Yumi Hotta, Hikaru no Go, vol. 16: The Chinese Go Association (ViZ, 2010)
With Hikaru vowing to retire until Sai comes back, Hotta spends much of thisYumi Hotta, Hikaru no Go, vol. 16: The Chinese Go Association (ViZ, 2010)
With Hikaru vowing to retire until Sai comes back, Hotta spends much of this volume focusing on Shinichiro Isumi, who took the pro test with Hikaru and friends last year, but got flustered and lost three in a row, resulting in his elimination. On a trip to China, Isumi visits the Go Association, where he gets into a pickup match with a pre-teen named Zhao and is beaten badly. He vows to stay on in China and improve his game to the point where he can at least beat the kiddies—and is then told that Zhao is one of the best players in China! If he can beat Zhao, he's certainly got a chance in this year's pro test... the series remains as good as always, and it was nice to see the focus on a previously minor character for a bit. Bonus points for Isumi's Richard Kern T-shirt! *** ½ ...more
Jennifer L. Holm, Squish, vol. 2: Brave New Pond (Random House, 2011)
I was a pretty big fan of Super Amoeba!, the first Squish book, so it was a foregJennifer L. Holm, Squish, vol. 2: Brave New Pond (Random House, 2011)
I was a pretty big fan of Super Amoeba!, the first Squish book, so it was a foregone conclusion I'd be picking up vol. 2. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and it took me over a year after its release to get around to it. This one is almost as much fun as the first, though the Holms decided to go a little lighter on the science in this volume (I thought that to its detriment, your mileage may vary) and spend a little more time on the social aspects of the characters. It's still a quick, fun read, and I can still heartily recommend this series. Now I've gotta get caught up myself... *** ½ ...more
Alan Moore, Lost Girls: The Great and Terrible (Top Shelf, 2006)
Writer Alan Moore and illustrator Melinda Ge(parts 1 and 2 coming when I dig them out)
Alan Moore, Lost Girls: The Great and Terrible (Top Shelf, 2006)
Writer Alan Moore and illustrator Melinda Gebbie being Lost Girls to a rousing, if bitter, conclusion with The Great and Terrible. If you've been following along, you know what to expect: the conclusions of the tales of Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan in the usual pornographic renditions. The series ends at the outbreak of World War I.
As with the other two volumes, Moore and Gebbie set out here to raise pornography to an art; at the end of this long, long project, I find it hard to see how it would be possible for anyone to dispute that it is an experiment that has met with unqualified success. Lost Girls, explicit or not, is art in every sense of the word. A work that deserves to be on the shelf of every serious reader. ****...more
Fullmetal Alchemist ends exactly the way you expect it to—with a huge climactic battle that prHiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist, vol. 27 (ViZ, 2010)
Fullmetal Alchemist ends exactly the way you expect it to—with a huge climactic battle that pretty much amounts to the entire fighting force against the Dwarf in the Flask, and then a “where are they now?” epilogue detailing the events of the days/weeks after the end of the last battle. It is not a distinctive conclusion in any way, but it is a satisfying one. Over the course of twenty-seven volumes, Arakawa's series never flagged, and that's impressive indeed. *** ½ ...more
Peter David, The Dark Tower, vol. 6: The Journey Begins (Marvel, 2011)
The prequel stuff (basically, everything that in the novels took place in WizardPeter David, The Dark Tower, vol. 6: The Journey Begins (Marvel, 2011)
The prequel stuff (basically, everything that in the novels took place in Wizard and Glass) is now done, and like the title says, the journey begins. This story arc, Robin Furth tells us in the preface, will cover the twelve years between the battle of Jericho Hill and the beginning of the first Dark Tower novel (so I wouldn't be expecting Roland to hunt down Walter any time soon, d'ye ken?); Roland picks up his first billy-bumbler sidekick, revisits the shattered remains of Gilead, and meets a stranger named Brown who farms the desert, and who is willing to listen to Roland's tales of what happened there. This is nothing you haven't seen before, but I'm perfectly content with that in a series that started out strong and has stayed that way. *** ½ ...more
Hideshi Hino, Hino Horror, vol. 2: The Bug Boy (DH Publishing, 1975)
...and now I know why the first Hino Horror volumes are so like Hino's early stuffHideshi Hino, Hino Horror, vol. 2: The Bug Boy (DH Publishing, 1975)
...and now I know why the first Hino Horror volumes are so like Hino's early stuff: they actually are. DH was kind enough to drop the original pub date in this volume: 1975. That predates Panorama of Hell by nine years, and is very much still in Hino's “gross-'em-out!” phase. The Bug Boy, like The Red Snake before it, certainly fills the bill in that regard, with gratuitous dream vomit, human/centipede hybrids, mass murder... you know, all the standards. The story is simple: Sanpei, a youngster who is mercilessly bullied both at school and at home, is bitten by a strange bug and undergoes a metamorphosis, after which he realizes his new form will allow him to get revenge on those who caused him pain while he was still human. Very nasty, though with a surprisingly moral (for lack of a better term) ending; this is Hino through and through. Good stuff. *** ½ ...more
Stephen King is well-known for logorrhea, and it's been warranted since about the unexpurgated editionStephen King, Mile 81 (Simon and Schuster, 2011)
Stephen King is well-known for logorrhea, and it's been warranted since about the unexpurgated edition of The Stand. Which is not to say those thousand-page doorstops are not worth reading; they are, and most of them are very good. But it has always been the case, and I suspect it always will be, that King does his best work in the realm of the short story. “Grey Matter” and “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet” and “Blind Willie” and “Survivor Type” and “My Pretty Pony” and “I Am the Doorway” and “The Mangler” and I could go on all day. That's the good stuff, and I say this as someone who has traditionally listed three King novels among my hundred favorite books of all time ('Salem's Lot, The Stand, and Misery). So I guess you could say I was kind of predisposed to like “Mile 81”, which feels like a return to the good old days. (This is, of course, an absolute myth. It's not like “My Pretty Pony” came out of nowhere. “The Last Rung on the Ladder” and “The Woman in the Room” closed out Night Shift, and I found them unbearable until I was well into my twenties because they weren't horror stories.) This is what King does best—take something as quotidian as can be (a crappy, generically American station wagon covered in mud) and make it scary, throw a few unsuspecting folks into its way, find the least likely hero you can, and make a story out of it. It's formula, but it's Stephen King formula, and it's been working like gangbusters for more than four decades now. In other words, if you like his stuff, this should work for you, and if you don't, this probably isn't going to change your mind. I find nothing at all wrong with this. *** ½ ...more
Michael A. Arnzen, Dying (Tachyon Publications, 2003)
Just after I finished Michael Arnzen's Dying, a chapbook-sized spoof of Martha Stewart's Living,Michael A. Arnzen, Dying (Tachyon Publications, 2003)
Just after I finished Michael Arnzen's Dying, a chapbook-sized spoof of Martha Stewart's Living, I was mildly amused by it. It's solid writing—Arnzen obviously knows his way around a poem—but while you can craft till the cows come home, if you don't have the art, you'll never get anywhere in the poetry biz. And there wasn't anything that really crackled in the words here. They were good, but they were nothing special.
Thirty minutes later, I thought about some phrase or another Arnzen had used in one of these poems and chuckled a bit.
Another hour passed, and something else struck me, and I got an attack of the giggles.
From there, it turned into the infamous giggle loop, and by the end of the night I was in hysterics. I'd finally figured out what Arnzen was doing here, and it's hilarious. At the risk of being a spoiler, what I had missed the first time around was Arnzen's absolutely deadpan lampooning of Martha Stewart's prose style (which she mirrors so effortlessly in her speech, something that never fails to amaze me), which is so spot-on it's almost frightening. And the more I thought about it, the funnier it got. I went from thinking “this is okay, I'd read it again” to “this is a work of minor brilliance,” and I'm still at the latter point. This was, unfortunately, a limited chapbook, put out a decade ago and most likely long out of print now, but if you stumble upon a copy at your local reseller of the finer volumes, grab it like it's a writhing, nubile Medusa who's been in prison for the past five years and hasn't so much as smelled a man and hold on for dear life. It's goooooooooood. ****...more