Purely theoretical

July 21, 2008

This week’s Flipped is up, and since I’m a hopeless follower, I scan through the Comic-Con International programming for the manga highlights. It does look like I wouldn’t have any trouble filling my time, even beyond fending off panic attacks.

That said, a convention that would require me to spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket, additional hundreds of dollars on lodging, plus the hundreds of dollars I’d spend on stuff, plus the cost of the extra checked bag to get it all home… I don’t know. I’m not much for big, crowded events to begin with, and I’ve gotten really picky about how I spend my travel dollars. I either want natural splendor or rich culture, and while both certainly have their place in the comics medium, it’s still a convention center in a California city that isn’t San Francisco. I’ll go some year.

And a partridge in a pear tree

July 21, 2008

The tenth volume of Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse) offers the following diversions:

1. A desperate race to find a bomb planted by terrorists
2. A shocking double execution
3. A shocking single execution
4. A high-speed chase
5. The introduction of new characters
6. The return of old characters
7. Weighty discussion about the nature of life, sentience and evolution as they pertain to a creepy virus that turns people into crystal
8. Two big explosions
9. Inter-agency tensions in the criminal justice arena
10. Citizen protests
11. Subdued but affecting portrayals of grief
12. Mildly gratuitous nudity that manages not to seem exploitative or too forced, which is probably the best kind of gratuitous nudity
13. Giant robots

I think it’s fair to say that’s a whole lot of stuff to try and put into even 232 pages of comics, but Endo manages it with his customary confidence and force. I continue to be amazed at how he can weave from thread to thread and theme to theme and not lose me even a little. He’s clearly managed to craft characters with enough specificity and depth that I remember them even after a long absence, along with scenarios and arguments persuasive enough to linger and resonate as they propel the story in new directions.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting with volume 10, because you’d probably end up being impressed with Endo’s craft and Dark Horse’s production values but hopelessly lost by the story. I would recommend starting with volume 1 and enjoying the story as it progresses, demonstrating forbearance during the shockingly trite drugs-and-hookers mini-arc in the middle, and celebrating as the series returns to form after the pushers and pimps are dispatched.