Friday, July 9, 2010

Sci Fi Friday Review: Sons of Liberty by Alexander and Joseph Lagos

Found via: MoCCA Event 6/10

If I were caught up in my blogging, this post would actually have gone up last weekend, since it's more thematically appropriate with the fourth of July rather than the week after... But sometimes, I just can't be that organized (I blame the brain melting heat last week. It wasn't as bad as this week - hello 103 degree Tuesday - but clearly my brain wasn't functioning).

The Sons of Liberty #1But here we are - finally with my review of the exciting historical super hero graphic novel Sons of Liberty. That combination of adjectives right there is what intrigued me - so much going on! Could it all actually work?

Graham and Brody are young slaves on the run from a cruel master. They've been advised to run north and seek safety with Benjamin Lay - who it turns out is an eccentric abolitionist who lives in a cave. But he is kind and firmly believes in the rights of all humans, and works to ensure the two young men can work as free men and earn a living as printers apprentices.

But all isn't sunshine and happiness along the way. Slave catchers are after Graham and Brody, and then there's the issue of William Franklin - son of the famous Benjamin Franklin. William shares some of his fathers' scientific interests, but is far from an abolitionist. When he comes across Graham and Brody, he attacks them, hoping to "teach a lesson." When the boys awake from their trauma, they discover they've been gifted with extraordinary powers - the ability to leap across a river in a single bound, and to go from being practically illiterate to reading every book Benjamin Lay keeps in his humble cave. The question the young men now face, is what to do with these new abilities? Graham wants to return to Africa, where he was born, but Brody has only ever known life in America - should they fight for the right to stay? Or to go?

This is definitely just the first part of the story - the writers teased so much more during the event last month that in some ways this book felt like a let down to me because I was expecting more. But that's my fault, not the fault of the book, unless you want to fault the entire graphic novel/comic book genre for being hooked on serial stories. So there's lots to be excited for in the next book (or three, since at the moment the series is scheduled to be at least four books long).

I love the idea of super heroes in a historical fiction setting. It's definitely an interesting twist on the superhero genre, and I know from the panel discussion that the writers and artists have put in a ton of research in order to truly bring the Revolutionary War period to life. This part of the story is still firmly in the origin story phase, so we don't get to see much of the actual war (just a teaser at the beginning, showing Brody and Graham facing a troop of Redcoats), but the setting definitely informs the path the story takes so far.

I'm not a big visual person, so it's hard for me to critique the artwork, but I remember at the panel praise was heaped upon Oren Kramek, the colorist, specifically for the way he uses light in this book. Maybe I noticed it because I had essentially been told to look for it, but the lighting definitely stands out. Rays of sunlight shine through windows and doorways with a truly warm glow. There's definitely an organic feeling to the colors, it's all very natural, which is a stark contrast to most graphic novels which are set in our highly artificial modern (or future) world.

I was less enamored with the drawings themselves - specifically the faces. Whenever a character had an extreme reaction (pain, anger, terror...not much happiness in the story so far), the faces were exaggerated almost to the point of being grotesque and unrecognizable as the same character seen in the previous panel. It was a little distracting, especially for someone like me who doesn't read comics/graphic novels all that often anyway.

The story, however, is enough to keep me going, and I definitely plan on checking out the second book in the series when it comes out next spring!

What science fiction have you read this week?


MissAttitude said...

I enjoyed reading about the event and reading your review. The cover seems a bit grotesque, or at least, the two faces look rather hollow.

That's really cool about the lighting. I read my first graphic novel recently and now I'm interested in comparing the different types of drawing (although I'm not a very good judge of what's good and what's not).

I just heard about this book and added it to my debut list. I need to read it soon :)

Thank you for the review of the book and the event!

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