Thursday, April 30, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: HELL'S PARADISE: Jigokuraku Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Juji Kaku
LETTERS: Mark McMurray
EDITOR: David Brothers
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1320-2; paperback (March 2020); Rated “M” for “Mature”
216pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $17.99 CAN, £8.99 U.K.

Jigokuraku is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuji Kaku.  It has been serialized weekly for free on the Shōnen Jump+ application (app) and website since January 22, 2018.  As of December 2019, Japanese publisher, Shueisha, has collected the series in eight tankobon (graphic novel) volumes.  VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a graphic novel series, entitled Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku, under its “VIZ Signature” imprint.

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 6) opens in Japan during the “Edo period” (1603 to 1868, specifically between 1773 and 1841 for this story).  The ninja, “Gabimaru the Hollow,” is one of the most vicious assassins to come out of the ninja village of Iwagakure.  However, an act of betrayal results in Gabimaru being captured during a mission and handed a death sentence, but no method of execution can kill him due to his superhuman body.

Besides, Gabimaru claims that he does not care if he is facing death because he no longer cares to live.  The executioner, Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, believes that she has discovered that Gabimaru actually feels otherwise.  Lord Tokugawa Nariyoshi, the 11th Shogun, offers Gabimaru and other monstrous killers sentenced to death a chance at a pardon.  They must travel to a strange island, known as “Shinsenkyo,” where they must find “the elixir of life,” which will make the shogun immortal.  Sagiri and others of her clan will accompany these criminals, but on this island, “Heaven” and “Hell” are said to be practically the same thing!

[This volume includes bonus art and “Translation Notes.”]

The Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku manga is an Edo-period, samurai horror-drama.  It's English title, “Hell's Paradise,” aptly fits the series' horror elements.

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku Graphic Novel Volume 1 is one of the best first volumes of a manga tankobon/graphic novel that I have ever read.  The ethereal, illustrative manner in which Yuji Kaku depicts Gabimaru and Sagiri's internal struggles with the relentless killing in which they engage is a series of gruesome, nightmarish tapestries.  It is like taking some of the most shocking art from the legendary EC Comics' horror titles and multiplying it by the power of 10.  Kaku also enthralls the readers with the mysteries of the island of Shinsenkyo, of which he does give us a nasty taste in Vol. 1.

Caleb Cook's translation captures the demented nature of many of the characters that this volume introduces.  At the same time, Cook feeds us tendrils of story to capture our imagination and to draw us ever deeper into the world of Jigokuraku.  Meanwhile, rather than do the tendril-thing, letterer Mark McMurray slashes and smashes us with the glory of bloodletting that Hell's Paradise offers its unwary visitors... And that is a very good thing.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


I Reads You Juniors April 2020 - Update #84

Support Leroy on Patreon.

Leroy's Amazon Comics and Graphic Novels Page:

DIAMOND - From Newsarama:  This link reveals a list of comic books titles that publishers (including DC Comics) are going to release through Diamond Comic Distributors for May 20, 2020.

DC COMICS - From Newsarama:  DC Comics shipping for May 19 and May 26, 2020.


From BleedingCool:  "Flaming Carrot" creator, Bob Burden, had been hospitalized with COVID-19, but is better now.

From Newsarama:  DC Comics explains why it began distributing its comic books through distributors other than Diamond Comic Distributors during the Diamond-COVID-19 shutdown.

From Newsarama: (4/25) - Diamond Comic Distributors will reportedly resume shipping comic books for the week of Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

From Newsarama: (4/17) -  In the wake of the COVID-19 comic book industry shutdown, DC Comics plans to resume releasing a limited number of print comic books, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, with those comic books also being available in digital editions.

From Newsarama: (4/17) -  Newsarama's Chris Arrant takes a look inside DC Comics' new print distribution plan, which involves two new distributors, "Lunar" and "UCS."

From BleedingCool: (4/17) - Here is a list of comic books that DC Comics will be distributing for the weeks of Tues., April 28th, Tues., May 5th, and Tues., May 12th via Lunar Distribution and USC Comic Distributors.

From Newsarama: (4/17) - Retailer reaction to DC Comics' new distribution model is... mixed.

From BleedingCool: (4/21) - New DC Comics distributor, UCS Comic Distributors, will waive credit card fees and reorder fees for 2 months for comic book retailers ordering from them.

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From Newsarama:  African-American comic book writer-editor and New Yorker, Joseph Illidge ("Heavy Metal"), talks about surviving COVID-19.

From CNN:  Concerns over COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con International 2020.  This is the first cancellation in the 50-year history of the event.

From Newsarama:  So it is official:  Diamond Comic Distributors has targeted mid to late May 2020 to resume distribution of comic books and other products.

From BleedingCool:  The 2020 installments of BookExpo and BookCon have been cancelled.  Both will return in 2021... hopefully.

From ICv2:  Comic book sales may be cold because of COVID-19, but the graphic novel trade continues via a mix retailers.

From BleedingCoolDiamond Comic Distributors could start distributing comic books to comic book shops sometime around Sunday, May 17th, 2020... unless things change with current lock down orders.

From Newsarama:  Director James Gunn says that COVID-19 issues will not delay his upcoming comic book films.  "The Suicide Squad" is still due August 2021, and he still plans to start filming "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3" later this year.

From BleedingCool:  Post-COVID-19, a group of comic book retailers have come up with a plan to change the way things work in "Direct Market" comic books.

From ComicBook:  Todd McFarlane has said that he is open to a Spawn/Spider-Man/Venom comic book crossover.  Fans have long requested a Spawn/Spider-Man crossover, but McFarlane has long resisted.  He says he would do it now to help the comics industry, in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Newsarama:  Humanoids publisher Mark Waid announces the company's revised publishing schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Newsarama:  TOKYOPOP announces its adjusted print and digital comics publishing schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Newsarama:  Diamond Comic Distributors announces that it will resume making payments - partial payments - to its vendors which includes comic book publishers.  Last week, Diamond announced that it was withholding payments due to the industry chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From TheDailyBeast:  The site says "The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Plunged the Comics World into Existential Chaos"

From TheObserver:  Big name Marvel and DC Comics artists are auctioning drawings to help comic book retailers hurt by COVID-19.

From Newsarama:  Marvel Comics has announced that it is pausing work and release on one-third of its planned publications for May and June 2020.

From Newsarama:  So ComicHub isn't happening...

From CBR:  New details have emerged regarding ComicHub's role in distributing new comics during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

From TheConversation:  COVID-19 has shutdown the comic book industry.

From Newsarama:  Voice actor Phil LeMarr reprises his role as "Green Lantern/John Stewart" ("Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited") to recite Green Lantern's oath as a gift to fans who will not set him at conventions this summer because of COVID-19.

From Newsarama:  Diamond Comic Distributors warns the comic book industry that it is having cash flow problems.

PENCILS DOWN - Comic book creators use the term "pencils down" to refer to an order from a comics publisher to cease work on a title.  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the comic book industry practically to a standstill with "pencils down" orders flying fast and furious:

From BleedingCoolMarvel Comics has informed more freelance creators to pause their work on Marvel assignments.

From Newsarama:  Writer-artist Sophie Campbell says that IDW has instructed her to stop producing work on its "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" comic book series "for now," with work stop with issue #105.  TMNT #105 to 107 have been solicited

From Newsarama:  Writer Larry Hama says that IDW has told him to suspend any current writing he is doing on the long-running "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" comic book, which IDW currently publishes.


From Newsarama:  Legendary Argentine comic book writer and artist, Juan Gimenez, died at the age of 76, Wednesday, April 2, 2020.  He is best known for drawing "The Metabarons," for writer Alejandro Jodorowsky.  His other series include "The Fourth Power" and "Leo Roa."  He designed the "Harry Canyon" segment for the animated feature film, "Heavy Metal" (1981).  He had been diagnosed with COVID-19.



EUROCOMICS - From BleedingCool:  There is one more "Asterix" graphic novel coming from the original creative team, the late writer Rene Goscinny and the recently deceased artist Albert Uderzo.  "Asterix and the Golden Menhir" arrives on October 21st by Albert René Editions in France and Belgium and by Panini in other territories.

COMICS - From Newsarama:  Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are returning to their creations, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin."  It is an adaptation of an unpublished story from 1987.

NEWSPAPER COMICS - From TulsaWorldRussell Myers reflects on the 50-year history of his newspaper comic strip, "Broom-Hilda," and its Tulsa Oklahoma roots.

MANGA - From BleedingCool:  Yen Press announces a new manga title, "I'm a Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster, but Mistaken for a Cat, I Live as an Elf Girl's Pet."

DC COMICS - From Newsarama:  DC Comics announces new "digital first" comics for Monday, April, 27th.

MARVEL - From Newsarama:  Marvel Comics confirms that it will not publish any new print or digital comic books the week of April 27th, although its rival, DC Comics, will resume publishing new print comic books that week.

BRITISH COMICS - From Newsarama:  The U.K. comics franchise, "Tank Girl," is moving from Titan Publishing to American publisher, Albatross Funnybooks.

NEWSPAPER COMICS - From WashPostSteenz and Bianca Xunise become rare examples of African-American women drawing newspaper comic strips.

COMICS - From NewsaramaTodd McFarlane talks bout the development of his art style.

DC COMICS - From Newsarama:  Does DC Comics' "expansion" of its "digital first" line of comics foreshadow bigger changes.

MANGA TO FILM - From Variety:  Sony is developing a live-action film based on the superhero-monster manga, "One-Punch Man."

SONY MARVEL U - From THR:  The "Venom" sequel has an official title, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," and a new release date, June 25, 2021 (from October 2, 2020).

DC CINEMA - From Variety:  Matt Reeves' film, "The Batman," is among the films that Warner Bros. are giving a release date change.

DC CINEMA - From YahooEntertainmentAlicia Silverstone portrayed "Batgirl" in the much maligned 1997 Batman film, "Batman & Robin."  In an interview, Silverstone says that some of the criticism for the film that was leveled at her involved "body-shaming," including some critics calling her "Fatgirl."

WEBCOMICS - From BleedingCool:  TV actor ("In the Heat of the Night") and writer ("Law and Order: Criminal Intent") and comic book writer ("Solo" and "Mosaic" for Marvel Comics), Geoffrey Thorne, talks to "Bleeding Cool" about his upcoming webcomics.

IMAGE COMICS TV - From DeadlineRodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander's killer of a comic book series, "Killadelphia," is being developed for television.

DC TV - From Variety:  One of the TV series that J.J. Abrams will be producing for HBO Max will be based on DC Comics' "Justice League Dark" franchise.

WEBCOMICS - From Newsarama:  Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Marcos Martin have launched a new digital comic, "Friday," at the site, "Panel Syndicate."

COMICS HISTORY - From ScreenRant:  The site offers a history of the American comic book "Direct Market."

COMIC SHOP - From CoolHunting: A Brooklyn, NY comic shop, Loot, turns children's drawings of superheroes into action figures.

MANGA - From ComicBook:  Junji Ito, the master of horror manga and horror comics, has a new manga and it has an appropriate title - "Disturbing Zone."

MARVEL TV - From Newsarama:  ABC says the "Agents of SHIELD" will return for the beginning of its final season May 27th.

COMICS - From Newsarama:  Jim Starlin has come out of retirement to produce a new entry in his classic creator-owned comic, "Dreadstar," the first in over 30 years.

COMICS - From Newsarama:  Penn State University (Pennsylvania State University) is launching its own comics imprint, "Graphic Mundi"

COMICS TO FILM - From Newsarama:  Comic book publisher BOOM! Studios signs a first-look deal with Netflix.

MARVEL COMICS -  From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics executive president and creative director Joe Quesada is showing artwork that he is drawing for an unannounced Marvel Comics project.

IMAGE COMICS - From BleedingCool:  Image Comics publisher, Eric Stephenson, has registered a trademark for "Pacific Comics PC," based on the old comic book store chain, publisher, and distributor.

ALAN MOORE - From BleedingCool:  Read Alan Moore's original proposal for the "America's Best Comics" line at Wildstorm.

COMICS TO FILM - From Newsarama:  Todd McFarlane says his "Spawn" movies, which he will write and direct, is still on track, despite rumors that the production has lost steam.

IN MEMORIAM - From Deadline:  The cartoonist, caricaturist, and comic book artist, Mort Drucker, has died at the age of 91, Wednesday, March 8, 2020.  Drucker is best known for drawing "Mad Magazine" for over five decades, where he specialized in satirizing films, television series, and their stars, actors, and filmmakers.

DC TV:  From Deadline:  Actor Erik Valdez (formerly of "General Hospital") has been cast as "Kyle Cushing," the husband of classic Superman character, "Lana Lang," in The CW's "Superman & Lois."

COMICS AWARDS - From Newsarama:  The nominees for the 2020 Hugo Awards, the most prestigious awards in science fiction, have been announced.  They have a comics category ("Best Graphic Story or Comic").

COMICS AWARDS - From Newsarama:  The nominees for the 2020 / 16th Annual Doug Wright Awards have been announced.  The Doug Wright Awards recognize English-language Canadian comics, although Canada is a bilingual nation (French and English).  The winners will be announced Sat., May 9, 2020.

FOX MARVEL U - From GamesRadar:  The runtime of "The New Mutants" is reportedly 94 minutes, which if true, would make it the shortest "X-Men" movie.

COMICS TO FILM - From Newsarama:  Netflix has debuted a trailer for "Extraction," a new film by Joe and Anthony Russo, the brothers behind the final two Avengers film.  Starring Chris Hemsworth ("Thor"), "Extraction" is based on the Russos' graphic novel, "Ciudad," which was published by Oni Press.

DC ANIMATION - From Newsarama:  Shazam joins the DC Comics' Lego animation line with "Shazam!: Magic and Monsters."  The film will get an April 28th digital release before a June 16th Blu-ray and DVD release.

DC TV - Deadline:  Actress Emmanuelle Chriqui has been cast "Lana Lang" in The CW's "Superman & Lois" series.

COMICS - From Brattleboro:  Longtime comic book writer, artist, creator, and publisher, Rick Veitch, has been named the state of Vermon's fourth "cartoonist laureate."

MANGA TO ANIME - From ComicBook:  The "Black Clover" anime will produce its first original story line outside of what is being produced for the "Black Clover" manga.

MANGA TO ANIME - From ScreenRant:  The "Bleach" anime enters its final season and will adapt the "Bleach" manga's "Thousand-Year Blood War" story arc.

COMICS TO FILM - From IndieWire:  Quentin Tarantino apparently once wanted to make a move featuring Marvel's "Luke Cage" with Laurence Fishburne in the lead role, but friends talked him out of it...

X-MEN - From BleedingCool:  It seems that once upon a time, almost five decades ago, X-Men artist John Byrne envisioned a different man behind Wolverine's mask.

DC TV - From Deadline:  The actor Dylan Walsh has been cast as "General Lane," the father of "Lois Lane" in The CW's upcoming TV series, "Superman & Lois."

MANGA - From Newsarama:  Kodansha USA Publishing announced that it will maintain release dates on some of its titles, release some in digital format, and change dates for others.  This involves its "Kodansha Comics" and "Vertical" imprints.

COMICS - From ScreenRant:  The auction house, Sotheby's, is selling Ian Levin's collection of every DC Comics published from 1934 to 2014.

DIGITAL COMICS - From BleedingCool:  Action Lab launches "Lucifer's Knight" on comiXology.


From BleedingCool:  Ablaze Media for April 2020
From BleedingCool:  Ahoy Comics for April 2020
From BleedingCool:  Amigo Comics for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Antarctic Press for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Archie Comics for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Dark Horse Comics for April 2020
From Newsarama:  DC Comics for April 2020
From BleedingCool:  Devil's Due for April 2020
From BleedingCool:  IDW Publishing for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Image Comics for April 2020
From BleedingCool:  Keenspot for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Marvel Comics for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Scout Comics for April 2020
From Newsarama:  Valiant Entertainment for April 2020

From Newsarama:  A full-list of titles available for "Free Comic Book Day 2020" on May 2, 2020.
From BleedingCool:  AfterShock Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Ahoy Comics for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Antarctic Press for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Archie Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Artists, Writers & Artisans for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Aspen for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Behemoth Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Black Mask Studios for May 2020
From Newsarama:  BOOM! Studios for May 2020
From Newsarama:  BOOM! Studios for May 2020 [REVISED]
From Newsarama:  Dark Horse Comics for May 2020
From Newsarama:  DC Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Hero Complex for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Hero Tomorrow for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  IDW Publihsing for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Image Comics for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Mad Cave Studios for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Marvel Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Oni Press for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Red 5 Comics for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Scout Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Source Point Press for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Storm King Productions for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Titan Comics for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Valiant Entertainment for May 2020
From Newsarama:  Vault Comics for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  VIZ Media for May 2020
From BleedingCool:  Yen Press for May 2020

From BleedingCool:  AfterShock Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Antarctic Press for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Archie Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  BOOM! Studios for June 2020
From Newsarama:  BOOM! Studios for June 2020 [REVISED]
From BleedingCool:  Dark Horse Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  DC Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Dynamite Entertainment for June 2020
From BleedingCool:  Hero Collector for June 2020
From Newsarama:  IDW Publishing for June 2020
From BleedingCool:  Image Comics for June 2020
From BleedingCool:  Mad Cave for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Marvel Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Oni Press for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Scout Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Source Point Press for June 2020
From BleedingCool:  Titan Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Vault Comics for June 2020
From Newsarama:  Valiant Entertainment for June 2020
From BleedingCool:  VIZ Media for June 2020

From Newsarama:  Behemoth Comics for July 2020
From BleedingCool:  Hero Collector for July 2020
From Newsarama:  Scout Comics for July 2020


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: SAMURAI 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

CREATOR/STORY: Masashi Kishimoto
ART: Akira Okubo
LETTERS: Snir Aharon
EDITOR: Alexis Kirsch
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1502-2; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru is a shonen manga series created and written by Masashi Kishimoto (of Naruto fame) and illustrated by Akira Okubo.  Samurai 8 has been serialized in the Japanese manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump, since May 2019.  VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a graphic novel series, released under its “Shonen Jump” imprint.

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru, Vol. 1 (entitled “The First Key” – Chapters 1 to 6) introduces Hachimaru.  He has always dreamed of becoming a samurai.  Samurai carry special souls within themselves and can travel through space as easily as they walk the earth.  Only the most powerful warriors are able to transcend their human bodies and become something even greater – samurai!

Hachimaru, however, is as weak as they come, and he is so sickly that he can’t even eat solid foods.  Being too weak to leave his house has turned Hachimaru into an expert at video games, so at least he gets to play samurai video games, at which he is very good.  But one day, his father's secrets and the arrival of a samurai cat named “Daruma” combine to give Hachimaru a chance to live his dream.  With enough heart, could Hachimaru become a true samurai?

The Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru manga is creator Masashi Kishimoto's follow-up to his legendary, smash hit manga, Naruto.  [The Naruto sequel, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, is written and drawn by a new writer-artist team.]  Kishimoto created Samurai 8 and writes the story and produces the storyboards.  Newcomer artist Akira Okubo draws Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru.

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Graphic Novel Volume 1 is quite a read.  Kishimoto packs the six chapters that comprise Vol. 1 with internal mythology, although the cast, as yet, is not large.  The lead character, Hachimaru, seems like a blank slate.  What he does share with Naruto is a sense of determination, but Naruto was a more fully formed character in his first volume than Hachimaru is in his first volume.  However, Hachimaru's innocence is endearing, and that is the thing that draws me (at least) to him.

I don't know how much of Akira Okubo's work in these first six chapters is drawn with the aid of assistants, but Okubo's graphical style is gorgeous.  Okubo draws like the late Moebius, but the younger artist's compositions are not as streamlined as Moebius'.  In this first volume, the illustrations are so cluttered that they sometimes fill the graphical storytelling with the kind of static that comes between the artist/storyteller and his audience.

I don't want to make it sound like I have reservations about Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru.  I am excited about this series, and like Naruto and Boruto, I am eager for more.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: SEVEN DAYS: Sunday-Monday

SUBLIME MANGA/Taiyoh Tosho Co., Ltd. – @SuBLimeManga

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Venio Tachibana
ART: Rihito Takarai
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
LETTERS: Deborah Fisher
EDITOR: Jennifer LeBlanc
ISBN: 978-1-9747-0927-4; paperback (December 2019); Rated “T” for “Teen”
372pp, B&W, $16.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN, £10.99 UK

Seven Days is a boys' love manga from writer Venio Tachibana and artist Rihito Takarai.  Boys' love (or BL) manga depicts amorous situations between male romantic leads.  There is a sub-set of boys' love manga known as “shounen-ai,” that usually does not feature graphic depictions of sexuality.  Seven Days is essentially shounen-ai.

Seven Days was serialized in the Japanese yaoi manga anthology magazine, Craft, from 2007 to 2009.  The story was released in two parts, Seven Days: Monday–Thursday and Seven Days: Friday–Sunday.  Seven Days was collected in two tankobon (graphic novels) under those titles, Seven Days: Monday–Thursday (published in Japan in 2007) and Seven Days: Friday–Sunday (2009).

Digital Manga Publishing's (DMP) imprint, Juné Manga, released an English-language edition of the first graphic novel in 2010, and the second in 2011.  In March 2019, VIZ Media took over English distribution rights.  In December 2019, VIZ published both Seven Days graphic novels in a single, English-language paperback omnibus edition (a “2-in-1 edition”), entitled Seven Days: Monday–Sunday, under its SuBLime Manga imprint.

Seven Days: Monday–Sunday introduces two male students attending Hoka Private Academy.  The first is Yuzuru Shino, a bored and disillusioned third-year high school student.  The second is Toji Seryo, a popular first-year student at school.  Yuzuru has heard the rumor that Toji will accept anyone who asks him out on a date at the beginning of the week (on Monday), and that he ends the relationship after seven days of dating (on Sunday).

On a lark, Yuzuru decides to ask Toji out as a half-hearted joke, but, to his surprise, Toji accepts the offer.  Over the course of seven days, Yuzuru's feelings for Toji grow, and although Toji seems sincere, Yuzuru does not quite trust this erstwhile playboy.  Still, Yuzuru begins to dread the impending day when Toji will inevitably end their relationship.

[This volume includes a bonus story, “Goodbye for Now,” and an “Afterword” and an “Author Note.”]

The Seven Days: Monday–Sunday manga may or may not be “shounen-ai” as I have labeled it.  However, it is such a gentle, puppy-love type, high school romance that I could also label it as quasi-shojo manga, which are essentially comics for teen girls.  The primary audience for BL manga is female readers.

The Seven Days: Monday–Sunday Graphic Novel is rated “T” (Teen), and although I have previously read BL manga with a “teen” rating, I have not read many.  Thus, it is jarring to see two teen males starring in a BL manga and not “getting it on.”  Talk about non-graphic depiction of a sexual relationships; Yuzuru and Toji do not engage in sexual intercourse.

Still, creators Venio Tachibana (writer) and Rihito Takarai (artist) present a story that is so oddly endearing.  Every time, I picked up the Seven Days: Monday–Sunday Graphic Novel, I felt an urgency to keep reading so that I could see where Yuzuru and Toji's relationship was going.  Obviously, I was hoping to eventually come across some good-old fashioned male-on-male action of the yaoi manga variety.  However, a part of me wanted to see if their love was real, or see who would dump whom.  Would Yuzuru break-up with Toji before he could break-up with him?  Or was Yuzuru simply going to wait for the inevitable and proverbial “shoe-to-drop?”  That is when Toji would say to Yuzuru, “I'm sorry. I couldn't fall for you. Let's break up.”

Well, there is a happy ending, so there... I have spoiled it for you, dear readers.  Seriously, Adrienne Beck's translation makes this cool story simmer by turning awkward dialogue into conversations full of longing, searching, and yearning.  Deborah Fisher's lettering gives this story a steady pace and keeps the dialogue from seeming too measured and too cool.  So, the English-language edition of Seven Days: Monday–Sunday is not the greatest boys' love story of all time.  Still, it finds a way to make a seven-day romance seem like the most important thing in the world – simply because readers will end up rooting for the romance to lunge past the seven-day mark.

7 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Monday, April 27, 2020

DC Comics from Diamond Distributors for April 28, 2020

DC Comics New Comic Books - Tuesday, April 28, 2020:

Batman #89 (3rd Printing)
Featuring the first appearance of Punchline!

Daphne Byrne #4
Daphne gains a new ally as she continues to wrestle with the malevolent forces within her!

The Dreaming #20
The unbelievable finale to Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely’s epic tale from the Sandman Universe!

Nightwing #70 (2nd Printing)
The Clown Prince of Crime comes to Ric Grayson and Bludhaven in this prelude to The Joker War!

Batman GIANT #4
Classic stories from the world of The Dark Knight, plus an all-new chapter of the original story “Concrete Jungle,” by Mark Russell (Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles) and Ryan Benjamin!


Thursday, April 23, 2020

#IReadsYou Book Review: THE BIG LIE

HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins @HarperBooks

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

AUTHOR: James Grippando – @James_Grippando
ISBN: 978-0-06-291504-7; hardcover (February 25, 2020)
368pp, B&W, $27.99 U.S.

The Big Lie is a 2020 legal thriller novel from author and attorney James Grippando.  It is Grippando's 28th novel and also the 16th novel starring Grippando’s Miami-based, criminal defense attorney, Jack Swyteck.  Grippando is the 2017 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction (for 2016's Gone Again – Jack Swyteck #12).  In The Big Lie, Swyteck lands right in the middle of an Electoral College battle to determine the Presidency of the United States.

The Big Lie opens at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida where the Democratic Party is crowning its latest candidate for president, Florida's junior U.S. Senator Evan Stahl, Jr.  There is, however, a persistent rumor that Sen. Stahl is having an extramarital affair and that his lover might be another man.

Cut to November, and the Machiavellian incumbent, President Malcolm MacLeod (an obvious stand-in for President Donald Trump), is claiming victory.  However, he will need the Electoral College to win re-election, because he lost the popular vote by over five million votes.  Now, the Electoral College battle for the White House lands in a Florida courtroom, and Jack Swyteck finds himself with a new client, Charlotte Lee Holmes, a “faithless elector.”  Holmes is a member of the Florida's Electoral College contingent, bound by law and by oath to vote for the winner of Florida, President MacLeod... by the slimmest of margins  Holmes has announced that she will cast her Electoral College vote for Sen. Stahl.

Jack is the caught between a corrupt president (MacLeod) and his manipulative opponent (Stahl).  President MacLeod was recently spared from impeachment only because his political foes were certain they would oust him at the ballot box. Now, he appears to have secured a second term, thanks to a narrow victory in the Electoral College, and he and his allies, including a duplicitous Florida state attorney general, will do anything to keep Holmes' decision from turning others into “faithless electors”.

The president and his Florida machine drag Charlotte Holmes into court on felony charges, which are not enough charges for some.  Jack Swyteck may be the only attorney that can keep Charlotte from being ruled unfit to remain an elector.  Meanwhile, Stahl refuses to concede the election and hopes to convince other members of the Electoral College to become “faithless electors.”

But the media frenzy around Stahl's affair is getting worse, and soon there are threats of violence and actual violence.  Salacious details about Charlotte's life are dredged up, and Jack and his client may have to make their last stand in a stand-your-ground state.

THE LOWDOWN:  I read my first Jack Swyteck novel, Blood Money, back in 2013 when it was first published, and since then, I eagerly await each new Swyteck novel.  The Big Lie is the seventh Swyteck novel I have read and the ninth novel by James Grippando novel that I have read and reviewed.

The Big Lie is many things and is the most genre-bending or genre-crossing Grippando novel that I have read.  It is a legal thriller (of course), a political thriller, a crime thriller, and an action thriller (of sorts).  It is also a family drama and melodrama; for instance, The Big Lie delves into Jack Swyteck's relationship with his dying stepmother.  The families of Charlotte Holmes and Evan Stahl, Jr. are also each a cauldron of hot mess.

I have to be honest.  The Big Lie is a riveting, page-turning read, but it does not quite meet the high standards that Grippando set with the previous four Swyteck novels.  However, Grippando continues to create engaging new characters with each novel, while making returning characters all the more lovable.  So quality characters drive the narrative of The Big Lie, which is why it is another hugely enjoyable James Grippando novel, and that is the big truth.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of political thrillers and of James Grippando will find that The Big Lie is a must-read.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: VAMPIRE KNIGHT: Memories Volume 4


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Matsuri Hino
TRANSLATION: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Nancy Thislethwaite
LETTERS: Inori Fukuda Trant
EDITOR: Nancy Thislethwaite
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1076-8; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
208pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Vampire Knight is a vampire romance and shojo manga from creator Matsuri Hino.  It was first serialized in the shojo manga magazine, LaLa, from 2004 to 2013.  It was collected in 19 tankōbon (similar to a graphic novel), and VIZ Media published the manga in an English-language edition as a graphic novel series under its “Shojo Beat” format.

Vampire Knight is set in and around Cross Academy, a school for vampires (the “Night Class”) and humans (the “Day Class”) and focused mostly on the following characters: Headmaster Kaien Cross; his stepdaughter, Yuki Cross, a pure-blood vampire; Zero Kiryu, a human suffering from the curse of the vampire; and Kaname Kuran, the progenitor of a pure-blood vampire family line.  At the end of Vampire Knight, Kaname sacrifices his body to create new vampire-killing weapons for the vampire-hunting Hunter Society and then, sleeps for a thousand years.

A few years after the end of the original series, Hino began producing a series of “special chapters.”  These “Memories” are chapters that recount the events which occurred during Kaname's slumber.  VIZ Media publishes Vampire Knight: Memories annually as a single-volume graphic novel.

Vampire Knight: Memories, Vol. 4 opens with the story, “Dark Shadows of the Underground.”  It is a precarious time in the relationship between vampires and humans.  A mysterious group calling itself the “Vampire King” has launched a terrorist campaign of bombings.  Yuki and Zero are determined to capture the Vampire King, a mission that will take them deep into the underground areas beneath the city.  With the help of Maria Kurenai, a young leader in the Hunter Society, they close in on the quarry.  Their target, however, is also prepared for them and has plans to take prisoners.

In “One Step After a Hundred Years,” Yuki realizes just how shocking what she blurted out to Zero is.  What will she do about what she said?  Is she willing to join Zero in a life-changing event?  Finally, in the stories, “The Hope Inside a Photo Album” and “Goodbye and Hello,” a rabble-rousing human mayor of a nearby city pulls a publicity stunt that leads to Headmaster Cross making a decision that will have momentous consequences.

[This volume includes the bonus story, “The End of a Certain Lady;” the one-page comic, “Memories of Little Consequence;” and “Editor's Notes.”]

I am a fan of the Vampire Knight manga, although I did not like the final graphic novel, Vampire Knight, Vol. 19.  As for the Vampire Knight: Memories manga, the various chapters have been of uneven quality.  Some are exceptionally good, while others run the gamut from good, to bad, to average. The graphic novel collections have been good, especially Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 stood out by focusing on romance.

Vampire Knight: Memories Graphic Novel Volume 4 picks up on a theme and plot line that began to play out in Vol. 3 – the rising tensions between humans and vampires after a period of peace between the two races.  Vol. 4 is filled with tense stand-offs, kidnappings, rescues, subterfuge, suspicion, bombings, and mad scientists.  There is also some romance and a shocking turn of events that I do not want to spoil.  I can say that in the chapters that comprise Vol. 4, creator Matsuri Hino has brought back the mystery and the violence and the romance and the drama that were the highlights of the best chapters in the original run of Vampire Knight.

Tetsuichiro Miyaki (translation) and Nancy Thislethwaite (English adaptation) do stellar work conveying the deep feelings of love and family between characters like Yuki, Zero, Headmaster Cross, and Ren and Ai (Yuki and Kaname's children).  They also capture the heartfelt emotions, the sadness, and the sense of hope that define the end of Vol. 4.  Inori Fukuda Trant's lovely and quiet lettering emphasizes the drama with power that lingers after the final page.

Fans of the original series would serve themselves well to obtain this fourth volume of Vampire Knight: Memories, especially if they have not really followed the series since its English-language debut in 2017.  Vol 4 is a winner for sure.

10 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM: Perfect Edition Volume 2


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Kazuo Umezz
TRANSLATION: Sheldon Drzka
LETTERING: Evan Waldinger
EDITOR: Joel Enos
ISBN: 978-1-9747-0938-0; hardcover (February 2020); Rated “M” for “Mature”
760pp, B&W, $34.99 U.S., $46.99 CAN, £28.00 UK

The Drifting Classroom is a legendary shonen manga from creator, Kazuo Umezz.  Many manga creators, fans, and critics consider Umezz to be the most influential horror manga artist ever.  Starting in October 2019, VIZ began publishing a new English language edition of The Drifting Classroom in its “perfect edition” format.  According to VIZ, The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition features an all-new translation and new content and revised story elements gathered in a deluxe hardcover format.  If I understand correctly, the original eleven graphic novels in The Drifting Classroom series will be collected in three hardcover omnibus books with a trim size of 5 3/4  x 8 1/4.

The Drifting Classroom focuses on sixth-grader Sho Takamatsu.  One morning, Sho's school, Yamato Elementary School, is apparently struck by the tremors of an earthquake.  People near Yamato discover that the school has disappeared after the earthquake; at first, they think the school was destroyed in an explosion.  However, Sho, the teachers, the students of Yamato Elementary, and a visiting pre-school child (Yuichi “Yu” Onodo) emerge from the school to discover that Yamato Elementary is now surrounded by what seems like an endless wasteland of sand.  They come to believe that in the aftermath of the massive earthquake, the school has been transported to the future.

As The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition, Vol. 2 (Chapters 16 to 29) opens, the surviving students have accepted that they have been somehow transported into the distant future – at least some of them.  Now, they are confronted by strange plants and strange bugs, suddenly appearing in a world they believed to be barren.  But is any of it real?  That is what Sho and the other students have to figure out when a giant bug-monster attacks the school.

Then, what seems like a moving black mass is eating the students alive.  Plus, the students fight what may be an epidemic of the “Black Plague.”  Sho's mother, Emiko Takamatsu, finds a way to bridge “separated time” in order to help Sho.  Some of the students go on a rampage, and others create a crazy new religion.  And finally, an old adversary returns.

I previously called The Drifting Classroom manga a mixture of horror and science fiction.  The series is a seamless blend of horror and science fiction, and I really can't tell where one genre begins and the other ends.  The science fiction side of the narrative follows the adventures of a group of elementary school students trapped in what resembles a post-apocalyptic world.  The horror element focuses on the students in constant brutal conflict that gradually, inevitably shrinks the population that was originally 862 humans.

The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition Volume 2 focuses on the endless conflicts in which the children face – man versus man; man versus nature; and man versus himself.  Several times while reading Vol. 2, I thought of Lord of the Flies, and other times the characters seemed like nothing more than hapless castaways lost on another world.

Sheldon Drzka (translation) and Molly Danzer (English adaptation) present dialogue that perfectly captures the breakneck pace of The Drifting Classroom and also the desperation and the mania of the students.  Umezz brilliantly fashioned a series of terrifying situations in which to place his characters, and as much as they thrill me, I also find poignant moments in the English-language version .

I highly recommend this second volume of The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition to fans of horror manga and to fans of classic manga series.  It is a must-read, and, for the “special edition” collectors, a must-have.

8.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA Volume 15


MANGAKA: Kohei Horikoshi
LETTERS: John Hunt
EDITORS: Mike Montesa; Jon Bae
ISBN: 978-1-9747-0100-1; paperback (October 2018); Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

My Hero Academia is a Japanese superhero manga series written and illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi.  It has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since July 2014.  VIZ Media has been publishing an English-language edition of My Hero Academia as a series of graphic novels since 2015 under its “Shonen Jump” imprint.

The series is set in a world where, one day, people start manifesting superpowers called “Quirks.”  Some use their powers to commit crime, which creates the need for heroes.  If someone wants to be a superhero, he or she enrolls in the Hero Academy.  What would a person do, however, if he were one of the 20 percent born Quirkless?  Middle school student Izuku Midoriya has no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes.  Then, Midoriya meets the greatest hero of them all, All Might, who gives him a chance to change his destiny…

As My Hero Academia, Vol. 15 (Chapters 129 to 137; entitled “Fighting Fate”) opens, Midoriya is on his work study, patrolling the streets with his new mentor, the “permeation” phasing-warping hero, “Mirio Togata.”  Mirio is also the sidekick of “Sir Nighteye,” who is now in charge of Midoriya's work study.  Now, the young hero and Mirio encounter Eri, a young girl in need of help.  Suddenly, a man claiming to be her father appears.  Is he Chisaki Kai, the notorious leader of the secretive yakuza organization known as “Shie Hassaikai,” and if he is, whatcha gonna do, heroes...?

Next, the U.A. High third year “Big Three”:  “Fat Gum,” “Tamaki Amajiki,” and “Red Riot” encounter a territorial dispute among criminals.  One of them is a troubled young man who is more dangerous than he looks – much more dangerous...

[This volume includes bonus art and bonus illustrated character profiles.]

THE LOWDOWN:  People who have read my reviews of previous volumes of the My Hero Academia manga know that I really like this series.  It is one of the best (if not the best) superhero comic books in the entire world.

My Hero Academia Graphic Novel Volume 15 is a pivotal volume, as was Vol. 14.  Vols. 12 and 13 were turning point volumes.  Vols. 14 and 15 find creator Kohei Horikoshi working on the next big confrontation between the good guys and the really bad guys.  Yeah, “the League of Villains” is still at it, but with a bad-to-the-bone and bad-ass new ally.

Caleb Cook's translation captures the fun that is at the heart of My Hero Academia.  Cook's translation reads the way a superhero comic book should; there is a sense of mystery, a conspiracy, and a riveting, fast-paced narrative that forces the readers to follow along.  John Hunt powers through with lettering that conveys the pot boiling and the slam-bang action.  He helps to make Vol. 15 one of My Hero Academia's best volumes.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of superhero comics and of shonen battle manga will want to enroll at the “Shonen Jump” school, My Hero Academia.

10 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and  syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Io Sakisaka
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Nancy Thislethwaite
LETTERS: Sara Linsley
EDITOR: Nancy Thislethwaite
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1309-7; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 US, $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Love Me, Love Me Not is a shōjo manga written and illustrated by Io Sakisaka, the creator of such manga as Strobe Edge and Ao Haru Ride.  Love Me, Love Me Not was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine, Bessatsu Margaret, from 2015 to 2019.  VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of Love Me, Love Me Not as a series of graphic novels.

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) opens the spring before Yuna Ichihara enters her first year of high school.  She is pained that her best friend, Satchan, is moving away.  On her way to the train station to say good-bye to her, Yuna meets a strange girl about her age, and the girl asks Yuna for money.  The girl, Akari Yamamoto, promises to pay Yuna the following day, which she does.  When they leave the train station, however, they discover that they live in the same apartment building.

The girls instantly become friends, but discover that they explore and look at love in completely different ways.  Yuna is an idealist, and Akari is a realist.  Throw in Yuna's childhood friend, Kazuomi Inui, and Akari's brother, Rio, and this becomes a complicated case of love and friendship.

The Love Me, Love Me Not manga is like creator Io Sakisaka's other manga.  Sakisaka's shojo romances are sweet confections... on the surface, but bite enough times and you, dear readers, will find a pungent or tart side.

Love Me, Love Me Not Graphic Novel Volume 1 offers so much of Sakisaka's lovely, ethereal art.  It looks like a film shot through greased lens.  The heart of the story is a bit more solid.  Yuna and Akari are teen girls in a state of growth and change, and as they navigate their first year of high schools, their thoughts and feelings don't fit simple descriptions like “idealist” (Yuna) and “realist” (Akari).  The “tart” or edgy elements arrive at the end of this first volume.

JN Productions (translation) and Nancy Thislethwaite (English adaptation) do excellent work capturing the nuances of this story.  While reading Vol. 1, readers will find that Yuna, Akari, Inui, and Rio are four distinct personalities, and, as these characters are endearing, they will want to meet again.  Also, Sara Linsley strikes the perfect tone with her lettering... especially for that killer ending.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Monday, April 6, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: CHAOS CAMPUS: Extra Credit #7


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: B. Alex Thompson – @ApproBAT
ART: Ricardo Mendez
COLORS: Alivon Ortiz
EDITORS: B. Alex Thompson and John P. Ward
COVER: Ricardo Mendez (2017 Monterey Comic Con Convention Exclusive cover)
32pp, Color, $9.99 U.S./.99¢ digital-comic (2017; digital release date – April 12, 2017)

Rated: Teen 13+ / 15+ Only – comiXology rating

Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies created by B. Alex Thompson

“The NecroMager”

Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies is a zombie apocalypse comic book series that mixes in elements of comedy, horror, and adventure.  The creation of B. Alex Thompson, Chaos Campus is published by Thompson's company, Approbation Comics.  Chaos Chaos is set during a zombie invasion and follows the adventures of three members of the sorority, Epsilon Alpha Zeta Upsilon (EAZY):  ass-kickin’ Jamie Lynn Schaeffer, brainy and magic-wielding Paige Helena Patton, and sexy Brittany Ann Miller.

Thompson is also producing a Chaos Campus side series, Chaos Campus: Extra Credit, which offers readers something “extra,” but (apparently) in continuity to the main series.  Thompson also releases a “convention exclusive” variant cover edition of Extra Credit.  Thompson recently provided me a copy-for-review of Chaos Campus: Extra Credit #7 – Convention Exclusive 2017 (for the Monterey Comic Con).

Chaos Campus: Extra Credit #7 opens in the middle of Paige's funky dream that finds her in a too-revealing swimsuit, in a situation of submission and humiliation, and in a meeting the mysterious Locus.  Back in the waking world, Paige reunites with Jamie and Paige and also with the ongoing battle against the “Neo-Zombies.”

There are also some new complications.  Jamie makes a shocking announcement.  A killing machine named “Denvey” joins the fray.  Locus is real, and she has friend named “Spook.”  And a friend, Brian, turns out to be a budding magic-baddie and a total frickin' asshole and ass-wipe.

As usual, I enjoy whatever Chaos Campus comic book I read.  Chaos Campus: Extra Credit #7 does not have the dramatic (or humorous) chops of the regular series, but it is wacky, offbeat, and gleefully gruesome.  I enjoyed the guest characters:  Locus, Spook, and Denvey, which are the property of comic book creator, Adam Black.

The art by Ricardo Mendez is quite nice.  What he lacks as an experienced draftsman, Mendez makes up with imaginative illustrations.  To me, Mendez feels like a natural at comic book storytelling.  As usual, Alivon Ortiz delivers strong coloring, this time conveying the chaotic situation of this issue.  Letterer, Krugos, gets the most out of “sound effects,” especially “Budda Budda” for gunfire.

So, for those who can't get enough zombie education from Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies, you'll get schooled in the ways of necromancy and backstabbing in Chaos Campus: Extra Credit #7.  You, dear reader, can even get this “Extra Credit” from comiXology.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

Buy Chaos Campus: Extra Credit #7 at comiXology.
Visit Adam Black and Locus Comics at

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint or syndication rights and fees.


Friday, April 3, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: BLACK PANTHER #1

BLACK PANTHER No. 1 (2005)

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Reginald Hudlin
PENCILS: John Romita, Jr.
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Dean White
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos
COVER:  John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson with Dean White
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S., $4.25 CAN (April 2005)

“Who is the Black Panther?” Part One

The Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, is a Marvel Comics character and was the first black superhero to appear in mainstream American comics.  Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (cover dated:  July 1966).

On occasion, I have come across some Black Panther comic books that I have liked, and Black Panther has appeared as a guest or co-star in other comic book series that I find memorable, such as in Fantastic Four #241, during John Byrne's incredible run as writer-artist during the early to mid-1980s.

Still, the Black Panther comic book that I have loved the most did not arrive until early 2005.  That year, Marvel Comics launched a new Black Panther series under the “Marvel Knights” (MK) banner.  It was written by Reginald Hudlin, a movie director and producer, who was best known, at the time, for directing House Party (1990) and Boomerang (1992).  He would go on to earn a best picture Oscar nomination as one of the producers of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012).  This Black Panther comic book was drawn by John Romita, Jr. (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks); colored by Dean White; and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.

Black Panther #1 (“Who is the Black Panther?” Part One) opens in the Black Panther home land, the central African nation of Wakanda, during the 5th century A.D.  The story also visits Wakanda during the 19th century.  It seems that these are two moments in Wakandan history when the mysterious nation ably defended itself from outside raiders.  In the early 21st century, however, outside forces seek to penetrate the defenses and veil of Wakanda, this time successfully.

Within the last year, Marvel Studios has announced that it is producing a Black Panther feature film; has cast an actor to play Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman); and has selected a director for the film (Ryan Coogler).  So I decided to re-read 2005 Black Panther #1 again, which I had not read since it was first published.  It would be a start to rereading as much of that series as I could before Black Panther makes his first feature film appearance in the upcoming film, Captain America: Civil War.  Another reason for me to revisit this series is the anticipation of author, journalist, and political and cultural commentator, Ta-Nehisi Coates' upcoming work on the character.

I think what I like about Black Panther #1 is that it makes Wakanda and the legacy that is Black Panther so bad-ass.  Of course, Reginald Hudlin delivers a stellar script, full of enthralling action and mystery.  John Romita, Jr.'s pencils are some of his most stylish art, and Klaus Janson's stellar inking strengthens the compositions and storytelling.  Dean White's colors make the story seem as if it is on fire, almost too hot to handle for the imagination.  The Ohio Players said Fi-Ya!

However, it is the sense that the Black Panther mythos is as powerful as any other Marvel superhero mythos or world, and that makes this comic book so cool.  Black Panther is not a token, and he is more than historical.  His is a world within the larger world of the Marvel Universe with which others will have to reckon.  This is the gift that Reginald Hudlin gave to Black Panther.  Hudlin picked up on the strong work that Christopher Priest began in his 1998 Black Panther, which was the first step in making Black Panther a major character, for reals, and Hudlin kept it too-real for some readers slash haters.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, I hope you can make the Panther's claws sharper than ever.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.