Reviews: Growing Up is Hard to Do

It's review time here again at the ArmzRace. This time around our theme is growing up as depicted in a quartet of graphic novels picked up through Sequential Swap (are you still not a member?) Canvas Alex Fellows provides a kind of coming-of-age story of a teenager girl, oddly named Canvas, as she undergoes the trials of adolescence and the thrills of drinking and sexual explorations. This graphic novel from Fantagraphics doesn't have a typical story structure, presenting just a few days in the life of Canvas; but it seems an honest (albeit sometimes confusing) portrayal of a young woman discovering new experiences. Fellows has, inexplicably, drawn Canvas' parents as bizarre creatures; and a few of Canvas' encounters seem intentionally odd. Such scenes are presented without comment; I assume we're to understand that the life of a teenager is just strange. In any case, a nice effort by a Xeric award winner.

D.R. and Quinch's Totally Awesome Guide to Life While I'm typically a huge fan of Alan Moore and Alan Davis, unless you are a completist, you can probably skip this early 2000 A.D. reprint that follows the antics of interstellar delinquents, D.R. and Quinch, as they cause mayhem throughout the galaxy. While there are a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, this compilation was mostly a chore to wade through. Runaways vol. 5 Along with the first 4 volumes, this book is a lot of fun. It follows a group of superpowered teens who discover that their parents are supervillains--and then promptly run away. The kids grow as characters, even as they find their way in the grown-up world. Set on the periphery of the Marvel Universe (although it's unfortunately getting drawn in more and more), the book takes advantage of established Marvel lore while still remaining in it's own little corner. My main complaint is that Brian K. Vaughn (writer) is already replowing old tropes (enough with the "traitor in our midst" and "this issue: someone dies"). Artwise, I'm not terribly fond of the manga-like linework nor the overly dark coloring (although I'm sure it's a hoot with the kids), but Alphona is a clear and able storyteller. With a few exceptions, this is a good all-ages read. Snappy dialogue and a compact digest format make this a great vehicle for bringing new kids into comics (which is the only thing that will save the medium). P.S. Don't tell Mark about this one. He hates EVERYTHING written by Vaughn.

Invincible vol. 1: Family Matters Ron Kirkman presents your standard coming of age and discovering your superpowers tale. But it's a lot of fun! Kirkman's simple and cartoony artwork combined with his ear for likeable characters make this a must-read for fans of the superhero genre. There's nothing especially new here plotwise, but a fine balance of teen angst and lighthearted humor make for a refreshing read. Following in his father's footsteps, Invincible begins to learn the ropes of badguys, team ups, and saving the world. It's just the right blend of personality and punch-ups. If you are tired of never-ending crises and incivility, check out Invincible.