(This is going to be my first graphic novel/trade paper back review for the blog, hopefully of many. The title links to the amazon listing of the book so you know exactly what I am talking about but I really recommend checking your local shop first if you intend to purchase it.)
The meat and potatoes of the comic book world is super heroes stories and while I certainly love that genre, more so than I should sometimes, it just isn't for everyone. Some people will scoff the idea of taking any story involving super heroes seriously. My recommendation: take those people (and yourself if you haven't already) and make them read 45, a graphic novel that captures the human side of super heroes better than almost anything out there.
45 tells the tale of journalist James Stanley dealing with the idea of becoming a father, and possibly becoming the father of a Super-S (those with super powers.) To explore the world of Super-S's that he might soon be forced into, James goes on a global journey to interview with forty-five Super-S or Super-S related people. The interviews he conducts are then what we, as the reader, read in the book matched up with an illustration of the interviewee. Through his voyage we meet some of his world's greatest heroes, Super-S children with great futures ahead, those that have hung up the tights, and even a villain or two. More importantly, however, we meet forty-five people whose life we experience in the length of two pages (the illustration and the interview.)
Addiction, sexuality, strained family relationships, commercialism, obsessions, egos, mortality, government control, and war torn countries are just a sampling of the issues these people are facing and where the reader can find a bit of themselves. Better still, all of this is prominent with out being just dramatic but featuring action (Super-S's do like to duke it out), humor (a 18 year old Super-S who faces the tremendous problem of picking his Alter ego name), and thrills (two child births.) While the stories told are awesome, I was almost more excited about the slick style of the book when I first heard about it and it did not disappoint.
Written and created by Andi Ewington, the entire graphic novel is written as one-page interviews coupled up with an illustration by some of the comic industries' greatest talent. The art on these one page illustrations is amazing, perfectly matching their stories and sometimes being a story unto themselves. All of this while still slipping in the overall narrative of James Stanley dealing with the idea of being the father of a Super-S is pretty amazing. Ewington has created a world that I hope is returned to in one way or another, possibly more interviews or maybe even a mini-series or two.
Totting a $17.99 the book is an amazing deal clocking in at around 130 pages with tons of sketch art, bonus interviews, and even a glossary of terms from the 45 world (my favorite is a Vader which is a superhero turned villain.) If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking it up and easily give it a 5 out of 5.