A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{August 1, 2014}   Comics and manga of July

ShadowHero-Cov-final2The Abominable Charles Christopher, volume 2 by Karl Kerschl

  • The story follows a mute yeti named Charles Christopher wondering through the forest but the best part of the series are the gags about the forest animals, the “hen pecked” bird husband, the neurotic chipmunk and the tragic circus bears. It is a quick, beautiful read that will make you laugh and make you cry. If you don’t believe me, look for the free webcomic.

The All-New X-Factor, volume 1: Not Brand X by Peter David

  • I loved David’s previous incarnation of X-Factor led by Madrox so I was a bit wary of a whole new series with a newcast. I should have trusted David. In this new series, David brings together the unlikely cast of Polaris, Quicksilver and Gambit to work under a (evil?) corporation known as Serval Industries. It is as much fun watching the three (and eventually more) of them interact as to follow on their high stakes adventures. Also Gambit has cats. I cannot wait for more!

Avatar the Last Airbender: The Rift part 2 by Gene Luen Yang

  • Aang discovers the secret of the factory polluting his sacred spot and learns more of the spirit that inhabits the land. Meanwhile Toph must confront the father she ran away from. The Avatar comic has been consistently excellent, a true continuation of a show that I loved.

Aya de Yopougon (French) by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

  • In the last two volumes of the series Aya plots to get back at the teacher who has been sexually harassing her, Innocent finds love in France, Felicite is kidnapped by her father, Mr. Sissoko tracks down his son Moussa and a new church is fleecing the inhabitants of Yopougon. And so much more. The ending is a bit open, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the series had gone on for a bit longer. Abouet has created real, fleshed out characters. Some are very flawed but they are always interesting and I will truly miss reading about them and about Yopougon on the Ivory Coast. An amazing series, now available in English, so go read it!

Baby sitters, volume 2 (French) by Haru Tokeino

  • Ryuichi goes to the zoo with his little brother and the kids from the day care. Then, as the new year begins, he tries to find new members for the baby sitting club. A truly touching and cute manga about two boys in a very difficult situation.

Billy Bat, volume 10 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • There is a serial killer killing Japanese men in 1924. There is a drawing of a bat next to each scene. A detective from New York has come to L.A. one the footsteps of the killer. These murders are also somehow tied to the madman that Kevin and Jackie have encountered. This has been the best volume so far, full of mystery, breath stopping danger and the creeping sense that everything is coming together. I’ve said it many times before but Urasawa is so very good at what he does.

Cats are Weird and More Observations by Jeffrey Brown

  • Short little vignettes about the weirdness of cats that any cat owner will recognize. It’s no Chi but Browns cats are adorable and his book will make a great display book.

Cleopatra in Space, volume 1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

  • A story about a young Cleopatra being brought to the future by a council of talking cats should be ludicrous. But Maihack’s tale strikes the right balance of fun and adventure in order to create a great all ages comic. All libraries should have it.

Explorer, volume 2: The Lost Islands edited by Kazu Kibuishi

  • A collection of short stories on the theme of lost islands. Each writer has a different take on the theme, some funny, some wondrous. Some of my favorite writes have contributed.

Federal Bureau of Physics, volume 1 by Simon Oliver

  • I’ve heard this series described as Fringe as a comic. I haven’t watched Fringe so I can;t say if that’s true but FBP is a great comic. It takes place in a world where the laws physics are no longer constant. The FBP must deal with the failures of physics. The cast is diverse and fascinating and they takes on truly unusual crimes. A great, unusual comic with beautiful art. A must read

Hokuto no Ken, volume 3 (French) by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara

  • After saving two women from yet another giant brute, Ken must track down and fight his adoptive brothers who have been using his name to kill innocents. A classic, over the top manga full of battle, violence,  posturing and manly tears. If you like Jojo’s bizarre Adventure, you should read this. I’m always left both enthralled and a little shocked by just how ludicrous the series can get.

In the Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno

  • Noko is fat and this affects how her coworkers and her boyfriend treat her. As she deals with stress by eating, she only gets fatter. She feels that if she could just be thin, she could be happy. This is an interesting look at fatphobia and eating disorders that pulls no punches. Anno doesn’t give us a happy ending or an easy answer. But then it isn’t an easy problem.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

  • I have yet to read a Luen Yang comic that I didn’t enjoy. In this one, he describes the struggles of a young Chinese man studying to be a doctor as his father wished when what he truly wants is to play video games. The whole things is set up like a game (the cover is even a gameboy!) and has an ending that will surprise you.

Lucifer, volume 1 by Mike Carey

  • Mike Carey of Unwritten fame, follows Neil Gaiman’s Lucifer from the Sandman series and perfectly captures the magic that made Sandman great. This volume contains the first 13 issues as Lucifer travels through different realms and meets angels, demons and humans with strange powers. He plots and tricks as only Lucifer can in order to reach a goal that is known only to him.A must for Carey and Sandman fans.

Mind MGMT, volume 1 by Matt Kindt

  • I’ve been seeing Mind MGMT on a lot of best of lists and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. It follows a true crime writer, Meru, who was on a flight years ago that left all aboard with amnesia. She tries to seek out the cause and it leads her to a mysterious organisation known as Mind MGMT that recruits men and women with strange mental powers. A twisty, entertaining mystery. Besides I couldn’t resist the gorgeous, beautifully illustrated hardcover.

My Little Pony: Friends Forever, volume 1 by various

  • A collection of short stories following each of the hooved friends: a cooking contest, a team-up between Discord and the Cutie Crusaders, another between Spike and Celestia and finally between the new princess Twilight and her brother. Not the strongest pony stories that I’ve ever read but they’re fun. And it was worth it all to see Discord disguised as Q.

Oh My Cats! by Kotsubu Sakaki

  • A mangaka’s love letter to her two cats… who kind of hate her. It is cute and funny, though I’m not always surprised that her cats are weary of her.

Pyongyang (French) by Guy Delisle

  • In yet another travelogue, Delisle describes his time working at an animation studio in North Korea. As usual he captures the humour and incongruous of each situation but also the humanity. His stay in Jerusalem was more picturesque and thrilling but that is at least partially due to the differences between the two cities. Besides, Delisle gives us an interesting glimpse at a country that most of us will never see.

Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley

  • If you could fix your mistakes by eating a mushroom, would you do it? The heroine of O’Malley’s new comic, a young restauranteur, is given this choice. She not only eats the mushroom but starts using them to fix all her problems. And her abuse of the mushrooms starts to put all of reality at risk. This comic is very different than Scott Pilgrim but just as bizarre and fun.

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

  • In the golden age of comics, there was a short lived hero known as the Green Turtle, written by one of the first Asian-American comic writers. Rumour has it, that he wanted the Green Turtle to be Chinese but as that was not permitted, he simply never showed the man’s face, never told his origin story. Luen Yang tells that origin, the story of the son of a Chinatown grocer who is driven to take up the cape by his mother and by the Tong ruling his neighbourhood.  I have no words for how good this comic is. It is enthralling and constantly surprising. And I love Hank’s mother. I’d read an ongoing series.

The Superior Foes of Spider-man, volume 1: Getting the Band Back Together by Nick Spenser

  • This is a truly silly series, following Boomerang and a handful of Spider-man’s less than superior foes as they bumble and back-stab each other from one crime to the next. Boomerang is a particularly unreliable narrator, lying to the reader as easily as to his “companions”. If you have a thing for cheesy villains – as does the friend that recommended the series to me – you will love The Superior Foes of Spider-man.

Tora & Ookami, volume 3 (French) by Yoko Kamio

  • Mii and her class head to the mountains for their class trip and Mii finds herself paired with Jun, who bullied her in a previous volume. When they are lost on the mountain, a strange kind of friendship grows between them and Tora shows a new face in his worry. Kamio’s new series is still no Cat Street or Hana Yori Dango but watching the relationships between the characters grow and grow more complicated is good fun.

Uncanny X-Men, volume 2: Broken by Brian Michael Bendis

  • Cyclops and his band continue to recruit new mutants with unusual powers. But Cyclops, Emma Frost and Magneto must continue to contend with their own broken powers. Anyone who knows me, knows that Cyclops is my least favorite X-Men but this is Bendis at his best. He delivers a dark, action filled series about a team that seems doomed to failure.

Yakitate Ja-Pan, volume 21  (French) by Takashi Hashiguchi

  • The boys continue the baking game show, doing their best despite the fact that the opposing team is clearly cheating. In this volume, they must make a pancake (and you wouldn’t believe how many poop jokes result!) and a pizza. As funny and bizarre as ever.

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