Mara is a science fiction limited series written by Brian Wood, who’s known for his work on comics like The Massive, DMZ, and his current ongoing run on Marvel’s adjective-less “X-Men.” The art is done by Ming Doyle, free-lance illustrator and comic book artist known for her work in things like Johnathan Hickman’s excellent Fantastic Four run.
Mara is very much a coming of age, or “coming-of-rage” as the first page would tell you, story about a girl who lives in a totalitarian society where volleyball is the sport of choice to distract the citizens of the world from the war that plagues Earth. Mara happens to be one of these volleyball players, making her an international celebrity. At the age of seventeen, she spends her days managing corporate sponsorships, playing volleyball, and being a beacon of hope and inspiration to the people of earth. That is, until one day she manifests superpowers during one of her live, broadcasted matches.
This is the first book I’ve read written by Brian Wood. He apparently handles his characterizations of women quite well, making me really curious to read his ongoing run on X-Men soon, an all-women X-Men team book. The art by Ming Doyle is beautifully drawn, she really excels in character designs. The illustrations are definitely the strong points in this book. At 162 pages, 6 issues, this is a relatively short read. This book could have benefited from being at least a little bit longer to fill in some gaps, it could have even had potential to be an interesting full series. Mara is definitely an interesting take on the Superman archetype with a female perspective.
Would I recommend Mara? Sure. It’s an entertaining read. Mara might not be something I’d come back to read multiple times, but its definitely worth reading at least once.
It has been a while since I’ve last seen a David Cronenberg film. Since its October, I decided “why not go ahead and marathon some of his early horror stuff?” Shivers, or “They Came From Within”, is one of David Cronenberg’s first theatrical films, a gem of sci-fi, body horror.
Shivers is set on an self-sufficient island outside of Montreal, a paradise outside of the big city of course. Since this is a horror movie, a problem exists which comes in the form of parasites that put you into zombie-like mindlessness, that as well as turns you into a sex fiend with a lethal STD. As the plot unfolds, it really snowballs into an intriguing, bizarre chain of events that you’ve got to see to its end.
I mentioned before that part of this movie’s premise is that this deadly parasite turns you into a sex-crazed zombie, but be assured this movie isn’t just blood n’ boobs. Shivers is a horror movie that feels like it has its goals to reach you on a psychological level at times due to its sexual nature.
In my opinion, Cronenberg’s work around this genre are some of the best horror movies of their time. If you enjoy infection movies, movies that contain parasitic creatures that would later come from the likes of Night of the Creeps and Slither, or are just a fan of David Cronenberg, then I would definitely suggest checking this film out.
The story of 47 Ronin is one of the most important stories of Japan. It is interesting to note that this story and the tale of events it follows are in fact based on true events and has captured the imagination of the Japanese form the very beginning. There are many versions of this story and this is one of those versions brought to us in a 5-part mini-series from Dark Horse Comics.
47 Ronin was written by Mike Richardson, founder of Dark Horse comics and one of the three creators of the brutal 90’s comic The Mask. Since there are so many versions of 47 Ronin, the story was consulted with Kazuo Koike, known best for his more tame works like Lone Wolf and Cub. The art is done by the legendary Stan Sakai, a Hawaiian Japanese-American artist known for his deservingly award winning Usagi Yojimbo series. Truthfully, seeing Stan Sakai’s name being slapped onto this book is what peaked my interest initially.
The story of 47 Ronin is fairly simple. In 18th century Japan, powerful landlord Asano is wrongfully killed while being summoned to the Shogun’s Palace. This leaves his samurai to become Ronin, Samurai without a master. It is then up to these warriors to restore the honor of their master. The beautiful art by Stan Sakai and story direction really made 47 Ronin engaging and fun to read. This version of this story took Mike Richardson many years to set in motion and I for one am glad that it is finally here to be enjoyed by myself and everyone else interested in this tale.
”To know this story is to know Japan” and this book is a nice love letter to Japanese culture. I definitely recommend checking this series out, especially if/when it gets released to the more easily accessible trade paperback form. Alternatively, 47 Ronin is available digitally from Dark Horse.
To an author, to write is to live. What happens if you can no longer write? What then, is life?
When I first came across this book, I knew nothing about it nor its author, Asumiko Nakamura. The cover art alone intrigued me enough to want to pick it up, and I’m glad I did. The art on the inside was off-putting to me at first because because the characters, especially the male ones, looked like typical Yaoi or Shonen Ai character designs. Which means that they may be shown to sometimes have unusual, broad shoulders, be incredibly handsome in the face, or suffer from Yaoi basketball hands. The male characters may have some visual tropes from those more erotic comics but the women are also drawn very beautifully. With that said, it would be really unfair to judge this book by character design preferences because there are a lot of good things going for this book.
As the title of the book implies, Utsubora is the story of a novelist. The main focus of the story is about an author and what happens to him when he succumbs to the lows of plagiarism. Filled with mystery, drama, and sensuality, Utsubora is a fun read. In the end, Utsubora is also a smart book that will have you guessing what exactly is going on with the cast of characters in the book.
At the end of the book, there are some extras. Including an Illustration Story and Translator Notes. I really appreciated the translator’s notes segment because it included interesting, informative cultural facts of things seen in the story and its the closest you can get for having commentary for a book. I feel this really adds to the cultural understanding of modern Japan.
Utsubora is Asumiko Nakamura’s first book published in English, and I enjoyed the book enough that I would definitely pick up another book by her if it were ever published.
Recently released in North America in a single, thick volume by Vertical Inc, Utsubora is definitely worth checking out.
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island was originally written by Edogawa Rampo, the godfather of Japanese detective stories, and is here adapted into a comic by autuer of jigoku manga, Suehiro Maruo. The story, set in 1920’s Japan, is about a man who steals the fortune and identity from a recently deceased, incredibly wealthy industrialist and the events that unfold afterwards.
With 8 chapters worth of this book, The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is a short read. I spent more time taking in the visuals more than I did reading speech bubbles. With that said, compared to other novels that have gotten the comics treatment, this is definitely one of the better ones that I have ever come across. The story is pulpy but enjoyable, its pretty standard fare for what is expected for pulp fiction. The art by Suehiro Maruo is incredible, the details in his work are breathtaking. The real selling point of this book is definitely the stunning illustrations.
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is a dazzling, perverse work of art.
Zayra hasn’t talked to her high school best friend Jodie in years
because of a fight. After learning Jodie is about to destroy the
timestream, Zayra must go back in the past to repair their friendship
and time itself. She’s about to find out if they’re friendship is worth
With 35 years of history behind it, Sunrise’s Mobile Suit Gundam franchise shows no signs of slowing down. With the series returning to its true roots via on-going OVA series Gundam: The Origin, we got to sit down with series producer Osamu Taniguchi and mechanical designer Mika Akitaka to talk about their experiences at the MCM London Comic Con.
Happy Women’s History Month! All through March, we’ll be celebrating women who changed free expression in comics. Check back here every day for biographical snippets on female creators who have pushed the boundaries of the format and/or seen their work challenged or banned.
Over her 47-year career as a pioneer in shōjo manga, Moto Hagio has helped to expand the boundaries of the genre in several directions. After helping to create the same-sex romance subgenre of shōnen-ai in the 1970s, she set out to prove that manga could also accommodate sci-fi epics.
Hagio was born in 1949 in Omuta, Japan. She showed artistic talent from a young age and set her sights on a career as a mangaka while still in high school. Her first published story “Lulu and Mimi” ran in Nakayoshi magazine in 1969. Editors of that publication rejected much of her other work as too macabre for its target audience of adolescent girls, but competitor Shogakukan Publishing was more receptive. It was in one of their magazines in 1971 that she debuted “The November Gymnasium,” an early example of shōnen-ai. Along with other members of the 24 Nengumi (Year 24 Group), Hagio pioneered the genre focused on romance between young men but created by and for young women. (Shōnen-ai is distinct from yaoi or same-sex erotica.) Three years later she developed “The November Gymnasium” into a longer series, The Heart of Thomas.
A lifelong science fiction buff, Hagio also broke ground by adapting short stories of that genre into manga format, as well as writing her own original works. Her first full-length series was Marginal, a sci-fi tale about a post-apocalyptic future in which only one woman remains on Earth and gives birth to all males. Hagio also touched on the fantasy domain with The Poe Family, a centuries-spanning epic about a vampire eternally trapped at 14 years of age.
Although Hagio is revered in Japan, only a fraction of her work has been translated into English. Fantagraphics notably launched its entire manga line with a career-spanning collection of her stories, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. That was followed two years later by a collected edition of The Heart of Thomas, and this year will see the first English volume of Otherworld Barbara, about a detective who can enter criminals’ dreams.
In recent years Hagio has continued to innovate, for instance publishing a collection of manga stories inspired by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Asked by About.com’s Deb Aoki in a 2010 interview what advice she could impart to new mangaka today, she replied:
The manga that you can draw in your twenties, the manga you can draw in your thirties, the manga you can draw in your forties, are all different. It doesn’t matter when you debut, but when you have the drive to create, create as much as you can.