Monday, December 31, 2007

Manga Monday: Reptilia

Kazuo Umezu

IDW Publishing ventures into manga territory with this horror title from Kazuo Umezu (The Drifting Classroom), reprinted in English over forty years after its initial run in Japan. Sporting a dazzling cover by Ashley Wood, I think that Reptilia was a pretty appropriate choice for IDW, as they were put on the map by 30 Days of Night and have been kind of the go-to company for horror books. With the Doomed anthology and translations of the popular European vampire series Dampyr under their belt, it was only a matter of time before they dipped into the well of Japanese horror, and this one is from "The Father of Horror Manga" himself, Kazuo Umezu.

Reptilia collects three stories that follow a half-human, half-snake woman who terrorizes little girls in various quests for revenge or food. It's really creepy seeing the snake woman creeping over the ground, particularly in the final story actually entitled "Reptilia" that takes up the bulk of this collection, a story that focuses on more than just a single snake creature. As a woman with an eye patch slithers along a dark swampland, reaching with scaly clawed hands toward a frightened little girl, it's easy to imagine how Umezu earned his reputation. The stories here are silly and over-the-top, but in the end they're just not as fun as The Drifting Classroom or other recent horror manga like Gyo. What is amazing is that this book, as I mentioned earlier, is over forty years old, but while it's entertaining and illustrated beautifully, there are much better horror titles out there to spend a dark and stormy night with.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Reptilia is an excercise in sadism: reminding me of some Fletcher Hanks weirdness (see "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets"). The last story is especially disturbing, as a struggling girl is forcibly destroyed body and soul; after her transformation she is directed to kill a close friend.
At the end of the story all is as it was at the beginning; nothing has changed. Very nihilistic and disturbing, and seemingly inked with venom.