I was surprised at just how much I ended up liking this. Yes, it hits the same buttons that X-Files used to, but that eventually failed me. I haven'tI was surprised at just how much I ended up liking this. Yes, it hits the same buttons that X-Files used to, but that eventually failed me. I haven't exactly been turned off by long-running mysteries, but I have become skeptical of them. Especially when they include elements of the unexplained. So I was cautiously interested in Mind the Gap, and I'm glad I ended up reading it.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I do get the feeling that McCann knows where he's going with this. Maybe not from one issue to the next, but I really do feel like there's an actual plan here. This is what eventually made me turn away from X-Files, and why I'm not a fan of the (superficially) similar book Morning Glories. I lost faith in the direction there. I haven't here, at least not yet, and I found that I was getting more interested as the book went on.
But really, the absolute best thing about Mind the Gap is the art. Esquejo's art is realistic, appropriately detailed, and absolutely beautiful. Sometimes, realistic art can end up looking flat and plastic on the page. But there's a lot of life in Esquejo's art. It's just a pleasure to look at.
I'm hopeful for the future of this book. I do feel like there's something definite planned. I really hope that I'm not wrong....more
Without a doubt, the best volume so far. This would be a must-read if only for the first issue: Jessica meets JJJ, and cons him into paying her $200 aWithout a doubt, the best volume so far. This would be a must-read if only for the first issue: Jessica meets JJJ, and cons him into paying her $200 an hour to read to orphans. And it's glorious. I read it two days ago and I'm still laughing. One of the single best issues of anything I've ever read. Even if the rest of the book sucked, I'd probably still give the whole four stars on the strength of that one single issue.
But the rest of the book does not in any way, shape, or form suck. It's about Mattie Franklin, Spider-Woman III. And you don't have to be attached to her, or even know she existed, to get caught up in her story. I didn't. And I still found myself every bit as concerned for her as Jessica. As well I should have been, because what's happened to her is truly horrible. Yes, it's something that could only happen to a super in a super world, but Bendis wrote it with the proper parallels to what could happen to a young girl in the real world to give it a real world punch. (view spoiler)[Mattie is being used to produce Mutant Growth Hormone, but the parallels to coerced prostitution are very deliberate, and written horribly well. (hide spoiler)] There's a definite resolution at the end of the book, but there are serious unanswered questions left, too. I suspect Bendis will answer them, but I almost wouldn't mind if he didn't. That nagging creepiness wouldn't be a bad thing to carry away from Alias.
I also want to say how much I like Scott Lang in this book. And I like him with Jessica. He's a cool guy, very compatible with her, and their relationship, while not without stumbling points, is very much between two people who like and respect each other. Very cool.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a much smaller story than in volume one, and that's fine. Investigating a missing girl who doesn't know Captain America at all is a much moreThis is a much smaller story than in volume one, and that's fine. Investigating a missing girl who doesn't know Captain America at all is a much more realistic look at private investigation. It isn't the most exciting story, sure, but I was more than interested enough to stay all but glued to the book until I'd finished it. I like that there are false leads and an unexpected ending that felt natural to the case. Of course, the dialog is fantastic. It absolutely sounds like people talking. Sometimes clever people, but actual, real people. As much as I enjoyed reading the missing person case, the last issue, which is mostly Jessica having an uncomfortable conversation with Luke Cage and going on a slightly uncomfortable but mostly successful date with Scott Lang. It's kind of strange how knowing what I know from a decade hence sort of shapes my reaction to those conversations (view spoiler)[because I can't help but giggle when Jessica most emphatically denies she wants to marry Luke, or wince when Scott talks about how much his daughter means to him (hide spoiler)] but I can still appreciate it them for what they were when written: real, human looks at characters who aren't always allowed to act human....more
Another trade with a long story arc. Was Busiek making a habit of it? This story follows former villain Steeljack, out on parole. He wants to go straiAnother trade with a long story arc. Was Busiek making a habit of it? This story follows former villain Steeljack, out on parole. He wants to go straight, but it's hard when you're literally made of steel. He's highly visible, and there's a distinct limit to what a steel man is capable of. Adding to his troubles is his neighborhood, home to many of the other middle tier villains he used to hang out with. Except that they're now all turning up dead. The police don't care, and the heroes don't care. Why should they? But their families do care, and they hire Steeljack to solve the mystery, before more of their family, friends, and neighbors die.
This is a fairly long arc, especially for Astro City, and it showed. There were places where it felt like Busiek was dragging his feet. It's that mission of his, to make Astro City feel real and fully populated. He's good at that, but it can make stories like this feel too long. That said, I was left with a very solid feeling of Steeljack and his neighborhood, something that very few comics are able to do. ...more
What a pretty cover! I had enjoyed the first volume in the series, but the second one was even better. At least for me. You see, the mystery this timeWhat a pretty cover! I had enjoyed the first volume in the series, but the second one was even better. At least for me. You see, the mystery this time revolves in a wager that Lizzie has placed with her editor. He has found a cipher in an antique book, and has bet that Lizzie can't solve it. If she can, she'll win a signed first edition of one of Victor Hugo's books. Monsieur Hugo makes a brief appearance in the first few pages of this volume.
And that is where this book is almost cheating in getting my love. Because Victor Hugo is my favorite author, and Les Misérables is my favorite book. And any character willing to go to such great lengths to get a signed copy? This is someone I would get along with quite well. The actual mystery itself (the cipher, its contents, and how it came to be where it was found) is told well enough, but this volume is really about Lizzie's love of books. And that is the part that I absolutely loved....more
I'll be honest, I picked up both volumes in this series because I so liked the cover art on volume two. But I wouldn't have read both volumes if I didI'll be honest, I picked up both volumes in this series because I so liked the cover art on volume two. But I wouldn't have read both volumes if I didn't like this one.
Lizzie Netwon is set in the 1860s. The title character is a young lady with a gift for deductive reasoning and writing, and has combined those talents to become a very popular writer of mysteries. In (relative) secret, of course, because she is a lady. So when a family friend seems to commit suicide, Lizzie has the necessary skills to see that it was, in fact, murder. Of course, she has to convince the police to take her seriously. Because she is, after all, a lady.
It certainly felt like the author did a fair bit of research into the time period. Most of the characters seemed to be acting and reacting appropriately for the time. Lizzie herself is a bit shouty for my taste. I know this is a thing in manga, but I do get sick of it sometimes. That said, the mystery was solved in a quite reasonable way, though I felt like it was drawn out rather further than it needed to be. The entire first volume is just the one mystery.
I did decide to read the second volume after I was done with the first one, in no small part because I checked them both out from the library at the same time. But the lovely art made my decision much easier. The dresses were especially lovely and, to my eye, period accurate. As I said, a lot of thought and research had gone into this series....more
The first few volumes of Arisa were really strong, and there have been some great twists and genuinely chilling moments along the way. Sadly, I felt aThe first few volumes of Arisa were really strong, and there have been some great twists and genuinely chilling moments along the way. Sadly, I felt a little let down by this, the last volume in the series. The ending felt strangely rushed and chaotic, and I felt like all the characters got off too easily. The ending was just too upbeat to feel satisfying. But the art was consistently gorgeous through the whole run, and I liked that the main character's arc didn't include romance. It's kind of refreshing, to see a teen girl whose most important relationships are with her family. ...more
Argh, cliffhanger. It looks like the next volume will be the last, so that should tie up any loose ends still lying around. Hopefully. I am a little sArgh, cliffhanger. It looks like the next volume will be the last, so that should tie up any loose ends still lying around. Hopefully. I am a little surprised at some of the turns the story has taken. The King has turned out to be as sociopathic as I'd imagined. But at least there's some backstory here, enough that I can see how The King ended up this way. When's the next volume coming out?...more
I'm really glad that this volume explained why the twins were separated to begin with. I'm still surprised that everybody seems to be so matter-of-facI'm really glad that this volume explained why the twins were separated to begin with. I'm still surprised that everybody seems to be so matter-of-fact about the girls' parents pulling a Parent Trap with them. I don't know if this sort of thing (separating twins so completely that they haven't seen each other at all in three years) is more common in Japan, or if Japanese readers also had to take it with a hefty grain of salt.
I've gotten invested in the mystery of who the King is and why he/she is doing this. I have a theory, and it's killing me not to hunt down spoilers. (They may be thin on the ground anyways, since the last two volumes haven't been published in the US yet.) I'm invested in the mystery and finding out what happens to Tsubasa, and the ever-increasing complications read as naturally as possible with the manga's basic premise. ...more
The best of the Marvel Noir books I've read, as a noir. (Iron Man Noir was better, but it was really a pulp story.) The art is the best part of the boThe best of the Marvel Noir books I've read, as a noir. (Iron Man Noir was better, but it was really a pulp story.) The art is the best part of the book by far. It's gorgeous, atmospheric, and gives a true noir feel. The storyline is pretty good, but it's very rushed in places. Maybe the most glaring example is how Logan describes Yuriko as the best friend he's ever had after she's been in only a handful of panels and had been introduced as a stranger to him. I feel like there were really six issues of story squashed into a four issue series. ...more
A fairly standard mystery, enlivened by the setting: Antarctica. Rucka certainly seems to have done h is research, as Whiteout has a general ring of aA fairly standard mystery, enlivened by the setting: Antarctica. Rucka certainly seems to have done h is research, as Whiteout has a general ring of authenticity about it, and the setting is used as more than a pretty backdrop. That said, the actual mystery itself isn't really terribly interesting. It's executed well enough, but it just isn't that absorbing. Bonus points for strong, realistic, and realistically drawn female characters, though....more
I loved Kitchen Princess, so naturally I was excited to read Arisa. It starts out as a fairly standard, fairly cute high school book, with the typicalI loved Kitchen Princess, so naturally I was excited to read Arisa. It starts out as a fairly standard, fairly cute high school book, with the typical twin trick of switching places for a day. And then there's a huge shift of tone at the end of the first chapter. That marks the beginning of what is, so far, a strange and sometimes deeply creepy story. The central mystery has almost no clues so far, and there's still quite a lot left unexplored about it. I think I'm hooked.
I really like Natsumi Ando's art in general. Here, it's even sharper than in Kitchen Princess. I admit to missing the tempting-looking food displays, but I'm pleased with how the character work has progressed....more
I was a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and all I really wanted from Who Could That be at This Hour? was more of the same. It is, after alI was a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and all I really wanted from Who Could That be at This Hour? was more of the same. It is, after all, connected, being a prequel that chronicles Lemony's early adventures as an investigator. Certain trademarks of the series are gone (the many, many warnings to not read any further, for example) but it's still very much the same voice. If memory serves, the reading level is a bit higher than ASOUE, too. And you likely wouldn't have to read ASOUE to understand the events of this new series. But seriously, why wouldn't you?
I don't really have anything to complain about (which makes this a tough review for me to write). I love Lemony's style, and it's spot-on here. I like that it's disconnected enough to allow first-time readers and those not caught up on their Lemony lore to follow what's going on, but still obviously part of the same strange universe. And the ongoing theme of the wrong question being asked at the wrong time is used just enough that it doesn't become repetitive and gimmicky. There's a cliffhanger, but it's still an end to this book, while still leaving a lot of interesting questions open. My only real complaint is that I can't immediately pick up book two....more
A strange man approaches you and offers you a briefcase. You've been gravely wronged in the past, and the briefcase contains absolute proof of who wroA strange man approaches you and offers you a briefcase. You've been gravely wronged in the past, and the briefcase contains absolute proof of who wronged you, a gun, and 100 untraceable bullets. What do you do?
And that's the main point of 100 Bullets, putting a series of characters into that situation and giving them the choice. And being flawed people who are dealing with a dramatic revelation, they make flawed choices. Azzarello was good at that, making these people and their decisions believable. And since the storylines are short overall (2 or 3 issues each, in this trade) you won't be stuck with a story if you can't get into it. I do understand that the series eventually moves away from the anthology feel to an overarching storyline, and there are hints of it here. I'm interested to see where this is going.
The art is filled with dark, dramatic shadows, which suits the story. It's not something I normally like much, but it makes sense here....more
It's been ten years since the events of The War of the Worlds. Britain has recovered and adapted the Martians' technology into both military and mundaIt's been ten years since the events of The War of the Worlds. Britain has recovered and adapted the Martians' technology into both military and mundane applications. Heat rays are now the military's weapon of choice, and vehicles from baby carriages to cabs have abandoned wheels in favor of multiple legs. But how exactly did all of this technology become so quickly and effortlessly absorbed? And what connection, if any, to the disappearances of young girls looking for work?
This is where the science fiction meets murder mystery, starring a retired army colonel and his manservant. An excellent choice of protagonists, in a Wellesian world. The mystery is fast-paced, with tantalizing glimpses of the world Martian technology has helped to create. This is where the art really shines, in showing a plausible and gorgeously steampunky Victorian/Martian landscape. The ending is terribly abrupt, but it is meant to be a cliffhanger, so I can forgive that. And read the next volume....more
Edgeworth has had his own game (two in Japan) and now he gets the manga treatment. Original mysteries that fit the tone of Investigations perfectly, wEdgeworth has had his own game (two in Japan) and now he gets the manga treatment. Original mysteries that fit the tone of Investigations perfectly, with decent art and, especially, good characterization of the regulars. Kay Faraday the (improbable) teenaged sidekick from Investigations, is nowhere to be seen, which is more than fine by me....more
I did like how this book dealt with Chinese-American history. It would have been better if the lead had been Chinese-American. The AG line is due, andI did like how this book dealt with Chinese-American history. It would have been better if the lead had been Chinese-American. The AG line is due, and probably overdue, for an Asian lead....more
Maybe it's just because I'm not in the intended audience, but it took me only a few pages to figure out that Julie's new friend (view spoiler)[was a cMaybe it's just because I'm not in the intended audience, but it took me only a few pages to figure out that Julie's new friend (view spoiler)[was a compulsive liar (hide spoiler)]. I wonder if the target age group would be so quick to pick up on it. It was realistic that it took Julie the length of the book to fully realize what was going on. Also, I know that these books try to focus on redemption wherever possible, but this may have been a bit of a stretch....more
I started this book feeling a little disappointed, because of the plot description. A kid collects scrap for the war effort, discovers that it's beingI started this book feeling a little disappointed, because of the plot description. A kid collects scrap for the war effort, discovers that it's being messed with, and goes through some amateur detective heroics to discover the culprit? I read this before. In an American Girl book. (Voices at Whisper Bend) Fortunately, the way the basic plot is handled is very different, and I actually ended up liking it a bit more....more