Thursday, January 30, 2014

32. Dragon Ball (3-in-1), Vol. 3 by Akira Toriyama

Dragon Ball (3-in-1), Vol. 3 by Akira Toriyama  (buy)
Dragon Ball (Vol. 7-8-9)

Rating: (5/5)

Dec 3 2013, VIZ Media, 568 pgs

Ages: (13+) T

"The World’s Most Evil Crime Organization
You do not want to mess with the Red Ribbon Army. To get what they want, they’ll sic you with scary thugs, machine-gun fire and even torpedoes! Only Son Goku would think nothing of challenging this evil crime organization—anything to get back the one Dragon Ball his grandfather gave him.
As the Red Ribbon Army closes in on Goku and his friends, Goku must face an array of opponents while preventing all seven Dragon Balls from falling into evil hands. First, there’s cruel General Blue, who has a mysterious power up his sleeve. Then there’s master assassin Taopaipai, so strong that Goku’s blasts barely faze him. But neither of these opponents compare to the masked challenger Goku faces at Baba Uranai’s—he’ll give Goku the shock of his life!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Vol. 7: General Blue and the Pirate Treasure:  Son Goku, how many ways do I love thee?  Heehee.  I have so much fun reading Dragon ball, I feel like a kid!!  All the usual stuff here: humour, action, battle, escapades.  The Red Ribbon Army is still after our friends trying to get their dragon balls and the dragon radar.  General Blue goes after them personally here and ends up physically fed up with Goku.  The best parts of this volume were the interactions between Blue and our heroes.  Not only do our friends retrieve another dragon ball (making 5/7) they stumble upon Pirate Treasure.  By the end Goku is separated from the others and off to find the next Dragon Ball on his own. (5/5)

Vol. 8: Taopaipai and Master Karin - Oh boy, this was a great volume!  The plot is really getting good now.  Things with the Red Ribbon Army get really intense and there is a lot of dying in the battles this time around.  I'm quite sad actually because someone I like dies, without much fanfare, and I was shocked!  I actually still can't believe it's real, thinking it will turn out not to be true but someone has effectively taken that person's role, so to speak.  Yes, I'm being cryptic on purpose :-)   Goku has never had a wish for the Dragon balls up to this point but in this volume he finally finds a wish worth wishing for. (5/5)

Vol. 9: Test of the All-Seeing Crone:  This could be called a segue volume as the story switches from the last story arc to a new one.  So while the end of this volume sets the scene for the next villains, the majority of this one takes our heroes on a sidetrip to visit the crone where, guess what?, they are tested and engaged in battle!  This is a really fun episode and has our guys battling a series of of "monsters" from classic horror films starting with Dracula.  There is a lot of good humour, as the last volume was pretty intense, making this light-hearted and fun and the stage is set for the next story arc as we finish the book. (4/5) 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

30. Ghosted Vol. 1: Haunted Heist by Joshua Williamson

Ghosted Vol. 1: Haunted Heist by Joshua Williamson. Art by Goran Sudzuka   (buy)
Ghosted (Vol. 1)

Rating: (5/5)

Dec 17 2013, Image Comics, 144 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"Jackson T. Winters is one of the greatest criminal masterminds to ever live…except he’s rotting in jail after his last doomed score. But when a filthy rich collector breaks Winters out, he’s tasked to put together an elite team of paranormal experts to do the impossible: steal a ghost from a haunted house of horrors!

Skybound’s horror/crime mash-up is equal parts Ocean’s 11 and The Shining, by writer JOSHUA WILLIAMSON (MASKS AND MOBSTERS, Captain Midnight) and artist GORAN SUDZUKA (OUTLAW NATION, Y: The Last Man)!

Collects GHOSTED #1-5."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I loved this!  It is being compared to Ocean's 11 meets The Shining which are pretty big shoes to fill but it is a fair comparison.  This is a haunted mansion story, with long empty corridors that  have doors opening to who knows where (ala The Shining) and Jackson T. Winters is a brilliant criminal who gathers together his own eclectic crew members to pull off the heist (ala Ocean's 11).  I loved the story; it was a solid, entertaining ghost/horror story with a twist ending.  But I especially liked the characters, the crew, and that  not everyone makes it out alive.  With this being volume 1, I thought this story would continue on but it appears this will be Winters first "case" in his new strange profession.  The ending gives us no clue as to where Winters will go next but I'm looking forward to seeing where this progresses.  Will he call back the old crew or will he have to gather a new crew for the particulars of the next case?  

Monday, January 27, 2014

29. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Vol. 18

The Golden Age of Edo by Hiroshi Shiibashi  (buy)
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Vol. 18)

Rating: (5/5)

Dec 3 2013, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Ages: (13+) T

"Harken back with us to the Golden Age of Edo, when Rikuo’s father Rihan first takes control of the Nura clan. Gain new perspectives on Rikuo’s family history, as well as the backstory on some of your favorite devilish yokai (including that pesky Demon Lord Gorozaemon Sanmoto). Follow Rihan’s second-heir adventures as he learns the hard way that controlling, commanding and battling yokai is not to be taken lightly, lest you be the one who's taken."

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This series has always been good but the last few volumes and the current story arc are awesome!  I love the Hundred Stories Clan; they are the best bad guys yet!  This volume takes us into the past and tells us a tale of Rikuo's father, Rihan, and his dealings with the 100 Stories Clan.  Some pretty awesome stuff going on here.  It's weird how Rikuo is so serious when he has such prankster jerks for a father and grandfather though.  I've never liked Rihan from his appearances so far but by the end of this he grew on me a bit.  Aaaand ... Aotaba is back!  He's just a minor little character but he's one of my favourite Yokais.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

21. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 3 by Shinobu Ohtaka

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 3 by Shinobu Ohtaka  (buy)
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 3

Rating: (4/5)

Dec 10 2013, VIZ Media, 192 pgs

Ages: (13+) T

"Aladdin finds himself among the Kouga tribe, who live deep in the desert far from Qishan. An emissary from the Kou Empire arrives offering peace, but when it turns out to be an offer they can't refuse, things take a turn for the worse. Aladdin learns more about the legend of the Magi and the Rukh, bird-like beings of light, with whom he appears to share a deep connection...."

Received a Review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

I loved this volume as it has a nice change of pace and place so soon into the series that I'm excited now Aladdin is on his way back home by the end.  First, it does bug me that Magi is not keeping "Character/Story So Far" opening pages.  I treasure those introductions as they quickly remind me exactly where we last left off and who is who! So just a bit of confusion for me as I adjust to where and how Aladdin is where he is.  This new Mongolian-type world was interesting and a war was on the verge of being fought.  Aladdin learns ever so much about himself, the Djinns, the Magi and the Rukh.  We go back into Aladdin's past and learn more about him from that and we are given a glimpse of another Magi and what he does.  But rather than go meet this other Magi Aladdin decides to go back home to find Alibaba because he thinks he knows what is expected of him.  However, the last chapters switch back to the slave girl met in book 1 and the dire situation she finds herself in now.  Lots of action, battle, plot, characterization and intrigue to keep you excited for the next volume.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

388. Will o' the Wisp: An Aurora Grimeon Story by Tom Hammock

Backing up a bit here.  This is the last book I reviewed in 2013 that hasn't been posted yet.  

Will o' the Wisp: An Aurora Grimeon Story by Tom Hammock. Art by Megan Hutchinson (buy)

Rating: (5/5)

Jan. 21 2014, Archaia Entertainment, 216 pgs

Age: (12+)

"After her parents’ accidental death by mushroom poisoning, young Aurora Grimeon is sent to live with her estranged grandfather on Ossuary Isle, deep in the southern swamps. Joined by her grandfather’s pet raccoon Missy, Aurora explores the fog-covered island of graves. Along the way she meets its sinister residents who care for the tombstones and mausoleums, living out their lives by the strange rules of Hoodoo magic. When ghostly things start happening out in the swamp and island residents start disappearing, Aurora thrusts herself into the middle of the mystery, uncovering secrets that might be better left buried."

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

Brilliant Southern Gothic tale of the paranormal that centres on Hoodoo.  Set in the swamps of Louisiana, this is a dark, creepy ghost story that had me hooked from the beginning.  Gorgeous artwork done in a cold palette of blues, greens and browns while the figures' bodies are drawn slightly askew, not quite realistic; both of which add to the atmosphere and mood.  Aurora is a compelling character as she is at first dismayed by her creepy new surroundings and grandfather but it doesn't take her long to fit right in to this place where she obviously has a genealogical connection.  Her little sidekick, the precocious raccoon Missy, while silent is an adorable partner. The story is spooky and quite unpredictable.  I really enjoyed this and the book ends leaving us with the feeling that we may hope to see a sequel and have another adventure of magic and mayhem with Aurora on Ossuary Isle.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

18. Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 06 by John Wagner & Allan Grant

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 06 by John Wagner & Allan Grant (buy)
Judge Dredd Universe: Collects Progs 271-321

Rating: (5/5)

Aug 13 2013, 2000AD, 336pgs

Ages: (13+)

"The Complete Case Files series is a chronological collection of all of Judge Dredd's adventures. This book collects some of his most famous cases inlcuding Trapper Hag and the Starborn Thing.

In Mega-City One Judge Dredd is the Law. From Trapper Hag to the Starborn Thing no perp escapes the instant justice he dispenses with an iron fist. Now in this sixth volume of his collected adventures you’ll meet some of Dredd’s most bizarre adversaries yet!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

By this point we are really into the good stuff.  Starting off with the after affects of the Apocalypse War, Mega-City One is being put back together slowly but surely throughout this whole volume.  Dredd has to go into the Cursed Earth quite a few times so we have mutie and radiation problems.  Vilins he meets up with include introduction of Trapper Hagg, the Fatties, and the Starborn Thing along with the resurrection of Mean Machine.  Shanty Town is finally taken over by the Judges and Dredd's partner most of the time is future Chief Judge Barbara Hershey.  Almost all the stories are longer serial runs with serious storylines.  There are only a few one-shots and two-parters.  Other than the Fatties story I don't recall much cheesiness; there were several monsters of the radiation type, a good showing of muties (I love them!) and a couple of aliens to make a very exciting variety of bad guys added to the usual city thugs.  Lots of criminals were sent to the cubes so I won't be surprised to see some of them return in the future.  No epic story arcs in this volume but really heavy on the justice and fighting crime.  Loved it!  Next volume will be out soon!  Yeah!

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Piece Vol. 4-6 by Eiichiro Oda

14. One Piece, Vol. 4: The Black Cat Pirates by Eiichiro Oda (buy)
One Piece, Vol. 4

Rating: (4/5)

2004, VIZ Media, 208 pgs

Ages: (10+) T

"Captain Kuro of the Black Cat Pirates was the most feared evil genius on the high seas...until he vanished. Most people believe he's dead, but only his crew knows the truth: Captain Kuro has been laying low in a small seaside village, posing as a mild-mannered butler until the time for pillage is just right. Now that time has come, and the ruthless Black Cat Pirates are about to attack...

Unless, of course, Monkey D.Luffy can stop them! All Luffy has on his side are the sword-wielding first mate, Zolo; his thieving navigator, Nami; Usopp, a local kid with a knack for telling lies; and his own bizarre rubber-limbed powers. If these four amateur pirates want to stop the entire Black Cat crew, they'll have to come up with a pretty slick plan...."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

The first three volumes didn't impress me much but I actually started to like the main characters with this volume and was involved in the plot.  First major bonus: no clowns!  Yeah!  Seriously, though, the villains here are good ones: Kuro and Django are pretty awesome and the battles were great.  The Meowban brothers added some humour to the fighting and there was all around humour in this volume that I genuinely enjoyed.  This is, shall we say, a very strange story, way out there in the weird zone but I've found my groove and like all the characters at this point and even find Usopp redeemed himself in my eyes, but I do hope he does not become a full-time member of the crew. LOL.  Everything has ended in the middle of a serious situation with battles mid-stream and Kaya running for her life; also to save the village.  This leaves us hanging mid-action and has me wanting to read Vol. 5.


15. One Piece, Vol. 5: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Eiichiro Oda (buy)
One Piece, Vol. 5

Rating: (4/5)

2004, VIZ Media, 200 pgs

Ages: (10+) T

"Once upon a time, Usopp was just a local boy with a talent for tall tales. Everyone in his little seaside village knew him as the joker who claimed to be a pirate captain and woke people up in the mornings by shouting "Pirates are coming!" But then real pirates landed on the beach…

Now Usopp's village is under attack by the Black Cat Pirates, one of the most legendary and feared crews on the high seas. And three young would-be pirates have joined him in defending the village: Nami the thief, Zolo the swordsman, and Luffy, the straw-hatted wannabe pirate with incredible rubber powers. Usopp is about to find out how an imaginary pirate stands up to the real thing… and what it means to be a real pirate. His neighbors would never believe it in a million years..."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

The story has hit is stride now for me.  This volume continues the story of the battle against Captain Kuro started in Vol. 4.  This plays out; we are given background material on the new characters; and let into Kuro's real dastardly objectives.  The battles continue and this storyline comes to an end. Unfortunately as I had hoped would not happen in the last volume Ussop does join our major characters as a member of the crew.  My favourite is Zolo though, and I just love him when he puts the bandanna thingie on his head, he looks so awesome!  The last few chapters start a new storyline as the crew sets out to sea again and several new characters are introduced; Luffy gets them in a bit of trouble and they find themselves in a situation which turns out to be more than it first appeared.  I'm enjoying this series now and glad I continued on past the first 3 volumes.  My son is also really into it now and actually wants to start buying the books instead of using the library, LOL.  He NEEDS them on his shelf, don't ya know.


16. One Piece, Vol. 6: The Oath by Eiichiro Oda (buy)
One Piece, Vol. 6

Rating: (4/5)

2005, VIZ Media, 188 pgs

Ages: (10+) T

"Luffy's pirates thought they were just stopping in for a quick bite...but now Luffy's been made a busboy on Baratie, the oceangoing restaurant, and it turns out some of the worst-mannered pirates on the Grand Line are just dying for a meal.

Always one to look on the bright side, Luffy sets his sights on Sanji, the smart-talking, skirt-chasing assistant chef on the Baratie, as the Merry Go's new cook. But it'll take more than a vicious pirate battle and a little sweet talking from Nami to convince him to leave the Baratie and join Luffy's team. His oath to feed any and all pirates in need keeps getting in the way. The question is: what do you do when the very same pirates you just fed now want to serve you up for dinner?."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

This book continues on with the new storyline just started in the last volume; some new characters are introduced, a new member joins the crew and sadly we lose a crew member as well.  I have a pretty good feeling this person will be back though.  The plot here is pretty silly but I have to say I liked it; the pirate chefs are a lot of fun and the Hawkeye character sets up a storyline that can be revisited in the future.  I had a rough start to this series but am now happily emerged in its wild and wacky world.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

11. Vinland Saga: Book One by Makoto Yukimura

Vinland Saga: Book One by Makoto Yukimura (buy)
Vinland Saga (vol. 1-2)

Rating: (5/5)

Oct 14 2013, Kodansha Comics, 470 pgs

Ages: (16+)

"As a child, Thorfinn sat at the feet of the great Leif Ericson and thrilled to wild tales of a land far to the west. But his youthful fantasies were shattered by a mercenary raid. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band's leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Throfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land, a land without war or slavery...the land Leif called Vinland.."

Purchased from a local bookstore.

I have not ever read a manga anything like this before.  An epic sweeping Viking historical fiction saga that reads like a novel.  Absolutely brilliant.  This English translation actually combines books 1 and 2 of the original Japanese giving us a magnificent starting volume.  Starting off in Thorfinn's present the reader is introduced to the situation he is currently to be found then the rest of the book goes back into the past to tell his father's story and how Thorfinn came to be the avenging youth he is today.  An epic story full of historical detail; Frankish, Dane, English battles with each other and the Vikings, pirates, mercenaries, and tales of exploration from Leif Ericson himself.  Since Ericson is a true historical figure it makes me wonder if any of the other characters, perhaps minor ones, are historically true, but I don't recognise any names and there are a lot of people passing through so I'm not about to look them all up.  Anyway.  An engrossing read that had me glued to the pages!  The art is astounding! The backgrounds are highly detailed and intricate making beautiful landscapes and scenes.  While most of the characters have the usual distinct manga facial features, the adult men are dawn more realistically and there are some panels which are wonderfully lifelike.  There is a lot of emotion and drama in the story and I finds myself already heavily committed to characters.  At the end of the book there is also a bonus story which is set in Edo period Japan and promises to continue in the next volume.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

8. Judge Dredd: Mutants in Mega-City One by John Wagner, Alan Grant

Judge Dredd: Mutants in Mega-City One by John Wagner, Alan Grant, etc. Art by Ian Gibson, Henry Flint, etc. (buy)
Judge Dredd Universe

Rating: (4/5)

Dec. 10 2013, 2000 AD, 224 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"MUTIES OUT! The great Atomic Wars of 2070 created a population of mutants who, due in part to their bizarre (and in most cases grotesque) deformities, have been denied citizenship in Mega-City One. Rejected by the prejudiced ‘norms’ and forcibly kept away from the city by the Judges, the mutants have had no choice but to live in the vast, radioactive wasteland known as the ‘Cursed Earth’. Harboring resentment and hatred against those that have exiled them, bands of mutants now prey on those that stray from behind the city walls – and sometimes even launch all-out attacks in a bid to gain entry to the Big Meg! This action-packed collection features classic encounters between Judge Dredd and mutantkind!"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

It's been a good nine months since I sunk my teeth into a good Judge Dredd collection and this made me feel right at home.  The focus in this collection is obviously the muties.  I love the mutants because the stories involving them remind me of the bar scene in the original Star Wars. LOL.  The book is mostly in colour but does start out with some early b/w comics. Spanning from 1977 to 2011 we do actually see character development of Dredd as he gets a conscience about the mutants.  Most of the book has stories when the mutants were confined to the Cursed Earth and these ones we often feel for the mutants rather than Dredd and the other Judges.  Then the last several stories take place after the muties have been allowed to become citizens and live in Mega-City One.  Dredd now, of course, has more compassion but we also see that whether mutie or norm, a criminal is a criminal.  I enjoyed this entire collection; most stories were serious with only a few bits of camp and cheese included for good old fun.  While I liked some more than others, the only one I didn't like was the last short one.  Fans will love this collection and it could make a good starter for newbies to the Dredd Universe.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

3-5: Chi's Home Sweet Home Vol. 1-2-3

3. Chi's Sweet Home, Vol. 1 by Konami Kanata - This is a re-read for me which I already reviewed on my mainstream book blog back in 2010.  You can read what I had to say about it then.  I'm re-reading now as I own the whole series and am just now getting to reading it.  I was very enthusiastic the first time and my opinion stays the same with this second read through.  Since my first read though I discovered this was first published in a Japanese men's magazine, making it seinen, aimed at adult men not children.  That's why it has that grown-up appeal I talked about in my original review.  Anybody can read this or have it read to them, from toddlers to senior citizens.  My rating stands the same with a solid 5/5. (buy)


4. Chi's Sweet Home, Vol. 2 by Konami Kanata - I'm re-reading this also so I can finally continue on with the whole series.  I originally read and reviewed it in 2011 and you can read my original review here.  My impressions are the same and I enjoyed it fully. Chi is endearing to all really, though I think there will be a certain amount of people who find it over the edge of syrupy sweet.  I'm the last person to like that type of stuff and kawaii is sooo not me, but Chi has captured my heart and I'm looking forward to the next volume where I think Blackie will become more of a character.  My rating still stands at 4/5. (buy)


5. Chi's Sweet Home, Vol. 3 by Konami Kanata (buy)
Chi's Sweet Home, (3)

Rating: (5/5)

Oct 19 2010, Vertical, 144 pgs

Ages: (7+)

"In the third volume of Chi's Sweet Home, Chi has made a new friend.  There is another cat in the neighborhood.  This cat is the very cat that the building manager considers to be a nuisance and the same one with a reward on his head.  The cat's name is Kuro; a giant of a feline.  All black and with a bit of an appetite, this cat has been known to not only sneak into people's yards but he has even been bold enough to enter some apartments searching for food. 

Chi's first encounter with Kuro back in volume two was not a positive one.  When the big cat one day walked up to the Yamada's back door, Chi was startled by its size.  Kuro is so big, Chi could not even tell it is also a cat!  Chi thought it was some new beast altogether.  So when Youhei sees the new cat he immediately panics as he tries to protect his little buddy.  

Now the two cats are working together to take on the big world outside of the Yamada's apartment!"

Purchased from a local comic store.

First rate!  Hilarious and cute!  On a level with the first book.  The story continues as the Yamadas have to deal with the very real situation that they can't keep hiding Chi in their no-pets-allowed apartment for much longer.  Chi expands and deepens his friendship with the troublemaker, Blackie the Cat.  Blackies first appearance didn't endear him to me but after this volume, I've grown attached to him as we learned a lot more about his ways and feelings.  Kanata really captures some truly hilarious and profound moments of kitten/cat behaviour.  My favourites being when Chi first encounters a new (very energetic) little girl, getting a claw stuck in the curtain only to find that when one gets free another gets stuck and her hilarious attention-seeking antics.  The volume promises changes for the Yamadas and Chi and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2. Button Man: Get Harry Ex by John Wagner

Button Man: Get Harry Ex by John Wagner. Art by Arthur Ranson (buy)
Button Man: Books 1-3

Rating: (5/5)

Sep. 17 2013, 2000 AD, 304 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"The world didn’t seem to need a man like Harry Exton anymore. An ex-soldier and mercenary, Harry was a human-killing machine without a vocation, until an old colleague told him about ‘The Game’. The players, known as ‘Button Men’ are paid to fight to the death in a modern-day gladiatorial contest. Organised by mysterious backers known as ‘Voices’, the killing game offers bountiful financial rewards... if you live. Harry decides to participate, but soon discovers that death offers the only way out!

The world didn’t seem to need a man like Harry Exton anymore. An ex-soldier and mercenary, Harry was a human-killing machine without a vocation, until an old colleague told him about ‘The Game’. The players, known as ‘Button Men’ are paid to fight to the death in a modern-day gladiatorial contest. Organised by mysterious backers known as ‘Voices’, the killing game offers bountiful financial rewards... if you live. Harry decides to participate, but soon discovers that death offers the only way out!  Button Man is an action-packed thriller, deservedly regarded as one of the greatest strips ever to be published in 2000 AD."

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Enthralling!  This is probably the best story I've read from 2000 AD!  I had never heard the term "button man" before but oddly enough while I was reading this I also was reading a novel where one character said to another, you're not a button man you know.  So, I looked it up and it is a real term used in the mafia, gangs, etc. meaning a low-ranking hired killer (ie. a muscle man).  So this is what Harry is.  He becomes entrapped in a high stakes "Killing Game", not fully aware of the permanence of the position.  He becomes the best player around and then he wants out.  So the rest of the stories surround Harry trying to get out of the game.  Unusual coming from 2000 AD, this is realistic fiction (no sci-fi or fantasy here) with a top-notch thriller, espionage for bored business men "game" at its centre.  An intense story, violent, and one where you never know what will happen next.  Harry is a likeable guy, to a point.  I was rooting for him, he was in an inescapable position, but on the other hand he is just as (more!) much a ruthless, heartless killer in the game as anyone else.  This collection here brings together Books 1-3 of the strips from the comic magazine.  The ending is quite shocking but a good finite conclusion to the book.  However, there has been a continuation of the series and it has not been closed off as finished.

Monday, January 6, 2014

451. The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by √Čtienne Davodeau

This is the last graphic novel I read in 2013.  I do have one more post to make a little later on as they keep changing the publication date of the book.  But 2014 titles will start tomorrow!


451. The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by √Čtienne Davodeau

Rating: (4/5)

Mar. 15 2013, NBM Publishing, 272 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"Etienne Davodeau is a comic artist. He doesn’t know much about the world of wine-making.  Richard Leroy is a wine-maker. He‘s rarely even read comics.  But these two are full of good will and curiosity. Why do we choose to spend one’s life writing and creating comics or producing wine? How and for whom do we do them?  To answer these questions, for more than a year, Etienne went to work in Richard’s vineyards and cellar. Richard, in return, leapt into the world of comics. They opened a lot of bottles and read many comics. They traveled around, meeting authors and wine-makers sharing their passion for their jobs.  The first time a book explores the nature of a man’s vocation with a true life representation of it from two very different perspectives. They get to realize they both have that precious and necessary power to bring people together.

With guest appearances by Trondheim (Dungeon, Little Nothings), Emmanuel Guibert (The Photographer) and Marc-Antoine Matthieu (Museum Vaults).."

Received a pdf from the publisher.

This is a fascinating nonfiction memoir-type of book.  The author is a "comic" artist as they are called in France and he proposes his new idea to his friend who is a vintner.  Etienne will work in the vineyard and learn all about wines and the industry, while Etienne will introduce his friend to "comics" and the whole industry including fan conventions.  The artwork is beautiful.  Davodeau is a realist and the drawings are true-to-life with the change of seasons being shown in his friend, Richard Leroy, growing his hair to keep him warm in the fields during winter and the annual shave off as he enters the warm season.  The book focuses more on the author's experiences with his friend, learning about the grapes, soil, harvesting as he works alongside Leroy in the fields.  Every time they get together, Leroy has bottles of wine for them to taste and he teaches Etienne the art of wine tasting; they go off and visit other vineyards and even attend a large wine show in France.  The reverse side of this experiment is less of the book but still enough to prove insightful.  Leroy has hardly ever read a comic and Etienne keeps him supplied with the best of the best.  Now most of these are French books, I've not heard of but there were a few such as "Watchmen" and "Mause" in there as well.  Leroy is taken to the printers, the publishers, a comic-con and off to visit some famous French illustrators.  My favourite part here was their meeting with Emmanuel Guibert, author/illustrator of "The Photographer".  A favourite of mine.  They also met with a few of the actual people who participated in that true-life story.  This is a slow, meandering story that simply tells an interesting, not exciting, tale of two men discovering there is more to life than their own personal obsessions but also getting to share their obsession with someone who genuinely wants to learn.  I myself moved to wine country about 8 years ago and all the insider information will certainly improve my wine experiences!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

449. Naruto (3-in-1) Vol.1-2-3 by Masashi Kishimoto

Naruto (3-in-1) Vol.1-2-3 by Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto, Vol. 1,2,3 

Rating: (5/5)

1999, 2011, VIZ Media, 600 pgs

Ages: (13+) T

"This Chakra-Powered Omnibus Contains Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of Naruto!

No one takes Naruto seriously at Ninja Academy. Especially not the other students, who all are competing to be the best ninja ever and someday lead Konoha, the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Naruto and his classmates are about to embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond Ninja Academy, beyond Konoha, beyond anything they ever imagined. What is Naruto’s true destiny? The epic story that has sold millions worldwide begins now!."

Purchased a copy from a local retail store.

Since this is in Shonen Jump, my son asked for the first volumes and he got this for his birthday last year.  I try to read what he reads so we can talk about it and I want to be versed in the popular titles.  This series started way back in the golden age of the '90s so has a lot of typical manga elements from that period.  Exaggerated emotions, especially.  This used to bother me, but I've read so much now, that I find it fun and nostalgic to read '90s stuff.  This omnibus contains Vol. 1: Uzumaki Naruto, Vol. 2: The Worst Client, and Vol. 3: Dreams.  I was in love with the book by the end of the first volume as  I took to the characters right away and this ninja title hadn't been anything like I thought it would be.  The three main characters are great, even though each has a stereotypical type.  Throughout the three volumes Naruto changes the most.  He starts off as an immature kid, annoying at times, just wanting and assuming he will be the best, biggest hero ever by the end of his training.  Well, during the next two volumes, he gets a dose of reality and matures quite a lot that as we enter Vol. 4 we are going to find a different Naruto.  The plot revolves around their training to become ninjas, which they complete and then their special training under a master and they begin going out on missions with him while being trained in high level ninja arts at the same time.  They've taken a mission to protect a man as he goes home but find that he hasn't told them the whole truth and that a mafia type guy is really after him.  Battles ensue.  Sasuke's character's background is revealed and some of the mystery about him is lifted.  Now the ninjas find out that other assassins have been sent out to kill them (or is it just their master).  Battling with a super cool Ninja, Zabuza, is great stuff.  I liked this beginning very much. The plot is simple and easy to understand; the characters are likable; the villains fun; and good humour for an all around enjoyable entertaining read.

Friday, January 3, 2014

448. Housebound With Rick Geary

Housebound With Rick Geary 


1991, Fantagraphics Books, 95 pgs


"A fresh new angle on the world and how we see it, this graphic novel showcases Geary's cartooning style and humor, a style honed in the pages of National Lampoon and Epic Illustrated."

Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.

This is a collection of Geary's early work from 1977-1982 gathered from his contributions to the magazines "National Lampoon" and "Epic Illustrated".  I've never heard of the second and I was never allowed to look at the first, though I did sneak peaks and saw cartoons of ladies with big bosoms.  None of these comics are like that though.  Some of these are just comic strips, though not humorous.  Some are comedy, but many are little stories and a lot of them are not surprisingly about murders and murderers, though these are fictional stories not true-life like his work now.  This does give a glimpse into where his origins began and how he was interested in crime, history and biography right from the beginning.  There is an odd "house" theme running through the book; you'll have to read it yourself to see what I mean.  Geary's artwork is distinctive and he was working in the style we've come to recognise right from these early days, not much has changed.  This was a quick read for me and while I didn't find any gems in here but it's a book I wouldn't miss reading as a huge fan of Rick Geary who is working my way through his backlist.  I'm almost finished now.  I would recommend the read to other Geary fans, simply for a retrospective look at the artist's work.

Of note: there is a second book, published earlier called "At Home with Rick Geary".  Both books share 78 pages; the remainder of the 95 pages in Housebound and 102 pages in At Home are different.  Because of this I'm not going to bother reading the almost identical book.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

434. D. Gray-Man (3-in-1) Vol. 4-5-6 by Katsura Hoshino

D. Gray-Man (3-in-1) Vol. 4-5-6 by Katsura Hoshino

Rating: (3/5)

Nov. 5 2013, VIZ Media, 576 pgs

Age: (13+) (publisher recommends 16+)

"Allen questions whether he is willing to fight the Clan of Noah—after all, he signed up to kill akuma, not humans! With his left eye injured, he can no longer tell akuma from humans, making him a target for attack. Despite this weakness, he is sent by the Black Ministry to find and protect his master, General Cross."

Received a review copy from the publisher.

Vol. 4: Lavi and Allen's main mission here is to protect a village from a vampire, but something isn't what it seems.  Some cool new characters are introduced but we're left not knowing quite where everyone stands and a major fight is about to erupt.  keeps the plot and action rolling but a bit messy plotwise. (3/5)

Vol. 5: Again I'm finding the plot a bit all over the place but I'm certainly enjoying the characters in this manga.  The vampire episode is finished off on the first half of this volume and has a very interesting conclusion!  The second half brings back the Earl and a new charismatic bad guy then we get into some plotting that jumps around  and I found hard to follow but there is some great art here and some cool disturbing images.  I'm enjoying the read but it isn't a page-turner for me.  I'm really glad to be reading this as a 3-in-1 as I don't know if single volumes would have held my interest as much.  (3/5)

Vol. 6:  I think the art in this series is amazing.  Not the people, but the backgrounds, creatures and the artists use of shading is beautiful.  This volume flies into action and keeps up non-stop throughout the whole book.  The story revolves around a character (we don't know) but is an old friend of the others who has betrayed the Innocence and is being destroyed.  Our main characters are out to save him.  Then the book ends on a cliffhanger note as Allen meets up with the bad guy from the last volume, Tyki Mikk.  (3/5)

I'm going to admit that I find this story somewhat hard to follow the overall plot.  My 13yo loves it, though!  When I asked him if he liked D.Gray-Man he said "Yes! It is so intense!"  So I got him to explain to me what was the main idea going on here after I'd finished this book.  LOL.  Still not a page-turner for me, but this last cliffhanger has me interested and a bit freaked to get on with the next volume.