A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel. Madeleine L’Engle, Hope Larson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 392 pages. $19.99.
Unsurprisingly, the beloved fantasy story also makes a fantastic all-ages graphic novel. Larson’s whimsical and expressive narrative illustrations are ideal for illuminating this quirky coming-of-age tale for smart kids. It’s a fine adaptation, and longtime lovers of the original text as well as newbies will delight at the adventures of Meg Murry, her family, friends and the mysterious trio of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.
Spaceman. Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso. DC/Vertigo. 224 pages. $24.99.
The futuristic urban slang in some of the dialogue can be a little challenging, but Azzarello’s crazy-good story of abandoned and ostracized future mutants bred for space travel is audacious and riveting. Risso’s blazing art depicts this dystopic adventure with dazzling authority and sensitivity. Great science fiction is always rooted in human emotions, and Spaceman soars with passion.
El Illuminado. Ilan Stavans, Steve Sheinkin. Basic. 208 pages. $24.99.
Stavans’ self-starring story about a murder mystery, Spanish Catholic-to-New Mexican-Jewish conversos, art, human nature and martyrdom is absorbing, fresh and full of potential. But the unfinished quality of Sheinkin’s art undercuts the venture and undermines the storytelling flow. It might be a matter of style rather than of competence, but the result is unsatisfying and frustrating, especially given the rich tapestry Stavans attempts to unfurl.
The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln. Noah Van Sciver. Fantagraphics. 192 pages. $24.99.
Van Sciver’s well-researched delineation of pre-presidential (1837-1842) Abraham Lincoln’s dark period of depression is a wonder. The authentically depicted contemporaneous “cures” administered for this mental illness included bloodletting and mercury treatments, which are presented unflinchingly. Though perhaps an odd choice for a graphic novel, Van Sciver’s realization of this revealing chapter of American history makes more than perfect sense.
The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2: From “Kubla Khan” to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray. Russ Kick. Seven Stories. 512 pages. $34.95.
This prodigious and astounding collection of literary adaptations is staggering in its ambition, but even more so in its execution and realization. Kick’s anthology, the middle volume of a chronological trilogy, includes graphic iterations of works by Coleridge, Keats, Twain, Blake, Wordsworth and others, by Megan Kelso, S. Clay Wilson, Dame Darcy, Hunt Emerson, Lance Tooks and Kim Deitch, among the superb array of contributors.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Book 1. Denise Mina, Andrea Mutti, Leonardo Manco. DC/Vertigo. 152 pages. $19.99.
It’s not the only graphic adaptation of the first third of Larsen’s Millennium trilogy (there are French and Japanese versions from other publishers), but this book from DC/Vertigo, covering the first half of the novel by the international team of Mina, Manco and Mutti, effects a readable version of the story. Violent and powerful, it’s also studded with quiet, meditative moments between the mayhem and mystery. Its rhythm and contents are closer to the original work than the fine David Fincher film, too.