Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Graphic Library: Lessons In Science Safety With Max Axiom Super Scientist

I have found Vietnamese manga! Technically, it's Japanese and Korean manga translated into Vietnamese, but my understanding is that it's mostly imported manga that have been popular here. These books are very inexpensive here: less than one US dollar each. I plan to add them to the review queue, but I'll be going through them translating with a dictionary, so it may be a while before my first review of a Vietnamese book occurs.

In the meantime, there is the stack of comics I brought from the US. This is another educational book that I picked up at the NSTA convention this past spring.

Title: Lessons In Science Safety With Max Axiom, Super Scientist
Publisher: <a href="">Capstone Press</a>
Date: 2007
Writer: Donald B. Lemke, Thomas K. Adamson
Artist: Tod Smith, Bill Anderson

This is part of a series that features science superhero Max Axiom teaching a wide range of science concepts. This particular issue covers safety in the lab, which provides for a bit of irony, since Max is all about preventing accidents in this book, but his origin mentions that he acquired all his awesome superpowers in (wait for it...) a freak accident.

There isn't really a plot. Just Max showing a group of students around the lab, pointing out safety issues, and bringing in holographic guest-scientists to show how the same principles apply in the school science lab as in industrial and research labs.

While it's not much in the story department, and some of the attempts at humor fall flat, the book does do an excellent job of clearly and smoothly communicating the information that it needs to cover, Definitely a worthwhile classroom tool, although it's no substitute for having a specific and comprehensive lesson on safety for the particular lab. 

The artwork was quite good, and all of the equipment shown was accurately drawn.

This book accomplishes its purpose quite well.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, July 28, 2014

Justice League of America #80

First review in a while, and there have been big changes in my life since the last time I posted here. I'm typing this from our new apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where we are currently settling in. I start my new day job here in a few days.

We were pretty limited in the amount of stuff we were able to bring over, and the packing was something of a whirlwind process. As a result, only a small stack of comics from the seemingly-endless backlog made the trip. I've got a baker's dozen comics with me...

... Plus about five graphic novels. After that, I'll have to find them locally.

In the meantime, let's start with a classic American issue: A Justice League comic from 1970.

Title: Justice League of America
Issue: 80
Date: May, 1970
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Artist: Dick Dillin, Joe Giella

Thanagaran bad guy Norch Lor is stealing souls with something he calls a Ghenna box, and the JLA mostly stumble around trying to stop him. Lor's motivations are a bit fuzzy here, but basically he is out to preserve souls due to some impending universal apocalypse.

He is one of those pesky villains that gives the League more trouble than he has any right to. And unfortunately, the plot is loaded with little inconsistencies, down to the effects of his Ghenna thingee. It puts some victims into a coma while it leaves others in a kind of zombie-like condition.

I did like the fact that it is Canary who finally gets the upper hand on the bad guy (with a sleeper-hold, no less!), but the plot holes here were just a bit too frequent and too large. There was also a rather tired "an unprotected person can survive for 10 seconds in space" bit, which I have seen done in at least two other comics from this general time period. And the story hinted on the cover bears little resemblance to what actually occurs.

I did like to science facts backup features which took up a couple of pages of the book.

But a bad villain and a bad weak plot don't make for much entertainment value.

Rating: 4.5/10