Illustrated by Nekokurage
Maomao is an apothecary who gets snatched up in a forest and sold into indentured servitude to the Imperial Palace. There, she’s tried to keep her head down so her kidnappers don’t earn much off her, but when she figures out the “curse” killing all the Emperor's children is really a poison, she is discovered as a learned person and an apothecary, and promoted to a lady-in-waiting for the Emperor's favorite concubine. She becomes an official taste tester for the concubine. A noble and administrator of the Emperor's court, Jinshi, has other plans for Maomao and her talents, but she seems to be immune to his tactics of seduction and persuasion.
Black Widow (2014), Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread, illustrated by Phil Noto
Natasha takes odd jobs in between missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. because she needs the money. She and her lawyer discuss the intricate web of safe houses as well as the trust funds she has set up that she must pay to maintain. Natasha is doing all of this to atone for her passed actions, so the implication is she is paying into trust funds that benefit the families of those she assassinated. She accepts various jobs to rescue folks, foil assassination attempts, and other feats of espionage, but she’s gotten too comfortable. She’s started to miss signs of danger, signs that someone has it in for her.
Futaba and Taichi discuss their future plans, specifically what colleges they'd like to attend. Futaba confesses that she would like to do something with flowers, but also knows she's currently not very skilled with growing things. She tells Taichi that she would like it if they could go to college together, but this life-altering decision isn't often one to make based off of a relationship. Masumi runs in to Toma's sister-in-law, Akiko, and the two have a very meaningful conversation about happiness and being accepted by other people. Masumi admits to being a lesbian, and asks if Akiko would be able to accept such a confession from her on child, or even Toma. At the end of the school's festival day, Mami Yagihara convinces Toma to let her do his makeup, in a totally manly way of course. Mami confesses her love for Toma, but says she wants to be friends and not let her feelings spoil their ability to hang out. Toma tells Mami who he's in love with, but there's an eavesdropper who makes sure Toma's confession isn't private.
Book 1: The Flight of the Prince, illustrated by Michael Dialynas
Wynd is trying to be the typical boy in Pipetown - one of the last human settlements that has strict laws against anything magical or with “weirdblood.” Meanwhile, the king is on his deathbed, daily making his son promise to uphold the Blood Laws that have kept the humans of Pipetown safe from magical infection. The prince decides this isn’t the way he wants to rule, and he sneaks out in the middle of the night to find his uncle, The Duke, who has a much nicer outlook on magical folk. The king calls back his best enforcer, The Bandaged Man, to root out any other weirdbloods, and, of course, Wynd catches his attention. Wynd's adoptive mother plans the Prince's escape out of Pipetown in exchange for bringing Wynd to safety, but the plan doesn't go quite as expected. Wynd, his adoptive sister Oakley, Prince Yorik, and Yorik's trusted friend Thorn try to escape the pursuit of the King's Men, and begin to see the world maybe isn't what they thought it was.
Long ago, witches were persecuted and killed and blamed for all the wrong in society. Those who survived the fires of the stakes became the power behind many countries, allying themselves with kings and world rulers in order to stay alive. Now, these witches are indispensable and must be trained at an elite school. Alice is a top witch at the school, and she gets paired up with Mari, a seemingly talentless, nearly human who fails at everything and falls asleep in class constantly. While mentoring Mari, Alice discovers Mari’s immense power: she can resurrect. The other students become jealous of the amount of time Alice is spending with Mari, so they summon a demon to get rid of her. What they didn’t anticipate is that Alice may have started falling in love with Mari, which is forbidden for witches - they’ll lose their powers if they ever fall in love!
Illustrated by Posuka Demizu
Norman forms an alliance with a demon clan that has been on the outs for 700 years, hoping a demon civil war will take out most of the demons’ society. Emma reveals to Norman that she doesn’t like his plan of demon genocide and wishes there was a peaceful way for everyone to coexist. She tells Norman of Mujika, and Norman reveals he has heard of her but thought she was dead. Her presence complicates his plan. Emma strikes a deal with Norman - she wants to go to the Seven Walls and try to rewrite the agreement between humans and demons so that no one, not humans and not demons, has to die. Emma and Ray set off to try to renegotiate the Seven Walls or find another way to save all the demons from genocide.
Vol 2: The Hollow Men, illustrated by Drew Zucker, illustrated by Vittorio Astone
At the end of the first book, Canto’s people leave Arcana to make a New Arcana. The first chapter is a short side-story where Canto frees some fairies from being tortured by an evil witch. Then, we go into New Arcana and see Canto and his friends in their new home. The Shrouded Man hasn’t come after them, but that’s probably because he has cursed their clocks to slowly wind down. Canto and a few friends decide to travel back to the Tower and confront the Shrouded Man, hoping to beat their clocks and get the curse reversed. Along the way, they are attacked by The Furies, and Canto realizes that not all of his friends can come with him. He reaches his destination and hopes he has found a magic that can take down the Shrouded Man. Canto’s journey is definitely not over here, and the nice cliffhanger will have fans scrambling for the next volume.
Palace intrigue becomes deeper with a royal delegation arriving from another neighboring kingdom. The king of Belquat orders Nakaba’s hair to be died black so they can hide their shame from their new visitors, but instead, Nakaba cuts her hair off, and Caesar does as well in solidarity. Caesar also puts Loki into his personal guard so that Loki is more protected from the king, not knowing Loki’s plans to fight against the Royal Family. Ankara is confined to quarters for the duration of the visit, but that of course doesn’t stop her from venturing out. On one such occasion, she meets an emissary from the visiting party, and she can’t stop herself from seeing a vision. The visitor realizes what power Nakaba has and reveals he knows much about it, which intrigues Nakaba, but the visitor may have more nefarious intentions for Nakaba and her gift. He announces his intention to take Nakaba back to his kingdom, which instantly sets Caesar and Loki against this stranger.
Master Lindel, the mage who trained Elias, invites Chise back to the dragon sanctuary to work on her wand. While there, Lindel tells Chise of the time he met Elias. Elias was a wandering creature walking through the woods, and Lindel offered him food and to take him back to his master, where they tried to ascertain what he was, and where he was given the name Elias. Elias has no memory of a time before he was walking through the woods, but he confesses to Lindel that he thinks he may have eaten humans at one point. Lindel tells this as a caution to Chise, and so that she will have the courage to speak up to Elias and ask questions of him. Once her wand is complete, Chise uses it to travel back home with every intention of confronting Elias and making him open up to her about himself and about magic.
Satoru has woken from his 15 year coma and doesn’t remember a thing about the attempt on his life. While outside the hospital where he is receiving care, he find Airi-kun once again, although he can’t remember why he knows her and she certainly doesn’t know him. Then, a jolt of memory slips him back into a coma for another year where his mind works out all the jumbled memories he has from living life before revival. Meanwhile, the killer learns of Satoru’s second recovery, and he plots one last thrill of a lifetime to challenge Satoru and potentially murder more people. It’s up to Satoru to work it all out and save everyone, including himself again.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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