Top 10 Graphic Novels August 2016

The top ten best-selling graphic novels of August 2016 were:
As always, linked titles are available from PBCLS.

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Spooky Graphic Novels for Halloween

Greetings Boils and Ghouls!  Your Friendly Neighborhood Library is celebrating Halloween with a list of spooky graphic novels.  This year, why not ditch the movie marathon and check out these titles from the Palm Beach County Library System?  Whatever your plans are for this evening, remember to have fun and be safe.



Batman: Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
This classic Batman tale focuses on the early days of the Dark Knight as he attempts to stop a serial killer named Holiday.  The renowned team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale deliver one of the best Batman stories in history: a must read for any Batman fan.





fromhellFrom Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Comic book icon Alan Moore’s From Hell is a study of Jack the Ripper.  The story examines many different aspects of one of history’s most notorious characters, and instantly galvanized the comic industry.





hellboyHellboy by Mike Mignola
The Hellboy series follows the exploits of the eponymous character and his team as they investigate the supernatural.  The catch here is that Hellboy and his team are themselves supernatural beings.  The books blend folklore, comedy, suspense, and great art to create one of the best series in comics.





Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman & Sean Phillips
The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman turns the Marvel superheroes into zombies.  ‘Nuff Said.






gl blackest nightGreen Lantern: Blackest Night by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis
This multi-volume series focuses on the Green Lantern Corps’ battle with the Black Corps, a group of undead superheroes and villains.






30 days of night30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
In the sleepy town of Barrow, Alaska, the sun sets for 30 consecutive days.  A group of vampires discover this and descend on the town in a frenzy.  30 Days of Night is one of the most innovative horror stories in recent memory, and the amazing artwork only adds to the horror.





walking deadWalking Dead by Robert Kirkman & Various Artists
This is where it all started: Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead was a runaway hit from the moment it was released, and is now one of the most recognizable franchises in America.  Kirkman is without a doubt this generation’s George A. Romero; if you’re a horror fan, you owe it to yourself to read these books.





sandmanSandman by Neil Gaiman & Various Artists
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is without equal.  The books blend elements of mythology, suspense, and horror to create a comic series unlike any before or after it.  A true classic in the medium, and a perfect choice for Halloween.





the crowThe Crow by James O’Barr
James O’Barr’s The Crow is the tragic story of a man who is brought back from the dead to seek revenge on the men that killed him and his fiancée.  This underground hit has produced several movies, a television show, and numerous comic book sequels, but nothing compares to the original.

New 52 Batman: The Dark Knight volume 2

BatmanTDKI just picked up volume 2 of Batman: The Dark Knight at the library and I have to say that I was impressed. Cycle of Violence is definitely the book for fans of Batman’s villain The Scarecrow. The imagery of the Scarecrow is intense and horrifying [from the first page where we see him sewing his lips together to his murder scene dungeon. D: ] Beside his usual methodical psychosis, we are also shown an empathetic side of The Scarecrow. Although it does seem to come out of nowheresville, it is nice to see a dynamic characterization of our favorite villains in the New 52 universe. David Finch’s storytelling flows wonderfully throughout the book/issues. Overall, the art is average “comic booky” art, but Hurwitz does a fabulous job bringing the characters to life, especially with his grotesque depiction of The Scarecrow.

After a series of child kidnappings, Batman tracks The Scarecrow to his secret base where he succumbs to The Scarecrow’s fear toxin. How does Batman escape his own mind? Will he save Gotham from The Scarecrows new super toxin?

Grab a copy of book 2 and find out!

*Volume 2 includes issue 10-15 and the #0 issue, which tells of young Bruce's beginnings as a detective and how he tracked down his parents' murderer.

Geoff Johns is Amazing

I was originally going to write a review of Batman: Earth One and then I realized that two other amazing stories I have recently read were also written by Geoff Johns. So I decided to review them all together and remark on how Geoff Johns is a fabulous comic book writer. Four birds, one stone.

Batman: Earth One
I’ll start with my original review of Batman: Earth One. This is a spectacular reimagining of Batman’s early years. While the original back story concept remains intact (Mr. and Mrs. Wayne are murdered, leaving a young Bruce Wayne to cope without family which ultimately leads him to become The Batman) the rest of the story has some interesting twists. For starters, Bruce is raised by ex-military, friend of the family, Alfred Pennyworth. We witness Bruce experience some scrapes, bruises, and lessons learned as Batman hones his skills to protect Gotham from its seedy underbelly.

Aquaman: The Trench
It seems the most surprisingly popular of DC’s new releases is New 52 Aquaman. Aquaman is most notable as being a cheesy character with seemingly undesirable powers. However, in the New 52 series, Aquaman proves himself more than capable of keeping up with the other “supers” and plays an integral role in rescuing the city from an underwater threat.

Johns does a wonderful job of addressing the audience’s potential dislike of Aquaman by beating everyone to the punchline. In fact, he allows Aquaman to suffer many jokes from supporting characters about his useless abilities to “talk to fish”, etc, but lets Aquaman prove to us that he has what it takes to catch our attention in a positive way. If you have ever felt that Aquaman was not worth your time, this series will definitely change your mind.

Justice League: Origin
Johns does an unsurprisingly amazing job of bringing together DC’s New 52 Justice League. For a serious story, Origin is refreshingly humorous. Issue 1 begins “5 years ago” (I guess that would be 6 years, now) following Batman chasing down an alien when he runs into Green Lantern Hal Jordan [Hal to Batman: You’re REAL? :3 ] One by one, potential JLers are introduced to the audience and their reluctant teammates.

The characters behave just as you would expect newbie supers to act who have never met (trust issues) and are simultaneously loved and hated by the populace. They have believable human reactions (fighting each other during their first introductions because they don’t realize they are both “good guys”). We get to see the origin of Cyborg, the addition of Aquaman to the JL (see the above review for why that’s so awesome), and a young(er) Hal Jordan as Green Lantern before all the crazy stuff happened with the Guardians (be sure to catch up on Green Lantern, Red Lantern, and New Guardians, in Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern story arcs). This story was so great I actually bought volume 2 when it came out. [“What?” says my beloved blog-readers, “Jess, you BOUGHT a book??” I know. That’s how good this story is. By the way, we now have volume 2 in the library system.]

FanGirl Moment
It’s no coincidence that I love every book I read by Geoff Johns. His writing style is captivating and the reader can tell that Johns loves his characters. He fills each character to the brim with personality and keeps them consistent throughout each series that he writes. He knows his characters down to their 2-D, comic book souls. He stays true to each of them and never compromises their integrity to sell his story.

Check out more stories by Geoff Johns and tell me which ones are your favorite(s).

Batman: Ego

Quick recommendation: Focused on writer/illustrator Darwyn Cooke, this collects Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score, and a few smaller Batman stories. While Batman: Ego gets the cover, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score is the real treat here. Previously published as a standalone, this train robbery tale fills in Selina’s backstory while finding a balance between a gritty crime noir and an Ocean’s Eleven style heist story.

Put a hold on Batman: Ego.

Mimi’s Fangirl Moment

Legends of the Dark Knight Panel
Legends of the Dark Knight from left to right: Brian Stelfreeze, Paul Dini, D. Clark, Neal Adams, and Tim Sale. Photo by Terry Bosky

 Greetings Toshokan readers. Long time no see! Last month, I went to Dragon-con. It was awesome, but by far, one of the coolest things I got to do was attend the Legends of the Dark Knight panel with great Batman creators: Neal Adams, Brian Stelfreeze, Tim Sale, and… Paul Dini! It was incredibly interesting. For example, did you know that Batman originally walked around in the daylight in his costume and no one thought anything of it until Neal Adams put him into The Brave and the Bold, effectively turning him into the Dark Knight that we know and love today? Did you know that Brian Stelfreeze’s original drawings for DC were rejected? Or that Terry is Batman? (Ahem, excuse me… Villains of Gotham, this is not the librarian you are looking for.) 

 But I digress, Paul Dini is the creator of Harley Quinn. If you read my bio, you’ll know that Harley Quinn is one of my all-time favorite villains!  I own every Harley Quinn comic ever written, plus the graphic novels. I even have a Harley t-shirt. Sadly, none of these made it up to the convention with me. Luckily, Terry gave me some lovely stickers with art by Mark dos Santos, and I got the autograph that I’ve been waiting for since Paul Dini spoke at ALA five years ago. 

 Also, I was dressed as Zatanna from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory, and Paul Dini told me that he liked my costume!! He said that he was happy that Zatanna was gaining popularity because he’s got a Zatanna graphic novel coming out in March. I can’t wait to check it out…. And the coolness doesn’t stop there! Not standing two people behind me was Ted Naifeh of Courtney Crumrin and Polly and the Pirates. I totally clammed up from being surrounded by awesome. I turned to Terry and told him that I couldn’t visit Ted Naifeh’s booth in the Artist Alley because not only is he incredibly talented, he’s also incredibly gorgeous! 

Ted Naifeh: Author of Courtney Crumrin at Legends of the Dark Knight Panel

Ted Naifeh, left, at Legends of the Dark Knight Panel. Photo by: Terry Bosky


   Seriously, Naifeh is the author and artist of the Courtney Crumrin series—one of our Halloween picks. It’s a spooky series about a girl who goes to live with her eccentric uncle in the wealthy town of Hillsborough, but something supernatural is going on in the town and Courtney is determined to get to the bottom of it. Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics gave me nightmares about Rawhead and Bloody Bones, and my favorite character in the whole series is Wolfgang in Courtney Crumrin’s Monstrous Holiday.    

Then, there’s Polly and the Pirates. Polly and the Pirates is one of my favorite comics and with good reason. It’s set in a kind of steampunk London where everything is Victorian except the houses are all on boats and people travel by hot air balloon. It’s the story of privileged Polly Pringle who is kidnapped by pirates from her all-girls boarding school. The pirates believe that Polly is the daughter of pirate queen Meg Molloy and that she holds the key to finding Meg’s missing treasure. There’s only one volume in the series so far, but it’s a great read. I hope to see more!    

Naifeh paired up with Holly Black (one of my favorite young adult authors) to bring us Good Neighbors. I reviewed volume one a while back, and I wasn’t disappointed. We now have two volumes in the series. He also wrote Gloom Cookie with Serena Valentino. Gloom Cookie is a yummy collection of stories about goths: Lex, Max, Chrys, Sebastian, Isabella, and Damion. It starts out as drama surrounding romances at the local goth club, but spirals into the private lives of the characters which are filled with real monsters. It’s definitely a spooky read. Great for the upcoming season. I’m probably going to dress up as one of these characters for Halloween.    

Finally, we have Unearthly, a romance written by Naifeh with art by Elmer Damaso that is truly out of this world. Shy Ann starts dating the unattainable Jem only to discover that he’s not the guy that she thinks he is. She teams up with his over-bearing ex Rae to find out his shocking secret.    

With stories like this, it’s almost like Ted Naifeh sat at his desk and said, “Hmm, what would Mimi like to read today?” And since he’s so talented and so adorable, he can totally just ask me at the next Dragon-con… except, I’ll probably just blush a lot. ;)    

Batman: Haunted Gotham

Batman: Haunted GothamWhen Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed by a werewolf, he dons cape and cowl to become The Batman!

I was skeptical about how haunted Haunted Gotham could be since the standard DC Universe Gotham City is already pretty spooky. But this Elseworlds series clears the bar, presenting a Gotham City with ghouls, talking skeletons, and snake men. This Gotham doesn’t appear on any maps and if you enter it, you can never leave. Even death brings no respite with Dark Gods hunting down souls of the dead.

Here an adult Bruce Wayne has been trained by his parents so he can assume his destiny. With their murder at the hands of a werewolf assassin, Bruce becomes Batman and a pawn in a much larger game. Dr. Thomas Wayne was a member of the “Invisible College,” a league of mortals aligned against the Dark Gods and The Batman was their ultimate weapon, but can Bruce fight evil without becoming evil?

Imaginary stories usually change the setting while the basic hero versus villain story plays out like normal. Bruce Wayne might be Batman in the Old West or he might be fighting against a vampiric Joker, but there’s no real surprise in store. This Batman seems less sure of himself and his ability to take on the supernatural. He’s challenged in ways his DCU counterpart isn’t – ways that make for a compelling – and dark – read.