Dolltopiadollcovfin2
Abby Denson
Green Candy Press

Dolltopia is a society for weary dolls. Dolls that are tired of being forced into tired gender roles, constantly smiling no matter what they feel, and living out warped human fantasies of what life is supposed to be like. The story follows Kitty from the time she is assembled in the factory to her quest for self discovery. She is living the supposed perfect life in a huge house with her handsome boyfriend Soccer Scotty until she decides she’s seen enough and sets off on her own. She immediately bumps into Army Jim and they search for Dolltopia together.

This graphic novel utilizes black, white, and Barbie Pink for an all age friendly exploration of the pursuit of happiness. Dolltopia grapples with plastic surgery, sex reassignment surgery (having a bendable arm transplant is a fun euphemism), consumerism, and conformity.

An interesting aspect Denson adds is that the majority of the community are female, maybe implying that women have more reason to feel alienated by consumerist culture. They leave their dollhouses out of certainty that there must be more to life than living in a Fantasy Home. Their escape piques the curiosity of the male dolls, who sometimes later follow them to freedom.

The approach of the book is captured by this quote from Denson: “[People are] gallivanting around, getting questionable plastic surgery and buying exercise routine DVD’s based on stripper moves so they can look great when they go to the Applebees or the Olive Garden or some other casual dining franchise establishment to show off their new flair with the rest of the drugged up, conformist dolls.”

This is a harsh critique of capitalist culture with adorable illustrations that kids and adults can both enjoy.

— Lana

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #4serenitycover
Zack Whedon and Georges Jeanty
Dark Horse Comics

The crew is planning on freeing Zoe from an Alliance Prison. They have picked up some help (and dumped some excess weight) but first they have to make a stop at the medical facility where River was imprisoned and experimented on, and there’s a nasty surprise waiting for them. There’s also a peek at the prison where Zoe is being held, and I was glad to see she’s still the same old Zoe.

This issue finally sold me on the changes they’ve made. I didn’t like Inara’s new role at first, but her interaction with both Mal and Kaylee showed how much they’ve all changed. So while the dialogue and actions are familiar, there’s a new dynamic since the events of the movie. Also, the art is strongest when they’re outside of the ship. The colors and composition really picked up in the last two thirds of the book, and it was really enjoyable to look at it.

The dinosaurs on the console break my heart a little bit every time I see them.

— Sarah

The Woods #1The-Woods-Cover-A-Ramon-Perez-21ff6
James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas
Boom! Studios

It’s just an average day of high school, full of the usual relationships and squabbles you would get anywhere, when suddenly the whole building is transported to some primordial planet full of intimidating forests and strange beasties.  That’s the set-up for this creator-owned book coming from James Tynion IV, a writer who has been making a name for himself working on the various Batfamily titles at DC.

The issue is more set-up than action, which perhaps makes sense given how high concept the premise is.  If this were a miniseries I might protest, but as an on-going, it makes sense to establish the characters and situation first before branching out into the main action.  Tynion makes a deliberate decision to devote signifcant time to meeting the central characters before the big alien forest thing happens.  The opportunity to see the cast in their element was a great choice, because, brief though this normalcy may be in the series, the reader has the chance to understand their day-to-day lives before everything goes to shit.

Tynion has a great voice for these teenage characters, and artist Dialynas does an awesome job designing each character to be unique yet recognizable as a real kid.  When the teleportation to the alien land does happen, Dianlynas does an incredible job creating a menacing, foreign environment.  A special shout-out must go to the coloring job in this book, which is just fantastic.  The murky shadows of the forest compared to that magenta sky of the alien planet is incredibly gorgeous.

Hopefully the series will continue to keep that eerie tone, which I think is a much better fit than an all-action sci-fi book the way you might expect with alien birds swooping down and eating helpless teens.  If the first issue is any indication of what this series is going to be like, I’m in for the long-haul.  A character-driven sci-fi mystery is exactly up my alley.

— Catie