In this collection of short stories, Takeda explores love and humanity in some non-traditional ways. In the first story, a young princess is captired and blindfolded and forced to sign treaties or make other deals that syphon away her power. the only person who shows her kindness during her captivity is a man with no pinky. During the three months of captivity, she can feel herself falling in love. In another story, a woman comes face to face with her stalker and has an honest conversation with him while they wait for the police. Another story with a historical setting focused on an emperor on his wedding night where he became entangled with an empress-assassin, and how they both found happiness in the end. In another story, explorers think they've found a "treasure" in the jungle, but it's a delicious new fruit instead of gold. But not understanding the native language costs them dearly. A short interlude piece spanning only a few pages focused on a vending machine and the apocalypse. In yet another story, a wife who is dying of cancer makes a difficult choice for her husband so that he might live on easier without her once she's gone.
Illustrated by Alexandre Tefenkgi, colored by Lee Loughridge
In a time after the apocalypse, Mezzy is part of the Wasteland Rangers, a group that is part boy-scouts, part doomsday-preppers. She, however, is determined to find her way to the fabled Oasis where everything will be plentiful. Along the way, she takes refuge from pursuing Rangers in a giant tower, where she meets Maceo. Maceo is an inventive young person with tons of television entertainment options, a tape recorder where he records messages to his quarantined (and dead) parents, and loads of vending machines full of candy and treats. He tries to entice Mezzy to stay, but she refuses. Instead, Maceo packs up a giant pile of his belongings, gives one last message to his parents, and follows Mezzy out into the Wasteland, despite her refusal to travel together. Over the next few weeks, Mezzy constantly saves Maceo from wasteland disasters and reluctantly teaches him how to survive, but Maceo shares his hoard of treasures and helps Mezzy understand what it means to live.
Reiji is trapped in his small town life. His brother is a shut-in who constantly berates their mother; his grandmother is suffering from dementia and is the main reason his mother is so tired; and his mom sets him up with a construction job for after high school, effectively killing any aspirations he had of leaving. One night, while out buying food, Reiji realizes that the shop clerk is actually Nagi Aoe, a famous idol singer from a band he enjoys escaping to. She asks him for a tour around town, which he gives her on the back of his bike. At one point, while stopped in a bridge overlooking the town's river, she asks Reiji if he’ll enter a suicide pact with her, similarly to the heroes in a tragic story based on the town. They wind up back at her house where she takes his virginity. Afterwards, Reiji can’t stop thinking about her, her wish to die, and whether he would be better off dead as well.
Vol 1: Kill Columbus, illustrated by Davide Gianfelice, colored by Joana LaFuente
In the year 2112, the Earth has been destroyed by wars, pollution, and more. Portions of the population have already taken to the skies in search of a new planet. But in the desert of Arizona, a group of Native Americans find a cave that sends them back in time. They hatch a plan to save the world and protect their ancestors, but it involves killing Christopher Columbus before he discovers America. The group chooses Tad, who is a linguist and could potentially pass as sailor, to jump back and try to find a way onto Columbus' ship, but this means leaving behind his family in the future and relying on his knowledge of history to help him navigate through the voyage of Columbus.
In this memoir manga, Pesayuma-san goes through their beginnings of being a manga artist, reflecting on their childhood, and grappling with their gender and sexuality. In their second job in the manga industry, Pesayuma was sexually assaulted and objectified by a male coworker, and the trauma from this incident left them emotionally scarred and vulnerable for seven years. After finding a new editor in a post Me-Too world, Pesayuma discovers that they could take legal action against their aggressor, but also that their story could be publishable. They reflect on some fundamental people from their childhood and moments that were formative in their life as they journey towards self-discovery.
Elise is, for all intents and purposes, the "law" on the most elite space station full of Earth's 1% who have escaped a dying planet below. There's hardly any crime aboard, so she feels ill-equipped when there are multiple murders to investigate! Someone is going after the station's Board of Directors, and they're not just dying quietly. Each body is made into a spectacle that would disgust even the most heartless of the working-class citizens. While she's trying to solve the murders, Elise is also trying to kick her habit of taking the highly addicting, hallucinogenic substance known as "Blue". Her paranoia is heightened when it seems like she might have had a hand in one of the murders in an intoxicated stupor, but she's determined to figure out what is really happening on her station.
Keiji's back with more Kaiju to kill. This time, one of his lady conquests is also on his tail, claiming he broke her heart and ruined her life with his playboy ways. While the two try to destroy each other, new and more ferocious kaiju start popping up over the city, this time with the ability to transform or change their weaknesses so they are not easily exploitable. Keiji and Elizabeth, his old flame, agree to an uneasy truce, which doesn't make the little chick, who Keiji names Chicken Little, very happy. Keiji is still laser focused on finding the kaiju who killed his sister, so Elizabeth has to resort to some trickery to get Keiji to save an entire village being enslaved by a greedy kaiju.
Illustrated by Hayden Sherman
Five women from an inmate-staffed fire crew in California are battling the latest blaze in the drought-stricken state. One of the inmates on the line realizes she knows the forest they're in, and tells the rest of her line-mates that her previous partner, the one who set her up to go to jail, has a mansion in a few valleys over. She tempts the crew with promises of it being abandoned because of the fire, but even more so with the promise of tons of cryptocurrency that she knows how to steal. With it, the five could set themselves up, disappear, and get back to the lives they had before being arrested. It seems like an easy heist and fast ticket out of their current problem, but just like the many stages of a wildfire, much of it goes wrong.
Vol 1: The Virtuous Cycle, illustrated by Marcio Takara, colored by Arif Prianto, lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Ivy feels betrayed by her partner and long-time friend, Harley Quinn, who recently helped save her life but diminished her powers. She's never been a fan of how humanity has run rampant over the earth, so she's taking matters into her own hands once again. Ivy has decided to take the poisonous spores of Lamia that are growing inside her and distribute them throughout the country as she journeys back to her hometown of Seattle. Ivy stops along the way at a diner and tries to infect as many people as possible, as well as at a packing plant where she can spread the spoors on the packages that are being mailed out across the country. She can feel the level of toxins rising in her, so she must hurry to get to Seattle if she's going to confront the Green Man before the lamia takes over her entirely.
Illustrated by Lauren Knight, colored by Sofie Dodgson, flatted by Shayne Hannah Cui, lettered by Becca Carey
In this world, any woman who is past child-bearing years has been deemed useless to society and is banished to a remote island off the coast of any civilization. There, these women have made their own society and rules a-la Lord of the Flies. There is a group dedicated to helping with anyone deceased; there are the Red Hats who seem bent on destruction and domination; and there's Rosie and her friends, Lottie, and Caroline, who just want to raise chickens, have tea, and keep to themselves. Jay has been thrust into this world a little unexpectedly, having gone through early-onset menopause, and is now seen as a threat to the equally young leader of the Red Hats. There's also lots of backmatter that includes book reviews, recipes, and insights into the workings of the island.
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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