Dark Horse and Kodansha Comics dominate this week at Midtown Comics. Check out the Battle Robot’s picks below!
SEAN: It’s a fairly small week this time round, and so I’m glad to devote my pick of the week to the 11th volume of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. There are lots of comedic manga out there that use gags to drive their humor, but they always seem troubled by silly things like plot and character development. Zetsubou has none of that, and so is free to do anything anytime it wants – the main character has been murdered several times by now. And, like the best negative continuity series, it doesn’t cause you to stop caring – Chiri is still fun to watch even if she’s an insane shovel-killer, just as it never gets old seeing Itoshiki moan on about his latest modern issue. And even if it’s packed with obscure Japanese pop-culture references every week, it’s still funny without knowing what they are. Glad it’s hit double-digits.
MJ: It is a small week indeed, and though there are a few things on the list I plan to buy (including Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei), I’ll give my pick this week to the second volume of the manga adaptation of Mardock Scramble. Here’s what I said about the first volume: “Novel adaptations are hit-and-miss with me.Too often, I think they try to rush the story, or try too hard to be visually thrilling (especially in terms of fanservice) when really they just need to practice good storytelling. But I’m on the edge of my seat with this one. There’s still a lot to be revealed, and mangaka Yoshitoki Oima has left us with quite a bit of mystery (and a pretty big cliffhanger) at the end of the series’ first volume, but I’ve been given enough to be pretty well hooked.” I’m pretty anxious to pick this up.
KATE: Since I’m not following any of the titles on the list, I’m going to recommend the second issue of Skottie Young and Eric Shanower’s Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (Marvel). Young and Shanower’s Oz comics have been a revelation: they follow the plot and spirit of the original Oz novels, but the playful artwork, vivid color palette, and brisk pacing really bring these books to life — in fact, I’d much rather read these Marvel adaptations than the source material that inspired them! If the title of Young and Shanower’s latest collaboration doesn’t ring a bell, you might find this Wikipedia entry helpful; it was the fourth book in Baum’s series, and certain plot details were inspired by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It isn’t the best or most interesting of the Oz books, but the comic-book adaptation is delightful nonetheless.
MICHELLE: And I’ll bring us back ’round full circle by seconding Sean’s pick of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei‘s eleventh volume. I just completed a lengthy catch-up effort with this quirky comedy and am looking forward to remaining current henceforth. As Sean notes, Itoshiki’s various rants are still amusing even when one doesn’t catch many of the esoteric references, but I like the series best when it’s at its most universal. Recent volumes have supplied ample chapters that anyone can relate to, and I hope the trend continues in future. Koji Kumeta’s clean and stylish art is also a treat, as are most of the recurring gags. I still feel really sorry for that poor dog, though.
Readers, what looks good to you?