Tsubasa, vol. 1
Imagine if one of the very first comics you ever read was Crisis on Infinite Earths or some other multi-title company-wide super-hero crossover. That may be a similar experience to what I had reading Clamp's Tsubasa a series that seems to incorporate alternate reality versions of characters from Clamp's other comics into a big multi-dimensional crossover. Heck, the back cover copy of this volume even exclaims: "Tusbasa volume 1 crosses over with xxxHOLiC volume 1! Don't miss it!"--which sounds exactly like the sort of cover copy from a super-hero crossover book. The plot, near as I can figure, seems to involve several of these alter-reality characters hopping through dimensions (which are probably analogues of other manga & anime worlds) looking to recover one of the character's lost memories. I suppose that were I well-versed in manga and anime in general and the works of Clamp in particular I might find this interesting, or at least be able to follow what's going on. Alas I'm not, at least in the types of manga that Tsubasa seems to be referencing, and I'm hopelessly lost.
Rating: 2 (of 5)
xxxHOLiC, vol. 1
And speaking of xxxHOLiC: Watanuki has a problem: he can see and is haunted by spirits (gee, that sounds familiar...). He one days finds himself drawn to a magic shop presided over by Yuko, a witch who says that she grants wishes, provided that the wisher is willing to pay the price, and that she can rid Watanuki of his spirit condition if he wishes. Watanuki foolishly agrees before discovering the price however, and finds himself now 'employed' by Yuko at the magic shop, where he must labor to pay the cost of his wish before it is granted. While xxxHOLiC also seems to draw somewhat on other Clamp properties, it's not nearly as insidery as Tusbasa and it is fairly simple to follow the story even without knowing all of the references. After the set-up story, Yuko and Watanaki help (or attempt to help--the resolutions tend to not be clean-cut) a woman who is a compulsive liar, and another who is addicted to the Internet. (The threatened crossover with Tsubasa doesn't horn in until the very end of the volume.) The art is also strong--much stronger than one usually sees from Clamp--and is filled with bold lines and heavy dark spaces. It all makes for a good reading experience.
Rating: 3 (of 5)