Locke & Key Vol 6 by Joe Hill
Vol 6, Alpha and Omega: illustrated by Gabríel Rodriguez
Everything comes to a head on Prom Night with a post-dance Cave Rave for all of Lovecraft Academy. Ty doesn’t have a tux or a date to the prom, so he and Uncle Duncan work on restoring a classic Charger instead. That is, until Dunk gives him a "classy" tuxedo shirt that is sure to have the ladies swooning. Ty is intercepted by his ex-girlfriend Jordan, and the two don't make it to the Prom Kinsey is also present at the Prom, which means she and her friends find their way to the Cave Rave. Using the Crown of Shadows, Dodge plans to lure the unsuspecting teens to the Black Door to create a new world with him at the helm.
In this volume, the world gets a little bit bigger as we meet two outsiders from the Xing, a country across the Great Desert. First, we have May Chang, a young girl who practices something like alchemy but with daggers to make her transmutation circles. Then, there's Prince Ling Yao, who faints frequently from hunger, and travels with two extremely capable body guards. Both have come to Amestris seeking the secret of Immortal Life. Ling Yao refuses to let Edward out of his sight because he wants to learn Alchemy and suspects Ed knows more than hey's saying about the Philosopher stones. Meanwhile, after receiving repairs in Rush Valley from Winry, the brothers and Winry decide to travel to Central City, where they learn of a friend's murder. We also get an inside glimpse into the world of the homunculi and of the person they call Father.
A narrative shift happens in this novel as we focus on what’s happening with Su-Won. This picks up after the events of Awa while Su-Won is on a tour of the kingdom. He visits General Geun-Tae of the Earth Tribe and challenges him to a mock battle. Geun-Tae is hopeful that Su-Won will be like his father, instead of King Il, but Su-won’s meek nature irritates him. Su-won shows some of his ferocity during the battle, but more so ends up making Geun-Tae look wonderful in front of his subordinates, who desperately adore him. For the last chapter, we shift back to Yona as she searches for one of her companions to teach her how to use a sword. Hak won’t allow it because he feels it’s too dangerous and that she wouldn’t be able to overpower a man in battle anyway.
The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes
Illustrated by DJ Kirkland
Thomas Token has been invited to enroll in the elite St. Ivory Academy of Spellcraft and Sorcery. Thanks to the Magical Minority Initiative, Tom is the first Black mage to be admitted. There, he meets Lindsey Whitethorn, and he suffers through her well-meaning questions about Black mages, such as whether he’s proud to be the first Black mage, and other micro-aggressions. She is his campus liaison, and the two become friends when Lindsey helps Tom’s crow, Jim, get healed after a skirmish with the headmaster’s son. The teachers all wear robes too alike to Klan garb, but Tom goes along in his studies until someone slips him the ID card of another Black mage. Tom’s investigations into this uncover a grizzly secret at the very core of St. Ivory’s existence.
It’s time for Agott to take the second test, the Test of the Serpentback Road, but unbeknownst to all of them, Qifrey has also signed up Richeh to take the test! The two are accompanied by an apprentice from another Atelier, Euini, who has no faith in himself at all. His master also believes Euini will fail, as he has taken the test twice already and not passed. Along with their proctor, Master Alaira, the three apprentices proceed into the cave of the Serpentback Road. Master Qifrey regails Coco and Tetia with the history of the Cave, that it used to be the entrance to a beautiful kingdom of Romonon, and that it was meant as a test to keep out the unworthy. But Agott, Richeh, and Euini are soon faced with more dangers than what the Romonons had in mind, and they must work together and have faith in their spells to save everyone.
Locke & Key Vol 5 by Joe Hill
Vol 5, Clockworks: illustrated by Gabríel Rodriguez
Dodge is continuing his dangerous quest to find the Omega key, and a skirmish leads to Tyler and Kinsey discovering another - the Timeshift Key. This key can be used to time travel, although in Tyler and Lindsey's case, it can only go backwards because they can't program it past 1999. The two decide to go back and learn the grim history of the keys, made possibly by a detailed list inside the grandfather clock's casing that contains dates and crude drawings of each key. They "meet" Ben Locke and his sister, who had to watch their parents hanged by the British, and see Ben discovering the Black door and forging the first of the keys from a dangerous metal. They also go back to watch their dad and see how the keys played out in his lifetime. From this travel, we finally learn the dark and tragic past of Dodge.
Cagaster Vol 1 by Kachou Hashimoto
This story begins in the year 2125, years after a strange plague called Cagaster has broken out and wiped out 2/3rds of the human population. This plague turns infected humans into giant, human-eating bugs. Kidow is an exterminator, tasked with killings infected humans and bugs alike. On an expedition, Kidow stumbles upon a father and daughter who had been attacked by bugs. The father is past saving, but he makes Kidow promise to take his daughter back to the city, E-05. Kidow gets Ilie a job at the boarding house and restaurant where he stays, and the owner, Mario, quickly takes a liking to Ilie’s positive attitude. Mario sends Ilie on an errand that has her tangled with the Mouse Brigade, a band of orphans-turned-pick-pockets. Meanwhile, a dark and mysterious stranger is targeting exterminators and killing them in brutal ways, and Kidow might be the next target!
Illustrated by Gretel Lusky
Ashley is a foster kid who has bounced around houses because she hasn't quite found the family for her, and it could also be because she likes to sneak out in the middle of the night to create graffiti art masterpieces. Then, she meets Yuka and Kitch Nolan, a couple who might just be the perfect fit for Ashley. Yuka is a research scientist who is also a huge football fan, like Ashley, and Kitch is an artist who wants to inspire Ashley to express herself in legal ways. One day, Ashley finds the products of Yuka's experiments - body paints that imbue the wearer with super powers! Of course she has to experiment with them and see what wonderful combinations she can make! But the military want their investment back, and they send a ruthless soldier after the paints. Ashley is put to the test, emotionally and superhero-ly.
This volume features Alphonse more because he gets kidnapped (armor-napped?) by Greed, another homunculus! Greed is looking for eternal life, and he believes Al has the secret with his transmuted soul. Meanwhile, Ed forgets about his annual examination for his State Alchemy license, so he reports to Southern Headquarters to pass his test. There, he runs into Major Armstrong, who is escorting Führer President King Bradley on an inspection of the Southern region. Bradley learns of Ed's teacher and tries to recruit Izumi for State Alchemy, but instead overhears of Al's kidnapping. Hot-headed Ed goes after his brother and is soon backed up by Bradley and his elite squad.
It’s campus cleanup time again and Hachiken finds a puppy in the trash heap! After cleaning him off, the pup becomes the unofficial mascot and guide dog for the equation club, “Vice Prez.” Later, the students go see the baseball team compete and cheer on Komaba’s pitching. Then, it’s time to plan for the Ag Festival, and the equestrian team wants to do something to showcase how cool horses are. Hachiken can’t get his horse, Chestnut, to jump, even though other riders can. He must learn a valuable lesson about himself as a rider. While he trying to get the equestrian event up and running, he overcommits to other groups’ festival offerings. The man who won’t say no must learn, or he’ll never get in the practice with Chestnut that he needs to become a great jumper!
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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