2021 Comics/Manga/Graphic Novel Thread (Image Intensive)

It’s a new year so I reckon it is time for a new thread.

My brother got me this book of the original Flash Gordon comics for Christmas.

I was not terribly familiar with Flash prior to this beyond knowing he was a character that existed in the periphery of my mind and that the comic was an early adventure/pulp tale. I hope the below image does some of this work justice because the comics is wild fun.

Flash is a Yale graduate and world renowned polo player–I love that this is all we are given for a biography–who, in the opening page, parachutes out of a plane with a woman (who is later ret-conned to be his love (or maybe she was always his love… the comic is not really big on characters or backstories)), and then abducted by a scientist in a spaceship that the scientist plans to fly at a meteor that is going to crash into the earth. They stop the meteor, crash land on a planet, and things basically never slow down from there. I have read maybe twenty pages and Flash has fought like a dozen dragon-like creatures, numerous men, and taught himself how to fly a spaceship or two.

Extremely casual 1930s racism aside (the villainous emperor of the planet Mongo is described as “yellow” along with his general presentation while the noble, primitive group fighting the empire are all white and celebrate Flash’s whiteness) this has been a fun weird read.

The last comic I read was The House by Paco Roca, the story of three siblings remembering their recently departed father via his old vacation house.
It’s a short, emotional story and I liked it, the art is excellent as well.


Recently finished The Batman Who Laughs by Snyder and Jock. There were some definite gaps in my Batman lore for this one, but I was able to amble along with the story fairly well.
There’s a mirror universe in the Batman world where everyone is their worst selves, and the worst Batman is one who was Jokerfied at some point. I missed all the lore explaining how he can cross dimensions, has something to do with dark metal.
I generally like multiverse shenanigans and this story has a lot of them, overall it wasn’t bad. For as dark as the story is, it teeters onto the side of goofy Batman, which has never been my favorite side of the character.

I have been reading Naruto because it is free on the Viz/Shonen Jump app. I did not really know what to expect going into it. My familiarity with Naruto prior to starting was simply it was a pop cultural juggernaut, people made jokes about how they run, and the story probably followed a standard shonen arc.

I am now at the halfway point and I am surprised by how much I enjoy it. Aside from a pretty engaging story, a solid cast of supporting characters, I have been really impressed by Masashi Kishimoto’s art and page composition. There are these lovely splash pages detailing city/village life and the he employs splash pages to great effect during battles and tenser moments.

I definitely do not have anything profound to say about the series and I do not know how groundbreaking it really may be but I will say, as one who keeps accidentally reading well past my bedtime, the series has been a whole lot of fun.

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Just because it came up in a recent question bucket segment on the podcast: Sunny, by Taiyou Matsumoto, is absolutely one of the strongest pieces of comics I’ve read in a long long time. The story of the kids and teens who live in a group home/orphanage and the broken down car in the backyard they go to when they want to dream of a different life. Will break your heart in the best way.

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I read the first two volumes of Taku Kuwabara’s Drifting Dragons over the weekend. It’s essentially a slice-of-life story about fantasy whalers who hunt dragons. There is a cooking component a la Delicious in Dungeon but not nearly as prevalent and, beyond the fact that the story is set on airships and is about hunting dragons, the fantasy elements are kind muted as well.

It’s… I kind of struggle because, on the one hand, I have been enjoying the slow introduction of the characters on the ship, the sort of quiet quality of the story telling, and think the art–particularly the dragon designs–is really pleasant. On the other hand, this is a story about whaling and so it features the hunting, killing, and butchering of creatures that appear to be largely peaceful. These dragons are, to repeat the comparison, whale-like creatures in that they appear to be predominantly passive and there has been nothing in the story to suggest they were ever a real threat to humanity. I cannot figure out if Kuwabara is intending this as some sort of “pro-whaling” message and I only mention that because I think this is a subject that cannot be presented without some commentary. You know? Like, it’s hard to talk about whaling, be it contemporary or historical, without having some sort of opinion on the practice.

There have been moments in which the story or a character will appear to be suggesting that there is something brutal and barbaric about the practice but they always veer away from explicitly making that point. It’s kind of weird and uncomfortable and definitely fumbles and fails where Laois and Senshi in Delicious in Dungeon are all about respecting and encouraging a symbiotic coexistence with nature and the inhabitants of the dungeon.

Having said all of that, I plan to stick with it for a bit more because pages like this sure are wonderful.