Upcoming 12/16/2009

I was right. There have been a number of great new manga series this year. A cursory glance at some of the new volumes included in this week’s ComicList proves it.

The founder of the feast this week’s is Viz’s Signature imprint, which leads things off with the second volume of Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea. It’s easily one of the most beautiful comics you’ll read this year, and Igarashi seems to be building an interesting contemporary fable about mysterious children and disappearing fish. You can read it online for free at Viz’s SIGIKKI site, but I like holding the actual object. Also, if lots of people buy Children of the Sea, we might get Igarashi’s Witches sometime in the future.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I think Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto is a fine comic in every respect, easily one of the best of the year. It’s a wonderfully constructed thriller with a higher-than-average number of important things on its mind. I admire it tremendously, I really do. But I love Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys with its twists and turns, healthy doses of humor and wistfulness, and its energetic quirkiness. I also think it’s one of the best comics of the year, and the fact that it’s more… well… fun than Pluto pushes it just a note higher on my personal scale. The sixth volume of 20th Century Boys arrives this week.

I’m still not entirely sure why the phrase “Fumi Yoshinaga’s most ambitious work to date” doesn’t make people lift their heads like deer becoming aware of a mighty predator crashing through the forest. Even her lighthearted comics have an enduring quality that’s kind of rare in mainstream entertainment. So I’m a little disappointed that Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers hasn’t cast a wider net among critics. Yes, bits of the translation are awkward, but for my money, there are few finer working cartoonists than Yoshinaga, and the opportunity to enjoy the acclaimed apex of her career to date is just so damned cool. The second volume of Ôoku graces better comic shops on Wednesday.

I’m finally getting used to actually looking at Image’s listings, since they’re publishing some comics I’m really enjoying. (I thought I’d never have to do that again after they gave up on Glister. Who knew?) This week, it’s the fourth issue of spelunking thriller Underground, written by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Steve Leiber, and colored by Ron Chan. A determined ranger tries to protect a pristine cave from an unscrupulous developer and his well-armed minions.

Oh, and while I’m not following the series myself, manga karma points must go to Del Rey for its rescue of Akimine Kimiyo’s Samurai Deeper Kyo. For those of you who don’t remember, Tokyopop had reached the thirty-fourth volume of this thirty-eight volume series before Kodansha reclaimed rights to all of its properties from Tokyopop. Lest its fans become profoundly (and understandably) embittered by that turn of events so close to the finish line, Del Rey is publishing two-volume collections of the final six volumes, the first of which arrives Wednesday.

From the stack: Stumptown

I’ve enjoyed a lot of comics written by Greg Rucka, but I have to admit that I haven’t read one in a while. His Whiteout and Queen and Country books for Oni were very good, and I’ve liked some of the super-hero stuff he’s done for Marvel and DC. I thought he did particularly well with stories set in DC’s noir-ish Gotham City, as those comics always had an interesting texture and sense of place. So it’s nice to have the chance to read a comic written by Rucka that has that same feel without the word “crisis” in the title.

It’s Stumptown (back at Oni), a detective yarn set in the Pacific Northwest, and it gets off to a very promising start. It’s got one of those gender-neutral protagonists, a female private investigator with a lot of qualities that could stereotypically be tagged as male, but there’s no reason they should be. Women can certainly gamble too much and have smart mouths that get them in trouble. Rucka is particularly good at writing this kind of character; they may lack social graces and be prone to excesses, but they’re crafty and determined. They’re solution-oriented, or at least “end the problem” oriented.

Our heroine here gets hired to find a casino owner’s granddaughter. She’s not getting paid, but success will erase her hefty gambling debt (until she builds it up again, one assumes). She’s not the only person on the girl’s trail, and while her rivals are a bit out of sleuth story central casting, Rucka writes them with assurance and some wit. His background in detective prose shows here. He can play with familiar elements and even trot out some hoary contrivances and get away with it, because he knows how to use them. He’s not satirizing or revitalizing P.I. drama; he’s just writing it very well.

He’s helped by the gritty, shadowy but still restrained illustrations by Matthew Southworth, who seems very in synch with the kind of mood Rucka is trying to convey. Characters look right for their milieu, and the settings are evocative. Colors by Lee Loughridge are just right; they really help convey the passage of time in the protagonist’s difficult, complicated day.


Rucka’s Whiteout collaborator, illustrator Steve Lieber, is doing terrific work on another genre story in pamphlet form, Underground (Image), written by Jeff Parker. It’s a survival adventure set in a not-quite-mammoth cave in the Appalachians starring a gutsy park ranger trying to protect natural spaces from greedy developers. Three issues are available so far, and it’s a lot of fun.

Upcoming 11/3/2009

Comics will arrive on Thursday this week, which gives you an extra day to brace yourself for the joy. Let’s look at the current ComicList:

Adam Warren and Dark Horse explore the possibilities of the pamphlet with the Empowered Special: The Wench With a Million Sighs. Expect a lot of alliteration as the “scruple-free storyteller soon reveals how all of Empowered’s many frustrations at work, at home, and even in the bedroom can be conveyed strictly through the vocabulary of her extraordinarily expressive exhalations.”

Prepare for bittersweet emotions aplenty as CMX publishes the final volume of Kaoru Mori’s deeply lovely Emma. Happiness at the arrival will blend with sorrow in the knowledge that this is the last time. Will Emma and William make their way down the aisle, or will societal pressures separate them? Whatever happens, expect mono no aware aplenty.

Fortunately, Del Rey offers choices to lift one’s spirits. There’s the second volume of Nina Matsumoto’s excellent comic fantasy, Yokaiden, and the fourth volume of Koji Kumeta’s dense, often scathingly funny Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.

Digital Manga offers pretty much all of the Makoto Tateno you can handle with the first volume of an omnibus version of Yellow and the debut of its sequel, Yellow II.

Image offers the third issue of Brandon Graham’s excellent King City, originally published in tankoubons by Tokyopop, now released in pamphlet form. Here are a few preview pages over at Comic Book Resources.

A press release that arrived in my in-box yesterday describes Yuki Yoshihara’s Butterflies, Flowers (Viz) as a gateway to josei for shôjo fans. “As shojo manga readers mature and their interests expand,” Director Brand Marketing Candace Uyloan notes, “we are delighted to be able to offer titles that are aimed at a grown up audience.” Works for me. Of course, Chica Umino’s excellent Honey and Clover has been serving a similar purpose for a while now, straddling the border between shôjo and josei with quirky aplomb. The art-college romantic comedy reaches its eighth volume this week.

Just based on Taiyo Matsumoto’s well-deserved reputation as a person who makes great comics, I expect that his GoGo Monster (Viz) might make a strong showing on some “Best of” lists this year. I haven’t read it yet myself, but if it’s anywhere near as good as Tekkonkinkreet, it will be very good indeed. I’m hoping there will be a copy at the bookstore today when I go to pick up Red Snow.

Upcoming 10/21/2009

Last Wednesday’s lean times are over, so check under your sofa cushions and empty the ash tray in your car, because it’s time for a look at the current ComicList:

real6It’s tough to pick a book of the week, as there’s interesting material in varied formats, but I ultimately have to settle on the sixth volume of Takehiko Inoue’s Real from Viz Signature. This excellent drama looks at the lives of wheelchair basketball players so vividly and with such specificity that you don’t need to have the slightest interest in sports to become engrossed. I certainly don’t have any interest in sports, and I think the book is terrific and deeply underappreciated. So please give it a try.

whatawonderfulworld1Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of the books in Viz’s Signature line and an admirer of the imprint in general. I honestly can’t think of one I don’t at least enjoy. That said I do question the wisdom of unleashing quite this much product on the market at once. In addition to the aforementioned volume of Real, there’s the fifth volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, the fifth omnibus installment of Inoue’s Vagabond, and both volumes of Inio (solanin) Asano’s What a Wonderful World! That’s $71.95 worth of comics, retail before taxes. It’s a lot. But perhaps strong sales of books like the first volume of Rumiko Takahashi’s RIN-NE (which arrives Wednesday) will help carry Viz’s less commercial titles. And RIN-NE is a lot of fun, as you would expect from Takahashi. Kate Dacey has an enthsuiastic review of the first volume at The Manga Critic, and you can sample the title at The RumicWorld.

Noted just for the novelty of it, Del Rey launches its floppy comics line this week with The Talisman: The Road of Trials, based on a Stephen King/Peter Straub property, written by Robin Furth and illustrated by Tony Shasteen. Del Rey Comics doesn’t seem to have a web site yet, but you can see a preview at Entertainment Weekly’s site.

bookaboutmoominThe New York Times ran a Reuters story pondering the potential international appeal of Tove Jansson’s Moomin properties without ever mentioning the fact that Drawn & Quarterly has been releasing beautiful hardcover collections of Jansson’s comic strips for a few years now. Whether Reuters notices or not, Drawn & Quarterly continues to earn excellent karma by releasing Jansson’s The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My. (Scroll down on to the bottom of this page for more details and a preview.)

underground2I enjoyed the first issue of Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber’s Underground (Image), a five-part mini-series about socioeconomic machinations and spelunking peril in a mountain town in Kentucky. I fully expect to enjoy the second issue as well.

I also enjoyed the first volume of Svetlana Chmakova’s Nightschool (Yen Press), collected after serialization in Yen Plus. It’s a complicated supernatural adventure about various factions of night creatures and the humans who oppose them. It’s got terrific art and a promisingly chunky plot. The second volume arrives Wednesday.

From the stack: Underground

underground1I find it harder to review pamphlet comics, since there’s less content to consider, but Underground (Image) is a lively genre piece with a number of promising elements. Here they are:

It’s got a strong creative team. Jeff Parker has established himself as a smart writer of a variety of snappy, satisfying genre comics, even finding fresh approaches to timeworn franchise characters. Steve Lieber has a great way of drawing real-looking characters and evocative settings. Ron Chan provides a solid palette of colors that support the visual environment.

It’s set in Appalachia. There aren’t all that many comics that consider rural environments without condescension, and Underground looks like it will be one of those. It’s Appalachia without the menacing banjo soundtrack.

It’s got interesting, setting-specific undertones. The driving conflict is between environmental protection and economic development which, again, isn’t normal narrative territory for comics. Park ranger Wesley Fischer wants to protect the fragile ecosystem of a massive cave. Locals want to make the cave more accessible to tourists, boosting the town’s economy. Self-serving mogul Winston Barefoot may be the most public face of the development side, but that doesn’t mean the effort is entirely unsavory. It’s the kind of issue faced by lots of Appalachian communities, and Parker doesn’t minimize or simplify the conflict any more than he can avoid.

It’s got a strong woman protagonist. Ranger Fischer has principles and the force of personality to act on them. At the same time, she isn’t insensitive to opposing points of view. (Her likely love interest is both a local and a ranger.) She seems more than layered enough to carry the series.

On the down side, the socioeconomic underpinnings seem likely to take a back seat to cave-bound risk and rescue. I don’t imagine they’ll vanish entirely, though, as the creators have demonstrated the ability to juggle various narrative elements.

On the nitpick side, there seem to have been some proofreading lapses in the production process. Some dialogue just doesn’t scan, no matter how you try to read it.

On the whole, it’s a solid first issue of a series with engaging characters and interesting ideas. I’ll stick around to see where things go.

Quick pamphlet comments

I’m very pleased that Image and Tokyopop are reprinting Brandon Graham’s King City in pamphlet form. In spite of good reviews, I missed it in digest form. While I don’t have a basis for comparison, I suspect it’s better served in its new, full-sized format than it might have been in tankoubon size. There are lots of little thing to look at, and the bigger page size seems friendlier to that.

Here’s an example of a layout that I really liked from the second issue.


At this point, I know very little about the characters above, but that panel makes me really interested in both of them. Graham’s pages generally have interesting layouts, and there’s a nice sense of motion and bustle to a lot of them, but he also has a nice handle on little gradations of facial expression and body language. He really sells moments like these.

As you would expect from the title, there’s also a nice sense of place. King City, the setting, evokes that kind of sleazy modernism that a lot of creators attempt but don’t necessarily achieve. I think that’s because Graham is judicious about the way he reveals things. He hasn’t front-loaded the city’s entire culture, choosing instead to put it out there a bit at a time, making me curious about what things mean and what they’ll amount to later. That’s probably another reason why it’s a good fit with pamphlet publication. An individual issue constitutes a satisfying chunk, a nice monthly visit to a weird place and the intriguing characters that live there.

My purchase of two other comics – Marvel Divas and Models, Inc. – is driven by a combination of nostalgia and a reflexive desire to promote diversity. When I dropped Marvel comics entirely, there were no titles like this, lighthearted and driven by women characters. So my activist streak kicked in and I decided to give them at least one more sale.


I prefer Divas (written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, drawn and inked by Tonci Zonjic, and colored by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic). It’s about four c-list super-heroines who hang out and support each other through their various woes. Pretty much every one of those woes has been portrayed in a more straightforward manner in episodes of Sex and the City, right down to cancer, but Aguirre-Sacasa finds nice spandex twists on the subject matter. And while I’ll never be convinced of the wisdom of mixing real-world illness in a setting where characters can banish it with a wave of their hand (or can’t, depending on the demands of the plot), there’s a surprising amount of nuance in the scenes where young heroine Firestar copes with her illness with the help of her more seasoned cast-mates. It’s not a great comic, and it doesn’t track with its own marketing even a little, but it’s got some solid, character-driven writing that doesn’t condescend to the characters. Aguirre-Sacasa creates a plausible, endearing support system among the four women, which is nice to see.

Models, Inc. (written by Paul Tobin, drawn and inked by Vicenc Villagrasa, colored by Val Staples, and lettered by Dave Sharpe) is what is what might be known in the rag trade as “a hot mess.” It unfolds during Fashion Week, with one of Marvel’s model characters (Millie) accused of murder. It’s up to her friends (other Marvel model characters) to clear her of the crime. I like lighthearted mysteries as much as or more than the next person, but this one is hobbled by the fact that almost none of the characters make any specific impression. There are at least two models two many, and they seem to have been selected entirely for visual variety rather than anything specific they bring to the story. The closest thing to a breakout character would be bisexual Chili Storm, who at least gets to be a bit of a spitfire and isn’t limited to spouting exposition or being blandly supportive, though she also carries water from those wells.


Another difficult is that the look of the book isn’t especially fashionable. I can’t say that I follow fashion beyond trying to catch episodes of Project Runway, but I get a distinctly dowdy and dated vibe from the cast’s wardrobe. I suspect Villagrasa is going for a detached, posing style in his compositions – as if the models are always at least a little aware that there’s a camera pointed at them – and it’s not a bad idea, but the execution doesn’t really work. (And yes, I know that the panels above show them actually posing, but what the hell are they wearing?) It doesn’t go far enough, so it ends up looking sort of weird.

I did love the Tim Gunn back-up story in the first issue (written by Marc Sumerak, drawn by Jorge Molina). Runway mentor Gunn saves the day with style, which is what I was hoping for from the lead story. Alas, Models, Inc. is more a meeting of a catwalk Girl Scout troop.

Upcoming 10/7/2009


This week’s ComicList has some welcome, off-the-beaten-path items, so let’s dig in.

The arrival of one book from Fanfare/Ponent Mon is a welcome delight. The arrival of two seems positively decadent, but that’s what they do, and both are from master illustrator Jiro Taniguchi. Which excites you more will depend on your taste for Taniguchi. Summit of the Gods, about fateful trips up Mt. Everest, is in his man-versus-nature vein, like The Ice Wanderer and Quest for the Missing Girl. A Distant Neighborhood is more slice-of-life, kind of like his story in Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators or The Walking Man (if it had a plot). I picked up the first two volumes of A Distant Neighborhood at Small Press Expo and can heartily recommend it. I’ll cover it in more depth later, but it’s about a middle-aged man who wakes up as his teen-aged self shortly before his father’s disappearance.

masterpiececomicsThere are two arrivals that can be described as clever ideas executed extremely well. R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly) was another SPX purchase. In it, Sikoryak fuses classic literature with classic comics in some extremely witty ways. Blondie and Dagwood are reinvented as Adam and Eve, Mary Worth becomes Lady Macbeth, Bazooka Joe does Dante, and so on. The juxtapositions are great, and Sikoryak’s ability to adopt such a variety of visual styles is very impressive. The book is more amusing than absorbing, but there’s an amazing amount of craft on display.

I’ve already written about The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (Random House), mostly for its weird crediting of author Max Books and illustrator Ibraim Roberson on the review copy I received and the web listing, some of which seems to have been fixed. Brooks inserts zombies into various, far-flung scenarios – the colonial Caribbean, a Foreign Legion outpost in northern Africa, even pre-history – offering a faux-anthropological examination of zombie encounters through history. Again, it’s clever, and Roberson draws the heck out of it. I’d recommend it for zombie fans looking for a marginally fresh take on the (in my opinion) exhausted topic.

I tend to like the shôjo titles CMX publishes. I’ve heard effusive praise for Ken Saito’s The Name of the Flower, and I’ll track it down at some point, but in the meantime, I was glad to receive a review copy of Oh! My Brother so I could get a sense of Saito’s style. It’s got its strong points, mostly in terms of interesting characters and nicely delivered emotional moments. It’s about a girl who finds herself sharing her body with the spirit of her dead older brother, trying to help him with his unfinished business. That could have turned into something really unsavory, but Saito takes a sweet, sensitive approach to the material, thankfully. Some of the storytelling is a little sketchy, but there’s a nice, sentimental core to the work. I suspect Brother came before Flower, though I can’t seem to find any confirmation of that.

kiminitodoke2Viz releases many, many books this week, some of which will very likely show up on the Graphic Book Best Seller List over at The New York Times, but my attention is fixated on the second volume of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina. It’s about an outwardly off-putting girl trying to convince her classmates that she didn’t crawl out of a well to claim their souls. I liked the first volume a lot.

I couldn’t find it on Image’s web site with a sextant and a dowsing rod, but I’ll definitely pick up the second issue of Brandon Graham’s King City, as I really enjoyed the first. It’s a pamphlet reprinting of a book Tokyopop originally published as a paperback. I missed it in digest form, so I’m glad Image and Tokyopop are giving readers a second bite of the apple, particularly in a format that’s probably friendlier to Graham’s illustrations.

Upcoming 9/23/2009

Time again for a look at this week’s ComicList:


Summer is over, and school is underway, but if you want to recapture that sense of freedom and possibility, pick up Matthew Loux’s Salt Water Taffy: The Truth About Dr. True (Oni Press). This series about young brothers spending a silly and mysterious summer at the shore has been a real treat so far. Check out the series site, which includes added webcomic adventures, and read this interview with Loux over at Comic Book Resources. The site has also promised a chunky preview of the book sometime today. (Update: It’s here.) Here are my reviews of the first and second volumes of the series.


Dark Horse rewards the loyal with the 12th volume of Hiroki Endo’s meaty science fiction saga, Eden: It’s an Endless World! There tend to be long gaps between new volumes of this excellent series, but I can be patient as long as they keep coming. Here’s my review of the series over at The Comics Reporter.


I arrived late at this particular party, but I’m still happy to see the sixth volume of Banri Hidaka’s V.B. Rose (Tokyopop). I’ve enjoyed the first three volumes of this story about a promising amateur designer who goes to work for a couture bridal shop. It’s got endearing characters and almost enough sparkle to necessitate protective eyewear.


Vertical delivers more morally ambiguous medical madness with the seventh volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack.


I was shocked by how much I liked the first volume of Kiminori Wakasugi’s vulgar, improbable, totally hilarious Detroit Metal City (Viz). The second volume arrives this week at better comic shops and braver bookstores everywhere.

Update: I almost always forget to look at Image’s listings, because they don’t publish a whole lot that seems like it would interest me and because I’m still bitter that they aren’t publishing more of Andi Watson’s Glister. I also find their web site completely impossible to navigate or search, so I won’t even bother linking to it. While I think this is a largely defensible position on my part, it sometimes leads me to miss neat comics like the following.


Underground, which mercifully has its own, entirely navigable web site, is written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Steve Lieber. I liked Parker’s Agents of Atlas mini-series a lot (Marvel), and I thought Lieber’s work on Whiteout and Whiteout: Melt (Oni) was great. Also, Me and Edith Head, drawn by Lieber and written by Sara Ryan, is one of my favorite mini-comics ever. So I’m naturally inclined to give the comic a try, even though it’s about a cave, and claustrophobia prevents me from even considering entering one. I couldn’t even finish Nevada Barr’s Blind Descent, and I like Barr’s mystery novels a lot. But it’s Parker and Lieber, so I’ll certainly muster as much courage as possible.

Birthday book: Leave It to Chance

Today’s Birthday Book fills me with nostalgia, not just for the book itself but for the work of Paul Smith in general. His run on Uncanny X-Men (collected here) remains one of my favorites in super-hero comics, packed with watershed moments made even better by his terrific pencils. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was the title’s last great huzzah.

leaveittochanceBut today’s title is actually an independent work Smith did with James Robinson for Image: Leave it to Chance. It ran for a mere thirteen issues, but it was really terrific while it lasted. I like the Publishers Weekly description on the book’s Amazon listing so much that I’ll just crib from it:

“Like the Nancy Drew mysteries that inspired it, Robinson’s newest work is a paean to the resourcefulness and spirit of a curious tomboyish type who’s addicted to adventure. Chance Falconer is a 14-year-old only child born into a family of municipal sorcerers that has protected the city of Devil’s Echo for centuries. Chance can’t wait to start training in the family business, but her father decides he doesn’t want a girl joining the family’s dangerous profession… This is a girl power comic written with a younger audience in mind. The smartest cops are female, the violence is G-rated and the story is fast-paced, brightly colored and as wholesome as it gets.”

I’d be reluctant to use the word “wholesome,” just because nobody could possibly take that as a compliment, but the rest is spot-on. I’m horrified by my suspicion that it’s out of print, because I would have pegged this as an absolute perennial. Surely someone should have an omnibus edition in the offing, shouldn’t they?

Previews review

After a couple of months of overwhelmingly appealing product in Diamond’s June 2009 Previews catalog, the industry seems to take a bit of a breather. Here’s what caught my eye, mostly new volumes of entertaining, ongoing series.

taleThere are some debuts. I quite liked the first volume of Natsuna Kawase’s The Lapis Lazuli Crown (CMX), so I’ll certainly take a chance on the second volume (page 121) and the first volume of another Kawase series, A Tale of an Unknown Country Girl (also CMX, page 120), about a princess who goes undercover to see if her arranged fiancé is a total asshat.

Many people viewed Brandon Graham’s King City to be one of the great casualties of whichever Tokyopop meltdown put its future in peril. Those folks will be happy to see pages 138 and 139, which reveal that Image and Tokyopop will be presenting a floppy version of Graham’s comic. I find Image’s web site impossible to navigate, so I’ll just link to this Newsarama interview with Graham.

Two of Del Rey’s solicitations on page 237 catch my eye: the fifth volume of Ryotaro Iwanaga’s underrated postwar adventure, Pumpkin Scissors, and the third volume of Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei, a dark satire of school comedies that’s more heavily annotated than just about any book not edited by Carl Horn. Sayonara also has some of the tiniest print in the history of translated comics from Japan, and some fairly impenetrable humor, but enough of the jokes work for me to make it worth the eye strain.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon presents the second volume of Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood (page 245). You scrambled for the order form right after I typed the publisher’s name, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?

adI’ve enjoyed Josh Neufeld’s travel comics, though he tends to go places I would never personally consider for a vacation. My idea of roughing it is hotels with limited room service. But his A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge (Pantheon, page 273) promises to be one of the books of the year.

I thought IDW or someone had the CSI comic-book franchise. It isn’t exclusive apparently, as Tokyopop launches the two-part CSI: Interns, written by Sekou Hamilton and illustrated by Steven Cummings (page 283).

Viz Udon gets its sci-fi on with the return of Kia Asamiya’s Silent Möbius in an unflipped, all-new translation with restored color story pages (page 285). Trivia note: Asamiya was first introduced to many English-reading comics fans through the dubious distinction of illustrating some of the worst issues of Uncanny X-Men ever written.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I’m more intrigued by the Viz’s debut of Hiroyuki Asada’s Tegami Bachi (page 288), which I’ve seen described as being about postal workers called “Letter Bees” carrying the hearts of correspondents to their loved ones. I admit that most of my interest comes from the probably mistaken mental image of sacks full of human hearts and the shocked reactions of their recipients.

In the “new volume” category, Viz offers Oishinbo: Vegetables (written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki), the fourth volume of Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, and the second volume of Kiminori Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City, which is sick and wrong and I think I’m in love with it (all listed on page 292).