Here we go: picking out the cream of this month's releases, in graphic novels, collected editions and anything else notable:
PICK OF THE MONTH: Last Man: The Stranger vol 1 by Bastein Vives, Balak, and Michael Sanalaville, First Second: I've been prattling on about Last Man before the news of First Second picking up the English language rights was announced, so my apologies if you're tired of hearing about it. The trio of authors involved Michael Balak, Bastien Vives, and Michael Sanlaville- is too exciting to pass up, and having seen it in the flesh, it's even more of an attractive prospect then it is on paper. Inspired by gaming and Japanese comics, specifically shounen manga, First Second are releasing the first 3 volumes of the series this year (with 3 to follow in 2016), and the first book centers around a martial arts school and a games tournament to determine who is the best fighter, with added intrigue of a mysterious stranger who quickly establishes himself as a serious contender. Promising to incorporate a rich fantasy adventure setting with character-driven storytelling and plenty of action sequences, expect kinetic illustration and an entertaining story.
Trash Market by Tadao Tsuge, Drawn & Quarterly: I'm always interested and grateful to learn more about alternative manga via English language translations, and this collection of six stories from Tadao Tsuge, a key contributors to the legendary avant-garde Japanese comics magazine Garo during its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, seems to fit the bill. renowned for his unpretentious journalistic storytelling and clear, eloquent cartooning. A mixture of auto, bio, journalistic reportage and fiction, the stories range from the charming lowlifes of the Tokyo slums, WWII veterans who found themselves unable to forget the war, to a piece on growing up in a Tokyo slum during the Occupation of Japan with an abusive grandfather and an ailing father, and finding brightness in the joyful people of the neighbourhood.
The Swords of Glass by Laura Zuccheri and Sylviane Corgiat, Humanoids: I find the titles Humanoids picks up for English rather more hit than miss, and the art in this looks wonderful. It's a hefty fantasy tome, set in a world with a dying sun in which young protagonist Yama lives a relatively happy and peaceful life as the daughter of the chief of the village. Until one day, a sword of glass falls from the sky, fulfilling an old prophecy and changing everything. 'Anyone who touches the sword is instantly turned to glass and dies. Orland, the local warlord, comes to the village to seize the unique weapon, but fails, and in the process Yama’s father and mother die. Yama, however, escapes and survives with only one thought: to retrieve the sword of glass, and avenge the death of her parents by killing Orland with it. Yet, Yama is also the key to the swords of glass prophecy: which provides humanity with one final chance of surviving the extinction of the sun.'
Seraphim by Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Oshii, Dark Horse: This released a little early -it was in comic book shops last week at which point I spotlighted it on the blog with a 9-page preview. Set in a future Earth plagued by "tenshi-byō" (angel disease), a pandemic that induces apocalyptic visions in the afflicted, even as it ossifies their bodies into dead, seraphic forms. A young girl named Sera, and three men embark on a journey to solve the mystery of the strange fatal illness which is decimating the population. I haven't got around to reading my copy yet, but from what I can gather, it's an unfinished book, in that further story was planned, but it reads fine with the ending it has (but don't hold me to that).s
Aama vol 3 The Desert of Mirrors by Frederik Peeters, Self Made Hero: Peeters continues his ridiculously attractive sci-fi tale of an AWOL sentient science experiment: aama. Verloc Nim and his brother Conrad -the man of science and the sceptic- continue their planet-hopping, leaving Ona(ji) after seeing the amazing transformation in the planet's environment- a direct result of aama. This third volume sees mysteries deepen and the truth regarding aama even more beyond their grasp as reality begins to waver.
Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger, NBM: On the one hand, I love comics that encompass fashion and style, on the other hand I'm rather snobbish about the air-kissing, dubious world of couture and the means by which its built. Set in 1947, Goetzinger's biographical docu-drama follows Clara, a freshly hired chronicler and guide to the busy corridors of the brand-new fashion house -hand-picked by Dior to be a model- as the crème de la crème of Paris haute couture flock to see Christian Dior’s debut fashion show. In a flurry of corolla shaped skirts, the parade of models file down the runway and the mesmerized audience declares the show a triumph.
Lost Property by Andy Poyiadgi, Nobrow: I've been excited for the release of Poyiadgi's book with Nobrow since I first heard about it a comic show a year back, and having read it, can happily recommend it (review next Tuesday at the AV Club). The story of Gerald, a very British postman, who one day visits his local lost and found after misplacing a precious letter-opener. Only to find a bit more than he bargained for, as every single item in the lost and found belongs to Gerard, or did at some point. But how did they all get there? And what does it all mean? 'Faced with this new trove of personal riches, Gerald discovers their ability to trigger powerful memories, resurrecting the ghosts of his past, igniting long lost passions and helping him change the course of his future.'
Hit by Vanesa Del Ray and Bruce Carlson, Boom!: I started reading Hit in issue format: Vanessa Del Ray's art seems purpose built for noir stories, and it's a genre I am very fond of. I gave up, having since realised serialised comics are not the domain of people who can't remember what they had for breakfast, so I'll be giving it another go now it's been collected into trade format. A 50's LA dark crime drama filled with murderers, rapists, and drug lords...and the men who will stop at nothing to bring them to justice.
Copperhead by Jay Faerber, Scott Godlweski, and Ron Riley, Image: I believe I'm writing in saying a preview/excerpt of this ran in an FCBD comic last year, which is when I read it. I recall enjoying what I read, and will be picking this trade which collects the first 5 issues. A sci-western set in the grimy mining town of Copperhead sees new sheriff Clara Branson dealing with a hectic full-on first day on the job: a resentful deputy, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. And a massacre. All under the suspicious eyes of the townspeople as they size her up.