Thursday, January 11, 2007

Quick OEL Manga Reviews

Snow vol. 1 by Morgan Luthi (TokyoPop, $9.99) features one of those galactic future milieus where humans and aliens exist side-by-side, and an oppressive galactic empire seeks to run roughshod over the various worlds for no apparent reason. The empire's key weapon is The Ghost, a humanoid being that is dropped onto an uncooperative planet and runs roughshod over everything. On the ass-end of the universe is The Hub, whose newest arrival, Snow, bears a remarkable resemblance to The Ghost. Luthi--another of TP's Rising Stars finalists--manages to work in libertarian ideas without being too obvious or preachy, or leaving out the many warts. In fact, there are a lot of good ingredients here; but they don't quite gel into a comprehensive whole, and the story is a bit too obvious in places.

I shouldn't have liked Nathaniel Bowden & Tracy Yardley's Riding Shotgun vol. 1 (TokyoPop, $9.99) for it's senseless, over-the-top violence, but it was gleeful and charming enough to win me over in its nihilism. Set in an alternate world where assassination is legal and regulated, Doyle Harrington and his partner Abby are up-and-coming assassins looking to make the jump to the big leagues. But their plans go awry when one of their targets turns out to be Doyle's old high school girlfriend. Yardley's art is appropriately energetic. The car chase sequence that runs for about 17 pages at three-quarters of the way through is one of the best I've seen represented in comics. Riding Shotgun doesn't quite measure up to Bambi and Her Pink Gun in the ranks of violent nihilistic comics, but it's a good read for fans of that sort of stuff and I'll be looking forward to the next volume.

With Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Oni, $11.95) I think I'm finally getting into the groove of Brian Lee O'Malley's video games-meet-emo world view. I laughed quite a bit, and actually looked forward to the crazy fight scenes that pop in to resolve existential and emotional conflicts. I'm a bit concerned that the plot doesn't seem to be moving forward much, but we get enough drama, back story, action and humor to carry us through this volume at least. And I still feel sorry for poor Knives Chau, whose only mistake was falling for the charming but self-centered Scott.

Snow vol. 1: 2.5 (of 5)
Riding Shotgun vol. 1: 3 (of 5)
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness: 3.5 (of 5)

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