The king of heroic epics gets a lavish visual interpretation in Hinds's full-color mixed-media gem, originally self-published as three separate issues in 2000. He begins with a credit to two versions of the familiar story (A.J. Church's 1904 translation and that of Francis Gummere), in which a vicious monster named Grendel terrorizes the great hall of King Hrothgar for 12 winters, and the hero Beowulf arrives from afar, to try to defeat the creature and succeeds—with his bare hands. Then he must contend with Grendel's mother, when she comes to avenge her son's fate; the third chapter deals with the mournful end to the hero's life, resulting from a battle with an enormous dragon. Each chapter begins with a brief narrative (paying homage to the cadences of the story's early verse renditions), before giving way to a lengthy, wordless and bloody battle. Hinds's angular perspectives and unusual color palettes (dark, ruddy colors, deep burgundy blood, and not a ray of sunshine in sight) lend the book an almost overwhelming sense of menace. The third and most emotionally forceful chapter centers around an incredible two-page spread that shows the dragon awakening; it's an arresting image in a book filled with many. For fantasy fans both young and old, this makes an ideal introduction to a story without which the entire fantasy genre would look very different; many scenes may be too intense for very young readers. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Menacing, moody, and faithful to the eighth-century epic, Hinds's rendering draws on a translation evoking Old English verse. We begin with the sea burial of ruler Scyld and follow great-grandson Hrothgar and the monster Grendel's attacks on Hrothgar's clan. Then Beowulf arrives from Geatland and takes on-in breathtaking hand-to-hand combat-first Grendel and subsequently Grendel's troll-hag mother. With triumph and treasure, he sails home to become the good ruler of Geatland. But years later, a fearsome dragon threatens, and the aging Beowulf slays the dragon but dies himself. The epic ends full circle with another funeral. Hinds's evocative art renders the fight scenes with great power, and although the voice-over text in Celtic-style lettering is not easy to read, it's worth the effort, especially read aloud.
Gaiman takes a different approach, re-working the original plot by shifting Grendel's mother to a witch-temptress character. Instead of fighting Beowulf, she makes a devil's bargain with him as she had with Hrothgar, lust and greed overcoming both men. Accompanied by modern-style dialog, the art is more classic than Hinds's, although with much the same dank coloring. Old English purists may hate it, but it's a compelling, well-drawn story based on the new film. While Old English terrors originated in outside forces, modern terrors are born from our own flaws. Hinds's is for teens up, and Gaiman's (with sexual references) for ages 18+.
Gr 10 & Up - This epic tale is exceptionally well suited to the episodic telling necessary for a successful graphic novel, as the warrior-hero fights Grendel, Grendel's mother, and, ultimately, the dragon that claims his life, and (in true comic-book fashion) each challenge is significantly more difficult and violent than the one before. Although greatly abridged and edited, the text maintains a consistent rhythm and overall feel appropriate for the poetic nature of the story. Dialogue and narration are presented in identical text boxes, but astute readers will be able to decipher from the images which character is speaking. Each specific event is complemented by illustrations that effectively convey the atmosphere-historical details are paired with sketchy, ethereal drawings, the violent battle scenes are darkly tinted with red, and the end of Beowulf's life is indicated by gray, colorless imagery. Hinds's version will make this epic story available to a whole new group of readers. This book is likely to be especially popular when the Beowulfmovie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is released in November 2007.-Heather M. Campbell, Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, COCopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Pairing art from an earlier, self-published edition to a newly adapted text, Hinds retells the old tale as a series of dark, bloody, chaotic clashes. Here Grendel is a glaring, black monster with huge teeth, corded muscles and a tendency to smash or bite off adversaries' heads; the dragon is all sinuous viciousness; and Beowulf, mighty of thew, towers over his fellow Geats. The narrative, boxed off from the illustrations rather than incorporated into them, runs to lines like, "Bid my brave warriors O Wiglaf, to build a lofty cairn for me upon the sea-cliffs . . . " and tends to disappear when the fighting starts. Because the panels are jumbled together on the page, the action is sometimes hard to follow, but this makes a strongly atmospheric alternative to the semi-abstract Beowulf, the Legend, by Stephen L. Antczak and James C. Bassett, illus by Andy Lee (2006), or the more conventionally formatted version of Michael Morpurgo, with pictures by Michael Foreman (2006). (Graphic fiction. 12-15)