Quick comic comments: CMX samplers

July 7, 2007

During my weekly trip to the comic shop, I picked up the new CMX 2007 Preview giveaways, with samples of three titles in each. One features “Teen Plus” titles, and the other focuses on “Mature” series. They’re attractive packages, so if you’re at a con and DC or CMX has a table, or your local comic shop got a stack, do grab one.

My reactions to the sampled series are mixed, but some look like winners.

Kanako Inuki’s Presents is extremely odd, as one might expect from the Queen of Horror Manga. I don’t know if a sample this short shows the series off to its best advantage. The story is self-contained, introducing the “gifts gone wrong” premise of the series, but it feels kind of pat. I’m quite taken with the art, even though I kind of think it isn’t very good. It’s somewhere between Archie and Richie Rich, but with the occasional dangling entrails. If that description speaks to you, look it up.

Neither of the other series in the “Mature” sampler makes that much of an impression. Iqura Sugimoto’s Variante is about a teen girl with a horrible arm grafted onto her after the mysterious death of her parents. The art is attractive, but if I had to pick an evil-arm manga, I’d probably stick with Parasyte, even though it isn’t as pretty. (Again, it’s hard to tell with so few pages.)

Kitsune Tennouji’s Orfina is one of two “girl soldier” stories excerpted in the samplers, and I found it tough to get past the cover image featuring the heroine’s breast-hugging chest plate. (Not much room to buffer the impact of a cudgel there, if you ask me.) Cuvie’s Dorothea (shown in the “Teen Plus” book) seems a lot more interesting. The title character is an albino in one of the few communities where such people aren’t viewed as dangerous witches. She takes up arms to protect her home from unfriendly neighbors. It’s got nice art, and it seems to make more interesting use of the “girl soldier” premise.

Speaking of premises, Kyoko Shitou’s Key to the Kingdom has a great one. A bunch of potential rulers are racing for a sacred object that will give them the throne. The excerpt itself isn’t great shakes. It’s got pretty shôjo art, but the pages shown here don’t do much to throw readers into the story.

And maybe it’s all the recent chat about seinen, but Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 (by Ark Performance and Harutoshi Fukui, original idea by Ryo Hanmura) really made a great impression. It’s nothing I would have glanced at if I’d just heard the description (modern-day soldiers go back in time to Japan’s feudal past and decide to take over, necessitating another group of modern-day soldiers to follow them and set things straight), but even I got swept up in the pure testosterone. Tanks versus samurai? That’s got to be worth at least one volume. “FIIIRE!!!” Indeed!