Monday, February 28, 2011

Manga Monday: Black Knight

Black Knight (Volume 1)
Kai Tsurugi

Black Knight is a yaoi manga published by Blu Manga a few years ago.  I flipped through it at a used bookstore and couldn't resist purchasing it.  Yaoi manga are a sort of guilty pleasure for me.  This particular work follows Chris, a young prince who's a real pretty boy, and who has been sent to a training academy by his father, where he learns to fight alongside commoners.  One of the trainers, Zeke, looks out for him and eventually the two begin a romantic relationship, despite the difficulties it presents.  Zeke is the black knight that the title is named for, and is destined to become Chris' guardsman with the high honor of Black Knight.  For a title pretty heavy on action, the action scenes aren't executed very well.  It's sort of hard to tell what's going on and where people are in relation to each other.  What Tsurugi does well is flush out the relationship between Chris and Zeke.  A few supporting characters stand out as well, but there a lot of throw-away characters populating this book, keeping the focus on the two at the heart of the story, and the difficulties they endure as they become lovers despite their different social rankings.  Compared to a lot of the yaoi out there, the sex scenes in this title are pretty tame, with an arched back and some fuzzy licking being the most exciting things readers will see.  Things are implied more than they are explicit.  But overall, this is a pretty sexy title, with the stoic, manly Zeke enough of the tall, dark and handsome type to melt readers' hearts.  but if you're looking for action, you might be a tad disappointed, as the crux of the book is the budding relationship between a prince and his protector.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pick of the Week 2/23

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

Ghost Projekt (Volume 1) HC - From Oni Press comes this supernatural spy thriller by Joe Harris, Steve Rolston and Dean Trippe, surrounding a mysterious weapon from the Cold War that has been stolen, and the agents who try to uncover just what danger it poses.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Abyss: Family Issues #1 (of 4)
Ayn Rand's Anthem GN
Chronicles of Kull (Volume 4): Blood of Kings & Other Stories TP
Crossed: Psychopath #1 (of 6)
Eerie Archives (Volume 6) HC
Freakangels (Volume 5) GN
The Hunger of Seven Squat Bears HC
John Carpenter of Mars: Warloard of Mars TP
Justice League: The Rise and Fall HC
Little Lulu: Giant Size (Volume 3) TP
Nemesis HC
Thor: Godstorm HC
Thor: The Quest For Odin HC
True Blood: Tainted Love #1
Seven Soldiers of Victory (Volume 2) HC
Spawn Origins (Volume 3) HC

Monday, February 21, 2011

Manga Monday: Fairy Tail

Fairy Tail (Volume 1)
Hiro Mashima

From the creator of Rave Master comes a story of a magical world of wizards.  Lucy, a loud, happy-go-lucky girl, wants to join a club that has the most powerful wizards in its ranks, Fairy Tail.  Even if Fairy Tail is always getting into trouble with the council for overdoing it, who doesn't want to be among its members?  Lucy has the ability to open gateways with magical keys, and makes contracts with the celestial beings on the other side of those gates to aid her when in times of need.  It's a powerful ability that she puts to the test several times in this first book, and there's limitless potential for future celestial beings as she acquires new keys.  While traveling to a small town to see what their magic shop has in terms of keys, she meets Natsu, a guy with a huge appetite, who dispels a charm that another wizard uses on the women in the area.  They have kind of a love-hate relationship that eventually lands them together as traveling partners, and while Lucy accomplishes her immediate goals, she learns that there's a lot more to being a wizard than being affiliated with a prestigious club.  I'm sure the comparison has been made before, but the art in Fairy Tail reminded me a lot of Eiichiro Oda's One Piece.  From the fast pace to the great attention to detail and thoughtfully constructed panels, to the rubbery faces of the characters that are exaggerated with emotion, there are plenty of similarities, in art as much as storytelling.  Even the balance between comedy and action seems very similar.  But it's really a perfect balance between the exciting and absurd aspects of a lot of manga, and these two creators have perhaps found the perfect formula to showcase them.  Mashima also put a lot of thought into the world and the power sets of his characters, not to mention the great designs for said characters.  Many of the members of Fairy Tail whom we haven't had a chance to meet past volume one just look cool and I can't wait to meet them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pick of the Week 2/16

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

Captain America by Jack Kirby Omnibus HC - Collecting Jack Kirby's run with Captain America and Falcon, the omnibus edition of this material contains over 550 pages of Jack Kirby goodness.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet TP
Bayou (Volume 2) TP
Finder (Volume 1): Voice GN
Formic Wars: Burning Earth #1 (of 7)
Hawkeye: Blind Spot #1 (of 4)
Johnny Red (Volume 1): Falcon's First Flight HC
Morning Glories (Volume 1): For a Better Future TP
Noche Roja HC
Silver Surfer #1 (of 5)
Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years (Volume 8) HC
True Blood (Volume 1): All Together Now HC
Young Justice #1

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Previews HYPE: April '11

Wading through the phone book that is Previews Catalogue to dig out the good are some items of note that I thought were worth pointing out or that I'm just plain excited about, shipping to comic shops in April...

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse (Volume 1): Race To Death Valley HC - One of the most exciting announcements of the year, the first of a massive reprint project debuts this month in the form of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comic strip.

Herc #1 & #2 - Hells yeah! I was bummed out when Incredible Hercules concluded, so it's nice to see a new ongoing rolling out this month from Greg Pak, Fred van Lente and Georges Jeanty.

Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne (Volume 1) TP - Finally.

Onward Towards Out Noble Deaths GN - More manga from Drawn & Quarterly, this one by important Gekiga creator Shigeru Mizuki.

Congress of the Animals HC - Hot on the heels of Weathercraft comes another full-length graphic novel from Jim Woodring, featuring his beloved Frank character.

Fear Itself #1 (of 7) - Like the summer blockbuster season for cinema, it's about that time for crossover season at the big comic publishers.  Marvel's big event appropriately features a lot of Thor action, although beyond that, I don't know much about it, except that Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen make a good team to get behind this thing.

Isle of 100,000 Graves HC - A pirate story by Fabien Vehlmann, illustrated by Jason.

Tenken GN - This book won the Japan Media Festival Arts Award and sees a postapocalyptic world where a princess is about to be sacrificed to a monster.

Dark Horse Presents #1 - The anthology returns with ab 80-page first issue featuring talent from creators like Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams and Paul Chadwick, as well as a look at Xerxes, the 300 prequel from none other than Frank Miller himself.

Miss Fury HC - The Sunday strip featuring female superhero Miss Fury is collected in IDW's Library of American Comics line, featuring the first female superhero created and drawn by a female artist, Tarpe Mills.

Lucille GN - Another award-winning book, this graphic novel about adolescence and anorexia, by Ludovic Debeurme, won the Rene Goscinny Prize.

The Raven HC - Edgar Allen Poe's masterpiece reinterpreted by Stigmata's Lorenzo Maaotti and Lou Reed.

Super Dinosaur #1 - A new Robert Kirkman ongoing series featuring...well, the title says it all, and it's pretty awesome.

The Lychee Light Club (Volume 1) - Vertical has chosen some great manga to reprint, so it's always nice to see something new launch from them, this one being a horror comedy.

Francis Sharp In the Grip of the Uncanny GN - A supernatural story that takes place in rural New Jersey in the 1930's - could be fun.

Mega Man #1 - This could be fun - from Archie comes an ongoing Mega Man comic.

Thunderbolts Classic (Volume 1) TP - It took them awhile to get this going.  Beginning to collect the surprisingly long-running series featuring Marvel villains.

Deadman (Volume 1) TP - Going back to the beginnings of the character, this collection familiarizes readers with DC character Deadman, with plenty of Neal Adams art.

Angel #44 - The final issue of Angel from IDW, making way for his transition over to Dark Horse, and wrapping up storylines from over the past few years of this epic run.

Sleepyheads GN - This graphic novel by Randall C's graphic novel is from Europe, and won several awards when it was originally released.

Echo #30 - Also wrapping up this month is Terry Moore's superhero saga Echo, which never got the attention that it deserved during its run.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zita the Space Girl

Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke's Zita the Space Girl, from First Second Books, is an all-ages fantasy starring a brave girl who leaps through a portal after her friend has been abducted, unaware of the consequences of her actions or where it will lead her.  It turns out that Zita is transported across the universe to a strange world full of a variety of creatures, and it just so happens that everyone is trying to get off of the planet just as she arrives, because a meteor is about to hit that will destroy it along with whomever is left behind.  There's a mad scramble on the surface for passage off-world, but Zita is more concerned with finding her friend.  Very quickly on this odd little planet, Zita makes friends who help her on her quest, a quest that will eventually hold the fate of the entire world in its balance.  Among her newfound friends are a giant mouse who speaks through a collar around its neck that produces words on paper for her to read, a machine that was created solely to destroy, and a man with an uncanny ability with a flute.  Hatke does a fantastic job setting up this crazy world and its varied inhabitants, with plenty of great designs for the alien beings, as well as playful allies and creatures that Zita encounters.  Along with the designs, Hatke has a great cartoony style that lends itself well to this sort of story that sees a nice blend of fantasy, sci/fi, and comedy.  He also thoughtfully sets up things early in the book that play out later in interesting ways, with a story that rarely goes where expected.  Zita the Space Girl is a fun book with a crazy world that's fun to explore alongside the brave heroine of the story.  Very reminiscent of recent hits like Amulet and Ghostopolis.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pick of the Week 2/9

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

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #1 (of 6) - The second mini-series following popular undercover spy Cinderella from Vertigo's Fables, debuts this week.  I really enjoyed the first series, although I was still pretty surprised when the collection topped the graphic novel charts when it was released.  I'm glad Chrissie Zullo is back on covers, as she created some memorable ones the first time around.  Written by Chris Roberson, illustrated by Shawn McManus.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Acts of Vengeance Omnibus HC
Amnesia Labyrinth (Volume 1)
Atlantis Attacks Omnibus HC
Captain America Lives Omnibus HC
Creepy Archives (Volume 9) HC
Femina and Fauna: The Art of Camilla D'Errico HC
Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues HC
Hack/Slash Ongoing #1
Li'l Depressed Boy #1
Love and Capes: Ever After #1
Marvelman Classic (Volume 2) HC
Namor: The First Mutant (Volume 1) TP
Namor Visionaries by John Byrne (Volume 1) TP
Naruto (Volume 50)
Nemesis HC
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Volume 1)
On the Line HC
Onslaught Unleashed #1 (of 4)
The Secret History Omnibus (Volume 2) HC
Shadowland HC
Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1 (of 6)
Zita the Space Girl GN

Monday, February 07, 2011

Manga Monday: Nura

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Volume 1)
Hiroshi Shiibashi

This new shonen manga follows Rikuo Nura, who lives in a house filled with yokai, creatures from Japanese myth who come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Yokai are known for terrorizing humans, and while many yokai are evil and are slave to their instincts to devour children, etc, some are just harmless pranksters, like most of the variety that live in Nura's house.  Nura's grandfather commands the Nura Clan, and is responsible for protecting and watching out for the yokai in the area.  As his grandson, Nura, who is one quarter yokai, is expected to take on the title of "the third," the next leader of the Nura Clan.  Nura, however, is reluctant to accept this responsibility.  He learned at a young age that people fear and despise yokai and he doesn't want any part of that, even though he loves the household he's grown up in.  Nura is also very human and unsuited for the role before him, at least until his yokai self comes out during an emergency and he takes charge of a situation beautifully, proving that he has the chops for the job.  However, this side of Nura comes out very infrequently, and other clans see him as a weak choice for a leader, and threaten to overthrow him any chance they get.  Meanwhile, Nura just wants to grow up like any human child, making friends and hiding who he is and the family he has at home.  I think this is a really fun book overall.  I like Nura and his friends at school and how he has to hide this one side of his life from them, effectively playing a role that keeps him at a distance from what he longs for more than anything - to be human and normal.  And all of the yokai stuff is really interesting, with all of the plots against Nura, and the infighting amongst his subjects.  Plus Shiibashi comes up with a lot of cool designs for the yokai in this book, illustrating the monsters and action sequences very nicely.  This is mostly an action title, but there are bits of horror and comedy mixed into the stories, balancing the book out nicely.  I personally think this is one of the better shonen titles that I've come across in awhile and I hope people check it out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pick of the Week 2/2

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops tomorrow!

Cursed Pirate Girl TP - Finally, Jeremy Bastian's work is collected, after a few delays.  I've been looking forward to this one for awhile now, reinforced by his beautiful contribution to the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard anthology, which blew me away (a page from the Mouse Guard contribution, as well as an illustration from Cursed Pirate Girl are below).

Other Noteworthy Releases
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne HC
Darkwing Duck Classics (Volume 1) TP
Dr. Strange: From the Marvel Vault #1
High School of the Dead (Volume 1)
Ivy HC
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Storm Front (Volume 2) HC
Little Lulu (Volume 26): Feud and Other Stories TP
Lynd Ward: Six Novels In Woodcuts Slipcase
Scenes From an Impending Marriage HC
The Stand: No Man's Land #1
Superman: War of the Supermen HC
Uncle Scrooge #400