Thursday, May 05, 2005

Library Excursions Volume 1

There are many, many comics produced every month. So many that I can’t possibly purchase them all. Luckily for me the comic book industry has embraced the trade paperback collection whole-heartedly. And what’s even more lucky is that libraries across America are realizing the appeal of said trades and purchasing them. So now people like me have a chance to try things that might otherwise be unavailable.

This is a snapshot of what I’ve checked out of the local libraries lately.

Ghost in the Shell 2:Man-Machine Interface by Masamune Shirow

This is the sequel to manga and anime sensation Ghost in the Shell. Like it’s predecessor it deals with human consciousness meshed with computer consciousness. Like its predecessor it’s really pretty to look at but the story just doesn’t seem to grab me. But it’s really damn pretty to look at.

The Dormant Beast by Enki Bilal

Enki Bilal is a major force in European comics. I’d really only heard of him through Warren Ellis’ praise of his work. So I checked this graphic novel out. And I enjoyed it very muchly. It’s a near-future science fiction story about three orphans whose adult lives intersect owing to a conspiracy and a corrupt government organization. The story is amusing and the art is fantastic.

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra

I’ve come to the conclusion that Ennis works better when collected. Reading his stories monthly doesn’t work for me at all. And had I tried to read this monthly it would have driven me insane. But as a collection it works. It’s World War 2 and the Rifle Brigade- a collection of misfit stereotypes- stagger across Europe having grand adventures. If insane immortal Scotsmen with bagpipes made of the skin of their enemies, British aristocrats who are all chin and no brain, jokes about (and a quest for) Hitler’s missing testicle and the funniest parody of Sgt. Rock ever are your cup of tea you should check this book out. If not, well, you shouldn’t.

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

I hated the movie Akira. Hated it. Couldn’t stand it at all. I’ve always heard how the comic book is one of Japan’s masterpieces of comic literature though, and so I checked it out when our library first got the six-volume collected set. And it blew me away. Where the movie cuts and shoves and compacts in order to fit in a two hour block the comic book expands, takes its time and explores. Akira is a really excellent example of world-building. The attention to detail is amazing. The story- government project leads to the destruction of Tokyo…twice- is a wonderful springboard for an examination of how societies respond to crisis. I don’t know that I’d pay 125 bucks to get the whole thing- but I’ve checked it out of the library several times.

Astonishing X-men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Joss Whedon’s approach to his X-Book is set up in the first few pages. Kitty Pryde pulls up to the X-mansion, gets out and reflects on how it never changes and, as she moves through the mansion, reflects of various events that have occurred to her in the house. It’s an emotional moment. Of course, Kitty had already been back at the X-mansion for a little while at the point Astonishing started and she’s walking up to a mansion that she claims looks just the same but has just had a radical redesign. That’s Whedon’s take on the X-men in a nutshell- nostalgic emotion over logic. The rest of the collection deals with a possible “Cure” for being a mutant and the resurrection of Colossus. It also features one of the stupidest villains ever to grace a comic book page- Ord of Breakworld. The inhabitants of Breakworld can see the future. In the future they see a mutant destroying their world. So they send Ord to Earth to eliminate all the mutants. Golly, I wonder what might have caused a mutant to want to destroy Breakworld.

Whedon has said that he feels his run is a continuation of Morrison’s X-Work. It isn’t. Well, he uses many of the same characters, but otherwise….nope.

Petshop of Horrors by Matsuri Akino

Petshop of Horrors is a fun and somewhat creepy ten volume manga. In Chinatown a man named Count D opens a pet store. The pet store sells very exotic animals. A Detective named Leon Orcut thinks that Count D is a criminal and investigates him. Over the course of 40 stories we learn about who and what the Count is and we see the stories of the pets he sells to people. It’s a fun book. Each story revolves around a different animal and a different aspect of human nature. It’s a well-written book and worth the time spent reading it. My friend Kathy and I were reading it at the same time and we both heartily enjoyed it.


Blogger Mercurie said...

At work we have a good many comic book anthologies (for lack of a better term). We have The Essential Spider-Man, the collection of Kirby's New Gods, Superman:Exile, and quite a few others. I was rather surprised since we are only a smalltown library!

5/05/2005 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

My library is an awful, awful, library, run by idiots. I know... I used to work there. And I pestered for comics, but that was pointless.

Haven't been there in months, but I don't think they've ordered a single book, let alone a comic, since I quit.

5/05/2005 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

I will investigate my own library's comic stash!

I can't believe I haven't done that before.

5/05/2005 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

My library has an almost non existant selection of comic book collections, but they do have a nice selection of newspaper comic reprints. They also have those oversized DC character guides. The best comics-related thing I've checked out from there is Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon's Stan Lee biography.

5/05/2005 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Just recently, the local library has made a push for graphic novels (by "just recently" I actually mean, like, three years ago, but still).

It's a good idea, and the idea of checking out what libraries are offering by way of graphic novels is a neat idea, Chad.

5/06/2005 01:22:00 AM  

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