A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{May 1, 2014}   Comics and manga of April

plumeAlice 101st, volume 3 by Chigusa Kawai

  • This continues the story of imature violin prodigy, Alice. This volume focuses on his friend Theo and his confidence problems. On the whole, this is a dull, unoriginal series. I might drop it.

Awkward Silence, volume 4 by Hinako Takanaga

  • Kagami and Sagara try to negociate their feelings for each other and their relationship as they finish high school and apply for different universities. A cute but unremarkable BL romance.

Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond by Adam Beechen

  • I love the idea of Batman Beyond but this volume was a struggle to get through. It reintroduces the metal men and puts commissioner Barbara Gordon face to face with a new Batgirl. The main theme running through the volume is classism in New Gotham, which is an interesting topic and there are plenty of action scenes but the whole thing seemed to drag and Beechen failed to make me care about any of the characters.

Black Bird, volume 17 to 18 by Kanoko Sakurakouji

  • Misao is pregnant by her Tengu lover, Kyo. But they have discovered that the previous senka maiden died in childbirth and Kyo is not willing to lose Misao. They are desperate to find a way to change her fate. These three volumes conclude the series and it is a very suitable ending. I have had some problems with the gender politics in this series but I cannot deny that the story is well developed and the art, attractive. Fans of Twilight will love it.

Cat’s Cradle by Jo Rioux

  • A fun all ages fantasy comic by a Canadian author/illustrator! It follows the story of an orphaned girl who dreams of being a monster tamer but who draws the ire of a family of Cait Sith. A must for children’s collections.

Dawn of the Arcana, volume 9 to 12 by Rei Toma

  • In order to gain power in their respective kingdoms, Nakaba and Ceasar must part and marry others. Meanwhile Nakaba continues to explore her power, the mysterious arcana or time but she quickly discovers that knowing a future you cannot change or seeing the tragic past of someone you hate, can be intensely painful. An amazingly complex and well constructed epic fantasy that goes far beyond the tropes of your typical shojo romance.

Depression of the Anti-Romanticist, volume 2 by Yasuna Saginuma and Riyu Yamakami

  • Minoru is confronted by Kan’s dark past and must make a decision about their relationship. This is the conclusion to the series and makes no sense on its own but it’s a sweet BL romance with a bit of excitement thrown in for good measure.

Eden, volume 14 by Hiroki Endo

  • I have waited years for this volume; I’m honestly surprised by how quickly I got back into the story. It’s a credit to Endo’s skill as a writer. This highly violent political science fiction full of cyborgs, deadly diseases and intrigue continues with the risky retrieval of Elijah’s sister. Don’t start with this volume but definitively give this series a chance… if you’re not squeemish that is.

Heart Broken Chocolatier, volume 7 (French) by Setona Mizushiro

  • Just as Sohta is about to give up on his long time crush Saeko, she shows up at his door, having left her husband. While caring for her, he completely forgets about his “sex friend” Elena. I kind of wanted to shake Sohta in this volume; I love Elena and he’s being used, again. But regardless, I can’t resist the painful beauty of Mizushiro’s art and story.

Hinterkind, volume 1: The Waking World by Ian Edginton and Francesco Trifogli

  • Humans have become an endangered species and the world is now controlled by violent, mythical creatures. The few groups of remaining humans use various means to stay a live, some dangerous, others truly horrifying. This felt like Fables meets Y: The Last Man and it is well worth a read.

Itsuwaribito, volume 11 by Yuuki Iinuma

  • Utsuho and his friends must defend the emperor from assassins. Given their weakened forces, only trickery will allow them to win the day. There will be significant loses before the day is up. An fun, action packed shonen series that has succeeded once again surprised me.

Kamisama Kiss, volume 13 and 14 by Julietta Suzuki

  • When Tomoe is overcome by an ancient curse, Nanami must go to the past to find out how to save him without changing the world she lives in. I can’t wait to learn more about about Tomoe’s dark past. This is a sweet romanctic fantasy with a quirky premise that will appeal to fans of Inuyasha.

Kids on the Slope, volume 6 (French) by Yuki Kodama

  • This volume focuses on Jun’s involvement in the student movements at University and his relationship with Yurika. This quiet, historical ode to friendship, love and jazz is quickly approaching it’s end.

Library Wars, volume 11 by Kiiro Yumi

  • The Library forces go to war to protect a controversial piece of art from the Media Betterment Committee. This battle will have a significant impact on both organizations. A romantic, action-packed story about the fight against censorship? What’s not to love?

Master Keaton, volume 5 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • This volume takes our archeologist/private eye to the middle east to save a British prince and to England to solve the murder of a woman who may not exist. As usual there is nothing I can say but that Urasawa is a Master of suspence and this series is near perfect. Go read it.

No Girls Allowed by Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson

  • This collection tells the tales of seven girls and women who dress as men to live the lives of their choosing. Each tale is short but manages to convey a lot. This definitely eels like non-fiction: we do not go far into the emotions and drama  but it is fascinating and entertaining non-fiction. Created by two Canadian women and illustrated effectively in black and white.

No Longer Heroine, volume 6 by Momoko Koda

  • Just when Hatori starts her romance with Hiromitsu, her childhood crush breaks up with his girlfriend and declares his love for her. Now she must decide between the love she feels and the love she always thought she wanted. A funny unconventional romance that plays with the conventions of shojo and shonen manga.

Paul a la peche by Michel Rabagliati

  • In this volume, Paul goes on a fishing trip and remembers his education. Meanwhile, his wife and he struggle to conceive. I know why Rabagliati’s comics are so beloved in Quebec: he perfectly captures the idiosyncrasies of the language and the nostalgia for our province in the 60s, 70s and 80s. He also masterfully intertwines different time lines.

Paul a Quebec by Michel Rabagliati

  • This was the last volume I had to read in the series. It surprised and touched me. A visit to Quebec is just an introduction to the real topic of the volume: Paul’s father-in-law’s illness and death. It is slow and drawn out, like the illness itself and perfectly captures the suffering of the family as they watch a man they love slowly fade away. I really hope there will be more Paul comics in the near future. This series is too good to stop.

Piece, volume 9 (French) by Hinako Ashihara

  • The mystery of the late Origuchi’s boyfriend and abortion is resolved in a surprising and satisfying way. It was also emotional and complex and very different from what you would expect from a shojo romance. Volume 10 will be the last, addressing Narumi’s future and his relationship with Mizuho.

Plume, volume 1 by K. Lynn Smith

  • Vesper Grey leads a boring, proper life with her aunt until the day she nearly dies. Then a spirit emerges from the pendant her father gave her and saves her. Together they go on a quest for revenge. I fell in love with Smith’s gorgeous art, her fun characters (including several great female characters) and her grand adventure. Highly recommended.

Rachel Rising, volume 4 by Terry Moore

  • Rachel begins to remember the past life that has made her seemingly immortal and rushes to save her aunt Johnny. A chilling fantastical horror story by one of my favorite comic writers. I’m really impressed with the way Moore makes you care about characters who turn out to be disturbingly flawed; it adds to the discomfort and horror.

Silver Diamond, volume 15 to 17 (French) by Shiho Sugiura

  • Things are finally coming to a head in this epic fantasy. We learn about Senro’s past and the terrible truth of his existence. I won’t spoil anything but it makes for fascinating read. The story develops slowly but Sugiura continues to surprise me with the complexity of her story and the development of her vast cast of characters.

Superman: Earth One, volume 1 & 2 by J. Michael Straczynski

  • A baby is sent to earth to escape the destruction of Krypton. There the child grows up, hiding his powers and seeking his place. But when aliens come to find the last survivor of Krypton, he must reveal himself in order to save the earth. I’m not a huge superman fan but Straczynski has done an amazing job with this retelling. He captures and modernizes the characters. He manages to put even an indestructible man in perilous situations and makes even the alien human.

Switch Girl!, volume 11 to 13 (French) by Natsumi Aida

  • Nika and Nino are kidnapped by some bad guys from Masamune’s past with plans to rape and sell them. Only one of Nika’s outrageous (and perverted) plans can help Arata and Masamune save them. Aida just borders on the edge of too far in this storyline but I cannot resist her dirty, over the top humour. Volume 13 takes the group to Osaka where Nika proves that she can compete with the stingiest of Osaka house wives. This is Switch Girl as I love it: honest, funny and over the top.

Tableau Numero 20 by Est Em

  • A lost painting of a male nude has fascinated Maurice for years. Now an art restorer, he has been charged with restoring the newly discovered painting. He is shocked when the subject steps out of the canvas and recounts his tragic history. This one was a pleasant surprise. It isn’t very graphic, if that’s what you’re looking for but these are some fascinating, unconventional romance and well worth a read.

Thermae Romae, volume 6 (French) by Mari Yamazaki

  • This is the final volume of Yamazaki’s unique tale of bathhouses and time travel. Satsuki is determined to be reunited with Lucius, even if that means traveling to ancient Rome. A beautiful conclusion to a beautiful manga. This is going to become a classic, I’m sure.

Ultimate Comics X-Men, volume 1 & 2 by Nick Snyder

  • These two volumes deal with the fallout after Magneto’s attack on New York. Mutants are being hunted by Stryder Jr. and kept incarcerated by the government. Kitty Pryde, Iceman and the Human Torch fight back and light the spark of revolution. I gave up on Ultimate X-Men a while back but the story picks up with Spencer’s run. It’s not quite back to the quality of the early volumes but there’s promise here.

Ultimate comics X-Men, volume 1 by Brian Wood

  • After the mutant revolution, the American government gives mutants the option between a cure and life on a barren reservation. A handful of mutants, led by Kitty Pryde, chose the later option but life on the reservation is hard and the group is split on how to relate to the humans. I’m growing to love Wood on X-Men. He has put his characters in a real hard spot and fully captures Kitty’s difficult strugle to keep her people both safe and at peace. I look forward to more.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

  • When Deshi Li’s brother dies unmarried, his parents send him off to find him a corpse bride but the only suitable girl he finds is still alive for the time being. There are some beautiful water colours that don’t quite match the cartoony style of the characters. I wanted to love this comic more than I did but it is fascinating with a great twist ending.

We Were There, volume 15 & 16 by Yuuki Obata

  • These two volumes conclude this dramatic romantic shojo series. Nanami and Yano are reunited after years apart and their relationship is finally resolved. There was a very slow build-up to this point and I was often tempted to shake the characters but there is a depth of character and emotion that is very appealing.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga

  • A simple, slice of life manga by one of my favorite authors. It is about two 40-something gay men living together and the meals they eat. It is beautifully written and illustrated and includes truly tempting recipes. I’ve already recommended it to several foody friends.

X-Men: Blank Generation by Brian Wood

  • This volume follows Storm’s mutant task force (Pixie, Domino, Psyloche and Collossus) as they deal with creatures cloned from ancient mutant DNA. Storm struggles with her loyalty to Scott Summers on Utopia and to the entire mutant race while her team gets put in some really tough spots. A great adventure that very nicely develops Storm’s character.

Yakitate Ja-Pan, volume 19 & 20 (French) by Takashi Hashiguchi

  • Our heroes continue to battle other bakers on the bakery show but they quickly come to realize that the other team has insider information that will help them win. Hashiguchi is amazing for making a manga about baking as fun and exciting as any shojo manga.

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