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Thursday, Jan 21, 2010

[Note: Even though the plot seems pretty far from primary when experiencing this head-trip of a book, the following contains details that could be considered “spoilers.”]


The Box Man starts and ends with a kappa, and we see everything it does. The creature hops on the back of a passing scooter, bringing us along as it observes and becomes part of an incredibly strange adventure.


The kappa is “easily the single most famous yokai in Japan”, according to Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Among its other, nastier traits, the child-sized water-monster has a beak-like mouth and a shell like a turtle, and it likes to cause trouble.


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Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010

I was in third grade when I first heard about Spawn. On the bus ride to elementary school, my friends and I would always take some action figures, comic books, trading cards or something to entertain ourselves. But who were we kidding, we were really trying to show off. I would take my comic books thinking, “My friends will be totally impressed by this!” Back then, all it took to impress us was a flashy cover, and a cool looking hero. My Night Thrasher #1 was pretty impressive by those standards. However, the one that really captured us was my friend’s Spawn #1. He was a dark and mysterious hero, with incredible power, searching for revenge on those who ruined his life… and he used swear words. To a third-grader, it does not get much cooler than that.


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Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010

Back in 2000 there was a cool, clear logic to the Marvel Universe. Or at least to the Marvel Universes. There was the regular universe, the universe of “Earth-616”, a longstanding reality in Marvel’s Multiverse. This world housed all the characters that featured so prominently over Marvel’s thitherto 40 years of publications. There was the Mangaverse, its own distinction from the regular universe was clear. The Mangaverse was a place to re-encounter old favorites, this time their origins, histories and motivations interpreted through the cultural lens of manga.


Then there was the Ultimate Universe.


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Monday, Jan 18, 2010

In this week’s Iconographies Shawn O’Rourke continues his series of features on Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub. This installment offers a deeper appreciation of the 28 volume story cycle as an example of the epic genre in literature. Drawing on the work of such literary scholars as Timothy B. Shutt and Raymond Queneau, O’Rourke illustrates how the grim depiction of a masterless samurai wandering the land in search of revenge, redeems not only the samurai code of honor, but the medium of comics as well.


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Thursday, Jan 14, 2010

The first story in the first issue of Crime SuspenStories presents an interesting case of a tale that reverberates back and forth through the last half of the twentieth century.


First published in October 1950 by the notorious EC Comics, Crime SuspenStories #1 opens with “Murder May Boomerang,” drawn and most likely written by the legendary Johnny Craig. In the 2007 EC Archives edition, author Max Allan Collins notes that “Murder” was probably inspired by the short story “Revenge,” by Samuel Blas, which had appeared in a 1947 issue of Collier’s magazine.


In Blas’s story, a husband seeks to avenge his wife’s rape, while in the EC Comics version, a son is driven to murder after his father is brutally attacked. In both stories, the crime that sets off the quest for vengeance is random, the victim beloved by someone, and the bleak, ambiguous “moral” seems to be that every act of violence haunts the victim and perpetrator forever; one brutal act can never erase a previous one.


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