Returning to the ComicList, there are a few new volumes of ongoing series I wanted to point out:
First is the second volume of Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon (Viz), which I point out not really because I recommend it but because I finally got around to reading the first volume. It’s one of those books that depend on the reader finding the characters more engaging than the reader finds their vocation repellent, and I found myself just about even in terms of reaction. It focuses on a ragtag group of pirates sailing around on the titular PT boat, abetting corporate espionage and gang wars. They’re studiously neutral about the morality of their actions, though that doesn’t mean you have to be. While their “nothing personal, just earning a paycheck” attitude has its amusing moments, some of the aforementioned actions stretch things to the snapping point. (Selling a kid into slavery springs to mind, even if they did treat him to a soda.) On the bright side, the fan service, both weapon- and hot-chick-based, stays on the cheerfully cheesy side of the equation, and if you like watching a woman in a pair of Daisy Dukes and a tube top lock and load, it will probably be money well spent.
Fortunately, Viz offers a couple of action titles that are more to my taste. There’s Hiromu Arakawa’s perennial hit Fullmetal Alchemist, now up to its 17th volume and still improbably fresh and entertaining. And Naoki Urasawa’s Monster reaches the same milestone, which also happens to be its penultimate volume. It’s quite thrilling to watch Urasawa weave all of his threads together as the climax approaches.
In a more shamelessly sentimental vein is the eighth volume of Kitchen Princess (Del Rey), by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi. It promises a “High Tea cook-off,” which further makes me wish that American school systems were more imaginative in their competitive events, because I could have lettered in that, I swear to you.