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Monday, July 27, 2015

Assassination Classroom: Time to Face the Unbelievable

I read Assassination Classroom, Vol. 4

I posted a review at the ComicBookBin.  Follow me on Twitter or at Grumble.  Support me on Patreon.





Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: INJECTION #1

INJECTION #1
IMAGE COMICS – @ImageComics

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

WRITER: Warren Ellis
ARTIST: Declan Shalvey
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Fonografiks
20pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (May 2015)

Injection is a new comic book series published by Image Comics.  Injection is created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey; the book is colored by Jordie Bellaire.  Ellis, Shalvey, and Bellaire were the creative team behind Marvel Comics' 2014 relaunch of its Moon Knight comic book, producing the first six issues.  According to publicity material for this series, Injection is apparently about five people who have to save the world from being too weird to support human life, a situation they apparently created.

Injection #1 opens at Sawling Hospital.  There, we meet Professor Maria Kilbride, who is being castigated by a stern older woman.  Through a flashback, we learn that Kilbride was part of something called the “Cultural Cross-Contamination Unit.”  We meet Kilbride's colleagues:  Robin Morel, Simeon Winters, Vivek Headland, and Brigid Roth.  Back to the present, it is time to start to learn how these five individuals “poisoned the 21st Century.”

At a slim 20 pages, Injection is all about set-up and vague introductions.  Am I intrigued?  Well, hell, every first issue of a Warren Ellis comic book intrigues me, but that doesn't mean I'll keep reading past the first issue.

However, I am reluctant to bail on Injection.  I was decidedly underwhelmed by the first issue of Ellis, Shalvey, and Bellaire's Moon Knight, but that turned out to be an especially enjoyable and unique reading experience.  The series actually got better and proved to be more imaginative with each issue.  Ellis and company leaving after six issues was probably a good thing; eventually, they could not have kept up that pace of originality.

Besides, whatever vagueness Ellis' story presents in Injection is topped by Shalvey and Bellaire's eye-grabbing, attention-trapping graphical storytelling.  The weird practically popped off the page in order to get inside me and to demand that I get at least one more Injection.  I would say that fans of Ellis' non-superhero work will certainly want to try an issue or two of Injection.

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Yaoi Manga Review: LOVE STAGE Volume 1

LOVE STAGE!!, VOL. 1
SUBLIME MANGA– @SuBLimeManga

STORY: Eiki Eiki
ART: Taishi Zaou
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
LETTERS: Wally
EDITOR: Jennifer LeBlanc
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7991-7; paperback (May 2015); Rated “M” for “Mature”
186pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

Love Stage!! is a boys' love (BL) manga from the creative team of writer Eiki Eiki and artist Taishi Zaou that was serialized in Asuka Ciel magazine beginning in July 2010.  SuBLime Manga began publishing Love Stage!! in an English-language edition in graphic novel form back in May.

Boys' love manga depicts amorous situations between male romantic leads, with its subset, yaoi (which Love Stage!! is), being more explicit.   Love Stage!! is about an average guy from a family of celebrities who becomes romantically entangled with one of Japan's most popular young male celebrities and idols.

Love Stage!!, Vol. 1 (Chapter 1 to 5) opens in the past.  A small boy is dressed as a girl for a commercial shoot.  His costar believes that the girl is really a girl, and he never forgets her... him.  Ten years later, the boy who dressed like a girl is Izumi Sena, now a beginning college student.  He is an unrepentant otaku (fanboy) and wants to be a mangaka (a creator of manga).  The rest of his family is in show business, and they want Izumi to join the family business.

Meanwhile, Izumi's costar in that long-ago commercial is Ryoma Ichijo, a hot young actor and idol.  The commercial in which he starred 10 years ago is going to get an anniversary sequel, but Ryoma will not return unless that “girl” from the original reprises her role.  What will he do when he finds out that she is really a he?

While the Love Stage!! manga is a romantic comedy, the early chapters are more comedy than romance.  Love Stage!! Volume 1 is not just funny; it's delightfully funny.  In fact, it is so comedy oriented that when some... heaving petting suddenly occurs, the change in tone is quite jarring.

Writer Eiki Eiki is a master of BL and similar genres, as well as shojo manga.  Artist Taishi Zaou has a beautiful drawing style that is perfect for shojo manga and makes her boys' love manga exceptionally pretty.  Together, they create something unique, manga that transcends genre.  That is Love Stage!!, cute and funny and popping with energy and I think the best is yet to come.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: BATMITE #1

BAT-MITE #1
DC COMICS – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Dan Jurgens
PENCILS: Corin Howell
INKS: Corin Howell and Andres Ponce
COLORS: Mike Atiyeh
LETTERS: Tom Napolitano
COVER: Corin Howell with Mike Atiyeh
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (August 2015)

“Transplant”

Bat-Mite is a  DC Comics character that is part of the Batman line of comics.  Bat-Mite was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff and first appeared in Detective Comics #267 (cover dated:May 1959) in the story, “Batman Meets Bat-Mite.”

Bat-Mite is an “Imp” character that is similar to Superman's adversary, “Mister Mxyzptlk.”  However, Bat-Mite idolizes Batman, but is a nuisance to Batman because of his impish activities.  Bat-Mite's appearance is that of a small, child-like man, and he possesses seemingly near-infinite magical power.

Now, DC Comics has a new thang going on, and it is a publishing initiative called “DC You.”  It's all about us, the readers... actually, the fans.  June 2015 alone sees the launch of over 20 new titles.  One of them is a new comic book feature Bat-Mite.  It written by Dan Jurgens, drawn by Corin Howell and Andres Ponce, colored by Mike Atiyeh, and lettered by Tom Napolitano.

Bat-Mite #1 (“Transplant”) begins with the banishment of Bat-Mite, presumably from his home dimension.  When next we see him, Bat-Mite is interfering...err... helping Batman foil two criminals.  Things aren't what they seem, as Bat-Mite learns when he meets Doctor Trauma.  And Doc Trauma's latest Frankenstein-like scheme is positively... savage.

I laughed in derision when I read that DC was launching a Bat-Mite comic book, but I have to admit that I was curious about this new series.  I have loved Bat-Mite since I first encountered the character on “The New Adventures of Batman” Saturday morning cartoon series (Filmation, 1977).  I was later surprised to see that this new Bat-Mite comic book was only a six-issue miniseries, which makes sense, I guess.  I doubt that Bat-Mite is a character that can support an ongoing series.

Now, I won't be fake and claim that Bat-Mite 2015 is a great comic book, but I do like it a lot.  Dan Jurgens is an underrated comics creator.  Someone once described Jurgens as the kind of creator whose steady output of professional work kept the comics business operating in between brief but outstanding bursts of greatness that guys like Frank Miller dropped in to offer once a year or so (not the writer's exact words).

Well, Dan Jurgens – Mr. Professional – strikes the right tone for Bat-Mite as a character.  He is a pest, a confidant nerd.  He is funny because of his know-it-all superiority and sarcasm, but not necessarily because he is silly.  That is why I think that Jurgens could do much with this character if he were given the chance to produce a series of Bat-Mite miniseries.

Corin Howell and Andres Ponce make a good art team.  Howell's storytelling strikes the right tone because she maximizes physical comedy, especially facial expressions.  Howell makes Bat-Mite a character with believable motivation, attitude, and personality.  That is not necessarily easy.  Bat-Mite is always on the edge of being nothing more than a plush toy.

So, I am in with Bat-Mite for the long haul, or whatever kind of haul six issues make.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: RESIDENT EVIL: The Marhawa Desire Volume 5

RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE, VOL. 5
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

CARTOONIST: Naoki Serizawa
CONCEPT: Capcom
TRANSLATION: Joe Yamazaki
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Stan!
LETTERING: John Clark
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7376-2; paperback (July 2015); Rated “M” for “Mature”
168pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

VIZ Media's publication of the seinen manga, Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire, has come to an end with the publication of the fifth volume or graphic novel in the series.  An adult horror manga, Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire, serves as a comic book prequel to the story line of CAPCOM’s bestselling video game, Resident Evil® 6.  This iteration of Resident Evil introduces the highly virulent C-virus, and the manga explores the origins of this new outbreak.

The story begins with Doug Wright.  He is a professor in the Department of Sciences and Engineering at Bennett University, and he specializes in bacteriology.  He receives a letter from Mother Gracia, headmistress of Marhawa Academy, Asia's largest and most prestigious school.  Wright, who had a past relationship with Gracia, rushes to the school, with his nephew, 20-year-old Ricky Tozawa, in tow.  Deep in the jungle, Marhawa Academy is located within a giant, self-contained and self-sufficient complex.  There, Prof. Wright and Ricky find themselves caught in a deadly and growing tragedy that is an epidemic of zombie proportions.

Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire, Vol. 5 (Chapters 33 to 39 – Final Chapter) opens as the remaining humans in the Marhawa Academy complex make their last stand against a legion of students, faculty, and staff turned zombies.  Ricky has joined a three-person team from the B.S.A.A. (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance):  Chris Redfield (team leader), Merah Biji, and Piers Nivens.

They believe that they have found a way to escape the campus, but before they do that, they must fight their way not only through zombies, but also through monsters.  The bio-organic weapon (B.O.W.), Nanan Yoshihara, swings her horrible tentacles when she isn't spewing deadly virus gas, and Bendi Bergara has undergone a horrible transformation.  Meanwhile, the Hooded Woman lurks in the background, carrying the truth behind the Marhawa Incident.

[This volume includes a “Special Epilogue.”]

Sigh.  The Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire manga has come to an end.  I want more.  No, I have never played any Resident Evil video games, nor do I play video games in general.  I have not read previous Resident Evil comics, but I am a fan of the Resident Evil live-action film franchise that began with the 2002 film, Resident Evil.  I enjoyed reading the manga more than I have enjoyed watching the films, which I have, for the most part, found entertaining.

Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire Volume 5 offers a satisfying ending, relatively speaking.  Zombie apocalyptic fiction has to break your heart for every time it gives you a good outcome.  Writer-artist Naoki Serizawa gleefully poured on the gore and violence, and he gave us some attractive characters, so that he could use some of them to break our hearts.  He put the reader right in the middle of the action.  I felt that I had to run every time the heroes did, and I felt like every page was about a fight for my life, just as the heroes were fighting for their lives.

Yeah, you might say that this is “just” a Resident Evil comic, so it can't be that good.  Well, it is just a great Resident Evil comic, and it is that good because it is classic monster comics.  Read it by flashlight, under a bed sheet, while something scratches at your window.  Fans of horror manga and zombie comics will want the VIZ Signature title, Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux (Support Leroy on Patreon)


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
HARPCOLLINS/HarperPerennial – @HarperCollins

AUTHOR: Harper Lee
ISBN: 978-0-06-093546-7; paperback (July 5, 2015)
336pp, B&W, $14.99 U.S., $18.50 CAN

First published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel from author Harper Lee.  The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.  It was adapted into a film drama, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), directed by Robert Mulligan and written for the screen by Horton Foote.  The film would go on to receive eight Academy Award nominations and win three at the 35th Academy Awards ceremony on April 8, 1963, including a best actor Oscar for Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.

Harper Lee's second novel, Go Set a Watchmen, was recently published.  Because it features many characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchmen is being described as a sequel or follow-up to the 1960 novel.  As I understand it, however, Go Set a Watchmen was Harper Lee's first draft of the novel that would become To Kill a Mockingbird.  A few months ago, HarperCollins offered book reviewers on its contact lists a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for the release of Go Set a Watchmen.  I read To Kill a Mockingbird almost 20 years ago, and as I wanted to read it again, I accepted a copy for review.

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the Deep South of the early 1930s, and, if my “figurin'” is right, it opens in 1932 or thereabouts.  The location is the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, the county seat of Maycomb County.  The narrator of the book is the presumably adult Jean Louise Finch, who was called “Scout,” as a child.  Jean Louise's story is a coming-of-age tale about a particular time in her childhood.  The story begins when Jean Louise/Scout is six and ends when she is 10.

Scout lives with her widower father, Atticus Finch, an attorney and Alabama state legislator; and her older brother (by three years), Jeremy Atticus Finch, called “Jem.”  They have a live-in housekeeper and caretaker, an African-American woman named Calpurnia.  Scout and Jem befriend Charles Baker Harris, called “Dill,” a boy who is a year older than Scout and is from Mississippi.  Dill visits every summer, staying with an aunt, Miss Rachel Haverford, who lives in Maycomb.

The trio of Scout, Jem, and Dill spend their summers playing and having adventures.  Their biggest obsession is discovering the mystery of a next-door neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley.  Their determination to get a look at “Boo,” who has rarely left his home in years, takes up much of the early part of the book.

The turning point comes when Scout and Jem's father, Atticus, is appointed the public defender of a young Black man, Tom Robinson, who is unjustly accused of and criminally charged with raping a young white woman.  The trial occurs in the summer of 1935, and Scout witnesses the quite heroism of her father, as he struggle for justice in a courtroom where the weight of history and also irrational hate are bigger obstacles than the prosecution.

After 50+ years of praise and of being a “beloved classic,” To Kill a Mockingbird does not need to be reviewed... one would think.  However, I believe that this book should never be forgotten.  It should be discussed not only in schools and in other academic settings, but also in the larger world of people who pay attention to books and to their importance.

To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with wisdom, but not the homespun kind that is little more than an old adage.  What this novel has to say, one has to engage; the reader has to think about it and to ruminate on its passages and lessons.  For instance, there is the following passage in which Atticus informs his children:  “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

I never realized until my second reading that Tom Robinson, accused of rape by a pitiable white trash teenage girl and her cowardly, lazy, shiftless white trash father, is this story's mockingbird.  You see, all a mockingbird does is sing, while other birds might be pests.  The mockingbird is innocent, and it is a sin to kill an innocent – a truth so plain that most people are blind and ignorant to it.

I had a English lit instructor (who may have been a professor) who said that society hid dangerous books away in the children's literature section.  She used Lord of the Flies, as well as To Kill a Mockingbird as examples.  I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a dangerous novel.  The reason is simple.  This novel's depiction of injustice and blind and violent hate in the Deep South; its portrayal of honor and quite heroism; and its examination, measure for measure, of the irrationality of the White adults of Maycomb's attitudes toward race and class are all seen through the eyes of child, Scout's.

Jean Louise tells the story through her younger self, Scout, and Scout sees the world in a matter of fact way, innocently free of the dressings of subterfuge and hypocrisy.  Of course, it takes a child to catch an adult saying one thing and meaning another.  Late in the novel, Scout attends a tea party held by her Aunt Alexandra (Atticus' sister, who moves in with the family).  One of the women attending mentions how horrible it is that Adolf Hitler is having Jewish citizens arrested and imprisoned simply for being Jewish.  A child whose father is defending a wrongly accused Black man, without guile, will wonder why that same woman cannot see the plight of her Black neighbors with sympathy.

This is why To Kill a Mockingbird is a dangerous book.  Harper Lee's narrator is a child who views the beauty of the world as plainly as she sees the lies, inequities, violence, hatred, and racism.  Unlike an adult, Scout won't try to justify injustice the way adults do so that they can live with themselves.  Any American who reads books must read To Kill a Mockingbird at least twice in their adulthood.

A+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux (Support Leroy on Patreon)


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for July 22, 2015

DC COMICS

APR150287     AMERICA VS THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA TP     $14.99
MAY150134     AQUAMAN #42     $3.99
APR150285     ARKHAM MANOR TP VOL 01     $14.99
MAY150206     BATMAN 66 #25     $2.99
MAR150277     BATMAN GOTHIC DELUXE EDITION HC     $24.99
APR150291     BATWOMAN TP VOL 06 THE UNKNOWNS     $16.99
MAY150122     CYBORG #1     $2.99
MAY150140     DEATHSTROKE #8     $2.99
MAY150261     EFFIGY #7 (MR)     $3.99
APR150316     FABLES TP VOL 22 (MR)     $17.99
MAY150147     FLASH #42     $3.99
APR150322     GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS NEST HC (MR)     $29.99
MAY150207     GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT #7     $2.99
MAY150212     GRAYSON #10     $3.99
MAY150216     HARLEY QUINN & POWER GIRL #2     $3.99
MAY150155     INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FOUR #6     $2.99
MAY150130     JLA GODS AND MONSTERS BATMAN #1     $3.99
MAY150156     JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001 #2     $2.99
JAN150381     JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC     $39.99
MAR150284     LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT NORM BREYFOGLE HC     $49.99
MAY150170     PREZ #2     $2.99
MAY150178     SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #12     $3.99
MAY150225     SINESTRO #13     $2.99
MAY150166     TEEN TITANS #10     $2.99
APR150304     TRINITY OF SIN TP VOL 01 THE WAGES OF SIN     $14.99
APR150315     VERTIGO CMYK TP (MR)     $19.99
MAY150219     WE ARE ROBIN #2     $3.99
MAY150179     WONDER WOMAN #42     $3.99

DC COMICS/DC COLLECTIBLES

MAR158513     BATMAN BLACK & WHITE HC VOL 1 BOOK & DVD BLU RAY SET     PI
MAR158506     BATMAN YEAR ONE HC BOOK & DVD BLU RAY SET     PI
JAN150421     DC COMICS COVER GIRLS WONDER WOMAN STATUE     $99.95
DEC140437     DC COMICS NEW 52 THE JOKER AF     $24.95
MAR158509     DEATH OF SUPERMAN HC DVD & BLU RAY SET     PI
MAR158507     JLA EARTH 2 HC BOOK & DVD BLU RAY SET     PI
MAR158508     JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL 1 HC ORIGIN BOOK & DVD BLU RAY SET     PI
MAR158510     WONDER WOMAN GODS & MORTAL HC BOOK & DVD BLU RAY SET     PI