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#45 3/31/10 #8

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) BLACKEST NIGHT #8 THE SWORD #23 FANTASTIC FOUR #577 COWBOY NINJA VIKING #5 DOOMWAR #2 EX OCCULTUS: SEAL OF SOLOMON REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS #5 Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS Vol.1 Indie Jones presents…


Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Ivan Reiss Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

With a blinding white light the Blackest Night is finally extinguished. Did this moment cause me to ejaculate with glee? No. Am I going to derail Johns’ writing like so many other reviews bombarding the Intertubes? No. Because at the end of the day, the BLACKEST NIGHT finale was exactly what I expected — and it is no fault of Johns. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s the current state of comics. Comics have always been a business, but today they serve less as the primary business and more of a whirling dervish spitting out synergistic channels of upsell revenue in the form of movies, video games, cartoons and apps…the game can’t change too much without those other channels (that keep the stocks afloat, which keeps our books coming, etc…) suffering a complete collapse.
Think about the near future and tell me if anyone thought Sinestro would keep the White Light bestowed upon him in the last issue of GREEN LANTERN? Because (SHORT BUS SPOILER ALERT) he doesn’t keep the White Ring. While long time fans would love to see the softer side of Sinestro for a year or two, sadly you would ostracize Mr. Johnny “I Never Read a Comic”, who saunters into the comic shop looking for a bad-ass emerald Sinestro after seeing the movie next year and instead gets some maroon colored do-gooder bathed in white light. Yes, it sucks ass kids, but it’s a market we helped create and continue to perpetuate (I’ll tell you right now, I am ejaculating at the thought of DC Universe Online. And dead or not dead in comics, I wants to play me some Batman). Our collective hive bitching is also partly to blame in the case of Hal Jordan ultimately saving the day at the end of Blackest Night. How many continuity Nazis would be screaming if Sinestro became a good guy? Lots!
The game is never going to change for DC. It quite simply can’t. (A few more spoilers) Yes, I fully expected the return of Aquaman and the complete “get out of permanent death free” card for the DC big guns. Now, was I shocked when Ralph and Sue Dibny stayed dead? Fuck no, Ralph and Sue Dibny only matter to a miniscule group of comic fans that were religious to Giffen’s run on JUSTICE LEAGUE 100 years ago. There hasn’t been big money riding on an elongated detective and his sassy gal pal since Plastic Man was a Saturday morning cartoon. R.I.P. kids, I at least will miss you. Although, I will say I was giddy when Maxwell Lord came back and immediately did his mind bleed on Guy Gardner. But, I’m one of those old bastards that loved Giffen’s work 100 years ago. I’m going to say Johns did a fantastic job with this entire run considering the lasso of capitalism that bound his fingers. He delivered exactly what I always expect from Johns and well…DC: great moments and great characters, very little overall changes.
For me, BLACKEST NIGHT delivered some of the best DC moments all year (that’s fiscal year, I’m going March to March). Would I have liked some of the moments to last longer, like Guy’s time with the red ring or a little more Lex Luthor Orange Lantern goodness, sure, but again I won’t fault Johns for keeping his story moving. That’s why God invented Elseworlds (hint, hint). When BLACKEST NIGHT 0 was released on Free Comics Day, Johns placed a stake in the ground. Fresh off the distaste of CRISIS, he promised to cleanse our palates with tight storytelling that would not meander into infinite side stories. He delivered that promise with the aid of Tomasi. They couldn’t have been a tighter team throughout this tale, Tomasi fattening the bones of Johns’ skeleton with each issue of GREEN LANTERN CORPS. I also gained absolutely no value from the side tales — other than simple enjoyment. Not one was “necessary” to keep pace with the main story. Granted, there’s “imbedded in the Internet” proof that I outright hated the SUPERMAN side tale, but again that was my folly, I wasn’t punished in BLACKEST NIGHT for trying to banish those three issues from my mind.
If you expected earth shattering change from BLACKEST NIGHT, I’m sorry, but you’re a fool. Burn me once…blah, blah, blah. Nothing is going to change forever at DC. The good guys will always win and even though Barry professes that “dead is now dead” we all know dead is dead until the character once again serves a purpose. But that’s kind of why I read DC; it’s an old friend that changes their personality every 10 or so years. It’s all familiar, yet slightly different enough to be interesting.
There are very few new limits DC can push to without a courageous shift in editorial direction. And when I say courageous I mean suicidal. For DC to truly change it needs to do a hard reboot; not the soft “refresh” of a ZERO HOUR or the empty “restart” of CRISIS — I mean a “hold in the power button” for three seconds and risk fragging your hard drive “reboot.” Start over with ACTION COMICS and DETECTIVE COMICS 1 and rebuild from the ground up. Won’t happen, but the only thing that will truly “transform” DC is to cut loose the dead weight of its continuity.
Despite the enticing white lantern of foreshadowing sitting deep in “Somewhere America” at the end of this issue, I think the war of light is going to cool for awhile. Not for me personally, because I did enjoy this run and I’m interested to see how this new Technicolor universe operates in relative “peace” time. Someone could have fun with the new politics of this universe and I know would stick around to watch that exploration. What BLACKEST NIGHT and every DC title boil down to at this point is, “Even though I know what to expect, I really enjoy the ride getting there.”
Optimous is lonely and needs friends. Even virtual ones will fill the gaping hole, join him on Facebook or he will cry like a newborn kitten.


By the Luna Brothers Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Now that this series is close to ending, I have to plug it one more time.
I never really got into GIRLS, so I was hesitant to pick this up, and I waited until five or six issues in. But I’ve been steady since then. Yes, the Lunas can be a little wordy and overly expository. But they can also be extraordinarily poignant.
The artwork is solid each and every month. But I tell you, I couldn’t have been more surprised with the events (or maybe I should just say the event, singular) of this issue if someone’s uterus had been ripped out and stomped on. And considering that was what happened LAST issue, then that’s pretty surprised.
Really. If you skipped a few issues, you should pick up the last one. THEN this one. And then settle in for the final show.
Rock-Me Amodeo is a daytime computer guy and nighttime all kinds of things. He’s also probably the only guy ever to write a book and a movie still hoping he might someday break into comics.


Writer: Jonathan Hickman Artist: Dale Eaglesham Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: KletusCasady

“The Fantastic Four are stupid and they suck!” This is how my friend Josh approaches anything having to do with Marvel’s First Family. I always find myself having a hard time arguing with him, not because I have something against the Fantastic Four but I’m really not that familiar with the comics. I mean I know the gist of it, the origin, the personalities, etc. I just haven’t read anything that’s blown me away that involved them so my arguments would be something like, “but but the movies were…no, well that last arc by Millar was…nope….but Human Torch is Cap now so...” Other than Dwayne McDuffie’s run, which I really liked, I just don’t know the 616 FF that well. I will say Millar’s run on ULTIMATE FF was really awesome but they aren’t the O.G.s (that’s original gangsters for those of you who weren’t allowed (or scared) to listen to 90s west coast rap). So I set off on a journey of my own to rediscover the Fantastic ones and I’m damn glad I did.
Less is more when it comes to a lot of things and I believe comic books fall into this category. If a writer can get through a comic with out bogging it down with too much talk (NEW AVENGERS) or, in the case of some Fantastic Four comics, nonsensical science jargon and get to the root of what they are trying to say it makes the comic more enjoyable. Hickman is excellent in this regard; his scientific talk is complicated but it’s really not that hard to understand. Not only that, if you just flip through the book there’s not a lot of dialog at all. Hickman leaves a lot of room for Dale Eaglesham to shine on these pages and shine he does. Another great thing about this comic is that it doesn’t say “To be continued…” even though we are pretty sure there is going to be some resolution to the threat presented. I know that’s a small thing to appreciate but I like to pick up a single issue of a comic and not feel like I HAVE to commit to 4-6 issues. I kind of love that time when I was a kid buying comics and I would just have random issues that worked great as one issue stories and there was no promise I would ever see the next issue. I realize most of these stories had “To be continued…” at the end, but as a kid that really just added to the enjoyment because there was the feeling that I may never find out (I bought my comics at a little pharmacy drug store in the mall and they rarely ever had issues in sequential order). Now that I am aware of comic shops I have access to every issue and since I am a weird completist (up until recently...the price hike killed it for me...guess it’s a good thing) so if I bought issue one of a story arc I’d get the rest just so I had the complete story. That said, I do believe that most writers aren’t concerned with “one and done” comics and so most write stories with multiple issues in mind. This is not the case with this Fantastic Four as the last three issues really could have been read by themselves and could be enjoyed with a rudimentary knowledge of the FF. The story in this book is really good even though the antagonist’s plan isn’t really anything new and is a plan that nearly every maniacal villain has wanted or attempted to do but the way the events are laid out in this story make this plan reasonable. Ben Grimm has a line in the issue that really sums up Hickman’s run thus far: “Heh. Just like old times.” One really important aspect of writing something like FANTASTIC FOUR that has such a long legacy (but really hasn’t been that awesome in a while) is to take these characters back to basics. What I mean by this is find that core formula that everyone loves (in this case, the Fantastic Four as the world’s premier explorers) and let them do what they do best.
Hickman gets back to basics while forging a new chapter in the Fantastic Four’s lives that is different and new but old and familiar at the same time. Some of the things I love (keep in mind that I’ve probably read about 28 Fantastic Four stories total) are particularly how Sue and Johnny Storm manifest their powers. Johnny not only can turn his body into an ummm human torch but he can also see heat signatures (did not know this). Sue can not only turn herself invisible but she can see through things. Sorry but this is all new to me and I’m sure if this has been going on for a while I’ll read about it in the talkbacks but I was excited to have these powers used differently than I’ve seen in past FF books. A lot of little things in this make me appreciate this comic book more, like in this issue some potential threats start emerging from the darkness and Sue is already half way invisible or in the last issue where the FF were in the arctic and Johnny was wearing basically beach clothing was really amusing to me, I love shit like that. Now to the art, the only artist (in my opinion) comparable to Dale Eaglesham is Jim Lee. Hold on hold on…let me explain. Their artwork looks nothing alike but the attention to detail, the smooth line work and accurate proportions are all things that both artists have in common. Eaglesham’s artwork is amazing and I dare you, no triple dog dare to try to find a flaw on the splash page toward the end of the book or any other page for that matter (if you do find one I guarantee you are reaching).
This book fires on all cylinders from the back to basics story approach, to the not overtly bogged down dialog (I think Ben says about 4 things in this comic but all of his comments are dead on), to the alternate ways the FF’s powers are used, to the little details, to the absolutely gorgeous art work, this book is definitely worth a read and with that I’ll end it like this:
1. This book is cool as Billy Dee Williams in a blizzard drinking a milk shake. 2. Dale Eaglesham = Art god! 3. Less is more and Hickman delivers on that (take note Bendis) 4. I can now prove my friend Josh wrong and that’s the best part.


Writer: AJ Lieberman Artist: Riley Rossmo Publisher: Image Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Now that this title has gotten itself to the end of its first arc – and what a weird and wild ride that has been – I think it might be time to kind of dissect what this title has to offer, for good and for bad, with wild praise and a little tough love. Though, to make that last part seem ominous would be disingenuous, because I really dig the hell out of this book, and my bad cop routine really boils down to just a couple quibbles that I have after soaking up a handful of these little ditties. The story of the COWBOY NINJA VIKING thus far, honestly, has actually struck me with its cleverness. What could easily have just been a play on popular geek tropes has managed instead to play itself out as bit of an espionage book with a playful head trip for a premise. But everything is not perfect, and this is the part where I try and extol as many virtues as I can while making with the conductive criticism. That is the name of the gig after all, besides using bandwidth to get in cheap pot shots at the Big Two…
What I still really like about this book is that it has really owned what it is. It’s eccentric, very much so really, and it’s a little goofy but it has the right grasp on the need to play things straight here and there. And I like the direction of the story honestly. I like the conflict arising between some key players who made some very, very dangerous toys and I enjoy how goddamned bent those toys are given what they are capable of. It is both strangely endearing and sadistic and makes for some very entertaining comic booking. Conversely, and I’m not sure if this is an execution hitch, or a sign this book will probably read better in collected format (first TPB out in a couple weeks I believe, BTW), or more a sign I just try and pay attention to too many damned comics and my information retention is off, but this book has become quite crowded and fast in the past couple issues.
Not only have a lot of players shown up, but the majority of these players are three players in one due to their triplet nature. There is a method that is very creative in its own way that has been used to show off what kinds of personalities the tri-split triplets have and which ones are speaking up/acting at the time - either a shot of that character in the traditional garb associated with that job class, or a special word balloon icon, or both - and that was very clever and useful when in the first three issues we were introduced to only three triplets. But now, now we’ve got at least a half dozen running around, all with traits ranging from Conquistador to Roadie and it’s occasionally backfiring. Again, it could be just that this information might be better absorbed with one dedicated read through in a sitting, or some rereads or whatever, but going from issue to issue this is the one thing that has kind of glared at me as a little off putting. From plotting and storytelling aspects though, everything else has been pretty much aces.
And the same goes for the art chores as well: Except for a minor quibble I have with the mono-chromatic approach, I think Riley Rossmo’s art is pretty much sublime. I love his character designs and I enjoy the “sketchiness” that he has to his lines and how much detail they convey. I’ve just rarely seen a monochrome coloring scheme that didn’t hinder as much as it helped, and this is not really an exception. There’s just something about it, especially when the color used is a very “loud” one, as this issue’s yellow hue is, that tends to overwhelm the eyes and really wear them out after a while. It’s not so bad with cooler colors; the first issue of this was done with a light blue that was pleasant and I remember CASANOVA’s use of a greenish tint its first volume that was one of the few great examples of this, but it’s a fine line to walk if you are going to go this route. If it means that we continue to get Mr. Rossmo’s material on this in a timely manner, then by all means I’ll suck it up and be grateful, but if possible I think I’d prefer to see a departure from it.
Other than those two qualms I probably overstated above, I still am really digging on this book. It’s got great tone, delightfully playful dialogue and action sequences and is, more often than not, a visual feast. Now that a lot of the base work for this saga of this cadre of disturbed individuals has been laid out, I’m eager to see what kind of multiple-personality shenanigans they get into and what other hodgepodges of violence Lieberman and Rossmo come up with to pump up the mayhem.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


Writer: Jonathan Maberry Artist: Scott Eaton Inker: Andy Lanning, Robert Campanella Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: William

Boring, boring, boring book. I want my $4 back Marvel. That’s the feeling I got when I finished reading this issue.
Myself being a huge Dr. Doom fan, I noticed this issue last week at my local comic book shop and immediately picked it up. Anything featuring Dr. Doom has to be good, right? Wrong. A Dr. Doom issue is only good if a) he’s in it a lot, and b) he actually does what the cover promises him to do.
First off, look at the cover here. Besides it being a pretty botched cover by John Romita Jr., who looks like he sketched this cover on the Sunday evening before it was due the next morning, it promises much more than what’s actually inside. A Dr. Doom fight featuring him going up against Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine all at the same time? Count me in. Who wouldn’t want to read such an epic tussle as that. Except upon reading the entire issue, Doom never even comes close to doing this. Instead he’s relegated to holding Storm hostage outside of some Vibranium vault, while the three heroes and T’Challa (former Black Panther) fight to get to him. Sure the heroes fight alongside some newer female Black Panther, and mixed in there are a bunch of bald-headed women who look like Asajj Ventress clones, but it’s not quite the same impact.
The big promised tussle though is apparently going to happen between Dr. Doom and the original Black Panther, T‘Challa. The Black Panther? Could Marvel have picked any less of an interesting character to go up against Doom? What, was one of the West Coast Avengers like Wonder Man not available? Seriously Marvel, if you’re going to hype this series so much, at least make the main protagonist somebody that’ll catch people’s attention. Like Hulk going against Dr. Doom, or Thor going against Dr. Doom, or Magneto and so forth. Instead, the former Black Panther? No matter how much writer Jonathan Maberry tries to make it seem like the two are destined archrivals (one part has Doom quoting something like he and T’Challa have been perfectly matched for many, many years), it just definitely seemed forced and cheesy.
The only saving grace here is the great artwork by Scott Eaton. Damn near perfect in realism, while still allocating enough comic book exaggerations. His Dr. Doom is a great interpretation for other artists to follow.
I have no plans on getting the third issue of this series as this one remains much of a letdown. Unless the next issue promises (and hopefully doesn’t falsify this time) a major fight between Dr. Doom and at least one of the other three heroes, there’s not much point to picking it up. I only recommend this issue for any Black Panther fan out there, as you get plenty of this d-list character here.


Writer: Robert James Russell Art: James Emmett Publisher: Saint James Reviewer: Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

The Saint James gang is back with another EX OCCULTUS one-shot titled SEAL OF SOLOMON and I can tell you without censure that Robert James Russell isn’t dicking around with his title. There are no metaphors here – this is about the actual Seal of Solomon. If you’re too lazy to Google it I’ll give you the cliff notes: King Solomon had a ring and it supposedly grants its bearer the ability to summon demons and talk to animals. While it hasn’t been that big a deal since the invention of LSD, back in 1874 Bulgaria it was pretty much the talk of the town. Fortunately for the sake of this book the baddest tandem this side of Sofia, Wakefield and Hollander, are already on the scene.
Our boys are hired by one shady character to retrieve the ring from another shady character. Fairly simple -- though I initially expected the Seal to be a bit harder to locate. Here it comes at the hands of a Silas Barnaby clone who conveniently draws a line to where the Seal can be found. He’s offering a sack of gold for its safe return but doesn’t exactly shower us with his motivations. No matter. Wakefield and Hollander have their shit together and their pursuit of the ring is where SEAL OF SOLOMON really shines.
What I like most about this book is how Russell slowly peels back the layers of his narrative so that as we get further into the story we begin to understand that returning the ring to its rightful (?) owner is just a small piece of this supernatural puzzle. There’s one scene in particular that has our heroes conquering a horde of undead assassins in a way that rewards you with one of those “Aha!” light bulb moments. Wakefield and Hollander may be in it for the money but goddamn it they definitely do their homework. It’s a fantastic moment with real detective work and some bona fide ass-kicking. Comics 101.
The artwork by James Emmett also deserves recognition because he effectively applies mood and atmosphere in an understated tone that compliments the story instead of turning it into an animated resume. I especially liked the washed out colors and heavy brush. So many artists make an effort to get themselves noticed at the expense of the story but Emmett wisely lets his work speak for itself -- and it’s a home run. One panel in particular is a brilliant overhead shot that shames the mise en scene in many of today’s mainstream titles.
Saint James has done it again with EX OCCULTUS: SEAL OF SOLOMON. What’s billed as a story about a magical ring is really an examination of characters who all seem to know what their motivations are but never want to share them with anyone else – including the reader. Trying to figure out where each piece goes on the chess board before the characters do makes SEAL OF SOLOMON an engaging and rewarding book that can hold its own with any title on the shelf today. My one complaint? It’s only a one-shot. More please.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Artist: Pablo Raimondi and Tim Seeley Inker: Victor Olazaba Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

It’s amazing to me what Abnett and Lanning have done with the whole “space opera” gig. Marvel tried time and again (and finally succeeded, at least for a time, with the Ultimate universe) to explicitly create another continuum for their tales. But a handful of titles, helmed mostly by A&L, have quietly done exactly that. And I couldn’t be happier they chose to include the Inhumans in their revitalizing circle of friends that have brought new life to other titles that deserved it.
I remember the dog days of the Inhumans, all the way back to their ill-fated debut title (with that great Gil Kane artwork) that only lasted a few issues. And through the years, they’ve come back, and for the most part doing the same things over and over.
Black Bolt was strong and silent. Medusa was loyal and anguished. Gorgon was the hothead, etc. And Maximus rose to each occasion, the perpetual Dr. Doofensmirtz of each episodic drama.
But not this time. And I won’t spoil the ending. But I’m genuinely interested to see what happens, the dynamic between the various members of the royal family is quite intriguing to me for the first time in years, and I’m ready to see how they plug in to the rest of the Marvel Universe in space. Between Black Bolt’s absence, the Inhuman’s rise to empiric power, Medusa’s personal journey, even Crystal’s unlikely romance with a mostly domesticated Ronan…I’m hooked. Really. I’ve looked forward to this title each month.
Our two artists were able to put together a consistent package, mostly due to Olazaba’s consistent inks. I had to go back to see who drew what, and overall, very nicely done.
So how will this tie together with what’s going on with the FANTASTIC FOUR? I don’t know…but man, I’m looking forward to finding out.


By Fumi Yoshinaga Released by Viz Media Reviewer: Scott Green

If you want to see steam rise from the skull of a manga fan, suggest that the medium obeys a "house style." From the minimalism of Natsume Ono to photorealistic Ryoichi Ikegami (CRYING FREEMAN), that notion is demonstrably incorrect, and it's amazing that you'll still hear it articulated by people you'd think would be better informed. Then, there is a corollary, more implicit idea that manga projects a consistent tone; that it's always marked by hysterical bombast. ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS is anything but reserved and not entirely naturalistic either, but if you do have those preconceptions about manga, the work will be eye opening.
At the Anime Boston convention, I took part in a manga commentator round table. One of the questions that came up was "what current manga will be remembered 30 years from now?" I didn't get a chance to promote my designation of "bookshelf manga" for works that exceed the transitory moment in the spotlight enjoyed by the majority of even the well read and respected manga. That said, I didn't disagree with the momentum towards declaring Fumi Yoshinaga's gender minded alternate history OOKU a contender for manga that may be remembered and revisited decades from now.
ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS is characterized by less importance than Ooku, but nearly as much craft. The five, connected short stories were published in Hakusensha's anthology MELODY. Technically, that's a shoujo (for teenage or younger female demographics) magazine and not a josei (older female readers, women's) one. Yet, as shoujo goes, MELODY can and ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS does feel more appropriate for older readers. There's a little exposed skin and some talk of sex, but the distinction is not that there's much to blush at here. (My personal, most embarrassing manga story involves Moyocco Anno's josei title HAPPY MANIA, having to exchange a damaged copy, only to have the store clerk open the volume to a somewhat graphic sex scene). The differentiating factor here owes more to the subjects and the attitudes involved. My reductive take is that manga for younger audiences are largely about aspiration (with plenty of counter examples). Be the best. Achieve some honor, some social objective, some romantic objective. In contrast, manga for older audiences are largely about reconsolidation (with plenty of counter examples)... dealing with a lot in life or with personal failings.
Much of ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS is about how characters got to where they are, and how they'll live with that. Yoshinaga's masterstroke is balancing a fine line between the shorthand used to draw out characters for fiction and conveying convincing humanity. The first story opens with a widowed mother berating her teenage daughter for the messy state of their apartment, for the daughter's habit of leaving stacks of manga in the bathroom and other minor domestic crimes. Daughter accuses mother of taking frustrations out on her, to which mother responds "you're right. that's exactly what I'm doing... parents are human. Sometimes they have bad moods! If you think everything is always going to be fair, then you're greatly mistaken!"
As in that scene, ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS can be very much on the nose. When I divorce myself from the effect of the manga and start thinking about the mechanics, I see that it drifts into the limiting pattern in which what shapes a person's development can be pinned to an identifiable catalyst. Yet, it's never cheap or easy. The reactions that Yoshinaga evoke are never simple, and as such, the manga never violates a suspension of disbelief in regards to its characters.
That first story reapproaches Yukiko in her thirties. She's an unmarried professional, still living with her mother, Mari. After Mari survives a serious cancer scare, she decides to live her life how she'd want to from then on. Yukiko internally retorts that she wasn't aware that her mother hadn't been doing that previously. The fall out is that Mari brings home a new husband, a couple years Yukiko's junior. Furthermore, the guy is an actor/model/whatever... or more specifically, an ex-host (to quote the end notes "host clubs are a type of bar that caters to female patrons. Attractive men pour drinks, flit and make conversations with the patrons.")
The pieces are here for melodrama, but that's not the route that Yoshinaga takes. Instead, the remarriage is a provocation that manifests itself in the mundane. Cooking. Bathroom use. Little signifiers of what's being thought and how relationships are functioning. Beyond that, the manga masterfully captures flustering moments and testy conversations. It evokes the spirit of moments that sets once head spinning... the conversation with your parent that you don't want to have yet again; listening to the anecdote that inspires unease; thinking back to a high school conversation that doesn't sit well with the course of adult life.
In the past, I've applied an "overheard conversation" test to dramatic manga. If I heard these characters discussing their problem in a public venue, would I listen in? I'm inclined to think that these characters wouldn't be offering up anything fascinating or salacious. And yet, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this manga since first reading it a month ago.
In ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS, Yoshinaga excels at overlapping particulars with universals. The specifics are mother/daughter dynamics, how women are or aren't shaped by relationships with their lovers, and how these women work their way through Japanese society. These aren't matters that I personally relate to or towards which I'm personally inclined to be interested. Yet, if you're over a certain age, you can relate to the need to deal with difficult relationships, past mistakes and matters that turned out differently than might have been hoped for. And, "deal" is the operative verb. Raging and weeping aren't over accentuated. As this may sound, it is not escapist but not monumental or important. As such the retort to a recommendation is likely "why bother?" ALL MY DARLING DAUGHTERS is manga that resonates, that'll leave you thinking about the decisions its characters made and how they arrived at those decisions.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over eight years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column every week on AICN.

Hey all, Ambush Bug here with another handful of independent comics worth hollering about. Be brave and step away from the mainstream path and take a chance on one of these comics outside of the norm.

RED MOON OGN Cossack Comics

RED MOON has been a long time coming (I remember reading and previewing/reviewing it here on AICN about a year ago), but it’s finally going to be released and after reading it, it's definitely worth the wait. This is a must read for those who love to anthromorphize and wonder what kind of adventures animals get into when humans aren't around. You know the theory that animals can sense earthquakes and other natural disasters before they occur? This story builds off of that belief as a gentle hearted dog has visions of destruction and a red moon while trying to survive for the first time out of the protection of his own yard. This is a graphic novel filled with high stakes adventure and consequences dire. A lot of work has been put into this book, from the complex story to the absolutely beautiful art. This is top notch comic booking from cover front to cover back and necessary reading for those of you who enjoyed comics like PRIDE and WE3.

MYTHOI: BIRTH #B4 Semantink Publishing

This was a quick read, but one I won’t soon forget. Though I’ve never read a book from Semantink Publishing, the mission statement touting quality over quantity and the quality of the story that follows guarantees that I’ll be looking for more books from this new indie company. This issue of MYTHOI: BIRTH follows the bloody battle between the son of a god and a group of humans who wish to gain favor from the gods through sacrificing families. Unfortunately for our hero, his family is the sacrifice. What transpires next is bloody and filled with tension and action. James Ninness’ story is a simple one, but told in the boldest of strokes resulting in an engrossing read and Jed Soriano’s art is bloody gleeful. There’s a lot of bloody fun to be had with this tale of gods run amok. Can’t wait to read more.

SILVER BULLET #1 Ronin Studios

This is a very clever and funny take on super heroes. The Silver Bullet is an extremely powerful hero, but the world is hoping that this blundering oaf will be wiped out by some menace. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, the Bullet battles an alien in space where no one can hear sound modifiers. There is a clever running gag of sound not being heard in space that makes for some fun comic book reading here. I especially love the sound modifier “The sound of time being ripped asunder!” This is a damn fun comic, one fans of goof-erific comics such as AMBUSH BUG and DEADPOOL would appreciate. All hell breaks loose as the Silver Bullet makes friends with a tribe that continuously screams “NUTSACK!” and battles an army of alien robots that all say “Skizzle.” If you find this as funny as I do, you’ve got to check SILVER BULLET out.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years and one of the original @$$holes. Check out his comic book shorts from Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics and here and here about his comic from Bluewater Comics, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1-2. Look for more comics from Bug in 2010, including ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS DEATHSPORT in July, and the just announced vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK in August (and check out Jazma Online’s new interview with Bug about NANNY & HANK here). Bug’s latest comic is VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #16: WITCHFINDER GENERAL on sale July 2010. Fanboy Radio recently interviewed Bug about it here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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