Monday, January 31, 2011

Manga Monday: High School of the Dead

High School of the Dead (Volume 1)
Daisuke Sato & Shouji Sato

I'm always up for a good horror story, and while zombies have been done to death, I still have quite a fondness for the shambling dead, which is why I picked up this new manga from Yen Press.  High School of the Dead features a small group of high school students who see a zombie invasion take place while in class.  Very quickly, the school is overrun with zombies, and mayhem ensues, but a few lucky students keep their heads through the bedlam and escape to see what has become of their families and the world at large.  This is a very typical zombie story.  No new ground is being tread here, but this book offers up plenty of fan service with big-breasted women, pantie shots galore and even one ridiculous scene where one girl tears another girl's skirt half off so she can run faster.  Yeah, it's that kind of book.  Along with the prominently featured female assets, there's gore galore.  A lot of scenes are included for the sake of seeing people ripped in half and torn apart.  Many people who aren't part of the main cast are randomly seen being killed, the creators feeling obligated to check back in on various victims getting chewed up and maimed pretty frequently.  Speaking of the cast, we are talking very broad character types here.  A girl who can kick butt, a guy obsessed with becoming leader of the group who has ill intentions, a hot nurse who doesn't have a lot going on upstairs, a popular girl who treats a nerd with exaggerated cruelty, etc.  Even if you're coming to see horror and action, those aspects of the books aren't done very well either.  Many action sequences are sloppy and hard to follow, and there's little to no suspense, making this a disappointment all around.  If you want mindless gore, pantie shots and shallow characters, you've come to the right place, otherwise you'd be wise to steer clear of this zombie tragedy and pick up something with at least a few redeeming qualities.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pick of the Week 1/26

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, due in comic shops on Wednesday...

Stigmata HC - This new graphic novel from Italian creators Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti boasts that wonderful moody swirling artwork that we got a glimpse of with Mattotti's Chimera #1 that was released through Fantagraphic's Ignatz line a few years ago.  Expect this to be one of the year's major releases.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Age of X: Alpha #1
Angel: The John Byrne Collection HC
Artifacts (Volume 1) TP
The Art of Red Sonja HC
Avengers Academy (Volume 1): Permanent Record HC
Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis (Volume 1) HC
Blecky Yuckerela (Volume 4): $$$$ You A-Hole GN
The Complete Bad Company TP
Ice Haven TP
Infestation #1
The Killer (Volume 3): Modus Vivendi HC
The Last Unicorn HC
Magneto #1
New York Five #1
Robert Jordan's New Spring GN
Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book 4) HC
Shazam #1
Twilight Guardian #1

Manga Monday: Itsuwaribito

It's not technically Monday anymore, but better late than never, right?

Itsuwaribito (Volume 1)
Yuuki Iinuma

Utsuho is an itsuwaribito.  Itsuwaribito have a bad reputation as violent thieving liars, like pirate samurai.  But Utsuho isn't your typical itsuwaribito.  He's made it his code to lie in life, like an itsuwaribito, since he believes that the truth only gets people hurt.  When he was a child, his entire household was slaughtered because he was gullible enough to answer the questions of some bandits truthfully.  So despite the monk's rebukes who raises a village full of orphans, Utsuho can't stop lying, and won't.  When the entire village is destroyed by a group of itsuwaribito, however, Utsuho makes it his mission in life to continue helping others, like the monk taught him, but he will do it his way - through lies.  It's an odd idea, but Itsuho thinks that there are good lies and bad lies, and unlike other itsuwaribito, he wants to use good lies to help people who need his particular services.  One of the first people he aids is a talking tanuki (raccoon) who he helps in a confrontation with a hunter.  Pochi, as the tanuki is called, becomes Utsuho's little sidekick, and while he's very gullible, is a nice addition to the book, adding a touch of humor and, well, cuteness.  Many of the scenarios that Utsuho finds himself in are suited to his abilities, as he taunts bad itsuwaribito with his lies, even involving himself in a lying contest at one point, really showcasing his abilities.  Of course the premise itself is a little cheesy, and it's very convenient that Itsuho happens to stumble upon these plots of other itsuwaribito that his particular abilities can overcome, but overall, this is a decent action series.  It's not the most compelling series out there, but the artwork is clear and the story is interesting enough to keep one turning the pages.  The stories are more self-contained and episodic than a lot of stuff out there, but it works for the main character's mission in life.  More compelling characters and less annoying taunting from the protagonist would probably make the book much more appealing, but as is, I give it a lukewarm recommendation.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Caanan Grall

Celadore was the last of the Zuda products from DC to see print before the line was discontinued, but they definitely ended on a high note, as this is a really fun supernatural romp.  Including all sorts of creatures of the night, such as ghosts, frankensteins, elves and genies, the story revolves around a Buffy-like monster hunter whom the vampires fear, wise-cracking all the while, laughing in the face of death.  Unfortunately, the opening scene is the last we see of that Celadore, as she is struck with some mystic mojo that pushes her soul from her body.  But Celadore isn't done yet, as she wakes up to find herself in the body of an eleven-year-old girl.  While not the strikes-fear-into-her-enemies menace that she used to be, she still kicks plenty of undead butt along with a nosy neighbor boy with a knack for finding trouble and a shape-shifting ex-boyfriend, among others.  It's just a lot harder getting into bars to follow monsters or to generally be taken seriously when she's bite-sized and has a worried "mother" to think about back home who still thinks she's her daughter.  The first conflict she must resolve in this series is to confront the vampire master who destroyed her life, the very same monster who plans to light a candle that will allow vampires to walk freely in daylight.  Other adventures include stopping the reign of a nymph who can control men, and stopping a friend who has been turned into a genie from upsetting reality too much.  There's plenty of action in this fast-paced series, which is pretty funny, balancing out the more horrific elements.  I'm not the biggest fan of the rough art on this book, but it gets the job done, and even worse is how DC prints these comics on low-quality paper that often makes the coloring look dreadful.  But if you can get past that, this is a decent read, and certainly one of the best things to come from the Zuda experiment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pick of the Week 1/19

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40 - The very last issue of the eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Age of Reptiles (Volume 1) TP
B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs (Volume 1) HC
Denis Kitchen's Chipboard Sketchbook HC
Fraggle Rock (Volume 2) #1
Jurassic Park: The Devils In the Desert #1
Lovebunny & Mr. Hell (Volume 1) TP
Myspace Dark Horse Presents (Volume 6) TP
Rat Catcher HC
The Smurfs (Volume 4): The Smurfette
Wolverine & Jubilee #1

Monday, January 17, 2011

Previews HYPE!: March '11

Here are ten books that caught my eye in the latest Previews Catalogue, for books that ship to comic shops in March...

Sugar and Spike Archives (Volume 1) HC - It's not the ideal format for this material, but at least it's being reprinted.  Fans have been waiting for years for this to see the light of day, and finally the first ten issues of Sheldon Mayer's classic will be available again.

The Comics Journal #301 - It's been awhile, but the new issue of The Comics Journal is coming out with over 600 pages of goodies, including an interview with Joe Sacco and a dissection of Crumb's Genesis.

Dan Clowes' Mister Wonderful: A Love Story TP - This is an expanded edition of the story that was serialized in The New York Time Magazine, with forty pages of new material.

Sigil #1 (of 4) - The science fiction series originally published by Crossgen is being reimagined with a 16-year-old girl as the protagonist caught in the middle of a war because of the sigil mark she carries, by Mike Carey (Lucifer) and Leonard Kirk.  I enjoyed the original book and am looking forward to seeing what Marvel plans on doing with the concept.

Ruse #1 (of 4) - Mark Waid was involved with Crossgen originally, so it seems appropriate that he should be involved in Marvel's relaunch, especially on this title, which he wrote the first twelve issues of originally.  This story goes back to the beginning of Simon Archard and Emma Bishop's relationship in the Victorian mystery.

Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth - This is the first of a three-volume set that focuses on the legendary Alex Toth, from IDW's Library of American Comics line.

Pinocchio HC - This is a dark tale of Pinocchio, which won the Grand Prize at the Angouleme Comics Festival in France, and will be published in the US by Last Gasp.

The Fighting American TP - More Jack Kirby goodness reprinted from Titan Publishing, this is the complete Fighting American, written by Joe Simon.

Green Lantern #64 - Here begins a new epic storyline with "War of the Green Lanterns," just in time for the big blockbuster movie.  Also available from Geoff Johns this month is The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus (Volume 1) HC.

Whirlwind Wonderland GN - I don't know much about this book from Rina Ayuyang, but the cover caught my eye.  This story follows a Filipino American girl in a sleepy suburb.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pick of the Week 1/12

Alright, back to regular posting this week after a little post-holiday read-as-many-comics-by-the-end-of-the-year-for-the-best-of-list respite.  Another light week in comics, but here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic stores on Wedneday...

The Sixth Gun (Volume 1) TP - Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's supernatural western from Oni Press ended up on quite a few best of the year lists.  Issue one was a Free Comic Book Day offering and seems to have garnered some dedicated fans as it's continued.  Now's a perfect time to check out what the hubbub is about.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Avengers: Coming of the Beast HC
BPRD: Hell On Earth - Gods #1
Casanova: Gula #1
Daredevil Reborn #1
Fantastic Four: Resurrection of Galactus HC
Spawn #200
Wonder Girl #1

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pick of the Week 1/5

Here's the book you should be paying attention to in comic shops on Wednesday...

Batman Beyond #1 - I've heard good things about the recently-concluded, soon-to-be-collected Batman Beyond mini-series from Adam Beechen, Ryan Benjamin and John Stanisci, and obviously sales have warranted an ongoing series, as the first issue offering a glimpse of the future of Gotham City comes out this week.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Captain America: War & Remembrance HC
The Complete Little Orphan Annie (Volume 6) HC
Deadworld Omnibus (Volume 1) SC
Death Note Black Edition TP
Fallen Angel: Return of the Son #1 (of 4)
Lady Death #1
The Mighty Thor Omnibus (Volume 1) HC
Steel #1
Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird TP
Ultimate Comics: Captain America #1 (of 4)
The Walking Dead Weekly #1
Weird Worlds #1 (of 6)
Women of Marvel: Seven Decades Omnibus HC