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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Recently Read and Re-Read, 2014.04.26

SPACE USAGI [1998] collects the three 3-issue SPACE USAGI mini-series from 1992 to 1996, plus a few other short stories. In this book, Stan Sakai translates his long-running samurai rabbit character into a science-fiction setting, apparently because he wanted an excuse to draw Usagi fighting dinosaurs. This is a nice little stand-alone book, especially for those who find the over 200-issue and counting run of USAGI YOJIMBO too daunting a challenge to jump into without a warm-up. Sakai brings all his usual skills at writing and art, and quickly lays out a new scenario and plays it out over almost 300 pages.  The plot will probably remind you of the Star Wars films, either due to a direct influence or common earlier influences (one particular plot twist is right out of the Star Wars prequel films, except it pre-dates it by seven years).

THE PROPERTY (2013) is the latest book by Rutu Modan. It chronicles a week long trip by an Israeli woman who returns to Warsaw for the first time since before World War II, accompanied by her grand-daughter, for reasons which she may not be completely honest about. It's an entertaining little book with a little bit of everything, some comedy, some romance, some history, some mystery. Modan's work is clear and detailed when it needs to be, still in the "clear line" school of Hergé, but developed in a few ways from her earlier work EXIT WOUNDS.

FRAN (2013) is the latest silent epic from Jim Woodring, "continuing and preceding" his 2011 book CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS and featuring his long-running character Frank. I'll have to go back and re-read that, and the other Woodring work, since I think it's all starting to make some sort of sense. Always fascinating to see Woodring's world, where every little detail might be a clue or might mean nothing at all, possibly both at the same time. The standouts in this one are the weird pets(?) Pupshaw and Pushpaw. I saw once that Woodring had a solo book about them that I unfortunately didn't pick up and does't appear to be that easy to find at a decent price.

ATTACK ON TITAN Vol 1 & 2 (2012) are the first two books of Hajime Isayama's on-going science-fiction adventure comic, which has been getting a lot of attention lately as it's been adapted to a successful cartoon about to be translated into English, which is the most sure path for a Japanese comic to become a sales success in English. There are some interesting ideas in here, a future where the world has been taken over by monstrous giants called Titans, forcing the few remaining humans to retreat behind elaborately built barrier walls, which work great until an even larger Titan appears, able to destroy the walls. A little bit silly, but with the potential to provide some light fun. Unfortunately, I didn't find a lot of Isayama's storytelling to be at all clear, often I'd have keep reading to see the characters explain what I had just read. There are a few interesting designs, and the second book closes with what appears to be an interesting revelation which might make the series much stranger than I imagined (but because of the storytelling problems, I can't really be sure until I read the next book to see what the characters say). I'm getting them free from the library and they're quick reads, so I might stick around for a few more books.


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