Before we begin this week’s festivities, a brief moment of gratitude.
The other day this here notice popped up on me phone:
I realize that on the scale of, y’know, the rest of the internet, that’s literally nothing, and indeed a decent percentage of it is almost certainly me doing format-checks on posts. Nonetheless, that means the REST of them are readers like you who took the time to take a gander at what I have to say, and for a dumb website I started a couple of months ago for fun, that’s not bad at all. I’ll take it and say “Thank you; more please.“
By complete coincidence, taking inspiration from some of my heroes such as Ryan North and Chip “The Wich” Zdarsky, I decided this week to start a newsletter! Nothing bonkers, just a once-a-month roundup of everything I wrote in the previous month, if you don’t wanna hunt around my admittedly amateurish site or just want your blogs to come to you, because damn it, you know your worth.
Anyway, click below to sign up or view the Archive, which as of right now only has my July roundup.
That bit of UTTERLY SHAMELESS self-promotion aside, thank you for your patience, and your support. So let’s get down to it: what the crap even is there to read these days?
“The Kabukicho neighborhood of Shinjuku, Tokyo is a chaotic mixture of everything at once — beauty, ugliness, justice, and injustice. Into this town was born a child with just one dream — to protect his friends Ringo and Sakura. Whether it’s the Kaburagi gang, the Ten’Ichi Union, or the mysterious Grimm, Ichigo Washio is ready to struggle among all these evil giants to win a future for himself!”
The dedicated reader–not you fickle, terrible Daves–will remember my review of Desert Eagle’s first volume, which local light authorities described as “belligerently luminous”, and reportedly erased Ursa Mega from the visible sky for nine hours.
SUFFICE IT TO SAY: when last we left our heroes–pure of heart and dumb of ass were they–Operation Spring Peachy was underway, and Ichi was about to get his entire actual shit kicked in by the Ten’Ichi Union, or at least the branch of it that handles extorting teen pop-stars.
Volume 1 absolutely blew me away with how fun and smart and heartfelt it was, and while the cold, cynical world would call me a fool, I am confident in my bones that Volume 2 is up to the challenge of that experience.
[Note: Shortly after writing this I began to read Vol. 2 and was shocked to see, at 77 pages, how short it was for a full-priced volume, and how abruptly it ended mid-chapter…then it turned out it was a publishing issue and Comixology is trying to help a brother out with it. There’s no guarantee it’s not just a Me problem, of course, but if you’re not itchin’ to chomp into this one right this second maybe wait a little bit for them to get their whatnot sorted, or risk being disappointed and confused like I was.]
“Shinobu is dyslexic, which makes it hard for him to read and write. In his first few years of school, that didn’t matter. But as he grew older and moved up to junior high and high school, his sense of inferiority grew as he discovered all of the things he couldn’t do. In the midst of all that, a girl at his new cram school caught his attention… Volume 2 delves into the days of Shinobu’s youth!”
Last time we saw Shinobu he had just started making strides toward a better understanding of and relationship with his dyslexia, thanks to a barista/theatrical manager who noticed the signs, and even gave him a job he wouldn’t have to worry about losing due to a disability he felt he had to hide.
I really appreciated that in Volume 1, Shinobu isn’t a media-friendly Brave, Inspirational Disabled that the common, Able reader would get to fawn over and feel like a Good Person about; his disability sucks, excluding him from enormous chunks of society, the economy, the arts and personal relationships, and he is not afraid to own that pain and not play the longsuffering good sport most media wants out of disabled characters. I was excited to see him use that as fuel and carve out the place he deserves in this world, but it looks like this volume is…a flashback? S–sure? I mean, I feel like we already got a pretty good grasp of how rough his school experience was for him, but I’m along for the ride no matter where it goes, even if that should be THE PAST.
“Collects Strange Academy #13-18. School life doesn’t get any easier for the students of the mystic arts! When the Strange Academy kids go out for a night on the town in New Orleans, some of the students decide to take a tour of a famous NOLA graveyard – and you know how stories about teens in graveyards usually go! But Emily takes a very different field trip of her own – and the secret origin of Zoe Laveau will be revealed! Then, nothing can prepare you for a glimpse of the future of the Strange Academy – and the entire Marvel Universe. You won’t believe your eyes! But which will be more brutal: battle class with Magik and Wong, or the school dance?! Who will find love, and whose heart will be broken? Plus: The ancient evil known as Gaslamp makes its intentions clear!”
Guys, gals, non-binary pals, I gotta be honest with you: I’m a big fan of Strange Academy but this cover fills me with trepidation and Early 90’s 2 Edgy 4 U comics flashbacks. And that’s probably unfair and unfounded; like a movie trailer, it’s a fool that trusts a cover, but still. Otherwise I’m hella here for all of this: I wanna know How Zoe Got Her Zombniscience, I wanna see Magic Prom, I wanna see haunted-ass New Orleans like in Candyman 2: Farewell To The Flesh, and A Confederacy Of Dunces. A miniseries called Strange Academy: Finals is debuting in October, describing itself as the “end of Freshman year”, so I’m not worried about the glimpse into the future becoming a permanent jump, which is good because the entire appeal of this series is seeing this magical misfits–these Hex-Men, if you will–grow and bond together, and skipping all of that to take them straight to (one presumes) angsty teens would do serious damage to the best things about the title.
“In a future Japan, long after an environmental catastrophe, Alpha the android runs a small cafe in a seaside town. As she wonders if her absent owner will ever return, she stands witness to the twilight of humanity with coffee, a slice of watermelon, and the sound of her moon guitar. Alpha and her fellow residents enjoy the melancholy beauty of life, even as the end approaches. Savor chapters 1-24 of this beloved manga classic in English for the first time, in this deluxe five-volume set.”
I learned about this series a while ago while combing the TVTropes page for iyashikei, a genre of manga and anime specifically focused on wholesome, healing stories designed to make the audience feel soothed. If you’re any reader of my articles, my fondness for this genre will come as no surprise to you; what did come as a surprise to me was seeing this new omnibus edition appear in the preorders, because the series had never had an official English-language release, in either print or digital, and indeed it turns out that Seven Seas licensed it just earlier this year, alongside several others. The speed at which this volume–which, at 450 pages, represents a monumental work of translation and localization, to say nothing of design and logistics–was put onto the market following that announcement is a real indication of their belief in the title, and perhaps that isn’t so surprising: we are at a place that feels very much like the end of the world, and a peaceful, no-stakes story about a nice robot girl running a cafe in the ruins of our civilization long after our species has quit the stage is a cathartic reassurance that life, in some form, will go on when and where we cannot. In no time at all, this will be the distant past; there are times when that’s a comforting thought, and this is a lovely glance into what might come next after all our fears and failures have blown away like dry grass.