Small Gods, vol. 1: Killing Grin
by Jason Rand, Juan Ferreyra & Kristen Simon
Set in an alternate world where psionic powers exist--though there public acknowledgment is only about a decade old--Small Gods tells the story of Detective Owen Young, a cop with precognitive abilities that allow him to see crimes before they are actually committed. Although the basic premise is ripped straight out of a well-known Philip K. Dick story, Rand goes off in a completely different direction. He's more interested in telling a story along the lines of Homicide or Gotham Central than a scifi think piece. It's done to good effect, and the story is told complete in this volume (a nice bonus these days for collections of continuing series). I was completely unfamiliar with the creators involved before reading this, but they do a darn good job; the story is clearly told, and the black and white toned art, while ocasionally a bit inconsistant, is still attractive and appropriate. This one flew under my radar when it first debuted as a series, so I was glad to be able to pick it up in an affordable collected edition. If you like cop stories with a tinge of the speculative, you'll probably like Small Gods too.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq
by Mark Alan Stamaty
A graphic novella in the guise of a children's book, Alia's Mission is the story of an Iraqi librarian and her struggles to save the books of her library from the ravages of war. Avoiding the politics of the war itself (for the most part--though neither Saddam's troops nor the British army come off very well) Stamaty instead focuses on the true story of the heroism of Alia and the people she inspires to help her preserve the knowledge of her culture. It's not a deep story, and the art is mostly just functional, but it's always inspiring to see ordinary people pushed to extraordinary deeds and succeeding. Plus, how often to librarians get to be refered to as super-heroes? (Well, outside of the fictional Oracle...)
Rating: 3 (of 5)