Ant Colony by Michael DeForge
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2014, 112 pages)
Ant Colony is a graphic novel about a colony of black ants who face death and destruction on a daily basis. A war with a colony of red ants is especially horrifying, but redemption occurs when a gay black ant couple takes in an orphaned baby red ant. Later one of the black ants is shown experimenting with how to kill the baby, but that’s nature. Speaking of nature, there is plenty of ant sex and ants standing in line to make “deposits” into the Queen. Secondary characters include bees, earthworms, a centipede (drawn as a green train), and a spider. Spider milk is an intoxicating treat to the ants, but ingesting saccharin crystals kills them. Equally intoxicating is the burning of dead ant bodies (the preferred method of body disposal) which releases stimulating pheromones into the air. When an ant suggests burying his dead partner instead of burning the body, the other ants are horrified to think about a dead body buried underground among the tunnels where they live! If you appreciate dry humor and don’t mind drawings of dead (sometimes bloody) ant bodies, this book is for you.
Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Squared by Brandon Montclare, artwork by Amy Reeder
(Image Comics, 120 pages, 2014)
This young adult graphic novel features Dayoung, a 15-year old member of the teen police from the future (2013) who has a rocket pack strapped to her back and flies through the air with ease. She travels back in time to 1986 to keep scientists from corporation Quintum Mechanics from developing technology that negatively alters her future. The story goes back and forth between the two years. There are a fair number of characters in the book, but the focus is on Dayoung and her crime-fighting. Along with the new Ms. Marvel, Dayoung is a strong female superhero role model for young girls. I give it a 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney
( G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014, 688 pages)
Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney is the second novel released since Tom Clancy’s death which still prominently displays Tom Clancy’s name on the cover and title page. Mark Greaney has been given permission by Tom Clancy’s estate to continue to use Tom Clancy’s characters in the novels that Greaney writes. In Full Force and Effect, there is a new dictator in North Korea. The new dictator is determined to develop nuclear weapons for North Korea. In the past, funding the weapons has been a problem, but a large deposit of valuable rare earth minerals has been discovered on North Korean soil. North Korea does not have the expertise or money to mine and process the minerals and must resort to shady and sometimes illegal and deadly methods to extract the minerals.
As is usual in Jack Ryan novels, there are subplots. One of the biggest subplots involves North Korea attempting to assassinate President Jack Ryan. President Ryan is making a visit to Mexico. The North Koreans working with a Mexican gang see an opportunity to attack the President and his motorcade as they make their way from the Mexico City airport.
Mark Greaney does a good job of keeping Tom Clancy’s characters alive. I don’t think Greaney’s plots are quite as complicated as Clancy’s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m looking forward to the next Tom Clancy novel written by Mark Greaney.
Wild Thing by Josh Bazell
(Little, Brown and Co., 2012, 388 pages)
After obtaining his medical education from a foreign country, Peter Brown decides to practice medicine aboard cruise ships and other places that will not necessarily call on true medical expertise. He responds to a job advertisement from a reclusive billionaire and accepts a mysterious assignment to accompany a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist to locate the sea monster who is accused of killing several people on a hidden lake. This tale is a bit bizarre, but if you are into murder, monsters, and drug dealers it will be up your alley.