This weeks Graphic Novel Grab Bag covers three different stories and three different art styles.
The first graphic novel is entitled James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems. This is actually a collection of three previously published stories by James Sturm. As stated by the title all three stories focus on events that appear uniquely American: the gospel tent revival, a gold rush, and a traveling baseball team from the turn of the century. As bright and sunny as the cover might appear, all three are cautionary tales about prejudices, hatred, and racism. Ultimately, each story has a somewhat bright ending, much like the Sun poking out behind the cloud on the cover.
The second novel in today’s grab bag is Plastic Man: On the Lam by Kyle Baker. Plastic Man is a very humorous take on the action-hero comic. All the cliches are here: dimwitted sidekick, beautiful partner, working for a clandestine organization, and saving the world from destruction. The artwork in this novel is very vibrant, and in contrast to some of the darker comics I have read lately, this one is all about the slapstick. Probably my favorite part of this novel was all the different ways Plastic Man transforms himself, Scooby Doo one moment and Sherlock Holmes the next.
The third and final novel in today’s grab bag is WE3 by Grant Morrison. I am relatively new to the graphic novel format, but Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are two names that I keep seeing over and over. Having had the pleasure to read a few of Grant Morrison novels, I would say that you really can’t go wrong with any title.
This story is somewhat tragic. A secret government program to turn everyday animals into lethal killing machines, the hope being that modern warfare will take place in remote locations without the loss of human life. As you can see from the cover, these animals are a far cry from the family pet sitting at your feet.
Everything seems to be okay, until these animals escape from the lab. That is when all hell breaks loose. The artwork in WE3 is what helps set this novel apart from its peers. With an ending that brought a tear even to this grizzled face, WE3 has gained a spot as one of my all-time favorite graphic novels.