Comic Picks By The Glick
The Flowers of Evil vol. 5

The Flowers of Evil vol. 5

July 16, 2013

This series finally started delivering on the disturbing things it had been trying to illustrate in previous volumes with the fifth one.  The good news is that things get even worse for our protagonists here!  In the wake of the fire on the riverbank, Takao gets a visit from some policemen, grounded, a visit from Saeki, and a trip to the principal’s office all while he’s in a desperate funk about what has happened to Nakamura.  She does show up eventually and in a very dramatic fashion as the two of them plot their ultimate act of transgression against the town.

One one hand, you really feel for Takao’s parents as their son’s antics have now progressed well beyond the point of youthful insubordination and into flagrant disrespect and potentially lawbreaking.  We do find out that it was his dad that introduced him to Baudelaire, but otherwise there’s this helpless feeling of “How did we raise our son to be like this?” that suffuses their actions.  It’s probably a sign of old age, but I sympathize more with them than Takao and Nakamura who are completely in the throes of their own self-absorbed rebellion.  This lack of sympathy for them does make it easier to watch their downward spiral in anticipation of its climax.  How low will they go?   The excellent cliffhanger ending provides a hint as well as what is sure to feel like the longest wait between volumes yet.

Jason Glick

Fatale vol. 3:  West of Hell

Fatale vol. 3: West of Hell

July 14, 2013

I was fully expecting the upward trend which started with the second volume to continue here, but that doesn’t quite happen.  Rather, we get a flattening of the quality curve here as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips take some time to tell side-stories of the “Fatale” universe and show us that Josephine’s “condition” has not only been going on for quite some time, it’s not even a unique one either.  Though these are some interesting diversions, this was probably the wrong time to take them as their ultimate effect is to stall the series’ momentum.

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The Strange Tale of Panorama Island

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island

July 13, 2013

This has been a looooooong time coming.  They were joking at the “Best and Worst of Manga” panel at Comic-Con last year that 2013 may be the year this collection finally ships.  Well it has and the results are going to be most appealing to those who prefer art over story.  “Panorama Island” is the tale of struggling novelist Hitomi Hirosuke who finds out that his “double,” a rich industrialist he went to school with, has suddenly passed away.  Gripped with a fit of imagination and passion, the writer concocts a plan to pose as the man returned and utilize his fortune to build the paradise of his dreams.

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Comic Picks #137:  The Rest of Entertainment Weekly’s Best

Comic Picks #137: The Rest of Entertainment Weekly’s Best

July 11, 2013

If you haven't, you'll want to read this first.  My thoughts on "Stitches," "Chicken With Plums," and "Mendel's Daughter."  One of these is very much worth your time and money.  The other two... not so much.

The “Man of Steel’s” “snap decision.”

The “Man of Steel’s” “snap decision.”

July 10, 2013

(This originally started off as the lead-in text to the next round of “DC Previews Picks.”  Then I got going for a little bit and it wound up too large for that.  So, here you are!)

So I skipped out on offering my thoughts on “Man of Steel” after I saw it after being deluged by all of the online opinions from the likes of Mark Waid, Tim O’Neill, Chris Sims, Max Landis and more.  Not to mention all of the opinions my friends had about it as well.  The short version is that I liked the first two-thirds of the movie as the filmmakers did a good job of re-establishing Superman’s character, showing the influence of his two dads from two different worlds, introducing the supporting cast and setting up Zod, his comrades and the threat they represent.  This was all well and good, and generally very acted too -- particularly from Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as Zod.  The problems, as you might have already guessed, come from the third act which indulges in far too much disaster porn for my tastes.  Not only did it go on for way too long, Superman was either unable to stop it or party to it which is not the way it should’ve been.

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Wolfsmund vol. 1

Wolfsmund vol. 1

July 9, 2013

It’s a striking cover image, to be sure.  The sight of a knight in full plate armor charging towards the reader on a horse with his spear outstretched with German text and a design sense that screams “middle ages” lets you know that this isn’t like your usual manga.  However, on the back cover there’s a picture of a woman in a more conventional manga style licking her thumb while cooking and looking otherwise “sultry.”  The inconsistencies between these two images give you a pretty good idea of what to expect on the inside.  While the setting and some of the design elements help the book stand out a bit, the storytelling and characters are pretty familiar.

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I went to the Dark Horse Panel at Anime Expo…

I went to the Dark Horse Panel at Anime Expo…

July 8, 2013

After years of not going to North America’s largest anime convention, I dropped by for a day yesterday after some friends said they were going and wanted to know if I’d be interested.  I figured that regardless of how the day went, it’d be worth it to hang out with them regardless of how my con experience was.  Save for this panel, the short version is that I’m glad they were there.  In stark contrast to everything that I/we tried to check out at the con, the Dark Horse panel wasn’t completely packed and even though I lined up for it, I could’ve gotten in if I’d shown up when the panel was scheduled to start.  As for the panel itself, it wasn’t bad and I did get some interesting tidbits from one of their editors afterwards.

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Mobile Suit Gundam:  The Origin vol. 2 — Garma

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin vol. 2 — Garma

July 6, 2013

If you’re wondering who this Garma person is and why he’s so important that this volume bears his name, you can rest assured that your questions will be answered by the end of the volume.  As head of the Principality of Zeon’s North American forces, it has become his job to capture White Base and the Gundam after their atmospheric re-entry onto the continent.  Though Garma is clearly an antagonist in this story, he’s an interesting presence for a couple of reasons.  While he’s eminently hateable for his aristocratic haughtiness, the man is ultimately a pawn in this greater conflict and at the mercy of forces more powerful and clever than he is.  Char’s words to him near the end of the volume also reveal that the Red Comet is ultimately one side in this conflict -- his own.

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The Photographer

The Photographer

July 4, 2013

In July of 1986 freelance photographer Didier Lefevre left France to document a Doctors Without Borders operation in Afghanistan.  This was during the time of the Soviet invasion, which not only complicated their journey but also ensured that they’d have their work cut out for them upon arriving in country.  Lefevre took four thousand photos documenting his journey which contained equal parts enthusiasm, hopefulness, frustration, and terror as he witnessed the doctors’ work up close, got to know the Afghan people, and embarked on his own journey back to Pakistan ahead of the group.  Years later, his writer/artist friend Emmanuel Guibert worked with him and layout artist/colorer Frederic Lemercier to tell the story of that trip.  It’s a remarkable journey both in the telling and the way the story of it is told.

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Witch Doctor vol. 2

Witch Doctor vol. 2

July 2, 2013

As far as I’m concerned, it’s an ingenious “Why didn’t I think of this?” premise.  Take a doctor whose skills are matched only by his arrogance (like “House, M.D.”) and make his specialty dealing with all manner of supernatural ailments, parasites, and beasts (of the kind that we saw on “The X-Files”).  Right there you have the recipe for a horror series that’s grounded in the roots of a procedural and limited only by the creators’ imagination.  Fortunately for us, writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner have plenty of that to go around.  The end result is that this second volume of “Witch Doctor” is a thoroughly entertaining romp whose biggest failing is that it’s not being delivered on a monthly basis.

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