Weekend reading

March 12, 2007

It was nice to have a weekend with plenty of time to plow through the pile of unread comics that had reached teetering heights and threatened to crush a cat should it tumble. (Okay, I didn’t improve the stack’s structural integrity or promote feline welfare by going out and buying more comics. Blame it on the convergence of a personal shopping day and sufficient intestinal fortitude to brave the mall.)

I’d read and really enjoyed the preview proof of Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra… (Vertical), and reading the entire first volume only confirmed my high opinion of it. Jog has a splendid critique of the book and articulates one element that will probably weigh heavily in the book’s success or failure with individual readers:

“But is it a good story? That might come down to whether the reader shares the author’s apparent feelings on what makes a story good. Much lip-service is paid to how Japanese comics tend to be more focused on character and journeys than American comics, which concentrate on events and destinations. To Terra… is the type of Japanese comic that embodies that old notion completely, far more so than something like, say, Death Note, which under the hood is nearly as plot-focused as Uncanny X-Men. And plot-focused readers may find this book to be nagging in its slow pace and its endless twirls of its favored themes, inching through what’s truthfully not a fresh premise.”

From my perspective, the moments of emotional evolution the characters experience do count as what you might call plot beats, so I found To Terra… to be a fairly brisk read. I do agree with JennyN that the book could really benefit from some text pieces on Takemiya and her pioneering peers in the Magnificent Forty-Niners, but I’m kind of greedy for that kind of stuff.

On the fluff front, I continue to be mindlessly entertained by Kiyoko Arai’s Beauty Pop (Viz – Shojo Beat), now in its third volume. In a world of manga protagonists who view achievement as essential to continued existence, Kiri’s bored indifference to competition and success is like a breath of fresh air.

On the “I agree” front, Greg McElhatton takes a look at the first four issues of Welcome to Tranquility (Wildstorm) and notices one weakness that threatens to undermine the book’s other strengths:

“The town itself as a setting stands out as being really fresh and different (despite the fact that towns of superpowered people have been done before) thanks to [writer Gail] Simone’s careful crafting of the social dynamic, but that same amount of care and meticulous creation doesn’t feel like it’s been extended to the actual cast of the book.”

I find that I’m forcibly pacing myself on reading the stories in Gilbert Hernandez’s Heartbreak Soup collection (Fantagraphics), just because I want to savor the individual chapters. The characters are great company, and I want to prolong the experience of getting to know them.

And in this week’s Flipped, I take the sad occasion of the conclusion of Love Roma (Del Rey) to look at the series that are still around to delight and amaze.