A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{May 12, 2013}   Comics and manga of the week (91 & 92)

NothingBilly Bat, volume 6 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

Comic artist Kevin Yamagata finally meets Lee Harvey Oswald, who has been haunting his visions. Someone is after both men and it is hinted that Kevin’s death could trigger the end of the world. We also meet a new character visited by the mysterious bat. With every volume the stakes in Urasawa’s strange suspense series rise. I never know what to expect. I can just keep reading. Urasawa may be a genius.

La Corda dOro, volume 17 by Yuki Kure

  • This volume marks the end of Kure’s sweet, though not particularly innovative, musically-themed harem series. Kahoko continues to struggle with her violin skills – or lack thereof – with her characteristic perseverance while the boys must make serious decisions about their futures. She also finally comes to understand her feelings for the cold violin prodigy, Len. The conclusion to their romance doesn’t feel very satisfying but maybe I’m just bitter because Kazuki was my favorite of the boys. He doesn’t get enough love. 😉 My taste in boys aside, it is a nice ending to a pleasant series.

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

  • Three unconnected short stories by two great comic artists. First a boy escapes the troubles of his life into a fantasy world. Second a Scrooge McDuck-like frog known as Gran’pa Greenbax is far more than he appears. Lastly, and best of all, a young woman in a menial job falls for a Nigerian Prince scam. All three are wonderfully illustrated with a delicious twist at the end.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

  • First Second is constantly impressing me with the quality of the comics they publish. The beginning looks like your typical jocks vs geeks story but don’t be fooled! Shen and Hicks deliver Machiavellian cheerleaders, cool geek girls, an unusual (and slightly troubled) friendship, surprisingly deep family drama and, best of all, robots! Find out how Charlie helps his friends (?) win the money for a robotics championship and cheerleading uniforms and survive one of the ugliest class election in fiction. So much fun.

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, volume 3 by James Roberts

  • This volume explores the past, the senate’s plots and the rise of the Deception faction that led to the 4 million year war. There is murder, politics, mysteries (indeed Prowl and Chromedome are like the stars of a buddy cop movie) and an Oceans Eleven like operation led by Orion Pax (who you might know as Optimus Prime) and a ragtag crew of Transformers. It ends on a terrible, horrifying reveal that explains the origin of a fan favorite character. If you ever wonder about the appeal of the Transformers franchise – whose main purpose is toy sales, there is no denying it – you need to read this smart, exciting and surprisingly deep series.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise, volume 2 by John Barber

  • I still maintain that More than Meets the Eye is the better Transformers series but Robots in Disguise is really picking up. The civil unrest on Cybertron continues, made worse by the arrival of the brutal Decepticon Turmoil. Shockwave is up to something ominous (when isn’t he?). Plus the Dinobots have gone mad and turned on each other. Really that’s all I need to say: Dinobots.

Virtus, volume 5 (French) by Gibbon and Hideo Shinanogawa

  • The final volume of this unique manga came too quickly. Marcia travels to Gamla’s Island to bring Takeru back to Rome to assassinate emperor Comodus. Meanwhile the former Japanese prisoners turned gladiators are faced with their final and most terrible test. We also learn the terrible truth of Takeru’s past. There is a lot going on and most of it is quite horrific but it is impossible to put this manga down. The ending is quite good but leaves hope for an eventual sequel. Please, let there be a sequel.

Wandering Son, volume 4 by Shimura Takako

  • The continuing coming-of-age tale of a young boy who knows, in his heart, that he is a girl. In this volume Shu must deal with the scorn of his sister’s model friends and his budding feelings for his friend Takatsuki. Shimura continues to handle the subject with delicacy and real feeling. There is a lot of gender bending in manga but this is one of the first manga that I’ve come across that approaches transgendered characters with respect and serious thought. As always, I look forward to the next volume.

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