Readers' Favorite

April 8, 2017

Group of Graphic Novel Collections

When I first saw the section for 'graphic novels' in the bookstore I thought they were explicit novels instead of what it truly meant - illustrated novels. I didn't grow up reading comic books. Sure I read comic strips in the Sunday funny pages and was really excited to get a book of Garfield comics, but I didn't read Superman or Spiderman or any of those Marvel guys or are they DC?

Now many regular novels are being turned into graphic novels. I giggled at the Twilight graphic novel, but I really want to the Harry Potter ones, though they are referred to as the illustrated editions. But it still isn't my preferred medium so I was happy to welcome MK French as a reviewer because she does enjoy graphic novels. Today she is sharing a few she recently read. ~ Donna

The Complete Marvel Cosmos
October 2016; Insight Editions
978-1608878543; paperback (160 pages)
a free ARC was provided for this review
Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos by Mark Sumerak

This is a guide to different planets mentioned within the Marvel comics universe. It has annotations based on information revealed in various comic runs, as well as color commentary by the Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a fun concept, as various planets are discussed as if it was a Fodor's guide to cities, complete with things to do and things to NOT do while there. It mentions aspects of the planetary cultures, food, and politics, especially in the commentary. It makes more sense if you know the comics that the locations are based on, of course, but it's still easy enough to follow along if you are familiar with the names. Since some of those locations show up in the Marvel movies, fans of the cinematic universe will still enjoy this book.

Buy The Complete Marvel Cosmos at Amazon

Bizenghast Special Collectors Editions
January 2017; Tokyopop; 978-1427856906
ebook & print (544 pages); YA manga
a free book was provided for this review
Bizenghast Special Collectors Editions by M. Alice LeGrow

A manga series now recollected in five volumes

Dinah, orphaned in a car accident as a child, lives with her aunt in a large, Gothic styled home. She is tormented by "fits" and sees ghosts. While wandering with her friend Vincent, they stumble across the forgotten graveyard that no one could prove ever existed. While there, they discover that the restless souls of Bizenghast want to come home, and need Dinah to help them. If she can't solve the riddles to free the souls, her life is forfeit.

The art is gorgeous in this manga series, inspired by the Gothic Lolita look. This volume is remastered and edited from the original publication date. It's a fairly straightforward story, and Dinah starts off as a very fragile girl, prone to crying and hiding behind Vincent to do the tasks for her. But she admits herself that she's tired of being scared all the time, and facing the horrors of the souls' riddles to free them also helps her grow. She is less frightened and less reliant on Vincent; he has to learn that some shortcuts can't be taken, and the important things in life aren't actually things.

Buy Bizenghast Special Collectors Editions at Amazon

November 2016; Benitez Productions
978-0996603027; print (160 pages)
YA manga
a free book was provided for this review
Wraithborn by Marcia Chen (writer) and Joe Benitez (artist)

Melanie is a shy high schooler that was given the power of the Wraithborn when its current owner was too badly damaged. He was part of the Brotherhood, and Valin is another member of the Brotherhood that had been trained nearly since birth to deal with its power. Unfortunately, Melanie got the power because other forces are at play, trying to get the power of the Wraithborn.

This trade paperback collects the first six issues of the Wraithborn comic. It's is told in a flashback frame. The art is gorgeous, and it's an interesting take on the trope. Instead of a Judeo-Christian demon that's the bad guy, it's a Voodoo loa. I haven't seen too many comics use the voodoo religion as its basis. Action scenes, of which there are many, are dynamically drawn and vividly colored. There are great shots that are framed shots which are beautifully done and would make great backgrounds for electronics. A lot of the characters have really impractical outfits, particularly for a high school, but they're very pretty to look at. Melanie has probably the most subdued and practical wardrobe, another means to show that she's shy and has no knowledge of the supernatural. Unfortunately, she has little to no personality in this volume, and her friend Zoe has more of a presence. I hadn't heard of this comic before, but this is definitely a very interesting start into the series, and the character designs are great.

Buy Wraithborn at Amazon

Lad Mechanika
December 2015; Benitez Productions
978-0996603003; print (160 pages)
YA manga
a free copy of vol. 1 & 2 was provided
for this review
Lady Mechanika volume 1 & 2 by Joe Benitez (author and artist) and Peter Steigerwald (artist)

Lady Mechanika lives in Mechanika City, and is known for being partially mechanical and mostly human. It's a Victorian styled world with dirigibles and steampunk mechanics, but having bodies fused with functioning mechanical limbs is not commonplace. Lady Mechanika has no memory of how she got her mechanical limbs, so she searches for who created her and why.

Volume One collects the first comic arc, issue 0 as well as 1 through 6. A young girl is found in Mechanika City, and dies at the train station after escaping being hunted. This is the titular mechanical corpse for the volume, and Lady Mechanika is determined to uncover her origins, as it might lead her to the people that created her. The art is gorgeously detailed and the lettering fits the time period depicted. The cover art gallery at the end of the book is especially gorgeous to look at. Some speech bubbles are rather cluttered, such as when Mechanika and Katherine meet and find that the corpse is gone, or during Mechani-Con. Lady Mechanika doesn't seem to have much of a personality here, though it could be because she's suspicious of everyone and seems to have only one friend. Her suspicions are rather justified, as Katherine (aka Commander Winter) and Lord Blackpool have teamed up and are interested in killing her. We discover what happened to the mechanical girl, but we never really learn why. There are far more questions left unanswered by the end of it, and a sense of foreboding about what will happen to Lady Mechanika. It's a great way to hook in readers for future issues, as there isn't quite enough in Mechanika's interactions on her own to draw interest.

Volume Two collects the six issues of the second comic arc, the Tablet of Destinies. According to Sumerian legend, anyone who possesses the tablet can rule the world. The action starts right away, as Winifred, Professor Thomsen's granddaughter is kidnapped and Lady Mechanika can't quite catch up to the men that did it. As a result, Mechanika goes hunting for Winifred and in the process has to save the world instead of finding out more about her origins. There are wonderful clockwork creations in this volume, just as there was in the first. There are also clockwork touches around the panels of some pages, a fun touch in keeping with the steampunk Victoriana. It's a very fun and action packed story in this arc, chasing down the team that kidnapped Winifred and trying to find Professor Thomsen. It's a new antagonist from the first volume, and the group is concerned with ultimate power. The story plays out very much like Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones. If you enjoy that kind of plot line, this is a much easier way to get into this world and story than the first. We see a little more warmth in Mechanika in this volume, especially with how kind she is to Winifred and the stories she tells about meeting Professor Thomsen.

Buy Lady Mechanika volume 1 and volume 2 at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. I have a very scarce collection of Graphic novels. However, I enjoyed the ones that I have. Hope to read the once recommended here ...
    Thanks For sharing :)
    Best Wishes!

    1. I love graphic novels and manga. A great one to start with aside from these that I recommend to everyone would Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. It has a lot of references to mythology and social themes, and some of the story arcs are easier to get into than others.


  2. The graphic novels I owned were very juvenile and Indian
    Chacha Chowdary & Sabu
    I would love to read a few mentioned above :-)

    1. Bizenghast is very much a flashback kind of manga for me, because I read it back when it first came out. There are lots of newer ones, too, like the Benitez books I reviewed here that I hadn't heard of before but definitely have great characters and artwork.


  3. I don't really have much experience with graphic novels (though a friend lent me The Last Unicorn graphic novel a couple of years ago).

    I do have the illustrated Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone and it is gorgeous. I could just sit and study the pictures in it for hours!

    Cait @ Click's Clan