Freaks of the Heartland is a short book, a surprisingly quick read, with great big panels. The art is mostly gray and taupe, which is meant to evoke a kind of Great Depression era aesthetic, I think. It's beautiful at times--when setting the scene or showing panoramic views--but action shots and close-ups of people tend to look like big confusing smears.
The story, which is simultaneously heart warming and heart breaking, is where Freaks shines. It's minimalist, stripped down to the bare essentials; there's a lot more that could be told, but does it need to be? The ending is perfect and went a long way toward redeeming the confuzzling illustrations in my mind.
Persepolis 2 is more of a biography (and I don't much care for biographies) at least for the first half. But it does maintain much of the charm and disarming honesty of the first book.
It begins with Satrapi's teenage years spent bouncing around Austria, which I found to be dull, uninteresting. It read like standard depressing, formulaic memoir fare.
Things picked up between her humble return to Iran, her failed marriage, and her final move from Tehran to Paris. She delves once again into the stultifying political climate in Iran, the roots and causes of the suffocating repression, and the struggle of being a woman or a progressive in a fundamentalist land. A strong finish.
So far so awesome. Solid characters, gripping plot, plenty of tension, good dialogue. I admit to being a little disappointed at the unexpected hints of supernatural (a possibly prophetic sister, the murdered woman appearing to reside in the suit after she dies). Seems out of place. But it's early yet, I'm inclined to withhold judgment.
Moore is a genius with body language, the guy does amazing things with black lines and white paper. It's weird how, just, normal all the characters look. Realistic. I'm used to at least a few impossibly muscled steroid junkies in graphic novels.
I like alternate history. I dislike mainstream superhero books. I'd hoped that the former aspect of Red Son would counter the latter. It didn't. It had the same simpleness, the same absurdly emphatic dialogue, the same something-I-can't-define that makes me roll my eyes at every other DC/Marvel superhero. It was just padded in this case with a lot of winking and nudging, references and in-jokes for the character's faithful. "See what we did there?? Batman's a Russian now? The Ice Fortress is now the Frozen Palace?? Clever right?!"
Red Son almost earned a second star by trying to explore a world in which Communism is successful, looking at the costs of that success. But this attempt at thoughtfulness was so feeble it might as well not have been there at all. Bleah.