Wolverine Week: Wolverine Gets Manga'd

Our old pal Wolverine is taking Living Between Wednesday—and the world!—by storm this week. We all know Wolverine has spent some time in Japan, but no one saw this coming: Wolverine manga! Hold onto your bone-claws kids, 'cause this ain't your mama's Wolverine.

Prodigal Son is the first of a series of Wolvie Manga, written by Antony Johnston (or Wasteland fame) and drawn by Wilson Tortosa (who the internet tells me has worked on a bunch of stuff including Tomb Raider).

I'm not a big manga fan, but I'm not all that bananas about Wolverine to tell the truth so maybe meh+meh=coool?

Well, I know this for sure:





Prodigal Son is a re-imaging of our hairy mutant friend, in which Logan is a teenaged orphan living at a secret Canadian Dojo. Man, Wolverine Week is really proving how cool Canada is! Logan and the other kids at the Dojo do say, "eh" a lot, which gives the whole thing credibility.

The book has all the makings of a fun teen action/adventure comic. Logan's got a secret past, and mysterious special abilities. He doesn't know who his parents are, how he ended up at the Dojo, and why he can heal like a mofo. All this existential questioning throws him into whirlwind of emotion that ranges from mopey and emo to totally self-righteous. Ah, teenagers!

Logan's crushing hard on his Sensai's daughter. She's fiesty and super tough, so they spar all the time and it leads to SEXY RESULTS.

He's also got the requisite tubby best pal, always there for support.

The dude is totally the type to like, loudly open a Twinkie package when you're crouched down behind a rock, hiding from a bad guy.



He's all, "What, guys? I get hungry when I'm nervous!"

On top of baby Wolverine's emotional crisis, he's got to deal with a crazed rival who's totally pissed that Wolverine kicked his ass, and that he's losing the big hair competetion.

 But I'll tell you what this book is all about: FIGHTS!

Fights and fights and fights and fights. Lil' Wolvie is scrappy as all heck, and this book provides all the SNKTing you could ever want.

I think the kids will be all over this one.


Rachelle Reads Manga Part 2: Romanace Manga!

Since some of the action manga I read last time left a bad taste in my mouth, I decided to switch gears this week and try some manga aimed at teen girls (that's called Shojo manga, n00bs).

So let's see how that went.

Nana #1 by Ai Yazawa (Shojo Beat - Viz)

Why I picked it up: This is definitely one of the more popular Manga series that we sell, especially among female readers. We also sell a DVD of a live action Nana movie. Plus, Faith Erin Hicks recommended it highly to me as a guilty pleasure, so that really sold me.

What it's about: The story follows two 20-year-old girls in Japan, both named Nana, who are very different. One is a recent high school graduate who has recently come out of an unhealthy relationship with a much older married man. She is boy-crazy, but determined to make some male friends who are just friends for the first time. The other Nana is a high school drop-out who sings in a punk band. She is dating the bass player in the band, but he gets offered a spot in a more popular band in Tokyo. Both Nanas want to move to Tokyo for basically the same reason: love. So it's like, even though they have little in common on the surface, they really do have some things in common.

And what did I think about it?: I really liked it. The characters are instantly likable, the writing is very charming and funny, and it's a compelling story. It's like reading a romance novel that has some balls, because it's got some edgy elements. Plus I feel that I got a good idea of what life is somewhat like for young people in Japan living in smaller cities.

I have a hard time telling the guys apart from the girls, but that's just manga for ya.

Do I want to read the next volume?: Yeah, I really do actually. I think there are like 11 volumes of this out now. I'd be into reading the whole series.

Red String #1 by Gina Biggs (Dark Horse)

Why I picked it up: The cover is really cute. Plus it's one of those forward-reading manga books I like so much. And the author is American, so I wanted to see what that was like. Do hardcore manga fans frown upon books like this? Are American-authored Manga books regarded in the same way as, like, American beer is regarded in Canada? (For those of you who don't know, it's regarded with a certain level of disgust...if you're going to order a Coors, you may as well order a dead baby).

What it's about: This series is actually a web comic, part of the Strawberry Comics group of American-based female romance manga authors. Girl power!

The story is a high school-based tale of young love and angst. The main character, Miharu, is shocked to find out that her parents have arranged a marriage for her. She is to marry the husband they selected after she graduates. Young Miharu has never even kissed a boy, so this is naturally quite traumatic for her. Things get more complicated when she meets the boy of her dreams the day she finds out about the arranged marriage...or do they?

And what did I think about it?: It was a light read with cute art. It's a coming-of-age high school story, which I always enjoy. There's a bad boy character who is kind of intriguing. He clearly has his own crush on Miharu. I'd be interested in seeing where that goes.

Do I want to read the next volume?: I wouldn't say that the story is gripping enough to leave me wanting more, but it certainly isn't bad. If I were younger I'd probably be really into it. And there was nothing weird or gross or annoying about this book, so that's a plus.

Fever #1 by Hee Jung Park (Tokyopop)

Why I picked it up: It's Korean so, again, it's got the forward-reading thing going for it. The cover sort of made me think that I wouldn't like it at all, and that's kinda why I picked it up. It's important to try things you wouldn't normally, right? Unlike Nana, I'd never really noticed anyone buying this one, so I guess I wanted to try something that wasn't a giant smash hit and compare it to something that was. Plus, now I have three romance manga books: one Japanese, one American, and one Korean. Diversity!

What it's about: Basically it's about a very sad girl who is messed up after her friend commits suicide and she ends up dropping out of her school. She meets a messed up guy on the bus after she leaves the school. She ends up going to a strange place called Fever with this guy, which is kinda hard to explain. And I wasn't really paying enough attention.

And what did I think about it?: Honestly, I had a really hard time finishing this. I just could not get into it. It's very emo and slow and I just didn't care about the characters or the story.

Do I want to read the next volume?: No.

So that's my first foray into romance manga. Next up...rock and roll manga!

Rachelle Reads Manga Part 1: Action Adventure Manga!

So I have worked in a comic shop for almost two years now and in that time I have never really attempted to read manga. It's always there, that giant section of the store full of little books about people with giant eyes and minimal clothing. Stories where men look like girls, and women look like sex aliens.

People ask me to recommend manga, and I simply cannot do it. I have no idea what any of those books are about. It's second only to Magic cards on the ladder of things that I do not care about.

I have decided to take the plunge and try to read some manga. And you're gonna hear about it! Join me as I read the first volume of randomly selected manga series. Will I give up after a week of tedious backwards reading, or will I become a lifelong manga devotee/cosplay picnic organizer? Only time will tell.

I read three books from the action/adventure genre of manga to start with.

Banya the Explosive Delivery Man #1 by Kim Young-Oh (Dark Horse)

Why I picked it up: Ok, first of all, this is not technically manga. It's manhwa, which means it's Korean, not Japanese. See? I'm learning something already! Unlike manga, which is all backwards and weird, manhwa is read in the left-to-right, front-to-back style that North American's such as myself are used to reading books. Y'know. The normal way. So that was appealing.

Secondly, I flipped through it a bit and the art was really excellent looking. Better than most manga books I glance at. Plus, it's got an attractive cover.

I also trust Dark Horse so I thought I'd start with something they publish.

What it's about: The titular character, Banya, is a delivery boy in a fantasy world that looks kinda like the future and the past at the same time, y'know? He, along with his two pals Mei and Kong, make up the Gaya Desert Post Office. They can deliver any package or message to anyone anywhere for a price. It's established immediately that pretty much nothing can stop these guys if they need to deliver something. The real story starts when a wounded soldier shows up at the post office (which is like a deserted fort type place) and asks that they deliver the parcel that he was carrying to its final destination.

And what did I think about it?: As I said, the art was pretty incredible. There were a lot of really awesome pages. It's an interesting set-up, and the characters seem interesting. Mei, the lone female in the story, is particularly compelling. She isn't wearing much, but by manga standards she's practically a nun. I appreciate that, although she is scantily-clad, she doesn't have giant boobs and there is no cleavage. She also looks tough. And she is tough. She is established as the boss of the post office. That won me over.

There are a lot of mythical animals and monsters in the book that they run into while making deliveries. I'm not really into that kind of thing, but they are very well-drawn.

I find that the dialogue in manga is always kind of jarring. I guess something gets lost in translation because everything is just so awkward-sounding. In this book the three heroes talk like young smart-ass punks, and there is quite a bit of humour. It's just sort of weird-sounding.

Do I want to read the next volume?: I dunno. Kinda. If for no other reason than to look at more of Kim Young-Oh's art. This is basically the first manga book I've read, so it's hard for me to say if it's good manga. It seems like good manga. I think if you liked reading manga, you would like this.

Mei's a cool character. I guess I would like to see more of her.

Black Lagoon #1 by Rei Hiroe (Viz)

Why I picked it up: This one is new to the shop, and it was recommended to me by the owner of Strange Adventures. Plus that girl on the cover looked pretty tough.

What it's about: Strangely enough, this book also turned out to be about delivery people. This time it's set in our world, circa now, more or less. It follows a band of people who will deliver anything anywhere for a price. They travel around on a tricked-out WWII gun boat.

And what did I think about it?: It was pretty fun, actually. It's way over-the-top, but it's more than aware of how silly it is. It's a popcorn action movie with lots of violence and profanity. And the translation was far less awkward than the translation for Banya. It read a lot better, even though it was all backwards. There are some pretty awesome pages in this book too.

Do I want to read the next volume?: I could take or leave it. Of the three books, I'd probably be most interested in the next volume of this one.

Gantz #1 by Hiroya Oku (Dark Horse)

Why I picked it up: Oh God, I don't know. It was wrapped in plastic, which was intriguing. And the description made is sound interesting...

What it's about: I'm not really sure...I was a little distracted by the totally naked woman being treated horribly.

Basically a bunch of people who have recently died find themselves in a room in a building in Tokyo and are being instructed to perform missions for some sort of talking sphere.

So what did I think?: At first I thought it was pretty good...and then the naked woman showed up. She was one of the dead people to appear in the room. Her wrists are cut because she killed herself in the bathtub. She is pretty much immediately hauled off and raped by one of the men in the room, while the other men think about doing the same. There is also a recently dead dog in the room which also sexually assaults her.

And...the woman is totally naked and there are lots of close-ups of her various naughty parts. When the men are naked, however, it is blurred out. WTF?

Do I want to read the next volume: No. In fact, this kind of makes me want to stop reading manga altogether.

So that was my first attempt. I think next round I'll read some girly romance manga to see if that offends me less.