A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 15, 2014}   Comics and manga of November

gokusen100 Bullets, Book 1 by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

  • I bought this because I like Azzarello but, to be honest, I was just expecting another violent crime thriller. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. A man who calls himself Agent Gravesfinds people who have been wronged and offers them a gun and a hundred untraceable bullets. The character studies of the complex and conflicted people Graves meets and the decisions that they make about the gun make this an unmatched series. A brilliant crime comic.

Ab Irato, volume 2 (French) by Thierry Labrosse

  • I really loved the first volume of Labrosse’s BD about post-apocalyptic Montreal. This one starts with a hostage situation and a risky rescue. A new woman with mysterious powers also makes her appearance. The two volumes are best read together; I was a bit confused to be throw right back into the midst of everything without explanation after more than a year away from the series. Still the art is amazing and there’s plenty of fast paced action.

Ad Astra, volume 3 by Mihachi Kagano

  • Fabius takes control of the senate and launches a new strategy against Hannibal: he has his troops avoid confrontation. But this causes unrest in his army. Can a divided Roman army challenge a great strategist like Hannibal? This is a thrilling historical manga, about a period of history that I don’t know well, drawn in a beautiful, detailed style. If you like Vinland Saga, you need to read Ad Astra.

Alone Forever by Liz Prince

  • A series of autobiographical gag strips about failed romances and single life. Prince has a quirky sense of humour and a unabashed honesty. Anyone who has ever failed in love will find something to smile about.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift part 3 by Gene Luen Yang

  • This is the last volume of the Rift storyline. Aang and Toph who have been arguing about the value of tradition since the beginning of the storyline but they must join forces to defeat a dangerous spirit. Yang perfectly captures the spirit and humour of the Avatar series and creates a bridge between that series and Korra. Read it.

Baby-sitters, volume 5 (French) by Hari Tokeino

  • This series continues to be quiet and adorable. In this volume, the kids visit a festival, dress up as adorable fruits for the school fair and celebrate Christmas. Nothing innovative but it’ll put a smile on your lips.

Batman: Arkham Assylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean

  • When they put out this 25th aniversary edition of Morrison’s classic Batman story about Batman being trapped in Arkham Asylum, I had to finally read it. McKean’s dreamy art style is perfectly for this tale of madness and confusion. It is a beautiful constructed and eerie tale… which, because of the fonts, is a real pain to read. As good a tale as it is however (hard to read fonts and all), I couldn’t read it without being frustrated with the ways in which mental illness is conflated with criminal activity in popular fiction.

Billy Bat, volume 12 by Naoki Urasawa

  • A young american boy named Kevin sees the bat and graffittis his visions on the walls of buildings. But someone is following him and destroying his art before they can be widely seen. He is approached by the mysterious Mr. Smith to save the world. This is a great volume of the thriller but I think Urasawa has many more secrets in store for us.

Black Butler, volume 18 by Yana Toboso

  • The private school story is finally over, thank goodness. The resolution was really nothing new: murder, resuscitation, zombies, reapers. It wasn’t exciting enough to make up for that boring storyline. But a new story is starting about mysterious deaths in southern Germany and this one shows some promise.

Bride’s Story, volume 6 by Kaoru Mori

  • I’m always thrilled to get a new volume of this beautiful series. It is usually a relatively quiet series, a nearly anthropological look at tribes in Western Asia focusing on crafts, cooking and marriage. But war has come to their village. Neighbouring tribes attack to steal their grazing lands but the aid they are receiving from the Russians doesn’t come without a cost. The stakes are really raised in this volume and we get a much better sense of the politics of the world.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

  • This highly acclaimed memoir deals with Chast’s relationship with her parents and with the slow degradation of their health. She captures her parents idiosyncrasies – from their co-dependance to their inability to cope with the very idea of death – with humour and insight. She is talking about a hard period in her life but she does so with honesty, even when the truth isn’t pleasant or flattering.

Gokusen volume 1 & 2 (French) by Kozueko Morimoto

  • I read scans of this manga years ago and I have been waiting since then to hold it in my hands. It has a plot similar to GTO: the heiress of a yakuza clan becomes a school teacher in a school with problem students who she helps through her unconventional methods. She isn’t as perverted as Onizuka but just as funny. This manga needs to be more well known than it is.

Gotham City Sirens, Book 1 by Paul Dini

  • Batman’s three most famous female villains – Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy – join up in this fun buddy comedy comic. No one captures Harley like Dini and it is great fun watching these three strong woman working together (though not always well).The tone is generally light but it really gets to the essence of the characters.

Hide and Seek volume 1 & 2 by Yaya Sakuragi

  • Shuji, a divorced single dad and owner of the village’s corner shop, meets the town’s new doctor. He is an awkward, inexpressive man but he’s fascinated by Shuji. The two start a casual, sexual relationship but they both soon want more. It’s not a new narrative but it remains a well drawn, entertaining BL manga.

I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached

  • A memoir of living of growing up in Lebanon in the midst of the tension between the Christians and the Muslims. The narrative and artistic style reminded me a lot of Persepolis. But the tale is surprisingly light-hearted despite the power outages, the bombings and bullet holes in their car. It isn’t about the war, it is about the ordinary life of a family in a war zone.

Kids on the Slope, volume 8 (French) by Yuki Kodama

  • Sentaro’s concerned by the return of his uncle. They never had a good relationship because of the circumstances surrounding his birth. But just when he starts to believe he could fit into the family, a terrible accident leaves him racked with guilt. The friends brought together by a love of jazz might finally be torn apart. We’re approaching the end of this lovely, historical manga. I’ve already seen the conclusion in the anime but I’m looking forward to the original ending.

Love so Life, volume 8 to 10 (French) by Kaede Kouchi

  • This manga continues to follow the adorable stories of a teenage baby-sitter and the toddler twins that she cares for. But as the series progresses, her feelings for the twin’s uncle and guardian continue to develop. She must also face the prospect of being separated from the twins in a year. Though it remains light and sweet, Kouchi is slowly and subtly adding emotional depth. A lovely shojo manga.

Mass Effect: Foundation, volume 3 by Mac Walters

  • The lead writer for the Mass Effect games tells the story of Thane’s life as an assassin and the love and loss of his wife. A must read if you like the games and the character of Thane, as I do.

Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis

  • I am not a Spider-man fan, so believe me when I say that this comic was fun and a breath of fresh air. Miles Morales is a good heir to the Spider-Man name. He is dealing with many of the same issues that Peter did when he was starting out: the responsibility of his powers, the secrecy and balancing school and love with super heroics. He and all of Peter’s friends are also dealing with the death of the original Spider-Man… who suddenly reappears. The end of the volume actually surprised me to the point of shock.

Mind MGMT, volume 2 by Matt Kindt

  • Mind Management was an organization that collected individuals with psychic abilities in order to manipulate world politics. But it was shut down after a series of disasters. But a rogue faction is trying to reform the organization and they a prepared to kill any former agents that get in their way. Kindt gives us a twisty, fascinating thriller that mixes several narratives: there is the main narrative, the case files of former operatives, there are even crime mysteries written on the edges of the pages. Kindt asks for thought and reflection from his readers but it is well worth the effort. Not to mention that the physical volume is beautiful.

Moyasimon, volume 1 (French) by Masayuki Ishikawa

  • A unique manga about a young man who can see microbes. When he starts university, he meets a crazy old professor obsessed with fermentation who is fascinated by his gifts. Hilarious and unusual. If you like Silver Spoon, you will find much to enjoy here.

Neozoic, volume 2: Trader’s Gambit by Paul Ens

  • What’s not to like about bad-ass women fighting dinosaur? It’s been a long time since the first volume so I was a bit confused at first about the characters and their relationships. The plot basically revolves around a group of guards and trainees trying to protect  the city from dinosaurs but someone is letting them in. The mystery plot is a bit weak but the art and the action more than make up for it.

Nobles Paysans, volume 2 (French) by Hiromu Arakawa

  • This is the second volume of Arakawa’s autobiographical manga. It chronicles her life growing up on a farm in Hokkaido. It’s hilarious and sometimes horrifying (one wonders how she and her siblings survived to adulthood sometimes) but it is also very enlightening about farm life. She explains practices that might seem odd to people outside the profession and the troubles that come with farming life.

Ooku, volume 10 by Fumi Yoshinaga

  • The men in the inner chambers discover a way to inoculate men against the red faced pox that has decimated Japan’s male population for century. But the fraught political situation puts this cure at risk. I spent my entire read gasping in horror as good people are punished for their hard work and an entire generation is sacrificed for political ambition. It is especially horrifying because it is believable. This was the best volume so far of a great alternate history.

Parapal, volume 3 (French) by Takumi Ishida

  • The third volume of this unique science fiction series about alien parasite that gives their hosts enhanced senses.The group meet a new host of the alien parasites. His enhanced sense is taste and he is driven to impregnate a girl for reasons known only to him. Meanwhile, Rika can only deal with the stress of her gang rape by being in contact Tsurumi and it is making Komaki jealous for some reason. I’m still uncomfortable with the sexual politics but it is a fascinating series and well worth a read.

Real, volume 13 by Takehiko Inoue

  • I look forward to every new volume of Real and this was another hard hitting one. Scorpion Shiratori is determined to return to pro wrestling, even though he can no longer stand. His final match and the glimpses of his past are incredibly moving. This is a manga everyone should read.

Red Sonja, volume 2 by Gail Simone

  • I love love love this series. The art is gorgeous, the action scenes exciting, the characters are enthralling and Simone’s writing is at it’s best. In order to save a thousand slaves, Red Sonja agrees to hunt down six experts in their fields for a dying king. It will take all of Sonja’s strength and cunning to collect these six exceptional people (and they truly are exceptional) but the king is even more ruthless than she expects.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, volume 1: Change is Constant by Kevin Eastman

  • I am a HUGE TMNT fan and I was thrilled to read this reboot of the series. Eastman has changed the origins of the turtles and of the other characters and it really works. But in the process of being mutated, they lose their brother Rafael and spend the volume searching the streets for him which results in in plenty of fights and close calls. The art took some getting used to, but once I did, I loved it. My one problem is that all the turtles have red bandanas which makes them impossible to tell apart, especially in fight scenes.

What Did You Eat Yeasterday? Volume 5 by Fumi Yoshinaga

  • Shiro meets a new gay friend and learns about his relationship troubles all the while he cooks delicious meals. Don’t eat this manga hungry. It always makes me want to cook the delicious recipes within.

Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince

  • This tiny comic contains a series of sketchy gag strips about the less romanticized aspects of relationships. It is cute, funny (some times horrifying) and most people will see themselves in at least one gag.

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