James Patterson expands his Daniel X adventure with Daniel X: Alien Hunter, a graphic novel. I had a student a few years ago who loved James Patterson’s young adult novels. I even made a few accelerated reader quizzes for him, so he could get extra credit. I respect Patterson for motivating preteen and teen boys to read.
This graphic novel is a quick read full of action and mystery. Daniel’s parents were murdered, and he discovers that his father was an alien who hunted outlaw aliens on Earth. Daniel finds his father’s list of outlaw aliens and is on a mission to find his parents’ killer. Over time Daniel has practiced and honed his own alien powers. He can use his imagination to create just about anything he wants, including friends.
Daniel is hunting #7 on the list in this installment of the story. Patterson includes enough twists, turns, and monsters to keep young readers turning the pages. Daniel’s foe is almost too much for him. I imagine the most interested age group would be boys 9-12. My seven-year-old has already asked if he can read it when I’m done. I’m not sure he can keep up with dialogue or the vocabulary, but I’ll let him give it a shot.
I find Patterson’s writing a little heavy handed at times for a graphic novel. For example, when it starts to rain, Daniel actually says in a thought bubble, “It’s starting to rain. I’d better get inside.” Well, we have the picture. We can see that it’s raining. The art appears to be computer generated. It looks good, but its not spectacularly original. Overall, I think its a graphic novel preteens will like.
After playing the Indiana Jones Legos game on the Wii and seeing the triology box set of the movies, my eldest son has become interested in WWII and the Nazis as bad guys. That reminded me of the seminal graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Since the Nazis portrayed the Jews as vermin to be exterminated, Spiegelman draws the Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. This cat and mouse metaphor makes the reader comfortable with the very serious material using seemingly harmless animal comic characters, but it also creates many levels of meaning dealing with racial stereotypes, nationalistic identities, and the commonality of humanity.
Art Spiegelman Titles
I guess I’m feeling nostalgic again for those innocent middle-school days. I saw some X-Men: Mutant Massacre comics on sale on Ebay and was reminded how much I loved that series. I had a subscription to X-Factor at the time, which was a spin-off featuring the five original X-Men. My cousin got the X-Men comics. Once the Mutant Massacre series started we had to borrow each others books to keep up, since it was a crossover series between the two teams. Thor, Daredevil, and some lesser known comics were also involved in a minor way.
The series had a certain mystery noir to it, and it was released around the same time as Elektra: Assassin. A lot of the action takes place in the underground tunnels of New York with a band of assassins killing the mutant community that lives in the tunnels. The continuing storyline over eight issues or so, and the, what seemed at the time, more mature action and theme grabbed me. Characters were getting killed and some favorites were gravely injured. That’s serious stuff for an eighth-grader in the 1980s. Remember, there was no internet and no violent video games.
I will spend the New Year at home with my family. No exciting parties- the kids are watching Shrek 2 on TV and eating popcorn. I was thinking of writing about Jim Carroll (the poet, diarist, rock singer) last night, but realized it would take multiple posts and an amount of work I’m unwilling to commit at the moment to do the man justice. I had the pleasure of seeing him give a reading at a local college in the mid-’90s. He was excellent. Among his own work, Jim read a poem by Nicholas Christopher, which sent chills and silence through the room. The poem is called “Terminus.” I posted it below. I think besides Jim’s own “Eight Fragments for Kurt Cobain,” this was the best reading that night. The poem is about the things humans do and have done since the beginning of time. I post it now, at the end of the year, in an attempt to make us think about this long history we have of doing horrible things to one another. Let’s try to change individually. Continue reading “Terminus”
The Zeppelin post put me in mind of my thirteen-year-old days. I read the Elektra: Assassin graphic novel, which collected all eight issues written by Frank Miller and painted by Bill Sienkiewicz, until the spine broke and the pages fell out all over the inside of my locker. I had never seen a comic drawn or written like it before.
Elektra is the daughter of a Greek ambassador who is assassinated. She is trained in childhood by a master assassin / kung-fu guy. We get a brief glimpse into her background and psychosis. Now she is planning to assassinate the President, Ken Wind, who appears to be an anti-christ-like figure. He is referred to as “The Beast.” Continue reading “Elektra: Assassin – comic book love”