Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Contributors Brigid Alverson, Corey Blake and Mark Kardwell can’t wait til Wednesday to get there hands on three works (or, technically, four): Cyborg 009, Boxers & Saints, and The Best of Milligan & McCarthy. To see what they have to say about the releases, just keep reading …
Boxers & Saints
History is written by the winners. It’s rare when someone has the objective interest and skill to bring both perspectives of a conflict to bear. Boxers & Saints is a slipcase of the simultaneous release of two graphic novels from American Born Chinese creator Gene Luen Yang that strive to accomplish this ambitious goal. Boxers follows a Chinese peasant boy who joins the uprising after his village is plundered by Western missionaries, while Saints follows a girl who finds a life for herself in the missionaries when her village has no place for her. The former is crafted as a war epic with the aesthetic of a superhero comic; the latter is more intimate with the feel of a personal journal or autobiographical comic. Which side is right? As always, it’s not about right or wrong, but the human journeys within the historic event. — Corey Blake
F.J. DeSantos has created a Western-style full-color graphic novel based on Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga Cyborg 009. Why? Because it’s a great story, and this new version will be more accessible to a wider audience. Nine teenagers were kidnapped and given superpowers by evil dudes who want to use them as super-weapons; with help from a rogue scientist, they escape and turn on their captors to prevent them from wreaking more havoc. It’s colorful and action-packed, if very different from the original, and well worth a look. — Brigid Alverson
The Best of Milligan & McCarthy
This would be an important release if any one of its sizable list of contents were being reprinted, but together, this amounts to possibly the greatest bargain you’ll see this year. Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy’s collaborations in this book are a secret history of modern comics, the work that influenced your favorite creators. Comics that they might be nervous about heading back to print, revealing the scale of their larceny. Paradax, Freakwave and Rogan Gosh are all stone-dead classics worthy of your $25, but prepare to be knocked out by the inclusion of Skin. Out of print since Tundra published it in 1992, Skin was created in 1988 but faced a tortuous process to reach the public, as publishers and printers alike shunned the material, deeming it tasteless. It is a comic that will certainly shock you, but not by courting controversy for controversy’s sake. Just the other day, I saw that doctors are again prescribing Thalidomide without necessarily warning about its attendant risks to pregnant women, only now in Brazil. This is still something to get angry about, and the story of Martin ‘Atchett is one of those transformative comics that will stay with you, haunt you. This is as good as comics get. — Mark Kardwell
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