out in paperback.

Second, I just read a cool book that's not out yet, and, while I normally don't like to review titles that haven't been released, this is one I enjoyed so much I wanted to mention it now. Six of Crows is the first YA book I've read by Leigh Bardugo, despite having heard great things about her previous books, the Grisha series which began with Shadow & Bone. This one is a heist book-- a team of thieves and ne'er-do-wells gather to pull off the impossible: stealing a man from an impenetrable, impossibly guarded prison. The characters are sharply defined and broad in scope, the action is fast, and the double-crosses come one after another. I guess you would categorize this as dark fantasy, but it's such a fun read I just found it delightful. Six of Crows is due to come out at the end of September-- watch for it or reserve a copy at your local bookstore.

Finally, coming full circle to giant monsters, I want to mention my newest comics obsession-- KaijuMax, a comic about a Monster-Island-like place that's a prison for Kaiju, the monsters from Japanese movies like Godzilla and Mothra. This thing is so darned fun, constantly riffing off the high-concept idea, turning goofy visuals into dark, prison-drama tropes and turning big, dramatic beats into ironic jabs at the stories you find in crime tales. For instance, the cover to the first issue above shows a Godzilla-like dude with prison tattoos carved into his scales, and that kind of visual genre-mixing abounds issue to issue. What's more, if you are a fan of Kaiju movies, or their cousins in shows like Ultraman, then this becomes even more entertaining from all the Easter eggs scattered on the pages. The whole thing is anchored by characters that develop issue to issue. The first 3 issues are out now from Oni Press, and a trade paperback collecting the first season (issues 1-6) should be out in October.

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