Moth & Whisper Volume 1 – Ted Anderson

Illustrations – Jen Hickman

The Moth and the Whisper were the two great thieves in the city but they haven’t been seen by anyone in almost six months, not even their child, Niki.

Niki’s parents didn’t want them to search for them or put themselves in any danger if they ever disappeared. Naturally Niki, who is a teenager, does the exact opposite, utilising the tools the Moth and the Whisper left behind to try to track them down.

Along the way Niki meets a couple of unlikely allies: Walter

and Moira.

Niki is non-binary (them/they/their). I really liked that this was part of the story and loved that everyone used the correct pronouns, even the villains!

There are some fun action scenes and plenty of handy gadgets that I expect even Q would appreciate. My favourite invention was the Weaver suit, which is “a combination shapeshifting outfit and instant makeup kit.” I would like to place my order for one of these please!

A lot of background information is included in this Volume. I found this useful but would expect less info dumps in future Volumes. The narrative touches on human trafficking and organ dealing. I enjoyed the story and loved Jen Hickman’s illustrations, particularly their use of colour.

Thank you to NetGalley, AfterShock Comics and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this graphic novel. I’m looking forward to reading the next Volume.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Everyone knows that the two greatest thieves in the city are the Moth and the Whisper. Very few know that the Moth and the Whisper disappeared six months ago. And what nobody knows is that the new Moth and Whisper are actually one person pretending to be both of them. One supremely skilled but uncertain young genderfluid thief: Niki, the child of the Moth and the Whisper.

Niki has been trained by their parents in the arts of stealth and infiltration, but they’re still just a teenager, and now they’re alone, searching for their parents in a hostile cyberpunk dystopia. Corporations run the streets while crime lords like Ambrose Wolfe run the alleys-identity is a commodity and privacy is impossible. The truth about Niki’s parents and their disappearance is out there, but can Niki survive long enough to find it?

Beyonders Volume 1 – Paul Jenkins

Illustrations – Wesley St. Claire

Spoilers Ahead!

Jake lives with his Uncle Paul and Aunt Karen in Alaska. He has a flatulent Welsh Corgi with one eye called Shadwell. After spending most of his time breaking codes and researching conspiracy theories, Jake learns that all of the conspiracies are true.

Right around the same time, he learns that everything he thought was true about his life is actually a lie. Enter Nadine from the Beyonders, his soon to be insta love with the blue lips.

Nadine tells him about the Beyonders and the Order, an “ancient society bent on preserving a power structure that keeps us subservient”, otherwise known as the Illuminati.

It turns out that Jake is the only one in the world who can crack a super important, super old code and does so overnight, despite it having thwarted people for centuries before him.

He also learns how high the stakes are. Sort of.

“The stakes are too high.”

“What are the stakes, exactly?”

“Higher than you can imagine.”

Jake spends a fair amount of time talking about how confusing and complicated the situation is.

Between all of the complicated stuff and the miraculous way everything comes together, including a very specific prophecy (so specific that Nadine’s blue lips are mentioned), there’s also an abundance of sandwiches, references to the dog’s flatulence and Leonardo da Vinci.

Personally, I had trouble taking Nadine seriously. I couldn’t see past her collagen overdosed lips.

I also had some unanswered questions, which I don’t expect to be answered in future Volumes. For example, if Shadwell was specifically placed in the animal shelter for Jake, how did the Beyonders know he’d choose that particular dog?

I was initially intrigued by the mystery within the mystery component of this graphic novel. There’s symbols to decipher as you make your way through the story in the form of a treasure hunt.

Before I’d even begun reading the story I spent at least half an hour diligently copying the various letters and symbols onto a piece of paper so I could decipher the code. I applaud anyone who actually follows through with this though. I gave up transcribing the symbols on page 33. There’s a symbol on every panel and some of them aren’t overly clear (is that supposed to be an O or a zero?).

Had I fallen in love with the story I probably would have persevered in the hopes of winning something related to the Beyonders but it turns out I couldn’t even cheat properly! After I decided I wasn’t playing to win I figured I’d at least go to the AfterShock website to see what the answer was, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe the specific website address is included in the code. Maybe I couldn’t see it for looking. Maybe someone at AfterShock forgot to include the answer on the graphic novel’s page. Who knows?!

I loved Indiana Jones and have been obsessed with The X-Files for more than half of my life so this should have been the graphic novel for me. Unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. All of the pieces fit together too easily for the main character and, although my ‘I’ll believe pretty much anything if it makes the story more fun’ threshold is fairly high (or low, depending on how you look at it), I didn’t believe.

Thank you to NetGalley, AfterShock Comics and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A young boy obsessed with crop circles and cryptography finds his boring life turned upside-down when he discovers that all of his conspiracy theories are true, sending him on the ultimate treasure hunt for an ancient secret spanning thousands of years.

What is the connection between a lost mountaineer, an indecipherable manuscript, and the lost library of Alexandria?

How is this connected to a one-eyed, flatulent Welsh Corgi and endless plates of corned beef sandwiches?

Find out in … Beyonders! And uncover the secret of the actual treasure hunt woven into its pages!

Lollipop Kids Volume 1: Things That Go Bump in the Night – Adam Glass & Aidan Glass

Illustrations – Diego Yapur

Colours – D.C. Alonso

Nick is 14 and has dyslexia. His older sister Mia, who is almost 18, didn’t come home last night and she wasn’t at school today.

Concerned, Nick looks for her in Central Park where she usually hangs out with her friends but she’s not there either.

He does find the Big Bad Wolf though. Or perhaps I should say the Big Bad Wolf finds him.

Fortunately for Nick, the Lollipop Kids are there too. They’re a group of kids who have inherited a massive responsibility: to protect the city from the monsters that have been imprisoned within Central Park. It turns out that Nick is also a Lollipop Kid.

I loved the concept and I adored that the story was co-created by a father and son. Unfortunately, while this graphic novel had potential, it ultimately fell flat for me.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters and even though I’ve just finished reading, I only remember a couple of their names. Because the artwork was so dark most of the time I didn’t get much of a sense of anyone’s emotions.

During this Volume you learn some of the history of the Lollipop Kids, including how they managed to get that name, in a series of info dumps. There are some twists along the way, including a cliffhanger ending, but I don’t think I’ll be reading Volume 2.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Aftershock Comics and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When immigrants came to the new world they didn’t only bring their hopes and dreams, they also brought their monsters.

Years ago, early setters locked these monsters away in a secret prison deep in the woods of New Amsterdam so that they never would return to the Old World. Those woods have become Central Park and now the monsters have escaped! Nick, 14, finds out that he’s a “legacy” to a secret society that for the last 400 years has kept these monsters in check – he and a ragtag group of kids just like him have to put the monsters back before they get out of the park and destroy the city.