Monday, January 01, 2007


I buy lots of manga, but unfortunately, it often sits around unread. As volumes stack up, it gets a bit daunting to plunge back into a series, or start into a new one...
Not to mention, for some reason, my comic shop has a hard time getting the books I'm signed up for, either missing things entirely, or volumes here and there, meaning I can't read through a series without going in search of it outside my shop.

I've been on a bit of a manga kick lately though, after starting into Blame and really falling back in love with the format (it's always been my natural taste and style), and I've picked up a couple new titles I'd been meaning to check out (among dozens of others).

BLAME volumes 2 and 3 - I mentioned this here, and volume 1 a couple weeks back in my comic picks when I read it, I've picked up the entire run to date (6 volumes so far), but hadn't read any til recently.

I was utterly engrossed in Blame shortly after starting in on volume 1, and am even more so now that I'm 3 volumes in! As the protagonist Killy makes his way further and further up the seemingly infinite massive techno-structure that's ever-present in Nehei's sci-fi future society creation, I've become more and more drawn in. Killy's ongoing trek upward and inward for "net terminal genes" reveals just enough of what drives the world as we go forward to keep us fully invested in the search. While Blame is utterly simplistic, it's the craft of Nehei that makes the limited elements shine so well. Picking up a volume of Blame transports you into another world, completely, which is of course the ultimate goal of a good comic.

ARM OF KANNON volume 1 - Arm of Kannon came out from Tokyopop a couple years back, and was one of the few mature rated titles they offered at the time (along with books I was already digging like Battle Royale, and Battle Vixens), because of that, I'd flipped through the first volume, but the art just didn't have a strong enough grab. After just looking at the later volumes, I reconsidered and brought home volume 1.

My manga tastes are usually driven by more mature content, coupled with stylish artwork, here, Maskazu Yamaguchi is talented for sure, but his style runs a touch old school vanilla for me, with some pages being a downright turnoff, and others a joy to behold. Mixed bag.

After reading the first volume, the story runs that way as well, with familiar setups and themes - a young boy with dark powers that threaten to do massive damage if left unchecked, and a mysterious and powerful guardian dispatched to protect him - but it was still a solid page turner, and by books end, enjoyable enough to thirst for more (or at least get a further glimpse at where we're heading).

NO MAN'S LAND volume 1 - No Man's was one of the initial launch books from Seven Seas manga a couple years back, and offered slick art from Jennyson Rosero and a cool concept from Jason DeAngelis - a gunslinger fending off demons at every turn in an old west setting. I'd been meaning to pick it up since it came out, and finally scored a copy.

Turns out it's as fun and slick as it looked, Rosero's work is clean, open, and reads fast, suiting the high tempo gunslinging perfectly. The only thing keeping me at all reserved about the volume was that it seemed to fall apart somewhat towards the end, with the script or visuals becoming a bit confusing, and scattered.
I still give it a RECOMMENDED though!

HELLSING volume 1 - Another one I'd thumbed through when it came out, but initially passed on. After hearing about the recent reworked anime, my interest had been piqued again, and looking back in at the manga, the artwork sealed the deal.

First off, the art here is what makes the book for me, as the vampiric themes aren't too groundbreaking, but Hirano employs a unique distorted style, with some fine linework that keeps things interesting, along with some nice plotting, taking things to another level.

AIR GEAR volume 1 - Creator Oh! great caught my eye with CMX manga's translation of the Tenjho Tenge series, but whereas that series was infamously edited, Air Gear from Del Rey is not, and since I don't want to support publishers who drastically change content they're importing, I've skipped Ten Ten and picked up Air Gear instead.

Oh! great's art is top notch, capturing everything with skill and precision-like detail, and the writing is solid as well, but the concept, rival motorized skate gangs, is a bit lacking for me. It's good enough to go back for another volume though...

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