Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Eensy Weensy Monster Volume 1

I have a box of unread manga in my storage unit that I got years back when I was selling books online. This volume was dug out of that box. I'm listing this copy on Bookcrossing and "releasing it into the wild" (Bookcrossing ID #088-15140289, track its progress here).

We're reaching the end of summer vacation, and we've only got a couple more days before we fly back to Shanghai. I've got a small stack of 5 or so graphic novels that I'd like to read, rather than take with me, so I'm going to see how many I can get through in the next two days. Expect a flurry of reviews here if I manage to make progress on them!

Title: Eensy Weensy Monster
Issue: Volume 1
Date: December, 2010
Publisher: Tokyopop
Writer: Masami Tsuda
Artist: Masami Tsuda

Nanoha Satsuki is a hardworking but struggling student, outshined by her two best friends who are beautiful, brilliant, and popular. When she meets the arrogant "Prince" of the boys in the school, she loses her temper, and the little monster inside her totally tells off "Prince" Hazuki Tokiwa.

The result is a surprising series of changes for both students as they are forced to reexamine their own personalities and their places among the school culture, along with their feelings about each other.

This was a surprisingly introspective romance, paced slow enough to get to know the characters. It's got a big supporting cast that gets lost in the shuffle in places, but there are some nice touches of humor, and the artwork is lovely. The writing is quite self-aware, playfully making fun of some manga tropes as the story progresses.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, July 29, 2018

I Kill Giants

Got this one at New England Comics in Quincy MA.

Title: I Kill Giants
Date: March, 2018
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Ken Niimura

Middle school student Barbara Thorson prepares for the arrival of a giant in her Long Island town, in between dealing with bullies, D&D, and a school psychologist who is trying to understand her. And as horrifying as the signs of the approaching giant are, there are something even scarier that Barbara is not willing to face.

This was beautiful. Heartbreaking in places, and brilliantly uplifting in others. The characters all felt very real, and the fantasy story elements are wonderfully visualized in Ken Niimura's art.

Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, July 20, 2018

The 13-Story Treehouse

Part of the Kiddo's summer reading program.

Title: The 13-Story Treehouse
Date: 2011
Publisher: Square Fish (Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan / Mackids)
Writer: Andy Griffiths
Artist: Terry Denton

This is another one of those kids books that blurs the line between prose and graphic novel.

Andy and Terry live in a 13-story treehouse with all the latest mad-science gadgetry, including a marshmallow-shooting machine, a secret underground lab, a catapult, and a giant banana.

They've also got one day to finish the book they promised their publisher and they haven't done a thing on it all year.

This was funny in a lot of places, and there were some clever bits like a cute tribute to King Kong, and a running gag about the dangers of ordering Sea Monkey eggs.

But it never really felt like there was much at stake. Terry and Andy have all manner of ridiculous good fortune, not to mention all the latest mad science to bail them out of everything they get into. Really all they ever do is avoid work, as things get more and more outrageous around them only for them to have all their problems solved while they mostly just watch it happen.

There are some good details and a lot of funny jokes here, but it wasn't enough to hold my interest, and the main characters are not all that appealing.

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #1

Another Star Wars comic the Kiddo picked out at Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack NH. Star Wars books are the Kiddo's go-to comics of choice these days.

Title: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: July 2018
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Michael Walsh
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover: Mike Del Mundo
Editor: Heather Antos, Tom Groneman, Emily Newcomen

First part of Marvel's film adaptation for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The book captures the pacing of the film well, and there is a nice bit of internal monologue from Luke Skywalker that adds a bit of perspective. But of course, an adaptation is somewhat limited by its own nature. I liked the film, and the comic does a good job retelling that story.

It does leave out one of the more memorable comedic moments from early in the movie, and the space battle scenes fall a bit flat in terms of the actual action between spaceships. Paige Tico's scene is handled really well, though.

This generally works, but does not add a whole lot if you've seen the film.

Rating: 5.5/10

Monday, July 9, 2018

Metamo Kiss Volume 1

I got this one at a Little Free Library in Nashua NH it's also a Bookcrossing book. I'll be releasing it back into the wild at a Little Free Library in MA later today.

Title: Metamo Kiss
Issue: Volume 1
Date: 2007
Publisher: Tokyopop
Writer: Sora Omote
Artist: Sora Omote

After being separated from his family for most of his childhood, Kohamaru discovers that they have a rather unique property: Each family member has a soulmate with whom they can switch bodies upon kissing. Kohamaru finds this out the hard way in an awkward collision with a girl on a train platform, and it only gets more awkward from here.

The comedy relies a bit heavily on pretty simple switched-gender humor, but there is some depth to the background of the family and their strange abilities that opens the potential for the story to get more interesting as it goes.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma #1

Got this one at Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack NH.

Title: Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma
Issue: 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: November 2017
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Cover: Paul Renaud
Editor: Jordan D. White, Heather Antos

This story fills in the gap of how Captain Phasma manages to escape the destruction of Starkiller Base after being tossed into a garbage chute by the Resistance.

The action and artwork are quite good, but I feel like the fans (myself included) really want to see more character development for Phasma, and the brief interactions she has with people in the midst of the mayhem of Starkiller Base falling apart don't really give enough of that.

Fortunately, the seed is planted for an ongoing story, where more of Phasma's character can be revealed as she attempts to track down a possible traitor to the First Order.

There was nothing really original or surprising here, but it fills a gap in the story and was a good setup for possibly more interesting events to come.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, July 6, 2018

DC Nation #0

First of several reviews of comics I got while visiting the US on summer break. I got this one at Newbury Comics at the Maine Mall in Portland ME.

Title: DC Nation
Issue: 0
Date: July 2018
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson
Artist: Clay Mann, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dexter Vines, Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair, Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Josh Reed, Andworld Design
Cover: Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez
Editor: Jamie S. Rich, Brittany Holzherr, Mike Cotton, Jessica Chen, Rebecca Taylor, Andrea Shea

Three stories here, all lead-ins to summer releases from DC.

First up is a Joker story with the Joker holding a random guy hostage while he waits for the mail to arrive. This was the kind of thing that would have been creepy and disturbing in the late 1980s, but is just run-of-the-mill Joker stuff today. The ending was pretty much the least interesting of all possible outcomes.

Things improved significantly with the Superman story, which focused on the very underappreciated Perry White. It was great to see Perry get some solid character development. It also opened up the possibility of some interesting workplace drama at the Daily Planet with the introduction of a new antagonist with a lot of potential. It felt like a bit of a soft reboot, which are way too common in comics these days, but the characters really carried the story.

Third was a big cosmic-scale Justice League story. There is a rather silly reason given for the creation of four new teams based on the properties of Entropy (Batman, Lobo, Deathstroke, Beast Boy, Lex Luthor), Mystery (J'onn J'onzz, Superman, Starfire, Sinestro, Starro), Wonder (Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate, Etrigan, Raven, Zatanna), and Wisdom (Damian Wayne, Flash, Atom, Cyborg, Harley Quinn).

So this is all just an excuse for ridiculous teamups between heroes and villains. It had its moments. And Etrigan rhymes, so that's something anyway. I still have questions... How the heck did Damian Wayne land on team Wisdom? Is Wonder Woman just on team Wonder because of her name? Starro? Really? Starro?

The last bit reveals the cosmic threat that has prompted all of this, and it's... the Celestials, freshly arrived from the Marvel Universe! Well, I guess technically not, but they are too pretty and colorful to be Eldrazi, so they are Celestials for all intents and purposes.

Hopefully those wacky teamups will be fun, because the overall plot of this looks as dull as can be.

I suppose one out of three for a book like this is about all that could be hoped for.

Rating: 3.5/10