Midwest Book Review

March 2009

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. We accept no funds from authors or publishers.

Anne Steelyard And The Garden Of Emptiness GN Vol 1 (of 3)
Barbara Hambly
Penny Farthing Press
2000 W. Sam Houston Pkwy, South, Suite 550, Houston, TX 77042
9780971901292, $19.95, www (dot) pfpress (dot) com

Every now and then along comes an graphic novel that can be classified as not only a terrifically entertaining read, but a work of original literary excellence. Such is the case with Barbara Hambly's "Anne Steelyard And The Garden Of Emptiness: An Honorary Man", the first of a series of adventures set in the Middle East of first decade of the 20th century and featuring a strong-minded, independent, intelligence young woman who seeks to become a renowned archaeologist and who has been 'drafted' by her British government to serve as a secret agent in the complex political world of the Ottoman Turks, the Egyptians, and the forces that will erupt in just a few more years as the first global war. Superbly illustrated by the team of Alex Kosakowski and Ron Randall (and featuring an original cover by Glen Orbik), this is the first episode of an on-going saga that promises to be as complex and engaging as an real life adventure by such historical figures as Lawrence of Arabia or fictional Indiana Jones. Highly recommended reading, "Anne Steelyard And The Garden Of Emptiness: An Honorary Man" will leave you looking eagerly for the next volume of high adventure in this deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining series from Penny Farthing Press.

Image from Amazon
Dr. Slump Volume 17
Akira Toriyama

Viz Communications Inc.
295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
9781421519999, $7.99 www (dot) viz (dot) com 1-800-394-3042

Created a few years before the wildly popular Dragonball and Dragonball Z series, manga (Japanese comics) author Akira Toriyama's first weekly series, Dr. Slump is a racous, wildly funny action series filled with irreverent wacky gags and high-spirited fun. In volume 17, the creator of the universe (or maybe just a few planets) appears, determined to destroy the world for hosting too much conflict and suffering. But the semi-infantile, high-spirited Gatchans (angels?) distract him at every turn with their wild and joyful hijinks, and the kindness of one boy letting him sleep overnight keeps making him put off destroying the world for one more day. Then, a kindly vegetarian tiger-man is inconsolable over the loss of a bird he nursed to health, but a cheery young Gatchan/angel is determined to get him back to his old self by raising more pet birds with him! More quick, quirky, and all-around fun adventures (and a dash of potty humor, but only a dash) round out this playful collection. Dr. Slump volume 17 is as good a jumping-on point as any for anyone intrigued by Toriyama's debut manga series.

Heavens Will GN Vol 01
Heaven's Will GN Vol. 01
Satoru Takamiya
Viz Communications Inc.
295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
9781421522586, $8.99 www (dot) viz (dot) com 1-800-394-3042

Part of Viz Media's "Shojo Beat Manga" series, featuring Japanese graphic novels with a focus on characters' emotions and relationships, Heaven's Will is a stand-alone manga complete in one volume about a young girl with a paranormal gift and the mysterious allies she befriends. Sudou Mikuzu has the power to see ghosts, and it terrifies her - she is a focal point that attracts any number of hideous monsters! Seto, an exuberant, cross-dressing exorcist agrees to help her, and along for the ride is Seto's mysterious companion: Kagari, the blood-feeding demon. Seto's cross-dressing and obsession with "girly" things like cake hide a dark secret, though. Seto is not a transgender, but rather haunted by extreme survivor's guilt over the sister who died in his place. As Sudou draws closer to Seto, she better understands him and the feelings that drive him, but can she allow him to pursue his most fervent wish, even if it will ultimately bring about his destruction? Presented with "unflipped" right-to-left artwork as the creator originally drew it, Heaven's Will is an enthralling story of complex characters, highly recommended especially to fans of shojo manga and the occult.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. We accept no funds from authors or publishers. Full permission is given to post any of these reviews on thematically appropriate websites, newsgroups, listserves, internet discussion groups, organizational newsletters, or to interested individuals. Please give the Midwest Book Review a credit line when doing so.

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to:

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129

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James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review