The last volume of this came out... wow, over two years ago. Normally such a long delay would be frustrating in the extreme, but not this time. While the actual delay in creating new chapters has been down to mangaka Takehiko Inoue’s health problems, we’ve still been getting a steady stream of work from him in the ongoing English release of “Slam Dunk” and the annual volume of “Real.” However, the real reason I’m not bent out of shape about the delay is because the series has been running hot and cold with the quality of its two storylines right now. That trend continues here as the exploits of deaf swordsman Kojiro Sasaki are still more interesting than those of the title’s actual main character, Musashi Miyamoto.
I’ll be talking about two main things this month in more depth than I usually do for these posts after the break. One is about the new lineup of writers for the “Green Lantern” family of titles. The other is the announcement of “100 Bullets: Brother Lono,” the follow up to Azzarello and Risso’s great crime series. One provides me with everything I was hoping to see. The other... well, it could surprise me but I’m not expecting much at this point. That said, DC’s big launch of the month kicks things off from here.
The latest volume of “Atomic Robo,” subtitled “The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific,” is good fun by the series’ reliable standards. After the title character runs afoul of some unknown airborne fighter craft in the Pacific, he’s subsequently rescued by the title characters. Women who took up the call to industry in WWII but didn’t want to go back to their mundane lives and struck out on a life of adventure instead. Seeing Robo team up with them to combat a dormant menace from the war is as fun as it sounds, and it’s enough to mitigate my (admittedly mild) disappointment in knowing we’ll have to wait a while to find out what happens in the present day after the events of “The Ghost of Station X.”
More compelling than the story itself is the idea for a videogame based on this particular volume that it inspired in me.
The insanity doesn’t let up for a second in this volume even for a second, though it does start to strain against the boundaries of the story logic on display here. I realize that’s a funny thing to call insanity on except that one of the main plot threads here (spotlighted on the cover) involves Wolverine and Kid Omega heading out to “Planet Sin” in order to raise funds for the school. Part of me wonders why they just couldn’t have headed off to Madripoor for some illegal high-stakes gambling, but that’s not how this book rolls. No, this is a book where taking the most outlandish route towards solving a problem is always viewed as the best one and that’s what makes it so entertaining.
I picked this up with the hope that Carl Horn would have a very wide latitude to work with in localizing these stories given that this would be a collection of parody shorts from a variety of mangaka. The good news is that not only was that apparently true, you can also tell that he and translator Michael Gombos were actually working with some quality material here from the get-go. Yes, every anthology (and yes I do mean EVERY ANTHOLOGY -- NO EXCEPTIONS EVARRR!!!11!) contains some good stories and some bad ones, but this collection contains some of the funniest comics I’ve read in quite some time. This comes with the caveat that you have to have watched the “Evangelion” TV series to get all of the jokes. If you have, then by all means go out and buy this now.
Anime News Network reported last night, by way of James Hudnall’s blog, that founder of Studio Proteus, co-founder of AnimeCon (later known as Anime Expo), and manga translation legend Toren Smith passed away recently. The man had effectively been retired in the industry since selling Studio Proteus to Dark Horse in 2004, but this was still very depressing to hear. Not only did he help create the market for manga in the United States with the titles that he worked on, the overall quality of these titles virtually guarantees that his name will live on long after today. Off of the top of my head, you can find his name in volumes of “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind,” “Oh! My Goddess,” “Gunsmith Cats,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Dominion,” “Appleseed,” and “Blade of the Immortal.” Along with artist Adam Warren he also wrote the first “Dirty Pair” comics which laid the groundwork for the idea of “global manga” and ultimately convinced me that such a thing could have actual artistic merit and entertainment value.
Not so much a crossover as it is a "branded event." Bendis, Wood, and Humprhies make a good show about shaking up the Ultimate Universe, even if it only postpones the inevitable.
I’ve been looking forward to one story from this volume for quite some time now. In fact, when issuing my concluding thoughts on vol. 11 I said that creator Eric Powell’s take on the industry’s self-destructive trends would likely be worth the price of the whole volume. Now that it’s finally here, guess which story I’m most disappointed by? You guessed right -- THAT ONE.
Dan Abnett is best known (in comics anyway) for his collaborations with co-writer Andy Lanning which have ranged from DC’s “Legion of Superheroes” and “Resurrection Man” to a whole host of cosmic Marvel projects which I’ve written about and generally enjoyed over the years. This represents the first series I’ve read from him as a solo writer and, save for a pretty misguided plot twist towards the end, it comes off pretty well. As the title implies we’re dealing with the living dead in England circa 1910 after a zombie plague ravages the countryside and causes the remaining liveable areas to be walled or fenced off. A strict segregation of classes emerges with the primary divider between them being those who have taken the “cure” which bestows immortality and immunity to the plague. What is the “cure” exactly? Vampirism.
It’s written and illustrated by two of Image’s hottest rising talents. The reviews I read online were very enthusiastic about the first four issues. I even saw comparisons to “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind” thrown about as well. Now I know I’m framing this in the kind of way to suggest that everything here went horribly wrong in the final product, but that’s not the entire truth. This story of a post-apocalypse world where the last city of humanity is threatened by creatures formed from the mechanical debris of the old world has a few things to recommend it. Chief amongst these is the art from Riley Rossmo who nails the organic-yet-mechanical look of the monsters and has a great eye for the spectacle of the fights between them and the humans.
As for the writer, Kurtis J. Wiebe... well, his story is the functional equivalent of one of these “colossals” as it’s built almost entirely out of recycled parts. Fortunately the familiarity of this story about a talented female warrior trying to save her people by finding the mythical land no one else believes to exist doesn’t really breed contempt. The storytelling itself is brisk and the characters are genuinely likeable. As for Maya, said female warrior in particular is a welcome mix of badass heroine and inquisitive dreamer, even if her design and color scheme borrows a bit too much from Nausicaa herself. It’s a shame that her story ends so abruptly here after four issues because the scope of it felt much bigger than that. I think they could’ve gotten a nice twelve-issue-maxiseries out of exploring the characters or their world. At four issues it feels like Wiebe and Rossmo just did this to see if they could. Still, it’s not bad overall and if some industrious executive in Hollywood wants to turn this into a movie or TV series, then the bar has been set low enough for them to possibly improve on the source material.