Sunday, October 03, 2004

Quick GN Reviews

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi
The first Persepolis told the autobiographical story of Satrapi's childhood in Iran in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, ending with her parents sending her off to live in Europe. This second volume picks up where the first left off; the first half deals with Satrapi's making her way alone as a foreign teenager in Europe, while teh second half deal with her returning to Iran and trying to live there as an independent young woman in an oppresive society. The theme of alienation runs throughout the book; a quite common theme for a bildungsroman such as this, but in Satrapi's case it is true alienation. She is a foreign outsider in the West, and back in Iran she is faced with old friends and a country she no longer recognizes. At times the young Satrapi comes off as a bit spoiled and unappreciative, especialyl when her life is going well, but that's a common attitude of the young. At the same time, Satrapi maintains a narrative distance from many events, particualrly bad ones, that makes it hard sometimes to sympathize. But for all that, Satrapi still creates a vivid portrait of her life, one which is seldom glimpsed in the western world. While not quite as good as the first volume, Persepolis 2 is still highly recommended.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Samson: Judge of Israel
by Mario Ruiz, Jerry A. Novick & Kevin Conrad
The story of Samson is one that most kids in church/bible school will encounter, and the basics of the story tend to stick: Samson is blessed by God with extraordinary strength, but when he reveals his weakness (if his hair is cut his strength will disappear) to the temptress Delilah, she betrays him and he is captured and tortured, until he regains his faith (and his hair) and visits the wrath of God upon his Philistine captors. This version of the story deemphasizes the whole women-are-harlots angle in favor of Samson's unwillingness to use his God-given gifts in the way that God wants him to. It takes a few liberties wth the biblical text, but remains mostly faithful (an appendix includes the test of the story from Judges 13-16, from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible). Thankfully none of the sex or violence inherent in the original is glossed over. The art by Ruiz & Conrad is very much in the style that was prevalent in the early Image days, which makes sense given that the story of Samson is very close to that of modern-day super-heroes.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

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