There are so many great writers out there today, and they often make storytelling look easy. And that’s even with multi-part tales!
However, there’s one three-part graphic novel series that has just concluded that I think you really ought to be reading – and giving as gifts this upcoming holiday season – if you aren’t already, and that’s a series on friendship (and hockey) by Howard Shapiro and Andres Mossa. They’re aptly called, “The Forever Friends Series.”
Let me right off the bat (sorry!) say that it’s not required that you be a sports/hockey fan. The clear way the story is told will make it easy for anyone not into that sport will understand what’s happening. So there!
Previously in HOCKEY KARMA: The highly anticipated sequel to the award winning The Hockey Saint takes place ten years after Saint ends. The legendary Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson, now thirty-two, has been the world’s best hockey player over his fourteen-year career because of his out-of-this-world talent level and his smart play. But he can’t stay on top forever, and when he starts making mistakes on the ice, his career and family life start to crumble. At the same time, Tom Leonard, his agent and best friend, is completely overwhelmed by a project that he and Jake were supposed to be working on together. A project that could have a huge impact on people throughout their city in need of a helping hand. As Jake sinks deeper into a funk over his lost status due to his deteriorating play and the emergence of teammate and rookie phenom Barclay Pedersen, Tom realizes he’s on his own. At the same time, he rediscovers someone from his past who he never thought he’d see again. In that burgeoning relationship, Tom discovers the importance of taking chances and starts to believe in himself. Can Jake break out of his downward spiral and Tom finally find the courage to step out of Jake’s shadow?
SUBJECTS WE SHOULD ALL KNOW MORE ABOUT
First things first: The three books in this series are The Stereotypical Freaks, The Hockey Saint and the new one, Hockey Karma. You can find them online at this link.
Honestly, I think friendship is an undervalued commodity these days. In a society where sex is overvalued (I believe), the ability to connect with others about things that are important to us is fast becoming a lost art. In these three graphic novels, Howard and his team show how important the close friendship is, even to a famous hockey player with the world at his feet!
But that’s not all this book (and the previous novels) are about. In Hockey Karma, Jake is nearing the end of an illustrious career. How will he react now that the spotlight isn’t on him as much as it has been, and that it may be gone altogether very soon? I always feel badly for TV and movie stars, as well as those in sports, when they aren’t the center of attention any longer. How do they live with that? Based on many examples we’ve seen over time, not well! Karma examines that subject through Jake’s eyes, and it’s an interesting story.
As in the previous two books, this one is strong on characterization and plotting. It’s not superheroic action, by any means, but I love me some variety, and the alternating between the personal lives of the characters and their public personas was well done.
Even the love story is a gripping tale! I found that very engaging!
The pacing is truly a “page turner.” I couldn’t wait to clearly understand the current page so I could get to the next one. Good reading!
REALISTIC ART FOR A REALISTIC STORY
I always harp on two things in a comic – facial expressions and action sequences. Some books do well in one, but not the other. This graphic novel hits a home run (sorry, baseball analogy) in both areas.
I read this graphic novel in a hotel room during a convention. The art, which works superbly with the story, pulled me in and didn’t let go until the last, satisfying page. I was genuinely surprised to find myself back in the hotel room. I love it when a book does that to me!
BOTTOM LINE: A POWERFUL CONCLUSION
As I mentioned, writing a GOOD story is still a tough thing these days, but wrapping up a trio of graphic novels in a satisfying way, well, that’s extremely tough, in my opinion.
However, Hockey Karma concludes with a positive ending that makes sense. It’s not polyannish in any way, but it lifted my spirits quite a bit when I read it. I think you’ll get that same reaction whether you’ve read only this graphic novel or the others as well. And the title has something to do with an important part of the story, so be sure to pay attention to that!
Well done! I highly recommend this excellent graphic novel, as well as the previous two! Holiday buying, anyone?