Thursday, October 31, 2013

321. D. Gray-Man (3-in-1) Vol. 1-2-3 by Katsura Hoshino

D. Gray-Man (3-in-1) Vol. 1-2-3 by Katsura Hoshino
D. Gray-Man (Vol. 1,2,3)

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Jul. 2, 2013, VIZ Media, 576 pgs

Age: 13+ (publisher 16+)

"Allen Walker travels to the headquarters of the Black Order, a group of exorcists out to destroy the Millennium Earl, the creator of the akuma. Allen is already a strong exorcist and wants to join the Black Order, but he might not even survive getting past the guard!"

Received a review copy from  Simon & Schuster Canada.

Vol. 1 - A fantastic volume 1 introduction to this series.  We meet the main character who right away gets involved in his duties of exorcism.  Set in an alternate 19th century with a paranormal universe based on a mix of quasi-Christianity and Japanese mythology.  The background and character building of Allen Walker is more than satisfying, the mythos is compelling and action scenes are aplenty right from the beginning.  Secondary characters are introduced but it is unclear whether they will return in future volumes yet.  The scene has been set, Allan joins the Black Order and I'm all set to dive into volume 2. (4/5)

Vol. 2 - Allen and Kanda are sent on a mission to save the Innocent (soul) taken over by an akuma.  This is their primary function as exorcists.  This story is pretty much self-contained and a great creepy story.  The two boys do not like each other making for some fun bickering.  It appears new characters will be part of each "case" the exorcists work on and I really enjoyed these characters.  While the akuma was freaky, the victims held an emotional story.  I'm hooked on this series already! (5/5)

Vol. 3 - This time Allen is sent off with fellow exorcist Lenalee to a town which is repeating the same day over and over.  No one is aware of this except for one girl whom it is driving crazy and they have come to find the Innocent and the cause of the repeating day.  This volume has a great story, "case", very creepy and the new character introduced, Miranda, promises to be one that will return.  Also, the deeper story of the Black Order, Millennium Earl and a new villain, Road Kamelot are explored and we discover more of what the back plot is all about.  (5/5)

The publisher has rated this series as T+ (for ages 16+) because of "fantasy violence".  At this point, I'm thinking that may be too strict and 13+ should be ok.  There are a few mild swear words (some T-rated have worse) and the violence is creepy but not gory.  I'd say this book is more scary than your run-of the mill T-rated volume and probably classified more as horror than paranormal fantasy but your average 13+ should be fine with it. Mine loves it!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

319. Magi, Vol. 1 by Shinobu Ohtaka

Magi, Vol. 1 by  Shinobu Ohtaka
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 1

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Aug 13, 2013, VIZ media, 200 pgs

Age: 13+

"Together with the djinn Ugo and his friend Alibaba, Aladdin sets out to find his fortune in the depths of the endless dunes..."

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Funny, exciting, adventurous novel based on the Aladdin characters but creating its own original story.  So far a team has been put together of Aladdin, who appears to be a young boy, his Djinn, who lives in a flute, and travelling/quest partner Alibaba (who appears to be an older teen).  The Djinn's first appearance was a blast!  Quite shocking and not what I expected at all, he comes into play quite frequently and the monsters they battle are a lot of fun.  The bad guy is established by the end of this volume and it also ends mid-battle scene creating the longing for the next volume.  Publishers have rated this T (13+) for "suggestive themes" which in this volume translates into the male adolescent's fascination with boobies. I thought those scenes were funny while the target audience may find them 'titilating'. Personally I agree with the rating and gave the book to my 13yo but this one may be a bit too risque in some parents' opinion.  I'm really looking forward to more of this series; it promises to be a lot of fun.  At this point Aladdin is reminding me of Dragonball's Son Goku with his cuteness and attitude.

Friday, October 25, 2013

318. Dragonball (3-in-1) Vol. 2: Collects Vol. 4-5-6 by Akira Toriyama

Dragonball (3-in-1) Vol. 2 by Akira Toriyama
Dragonball, Vol. 4, 5, 6

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sept 3, 2013, Viz media, 576 pgs

Age: 13+

"Son Goku has made it to the Tenka’ichi Budokai, the world’s number-one martial arts tournament, where the competitors vie for the title of “Strongest Under the Heavens.” Goku may have strength on his side, but even the training of martial arts master Kame- Sen’nin hasn’t prepared him for what he’s about to face.

Only seven finalists remain, each with their own special moves. Will the champion be Goku? His fellow student Kuririn? Yamcha, the master of “Fist of the Wolf Fang”? Fighting woman Ran Fuan? Giran, a rubbery monster who’s part dinosaur? Namu, an Indian mystic? Or Jackie Chun, the mysterious old man who may be the toughest fighter of all?"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Vol. 4: Strongest Under the Heavens (1986) - Pure comedy!  Hilarious, with just a teensy bit of girl-ogling. LOL.  Loved this volume which was pure action as Goku and Kuririn participate in the strongest under the heavens competition which of course finished with Goku in the finales.  We are pretty sure he is about to win as this volume ends.  I really enjoyed one of the contestants, a desert peasant named Namu, would be pleased to see him return in a future volume.  (5/5)

Vol. 5 - The Red Ribbon Army (1987) - Another fantastic issue!  The final battle takes some time finishing and the outcome is never clear until the final satisfying round.  Then our gang splits up and Goku is back on the search for his Grandfather's dragonball.  He does find a dragonball but not the one he wanted and comes across more bad guys under the name of the Red Ribbon Army.  Goku promises to rescue the town's mayor from them in the hopes of finding his GF's dragonball.  Goku makes a whole new set of enemies as he head's towards vol. 6! (5/5)

Vol. 6 - Bulma Returns (1987) - So much happens in this volume!  The fight started at the end of last volume is finished.  Goku meets a wonderful new character who resembles Frankenstein.  Just loved him!  And the big "boss" f8ght before rescuing the mayor is pretty cool!  Then comes the new story arc as Goku goes to find Bulma for some help and finally she is back in the story!  We also meet up with Lunch again as she has a brief cameo.  I had totally forgotten about her (she's not even in the character pic at the beginning of the book) and I'd loved her so much!  Great story now anyways as Bulma, Goku and Kuririn set off looking for the next dragonball wile being hunted by the Red Army.  Sequences also shift back to the Old Master on the Island as he is going to be in trouble too and the book ends at a cliff hanging moment.  This volume was a pure rush!  I love these characters!  (5/5)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

317. Monsuno Combat Chaos: Revenge/Sacrifice by Brian Smith & Cory Levine

Monsuno Combat Chaos: Revenge/Sacrifice by Brian Smith & Cory Levine. Art by Erwin Prasetya, Angga Prateyawan, Alfa Robbi & Maurizio Campidelli
Monsuno Combat Chaos, Volume 2

Rating: (3/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sept 3, 2013, Perfect Square/vizmedia, 64 pgs

Age: 8+

"A traitor in Dr. Moto’s ranks has Chase, Bren, Jinja and Dax in their clutches. Trapped in an underground lab with mutant Monsunos, our team must survive Dr. Moto’s Revenge! Plus, a new fierce battle brings back memories for Beyal about the past and Chase’s missing dad, Jeredy Suno!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This volume starts of with a list of characters and a "Story So Far' which I always appreciate in my series.  I like Brian Smith but was not too taken with the first in this series though I did decide to give the second volume a shot before making a decision on it.  Unfortunately, again, I just didn't find this interesting or entertaining.  A bunch of battling and the first story seems completely random from the second one.  The second story at least does bring the plot together and the search for Chase's father is now firmly established as the main goal at this point.  Smith wrote the first story then he has passed on the reins, leaving Cory Levine to write the second (and better one).  The series then continues on without Smith as Volume three has again another author.  I much prefer these series when written by one continuous author such as the Voltron series which was very good and would be enjoyed by those interested in this type of book.  I won't be continuing on with Monsuno.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

310. Mind MGMT, Vol. 2: The Futurist by Matt Kindt.

The Futurist by Matt Kindt. Foreword by Scott Snyder
Mind MGMT, Vol. 2

Rating: (4/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct. 22 2013, Dark Horse, 184 pgs

Age: 16+  

"We’ve learned some of the secrets of Henry Lyme; now get ready to meet the rest of Mind Management! With the remains of the Management attempting to reform and hot on Lyme’s tail, the former spy is forced to seek help from other defectors around the globe, including the deadly Futurist, Duncan! Meanwhile, losing her memory has barely slowed journalist Meru down, as an attempt on her life puts her back on the hunt for Mind Management—and on a collision course with the terrible truths Lyme has hidden from her! Collecting MIND MGMT #7–#12, plus stories from Dark Horse Presents and i09!"  

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

Volume One was absolutely fantastic with its thrilling ride of a story and I had high expectations for Volume 2 which were almost lived up to.  I really enjoyed this but it just didn't have the thrills or twists of the first one.  However, it continues to be a great story.  We meet a whole bunch more of the mind management agents and now have a team, so to speak.  They feel a bit like superheroes in that each has a special power but they are not heroes at all and none of them are even "good guys"; they are all rather ambiguous characters which keeps the tension taught as we never know what moves a character will make.  The theme of this book is to let out the whole story behind Mind MGMT while meeting the new characters.  The big reveal at the ending involves how Meru exactly fits into all this.  It's a great reveal, even though I saw it coming.  Now that we have the quasi- good and bad guys, I look forward to seeing the direction the plot takes in the third volume.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

316. Binky: License to Scratch by Ashley Spires

Binky: License to Scratch by Ashley Spires
Binky, #5

Rating: (2.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sept 1, 2013, Kids Can Press, 64 pgs

Age: 7+

"Binky the space cat and his team of space pets are left at the vet's office while their humans are away. Binky plans an escape, only to stumble on a secret experiment that could give vicious aliens the upper hand! It's up to Binky and his friends to save the humans ... and themselves!

Binky: License to Scratch is the final book in the Binky Adventure series, where dry humour and sci-fi slapstick are mixed with lots of heart."

Received an ecopy from the publisher through Edelweiss.

I'm a big fan of Binky and always look forward to his latest adventure but have to say for the first time I was disappointed.  The story just didn't hold up.  Honestly, it was lame.  The usual familiar pet things that make you go 'aww' or laugh were missing.  The only times I laughed here were from the butt jokes: the thermometre at the vet and the farts.  The title doesn't even make sense.  Oh boy, for the advertised last book in this series what a let down!  

R.I.P. Lou Scheimer

1928-2013
"Emmy-winning animation giant Lou Scheimer, founder of Filmation Studios, which produced toon series including “Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and even the animated version of “Star Trek,” died Thursday (Oct. 17, 2013). He was 84. The cause of death was not revealed, but Scheimer had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had had quadruple bypass heart surgery." variety.com I just heard of Lou's death and loved his work so much!  I reviewed his memoirs earlier this year and highly recommend the book.  I'm re-posting that review today.


Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation by Lou Scheimer with Andy Mangels
(5/5)
(US) - (Canada)
Nov. 7, 2012, TwoMorrows Publishing, 288 pgs
Age: 18+
"Hailed as one of the fathers of Saturday morning television, Lou Scheimer was the co-founder of Filmation Studios, which for over 25 years provided animated excitement for TV and film. Always at the forefront, Scheimer’s company created the first DC cartoons with Superman, Batman, and Aquaman, ruled the song charts with The Archies, kept Trekkie hope alive with the Emmy-winning Star Trek: The Animated Series, taught morals with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and swung into high adventure with Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro.  Forays into live-action included Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis, plus ground-breaking special effects work on Jason of Star Command and others. And in the 1980s, Filmation single-handedly caused the syndication explosion with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and its successors. Now, with best-selling co-author Andy Mangels, Lou Scheimer tells the entire story, including how his father decked Adolf Hitler, memories of the comic books of the Golden Age, schooling with Andy Warhol, and what it meant to lead the last all-American animation company through nearly thirty years of innovation and fun! Profusely illustrated with photos, model sheets, storyboards, presentation art, looks at rare and unproduced series, and more — plus hundreds of tales about Filmation’s past, and rare Filmation-related art by Bruce Timm, Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Phil Jimenez, Frank Cho, Gene Ha, and Mike McKone — this book shows the Filmation Generation the story behind the stories!"
A thoroughly intoxicating book for my generation which grew up with these children's shows.  Basically I'm in the middle age group here, being too young for the '60s shows, though I did see some of them in reruns.  The seventies were definitely my hey-day of Saturday TV-morning cartoons and when it comes to the 80s shows I'm not quite as familiar with them but had my exposure due to babysitting; especially with one little "He-Man" freak-a-zoid boy.. I learned to play He Man action figures while we watched the videos! Lots of memories came back reading this book and Lou comes across as a super-nice person.  Someone with traditional moral values, who took his work seriously in an age that wanted children's programming to be meaningful not just entertaining.  Lou is a character, he has some behind the scene tales to tell and asks you to make sure the children leave the room first, he uses * for vowels when he must use swear words when repeating conversations.  He has plenty of nice things to say about those he worked with even when the relationship ended badly.  Of course, he's not an angel and he didn't get along with everybody, used the word "jerk' a few times but otherwise refuses to talk about the negativity of these people.  They existed in such n such a role in his life, he was a jerk, let's move forward.  Lou is an old-time classy guy so you won't find any dirt-dishing here. But what you will find is a treasure trove of detailed information on how Filmation started and what went on behind the scenes at the studios and on the sets of the live action shows.  Not only is it a history of Filmation , the company, but also a broader history of the Saturday morning cartoon industry itself.I learned so much information about some of my favourite childhood shows but I also learned tremendous amounts of what went into the animation process before the computer took over.  How many shows were developed compared to the ones that got approved and made.  I would have really liked to have seen their version of Buck Rogers come to fruition.  Lou was a family man, married for almost 60 years before widowed, with two children who joined him in the studio and a daughter who literally followed in his shoe steps career-wise.  Amazingly, the book took me a long time to read; it seems deceptively short at only 288 pages, but this is a large coffee table size book and while it has a nice collection of photos and pictures to look at the text is dense, informative, fascinating and I often went back to re-read sections.  Lou has a simple down to earth writing style that is very entertaining to read and he seems just like one of the guys rather than a big wig studio executive. For those of you who can't place what Filmation created let me list some of my favourites: Star Trek: The Animated Series; He Man, Shazam!, Isis, Flash Gordon and Fantastic Voyage; and not my favourites  but the company's biggies were The Archies and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.


 





Sunday, October 20, 2013

314. The Unkindness of Ravens by J. Torres & Faith Erin Hicks

The Unkindness of Ravens by J. Torres. Art by Faith Erin Hicks
Bigfoot Boy, 2

Rating: (3/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sept 1, 2013, Kids Can Press, 100 pgs

Age: 7+  

"Another weekend at Grammy's, another weekend of Rufus using his magic totem to transform himself into Bigfoot Boy! But when you're big, hairy and loud, it's hard to keep your powers a secret, especially when there are trickster ravens that want the magic for themselves.

You won't want to miss this second rrrawesome adventure of Bigfoot Boy and his friends!" 

Received an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss.

A common term for a group of ravens is an "unkindness" of ravens and in this title there is, of course, a play upon those words as "the bad guys" in this volume are ravens.  The very first page is a beautiful piece of art from Hicks, the likes of which we've never seen from her before.  It is a nature scene with animals and quite a stunning opening page.  Hick's artwork is broadening out in this volume, moving away from her character driven style and incorporating animals, both anthropomorphically and realistically along with nature scenes.  A different style for her but she keeps her characters in the form we are used to and pulls off the rest nicely.  I enjoyed the first "Bigfoot Boy" volume more than this one.  Here the story was simply about the ravens trying to steal Rufus' totem and he and his gang of friends trying to get it back.  It's all over the place and actually ends without a resolution on a cliffhanger note with the words "to be continued".  I'm not terribly impressed with Torres writing or plotting here but I will read the next volume to see how Hicks art develops in this new turn towards animals and nature. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

312. The Masks, Vol. 1 by Chris Roberson.

The Masks, Vol. 1 by Chris Roberson. Art by Alex Ross & Dennis Calero

The Masks, Vol. 1
Dynamite's Masked Men 'Verse

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Sept 10, 2013, Dynamite Entertainment, 200 pgs

Age: 16+  

"Before Superheroes, there were Masks! The Shadow. The Green Hornet and Kato. The Spider. In 1938, these masked vigilantes operated outside the law, working independently to
strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. But when the corrupt politicians of the Justice Party transform New York into a fascist state run by mobsters, when an oppressive regime grants jack-booted stormtroopers free rein to imprison, extort, and execute the innocent, when the law itself becomes unjust - justice must be served by outlaws! Outnumbered and outgunned, the legendary vigilantes emerge from the shadows to fight, joined by Zorro, the Green Lama, Miss Fury, Black Terror, and the Black Bat! Nine renowned pulp heroes, brought together for the first time in an epic conflict of Law vs. Justice!".  

Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

I love these old-time "superheroes" before powers became part of the deal.  I'm familiar with several of these characters from old b/w movies and serials from I guess the 30s/40s.  I've read vol. 1 of The Spider and loved it, have heard of The Shadow, Green Hornet and Zorro.  The others grouped here are new to me as far as I can remember.  I love superhero team-ups so had a lot of fun with this group though I didn't enjoy it as much as I had expected to.  Unfortunately, with so many heroes there just wasn't enough space to develop any of the characters.  Since The Shadow and Green Hornet/Kato start off in Chapter 1 it is given them the most coverage through the book and I would certainly look into reading Dynamite's "Shadow" series as he totally intrigues.  I've never been a fan of the Hornet or Kato but here Kato was given the starring role with GH always in the background.  I just loved Kato!  Almost everytime he appears he's in the middle of a fight with "karate chop" leg extended about 170 degrees.  All the other characters were gradually introduced until Chapter 6 of 8 we finally have them all and are shown a visual chart with all their names.  The story was realistic being a typical tale of a psycho wanting to take over the world starting with New York City, then Washington DC.  The art was fantastic, especially Alex Ross' first chapter which was almost life-like in portrayal.  Calero did a good job of continuing the style.  I did enjoy this but it is probably going to be more fun for readers familiar with more of the 8 "Masks" than I was.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

FREE PDF of Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops


Mozchops, the author/artist of Salsa Invertebraxa, has announced that the PDF of his graphic novel is now FREELY available.  This link will take you directly to the file

...Seen through the compound eyes of two tiny companions, Salsa Invertebraxa is an epic adventure set in an imaginary world full of discovery and wonder... 

With antennae listening out for the armies competing for dominance on the forest floor, two friends encounter strange new species of insect among surreal gardens of terrestrial delights. By nightfall, their mischief takes on a mysterious and foreboding turn as they attempt to steal eggs from monstrous super-predators, disturbing the fragile tranquillity of this bizarre Eden. Salsa Invertebraxa is a magical window into a beautiful and strange paradise...

I reviewed this book last year and felt under qualified to do it justice.  The art is absolutely tremendous, but the text is poetry/verse which left me baffled.  So while I gave the book a low rating.  I give it top marks for art and think that someone who enjoys verse and appreciates poetry will get much more from it than I did.  The book is truly gorgeous. Visit the book's website here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

308. Neon Genesis Evangelion (3-in-1) Vol. 4 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Neon Genesis Evangelion (3-in-1) Vol. 4 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Neon Genesis Evangelion (Vol. 10, 11, 12)

Rating: (4/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

2007, 2008, 2011; Aug 13, 2013, vizmedia, 576 pgs

Age: 16+  

"Once Shinji didn’t care about anything; then he found people to fight for—only to learn that he couldn’t protect them, or keep those he let into his heart from going away. As mankind tilts on the brink of the apocalyptic Third Impact, human feelings are fault lines leading to destruction and just maybe, redemption and rebirth.".  

Received a review copy from Simon & Shuster Canada.

Vol. 10 - I love this series soooo much!  Awesome science fiction!  I could read this whole book in one sitting but I'm going to make myself read one volume a day to make it last ... As we near the end of the series lots of revelations going on, pure adrenaline throughout.  The mystery of Rei is finally revealed.  She is probably my favourite manga character ever  Only thing I didn't like was the small introduction of a bit of homo-eroticism in this volume as the series hasn't been anything like that otherwise. (4/5)

Vol. 11 - Deeper and deeper into the true meaning of it all here.  Tons of biblical allusions, but it is all warped and while based on creation (adam & eve) and resurrection it is all so mixed-up from its roots that it has no allegorical meanings.  Christians will get all the allusions though.  This is the end of the fifth child.  He was just plain weird and I didn't get his role at all (I haven't watched the anime).  Shinji is miserable as he's basically on his own now but behind the scenes people in charge are turning against NERV and Shinji's Dad, while NERV has finally had their fill of Shinji's Dad.  Tons happening, lots of action and character insight as the whole third impact dawns near, or will it be averted?  (4/5)

Vol. 12 - Absolutely amazing!  Asuka is back, kicking butt.  Shinji learns the truth but can he pull himself together to do what is right.  Best moment in the whole book is when Shinji gets a real kiss from an unexpected person.  Loved it!  Death abounds though and there are some sad moments and what a cliffhanging ending!  (5/5)

Monday, October 14, 2013

307. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Vol. 16 by Hiroshi Shiibashi

Rikuo's Declaration by Hiroshi Shiibashi
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Vol. 16)

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Aug 6, 2013, vizmedia, 192 pgs

Age: 13+  

"Rikuo takes action to cement himself as the Third Heir to the Nura clan as Nurarihyon prepares to officially hand the mantle of power over to him. The political move will change the landscape of the yokai power structure, and could grant Rikuo’s friends higher positions than they ever dreamed! But new responsibility brings new problems and breeds new discontent.".  

Received a review copy from Simon & Shuster Canada.

This is a great volume story wise and an important one.  The Kyoto storyline ends here.  We have the birth, major battles and back stories from the past about Rikuo's father.  The second half of the book is even better as it takes up a fresh perspective focusing on Tsurara and her exploits as she gathers a team of followers and finally the book ends with the beginning of a new arc featuring an extremely creepy and scary enemy nicknamed "The Ripper".  My most favourite book of recent volumes.  Fantastic cliffhanging ending!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

304. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 14 by Hiroyuki Asada

A Letter From Mother by Hiroyuki Asada
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 14

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Aug 6, 2013, vizmedia, 192 pgs

Age: 13+ 

"As Bees and ex-Bees alike gather in Yuusari, the rampage of the unstoppable Gaichuu Cabernet continues—and heart attacks only seem to make it more powerful. As it absorbs the attacks, Cabernet keeps morphing into stranger and more sinister forms. Meanwhile, a tragic accident triggers a different kind of transformation in Niche"…

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This is an action-filled volume with lots of battle and several shocking developments.  The volume's title gives away the return of someone who hasn't made an appearance since book one and the other developments are also quite exciting.  Everything is gearing up for finally getting into the secrets of the planet and the man-made sun.  However, this volume mostly concentrates on the recently ongoing battle with Cabernet but also has the return of several other Gaichuu which haven't been around for a while.  It is also cast heavy as almost everyone we know makes an appearance of some sort.  A fast read due to the emphasis on action and the shocks make it a worthwhile development of the plot.  This is still one of my favourite ongoing manga series at the moment.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

303. Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 10 by Kiiro Yumi

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 10 by Kiiro Yumi
Library Wars, Vol. 10

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Aug 6, 2013, vizmedia, 192 pgs

Age: 16+ 

"The Media Betterment Committee has censored an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Iku’s hometown! Iku’s top-ranked Library Forces team must train the local troops to defend the freedom of speech using any means necessary…but the librarians there resent her position and aren’t shy about making their feelings known. Soon Iku’s parents catch wind of her secret life as a member of the Library Forces, with disastrous results!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This volume gets back to the sci-fi element of the plot and deals with Iku's relationship with her parents as the team is sent to her home town to work on a censorship issue at the library there.  I mentioned a couple of books ago that I was ready for more action here, rather than just the romance angle so was well-pleased to enjoy this story. Iku and Dojo's relationship plays only a small part here but it is fun to watch them be together at this awkward stage.  I love it when Dojo calls her "blockhead" like he used to in the past but this time it seems like a term of endearment.  I'm glad this series is managing to keep the censorship plot going along with the side stories.  The book ends in the middle of the action keeping us anxious for the next book which unfortunately we'll have to wait for until April 2014!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

302. Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 2 art by Mizuki Sakakibara



Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 2 art by Mizuki Sakakibara
Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 2

Rating: (3.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

July 9, 2013, vizmedia, 192 pgs

Age:10+ 

"Kotetsu and Barnaby are the first NEXT superhero duo, but they’ve got a few differences to overcome if they’re going to learn to work together. A reality TV show intruding into their daily lives doesn’t help, but a bomb threat just might get them to cooperate. Then a misguided surprise party leads to a NEXT-involved diamond heist!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

I adored Vol. 1 and was a little disappointed with this one as it wasn't very funny, while I found vol. 1 hilarious.  Vol. 2 takes a different turn and spends more time on character development, especially Bunny.  Through flashbacks we get to know about his past which ends up being a vital plot point as it leads to the plot of vol. 3.  We also get to know more about Wild Tiger's home life and his daughter.  The duo has some major clashes and at this point I like them both.  Tiger is older, more mature and taking it all in his stride.  Bunny has real personality issues but the peep into his past makes me more forgiving.  Bunny's nickname is firmly affixed by the end of this volume.  There is also a major case that all of the superheroes turn up for involving a bad guy made out of diamonds, here the duo learns that teamwork actually pays off.  Heroes Blue Rose and Fire Emblem are given some character time also.  The publisher rating (13+) is over cautious and I'm still recommending for 10+; there are a couple of mild swear words.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

286. Louis L'Amour's Law of the Desert Born: Graphic Novel by Charles Santino

Louis L'Amour's Law of the Desert Born: Graphic Novel by Charles Santino. Art by Thomas Yeates. Afterword by Beau L'Amour.

Rating: (5/5)

(Kindle) - (US) - (Canada) - (UK)

Oct 8, 2013, Bantam/Random, 160 pgs

Age: 18+

"The first graphic novel adaptation of the work of master storyteller Louis L’Amour is a dynamic tale of the Old West that explores the borderlands of loyalty and betrayal with the emotional grittiness of a noir thriller.

New Mexico, 1887, a land in the midst of the worst drought anyone can remember. Family histories and loyalties run deep, but when rancher Tom Forrester has his access to the Pecos River cut off by the son of his old partner, he convinces his foreman, Shad Marone, to pay Jud Bowman back for the discourtesy. Yet what starts as a simple act of petty revenge quickly spirals into a cycle of violence that no one can control.

Now Marone is on the run, pursued by a sheriff’s posse across a rugged desert landscape. Leading the chase is Jesus Lopez, a half-Mexican, half-Apache with a personal stake in bringing Shad to justice. Newly released from jail, trusted by no one, Lopez swears he’s the only man who can track Marone down. That may be true. But who will live and who will die and what price will be paid in suffering are open questions. Fate and the Jornada del Muerto desert possess a harsh justice that is all their own.

With a propulsive script from Beau L’Amour and Kathy Nolan, adapted by Charles Santino and illustrated in bold black-and-white by Thomas Yeates, Law of the Desert Born captures the dust and blood of Louis L’Amour’s West—a world where the difference between a hero and a villain can be as wide as the gap between an act of kindness or brutality or as narrow as a misspoken word."

Received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

I love myself a good western but never seem to read them much anymore.  I absolutely loved this atypical form of the classic western.  Based on a short story set in the 1880's, the good guy and the bad guy are hard to differentiate.  The story starts off with a crime and the Sheriff and his posse going after the men, but quite soon all is not as it seems as the tale is told backwards and justice turns to vengeance.  The ending is certainly a wild west ideal of redemption and it leaves the reader to mull over, or debate with others, just who was betrayed the most and who actually was in the wrong.  Incredible black and white art with intricately detailed background and emotional close-ups of facial features especially shown in the eyes. A masterpiece both in story and art that complements the mood.  Impressive!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

298. Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft edited by Tom Pomplun

Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft edited by Tom Pomplun

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1997, 2007 . Eureka Productions, 144 pgs

Age: 10+ 

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth — one of HPL's greatest stories, adapted by Alex Burrows, and illustrated by Simon Gane
• Dreams in the Witch-House — witchcraft, mathematics and a talking rat by Rich Rainey and Pedro Lopez
• Sweet Ermengarde — a rare Lovecraft comedy, scripted by Rod Lott, and illustrated by Kevin Atkinson
And returning from the first edition:
• Herbert West: Reanimator — presented in four chapters by Richard Corben, Rick Geary, J.B. Bonivert and Mark A. Nelson
• The Cats of Ulthar — illustrated by Lisa K. Weber
• The Terrible Old Man — illustrated by Onsmith Jeremi
• The Shadow Out of Time — adapted and illustrated by Matt Howarth
• Plus illustrations by Jim Nelson, Gerry Alanguilan, Skot Olsen, Maxon Crumb, and a terrific cover painting by Italian artist Giorgio Comolo"

Borrowed a copy from the library through Inter-Library Loan.

I went into this one a little hesitantly as Lovecraft and I have not got along too well up to this point.  I have only read a handful of his stories, here and there, as found in anthologies.  This is actually the first time I've read a collection specifically of him.  In the past I just really didn't "get" his stories, or really understand why he was so well-loved.  I did read one recently that I loved, though.  I had already discovered DC Comics homage to Lovecraft in the naming of their Asylum,  Arkham Asylum, and here we find a collection of stories that all take place, if not in, then near, Arkham, Massachusetts.  This is a fabulous collection of tales and just perfect for the Lovecraftian newcomer as I can attest.  I loved every one of them.  None of the illustrations particularly jumped out at me to be of particular note; however, they are all well done and by artists from "Graphic Classics" usual stable: Matt Howarth, Lisa K. Weber, Onsmith Jeremi, etc. and Rick Geary even puts in a short piece.  A fantastic read and a great introduction to Lovecraft.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

297. Illustrated Classics: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells by Rick Geary

Illustrated Classics: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells by Rick Geary.
Illustrated Classics (#2)

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1991, 2008, Papercutz, 56 pgs

Age: 10+


"One of the most gripping of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction sagas, “The Invisible Man” is the story of a brilliant young scientist who impetuously experiments upon himself, and then becomes invisible and mad, imprisoned in a nightmare of his own making. A spellbinding and unforgettable fantasy, it also provides a lesson in the calamity that can result when knowledge is used toward a corrupt end. Eisner-Award winner Rick Geary’s artwork captures the tragedy and irony of Wells’ fascinating tale."


Borrowed a copy from the library through Inter-Library Loan.

Another fine entry in this series by one of the masters of graphic art! I've always been a fan of this story, though it has been many, many years since I read it. Since then I've seen the movie versions and just recently read another graphic novel adaptation which brought the main ideas of the original come back to the forefront of my mind. Geary here has written a true to the original story, putting uch emphasis on the professor's already shaky state of mind when he arrives at this small village. the plot plays out well for any classic horror tale where the village is slowly incensed and incited to riot, the monster (in this case the unknown, unbelievable invisible man) is forced to flee and in doing so creates even more damage and havoc. The Invisible man here offers no sympathy though; he is a strange youthful scientist who took things way too far and created an invention for the purposes of evil. at which time his own evilness finds it convenient to start showing its own face. Geary's work is wonderful on this one and I actually like the invisible man in colour as it makes him much more visible and real. The conclusion to the chaos ends as it must but is bittersweet with a slightly humorous twist at the end! Wells' works do well when abbreviated for the graphic format. I must go back and re-read some of Wells in the not too distant future.