September 15, 2015 Booklist 51 www.booklistonline.com
acters, showing such a drastically different
side to this historical figure—focusing on his
possible healing powers, here greatly exagger-
ated to fantastical proportions—is enough to
carry the volume. Along with the stylishly ex-
aggerated figures and sketchy line work, the
faded color scheme with benday dots gives an
interesting, antique texture to the book, with
bright reds and greens to accentuate the vio-
lence and magic. The artistic license will do
little to please history buffs, but horror and
fantasy fans will fall under the spell of the
Mad Monk. —Peter Blenski
Step Aside, Pops.
By Kate Beaton. Illus. by the author.
Sept. 2015. 160p. Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95
Find the idiosyncratic relationship between
Romantic composers Chopin and Liszt funny? Looking for a good one about Ginsberg,
Kerouac, and Burroughs on a road trip?
Though Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and a
few hilariously exaggerated feminists show
up to skewer misogyny, some might wonder
how accessible this all is. The same criticism
could no doubt be leveled at your average
continuity-driven Marvel comic, but, thanks
to Beaton’s expert comedic timing, accessi-
bility is hardly the point. The widely lauded
Beaton has created a tidy niche for herself in
gag strips that deflate history and literature’s
more grandiose personalities with highbrow
intellectualism and lowbrow barbs. As with
her previous Hark! A Vagrant (2011), Beaton
employs subtle tricks to disarm her rarefied
air. Her sources maybe deeply (sometimes
obscurely) historical, but her vernacular is
pure contemporary snark. She applies her
pen with a deceptively slapdash quality to the
intensely expressive faces and bodies, which
helps her humor land more sharply. Perhaps
more frequently amusing than outright hi-
larious, Beaton is still plying her trade in a
field of one. —Jesse Karp
YA: Lowbrow jokes at the expense of
highbrow figures is a match made in YA
humor heaven. SH.
By Scott Snyder. Illus. by Jock.
2015. 144p. Image Comics, paper, $9.99
After witnessing a grisly supernatural murder,
Sailor Rook, along with her father and mother,
move to a small town, hoping for a fresh start.
Hip Hop Family Tree, v.3: 1983–1984.
By Ed Piskor. Illus. by the author.
2015. 112p. Fantagraphics, paper, $27.99
The third gathering of Piskor’s smash
webcomic, which Fantagraphics has also
started releasing as a monthly comic
book, affords as much amusement and
well-researched history as its two predecessors. If Piskor follows his initial plan,
this volume of the series is the halfway
mark. Homing in on just two years of the
early eighties, he spotlights producers
Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin and the
breakout of break dancing as well as the
rise of the Beastie Boys, the Fat Boys,
Run DMC, and Whodini. Piskor’s art style,
somewhere between Jack Kirby and R.
Crumb, looks as good as, maybe better
than, ever. —Ray Olson
Ms. Marvel, v.3: Crushed.
By G. Willow Wilson. Illus. by Elmo
Bondoc and Takeshi Miyazawa.
2015. 112p. Marvel, paper, $15.99
(9780785192275). 741.5. Gr. 7–11.
This third installment of Wilson’s
immensely popular series opens with fan-favorite Loki, who slips a truth serum into
the punch at Kamala’s high-school dance.
Though it makes for some entertaining
The Suspended Castle: A Philemon
antics on the dance floor, the trickster god
is no match for the wiles of Kamala and
her quick-thinking classmates. Elsewhere,
Kamala meets the perfect boy—he’s
handsome, he loves video games and Bol-
lywood movies, and he’s Pakistani!—but
is he really all he’s cracked up to be? As
always, Wilson’s rollicking superhero ac-
tion is sprinkled with both hilarity and
meaningful cultural commentary, and
Kamala herself is as appealing as ever. The
Ms. Marvel series continues to be one to
watch. —Sarah Hunter
By Fred. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2015. 56p. TOON Graphics, $16.95
(9781935179863). 741.5. Gr. 3–6.
Philemon is happy to be home, far away
from the madcap antics of the previous
two volumes of this French import, but
Mr. Bartholomew recalls his days on the
A wistfully. Philemon is eager to help him
return to the A, but—as usual—he accidentally stumbles along for the journey.
This time, they find themselves in an owl
lighthouse, then a whaling galley, and
finally a castle suspended over the sea.
Though there’s less wordplay in this volume, Fred’s kaleidoscopic artwork is at its
best in swirling ocean scenes, which this
volume has in spades. Fans of weird and
wild adventures will be pleased with this
series installment. —Sarah Hunter
GRAPHIC NOVELS IN BRIEF
of what to expect. Given the controversial
subject, this might have a limited audience,
but for those readers open, curious, or seek-
ing some guidance, it’s deeply empathetic,
uniquely unflinching, and unlike any book
on the topic, particularly with regards to its
gentle presentation. —Annie Bostrom
YA/M: Teens will appreciate this low-
commitment exposure to a polarizing topic
that might touch their lives, too. AB.
Poetry Is Useless.
By Anders Nilsen. Illus. by the
2015. 224p. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95
Nilsen’s previous sketchbook graphic novels, Monologues for the Coming Plague (2006)
and Monologues for Calculating the Density of
Black Holes (2009), are portfolios of bleak
existentialist comedy. This third is lighter in
tone, mock philosophical in tenor, and easier
to relate to. Although he again usually draws
the speaker as a ball head
atop a blunt-ended, lozenge body, this always
seems to be Nilsen himself. Elsewhere, he essays
to depict travels to comics events hither and yon
and interactions with
friends and others, whom he renders in degrees of realism ranging from caricature (akin
to R. Crumb) to fine-drawing mode (like,
say, Käthe Kollwitz). Most pages display photographs of the adjacent pages of a flat-open
sketchbook, and almost every spread contains
a monologue or story in conventional comics panels, one or more to a page. Additional
drawings and remarks appear in the generous
bottom margins as a kind of self-conscious
running commentary, and occasional depictions of Nilsen’s favorite subjects—the root
balls of plants; pig silhouettes; fanciful machines; mash-ups of organic and inorganic
forms; symmetrical designs—occupy quarter,
half, or whole pages. Nilsen has drawing chops
for days, and that, combined with his humor,
which here tends toward skewed hybrid clichés and aphorisms, makes this accomplished
and playful to the max. —Ray Olson
Rasputin: The Road to the Winter Palace.
By Alex Grecian. Illus. by Riley Rossmo.
2015. 184p. Image Comics, paper, $14.99
Opening with his notorious assassination
attempt, the “Mad Monk” Grigori Rasputin flees from his murderers and, as he lies
dying in the snow, reflects on his life. We
then follow Rasputin chronologically from
his youth to his rise to power and influence
over Russian politics. Grecian casts Rasputin
less as the shady manipulator we know from
history, and more as a brooding, tragic anti-hero, touching on some historic details like
his opposition to WWI. Although Grecian
does little to flesh out the supporting char-