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Any Empire Hardcover – September 13, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The most prodigiously talented graphic novelist of his [generation] ... Powell's exceptional visual-storytelling gift transforms a potentially obvious antiwar parable into a ravishingly beautiful, emotionally resonant, thoughtful, and provocative work of art." -- Booklist (starred review)

"[It] is everything a graphic novel should be, and few are. Spare, to the point dialog, fluid and effortless visual storytelling devoid of pretensions... I very rarely read graphic novels because I usually can't get past the first few pages. Any Empire drew me in from the start and didn't let up." -- Larry Hama, GI Joe

"At times poignant, at at others surreal, Any Empire is an engaging, never preachy work about childhood, centering on those secret currents that define our youthful rivalries and the games we play." -- MTV Geek

"We've all experienced the world's endless cycle of innocence shattered, and Powell renders it all in lovely chiaroscuro... he crafts memorable and heartfelt characters that linger in the mind and scar the heart." -- Under the Radar

About the Author

Nate Powell (b. 1978, Little Rock AR) is the New York Times best-selling graphic novelist whose work includes The Year Of The Beasts (2012, Roaring Brook), The Silence Of Our Friends (2012, First Second), Any Empire (2011, Top Shelf), Swallow Me Whole (Eisner Award winner for Best Graphic Novel, Ignatz Award winner, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; 2008, Top Shelf), and Sounds Of Your Name (2006, Microcosm). He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
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Product Details

  • Series: Any Empire
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603090770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603090773
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,574,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never really felt the need to review a product, but I felt so strongly about this that I just couldn't pass it up. So I thought I could write a long, gushing praise for the author Nate Powell. His work has impacted my life since late youth until the present in more ways than one. Why force readers to drudge through such wordplay hogwash and rob them of the experience of his latest work, Any Empire (2011)? It's brilliance is of the profound fabric that comes rarely in this lifetime. We bitter cynics chew our nails yelling obscure obscenities at the chicken hawk Yankees whose colorful display emanates from our high definition Television screens while espousing some self-fulfilling, pocketbook profundities (Okay, okay - just once! Sorry!). Then something as simple as Nate's latest work lands in our laps and we are quiet, flipping through the pages in awe of such powerful imagery.

The visuals clash at many points and the text follows a less is more approach, constructing sentences carefully to not rob the images emphatic nature. The switch between time periods creates a paradox that only a surrealist like Dalrymple could pull off so eloquently, while providing to the overall meaning of the story. Perhaps most important is the nature of the book itself, which follows such an odd contradiction in the nature of man...to quote a slogan from the book itself, and its many cliche' overuses - "War is Hell".

That said, the story lends itself more to a visual display rather than that of text with some hidden agenda, or soapbox preaching. It is a powerful piece of surrealism that catches its reader unaware at many points. It doesn't shock you, anger you, outrage you...it does its best to confuse you....
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Format: Hardcover
Any Empire is a complex knot of a book and one likely to provoke a wide range of emotions in the reader. What is not up for debate is the mastery of Powell's visual storytelling which is evident from the opening panels. Powell embeds his drawings with stunning narrative precision. It is, for long stretches, a quiet book, composed of nearly textless sequences sparsely punctuated by dialogue. What dialogue there is deceptively powerful, more often characterized by what it doesn't come out and say rather than by what it does.

With a story that unfolds over a decade, beginning in the 1980s, Any Empire uses language and setting very carefully to evoke the passage of years, ringing true in a haunting fashion to those who experienced them firsthand. Powell's manipulation of time in the book is fascinating, with past, present and future intruding in on one another. Any Empire emphasizes the fluidity of our experiences--how the past not only influences the future but shapes our understanding of the present. It accurately reflects how consciousness often ignores the boundaries between them in making connections that might otherwise be lost.

Long sections of the book have the patina of autobiography superimposed upon an odd narrative that doesn't differentiate between the actual, the possible and the fantastic. There is a tension between memory, reality and fantasy in Any Empire that becomes progressively insistent. The first half is more linear, with only occasional intrusions of the future upon the past. It begs to be read as an accurate account of how things were, what characters experienced and (in some cases) endured.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought a used copy of this on the cheap because I had heard good things about Nate Powell's writing and I like finding good non-superhero graphic novels to add to my collection.

I think this is worth reading, but mostly because the art does tell quite a story. Nate certainly has a talent for executing a storyline and character's narratives through art alone. My problem is the story itself is a bit disjointed. His somber but nostalgic look at the character's childhoods sets an interesting tone, but the underlying commentary about violence and coming-of-age pitfalls associated with it are not enough to make these character's interesting, especially the antagonist I'll just refer to as The Bully. It falls a bit flat.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it overall even though I was not wowed by it. The artwork, and storytelling through the artwork alone is worth picking up a used copy. As far as the story and the payoff, that is very subjective and your mileage might vary from mine.
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Format: Hardcover
(Originally Posted at deerinthexenonarclights. com/any-empire )

Any analysis of Any Empire begins at an instant disadvantage, no matter how manically you proclaim that "It's an anti-war book and bloody good to boot!" the readers reaction will always be to yawn, already bored by the now pedestrian political premise. "War is Hell," they'll say, "I get it. How 'bout you tell me something that I don't already know?" The real trick to this tome's success though is that it does just that; hammering home the fact that while war is figuratively hell, literally it is entirely of this plane, an act of and involving people just like you and me. Instead of focusing on the fear and failures of the battlefield like all the tales that have made the position such a familiar one do ( Actual war doesn't even show itself until a few hundred pages in, and even then it is only a snippet in the story) , it takes us to the genesis of violence and conflict, the gensis of war's people - it's soldiers, politicians and civillian casualties - childhood.

We are constantly informed of how influential our childhood is on us, the way it warps and changes our cores into what they are today and it is that process that is at the core of this comic. Where we live, which books we read, the movies we watch, who we hang out with and what we do with them are all seemingly small decisions in the grand scheme of things but it is these external elements that determine exactly what kind of people we are on the inside today. These small town boys read G.I.
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