Monday, January 26, 2015

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 2 by Adachi Toka

Noragami: Stray God, Vol. 2 by Adachitoka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published November 18th, 2014 by Kodansha Comics
(first published in Japanese October 2011)

Noragami: Stray God (Vol. 2)

I am absolutely enjoying this manga. The plot is pretty much the usual fare for this type of Shounen featuring gods and demons, but it has a certain maturity to it. All the characters that were established by the end of vol. 1 have returned. I love each of them but as I mentioned before Hiyori is my favourite. Yato is still trying to gain followers, but his past keeps catching up with him so we're learning more about him. Also, Yato is learning new things he'd never known or appreciated before about shinkis. So lots of information and character development here and one of those "duh-duh-DAH" endings. I'm truly looking forward to the next volume.

Dracula & Frankenstein: Two Dover Graphic Novel Classics

Dracula (Dover Graphic Novel Classics) by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 48 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Dover Publications

Recommended for ages 8 and up this is a small graphic adaptation of the great vampire novel illustrated with black and white drawings which the introduction suggests be coloured. Of course reducing Dracula to a 50 page graphic novel leaves out many details of the story but the author does a very good job of putting the basic framework together while keeping the story exciting and not missing any major plot points. There are better versions out there but for $3.99 it's certainly worthwhile.







Frankenstein (Dover Graphic Novel Classics) by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 48 pages
Published November 19th 2014 by Dover Publications

Recommended for ages 8 and up this is a small graphic adaptation of the famous novel illustrated with black and white drawings which the introduction suggests be coloured. This fell flat for me and I wouldn't recommend it as a first introduction to the story. The author fails to capture the obsession of Victor Frankenstien; in the novel he truly becomes the quintessential "mad scientist". He makes the monster not necessarily bad from the beginning but certainly frightening who then turns bad. This is how the story goes in the original but again the author fails to capture the essence of how wicked and *in*-human the monster actually is, except in man's most vile characteristics. Also the monster's object is to kill everyone that is close to Frankenstein to make him suffer through their losses, the deaths do occur here, but monster's intentions are never made clear. The basic plot outline of the original is here, but this graphic novel fails to capture any of the emotions, themes or frightening conclusions it makes about mankind

Comic Bento Box Subscription

I am behind in posting a review about this.  I received this in December but was immersed in the staggering pile of Cybil Award graphic novels that had to be read beore our Judges meeting.  Then of course Christmas came along!  Anyway ...

I was offered a complimentary box for review purposes.  I was sent Comic Bento's October box which I received in December a couple of days after they said it was shipped.  As you can see from the picture you receive a nice colourful big sturdy box.


There have been a few changes since I received my box so I'll tell you about them now: each month has a specific theme (February's upcoming theme is Feminine Mystique) and you also have the option of a "Kid Bento" which, instead of the monthly theme, is a box full of kid-friendly comics suitable for the whole family.

So my box had no theme and contained books for various age groups. I opened up the box to find the books wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in plastic with a stiff piece of cardboard which protected them very nicely.  Except one book was oversized and placed on top getting a bit of curlage since it was wider than the box.  It straightened out after being put under a pile of other books.  There is also a one-page letter (which I don't read at this point), a bookmark, sticker and 50% off my first box subscription coupon.

ETA (after posting this, I did read the newsletter and the themes are not new!  This box's theme was Funny Pages)

I'm not going to review the books here, I'll do that individually as I read them as the purpose of this review is my impression of this subscription box.  I received five graphic novels.  Comic Bento promises they will send you at least $60 worth of books so I imagine the number will vary depending on the prices of what you get.  Following is what I received and my impressions as I opened my surprise package. I'm also including the $ values so I can give a final value of the box versus the cost of the box.  I'm Canadian and the cost of the box is different for me than US Customers which will be cheaper and I'll discuss the value at the end.

 
The Most Dangerous Game: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner:  This is the oversized book and is thin.  The cover is interesting and it is from an indie publisher, Bread Pig.  I like that.  I wouldn't want to be getting books I could have easily already have myself.  Looking through I see it's a collection of comics, there's no summary on the back so I don't know what it's about but the contents look interesting. Looking it up on amazon, it has an average rating of 4.6.  I'm pleased. ($18.00) (only available from the publisher in Canada)

Archer & Armstrong: The Michaelangelo Code, Volume One by Fred Van Lente - This I'm excited about.  I've always wanted to read Archer & Armstrong! This is published by Valiant and there's no need for me to look at it anymore because I'm thrilled. ($9.99)

Yield to Me To Me (Least I Could Do: The Complete 5th Year Collection) by Ryan Sohmer & Lar Desouza - I haven't heard of this.  The cover is appealing, perhaps funy, makes me wonder the context but also makes me wonder if it might be too risque for my tastes.  This is from another indie publisher "Blind Ferret Entertainment". I'm interested, let's read the back summary ... I'm not sure if this will be for me, but I'm excited.  These guys are Canadian! It's kind of a "Friends" thing, but the main character is a sex-obsessed narcissistic 25yo corporate executive.  Browsing through it, it's not too risque for me. There are lot's of pics of him in bed alone or with a girl but the covers are always under the armpits and the f-word is spelt "fuq", which is funny itself because these guys are from Quebec and the French word for seal (the animal) is le phoque, pronounced "fuq".  Looking forward to this one! (19.99)

Rad Tats: Gunshow Vol. 4 by KC Green - Again something that I've never heard of by an indie publisher, TopatoCo.  Looks like the author might be Canadian too!  The cover has me as it is dark and gloomy.  Looking inside I see b/w art, skulls, people pouring coffee in their heads and what looks like dark humour.  This is my type of thing.  Again I'm happy to give this a go. ($15.00, only available from the publisher)

Rabbids #1. Bwaaaaah by Thitaume - This is the only disappointment and that's because I've read it and didn't like it.  *But* I did want to read it because it looked so cute and the only reason I got to read it is that I get review copies from this publisher, Papercutz, whose stuff I usually really like.  ($7.99)

So the total value of this bundle is a value of $70.97 which is over the promise of $60.00.

Now let's see how the subscription works out money-wise.  First of all I love getting mail, especially books in the mail so we have to keep in mind that there is a fun factor in here of opening this "present" each month.  If I were to subscribe I would start with the 3-month offer to give it a fair go which is $18.34 a month + s/h.

US - $18.34 + $5 = $23.34 received $70.97 in books (great value!)

CAD - $18.34 + $12.35 + $3.99 HST (for Ontarians) = $34.68 (sucks that it's so much more but still a good value!)

For Canadians, Comic Bento is situated in Quebec, so you will have to pay GST on the S/H and depending on your province, PST or HST and then again on whether you are taxed on books.

So, yeah, if I had the money I'd definitely give them a try and see if I was enjoying what they were sending.  If it's a wide selection of publishers with some indies and new-to-you stuff  that is not available on amazon and you are not likely to have already gone out and bought; it could be quite broadening for an avid GN reader.












Friday, January 23, 2015

UQ Holder 3 by Ken Akamatsu

UQ Holder 3 by Ken Akamatsu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by Kodansha Comics

UQ Holder (3)

This volume was all over the place for me. I wasn't liking it, then I thought I was, then I wasn't, then the ending had me hooked and the finish was fantastic. My main problem I guess is I don't like either of the two main characters, Tota or Kura. I do however like the other lesser characters and Karin was given a good amount of page time this volume. This volume is battle intensive and the art always gets really messy in these parts, which make it hard to really see what's going on. The ending was exciting though with the re-appearance of a past character and three new characters, who look totally amazing! We'll see where things go next volume.

Stones of Power by Azumi Isora

Stones of Power by Azumi Isora
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 168 pages
Published December 30th, 2014 by Gen Manga Entertainment, Inc.

The plot of this was good, but it was executed poorly. It jumped around a lot and felt like scenes were missing. People would speak to each other and reply as if they were having different conversations and the translation was very basic English. I almost didn't bother finishing it, but the plot did capture me enough half way through to make me continue to the end. Not something I'd recommend.

Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge

Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 136 pages
Published November 25th, 2014 by Image Comics

Shutter (Vol. 1)

I totally loved this! An Indiana Jones-type woman who has moved on to other things finds herself back in action when the secrets of her past catch up with her. In an alternate fantasy Earth peopled with all sorts of fantastic and strange creatures, Kate is running away from those trying to kidnap her. While running to the safety of her childhood home she finds even more danger lurking there and is on the run again. A totally exciting plot that gives us more questions than answers leaving me ready to continue on reading. The main characters are wonderful. I like Kate; a foul-mouthed cross between Laura Croft and Sydney Bristow, and her adorable but cheeky watch-cat that looks like Felix the Cat only creepier. Plus I must add there is a weirdly odd assassination that looks like it takes place in Richard Scarry's Busy Town! OMG! The art is also gorgeous with every stunning page. Loved it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins 5 by Nakaba Suzuki

The Seven Deadly Sins 5 by Nakaba Suzuki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 11th, 2014 by Kodansha Comics

The Seven Deadly Sins (5)

This is a fun series with lovable characters. I like them all! And I love this cover as it has my favourite, the giantess Diane front and centre. This volume is framed with the new badguys plotting; who we don't know that much about yet except they're some new kind of Holy Knight group. Meanwhile, our gang and the Holy Knights who are after them meet up at a fighting tournament and we are in for a good old battle volume reminiscent of a Dragonball tournament. Numbers are picked and partners chosen, then winners fight in the finals. A good rush of a volume, keeping things light and there is a hilarious element to this story as Diane and Elizabeth are shrunk, but I won't explain that any further. LOL