A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{July 1, 2014}   Comics and manga of June

velvet-1-before-living-end-cover-brubaker-epting-imageGhost World by Daniel Clowes

  • This is one of those comics that I keep hearing about and that is on so many “best of” lists that I had to eventually read it. And I was really disappointed. It is a story about the end of adolescence, of finding oneself, with a very light plot. There are many such stories. The only thing that stands out is how unlikable the characters are: they are cruel, cynical and snobby. I don’t know what the big deal is about.

Gisele Alain, volume 4 by Sui Kasai

  • Gisele takes on a job in a circus and follows it in order to see her friend Eric again. But Eric’s job as a writer has not lived up to his expectations and he is ashamed to see her. A sweet and fun episodic manga with amazing art. Great for all ages.

Ippo, volume 48 to 52 (French) by George Morikawa

  • There is a lot of excitement in the third season. Ippo defends his championship title against a tough fisherman from Okinawa and prepares for a fight against an  even more brutal man, who fights for the pleasure of hurting people. Meanwhile Aoki, who no one takes seriously, also tries for a belt with a new, ridiculous, technique. This is a very long series but if you like the excitement and adrenaline of sports manga, it is a must read.

Master Keaton, volume 6 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • Another great volume of Urasawa’s thriller about a McGiver-esque archaeology professor and investigator. This volume involves mafia-revenge plots, a forger and a fake suicide. I don’t think that Urasawa can write a bad Keaton story.

Princeless Short Stories by Jeremy Whitley et al.

  • I love princeless for giving us strong, interesting and varied female characters who save themselves but this collection of stories is a mixed bag. Some stories are stiring or funny or both, other are bland. And I don’t care for the art in half the stories. Stick to the main series.

Say I Love You, volume 2 by Kanae Hazuki

  • Volume one of the series was a pleasant surprise, recounting the slowly budding romance between loner Mei and playboy Yamato. There is more of their charming, awkward relationship in this volume but it focuses on two side characters: Hayakawa who only has shallow “friends with benefits” type relationships and Aiko who changes her body to be more lovable but it never seems to be enough. A surprisingly thoughtful and sensitive shojo manga.

Silver Spoon, volume 6 (French) by Hiromu Arakawa

  • This volume focuses on Yugo’s first riding competition (as someone who used to participate in such competitions, it was a pleasure to read). But Yugo is also preparing for the school festival and may be accepting more work than he can handle. I think I’ve said this before: this mangai s very different from Full Metal Alchemist but it shows the same humour and depth of character. Arakawa is one of the great mangaka.

Switch Girl, volume 14 to 22 (French) by Natsumi Aida

  • I love this shojo manga because it mocks the conventions of shojo manga: its heroine is as often gross as bumbling and charming and I love the occasional slip into Fist of the North Star style manliness (there’s an entire chapter in this style). There are many storylines in these volume: preparing for college, getting part-time jobs, underhanded boys trying to sabotage the school’s best students, going to the beach, Nika and Arata’s first time, Nika’s parents romance, a body switching episode and the final story where Nika and Arata’s love is tested by people from their past. They are all filled with Aida’s irreverent humour and melodrama. A real pleasure.

Velvet, volume 1: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

  • A Cold War spy thriller about a retired female spy who needs to find out why she and one of the agency’s great retired operatives are being framed as double agents.  This is Brubaker at his best: an edge of your seat, page turner full of mystery, action scenes and great characters. Must read if you like mystery/thriller comics.

Who is AC? by Hope Larson

  • An unusual magical girl story (with a technological twist). It was good fun (with a few poignant moments about loneliness and guilt) though feels a bit unfinished, as though Larsen meant to write a series.

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