Ms Marvel Vol. One: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson (Goodreads Author), Adrian Alphona (Artist)
I have been wanting to read this for so long! I actually held one in my hands for a while but didn’t get to read it. It was a Christmas present for my sister-in-law in Singapore and it was to return in my father-in-law’s luggage so I didn’t get to do more than make sure it was dent-free.
But yay! An Asian superhero (or superhero-in-training)! I was so excited to hear that!
While I enjoyed the butt-kicking (or attempted butt-kicking) and life-saving and all, the parts I loved the most in Ms Marvel were when she was just plain old Kamala Khan, teenager of Pakistani descent who lives in Jersey City and just wants to do what she wants to do. Her family, by the way, is hilarious. And so are her friends.
Ode to Kirihito – Osamu Tezuka
Tezuka is apparently the “godfather” of manga. He’s probably most known for his Astroboy series. But this is the first of his works I’ve read. I’ve not really ventured much into manga territory, terrified usually by the very many books that make up a series.
It has a fascinating story – a disease that deforms people, makes them look like dogs. One doctor is certain that it is not infectious, contrary to what the head of the hospital thinks. He travels to the rural village where the disease is centered and contracts it himself. And things just get worse for him from there on.
So yes, a dog-man. And in case that’s not enough for you, human tempura!
It’s kind of a weird medical drama/comic! Tezuka actually has a medical degree. He died in February 1989.
I do wish though that this comic was less male-centric. The women are wives, fiancees, daughters, nurses, nuns. The doctors are all men. So are the reporters at a news conference. And there is a rather stereotyped depiction of mental illness. Sigh. I guess that was just how life really was in 1970s Japan.
So if you’re willing to put that aside and remember this was serialized in 1970 and 1971 (published in English in 2006), Ode to Kirihito is an incredible read. Its storyline was very strong, very unique, and really quite exciting – and yes, very odd, very bizarre yet still somehow quite believable. I mean, it has all these weird things going on, yet he put it forth in such a way that it never really quite fell into “the WTF is going on?” category. Ok so sometimes that WTF category is worth venturing into, but I think in this sense, I appreciate how grounded it all seemed. I’m intrigued enough to want to read more by Tezuka.
Am I making sense? Probably not. Oh well, onto the next one!
Dancer – Nathan Edmondson (Writer), Nic Klein (Artist)
An average read. Not very memorable despite its dancer on the cover. To be honest I was hoping that the dancer would be the assassin and not the helpless girl being dragged around and used as bait. I mean wouldn’t you read a comic in which the ballerina is the assassin? I give this one a solid 2 stars. The artwork was typically moody and dark. There was something about operatives and clones that wasn’t very remarkable. Maybe if you like watching Liam Neeson in Taken 1 to 10 (?) this might be your thing.
See? Moody and dark and muted. (Yawn!)
However, those guns are lovingly detailed.
Pretty Deadly Vol One: The Shrike – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos (Illustrator)
I went into this one, as I do most books, not knowing a thing.
I read it in one sitting, closed the book and thought, I still don’t know a thing about this book.
Except that it is narrated by a butterfly and a rabbit skeleton.
And it has a vulture girl and death and a blind man.
Oh and it’s some kind of western.
But perhaps more importantly, it has plenty of female characters. Hooray! Plus it’s written and illustrated by women! Extra bonus points there!
Just left me bamboozled.
New York Five – Brian Wood (Author, Illustrator), Ryan Kelly (Illustrator)
Apparently I read New York Four. I don’t remember anything about it, but as I read this one, I realized that yes, there was something familiar about the girls and the setting. It’s an ode to New York City, this comic.
Four was about these four girls’ freshman year in New York City. Five is about the same four girls, this time, a year older, and a little bit wiser (not really).
This is one of my favourite illustrations in the comic. I really like the use of black and white here.
John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, re-envisioned as African-Americans living in Harlem. There’s even Mrs Hudson and Mycroft! Watson is an overworked ER intern and an Afghanistan war veteran. Holmes is a know-everything, fedora-and-dreads kind of Sherlock. It’s a fresh and interesting take on this well-known duo. And their version of Inspector Lestrade is a woman known as Leslie Stroud (a bit cringey that one). The artwork is dark and gritty, and there’s some exciting action sequences. Nicely done.
Rose and Isabel – Ted Mathot
And yet another different perspective on things, this time the American Civil War. Rose and Isabel leave their farm to search for their three brothers who have gone missing while fighting for the Union Army.
They slash and slice, are expert archers and swordswomen. Is there nothing they can’t do? Well, Isabel finds it hard to control Rose, to make sure she doesn’t go over the edge.
The illustrations are in black and white. And a lot of grey so it is at times a little hard for this non-American to figure out who’s who in the battle. But it is action-packed, exciting, also sad as they realize that to get to their brothers they have to kill or at least maim many men. And just so very refreshing to have two women fighting their way through a battle. On their own accord. Dressed like men sure, but at least it’s not some skintight catsuit!
Something else awe-inspiring is that Ted Mathot, who is a story supervisor at Pixar, self-publishes his books. They (yes there are sequels!) are available for purchase online here.
I can’t wait to read more comics!