Comics Roundup #28: Baba Yaga & a Dam Keeper

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review of a comic book. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve read a comic book. I haven’t done so since October last year. Well, I’ll rectify that with this post.

Here I have two graphic novels. The first is a YA fantasy story about a girl seeking the witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, because she no longer feels welcome at home, and the second continues a middle-grade fantasy story about a pig who manages his town’s dam to keep back a deadly black fog.

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illus. by Emily Carroll


YA fantasy


August 2015

Quick overview:

When Masha sees an advertisement for an assistant position with the fearful witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, she decides to apply. Masha had recently lost her beloved grandmother, her source of love and support, leaving her with just her dad, who has found a new family.

Masha grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about Baba Yaga, so she doesn’t balk at answering the advertisement and seeking out the witch. Afterall, Masha reasons, Baba Yaga may be a witch, “but she’s a grandma too.”

And so, Masha goes off into the woods to find Baba Yaga. She has to prove herself capable for the assistantship by finding a way to enter Baba Yaga’s house, which walks around on chicken feet, cleaning the house, and preparing Baba Yaga’s meals (she eats naughty kids). But while completing these tasks, Masha proves to herself that she’s as resourceful as the heroine in her grandmother’s stories. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I enjoyed it 😊 . I didn’t expect to. I borrowed the book from the library because it was on display and I recalled seeing it featured on some blogs and booktube channels. When I began reading, I immediately disliked the illustration style and thought I wouldn’t like the story. I was so wrong.

As the story progressed, it grew on me. I like the protagonist, Masha, and how she develops throughout the story. I like that her fond recollections of her grandma — of the times they spent together as her grandma told her tales about Baba Yaga and the brave, young girl who defied her — gives her courage and inspiration and keeps her grandmother’s spirit alive in her memories. I like that Masha proves that she’s a capable assistant but, most importantly, proves to herself that she is brave and resourceful, just like the girl in the stories. And I like that though Masha’s relationship with her dad begins on a sour note, their relationship is healed by the end.

The story is light and is a quick read. It has some humor in it which makes it a fun read as well.

Art style:

I don’t like. It’s the usual comic book style that’s not realistic but also not cartoony. However, I do think the illustrations are done well. They are simple and easy to follow, but it’s just not a style I like. I wasn’t crazy about the colors or their tones either.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

The story is quick and sweet with some humor and shows readers that we all have the ability to change and surprise ourselves by trying something new.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness by Robert Kondo (illus.) and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi (illus.)


Middle-grade fantasy


The Dam Keeper, book 2


July 2018

Quick overview:

World Without Darkness continues the story that began with The Dam Keeper. Pig, Fox, and Hippo are still trying to make it back to Sunrise Valley before the next tidal wave of the black fog hits so that Pig can fix the dam. They have four days before the wave hits.

In the meantime, the friends traverse lands beyond the dam and meet strange people, some who become friends and others who want to hurt them (or rather sacrifice them to frightening beasts). (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I didn’t like it. I liked the first book, so I decided to continue with the story and read this one. However, World Without Darkness was weak in comparison. There isn’t much plot or character development and what we get isn’t very interesting either.

The Dam Keeper was first made into an animated short film, so this might be a fault of adapting it into multiple books without adding more to the story. This book strikes me as the section in an animated film where characters embark on a long journey and get into silly, sticky situations. It’s usually presented as a montage and tends to pass by quickly. However in book form, we slog through every minute of it, or rather, every panel.

I do like that we see the characters’ friendship grow stronger because they are travelling and struggling and saving each other and that we get more scenes of Pig’s father’s “ghost.” But these scenes of the apparition were frustrating because they tease the reader’s anticipation and curiosity without adding any development toward solving the mystery of what happened to him.

Art style:

The art style is the same as in The Dam Keeper and so too is my reaction. I love it. I think we are given more colors, especially lighter and brighter ones, in this book.

One thing that changed, though, is that looking at the art in this book made me want to watch the animated film. I think this might be a combination of the story boring me in this book and my love of certain panels, such as the characters’ escape from Frogtown in a truck Mr. Van stole.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

The storytelling is weak and there’s no character or plot development. It felt kinda of pointless reading it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I do hope the third book is better. I intend to read it because I like the story and am curious about what happened to Pig’s father. Also, the story is good. It’s just this installment in the series that feels pointless.


6 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #28: Baba Yaga & a Dam Keeper

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