A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{March 3, 2013}   Comics and manga of the week (82)

heracvrAstonishing X-Men, volume 10: Northstar by Marjorie Liu

  • Northstar must learn to balance his superheroic life with his relationship with his non-super boyfriend, Kyle. That’s made harder when villains are mind controlling his friends and kidnapping said boyfriend. This volume contains Northstar’s wedding and an adorable Nation X short. The plot of the volume isn’t revolutionary but it’s worth buying for those two things alone.

Happy, volume 11, 12 & 13 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • Kaku faces off against Choko in order to win money for Miyuki and puts her whole tennis career at risk in the process. The loan shark Sakurada embezzles money in order to help her. Keichiro tries to turn his life around. Meanwhile Miyuki travels through Europe and Australia in hopes of qualifying for Wimbledon before the queen of tennis, Sabrina Nikolic, can retire. Urasawa is one of the great mangaka of our times and the plotting and characterization in this series bear witness to his skill. Still I find Happy hard to read at times and it is no coincidence that volume 12 is my favorite to date: Choko is just painfully evil and I can’t bear to watch her ruin the lives of those around her for her selfish reasons.

Hotaru, volume 14 (French) by Satoru Hiura

  • Hotaru’s coworkers find out that she has been living with her boss but before the scandal can ruin her career, he proposes marriage. It is everything Hotaru has hoped for but suddenly everything is moving too quickly and she is no longer sure what she wants. There is only one volume left in this series and I’m 99% certain of how it will end. But I was really happy with the ending of this volume: it is very much about loving Hotaru for who she is, dried fish habits and all, and finding yourself before giving yourself over to love. It is the opposite of the idea that love makes you a better person and I appreciate it.

Ippo, volume 10, 11 & 12 (French) by George Morikawa

  • While Ippo goes on a beach vacation with his girlfriend, Kumi, Takamura faces the two hardest fights of his life. First a qualifying match with a Philipino welter weight, closely followed by his match against the world champion, the arrogant Brian Hawk. Takamura is an impressive fighter but his natural weight class is Heavy weight and he may be too weakened by the weight loss to win. This is the type of series you want to speed through in a single read; there’s so much excitement and anticipation. I can’t wait to see Takamura teach Hawk a lesson.

Kings of Shogi, volume 8 (french) by Masaru Katori and Jiro Ando

  • The final volume of Kings of Shogi pits the young, mute Shion in a match against Hani, one of the great masters of the shogi world. As they play, the people around her unravel the horrifying truth and motivation behind her parents’ murder. The identity of the killer is not exactly a surprise but the build up to it is masterfully done. All the shogi goes right over my head but the series is still well worth reading and at 8 volumes, it won’t take too much time either.

Love so Life, volume 3 (French) by Kaede Ouchi

  • Shiharu’s school is preparing for a festival and she is thrilled to learn that her employer and his infant niece and nephew will be attending. As an orphan, she treasures such simple family moments. But what will happen if her classmates finds out that she is working for a famous TV announcer?! This is one of those manga where very little of consequence happens but it is terribly cute full of tender moments and small children doing adorable things.

Obaka-chan, volume 6 & 7 (French) by Zakuri Sato

  • In the final two volumes of this funny high school romance, Neiro is forced to confront her remaining feelings for Ren and is dragged back home to her father’s dojo. Will her relationship with Tokio survive? When I first saw this series, the title really turned me off: just another story about a dumb girl who everyone is in love with but the series surprised me again and again. Neiro is strong and forthright; I can understand the boys’ attraction to her. I was always smiling as I read the series. It isn’t anything deep but it is light and fun and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

The Olympians, volume 1: Zeus, King of the Gods by George O’Connor

  • O’Connor revisits the myth of Zeus and the titans and I think he strikes the perfect cord between the awe of these supernatural beings and something more relatable and even funny. His Zeus isn’t simply the caricature with a lightning bolt and a roving eye as he is often portrayed in modern media. O’Connor really explores his different facets and breathes new life into the myth. As a lover of mythology and of the classics, I was quite impressed.

The Olympians, volume 3: Hera, the Goddess and her Glory by George O’Connor

  • O’Connor’s take on Hera and the tasks of Hercules is perhaps less grand than the birth and downfall of the Titans but it is, if anything, more interesting. He brings more depth to Hera than any modern writer I’ve read. He refuses to see her as simply a spiteful wife but instead explores her reasons for her behaviour and those things that made her great. It is truly refreshing and beautiful. Bravo.

Piece, volume 4 (French) by Hinako Ashihara

  • As Mizuho continues to investigate the past of her dead classmate, she reveals disturbing truths about Narumi, the boy she once loved. This is a great series, with complex characters and a really novel approach to romance but with this volume it gets really psychologically disturbing. It is hard to conceive the kind of upbringing that Narumi was subjected to and what kind of mother could chose to raise him in such a way. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Silver Diamond, volume 8 (French) by Shiho Sugiura

  • Rakan and his friends continue to travel toward the capital and on the way encounter several monstrous snakes. This dove tails nicely into Narushige’s past and how he came into possession of his snake/sword. An interesting fantasy with an engaging cast of chracters. Definitely worth a read if you like alternate world fantasies.

Stormwatch, volume 2: Enemies of Earth by Peter Milligan

  • In the second volume of the New 52 Stormwatch, the universe is threatened by gravity miners, Neanderthals want to take revenge against Homo Sapiens (note to Neanderthals: Martian Manhunter isn’t human), someone is about to leave the team and Stormwatch must face off against the Red Lanterns. Some of the plot points were a little silly but I like the interaction between the characters (both the friction and the growing romance). Also, there is this line: “Midnighter to Stormwatch. I’ve just punched a cat.” 😉

XFactor, volume 18: Breaking Points by Peter David

  • Polaris discovers a terrible truth about her past and Theresa makes a deal with a demon in order to save her, meanwhile Raine tracks down the part-wolf son she abandoned at birth. X-Factor is falling apart before our eyes and I have no idea how David is going to bring it all back together, or if he even intends to. This may not be my favorite volume of the series but it has all the action, emotion and humour that makes it great.

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