From the Henshin! series , Vol. 1

A riveting superhero story that feels familiar and original at the same time.

After an explosion took out the electricity and caused panic in Hollowstone nine years ago, a tech billionaire stepped in to save the day.

Alton Grieves provided massive infrastructure and investment, becoming a revered hero in the process. But journalism student Alex Nolan doesn’t like how Grieves has his hand in everything people use, from social media and cars to medicine, and he plans to expose him for profiting from the city’s suffering. Alex is on a train, musing about how to go about this, when a power cut causes an emergency stop. Alex struggles to help others—and a superhero comes out of nowhere to give him a hand. Suddenly a kaiju, or monster from another dimension, appears and badly injures the superhero, who passes his power to Alex. Alex in turn becomes a henshin, or hero, defeating the kaiju. But things are complicated. His friend and fellow student Rosalia Ortega points out a conspiracy to cover up news of the superhero’s monster fighting. And Jeon Jae-hyun, a boy Alex briefly dated, is interning at the same newspaper as him. The characters in this thrilling, fast-paced, manga-style action narrative feel real, and the story and execution combine the pleasure of nostalgic tropes and evergreen themes with a contemporary freshness. Alex reads White; there is ethnic diversity and queer representation in the cast, and characters are introduced along with their pronouns.

A riveting superhero story that feels familiar and original at the same time. (Graphic fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780760382349

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Rockport Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023



Everything here boggles: the artfully conceived foldout dust-jacket, the cryptically word-burdened endpapers, and, most of...

The comics world has amply rewarded Ware for his amazingly innovative work—he’s won numerous prizes for his Acme Novelty Library, a combination of complex narratives about mice, a trove of visually arcane inventions (diagrammed with Rube Goldberg–like precision), and plenty of eye-straining text: a graphic self-effacement that echoes the creepy despair of Ware’s main creation, Jimmy Corrigan.

Jimmy’s story now finds its full expression in this wonderful book, itself an endlessly fascinating art object that deserves attention way beyond the comics market. The Corrigan tale as such, now easier to piece together than it was in the Acme series, concerns four generations of sad, dough-faced men. The first Corrigan, the son of Irish immigrants to the Midwest, loses his wife early on, and bears no affection for his perpetually frightened son, who dreams of the Chicago Exhibition rising on the land near their ramshackle home. It’s also the place where the gruff and nasty old man abandons little Jimmy to his fate. Meanwhile, in present time, the newest Corrigan man, also abandoned by his father to an overprotective mother, is an overweight, sniveling mess, with a receding hairline, and a rich fantasy life. Contacted by his long-lost dad, an airport bar tender, Jimmy takes the unusually bold step of visiting the man he barely knows, only to witness his accidental death. Here, in short, is what this multilayered piece is all about: loss, abandonment, death, passivity. And Ware’s stunning visual style raises this patriarchal struggle to the level of Chekhov, with the historical naturalism of Dreiser. His use of block colors, his precise lines, the intensity of his wordless images are beautifully echoed by his sudden bursts of lyrical language (in an array of apposite typefaces) and his challenging plot developments.

Everything here boggles: the artfully conceived foldout dust-jacket, the cryptically word-burdened endpapers, and, most of all, the story itself: a graphic narrative that deserves a place beside the best novels of the year.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-40453-8

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000



Bold and brassy, with a solid grasp of its material.

An industry long in the shadows gets its due with a mainstream historical text.

Although the tide has lately turned toward respect for the more literary subfield of graphic novels, the critical community still largely ignores the superhero pulps that constitute the vast bulk of comic books. Fortunately, this punchy new history dives right into that world of brawny, ridiculous heroics and implausible scenarios with commendable and unapologetic gusto. Michael Chabon explored the Lower East Side, Jewish, immigrant roots of the industry in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000), but Jones (Honey I’m Home, 1991, etc.) digs deeper, limning the grubby details of an always-disreputable business and coming up with a fistful of gold. He excels at describing the early-20th-century New York milieu that nurtured the art form, “the bed in which the comic book was born: countercultural, lowbrow, idealistic, prurient, pretentious, mercenary, forward-looking, and ephemeral, all in the same instant.” Jones profiles such key figures as Harry Donenfeld, a pioneering comics kingpin (and buddy of gangsters like Frank Costello) with a lust for the deal and an unerring eye for what would sell, early industry greats like Jerry Siegel and Wil Eisner, and some not-so-greats as well (Batman creator Bob Kane had limited talent, to say the least). In one of the more astonishing scenes here, publisher Lev Gleason gets a great deal in 1941 on a few million pages of pulp stock, provided he can get it printed in a weekend; on Friday, he grabs a team of artists, who put out a 64-page Daredevil issue by Monday. If this sounds familiar, it’s the basis for one of Kavalier’s best set pieces.

Bold and brassy, with a solid grasp of its material.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2004

ISBN: 0-465-03656-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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