Friday Reviews: Titles That Grab You

Every Friday I’ll be reviewing two books (usually comic books from NetGalley). This week we have women fighting (Kung Fu style) for their right to vote and a town where everyone grows up to be a serial killer.

Suffrajitsu: Mr’s Pankhurst’s Amazons (Issue #1)

Writer – Tony Wolf, Artist – Joao Vieira

DIG049896_1Both the books in this post are things I picked up based on the title alone (particularly this one). We’re introduced to a group of women who are traveling around the United Kingdom campaigning for voting rights in the early 2oth century. Some of the members feel they may need to resort to violence to make their message heard, and to show that women can be on equal footing with men in every arena.

Wolf’s done a lot of fight choreography for movies and video games and it shows in the ways certain scenes are scripted. The trouble is, the story itself isn’t as fun as the title might suggest. Like a lot of first issues we’re introduced to a fairly large cast of characters all at once, and we are also shown the central mystery that will probably be the first arc of the story. There’s hints of humor, but frankly this storyline was played way too straight for me. Sure, we’ve got some fairly outrageous things said by men about women, but this is played less for humor or shock, and more just as a stock action movie way to set up certain characters as villains.

The art is component, but I think we’re missing out on something to give this more of period style, like the one suggested on the great cover. Sure everyone’s in a dress and correct clothing (presumably) but there’s not a whole lot else that evokes the mood of the time. I also can’t really speak to the historical accuracy of this, including the degree to which the police were willing to resort to violence against women and the forced feedings of women starving themselves. This might be helped by a brief page at the end of each book highlighting what things are based on history and what are creative embellishments or castings of modern problems into past times.

One issue doesn’t give you a whole lot on which to judge a series, so if more is put up on NetGalley I’ll probably read it. Maybe after a few issues it will find more of the humor suggested by its title.

(3 stars | May get better with time)

Nailbiter Volume 1: There Will Be Blood

Writer – Joshua Williamson, Artist – Mike Henderson

DIG028915_216 of the country’s most notorious serial killers all grew up in a small town named Buckaroo, Oregon, including the most notorious of them all, the Nailbiter, who chose only victims who had a habit of chewing their nails. Somehow, the Nailbiter was found not guilty, and is now living in his home town, where he is called upon to help the police after a series of grisly murders terrorizes the town, each victim being attacked by someone mirroring the patterns of the town’s famous killers. An NSA interrogation agent comes to town when his profiler friend goes missing after telling him that he cracked the code of why there were so many killers in this one place.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this. At first blush it’s a gritty police procedural with some references to Silence of the Lambs thrown in for color. But there’s nothing like having one of your main characters about to kill themselves in the first pages to make you wonder what’s going to happen next. This title has a more biting tone and humor, and knows how to spoon out its secrets. There are many unreliable narrators in this story, from the killers to the cops, that you’re never quite sure you’re getting the whole truth.

Everyone is this town knows a serial killer or is related to one, even the town sheriff, who shares a past connection with the Nailbiter, and who is suspicious of outsiders and their interest in this town. The title is violent, but is less bloody on most pages than you might think (though there is still an image or two that may shock you). I saw another review that said his was a cross between Twin Peaks and Se7en and frankly I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

There’s real contrast in some of these scenes that shows some of the beauty and isolation of a small town in Oregon. The book is surprisingly bright in places, but knows how to be dark when it needs to be.

(5 stars | I’ll definitely be picking up the next volume)


Filed under Book Reviews

2 responses to “Friday Reviews: Titles That Grab You

  1. Hi Ben,

    Tony would have loved to include a page explaining which events and characters are based on real history (much more than you might think), but he was operating within strict page-count requirements and simply couldn’t fit it in. However, the website does go into all of that detail and I strongly suggest checking it out if you’re interested in how he blended fact with fiction.

    • I can understand the page limits thing, and it’s great that you have an online resource with that information. I’ll definitely be checking it out. Thanks for writing in!

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