-(R) = Re-read
-(B) = Read To My Wife At Bedtime
– No Author = Comic
- Chainsaw Man, Vol. 9: Bath
Look I have almost never understood what’s happening in a given installment of CM, and that has all the way never stopped me from loving every truly berserk page. All I can really tell is that the confrontation with the Gun Devil is on the horizon and that Aki’s pretty freaked out about the vision the Future Devil showed him. Why you would trust any fool thing a devil would tell you? Because they know when to tell the truth for maximum devastation.
- Crowded, Vol. 1: Soft Apocalypse
Holy shit, Crowded is such a good series, and like a damned fool I avoided it for a long time because the cover of the first trade put me off. Learn from my fail, as we said in the Elder Days.
The pitch is this: in the not-too-distant future, Next Sunday, A.D., there’s a young lady called Charlie. Charlie has a million different gig-jobs she works, just trying to survive like the rest of us. And then one day, she wakes up to learn that hundreds of individuals she has wronged have scraped together a bounty on her head through the assassin-hiring app Reapr, and the fun begins as murderers with livestream audiences begin to crash into her life like rhinos into a watermelon stand. She hires a very tall, very buff lady named Vita to protect her, and they RUN.
If it sounds stressful: Yes. But it’s also hilarious, and sad, and sweet, and belligerently gay, and citizen if you are about that Buff Lady life you are gonna have a good time.
- American Elf 2006
Spandy presses the button that demotes Pluto from planet to dwarf-planet, then tweets the very first tweet, which is of her playing the very first Nintendo Wii sold in the United States! Big day, Spandy, jeez!
- Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San, Vol. 1
Mmmmm, dat’s-a some nice-a slice-of-life. SFBHS has a simple premise: Honda-san is a bookseller, specifically in the manga department of a large bookstore, and draws semi-autobio/semi-explanatory stories about the industry and how working there really goes. She doesn’t actually have a skull–well, I mean, no moreso than most people–she’s just not comfortable drawing her real-life human face or those of her coworkers, so everybody gets a replacement-head, like Knight or Jack O’Lantern or Plague Mask. It’s pretty straightforward and wholesome, and shows that working in a bookshop is stressful enough to make anyone who’s ever thought of it as an easy “Man I’d love if that’s all I had to do” job (like myself, your humble dumbass) realize just how wrong they’ve been.
- The Laundry Files, #1: The Atrocity Archives – Charles Stross (R)
The Laundry Files is a series of neo-lovecraftian ESPIONAGE-THRILLERS whose protagonist is a low-level (initially anyway) IT guy in a branch of the English government that is tasked with handling ‘magic’, which in this context is understood to be high-level math that can induce Things from the worlds next door to do stuff for you. I had fallen WAY behind on these since finishing the then-current book most of a decade ago and decided to do a run-up, and they hold up extremely well while also showing a lot of growth between installments. This is our protagonist’s first outing, but his fish-out-of-water inexperience is balanced nicely with confident, high-level tech speak as he (and we) learns about the supernatural skulduggery into which he’s been dragged.
- American Elf 2007
Spandy buys the very first iPhone sold in the United States and uses it to take a picture at my high school graduation!
- Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham
MIKE MIGNOLA WROTE A LOVECRAFTIAN BATMAN STORY, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING, WHY DIDN’T YOU START READING IT WHEN I SAID ‘MIKE MIGNOLA’.
Seriously though BTDTCTG is amazing, and it’s a great examination of the ways in which a story and a world can look completely alien through a different set of eyes, because believe it or not, this is not a Batman story. No my friends, this is a Hellboy story in a Batsuit, and it uses that lens to translate the Gotham, Dark Knight and Rogues Gallery with which we’ve become so familiar into something truly horrifying. What if Poison Ivy wasn’t a mad botanist but the conduit for a furious, burning, green intelligence? What if the Penguin took his name and his mien not from adorable zoo pengos but from the monstrous albino feathered-beasts of the Antarctic? What if Victor Fries had to stay cold because if he thawed, what was inside him would escape? I made one of those up, but you’ll have to read it to find out which one, and you’ll have a great time doing so.
- Sea Of Sorrows
SOS is a spooky maritime mystery that devolves into MURDERS and MONSTROS! It was a little barebones for my taste, but only in the sense that it was only interested in telling its specific story from its specific angle and I wanted to know more about everything. If you’re in the mood for something spare, bleak, haunting and beautiful, you couldn’t do much better.
- American Elf 2008
Spandy builds the very first Spotify playlist, ‘Songs To Lose Your Virginity To’, and cousin lemme tell ya: it works.
- Crowded, Vol. 2: Glitter Dystopia
Crowded continues to rule! Charlie and Vera made it out of the city, but now the real challenge begins: finding out who put the bounty on Charlie’s empty, hollow coconut-noggin and how to make them take it off, and hopefully they can do so without killing each other with guns, punching, or…SMOOCHES??
Crowded is extremely dense and high-energy and it would be easy to quickly become exhausted by it, which is one of the reasons I’m glad it’s a fairly limited series, but every single page is an absolute delight, and while some of its broad ideas (see: hypercapitalist gig-economy dystopia) are well-worn and smooth, it finds some EXTREMELY cool things to paint on those preexisting shapes that makes them feel very fresh (see: LIBRARIAN WARLADIES defending the last bastions of society where knowledge is free and you don’t have to pay to exist).
- The Transcendent One-Sided Love Of Yoshida The Catch, Vol. 1
Okay we’ve been over how much I love manga about people who make manga, and I regret to inform you that this continues to be true and none of you are safe from it. But as mentioned previously, they’ve usually got a hook, and this one’s cute as hell:
Yoshida is an absolute business-badass professional, admired and feared at his job, who then spends his free time as an unpaid assistant in a local mangaka’s studio because hims luffs her. But she’s oblivious and he can’t bring himself to be anything but the grumpiest taskmaster to keep her comic on schedule because that’s his stupid love language, and so it’s up to the other assistants in the shop–who are so into this that they don’t need to watch telanovelas–to formulate adorable romantic scenarios and force Yoshida and Shimakaze into them. The greek-chorus/audience-insert nature of them being internal viewers of this love story is genius because it prevents any one perspective on the events from going stale, as they inevitably would if we were just behind Yoshida’s eyes the whole time. Cute as shit, hella informative about how manga gets made, hard recommend.
- American Elf 2009
Spandy repairs the Hubble Telescope!
- Moon Knight, Vol. 1: The Midnight Mission
Look, so, there’s why you get into Moon Knight and then there’s why you stay with Moon Knight, right? Me being a sucker for religion and MK explicitly leaning into his aspect as priest definitely lights up my pinball machine, especially as he learns in this volume that his god has other servants, who would like to have words with Marc about his liturgical practices, but even removed from that this is an excellent take on the mental health conversation re: superheroism, in a totally straightforward Marc-Goes-To-Therapy way. If (like me) you’re totally new to the…difficult-to-pin-down Moon Knight mythos, this is an EXCELLENT place to start, and even if you already know what you’re doing you’re gonna have a great time.
- Jenny Zero, Vol. 1: In His Shadow
Look, Jenny Zero has a simple premise: Jenny’s dad was a pioneer in anti-kaiju science and materiel, and she fucking hates his guts and she’s glad he’s dead! End of story!
Yep, sorry, couple of pages stuck together here, also it turns out he may have infused her with kaiju DNA and given her a living biological laser arm-cannon so she can carry on his work, if she can be convinced to. And, uh, if they can find her. And get her to put on some goddamn pants. Jesus, Jenny.
- American Elf 2010
Spandy brings unknown YouTube sensation Justin Bieber to the attention of the public, presumably as revenge for something.
- Blade Runner 2019, Vol. 1: Los Angeles (R)
THESE ARE SO FUCKING GOOD, THEY’RE THE ONLY GOOD PROPERTY-COMICS THAT HAVE EVER BEEN MADE, ASH IS A BADASS ASIAN LADY BLADE RUNNER WHO STUBS HER TOE ON A CONSPIRACY WHILE TRYING TO RECOVER A STOLEN CHILD
- Blade Runner 2019, Vol. 2: Off-World
GO READ THEM I SWEAR TO GOD, ASH FOLLOWS A RUNAWAY REPLICANT AND HER CHILD TO THE OFF-WORLD COLONIES AND DISCOVERS THE SITUATION IS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED AND MUCH MORE DANGEROUS THAN IT SEEMED!
- The Savior’s Book Cafe Story In Another World, Vol. 1
Okay so apparently there’s a subgenre of isekai that focuses on the ‘savior summons’ trope, which presupposes that the protagonist has been voiped into Magiclandia intentionally, specifically, in the hopes that they’ll defeat a great foe and usually empowering them to do so to a ridiculous degree. TSBCSIAW is in that subgenre but subverts it quite literally immediately, as Tsukina is told directly by God that she’s the heroine this land needs and bestows upon her literal wish-fulfillment powers, and she says fuck that, I’m starting a bookshop where you can read and get a sandwich, AND THEN SHE DOES.
And yeah she meets a dashing soldier with whom she gradually forms a relationship over a shared love of books, and yeah there’s another ‘savior’ out there STIRRIN’ UP A RUCKUS that she’ll have to deal with at some point, but mainly it’s just cozy teatimes and book and tasty-looking snackums and it’s a great time, I recommend you drop in for a sip and a bite and a chapter of Congo.
- American Elf 2011
Spandy officiates the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William of the House of Windsor!
- Blade Runner 2019, Vol. 3: Home Again, Home Again
SERIOUSLY WHY AREN’T YOU READING THEM YET, ASH HAS TO COME BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE IT ALL BEGAN AND CONFRONT THE MAN WHO SET HER TO HUNTING A CHILD UNDER FALSE PRETENSES, HOLY SHIT THESE ARE GOOD BOOKS
- Blade Runner 2029, Vol. 1: Reunion
Now see you’d think this would be a new thing, right, BUT NO: It’s ten years later, and Ash is supposed to be safe…somewhere I can’t divulge without spoiling the previous volume, but the past has a long hand, and its fingers begin to close around her.
- American Elf 2012
Spandy goes to see The Hunger Games! Also this is the last volume and I miss it!
- Reign Of The Seven Spellblades, Vol. 2
I’m not gonna lie I adored this series’ first volume but this was, on first reading, almost complete gibberish to me. I’ve since gone back to it and view it more kindly; it’s definitely not as strong as the first (for me), but I think I was expecting–like okay I thought the first volume was a whole sentence, right, and that this would be another whole sentence, but in retrospect the first volume was maybe a word or two, and this is the next couple in the same sentence. I realize that’s a pretty basic and naive thing to have to realize about, y’know, serialized fiction as a publishing model, but with comics and especially with manga you never know if they’re writing for the trade or if it’s all supposed to be one continuous thing or what. It’s also really hard when something new really blows you away, and then the next bit of it comes out, and it’s kind of a letdown, and you have to ask “is this ACTUALLY less good, or is it just no longer completely new and different”, right, the Stranger Things effect? IN ANY EVENT, final analysis: pretty good!
- Tesla Note, Vol. 1
Tesla Note is fine! It…does some things I’m not crazy about, but with parts that I actually really like, and that’s a weird dissonance. The premise really tells you exactly what I mean:
1.) Famed Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla
2.) Decides that some of his bonkers inventions are too dangerous for a world that isn’t ready for them, and seals the designs away…
3.) …in crystals, which
4.) Bad guys steal and use for weird crimes, and
5.) The heroes are part of an organization dedicated to stopping.
Like theoretically those are all things I am very into, individually, and I would think that almost any combination of them would work, but for some reason this just doesn’t really work for me. I don’t hate it! I bought the second volume because lord knows Early Installment Weirdness has plagued many a great series, but this first one didn’t quite land with me.