gi joe originsNeed a good old-fashioned American graphic novel about heroes? Look no further than G.I. Joe: Origins Omnibus, Volume 1. This graphic novel has everything you could hope for in a superhero graphic novel, except that the characters are more realistic for kids to hope to become and to look up to. Nobody in this book was born a God with special powers(Heeeyyy Thor and Loki), none were bitten by radioactive spiders(Lookin’ good, Spider-Man), received their powers through some sort of solar flare/energy boost(Fantastic Four), nor do they have tons of money to buy all the fancy equipment they could ever want(Here’s looking at you, Iron Man). The people in the G.I. Joe program mostly all have military backgrounds with the skills and training they received as part of those organizations playing a major role in their initial selection to and their subsequent success in the program.

G.I. Joe: Origins Omnibus, Volume 1 gives readers a much-needed glimpse into the origin stories of various members of the G.I. Joe team. Something I noticed throughout this volume was the level of secrecy that is shown in both the selection of new members to the team and the shadowing of the actual name of their organization. This level of secrecy is necessary for them to maintain once readers see the wide variety of highly dangerous and covert missions they go on.

The origins of the G.I. Joe team came out of the changing and new era of war. New kind of war and fighting means that the good guys need to find a fighting force. The war that the G.I. Joe team finds themselves fighting is not out on the battlefield; it is instead being waged within cities, involving more innocent bystanders and a new breed of villain that is willing to do anything to create havoc. Check out this graphic novel to learn more about each G.I. Joe and to really see how this team came together.

rocket raccoonThe release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie brought about a slam of new materials about the characters to libraries and bookstores everywhere. One Guardians rendition that the library just purchased is Rocket Raccoon: A Chasing Tale. In this graphic novel, writer and artist Skottie Young, along with the help of many other artists, have created the world of Rocket Raccoon, one of the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy, and his friend, Groot.

In A Chasing Tale, Rocket spends his time away from the other Guardians of the Galaxy by going on a series of extra money-making adventures. His time rescuing princesses and saving the world may come to a screeching halt though when he is arrested for committing multiple murders on planets all over the galaxy and is thrown into jail! Rocket does what any other upstanding superhero would do in a situation like this: turns to the nasty underbelly of criminals that he knows exist to buy their help in figuring out who is setting him up and how it’s possible that someone could be framing him when he is the ONLY existing one of his kind left! It’s a mystery! With multiple groups chasing after him and wanting him dead, Rocket and Groot have to take matters into their own hands(or maybe ummm… paws and branches…) to figure out who or what is behind this frame job, what Rocket possibly could have done to make them so angry, and most importantly, if there actually are other creatures like him from Halfworld left.

Young has crafted a graphic novel that dabbles in Star Lord and other Guardians of the Galaxy knowledge, but mostly draws upon the character of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Don’t be worried that you will be overwhelmed or need to have background knowledge about Rocket Raccoon in order to understand this graphic novel. Some references to previous adventures happen, but most are quickly explained by subsequent dialogue. The colors are vivid, characters and their stories well-developed, and some side storylines are introduced to help liven the main story arc up and to also introduce a look into why some characters are behaving the way that they do. The second volume, Rocket Raccoon: Storytailer, was just released and is on my list of things to order, so check the catalog soon to check out this next volume of Rocket’s crazy adventures!

battlescapesThe scars on the landscape have faded, the roar of battle has been forgotten, and the machinations of generals and commanders and sacrifices of soldiers have slipped into the history books, but the places remain. Alfred Bullesbach set out to photograph the locations of 34 famous battles and the result is the stunning and thought-provoking Battlescapes.

Bullesbach is not a historian; he is a photographer and he approached each battlefield with a landscape photographers eye. In some cases, there are elaborate memorials or large formal cemataries; at other sites there is no evidence whatsoever that a battle took place there. Sheep graze on the grass covered trenches of the Somme where 1.5 million men lost their lives. A lush and peaceful forest stands were the Americans and Germans fought the bloody Battle of the Bulge.

Perhaps most poignant are the numerous sites from the Great War (World War I); men were buried where they fell, many of their names unknown. Small cemeteries, containing several dozen to just a few graves, have become part of the landscape, surrounded by farm fields and pastures. Each grave is still meticulously tended, with flowers and carefully mown grass.

All of the battlesites pictured are located in Europe, so Americans were only involved in the later wars (World Wars I and II), but you will have encountered many of the names in your history books – Alesia, Hastings, Agincourt, Blenheim, Waterloo. The photography is stunning with large panoramics and as well as more intimate studies for each location. A guide to visiting the battlefields concludes the book.