Friday graphic novel round-up
Displaced Persons by Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo (Image Comics, $17.99).
Fables, Vol. 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, $19.99).
In the Heart of the Beast: A Love Story by Dean Motter, Judith Dupree and Sean Phillips (Dynamite Entertainment, $24.99, 20th anniversary hard cover reissue).
This week’s graphic novel collection is a trio of big winners—these all fall into the “definitely purchase” category.
First up, Displaced Persons, in which missing persons form an epic narrative web through the history of San Francisco. While we readers get a linear family history—complete with helpful timelines between sections—we quickly learn that the people who are coming and going are moving through time.
And that means that, yes, it is possible to be your own great-great grandfather. Oh, yeah, one other thing: San Francisco is now and always has been a person.
With beautiful artwork in a sepia style, the stories take on a timeless feel, whether we’re in the early days of settlement or the take-no-prisoners go-go tech 2000s. Displaced Persons is a fresh take on time travel that doesn’t give short shrift to the genre of family epic, either.
Now, on to the latest installment of the Fables epic. It’s as if the Fables-verse can’t get rid of villains—instead, they just keep piling them up, and as veteran readers, we know this means something big is coming.
Although Prince Brandish was “vanquished,” he’s still around, though Rose has a mind to reform him. That’s a twist that sets her grieving sister, Snow, against Rose’s revival of the Knights of the Round Table.
And of course, when Rose restarts the legend of Arthur and his knights, there are complications: The elements of the story will align themselves, whether she intends it or not.
Add to that the activities of the now-slim Mrs. Sprat, who avoided punishment for her role with Brandish by pretending to have been his slave. Now, she’s plotting some method of keeping the wizards and witches of Fabletown from restoring Bigby Wolf.
This latest edition has a plethora of small threads—including bits about Winter, Snow and Bigby’s daughter who’s also the North Wind, and Gepetto, who is not entirely out of the picture yet. While this volume really is an “in-between” collection, it’s setting up all the pieces for the next big catastrophe, and it’s up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Bill Willingham’s series.
Finally, Dynamite Entertainment has a 20th anniversary hard cover re-issue of In the Heart of the Beast: A Love Story. It’s a re-telling of the Mary Shelley’s famous tale of the monster Frankenstein made, with water-color based art from life, as well as some mixed-media (film clips, diaries, newspaper reports).
The gorgeous art would be reason enough to add this volume to your graphic novel library, but the re-imagining of the story is also a fresh and useful take on the traditional narrative. It’s set in the art world, where Sarah, a struggling actress who works as a waiter at museum openings, is thrown into contact with Victor. He has a poet’s soul and a missing history, and he’s the assistant to Dr. Wright, a successful plastic surgeon with several shady side-businesses and a predilection for kinky, unsafe sex.
There’s also Jacob Sistine, “artist” who creates by appropriating great works of art to “call their meaning into question.” Yeah, one of those guys.
There are more than enough new twists on the story to keep readers engaged, though of course it hues closely to the theme of monstrosity’s true nature throughout.
In the Heart of the Beast is a classic well worth revisiting.