Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends to stick to horror, noir, and weird indies. Occasionally, their paths cross, but like most readers, they tend to stay in their own lanes.
New To You Comics is here to break up the pattern a little. Tony will throw some comics out of his favorite genres at Brendan, and Brendan will hit Tony with some of his. Most NTYC titles are brand new to at least one of them. Most of the time they can find some common ground, but even when they don’t, it’s fun to watch them go at it. Brendan fights dirty. Tony kicks like a mule.
This week, they’ll be taking on The Visitor: A Graphic Novel (Animorphs #2), by Chris Grine, adapted from work by K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant. Here’s what Scholastic says about the book:
‘The wildly popular, bestselling sci-fi series by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant returns in a new full-color graphic novel series, adapted by Chris Grine.
Rachel is still reeling from the news that Earth is secretly under attack by parasitic aliens, the Yeerks. Now she and her friends are the planet’s only defense — five kids who, purely by chance, stumbled onto a downed spacecraft and were given the power to morph into any animals they touch.
The team’s best lead is their assistant principal, Mr. Chapman, who is the human host to a high-ranking Yeerk official. It’s not much, but Rachel’s always been a daredevil, and she volunteers to infiltrate Chapman’s home.
Rachel is tough. She’s fearless. But what she finds inside may be more than even she can handle.’
Brendan Allen: Usually, we do a book that one of us has already read, but I’ve made an exception in this case. Animorphs is a series that I’ve been aware of, but have never actually read. The series began in my senior year of high school, so it missed me as the target audience by several years. Since 1996, fifty four books have been released in the main series, along with ten companion books, a television show, and now, graphic novels.
This is the second adaptation by Chris Grine, and the very first Animorphs book I’ve ever read. Were you an Animorphs kid?
Tony Thornley: I’m a few years younger than you. I’ve always been a superhero fan, and a big scifi fan. Animorphs were right in my sweet spot at the time, and I was a big fan for the first half of the series. Not sure exactly when or why I dropped off, but I really enjoyed it. I did pick up the last book in the series, and man… I’m so disappointed to have not gotten a sequel series.
Also, KA Applegate is a generally awesome human being.
Brendan: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Like I said, the series missed me by a few years growing up, so I really had no idea there was so much body horror and sci-fi in these things. I love that the transformation scenes are all twist and pop, cracking bones and mashing bits back into place. Has a very American Werewolf in London feel.
There’s also a great gag about blown out shoes after one of the kids morphs into an elephant. I don’t know if that’s a reference to Hulk, or if it’s unintentional, but it made me smile.
Tony: I never thought about the body horror aspect of the story when I was a regular reader, but holy cow Grine does a good job with that in the opening (After a fun scene involving all the cast as birds of prey).
Brendan: I hadn’t thought of it either, and it’s probably something that’s much harder to portray in prose, so it might not even come across in the novels. It makes perfect sense, though, given that the heroes’ bodies are growing, shrinking, twisting, and completely rearranging themselves in just a few minutes.
Tony: I remember the description being something like “if it wasn’t for the alien tech, I knew I would have been in intense pain” so the visuals make sense.
Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this. I have a few minor quibbles, but this is a great young reader OGN.
Brendan: Agreed. I’m going to pick up The Invasion for my kids and see if I can get them hooked into the series.
Tony: I think the story does a great job. Grine does the tension of the paranoid thriller well, and is able to make up for the missing first person narration with tight POV panels, and askew camera angles. It’s a really strong visual book.
Now, as much as I like the layouts and panel construction, I did struggle a little with the figure work. All the characters looked too similar. Very round faces, similar heights. I got Cassie and Marco confused more than once. The character acting was great, the designs just needed a little work.
Brendan: We’ve talked about this before. Kids are hard to draw, and here’s a book that doesn’t just have one or two kids in it. The entire cast is kids, with a couple adults peppered in. I get what you’re saying, but I disagree. The characters looked different enough for me to tell who was who.
Tony: Oh it wasn’t terrible. He could have just done a bit more to make them look a little more distinct.
I’m positive this is a side effect of the format and publisher, but the pages had so much margin! The ones that went to the edge of the page? They were STELLAR. I would have loved to have seen that been the norm through the entire book.
Brendan: I always like when the artist gets creative with gutters and margins. I think it’s 100% intentional. Those wide margins aren’t a conventional use of space, but by mostly staying within that smaller center space, it really gets your attention when the action spills into that wide margin.
Tony: It might have been but I think I’ve read other books by this pub and they’re similar. I’m not sure though. I’d be interested to ask.
Again though, I really enjoyed it. It captured the spirit of the series and I’d love to get more of it for my kids.
Brendan: We’ve both already said a bunch of times how much we enjoyed the book, so I’m not even going to do our usual final verdict script here.
Tony: You know how last week we had nostalgia taken too far? I think this hit the sweet spot. Nostalgic while still telling a story that could be shared with your kids to show why you loved it.
Brendan: Accurate. What’s up for next week?
Tony: Up to you buddy! I’m on vacation next week! But the week after we’re going to get ready for Obi-Wan Kenobi with the first volume of Darth Vader from Marvel!
Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends toCOMICONRead More