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The Reading Pile – March 14

Welcome to this week’s discussion of the books we’re reading. Feel free to chime in in the comments section and let us know what’s on your nightstand.

Mike Pawuk: I devoured the entire run so far of Peter David’s X-Factor series from Marvel Comics that was rebooted in 2005 and still published today. X-Factor started out originally in the 1980s as a reunion of the original 5 X-Men members and was one of the first original X-Men spin-off titles before we got overrun by so many X-titles it’s hard to keep up. In the 1990s when the series was taken over by fan-favorite writer Peter David, the team featured a group of 2nd string heroes with ties to the X-Men, but used his trademark use of humor and character development to make them more fleshed out and likeable than many of the X-Men heroes. The third incarnation of the series features the team as a private eyes who take on cases that are mutant and non-mutant related. The team is lead by Jamie Madrox the multiple man and also team mates Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Siryn, Monet, and a mysterious girl named Layla Miller who seems to “know stuff.” Recently the team has also added the extra-dimensional heroes Longshot and Shatterstar to the team as well. I read the following collections:

  • Madrox: Multiple Choice
  • X-Factor: The Longest Night
  • X-Factor: Life and Death Matters
  • X-Factor: Many Lives of Madrox
  • X-Factor: Heart of Ice
  • X-Men: Messiah Complex
  • X-Factor: The Only Game in Town
  • X-Factor: Secret Invasion
  • X-Factor: Time and a Half
  • X-Factor: Overtime
  • X-Factor: The Invisible Woman Has Vanished
  • X-Factor: Second Coming
  • X-Factor: Happenings in Vegas

There is a same-sex romantic relationship between Shatterstar and Rictor in the later collections. Peter David handles the relationship with great care and humor. Their relationship isn’t the focal point of
the series. It’s a smart, well-done series, and I’m embarassed that I haven’t read these issues until now. Definitely a must buy for a teen collection or an adult collection that carries super-hero titles.

Kate Dacey: I just finished the first volume of Karakuri Odette, a shojo comedy about an android whose maker enrolls her in high school. Though the science fiction aspects of the story aren’t as well executed as they might be, Karakuri Odette has undeniable charm. Odette’s quest to learn more about being human is a familiar one, but author Julietta Suzuki adds some novel twists; her heroine repeatedly asks her creator for new abilities so that she might fit in with her teenage peers, including the ability to shed tears. (Odette hasn’t yet requested the ability to squee at the sight of Justin Bieber, but it’s only a matter of time.) Odette’s journey to emotional awareness occasionally seems rushed, but there are some nicely observed scenes that help balance out the weaker moments.

Also on my reading list is Lost & Found: Three by Shaun Tan. All three stories are beautifully executed, but I’d have to say the standout is “The Rabbits,” an allegory about the European colonization of Australia. The imagery is stunning; as he did in The Arrival, Tan takes a familiar narrative and makes it vivid and strange through his imaginative character designs and surreal landscapes. The book is aimed at readers ten and up, but I think it will appeal more to high school students than grade schoolers, as Tan’s dark, sometimes disturbing, visions are more in tune with an adolescent’s sensibilities than a ten-year-old’s.

Lori Henderson: I started the week with Seven Seas’ new title Amnesia Labyrinth, by the same author as The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. This is an older teen title that deserves it’s rating. It’s a mystery/thriller series, that feels a lot like the horror series Higurashi: When They Cry. It has a very creepy atmosphere, especially with the sisters and their relationships with Souji. The mystery is set up well, and keeps you in doubt about who could be responsible. While have some issues with some of the relationships set up, the mystery really has me intrigued.

Mike Pawuk: Speaking of Seven Seas, I re-read this week the omnibus collection of the
neo-manga series Destiny’s Hand by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir and Melvin Calingo. It was originally published in September 2009. What a treat that was and I’m glad it was part of ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list this past year. There’s not that many pirate comic books out lately and it’s nice to read a complete story with such well-rounded backgrounds, a grand adventure, a dash of the supernatural, and a hint of romance that rivals the fun of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films or even better. I would love a sequel, but sometimes it’s better to just to not mess with perfection.

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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