Sitting in a tree

April 24, 2009

In the discussion of that list of the 25 greatest super-hero romances over at Robot 6, Tom Spurgeon makes a good point about one of my favorites, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch:

“The initial Scarlet Witch romance worked for about 50 issues of subplots in some pretty good Avengers comics from back in that time, including the intrusion of the Swordsman’s hooker girlfriend, Mantis. I’m not sure anything about the marriage worked even a tenth as well as the initial “can you really fall in love with a robot” stuff did, though.”

I think that’s true for any couple in serial fiction, at least in serial fiction with no anticipated end point. It’s the same in daytime dramas; the build-up is always more interesting than the tear-down, and the tear-down is inevitable, I think. Happy couples are more sustainable in comedies than dramas. Serial fiction is a furnace that needs to be fed, and when that fiction is predicated partly or even wholly on romantic pairings, you can’t maintain a status quo for too long. It’s why soap characters marry and divorce so often, and why Spider-Man seems like such a player on the aforementioned list.

That’s one of the advantages of romantic pairings in manga, which generally has a designated end point. There are closing credits, and right before them, the couple can gaze into one another’s eyes and ponder their wonderful future together. Since it’s over, neither you nor the manga-ka need to dwell too much on the unpleasantness that can follow “happily ever after.”

Which brings me to my favorite manga romance, Yukari and George from Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop), but I’ll save further discussion for after the jump, because I’m headed into spoiler territory.

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I need to read that “Secret Empire” story

April 22, 2009

Oh, such a wave of nostalgia at seeing this birthday announcement at The Comics Reporter.

defenders-4avengers-128avg144

It takes very little to get me to rhapsodize over either of the defining writing Steves (Gerber and Englehart) of Marvel’s 1970s super-hero comics. For me, Englehart embodied a number of qualities whose general scarcity led me to dump spandex comics a few years back:

  • He tended to take fallow ideas and inject them with new life and potential. (The Cat’s old costume + a retired romance comic heroine = Hellcat. Enchantress’s sidekick-weapon becomes independent character and first female Defender. And so on.)
  • His crossovers were generally restrained and sensible in terms of not derailing the momentum of any of the books involved. Just because comics companies have abused the concept doesn’t mean his Avengers-Defenders War wasn’t an entertaining story.
  • He tended to leave female characters more interesting and formidable than he found them. Male characters too, now that I think of it.
  • He managed to find the comedy in melodrama without undermining suspense or lapsing into self-referential cynicism. (Example: rivals Scarlet Witch and Mantis independently coming to the conclusion that Wanda must be the Celestial Madonna, because seriously, consider the alternative.)
  • Really, Englehart’s (and Gerber’s) comics are some of the few from my childhood that I can still read and enjoy without irony. Or at least too much irony.


    Upcoming 4/22/2009

    April 22, 2009

    Not a huge quantity of new arrivals on this week’s ComicList, so I’ll pad things out with a poll.

  • Chocolate Surprise, by Lily Hoshino (Deux): I swear someone told me that Hoshino created the kind of yaoi that I like – character-driven and emotionally grounded. Am I remembering incorrectly?
  • 20th Century Boys vol. 2 by Naoki Urasawa (Viz): See below.
  • Real vol. 4, by Takehiko Inoue (Viz): Inoue’s tremendously good comic about wheelchair basketball continues.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry vol. 2, by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi (Yen Press): I read the first volume over the weekend, and I’m intrigued enough to see where it goes for at least another volume. I wish the characters were as involving as the creepy plot twists.
  • As you know, Viz is rolling out two series from Naoki (Monster) Urasawa at the same time, the aforementioned 20th Century Boys and Pluto. I like 20th Century Boys fine, but I suspect I’d like it a lot better if I weren’t reading it side by side with Pluto, which I think is superior. So I thought I’d throw out the question as to which book readers prefer.


    More lead-burying

    April 21, 2009

    I promise to lay off the press releases, but Viz just sent one out on its new European business-to-business site, and I am deeply intrigued:

    “Informative descriptions for 18 different animated series and all relevant licensing and partner information are also featured. Current titles include Bleach, Blue Dragon, Buso Renkin, Croket!, Death Note, Deko Boko Friends, Detective Conan (CASE CLOSED), Grandpa Danger, Hamtaro, Inuyasha, Kilari, MÄR, MegaMan Star Force, Mirmo, Naruto, ICHIGO 100%, Zoids Genesis, and Honey & Clover. The site was developed in partnership with leading web design communications agency Megalo(s).”

    “Grandpa Danger”? What in Pinoko’s name is “Grandpa Danger?” And why can I not buy it yesterday? Let’s investigate.

    grandpadanger

    I think I have a new avatar, at the very least.


    The future is now

    April 21, 2009

    Will the day come when we evolve from bestseller lists to “largest number of unique visitors” lists? I have no idea, but one might anticipate future press releases from Viz talking about how many people have popped by TheRumicWorld. Just a theory, mind you. And as you may have guessed, that’s the topic for this week’s Flipped.


    It’s a tie!

    April 20, 2009

    From Anime News Network:

    “The Asahi Shimbun paper has announced the winners for the 13th Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes this weekend. For the first time, two manga titles shared the Grand Prize: Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ōoku: The Inner Chamber, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life.”

    One’s already been released in English, and the other is due out in August. Good times.


    Style and/or substance

    April 18, 2009

    These just in from the New York Times:

    “Based on a close look at trailers, still photos and some films already released, at least a dozen male stars in some of the year’s most prominent movies have been adding on the pounds of late.”

    That article was posted right above this one:

    “But she has become a heroine not only to people dreaming of being catapulted from obscurity to fame but also to those who cheer her triumph over looks-ism and ageism in a world that so values youth and beauty.”

    So which is it, Times?