Runaways: homeschooling/ Immonen & Pichelli

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Issues 11-14.

Military craft crashes to their home. Some mysterious and probably dangerous package that’s hinted. The Runaways have a casualty. Then an uncle shows up.

TBC.

Includes a short story: what if the Runaways became be Young Avengers.

American Born Chinese/ Gene Luen Yang

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A 2006 publication.

Coming of age story about a teenage boy coming to terms with his racial identity.

The concurrent backstory is of the legend of the Monkey King Sun Wukung, and a Sit-com character about a extreme Chinese stereotype.

In brief, the protagonist finds his race (Chinese) a mark that prevents him from being assimilated with his American school mates. The parable though, is that the real obstacle is one’s acceptance of oneself.

“Returning to your true form is not an exercise of Kung-fu, but a release of it.” (The Tang Sangzang character to Sun Wukung; with the latter being able to free itself effortlessly by just reverting to his smaller monkey form rather than trying to be a man).

The book tackles the issue of racial identity by highlighting the particular perspective of the protagonist.

The theme probably resonated more then, compared to now (or are things the same?), where the dynamics of what it means to be “Chinese” is a lot more of an identity divide than now.

Halo: bloodline/ Van Lente & Portela

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Story unveils the relationships among a Spartan team (Team Black) and a Convenant warrior pair.

Both find themselves stranded and (here’s where I reveal a little more than what the blurb says) have to make a choice to team up to survive.

Well, won’t share more or else i’ll be giving the whole plot away.

But I can add there’s a sub-plot about some relationship angst among the Spartans.

Could be something that might be expanded to a novella, though expectedly this graphic novel version offers the surface-level Hollywood treatment.

Halo: Helljumper/ Peter David & Eric Nguyen

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Centers around a pair of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST). Not enhanced Spartans, btw.

Plot: best of buddies are part of a deployment to investigate a Convenant raid. Find themselves cut off; fight their way through and show more of the self-sacrificial buddy-hero stuff.

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading it. It’s light leisurely clean stuff.

Romeo & Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels)/ Matt Wiegle

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A graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

ISBN: 9781411498747

I’ve never read Romeo & Juliet. All I really knew was both lovers killed themselves. The Shakespearean text was hard to understand on my own. So this graphic novel was really useful for me in appreciating the full story.

There’s many interpretative layers to the play, I think. And many possibilities for re-makes and re-interpretations.

Here’s a ‘dark’ one: For instance, Romeo could have been a fickle knave rather than the naive lover, which meant Juliet’s death, as well as his, might have a different backstory. Or, Juliet could have been played up to be even more of a stubborn and rebellious (manipulative?) teen rather than being caught in a love triangle.

Rough notes:
The Montagues (Romeo’s family) and the Capulets (Juliet’s) were two rich and powerful families in the city of Verona (I think renaissance period Italy).

Romeo was at first pandering over an unrequited love (a Rosaline, who never quite appeared in person) but quickly changed his mind after he saw Juliet. The chance encounter came when Romeo, egged on by his friend and cousin, gate-crashed a Capulet dinner party in disguise.

Romeo then famously wooed and Juliet with his charm and words, after he sneaked into the Capulet family home grounds and under Juliet’ balcony. (What a charmer! Or maybe Juliet’s not so bright. And yes there seems to be a lot of sneaking around).

Romeo and Juliet got themselves married secretly, with the help of Romeo’s friend Friar Lawrence.

But on that same day when they got married in secret, Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) ends up being killed by Romeo in a revenge-fight, because Tybalt picked a fight and sneakily killed Mercuto (Romeo’s friend).

That very day, Romeo was also banished, as punishment for the clan duel and murder.

Juliet was heartbroken to learn of the death of a cousin and the banishment of her still-secret husband.

(prior to Romeo’s leaving his city, he manages to sneak into Juliet’s room and spent the night there. So scandalous! Heh. All that with the help of Juliet’s nurse and a rope ladder).

Juliet’s father then made a hasty decision to marry her to a nobleman Count Paris. When he told Juliet about it, he was furious at His only daughter’s seemingly smarmy response about non-marriage. He issued an ultimatum: marry Count Paris or be disowned.

That forced Juliet to seek Friar Lawrence’s help.

He devised a plan: he gave Juliet a concoction that would allow her to fake her death. He and Romeo would wait or her to be revived and the couple would sneak away. All that, the friar intended to inform Romeo by way of a letter.

It all went to plan, at first. Juliet drank the mix and appeared dead on her wedding day to Count Paris (poor man). Her wedding celebrations became funeral preparations (her poor parents!)

But the first sign of a SNAFU was when the letter never made it to Romeo (a quarantine due to a suspected plague outbreak).

Romeo receives word from a servant that Juliet was dead. He rushed off to see his beloved, armed with poison so as to die at her side.

Unexpectedly Count Paris showed up at the tomb that night. He caught Romeo attempting a tomb break-in.

They duel.

Romeo killed the count (for a supposedly naive romantic dude, Romeo was quite the fighter!)

He carried the count’s body into the tomb, said his final words to Juliet, drank the poison.

“Thus with a kiss I die.”

Goodbye, Romeo.

By then, the Friar discovered the carnage at the scene. So too, did Juliet as she woke.

The friar was unable to persuade Juliet to leave. He fled.

Juliet famously plunges the dagger into herself: “Oh happy knife, this is your sheath! Rust there and let me die.”

It all came to an end when the friar was caught fleeing the scene. He revealed everything in front of the Prince of Verona, and both fathers of the two dead lovers.

The two heartbroken old men, rebuked by the prince, make up on the spot.

A seemingly happy ending to a tragic sequence of events.

Blue Beetle: Black and blue/ Matthew Sturges & Mike Norton

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Very clean artwork.

Teenage boy possesses alien technology. Able to transform into a super-powered morphing amoured fighting machine.

Starting story: demons are invoked and have to be put down. Interesting plot, albeit a bit predictable.

The other stories that follow get a bit deeper into the Blue Beetle character, which was nice. Has a side plot of a love-hate teenage romance among two of his pals.

The plot deepens as more is revealed of the origins and purpose of the Blue Beetle technology (it’s not benign, as it turns out).

This graphic novel gave me the impression it’s almost like a Ben Ten series. There’s a storyline that is interlinked and develops quite nicely. But characters are more at the surface level.
I get the impression the series has been discontinued.

Kato vol 1: Not my father’s daughter/ Ande Parks

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A Green Hornet spinoff. And not about Kato but Kato’s successor, his daughter. Reads like a coming-of-age story.

Hirohito Juuma, son of a dead Japanese Yakuza clan boss, has sworn to revenge this father’s death by killing Kato. He almost succeeds, but not quite. Instead, he murders Kato’s wife. In usual plot follows, where the daughter trains under the tough mentorship of her father, to seek revenge.

Overall, this is an OK piece of work. Enjoyable enough to pass the time. But not for those looking for a complex plot or character development piece.

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