Book Club / 2017 in Review

2017 in Review


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

Here’s how it’s going to go. Instead of choosing one book and having us all talking about the same thing we figured – what the hell – it’s the end of the year: how about we open things up a little? And instead do a “year in review” type thing…

(Disclaimer disclaimer. This is an experiment. We haven’t tried this before so it could all go horribly wrong – but hey: that’s where all the fun is – right? But yeah: if it all somehow goes tits up then I apologises).

Here’s the ground rules:

1. You can talk about any comic you like
The comic you talk about doesn’t need to have been produced in 2017. You can talk about Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four or Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi. Doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be something that you liked. If there was a book that you really hated then you can talk about that. The only real requirement is that it’s something that you’ve read in this past year and there’s something you want to say about it. (You’re also welcome to lobby for any particular comic that you feel like the LGNN Book Club should do in the future if you feel like it…).

2. Name the comic in bold at the start of what you write.
I’ll do a few examples below but basically put the name of the comic down at the start of what you write. That way if someone is in the middle of reading it / or they want to read it and they don’t wanna get spoiled then they can just skip over it with no harm done. (If you want you can also put an image from the comic in there too – just so I have something to add when we post it up on the site).

3. Please don’t just recount the plot.
If people want to read a synopsis then there’s places they can go (that’s what back covers are for etc). Instead try this – Talk about what you liked (or didn’t like) about the comic. But grabbed you / what left you cold. What it did well / what it could have done better. How it made you feel. What kind of things it made you think about. All that good stuff.

4. If someone else has already mentioned a comic then hey – that’s ok
This isn’t a first come / first served thing. If someone else has mentioned a comic then it’s not off the table – you can still write about it all you want. Ideally we don’t just want lots of solipsistic thoughts floating separately from each other so yeah – if someone mentions a book and you have a differing view please feel free to share (just you know obviously – try to play nice).

If there’s anything I’ve overlooked please let me know.
But I think that’s it – pretty simple right?

Ok then. Here’s a few to kick us off…

Shakra

Shakara
By Robbie Morrison and Henry Flint

I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that I’m a 2000AD kid. Growing up it was in my honey and in my milk. Judge Dredd. Alan Moore. Blunt as a hammer satire. Bonkers miniature sci-fi: where ideas that would sustain a trilogy of books are wrapped up in 5 pages. Although (much to my shame) there got to be a point where I stopped buying it every week because well – it kinda stopped being good and just got lazy and boring (or you know what? Maybe it was just me and growing up? An awful process that I wouldn’t recommend in the slightest). Anyway a few years back I found a copy of Shakara in my local library and well hell – the beauty of libraries is that you can just take the books for the free (hooray) and I read it and I liked it (even tho it was just the first part) and then forgot about it until a few months ago when I went into a local newsagent and saw this: 2000AD The Ultimate Collection: Issue 3: Shakara: The Avenger and god – I got the bug again and wanted to read it so I went out and brought both volumes…. Like an addict going back for more hit.

And yeah: what can I say? It’s scratches that 2000AD itch inside me with a wire-tipped-scrubbing brush. Feels so good. Berserk and cruel sci-fi full of monsters and death and pitch black jokes. Basically it’s this alien ninja being with swords and spikes sticking out of it and it’s all in black apart from blood red eyes and the only thing it can say is “SHAKARA!” and I think it’s one of my favourite things I’ve read this year in spite of / because of it’s all so completely mindlessly “teenage boy” and oh my complete and holy fucking god: THE ART!!! It’s all black and white and precisely placed splotches of red (those eyes mentioned above) and intricate violent gnarly art like Kevin O’Neill and H.R. Giger got together and made a baby. Basically if you haven’t yet discovered the joys of Henry Flint then I envy you because looking at pictures is like dark chocolate for your eyes: luxurious and rich and tasty like you know it’s bad for you. Like he drew the whole with a leaky 25p black bic pen held between his teeth. That energy. That bite. That whatever it is I don’t know but it’s GREAT.

Yes it’s simplistic like a puzzle piece with only 3 pieces and I honestly don’t know if it’s acting stupid or just is stupid. But I love it like Alan Moore loves his beard. Like Grant Morrison loves DC. Like Garth Ennis loves tanks.

It is good in that way that in my heart of hearts I always want comics to be: simple like a needle to the eye.

Trees

Trees
By Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

I feel like maybe in future more stories are going to be like Trees. Less things about one main character doing heroic stuff everyone else as a minor character orbiting them and backing them up and more collectivism: more diffuse stories taking in multiple points of view. (You know like (in terms of films) Syriana or Babel or Traffic or in terms of comics – Top Ten or (oh yeah) the grandaddy of them all = Watchmen).

Also (oh god let me try to explain this in terms that make sense): the thing that’s really cool about Trees is that it actually goes further than that and that the main character is actually the environment or you know: the Trees (if you haven’t read it: the Trees are actually like Alien Spaceships or something that set themselves up around the world – as you do. Kinda like the ships in Independence Day – only a lot more lazy and inert). And reading the comic it’s almost like reading a science experiment and jumping from place to place seeing how the presence of the same new external factor (the Trees) can have vastly differing effects and meanings from differing points of view. Like the Trees are pretty much always the same – and what’s interesting is seeing how they cause different effects. And well yeah shit – not to be too down on us humans but that seems like an important (but scary) idea: that maybe our actions and our ideas and who we are is a product of our environment: we’re all constrained within our own worlds and any sort of escape is: impossible.

Or I dunno – something else.

……………………….

Your turn.


RAT
Lofi Space

Hi all!

Call me Rat – my first post here, so a bit about me: I’m ex-London, currently holed up in Brighton, mostly into artcomics, and I’ve discovered a horrible taste for slice-of-life stuff recently. I’m currently working on a project to do a short comic each month, which is driving me mad and keeping me sane in equal measure. My stuff’s up at www.lofi.space.

I also have no idea how Google Groups work, so I’m kinda half-expecting everything to catch fire when I mash send. Sorry in advance if your computer is on fire as you read this.

Shortcomings – Adrian Tomine

2017 has been a big year for me, comic-wise. I’ve read more titles this year than probably the rest of my life combined, and actually got over the intimidation-factor enough to start drawing some. My favourites of the year have to be Adrian Tomine‘s books – any of them, really, but Shortcomings is my favourite. Tomine does these weird slice-of-life stories where there is a plot – normal-but-important events happen to normalish people – but things don’t really tie up neatly at the end. I guess that’s a big part of what I like about them, this impression that you enter in the middle of a messy-complex-real life, watch for a while, and then leave while the life carries on. It doesn’t feel like everything was waiting for you to arrive before it started, in a way that simple media resdoesn’t really cover. Makes it feel much more authentic, scratches an itch I didn’t even know I had.

Character development and believability in comics is something I’m really coming to appreciate, how hard it is to balance the limitations of the form (characters only really getting to speak in short sentences, the need for visual interest, etc.) against creating a person who can feel real enough to relate to. I think it’s Tomine’s biggest strength, his characters feel solid enough that you can latch onto them, care about their stories even if they’re terrible people.

I’m wondering how that’d fit with what Joel was saying about multiple points of view in trees. The limiting factor in making comics is how damn labour-intensive they are per-picture, so if you want to have multiple characters that automatically means less time with each, which is going to be really hard to do while still keeping the reader engaged with them all. Do you think it’s just down to author-skill, or is there another approach that could work?

I don't have a type

Talking of different points of view, I can’t really bring up Shortcomings without mentioning race. The story is about Ben Tanaka, an Asian-American guy, and a good chunk of the story revolves around his (lazily awful) attitudes to race – think ‘generation x version of American Born Chinese‘. I have very little knowledge of race issues beyond ‘oh, cool, a story that isn’t by a white dude about a white dude’. So I figure I’m gonna leave it at that; it’s good to be exposed to a different viewpoint, it’s what I love about bio-comics in general. Comics about people, that is, not comics made from people. Though that’d be cool, too. Messy, though. And you’d probably have to keep them in a fridge.

You're a good kisser

Tomine’s art is another thing I love – he’s got this super-clean graphicky monotone style that I adore. I’m a recovering manga-addict, so I guess it scratches some of that same itch, focusing on smooth linework over textures. On the other hand, Tomine can draw more than one face, so I’m not slipping too badly. 😉


AMANDA
Barbican Comic Forum

As someone who tends to avoid autobiographical or slice of life stuff (because generally I want to spend my leisure time escaping the real world with adventures and time travel and space and alternative universes), this line from Rat makes me reconsider my choice:”It’s good to be exposed to a different viewpoint, it’s what I love about bio-comics in general. Comics about people, that is, not comics made from people.” Maybe 2018 will be the year I give this stuff more of a chance. Having said that, some of my favourite comics this year had autobiographical/slice of life elements, so maybe I’m partway there already.

Here are a couple short ones from me. More to come if I find the time!

Babybel Wax Bodysuit by Eric Kostiuk Williams
Published 2016, read this year

This single-issue anthology of short comics has a story about cyborg Britney Spears in the year 2116.
They want more

If that’s not enough of a selling point, the art and layouts are reminiscent of JH Williams III or Emma Rios and full of all the best and brightest colours from the late 80s/early 90s. The individual stories aren’t narratively linked, although many are personal if you’re into that sort of thing, and each is elevated into something special by the art. The shining example here is ‘The Literal Word’, a bittersweet story which uses message board avatars to recount a pre-Facebook online friendship, a striking and clever way of making something potentially dull come to life.

Just before facebook

If that’s not enough of a selling point, there’s no helping you.

The Flintstones by Mark Russell (W), Steve Pugh (A), Chris Chuckry (C), Dave Sharpe (L)
12 issue run ending June 2017

Nothing I write about this will be as good as a description from LGNN’s own Tari, who’s extremely gifted at making any comic book sound like a must-read. I was skeptical of the Flintstones comic as I am with any sort of crossover, but I picked it up after he talked about it at the Barbican Comic Forum and it’s one of my favourite reads this year.So much of this comic is familiar: the look of the characters and the issues they grapple with are instantly recognisable. But where it gets really interesting is the way these characters and issues come together: you have everyone’s favourite (post-)modern stone age family dealing with gentrification, political corruption, racism, PTSD, employment woes, and more. And the characters themselves are far more well-rounded and relatable than I remember them being on television. Spunky teenage Pebbles is particularly likeable.I especially love that it has puns and wacky cameos. Sometimes both. Here’s film director Werner Herzrock.

the only true obstacle

The Flintstones is initially jarring—but pleasantly surprising—for anyone expecting a 60s throwback.


TARI
Barbican Comic Forum

I wrote a couple things elsewhere I’ll just copy/paste here. There is some repeating of what Amanda said sorry:

My favourite old graphic novel that I read for the first time this year was ‘Miracleman’ Volumes 1 to 3 by ‘the original writer’ aka Alan Moore, and Volume 4 by Neil Gaiman. The story really drew me in as it explored some ideas I didn’t expect to see come up. I could see the beginnings of how Alan Moore would approach deconstructing the concept of the superhero and the world they live; an idea that he would take even further in Watchmen. But honestly I felt that of the two books, Miracelman was the easier to digest. Miracleman was more of a personal journey and transformation of one guy discovering what it means to be a superhero in the real world. Delving into the toll that the title of ‘superhero’ would take on you and the ones around you. Including the sacrifice of ones humanity, and being forced to ascend into something more. Which came with it’s own questions of how the world would regard such a being. I read ahead onto the further volume by Gaiman and appreciated how the story evolved into something grander each time. It focused on the progressively wider circle of influence Miracelman had on people in life, the world around him, and the possible utopian or dystopian futures he could bring about.

Miracleman

My favourite new graphic novel that I read this year was The Flintstones’ Volumes 1 & 2 by Mark Russell. I went into it expecting to read the same cheesy, cartoony, sitcom antics of a caveman remembered watching on Cartoon Network (and even the not one, but two big screen live-action adaptations). But what I got instead was far from what I expected. This was a book about how societies are built, the role of economy, the dependence of religion and how it’s used against us, animal cruelty, slavery, cultural identity, PTSD and effects war has on returning soldiers, and how to measure the worth of humanity in the face of the threat of global genocide. This book has even given the phrase “Yabba-Dabba Doo” a deeper and more thoughtful meaning to it. And by extension shown a whole new side to Fred Flinstone and what he is going through. This book was basically a light exploration and dissection of the human condition and the evolution of human society. This is The Flintstones. As a follow-up, DC Comics just started ‘The Jetsons’ by Jimmy Palmiotti, which appears to be going into a similar creative direction, so I’ll be reading that next. From my initial first impressions I’m hoping it will touch on the darker side of humanity’s future, the fall of mankind, and what was sacrificed to restore civilisation above and beyond what came before.

The Flintstones


ILIA
The Gap between Panels
Barbican Comic Forum
Twitter / The Hot-Doll Pages

Couple of things from me.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Shout out to Loz for putting the first volume on the Peckham Library comic book group. This is a very rich epic fantasy series about a young woman who has escaped from slavery, and who harbours an evil spirit within her which can destroy the world. I use ‘rich’ in the same way as I would to describe cake or wine – it’s a book to savour and luxuriate in, largely a result of the luminous artwork. And it has a high calorie count – both plot and panels are crammed full of details. I would sum it up as Northern Lights meets Warcraft III, and would recommend if either of those things appeal.

Empty Zone by Jason Shawn Alexander

A mash-up of science fiction, noir and horror – very pulpy and with astonishing artwork that recalls the impressionistic painterly stuff Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley and David Mack are known for. It’s a triumph of design and energy roped to a serviceable plot and enjoyable if rather rote characters. Good fun, in other words.

Crying Freeman by Kazuo Koike and Ryōichi Ikegami

This might best be described as bad fun. It’s a mid 90s manga from the writer of Lone Wolf & Cub about an assassin who becomes the leader of a Chinese crime syndicate. It reads like an 80s action movie that becomes increasingly obscene and absurd as it goes on, while never losing its sense of style. Extremely gratuitous sex and violence throughout, but also enough wild invention to sustain interest even when the plot becomes completely meaningless.

The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker

I spoke about this at one of the Shoe Lane Graphic Novel Forums. For my money Jonathan Hickman is the most innovative and exciting creator around at the moment, which is why it’s disappointing to see him serve up another helping of themes he’s explored elsewhere, just packaged in a different genre. Hickman comics don’t really have characters that are recognisable to the likes of you and I. They are a bit like watching a group of Galactus-level beings play Civilisation II against each other (I think that’s how I put it at the Shoe Lane Forum). Black Monday Murders does the same thing but in a genre – financial institutions that worship the devil – which has been done and dusted. East of West was at least new in its grand combination of science fiction, western and apocalyptic fervour (you could describe it as Issac Asimov’s Foundation books crossed with Nietzsche at his maddest). Black Monday Murders feels slight by comparison – something that should have been 6 or 12 issues rather than an ongoing series. Disappointment of the year, although my expectations were sky high.


AMANDA
Barbican Comic Forum

Hi. A couple more.

Shade the Changing Girl by Cecil Castellucci (W), Marley Zarcone (A), Kelly Fitzpatrick (C), Saida Temafonte (L)

Issues 1-12, ended October 2017 (possibly ongoing in 2018?)Shade the Changing Girl is about identity and belonging (how do you be who you are or who you want to be when people have certain expectations or preconceived notions of you? what do you do when people refuse to accept you’ve changed?), wanderlust and homesickness, and expectations and nostalgia (how do you react when people and places you’ve spent ages romanticising aren’t as anticipated?).

bark bark bark

Lots of emotions run through the story, conveyed through expressive characters, layouts that occasionally twist into psychedelia (but not so often or overwhelmingly that the story becomes ungrounded), and bright, bold colours. As a bonus, the wonderful Marguerite Sauvage brings her more delicate, pastel-tone art style to issue 7 as a one-off. Sometimes artist changes can be discordant, but I think her style works well with the issue’s content. Also, I desperately want to see her doing more comics. Everything she draws is delightful.

life with honey

I’m not sure if there’s a long term plan for this series beyond an upcoming crossover (ugh) with other DC series in early 2018, but it’s perfectly readable as a standalone 12-issue arc. No knowledge of anything DC-related required.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu (W), Sana Takeda (A/C), Rus Wooton (L)
Issues 1-12, ongoing seriesIlia’s comment about this amused me because the brief notes I’d written about Monstress, anticipating writing about it for this thread, revolve around the word ‘rich’ (richly conceived world, characters; rich with artistic detail). So I’ll be lazy and just second everything he says about it. I’m really excited to see where Monstress goes. Twelve issues in, it feels like the creators have progressed the main plot and characters sufficiently to maintain interest, but there’s still a lot of the world of Monstress left to explore.

cat pirate


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

At the risk of conforming to type – a few rejoinders:

Monstress

By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda and Rus Wooton

thats exactly what i was trying to prevent

No. No. No. And oh my god – no. I mean – I guess I should have had my suspicious when I saw that Neil Gaiman quote on the cover of the first volume (“Remarkable: a beautifully told story of magic and fear.” – blurgh) but this comic is not good. I mean obviously this puts me in a minority of one: not only are you guys praising it here – but it’s also been a notable hit in the Barbican Comic Forum these past few months with lots of people giving it a smile and a nodding head: but I honestly have no idea what you people are seeing in this thing. It’s like the comics equivalent of the kinda middle-brow TV that I long ago learned to avoid – Arrow and Gotham and all that… Where the point seems to be nothing more than filling some time and feeling a vague sense of personal empowerment… Which yeah ok whatever. It’s just that the writing is so damn clunky reading it feels like being trapped inside a a rusted grandfather clock.

I tried. I mean I really did. But Monstress is part of that very small subset of comics I’ve read this year that were so bad that I couldn’t even finish it. It’s like trying to eat day old porridge – every panel another heaped spoonful of gruel in my mind. I mean – I think Ilia and Amanda are both smart cool people so I actually went back this morning to give it another shot (maybe I was just in the wrong mood when I read it?) but no – come on guys – like I get that maybe I have a heightened sensitivity to this stuff or something but in the first few pages alone we get stuff like “If there weren’t a stalemate in the war, there wouldn’t be a wall and all you inhuman freaks would be in chains.” (CLUNK). I mean – one. Who speaks like this? two. Isn’t there a more interesting way to do exposition (especially in a comic!) than just having a character spell things out like this? three. YAWN. YAWN. and YAWN. And oh my god – it’s never-ending. Seemingly every other character speaks like this – like they’re in a bad TV show with every other page pointing towards some bullshit seeming mystery that’s only put there to keep you reading (oooh! Why is that photo important? oooooh! What happened in Constantine? ooooh! what’s the deal with her mother? ooooh! What’s the answer to all of the above? = I don’t care).

Not a fan. Sorry.

scribbles

The Black Monday Murders
By Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker

The Manhattan Projects

By Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

East of West

By Jonathan HickmanNick Dragotta

I was there at the Shoe Lane Comic Forum when Ilia made his “like watching a group of Galactus-level beings play Civilisation II against each other.” I hadn’t read Black Monday Murders then – but after buying a copy I’ve gotta admit that he’s right. Because yeah – it’s true – all Jonathan Hickman comics are basically the same. But damn it – I can’t stop reading them. Money. Language. Capitalism. Power. Those are some tasty ingredients for what could be a very scrumptious and enjoyable meal – altho Hickman is obviously addicted to being as withholding as possible – it’s hard to tell if the trip is going to be worth it… And well yeah – his Manhattan Projects started out like some-kind of unholy combination of I don’t know quite what before Vol 5 (The Sun Beyond the Stars) kinda turned it into a Saturday morning cartoon (and not one of the good ones…). And East of West – I mean: I dunno. I have the latest volume but haven’t got round to reading it yet seeing how with the ones before that all of the sound and fury (as cool as it all was) kinda signified… well: pretty much nothing. I’m trying not to succumb to the idea that Hickman is nothing more than a snake oil salesman: but maybe it’s just he’s so good at promising so much? I just hope at some point he actually delivers.


MIKE

One from the 1960s, one of more recent vintage, both from my 2017.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #103 April 1964.

Menaced by the Enchantress and the Executioner!

Written by Stan Lee, Illustrated by Jack Kirby, Inked by Chic Stone, Lettered

by S. Rosen. Essential Mighty Thor Vol I. Marvel

Researching an article on Jack Kirby, I re-read an old Marvel issue of Thor, then called Journey into Mystery. I was reacquainted with how Kirby’s way with comix grandeur and a human story could be enhanced by his precise and moving images. This is one of the earliest layouts in Kirby’s peak decade (1963-73) and one of my favourite singlecomic books. If there’s a model for good big-budget movies, whether Star Wars or Ragnarok, this is it.

Journey into Mystery

What still impresses me about this comic is how Kirby, with dialogue by Stan Lee, weaves intimate drama – soap opera – and grand mythic combat. Odin is angry at his son for continuing to love a mortal, Jane Foster, who works as a nurse for Dr. Don Blake, Thor’s alter ego, in New York City. Thor’s cunning half-brother Loki suggests they send another immortal, the Enchantress, to seduce Thor and break up the relationship. She tries but Don/Thor is more committed than that. As a kid this impressed me as a lesson about superficial charm. After the Enchantress snatches a snog from him, Don runs after the offended Jane. “Never has anyone broken from my embrace before” goes a thought-bubble of the Enchantress. Later she hires the Executioner, another Asgardian, to get rid of Jane Foster, sending her off to Limbo.

you have come to me at last

Even after Thor battles the Executioner , it ends up being about the effort of sacrifice not what kit the principals can throw at each other. Thor desists to help Jane’s return.

stay your hand

In the end, Thor sees off his opponents and Jane Foster agrees to resume working for Dr. Blake. Papa Odin, however, is still enraged at his son’s ‘mixed’ relationship. So begins a saga that will stretch over many issues, of JiM and The Mighty Thor, involving many turns and decisions, on Earth and in other dimensions such as Asgard, Olympus, Hades and outer space, making for a multi-world template that Kirby will develop through the creation of the Inhumans for Marvel and the Fourth World series for DC.

There are some marvellous panels, such as the Executioner finding Jane Foster (P.9, panels 4 & 5), as well as a number of plot twists. All helped by my favourite inker of the time, the ice-clear Chic Stone, who makes Kirby’s pencils much less clumsy looking than previous issues. It all takes just 13 pages, where Thor chooses the human over the godly even at the risk of losing his hammer and his powers.

As Kirby’s great decade wore on, the artist would continue to explore new worlds and his preference for heroes as opposed to “supermen”, that is, thugs, tyrants and conquerors.

FUN HOME, A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC Alison Bechdel 2006

I found this the most interesting read of the more recent graphic novel form. It’s been called wordy and bookish. It is – but I think this is a suitable approach for the subject:

the maturing of a girl from a household devoted to theatre and novels who discovers she’s a lesbian and has something to come to terms with about her father too. The pictures are simple line and grey wash but they add to the words just as the words assist the pictures.

fun home

You don’t need to be gay or middle class either to find parallels with your own life. For example, young Alison relates towards her parents through the arts they favour(acting and interior design) as much as the meals they serve her and the vacations they all take together. For others, it may be sport or music. For me and my Catholic dad, it was arguments about religion and politics.

Fun Home is by no means a simple story and it doesn’t wring the anguish out of the tale like a certain sort of movie would do. It shows me what visuals can do when they don’t have to rely on pretty pictures and stars (for box office). Of course, there are other memoirs in the graphic form but here’s one that succeeds in being intimate without being egotistical.

Both of the above works exemplify what someone once said was the basic question behind all stories: who am I?


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

Providence
By Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

Providence

I wanted to talk about this book with someone a lot after I first finished reading it – but that feeling has died down a little now… But still – year end list and whatnot.

Don’t really know if I liked Providence. Don’t know if I’d recommend it. Don’t even really know if I’ve ever want to reread it.. But hey: at least it helped me realise a few things… or well: one thing – at least which is this:

Alan Moore is a vampire.

I don’t mean that in a bad way. For anyone keeping up – I’ve gone on record multiple times saying how for me he’s the best comics creator out there hands down who’s twisted my head and emotions up in all sorts of ways that I’ll probably never recover from (and definitely the one to blame for my taste in widescreen batshit crazy “Giant Squid Monster in New York” / “William Gull in office buildings” / “Final volume of Swap Thing” endings) but whoops – I also don’t know if I mean it in a good way either… It’s more just like a thing: the sky is blue, water is wet – Alan Moore is a vampire.

Obviously this isn’t to say that he goes around sucking blood out of people’s necks, wearing a cape or being a bat or whatever (and even if he does – hey: what people do in their private lives is up to them ok?). It’s more to say (and forgive me if this is super-obvious): pretty much all of his books rely upon something else to make them work. In fact – the first iteration of my thought was to say that “Alan Moore is a leech” but erm no because that sounds offensive and I really don’t want him to put a hex on me. And I’m not trying to be offensive – it’s more just getting a sense of how he works…

Because yeah Providence yeah? I mean: unless you’re the kind of person who lives and breathes Lovecraft – that knows your Cthulhu from your Azathoth then I’m not sure that there’s all that much you can get from it – as like: an entertaining cool, fun comic book to read.

Providence no

Like: shit. I mean: I thought I would be ok. I’ve read a few Lovecraft stories here and there. I kinda know what he’s about. The neighborhood isn’t new. I’ve paddled around in the pool a bit you know? But shit – no. Because if you wanna be able to get Providence and appreciate all of it’s richness and etc then you’ve got to be absolutely and completely submerged in all things Lovecraft and Lovecraftian from here to entirety – fucker.

And yeah – there a voice in my head that started whinging and whining – oh come on Alan! Can’t you – just you know – tell a story? Where the Lovecraft elements are a nice flavoring inside of the thing itself? Until I realise – oh shit – but that’s what Alan Moore does. That’s like his whole thing. He’ll take a thing and then write something that’s based upon it – that explores it – that twists it around until it becomes a whole new thing: and really the only difference now is that the strength and the taste of it is so much stronger – but: it’s always been there.

Like: with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: he basically did his creative vampire thing with Victorian Adventure literature and then (oh wow) the rest of the entire fictional landscape: but that’s kinda just an explicit form of what he’s been doing all along… With From Hell the blood he was sucking was Jack the Ripper and Ripperology. With Watchmen it was the concept of superheroes and (at the genesis of it at least): Charlton Comics. Lost Girls it’s Alice, Dorothy and Wendy etc.

Like: I think the root of it is how he started out doing mainstream superhero comic stuff. Because his Marvelman (as mentioned by Tari above) is basically a book all about Marvelman and his Swamp Thing is all about Swamp Thing (there’s a reason it starts with an autopsy etc) and shit – I guess that’s where the habit got ingrained? Up until the point where towards the end it turns out that one of the characters in Providence is (and I shit you not) a frigging Lovecraft scholar. I’m trying to think of an analogy that would convey the sheer darn craziness of this – but my mind is turning up blank. I mean: my jaw would have dropped less if Alan had just written himself into it the book (but I guess he saves that for his non-graphic novel stuff lol).

I mean: this is all just a very long rambling way to say something which I guess is pretty simple but yes: Alan Moore is a vampire.

And Providence? I mean: there’s cool bits. But also apart from all the Lovecraft stuff. Every single issue ends with 4 pages plus of dense handwritten text. WTF ALAN!?


AMIR
OH DEAR GOD WHY Presentations
Twitter / Barbican Comic Forum

Agh. I tried sending this a few days back but it didn’t take because I put too many image in it. Here is my thing here:

(Agh. Tried sending this in a bunch of times but then bad things happened. If the group has been spammed by like 10 copies of this screed I apologise and invite you to blame someone else.)

Black Monday Murders – Jonathan Hickman & Tomm Coker

I know Ilia already brought this up, as someone who tried the 1st issue of his East of West on a whim at release – I was dissapointed by that opening. This is close to 5 years ago now but to me it felt a flat of smash grab imagery in the way that “John Dies at The End” is a cool title. I’ve read a bit of Manhattan projects (which I liked for a volume or two) and Secret Wars which had flashes of cool ideas and some brilliant moments but I’ve always suspected I love more for the art. So BMM to me was a brilliant bolt. There’s the revisionist financial history opening scene that’s such a simple and powerful idea, it isn’t just a killer way to say “guys this is the fucked up shit this story is about FYI”, it’s a just a simple, perfect brutal image of money. The story is baroque and confusing but I’m down with that, Hickman’s buckled down on this and rightly so – the story about the bloody godhood of high finance being confusing as hell is really interesting. Nailing down that idea further with the idea of a brilliant but out of his league (and maybe crazy) police detective with his mad professor academic sidekick, selling how impossibly labyrinthine the world of finance is. Plus the mad speeches about the bloody power of money the characters throw at each other, apparently this is how Hickman sees conversations, are just horribly great idea expanders. BMM is a big favourite of this year for me.

X-Men Grand Design – Ed Piskor

x-men grand design

So this literally came in at the last minute. Basically, the guy who did Hip Hop History did the exact same thing again…with the history of the X-Men. The opening pages are basically a by-proxy indictment of how we got all the good stuff we have today except…with mutants. The art is an absolute treat, Piskor takes from the humanely expressive cartoons of Sacco and adds warm comics code era colours to tell the history of the X-Men in a unique and concise way. But he goes further than this. It uses it’s own commentary on the subjective tilts inherent to any kind of historiography really brings to objective recollections of the past to fuel it’s own exploration of easily the most confusing Superhero canon going. Seriously – movie or books. The X-Men story is harder to pin down than American Tax Law. I guarantee you that there are more Wolverine origins than there are planned Star Wars movies.

(Shit…we might eventually get a Greedo movie. Oh man. I need that.)

Whenever Tom King deigned to grace DC with his presence (Batman/Mister Miracle) – Tom King

It would be an omission for me to not include a Batman comic in my comic review for 2017, so I’ll leave it with The War of Jokes and Riddles. A former CIA counter-intelligence officer basically sets out his vision of a civil war with super powers and gives us a brilliant, optimistic and somehow brutal interrogation of the character in the process. HELL YEAH KITE MAN indeed. (Yeah…apparently this is the year we decided we like the CIA again. Oy.)

Mister Miracle is the Rick & Morty of superhero comics. Anything is possible, everythings suprising, it has a morality that discards the standard ethical norms of the genre and the characters are wonderfully drawn. The issue where Mister Miracle only answers yes/no to an edge of death trial by Orion isn’t simply incredible as a formal dialogue experiment, it’s unforgettable character work. More than that, it’s Pop Art as a mind bending exploration of a mental schism. Basically, Tom King watched Legion, decided it was pretty good and decided to write the shit out of it.

I Love This Part – Tillie Walden

i love this part

It’s 40 pages and it made me feel sad really well. There’s not much I can write about it because it is just one tiny teen relationship, but it’s rendition is weapons grade good. She creates a visual ruleset that embodies the way good sad relationship stories express that feeling of your relationship feeling bigger than anything else even though in reality it’s a weirdly abstract, intangible idea. I loved all the parts.

The Goddamned – Jason Aaron

I mean, yeah, God Damn. That’s what this book makes you utter under your breath. God Damn. It punches you with plot. It hits you with characters. It throws events in your face and it stomps out the shine of your soul. Cain killed Abel, he can’t die, it’s been forever since and he’s still looking for anything that can kill him – he goes on adventures, he winds up facing off against Noah as a mad cult leader. The art is early Frank Miller kinetic, less about simple brutalist composition and more about violent, expressive movement. It’s really fucking enjoyable. God Damn.

On Fun Home, I agree that the reason it’s such a good story is that how easy Bechdel makes it for us to connect to it. It’s a story where the idea of understanding your own sexual identity plays second fiddle to the exploration of the isolation and repression and how those seeped out and fucked up the family dynamic in Bechdel’s life that was so engrossing to witness. In doing that Fun Home almost feels like a summative graduate thesis for the body of work Bechdel had built with Dykes Who Draw. That and how plain and matter of fact she is with her writing and her art – there’s no active flair, just clear, pleasing drawings and panel layouts that let us casually flow through the story. I feel like that’s something she abandoned a bit in her followup on her mum, more interested in clever literary discussions and it made the story less capable of connecting to us on a primal level and more interested in being clever and showing off.

Alan Moore as a vampire eh? Pretty sure there’s a DC Lawyer or two that would enjoy that phrase. But it’s apt – his work has always, explicitly been a reaction and reinterpretation of the mainstream cultural mythology. Now that I’m thinking on that line I really want him to do a thing about the news. Think The Newsroom with the same cast and directors – just with Alan Moore calling the shots and having The Slender Man debate nuclear disarmament with Milo Trollalotopopolis.

Also – hells yeah to The Flintstones. Pages of that keep cropping up on Reddit and their always a treat to read.


DAVE
Twitter / Improvised Comics

Squeaking mine in here (thanks Joel for the lovely, different approach to December):

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
I rediscovered this with my 9-year old daughter this year, after she read a couple of the Greenberg sisters’ historical books for kids, and we both loved it. It manages to capture the epic grandeur of myth and be completely goofy and flippant at the same time, a rare treat. A bit like the “Thor Ragnarok” film, but completely different.

The best independent UK comics I’ve discovered this year are the works of the Big Brown Eyes collective, and the Drawn Chorus collective. Both pushing the bounds of art styles, story styles and everything else.

Google them!

(sorry, no time for adding pictures etc. I’ve got guests staying. Off to deal with the washing machine and dinner – two separate tasks!)

love and peace to you all, Dave


TAM
Islington Comic Forum

Probably my favorite comic from this year has been Geoff Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy with some stunning, unbelievably detailed art and some of the most entertainingly absurd writing I’ve seen in a comic for a long time. Really hoping the ninja pig gets his own spin off title

shaolin cowboy

But the best comic, in fact probably the best thing I’ve read this year, was the very unpromisingly titled ‘Big Book of Martyrs’ by John Wagner from 1997

Big Book of Martyrs

I didn’t really know anything about Catholic Martyrdom and being agnostic, didn’t even think it was something I’d be interested in. But I reluctantly decided to give it a go because I think John Wagner’s the best writer in comics, continuously defying expectations and writing interesting, always readable strips. It turned out to be fantastic, basically an account of the spread of Christianity over the millenia. None of the stories are more than four pages, but after years of writing for 2000AD, there’s probably no better writer at concisely telling violent and often complex stories. I suspect Wagner’s an atheist but he tells the stories respectfully although he’s meticulously careful at seperating out the known facts from legend and myth from the many tales of various believers heroically suffering horrible fates. There’s some terrific art from people including Joe Sacco, Frank Quitely and Roger Langridge and many others and there’s not a bad adaptation amongst them. They’re great individually, but taken together they’re a large part of the story of how the tales of the new testament shaped the world we live in today. If your knowledge of Christianity is less woeful than mine then this might not be quite as much here for you, but anyone interested in faith, history or the spread of ideas ought to check this out


ABIDALI
Barbican Comic Forum

Hello everyone.

Here are a list of books I have read in 2017 which I have benefitted from, either because they made me (experience) one or more of these: think, happy, sad, change, stay the same, confused, clearer, conflicted, learn (a lot), fall asleep, stay awake, cry, laugh, reflect, get a bit angry, feel better ,sometimes feel worse before I could feel better. Phew. That’s a long list. But that’s how awesome comics can be. Well done 2017.

They are not listed in any order of preference and there are no extra words, or for some, just a few words only, to explain what I thought about them because I ain’t got the skills or the inclination for that right now. I am making biryani and its taking absolutely bloody ages. I would recommend people reading these though, with an open and enquiring heart/mind, or at least giving them a look, and seeing how they get on.

  1. United states of hysteria. chaykin (including all the covers and the back matter; made me think, see the world I’m in, in a different way, understand how internet/social media works)
  2. Beautiful canvass. (Not sure why I liked this but I think I did. I like PKD right? If I do, then that’s why i read this and enjoyed it. I might need to read it again a few times, probably after deadlifting so I can get some chemical help from the endorphins etc.)
  3. There’s nothing there. Kindlon, llovet. (possibly my favourite book of 2018)
  4. We can never go home. Hood, kindlon, Rosenberg.
  5. Generation gone. Klot, etc.
  6. Redlands. Bellaire, Del Ray (struggled with the first issue, comic shop friend suggested I persevere and now it’s a book I can’t wait to keep reading more of).
  7. Mighty thor. Aaron, Dauterman, Wilson (still brilliant).
  8. The Ultimates. Ewing et al. (best team book ever. Best recent book with Galactus in it. Some great “cosmic” ideas)
  9. Silver Surfer. Slott, allred, Allred.
  10. A city inside. Tillie Walden.
  11. Top 10. Moore, Ha. Cannon. (I’m still reading this, so far it is wonderful.
  12. Hickman’s fantastic four run from a few years back.
  13. Mister miracle. King, Gerards. (WTF!?).
  14. Planetary omnibus (my best friend died by suicide a few months ago and in the early days of grieving I instinctively reached for this to re-read, so it’s technically not a new read, but I wanted to mention it because sometimes comic books can simply be healing, and that should always be appreciated)
  15. Wildstorm. Ellis, Davis-Hunt (the recent ongoing re-imagining)
  16. Strange skies. Iqbal ali, Stephen Baskerville.
  17. Four kids walk into a bank. Boss, Mauer, Rosenberg. (please read this)
  18. Monstress
  19. The black Monday murders (money, with devil horns)
  20. The defenders. Bendis, an excellent art team I can’t recall right now. (team book with a lot of my favourite marvel properties done right).
  21. The immortal iron first omnibuses. Brubaker, Swierkzynski et al.(re-reading parts of these to remind myself how this character(s) can be done really well. The stories of all the other iron fists were just fantastic)
  22. Promethea vol 1 (after reading about it on lgnn, I figured I’d give it a try. 10 pages in and it might be one the best things I’ve ever read. It might be re-writing my brain as I read it).
  23. Injection vol 2. ( Doctor who now?)
  24. Maestros. Skroce, stewart, fonografiks. Image. (bonkers)
  25. Secret Weapons. Heisserer, Allen, Martin. (absolutely joyful to read. Has some of the spirit of the original x-men idea without being a rip-off. Beautiful art))
  26. Paper Girls.Vaughn, chiang, Wilson.
  27. Regression. Bunn, luckert, enger (scary good)
  28. Spencer & locke

What did I learn from sitting down to make this list? 1) I read a LOT more really worthwhile comics than I initially realised and that says something about how I see things 2) Black Mask is possibly the best publisher (that I know of) in comics today. They are just killing it. 3) I’m actually quite lazy about writing about comics, and this probably winds up Joel, which is amusing.

Thanks for an interesting year – hope 2018 is just as good if not better (or just ok – I’ll settle for that).

Time to put the slow cooker on

Good wishes to all of you.

Abidali

PS can I also quickly mention the most shittiest, annoying, over-rated, , cynical piece of crap I’ve read this year, or for years for that matter – Plutona by Jeff Lemiere. I probably didn’t like it because it was very far from what I was expecting and was just unremittingly grim, and I didn’t need anything like that when I was reading it. So that’s my problem, not the book, but I still sulked at it when I finished it and I still want to give it a slap. Yes, slap a book. But, give it a shot… you might enjoy reading it if feeling so sad that you just want to spend new years eve hiding in your wheelie bin with a spent match is your sort of thing.


COLLIN
Twitter / disCONTINUITY
The Real Batman Chronology Project

Hey all. I’ve been absent for quite a while, but Happy New Year! I made a list of favorite comics for my blog (basically just a list of favorite panels/images sans any explanations or words). Figure this is the perfect forum to share on here as well. ❤

_________________________________________________________________

17 Comics I Really Enjoyed a Lot in 2017 (in alphabetical order by title)
__________________________________________________________________

Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe

Aliens

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Best We Could

Boundless by Jillian Tamaki

Boundless

Doom Patrol Vol. 6 by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tom Fowler, & Tamra Bonvillain

Doom Patrol

Everything is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell

Everything is flammable

Kirby by Tom Scioli

Kirby

Moon Knight Vol. 8 by Lemire, Francavilla, Torres, Stokoe, Smallwood, & Bellaire

Moon Knight

Mario by Tom McHenry

Mario

My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly

My Pretty Vampire

Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly & Lewis Trondheim

Poppies of Iraq

Sex Fantasy by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Sex fantasy

Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? by Geoff Darrow

Shaolin

Silver Surfer Vol. 8 by Dan Slott, Mike Allred, & Laura Allred

silver surfer

Space Riders Galaxy of Brutality by Fabian Rangel & Alexis Ziritt

space riders

Spinning by Tillie Walden

Spinning

Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero by Michael DeForge

Sticks Angelica

Tenements, Towers, and Trash by Julia Wertz

Tenements, Towers, and Trash

__________________________________________________________________

17 Other Comics I Also Enjoyed in 2017 aka Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order by title)
__________________________________________________________________

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollman

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld

Baking with Kafka

Midnight in the Phantom Zone by James Harvey

Midnight in the Phantom Zone

Crawl Space by Jesse Jacobs

Crawl Space

Dept. H by Matt Kindt & Sharlene Kindt

Dept. H

The Flintstones by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh

The Flintstones

Head Lopper by Andrew MacLean, Mike Spicer, Lin Visel, Joseph Nergin III, & Jordie Bellaire

Head Lopper

Judge Dredd: Blessed Earth by Ulises Fariñas, Erick Freitas, Daniel Irizarri, & Ryan Hill

Judge Dredd Blessed Earth

The Leopard Vol. 4 by Sarah Horrocks

The Leopard Vol. 4

The Mighty Thor Vol. 2 / Unworthy Thor by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Olivier Coipel, et al

The Mighty Thor Vol. 2

Mirror by Emma Ríos & Hwei Lim

Mirror

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

She Wolf by Rich Tommaso

She Wolf

The Smell of Starving Boys by Frederik Peeters & Loo Hui Phang

The Smell of Starving Boys

Spy Seal by Rich Tommaso

Spy Seal

Super Powers by Tom Scioli

Super Powers

World War 3 Illustrated Presents FIGHT FASCISM! by Erik Drooker, Sue Coe, Kate Evans, Peter Kuper, Steve Brodner, Isabella Bannerman, Kevin Pyle, Seth Tobocman, et al

World War 3 Illustrated Presents FIGHT FASCISM!


HON
Geek Genre / Twitter

Hi guys, here are the very highlights with my top 5 graphic novels I have read over the course of 2017, some I have read and re-read whilst some were a hidden gem that I had discovered from the library or from the Multiversity Comics podcasts I have been listening to. Enjoy!

Cry Havoc by Si Spurrier, art by Ryan Kely

CryHavoc

Cry Havoc is about walking about to confront the monster alone, because nobody else understands the truth: just because the beast is you, doesn’t mean it can’t east you whole. This is according to the words of Simon Spurrier the writer. I would say this is a blockbuster of a comic and its one of his greatest writing moments and certainly in my top 10 of all time, if you think of werewolves meets black ops in a superhero outfit interwoven into three different timelines, you will get Cry Havoc. Its essentially about Lou a struggling student girl who gets caught up in the mishap of holding lycanthropy folklore true to life by becoming a monster werewolf with strong hints of myth and violence; she then gets taken in to join black op team in the Afghanistan war to save against other forces of evil conflict. All the different time line stories intertwine together and cross meet each other at the end and is a compelling story and idea to be told . Drawn beautifully by Ryan Kelly with three different colorists Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson each showing their take on the color styling to the flowing yet sometimes intense artwork.

See more detailed info on https://geekgenre.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/wolves-among-us-week-cry-havoc-1-and-2/

Black Magick by Greg Rucka, art by Nicola Scott

BlackMagick

Having read this recently, Black Magick is about a Portsmouth PD police detective woman that has also a secret agenda of being a witch where she is torn between good versus supernatural evil and in between where the more she investigates the written by Greg Rucka whom is truly in a world on his own with the strong character building elements, there are many subplots in the story and Rowan Black is also being targeted by someone and she has at all costs to stop it else face the severe consequences. The artwork is an eye to behold with ninety nine percent black and white with beautiful shading and pencil sketching especially of the facial features of the main characters!

See more detailed info on https://geekgenre.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/witches-black-magick-1/

Man Plus by Andre Lima Arujo

manplus

Man Plus is one of those graphic novels where once you pick it up, you won’t ever want to put it down, it’s truly an inspiring in its own way and also imaginative story which lightens up the mood of the cyberpunk world where previous comics try to recreate since a long time ago of Ghost In The Shell which is a manga that is inspiring this. Written and drawn by Andre Lima Arujo, and coloured by Arzia Rozegar whom they both complement each other well in this world building story.Think of it as Blade Runner meets Judge Dredd meets Ghost In The Shell, there certainly there a pick moments of inspirations here but it has become a story inspiration in its own right despite the heavy influences. No wonder, Mark Waid, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, Kieron Gillen, and Sam Humphries have given high appraisal. I loved it!

See more detailed info https://geekgenre.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/man-plus-review-part-1/

Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughn, art by Cliff Chiang

PaperGirls

If you have watched Stranger Things, then you would know how strongly resonating this comic of the 70’s and 80’s of powered young kids riding in suburban development and downtown streets with stories of Goonies and ET, but this story is a paper round girls getting caught up in an intergalactic futuristic war where they happen to be in the cross fire, expect high octane adventures, a creature feature thrill ride and teenage girl banter with strong time warping elements and . It certainly is mind tripping especially of the artwork by Cliff Chiang and colouring by Matt Wilson making it that neon crazed design look. Its a must for any comic collector!

See more detailed info on https://geekgenre.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/monsters-paper-girls-vol-1/

Chrononauts by Mark Millar, art by Sean Murphy

Chrononauts

Chrononauts is a world building, character building on a extendable scale even on timelines about two scientists that use the time traveling suits broadcasted on live television whom faces bad consequences along the way when messing with time and different leaders during different eras, think of Bill and Ted versus Back to The Future and this is a graphic novel you will get written by Mark Millar . It is my go to book just to observe the sheer richness of the artwork by Sean Murphy.

(Bonus graphic novel)

Monstress by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda

Monstress

This is an east meets west take of art set in a steampunk horror telling of a young survivor girl Maika Halfwolf that must be try and restore order in the dangerous war torn between the humans and the monstrous Arcanics. She must uncover her mysterious past to find out the truth before a mysterious monstress lurking in the shadows hunts her down. The artwork is beautificully and intricately drawn by Sana Takeda taking on a very manga style with hazy and washy hues of colour thrown into the mix with comic design done by Rus Wooton.

Will keep you posted on https://geekgenre.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/monsters-monstress-vol-1/


TARI
Barbican Comic Forum

Just before the end of the year I managed to fit in a couple of manga series that surprised me. Unsure what to say so I’ll just describe the premise of each and what appealed to me most about them.

“My Brother’s Husband” by Gengoroh Tagame. It’s about a single Japanese father raising a young daughter in Japan. They get visited by a Canadian man out of the blue soon after the death of the single dad’s estranged twin brother who lived abroad, only to reveal that the Canadian man was the husband of the deceased brother. The story largely explores the dad coming to terms accepting his newly discovered brother in law after noticing how easily his daughter did, and becoming more self aware and more questioning of his own behaviour and mindset surrounding the situation by watching how other Japanese people treat him due to his sexuality, appearance, and nationality. It’s not the sort of thing I usually read and was surprised at the personal issues it explored and the wide-ranging types of people who would be so greatly affect just by the presence of one man. The series is 4 volumes, but I have only read 3 so far. Also I feel like I should say, this is quite a universal story that I feel anyone could read, and could be helpful to even young people in regards to identity issues, but the author is most well known for nsfw adult comics usually, so maybe just be aware of what may pop up if you look up the author. It’s being adapted as a live-action tv series in Japan soon which is how I initially found out about this after reading an article and being surprised that a young white ex-professional sumo wrestler was starring in a Japanese tv show.

It's weird that it's ok over there

Another manga series I read after binge-watching the anime adaptation was “Inuyashiki” by Hiroya Oku. I’m not a very outwardly emotional person so I don’t cry too often, especially not after reading or watching things. But this actually did make me cry and was quite emotional throughout. Again set in Japan, it’s about an moderately elderly father who finds out he has only a couple of months to live. He has a wife, two kids, and a dog that he cherishes, but doesn’t feel he is living his life as well as a he could have. His story is contrasted with a teenage boy who is quite detached from people in his life and only considers his one main friend and mother as the only people in his life that he cares about. But when we are introduced to him I suspect he was feeling suicidal after witnessing another violent suicide at the start of the story. Both of the characters, the father and the teenager, both coincidentally find themselves in a public park at night just reflecting on their lives, both unaware of the others presence…until the an inter-dimensional space-ship of some sort crashes into the park and kills them both. The two unseen passengers very casually make note of their deaths and quickly discuss reconstituting them both with new bodies before leaving, but they only have ‘weapon bodies’ to hand at the moment. So both the father and the teenager wake up the next morning as indestructible, technopathic, super-powered, androids who outwardly look the human but they soon begin to discover their powers over the course of the story. The elderly father sees this as an opportunity ro use his new life for the greater good and begins to secretly perform miracles and healing the sick all the while going about his daily life as a salary-man and a father. Whereas the teenager feels he can no longer feel human unless he uses his power to kill. The story isn’t necessarily graphic, but it is definitely still quite gruesome and emotional. But not simply due to deaths, but due to the recovery of loved ones thought dead or close to death. The story also lingers on the thought process of people who are about to die and explores what it takes to kill people and the toll it can take on you. Nothing is presented black & white and I personally empathised strongly with both main characters. The two main characters and what they go through personally, driving all of their actions, paired with the extremely grounded and drawn out reactions from the world around them really make this quite a unique reading and viewing experience. Both the anime & manga are great, but the manga goes into a little more detail. But just to warn you, there are (non-graphic) deaths of even children (as in you don’t see them die exactly, but they do, and their parents certainly react as you would expect). And there is imagery and reactions reminiscent to some modern-day terrorist attacks including a plane crash situation like 9/11″ so just be aware of that. But the story does handle it all very respectfully and grounded enough that the emotional impact hits you genuinely. It’s 10 volumes in total, but only 11 episodes.

Also Donald Trump also cameos at the end. This is the ‘toned down’ anime version of what he said which was more explicit in the manga due to the situation they were in:

The rest of you losers can go do whatever the hell you want

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