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Ongoing Investigations: Case #138

September 16, 2011

 After finishing up Burn Notice S4, I jumped to the webcomic before we start the fifth season. Burn Notice: A New Day bridges the two seasons but does not answer the ultimate question about Michael’s facial hair! The 12-parts play out like a typical episode of the series but in this case they are also working with the CIA. They’ve got everyone’s voices down pretty well, too. The real downside is the artwork which isn’t great a lot of the time touting some weird facial expressions and wonky eyes. A fun read, worthwhile, and a second part is planned for the end of the month as the show takes a break until November.

NOOO! I am caught up with the current release of translated Jojo’s by blazing through volumes 7  though 20. But since Steel Ball Run is 24 volumes I am so close to the ending I can taste it but so far away it makes me want to weep. I mean they are in the middle of fighting the evil super powered and seemingly invincible president of the United States. The president killed dinosaur Dio Brando. Who can stop him now? While the story has moved a bit more in the direction of Stand fighting the race is always a tense highlight when they get to a checkpoints. I will say for being the star of the first chapter of the arc Sandman certainly has a smaller role than I expected when he whips out his stand. He sort of goes down like a punk. This arc has been every bit as crazy as I had hoped it would be and twice as awesome. I am surprised it lived up to my expectations as they were fairly high but I was not in the least disappointed. My only regret is now I must wait for more.


Laddertop vol. 1 is not as bad as the 10-page preview I read seemed, but it still ends up in the middle of the road category. This reads like an all ages sci-fi manga with kid-friendly humor. Unfortunately, those attempts at humor suffer from trying too hard which just creates awkward spans. The story itself seems fine enough, even if nothing remarkable about it came to light. Laddertop takes place in a world where a long time ago aliens came and gave technology to power Earth for humans, but the only people who can maintain it are children. The story follows Robbi and her best friend Azure as they train and compete to work in the laddertop in space. As can be imagined there is a lot more to this alien tech, the government, and more mysteries just keep popping up. With Card even though the story is about kids that doesn’t mean things won’t get complicated and intense later on. And surprisingly, I thought it started off okay but then trips over itself trying to be clever and cute for the rest of the book. I did find the Robbi’s ending decision pretty shocking ini a good way though I’m not sure I believe it’ll come to anything. Laddertop was okay, better than I imagined, but not much of a hook.

As much as people often have this set image in their head of what manga looks like there are as many styles of manga art as there are stars in the sky. On the other hand whenever they get a random artist to draw in “manga style” for a popular author it always seems to look like some read 2 or 3 really bad learn to draw manga books and then went to town on some paper. I distinctly that get the feeling that Orson Scott Card wanted to write something with his daughter Emily Janice Card and then they decide to make a comic together. And why not do it in that popular manga style. And this is the result. It is not horrible (although the art is sort of horrible) but it is also not that good as well. It has the feel of a mediocre young adult novel. And young adult literature does not have to be mediocre. This just seems to have all the trappings of a very boilerplate sci-fi kids story. But you can take those seemingly cliché trappings and make them into something wonderful. This book never takes any of the tropes of the genre and does anything but the most rote things with them.  I don’t mind the plot device that makes it so only children can maintain the space ladder but it does not help the book’s case as well. Also they bring up the fact that Robbi’s dad is abusive and make it the main reason she does not want to wanting to go into space in fear of abandoning her  younger sisters. But then they seemingly drop that storyline far too abruptly for my taste. You can’t have something like that rear its head so prominently and then just throw into a plot thread storage locker. She does not have to dwell on it ever other page but it just seems to be almost forgotten once she decides to go to space. Overall I feel like there are some good seeds for a grand story but none of them look to be growing into anything that engages me. I want to like this series but it leaves me with little to enjoy about it.

I finally got a chance to read some Captain America solo. Winter Soldier throws you into the thick of things, this is no origin story. But classic elements such as the Red Skull and the cosmic cube are present. A plot is being hatched that will be triggered in different areas all over the world and S.H.E.I.L.D. enlists Cap for some help. The build up to the reveal is rather obvious even without the title of this book. I like how the present story was told in duality with Cap’s memories. The World War II parts are very well done and really enhanced the bold line and shadowed style. But when thinking on it, this book doesn’t feel like a superhero comic most of the time.

While Narutaki is going to do a whole article on the new DC reboot there are one or two titles that I have read that she has not. I decided to check out the new Action Comics #1. My youngest brother is a huge Superman fan so I had to check out this reinvention of the character. I will say that they have made some major changes to his well-known image. First of all it seems that the media in the DC universe now has a very mixed opinion on Superman and many people wonder if he is a threat. Being that Clark Kent works for a newspaper BUT Superman is hated by some of the press gives him an unmistakable Spiderman vibe. Also they seem to have dropped Superman’s boy scout image and have him threatening crooked industrialists by dropping them off buildings and only saving them at the last second as a warning.  He is not the Punisher now but he is distinctly more Batman than he ever was before. Superman is not totally unrecognizable but they are giving him more of an edge. I am curious how much this new take on the character drives away the die-hard Superman fans and how much it win over people who used to think he was bland.

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