Reviews

Short & Sweet: Marvels & Manga

Iron Fist The Living Weapon #1marvel-iron-fist-the-living-weapon-issue-1b
Kaare Andrews
Marvel Comics

Okay.  That was a disjointed mess.   With weirdly kinetic artwork.

It’s very … red.

The Danny Rand appearing in this book’s first issue is not the Danny Rand I know.

He’s not the laid-back, Zen-like, comic book-reading guy who slips into motion when needed.

He’s not the one who is guesting in Mighty Avengers either.

He’s certainly not grooving his on-again, off-again romance with Misty Knight either (sigh, another woman of color erased).

So what is he, then?   Apparently Kaare Andrews thinks he’s a poor little rich boy wrought with the feels about his father (who may or may not have been insane — since Danny did after all end up at K’un L’un and get the powers), who drowns his sorrows in cars, charity, and callow chicks … whose names he does not bother to remember.   The girl of the issue is a wannabe journalist named Brenda, who is cheerfully drinking on the job, gossiping about girlfriends, and then actually asks “how big is it?  The tattoo, I mean.”  Sure you do, Brenda.

Rand is so much the walking dead by his own reckoning that he doesn’t even bother to learn her name.  He calls her “Debbie”, then “Barbie” after she corrects him and reminds him of the real name.  He uses his kung fu skills to casually dodge Brenda’s slap after the second gaffe of her name.  Greeeeeeaaaaaat.

After the big fight an adorable tot from K’un L’un shows up in Rand’s high-rise apartment inexplicably; upon which she becomes the second person of color removed, as she dies almost in the same panel on which she arrives.

It’s a first issue, so I am going to grit my teeth because the weird flashbacky stuff is interesting.  The ninjas, both living and undead are interesting. Andrews’ art, which is strangely graceful and angular at the same time, is grabbing me more than the story he’s telling so far, though.  We’ll see if I make it through the first arc.

–Jamie

Nightcrawler #1nightcrawler_1_cover
Chris Claremont
Todd Nauck
Marvel Comics

Nightcrawler was brought back from the dead in the pages of Amazing X-Men.   How that happened is oversimplified in Kurt’s narrative captions, but the story is compelling nonetheless.  Claremont is writing and he’s writing well.    The supporting cast has me almost more excited than the main character! Todd Nauck’s art style is beautiful: His Ororo has pupils and irises that are actually colored blue. So few people bother or remember to do that, that I wonder if Claremont made a point of putting it in his script.

To my delight, Dr. Cecilia Reyes is at the Jean Grey School, particularly to serve as Wolverine’s doctor since he now is as easily broken as anyone else.   I’m pretty sure the windows of my apartment are still vibrating from my shriek of joy at seeing her on the page, even though it’s not her book.  Two women of color present on the page is a nice thing to encounter after the review above, let me tell you.

But getting back to the fuzzy blue elf: he’s trying to adjust to being back among the living, and accompanied by Bamfs everywhere he goes.  He’s still fit to fight, as we see in a Danger Room session wherein he’s trying to help Wolverine cope with having no healing factor.

Kurt’s being set back up as the dashing, debonair, swashbuckling ladies’ man.  On the pages of Amazing, he recalls his instant infatuation with Ororo.  The art calls back to that again, as a photo on the wall shows Kurt kissing her hand.   Rachel seems to be schmoozing Kurt up a bit as they recalled their days from Excalibur.   But when you get down to it, even though Kurt’s got a number of hot mutant women potentially interested — he goes back to his true love: Amanda Sefton, who hasn’t been seen in on the comic page in ages.

They face a new enemy with the eyebrow-raising name of Trimega, and that’s the least interesting thing that happens in this issue.  Then Kurt and Amanda are off to find out who this new threat is and why he’s after the sorceress.

This one I won’t have to struggle to read all the way through the first arc.  The storytelling and the art are both stylish and fun.  I’ll be back next issue.

— Jamie

Shutter #1shutter-cov
Joe Keatinge
Leila del Duca
Image Comics

Okay, this, I loved.

Kate Kristopher is the star of this story and our first introduction to her is as a bratty kid bored — on the moon — where her dad took her for her seventh birthday.   Before I had time to finish going “what kind of kid is bored on the MOON”  the story jumps forward twenty years.

Kate’s grown, a bit of a party girl, and has a Cat Clock AI waking her.  She lives in a fantastic futuristic-steampunkesque-mishmash of a New York City I just can’t wait to see more of.  She rides the sky subway with  bison businessmen, aquanauts, and faun fanboys who are thrilled to see her out in public.

Just as the story gets interesting — a visit to her usual spot for celebrating her birthday — it stops, leaving me panting for more.

The two backup stories,  “Mungore Has Arrived And He Is Going To Fuck Shit Up” by Ryan Alexander Tanner and Catherine Peach, and “Tiger Lawyer in Sidebar” by Ryan Ferrier and Felipe Torrent, are extremely surreal but in the most fun way possible.  In the first, a giant monster rises from the depths of the sea, and the crowd flees it with expressions of mild annoyance at the inconvenience.   The mayor calls the genius scientist, who in turn summons his giant robot.  He defeats the monster with the power of love and kisses.

In the second, it pretty much is exactly what it says on the label.  He’s going to lose his case because of photographic evidence, but he is gonna call for a sidebar.  That doesn’t mean what it usually means in legal terms. No.

So thumbs up all around.   I am very curious and eager to see more of Kate Kristopher’s world.  The Mungore story was hilarious and a fun send-up of giant robot anime.  And I hope Tiger Lawyer gets his own series.

— Jamie

Dirty Christ Superstardcss
Nishiyama Yuriko
Kodansha

Nishiyama Yuriko’s Dirty Christ Superstar caught my eye because it begins with a two-page spread of Sexy Jesus giving the reader bedroom eyes. Not real Jesus, let me assure the Christ-fearing in the audience–an actor, who played Jesus on Broadway. I am at home to this concept. It starts strong, and doesn’t really waver. If you haven’t seen the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, then we have two problems: first, you’re missing out. Second, this four-chapter manga is directly comparable. Instead of fake nun and Vegas headliner Sister Mary Clarence, we have hot bum and marriage-swindler ex-Broadway lead, known as “Hades”. Instead of Lauryn Hill, we have Lisa. Lisa is eighteen, and the (angry) daughter Hades never knew he had. Where Whoopi is hard and kind, Hades is a broken-down jackass. Can they reach each other across years of jaded, emotional wasteland? Can a con teach a teen to raise the roof? I freakin’ love it.

This story basically everything you or I could ask for in a manga about musicals. Emotions, emotions, emotions. As for Hades’ backstory, no character ever acknowledges that a relationship between a sixteen year old student and his music teacher is an abuse of power and something for which she bears the burden of responsibility, whether or not a child is conceived. But for me, this provided a crack in Hades’ bastard shell which allowed me the sympathy I needed to stick with the story. He’s a pretty awful idiot, but life can be hard and life hardens people. No easy fixes in this manga, but the characters stand up straight and face forward as they come to realise it. Will Lisa rival Julie Andrews’ performance? Can a fallen Superstar reach his highest heights again? Aren’t you curious?

–Claire

Cinderella Knight000cind
Go Nagai
Weekly Margaret

Go Nagai’s Cinderella Knight came into view over the shoulder of my sweetheart, as he GIS’d titles available on a scanlation site. Cinderella Knight ran for seven months, ’81 to ’82, and is probably the gentlest introduction to Go Nagai that I’ve yet to come across. Which is to say, of all his titles I’ve dipped into, this makes me the least uncomfortable. There’s horrible murder, incest, non-consensual bondage death-traps, the squeeze of an unconscious boob, and other avoidable things, but: that’s Go Nagai, and this is his work. To ease in, see how you like his delivery style, his art, his atmospheric themes and so forth, I should give this a shot. It’s a magical girl/girl knight story, that begins with the handsome prince blushing, looking babely, in a cloak that only JUST covers his genitals. And it’s slipping, slipping down. He’s going in to bathe. There are Go Nagai’s trademark Roundest of Boobs in this story, there are a lot of them (even in this scene), but the gaze lies pretty evenly across gender lines.

Our heroine, Michy, is an eighteen year old school leaver, travelling alone to a country with rich enough gem mines that the economy, fashions, technology and general lifestyle haven’t needed to change since medieval times–fairytale setting plus modern girl with modern quips nicely lampshaded. Michy wants to meet Prince Emilio, political leader in danger. She’s seen him in glamour magazines, and the girl’s got a hardcore crush! Upon making friends with a Fairy Godmother of old (and the actual identity of this woman I will leave to you to discover) in a very cute, very kicky introductory sequence, Michy’s spirit and spunk combine with the super-science of Magic to create Cinderella Knight: a technically nude, aura-clad badass of beauty, who lives to protect her prince. Be it from the naked admiration of a corrupt countess and her younger brother or from the sharp, cruel sword of some cabbagey masked assassins, Cinderella Knight is in control of her own destiny–and in pursuit of Emilio’s. Later she rides a flying horse sans pants and feels something “hot” “entering her body”. It’s just his reviving energy, no worries, and it empowers her to fight the kinky sect known as MURDER, their giant imaginary spiders, and… so on. It’s a trip. Find your footing with Go Nagai!

–Claire