February 14, 2008

Now that I’ve got the sentimentality out of my system, it’s time to address the flip side of the Valentine’s Day equation. Some (and trust me, I’m sometimes among them) find the whole concept kind of nauseating. So if you’d really like to rip Cupid’s bow out of his hands and do some real damage, here are some comics that allow you to bask in the misery and misfortune of others.

Bambi and Her Pink Gun, by Kaneko Atsushi (DMP): Dystopia populated by creepy, violent societal parasites? Check. Unsympathetic protagonist who cuts a giddy swath through their ranks? Double check. DMP dropped this delightfully nasty series after only two volumes, but oh, those two volumes are filled with cheerful misanthropy. I miss Bambi.

Dragon Head, by Minetaro Mochizuki (Tokyopop): You’ve probably said it to yourself: “If I see one more school trip in a manga series, it had better end really badly.” This is the manga for you. In ten volumes of pretty much relentless terror, with occasional side trips to mere creepiness, a handful of survivors try and figure out what the heck happened to Japan while their train was passing through a tunnel.

The Drifting Classroom, by Kazuou Umezi (Viz): If you could harvest the terrified screams of children and use them as an alternative fuel source, you could probably use this book to power the Mid-Atlantic Region for a few months, at least. I know I shouldn’t admit that watching elementary school children meet grisly and varied ends is a real hoot for me, but it is.

MW, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical): Tezuka is generally an optimist, but that doesn’t mean he’s naïve, or that he can’t be downright depraved when the situation calls for it. MW calls for it over and over, and Tezuka doesn’t shrink from any of the lurid possibilities of kidnapping, mass murder, blackmail, illicit sex, and so on.

Uzumaki, by Junji Ito (Viz): “Uzumaki” means “spiral,” as in “downward.” The third volume of Viz’s re-release of this grimly imaginative horror series is probably already available in bookstores, or you can wait until next week when it’s due to show up at the comic shops.