You've probably noticed that there was a delay between the posting of episodes #20 and #21. The reason is that there is a publication change here. "Comic Picks by the Glick" and "Generic Anime Podcast" are going to a bi-weekly schedule for the foreseeable future. There should be a new podcast up this week discussing some of Frank Miller's most notable works and Will Eisner's "The Spirit" (because I like tying these things into the latest comic book movie that comes out).
In the meantime, I'll be filling the off-weeks with my own posts about what I've been reading lately. Like so:
Blade of the Immortal vol. 20: Demon Lair
The bad news: we're still in the "Prison Arc," which has been the series' focus since the end of vol. 15. The good news: This volume didn't come anywhere close to trying my patience as the last volume did. Here, Rin and Doa continue their infiltration of Edo castle to find and rescue Manji from the experiments he's been subjected to in order to find the secret of his immortality and find tragedy, success, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order). The action and plot developments come at the furious pace that the series is known for, but has been lacking for a good portion of this arc. The only real issue that I had with this volume is that it doesn't close off the arc, as I was expecting (that should be in the next volume, why else call it "Demon Lair II") but it makes me feel that the climax will certainly be worth waiting for.
Berserk vol. 26
This is a very special volume of "Berserk" for me since it's the first volume I haven't read the scanlations for (after stopping with vol. 25 4-5 years ago for some reason I can't remember). Here we have Guts and co. taking the battle to the trolls that have been terrorizing a mountain village, only to find more dangerous threats manifesting themselves during and after the battle. While this volume proves that mangaka Kentaro Miura is still working at the top of his game, with a clear vision of where he wants to take the story, there were some elements that I had issues with. The aforementioned manifiestation of the Godhand would've been more impressive, had she not been dispersed in the following chapter, and while I like the Skull Knight, his apperance here once again brings a deus-ex-machina element to the proceedings. The introduction of Guts' "berserker armor" was also impressive, even if it threatens to push his already inhuman level of endurance to ridiculousness. As it is, these are only minor problems with the story and it'll probably be a while before we see if they herald a downward shift in the manga's quality. Which means that, at worst, we've still got more volumes as exciting as this to look forward to.
Scalped vol. 3: Dead Mothers
Writer Jason Aaron and artist R.M. Guera's indian reservation crime drama should be depressingly unreadable considering all the crap they heap on their characters. In this volume alone, undercover FBI agent Dash Bad Horse gets the news about his mother's murder, has the screws put to him by his handler Nitz, and becomes a surrogate father of sorts to a kid whose mother he found dead in a raid. The reason the series is actually readable and entertaining (a standard which this volume continues) is because Aaron puts enough detail into the characters and their situations to make them believable and never an excuse in misery for misery's sake. The fact that he allows his characters their minor victories, and has some truly great bits of black humor sprinkled throughout the proceedings helps to no end as well. As is the case with the two series I mentioned above, I'm looking forward to what happens in the next volume (and am also glad that DC continues to publish the series despite how low the single issues sell).