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Graphic Novel Friday: Summer Reads, Not What They Seem



Fight.club2_coverThere's no easy way to say this: I was sick while on my summer vacation, and I liked it. During my annul trip into the Canadian wilderness, I spent my time reading in bed instead of fighting ticks, mosquitoes, and my own inability to properly fish. Thankfully, three great graphic novels--each with its own unique twist--kept my brain active while my body recovered.

Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart: [Insert your own "First Rule of Fight Club" joke here.] Palahniuk's novel, Fight Club, spoke to a generation of disaffected readers, and then David Fincher's film adaptation came along and turned nihilism into a phenomenon. Great, right? Well, Palahniuk has much to say about how fans of the film may have unwittingly misinterpreted the novel's message, and he attempts to correct it all in this original follow-up. The plot starts like a typical sequel--see Fight Club's original cast, now ten years older and miserable--but quickly ramps to mega levels of meta, with "Chuck Palahniuk" (and other real-life author friends of his) playing prominent roles. The relationship of readers and fans in cultivating fiction is explored, and its ending will infuriate some and open the eyes of others. Cameron Stewart avoids distraction by eschewing the likenesses of actors in the film and instead creates new but familiar personalities in Fight Club 2's characters. In addition, he brilliantly adds/breaks his own Fourth Wall by dropping blood, stains, and other items on top of the pages and panels to truly make the reader question the fiction inside fiction.

Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso: Dark Knight devotees please note: this is a nonfiction graphic novel! The name of Paul Dini will be recognizable to those who loved the animated television show Batman: The Animated Series (known as "BTAS" to us nerds), as it provided great contrast to the cinematic shenanigans that befell Batman during 1990s. Similarly, the success of the show provides a sharp contract to Paul Dini's early struggles in school, work, and in relationships, and it's not until a brutal mugging leaves him helpless that Dini addresses hard truths in his life. Using Batman and his rogues gallery as coping mechanisms, Dini and artist Risso offer plenty of shadows and noir, but they turn the Gotham narrative on its Bat-ears in an autobiographical story of triumph (plus, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes details for BTAS fans).

The Vision, Vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Walta: The android Avenger known as The Vision has long struggled with his dream: to be human. In writer Tom King's new first volume spotlighting the character, The Vision comes the closest he ever has to the dream, only to find a terrible core. In creating a wife and two children, The Vision gives himself a semblance of real life, but when these creations attempt an everyday lifestyle, things quickly unravel. A schoolyard altercation escalates into the unimaginable, and each chapter deftly builds dread to a horrific payoff. This is not a kid-friendly Avengers book, and it's unlike any story ever told about The Vision.

I hope regular ABR and GNF readers had a healthier summer than I did.  Please let me know what you read over your vacations in the comments below.

--Alex


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