Sunday, July 01, 2007

Read in June

This was the month I was trying to read a comics collection (or something similar) every day, plus other books as I got through them, so it will be a long list. No time for exposition: full steam ahead!
  • Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid (6/1)
  • Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima, Path of the Assassin, Vol. 4: The Man Who Altered the River's Flow (6/2)
    There's something of the aura of spinach about this manga (being as it's Important Japanese History), but it's also Sexy Ninja Action, which makes up for it. I have to admit that I had trouble keeping up with the political maneuverings in the first few volumes, but most of those people are now dead (I think), which makes things easier to follow. (Though I'm still not clear on the passage of time in this series -- each story seems to only take a few days or weeks, but there are clearly years passing somewhere.) So it intermittently confuses me and makes me think I should be learning something...and yet I keep reading it. (Again I refer to the Sexy Ninja Action, plus Big Bloody Battles and Kewl Obscure Eastern Philosophy.)
  • Roger Ebert, Your Movie Sucks (6/3)
  • Donald E. Westlake, What's So Funny? (6/4)
  • Scott Kurtz, PvP. Vol. 4: Goes Bananas! (6/5)
    I hate catching up on a comic-strip series's reprint books. Now I just get to read PvP online and wait for the next book. This is just as much fun as the previous books; I think PvP is easily the best webcomic currently running (Sheldon is the only thing close), which means it's better than 99.9% of the strips running in newspapers, too.
  • Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima, Path of the Assassin, Vol. 5: Battle of One Hundred and Eight Days (6/6)
    See above. This volume consists almost entirely of one story -- two hundred and forty pages long. (And that's good, since it means there's less to keep track of.)
  • Adrian Tomine, Shortcomings (6/7)
  • Bruce Eric Kaplan, Edmund and Rosemary Go to Hell (6/8)
  • Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, & Guy Davis, B.P.R.D., Vol. 6: The Universal Machine (6/9)
    I explained the whole Hellboy-B.P.R.D. thing as well as I ever could in my post on Vol. 5, so see that for background. This one is a relatively low-key story -- as I recall, the Earth itself is never in danger at any point -- with nice art by Davis and some good character stuff.
  • Grant Morrison, Richard Case, et. al., Doom Patrol, Vol. 5: Magic Bus (6/10)
    Similarly, see my post on Doom Patrol Vol. 4 for the history there. The choice of issues to reprint in this series is getting annoying -- both the last volume and this one ended on cliffhangers -- but the stories are still good, and I prefer my superheroes existential and oddball to begin with.
  • Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, et. al., Ex Machina, Vol. 5: Smoke Smoke (6/11)
    Dittto ditto Vol. 4 ditto ditto. The larger story is not advanced at all in this volume, leaving me to wonder if there really is any larger story, or if this will just run on as long as people are reading it. (That won't be so bad, I guess, but the other way around would be better.)
  • Charles Stross, Halting State (6/11)
  • Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima, Path of the Assassin, Vol. 6: Life's Greatest Difficulty (6/12)
    And this one beats out Vol. 5 by having a two hundred and eighty page story take up most of the volume.
  • Rick Geary, A Treasury of Victorian Murder, Vol. 9: The Saga of the Bloody Benders (6/13)
  • Haruki Murakami, After Dark (6/13)
  • Eddie Campbell, The Black Diamond Detective Agency (6/14)
  • John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake, The Legend of Grimjack, Vol. 6 (6/15)
    After the disappointment of Tom Sutton and a quick sequence of one-shot artists (see Vol. 5), Grimjack settled into its second long-running artist, Tom Mandrake. I believe this was the first time Mandrake worked with Ostrander for an extended series, though they teamed up again for a long run on The Spectre (and, as I understand it, have also worked together on Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, and Batman). Mandrake isn't a Tim Truman clone, but he has some of the same strengths -- dynamic action, a strong sense of atmosphere, and a willingness to be either very detailed or sketchy as needed in a particular drawing. Ostrander also moves forward strongly here, after the relative wheel-spinning of the previous volume, getting rid of supporting characters and killing John Gaunt off for the first time. (Hey, this is comics, remember?) It's a good action-adventure series about a guy who always wears the same clothes, has odd and distinctive abilities, is the center of a circle of other interesting characters with odd abilities and backgrounds, generally helps people and saves worlds on a regular basis...but, please, the guys at the comic store would like to be sure that you understand that this is nothing like a superhero comic...
  • John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake, The Legend of Grimjack, Vol. 7 (6/16)
    Remember how I said John Gaunt (our main character) died in the previous volume (just above)? Well, he gets better in this book. (The next time he dies, though, he doesn't get better -- someone else does. But we'll get there in another three or four volumes, if this series continues long enough.)
  • Bill Willingham, et. al., Jack of Fables, Vol. 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape (6/17)
  • Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming, Powers, Vol. 6: The Sellouts (6/18)
    In case you haven't noticed, I'm mostly bumping down the "next volume in a series" books to paragraphs in this list, rather then giving them individual entries. (I'm also typing these bits as the month goes along -- right this moment, it's 1:45 on the 24th of June -- if anyone cares.) I did give Powers Vol. 5 its own entry, but that was a very short one. I only have slightly more to say this time: This is the "Superfriends" arc (my, flippant, title), in which our cop heroes investigate the murder of retired not-Batman and eventually learn that the murderer is exactly who you're thinking of right now. It also has an ending more like all of those post-Watchmen revisionist superheros than the usual street-level stuff for this series, and the status quo of superhero policing is completely changed at the end. This is pretty much as good as superhero comics can get, without the shackles of company-owned characters that have to always appear to be in the middle of changing but never actually change enough to screw up the licensing revenue. And I guess I'm on board for at least one more volume, because I liked this one. (Although, looking at it in the comics store, it looks like the next volume is a really bizarre right-hand turn into something totally different.)
  • Osamu Tezuka, Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu (6/19)
  • Kazuo Koike & Ryoichi Ikegami, Crying Freeman, Vol. 1 (6/20)
  • Osamu Tezuka, Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters (6/21)
    See a couple of lines above for Vol. 1; in this one, Siddhartha starts out young and sickly and grows up to both fall in love and get married (as well as finding out about the fundamental inequities of life). At the end, he's run away from home for the last time, shaved his head and become a monk -- in other words, the prologue is over, and the main story is about to begin in Vol. 3.
  • Tom Perrotta, The Abstinence Teacher (6/21)
  • Jacob Chabot, The Mighty Skullboy Army (6/22)
  • Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie, Aya (6/23)
  • Will Jacobs, Gerard Jones, & Tim Hamilton, The Trouble With Girls, Vol. 1 (6/24)
  • David Petersen, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (6/25)
  • John Stanley and Irving Tripp, Little Lulu, Vol. 9: Lucky Lulu (6/26)
  • Austin Grossman, Soon I Will Be Invincible (6/26)
  • A blackout kept me from finishing any books on the 27th.
  • Osamu Tezuka, Ode to Kirihito (6/28)
  • Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach (6/29)
  • Dave Kellett, Pure Ducky Goodness (6/29)
  • Andy Hartzell, Fox Bunny Funny (6/30)
And that was June; I only managed to read eight "real" books this month (and most of those were pretty short), but, with luck, July will be better. On the other hand, I will be house-sitting a nice inground pool for about half of this month...

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