When I received the Superman: Earth One graphic novel, I also received a copy of Sarah Glidden's HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS. I had just started to write that review when I found out how pissed DC was about the Superman one, so I stopped writing. 2 months later that was just a skeleton, so let me throw it out and start again.
This book is my favorite new graphic novel of 2010, so far.
Graphic novels are tricksy things. You have to understand that most comics (and most entertainment for that matter, but that's a digression) is really meant as disposable material. That doesn't mean that it is inherently throw away, but more that the goal is to make you to go "Whoa, that was fun!" for 15 minutes, until you go to your next chunk of entertainment.
Virtually everything we call "a graphic novel" in this business is just a fancily packaged chunk of disposable entertainment. I love SCOTT PILGRIM, I loved WILSON, but those aren't really (to me) works that are "of lasting value or importance"
I really think that a "graphic novel" should function as a "proper" novel does -- it's meant to expand your mind, your world, to teach you something new, to make you consider something you have never considered before, and, in a best case scenario, actually change the way you view the world.
In this class I'd put, mm, MAUS, PERSEPOLIS, PYONGYANG, things like that -- stories that CAN HAVE very entertaining bits in them, but add up to something past "just" entertainment.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS falls into that class for me -- I learned new things while being entertained, I walked in thinking certain things about the region, and had several of those ideas confronted, and, hell, I even have an Israeli for a wife (of 25 years!), and I came out with some brand new insight.
I'd like to say more about the packaging, about the colors in the final version, and so on, but, sadly, Diamond screwed up my order on this one -- I got an equal number of copies of Krause's new color price guide (ugh!) instead of Glidden's new book. They'll be replaced by Friday (well, or they SHOULD be), but having read the b&w galley I can't imagine that color/production could possibly do anything except improve the experience.
This was superb in all the ways that SUPERMAN EARTH ONE was ineffably shitty -- it's actually about something, it makes you think, and it has morality and justice at it's very core. It's the best GN of the year, by far, and I thought it was absolutely EXCELLENT.
What did YOU think?