Reviews: Battling Boy & Gambit Volume 1

Battling Boy (2013). First Second. Written and illustrated by Paul Pope.

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Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them – the genius vigilante Haggard West. Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead. Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.

Magical t-shirts, space, crazy monsters? What’s not to love about this book?

Battling Boy is a demi-god who has been sent to Acropolis to prove himself. He’s been told very little about what he’s supposed to do and is only given some magical t-shirts with which to accomplish his goals. He goes in just as blind as the reader and together you discover just how crazy this world is and how much work needs to be done. This is the kind of story that I would have inhaled as a kid (and frankly still is). It’s action packed, dangerous and above all a little crazy. The villain is also incredibly creepy.

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In terms of the artwork, I applaud Paul Pope’s unique style but found it a little abnormal for my taste. Sort of like how Ren and Stimpy used to make me feel – a.k.a unsettled. That’s not to say it was bad, just not my style.

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Given my affinity for awesome super-heroines it should be no surprise that I was most enthralled with Aurora West, so I am very excited to see she is getting her own book later this year. However upon giving my copy to a nine year old boy I was quickly informed that in fact the t-shirts are the coolest part (and a trip to school for show and tell finds that others agree – I’m outnumbered!)

Gambit Volume 1: Always a Thief (2013). Marvel. Written by James Asmus. Illustrated by Clay Mann & Diogenes Neves.

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When Marvel’s premiere thief sets his sights on his biggest score yet, he may just end up over his head. Desperately searching for a means to destroy the pilfered artifact that’s cursed him, Gambit journeys deep into the Guatemalan jungles in search of a lost temple – but finds an ancient god-monster accidentally loosed on Earth! It’s going to take more than just playing cards and southern charm to get out of this one!  Then, coerced by a criminal mastermind, Gambit is sent to the United Kingdom to heist the greatest weapon in the history of man: Excalibur! How will Marvel’s premiere thief manage to dupe his extortionist while also escaping with a clear name? Be here as the X-Men’s ragin’ cajun kicks off his all-new solo career!

Gambit and Rogue were my OTP before that was even a term people used. I remember watching them on the old X-Men cartoon before school and loving every line of their Southern dialogue. And Gambit’s absence from the X-Men movies (let’s just pretend the Wolverine origin movie doesn’t count) was one of my biggest disappoints. So when I saw he was staring in his own comic series I knew I had to check it out.

I thought this collection started out on a strong note. Gambit is a lot more mature after everything he’s gone through but he is still himself and he is dying to return to his old ways (if only for a little while). But as it continued I began to lose interest. Primarily because he hardly interacts with any of the other X-Men. I know this is his solo series but I have a hard time believing the team/the school wouldn’t be a central part of his life/thoughts. The second reason was that this reads just like an Indiana Jones story, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t feel particularly “X-Men.” This could have been any generic thief in my opinion. And finally the love interest. She fell completely flat to me. Her actions didn’t make any sense and ultimately she is completely forgettable.

Despite how initially excited I was for this series I don’t think I will be continuing with Volume 2.

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Review: Relish by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. First Second. Written by Lucy Knisley. Art by Lucy Knisley. relish

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by herobsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy’s original
inventions.

This is a story of one woman’s love affair with food. Definitely a story I could relate to, a story most people should be able to relate to. Relish is a book that will inspire you to revisit your own journey with one of our most basic, and necessary activities and I believe all reviews/conversations about this book should start with people sharing their own experiences.

My parent weren’t foodies by any means  but I loved food growing up. From my mother’s spaghetti sauce to my grandmother’s lime velvet salad, there were (and still are) dishes that always bring up certain memories. Ravioli makes me think of the French baby sitter we had one summer, maple flavoured anything calls to mind trips to my family’s sugar bush and corn on the cobb brings me right back to the scattering on farms that surrounded my childhood home. I went vegetarian as a teenager had to start cooking for myself – my mom refusing after a long work day to prepare two separate meals. I fell in love with cooking and trying new things and seeing what different flavours tasted like together.

When I went off to university I began  waiting tables at a number of different restaurants to pay the rent. I served everything from Asian fusion, to lunch buffets, to 5 star dining. Since I staying in town for the summers as well, when all the students were gone, many of my friends were food industry people as well. When all of your friends are waiters, chefs and bartenders good food and drink are always part of the equation. I have never ate so well in my life and have not since leaving the food industry when I moved to Toronto. Although Toronto has provided a whole new chapter in my relationship with food (there is a whole restaurant that is based around meatballs!)

In Relish, Lucy Knisley tells her own story beautifully. Drawing on all the senses. I really felt like I could smell and taste the food she was describing. Her early years with food were very different then mine but she makes them feel incredibly easy to relate to. And the stuff I could recognize later on put a smile on my face as it brought to mind my own memories. Food is a very personal and sensual thing and Relish reminds us of all the good times we’ve had with it.

The whole book is filled with beautiful artwork. It’s very colourful and full of life and the style is very accessible for all ages.The recipes especially were a fun touch. I wanted to try everything! I’m still working my way through them but I can definitely vouch for the chai tea – it  was especially tasty.

I highly recommend you pick up Relish and take a trip down memory lane. But be warned – this story will leave you hungry and ready for a food adventure!

5 out of 5

– Christa