About the Author:
Greg Rucka lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Jennifer Van Meter, and their two children, Elliot and Dashiell.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Elektra: Everything Old Is New Again
(Art by Joe Bennett, Carlo Pagulayan, Carlos Meglia, Danny Miki, Crime Lab Studios and Victor Olazaba)
The second book of Elektra's Marvel Knights series sees her trying to break free of her past as both a warrior of the Chaste and an assassin of the Hand. However, apprenticing herself to a new teacher, she learns that what she truly needs to break free from is her addiction to violence itself.
There's nothing inherently wrong with this story of a trained killer having to reconnect with her humanity but at the same time there's nothing terribly ground-breaking about it either. This book rolls through any number of cliches as Elektra meets a sensei who initially doesn't want to train her and whilst Drake specifically states that they can skip the painting-the-fence type of training, she still immediately has Elektra help her to repair a children's playground. It's like Rucka was aware of the cliches but couldn't help falling into them anyway.
There are some nicely menacing villains at play here, with the sadistic Hand killers known as Pain, Thought and Shadow attempting to hunt down Elektra and return her to the fold; however, their menace is completely undercut by Carlos Meglia's stylised and cartoonish artwork. I don't hate Meglia's style, but here it feels totally inappropriate to the tone of the story and clashes badly with the art style featured before and after it.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Guardians Of The Whills
Taking place around 1 BBY, this book focuses on Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus; two of the characters introduced in the movie 'Rogue One' (as novelised by Alexander Freed). Former members of the titular religious sect, Chirrut and Baze become increasingly concerned by the Empire's cruelty on their homeworld Jedha. When the rebel Saw Gerrera and his partisans arrive, they seem like natural allies but soon find that their goals are far from the same.
Of all the great characters introduced in 'Rogue One', these two were the ones I found most endearing. It is the curious mix of Baze's cynicism, Chirrut's sense of humour and the clear devotion to one another that makes them so compelling. Rucka tells the story here entirely from their points of view, allowing us to truly inhabit these characters and explore their feelings and motivations. I liked the difference in tone the author manages to achieve when switching between Baze and Chirrut and, in the case of the latter, I don't think I've ever really read a POV story about a blind character before. It makes for fascinating reading as Rucka has to convey situations and events without using visual markers.
I also enjoyed seeing a bit more of Saw and his partisans. Some of the background characters from the movie get a bit of fleshing out, but it is reading the meetings between the Guardians and the embittered Saw that I found particularly enjoyable. Perhaps the best character moment I've seen for Saw so far in Star Wars media comes when he and Baze simply have a drink and a chat together.
A far more engaging book than the comic-bookish cover and 'young adult' marketing would have you believe.
4 out of 5