Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga

Manga/Graphic Novel Review: Natsume’s Book of Friends

Several of my friends are into manga and so I have an extensive to-read list compiled, yet I found this on a whim instead. As Midorikawa mentions in the little asides throughout this book, it is an episodic manga. This made it a nice quick read to pick up on impulse, and not too much of an investment.

As it is episodic, there is no singe plot to really summarise. The main gist is Takashi Natsume seeing strange creatures – yokai – that nobody else can. After inheriting his deceased grandmother’s strange notebook, he discovers that she had the same ability. Due to being such an outcast amidst her village, though, she takes her frustrations out on the yokai. Natsume’s Book of Friends – the book Takashi inherited – is basically a collection of contracts signed by various yokai pledging their ‘devotion’ to her. Owning this book gives Takashi complete power over them, and naturally many of the yokai are eager to take it. Instead, Takashi sets out to return the names of all the yokai. He is accompanied by one yokai who he accidentally freed from a shrine, Nyanko Sensei – who, after being trapped inside a ceramic cat, usually takes the form of a cat. Takashi likes to remind him of this frequently (and Sensei is definitely not amused).

The episodes can each be read as a standalone, though they do connect in some ways. Takashi slowly begins to understand what he’s doing, and the relationship between him and Nyanko Sensei develops somewhat. While most of Takashi’s interactions are with yokai, there is one particular chapter in this novel where he meets another human who he can relate to. There is also a touching chapter – the final in the novel – where Takashi helps a yokai to meet the human that saved her in her past life.

The art is lovely and the relationship between Sensei and Takashi is really amusing. There isn’t a huge amount of character development or depth due to the episodic nature of the novel, but Takashi is likeable and kind. I would definitely recommend it for a quick/light read, and I may have a look for the rest of the series. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. #3: Quest for Hope

Last year I was actually up to date with this series as it came out weekly, so I’ve read this story arc already. I reread it again quickly today in order to review it.

I’m quite a big fan of the Lanterns, and I really enjoy the banter between Hal and Kyle. This arc was particularly good. The ending – the revelation about Sarko, the ‘enemy’ – was fantastic. I know what happens in the next issues from this volume and I can tell you it’s pretty great.

I’ll try not to talk too much about the next issues, but this volume is definitely a superb setup for some really interesting stories. The Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro’s Corps are finally united as one force, though some members aren’t so happy about it. Guy Gardner goes about it in his own way, as is expected – nearly getting himself killed, but eventually becoming friends with Arkillo. We also see into Guy’s childhood, which was interesting.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The Corps’ are attacked by forgein constructs, that Kyle believes to be his own creation from when he was wearing Krona’s Gauntlet. This is where Sarko, the villain of the story, comes in.

I think this is a great arc, and I just love the chemistry amongst the characters. 4/5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: The Justice League of America Volume #1: The Extremists

I finished this last year (it feels so odd to saort one as I want to get a headstart on this year’s reading challenge and have a healthy TBR pile beside me…

I must say the the Justice League comics aren’t my favourite. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m far more attracted to Suicide Squad and Batman and Batgirl comics. Although it is nice to see all these characters together – especially with former villains such as [Killer] Frost on the League – I wasn’t particularly wowed by this volume. The most interesting part, I found, was the development in Frost’s personal story and the possible discovery of a “cure” for her condition.

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The plot of Extremists is Lord Havok and his gang – the aptly named Extremists – coming to Earth to create ‘peace’. As is often the case, his vision of peace is more like complete control and dominance over the world, which the JLA aren’t going to let happen very easily. So the battle begins, while Havok goes around taking countries under his control, starting with Kravia.

The plot isn’t bad and there isn’t really anything wrong with this book, but it just didn’t feel all that exciting or special. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Picture Book Review: The Little Red Wolf

35905318This is only a very short book, so the review will be short too. It’s based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood (as you may have guessed from the title). It’s a beautifully illustrated novel, with a really sweet message about love and friendship between humans and animals.

It follows a similar story to the original fairytale, but where the child captures the little wolf while he is delivering a rabbit to his hungry old grandmother. The child sings a song, which is gorgeously illustrated by Fléchais, which tells the tale of a woman and man falling in love, but the man then losing his wife to wolves. This, she says, is why her and her father hunt and kill wolves – because they are evil beasts that bring nothing but pain.

The little red wolf’s father comes to the rescue – without killing the girl or her father – and tells his son about the version of the song he knows – where the woman is friends with the wolves, weaving them capes (like the one the little red wolf wears) and the man accidentally shoots her himself. I found this to be really quite touching, and I really did like this interpretation of the fairytale.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I don’t think the chapters were necessary for such a short book – they didn’t mark the end of a “chapter” in any way for me, but just felt like they’d been randomly placed throughout the story.

Overall, this is definitely a lovely story for children to read, even if it is a little sad. The art was really lovely, and it told the story beautifully. 4 stars.

P.S. Sorry about the awful quality of the pictures. My laptop has a red light filter on and just doesn’t do the art justice at all.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Volume #3: Death of the Family

I only want to do a short summary of this book, as it’s pretty similar to the other two in terms of style and everything.

First, Damian sends Bruce across the world following “clues” he’s set out, based on the Wayne family. He has a hidden agenda that Bruce soon discovers, though, which tests Bruce’s trust for his son.

And then following the “zombie” attack in the last volume, Batman and Robin find themselves facing another army of the Joker’s creation. This time, however, they’re against each other.

I love the Joker, and the way the ordeal with him and the whole Bat family took place was great. Plotting them against each other was probably the mode evil thing he could have done.

Finally we see the dreams had by Alfred, Bruce and Damian, reflecting their inner fears. I thought this a nice issue, especially since it included Alfred’s dream. I love the relationship between Alfred and Bruce, and seeing how he cares for Bruce is always lovely.

3.5 to 4 stars for this volume.

Manga Review: Bleach 3-in-1 Volume #1

<span style="text-I haven't seen the anime of this yet, and I'm not sure which was released first. I'm definitely interested in seeing the show now though, and am certainly going to read the rest of the manga volumes (if I can find/afford them all!).

As usual, I will try not to ruin the plot for anyone who wants to read it. I’ll just say that Ichigo can see ghosts, and one day comes across a soul reaper – who accidentally gives her powers away and is stuck in a temporary human body. Together, they work as soul reapers to rid the world of “evil” hollows – which takes them through some pretty sad memories.

The writing is great – I found this so so comedic, and just enjoyable to read all the way through. I read all 500+ pages in one afternoon!

There’s also some.seriously sad stuff in there – dead family members make guest appearances, and I actually found some of the scenes so touching and painful. The entire volume was just written so fantastically.

The art is amazing, too – I especially liked the odd blank page with just a small illustration that peppered the book. It was artistic, yet still presented the story well.

This is probably gonna be a favourite of mine for a long time. I cannot wait to read on – the end of the third volume in this collection is very intriguing! 5/5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Vol. #2: Pearl

This is the second volume of Batman and Robin comics in the New 52 universe in DC. It starts with a little flashback to Damian’s early childhood, and his growing up to overpower his mother. We’re then thrown back into the “present” – full of sibling rivalry, father-son moments, and a hell of a lot of fighting.

The relationship between Bruce and Damian will always be great to read. I loved how Damian was so headstrong in this book, but then the ending was so sweet. And I actually really liked him fighting with the other “Robins” – Red Hood, Nightwing and Red Robin – in order to prove himself better than them. Nightwing’s response was definitely my favourite.

There are a good deal of villains in here – Terminus and his army of “scarred” victims of Batman, and a zombie uprising courtesy of Batman’s favourite clown. The action is good, and the “zombie” plot was great. 

And of course, the art was as fantastic as ever. 

4 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Volume #1: Born to Kill

Damian, despite being a bit of a self-centred, arrogant little boy, is one of my favourite characters. I mean, he’s a ten-year-old superhero. That’s pretty cool.

I also love his relationship with Bruce – hence why I was so eager to read this series. Bruce as a father is great in general (I mean, he’s not great, but it’s amusing and sweet to read) but I think the clash of personalities between him and Damian makes it even more interesting.

My ultimate favourite is, of course, Alfred Pennyworth. He’s as snarky as always in this, but is no less badass than any other member of the Bat family.

The plot of this novel is based on Nobody, or Morgan Ducard as he’s actually called. Throughout the book we learn about his past with Bruce, and the reason for their rivalry. 

Throughout this story Damian is developing hugely – and will continue to do so in later issues. His upbringing turned him into the perfect killer, and he’s finding it hard to agree with Bruce’s “no killing” policy. But Bruce is encouraging him all the way, and refuses to give up on him.

The moments between Bruce and Damian can be so sweet, and I loved watching their relationship develop and become more secure. Batman will always need a Robin, and Robin will always need a Batman.

4/5 stars.

Graphic Novel Review: Tyranny

So as you’ve probably realised by now, I have anorexia. And because of that, I am always drawn to books about eating disorders, including this graphic novel I found in the library. It’s always good to see realistic and relatable presentations of ED’s, and I’m also always quick to point out when something is being portrayed wrong.

This book was a pretty accurate representation of my own personal battle with anorexia. It addressed the starving and the bingeing that many anorexics go through, as well as the body dysmorphia and unhealthy habits and routines. It included friends of Anna (the protagonist of this book) who are also suffering – one of which eventually suffered a heart attack and died. It’s not uncommon for people with anorexia to have friends who pass away as a result of the unhealthy habits brought on by the disorder.

Anna does eventually decide she wants life, and goes into treatment. She learns to tell Tyranny (the voice/persons of her ED) that she doesn’t care about being thin anymore, and eventually she gets her to leave entirely. (I can’t say that’s happened to me; it’s more of an ongoing, up-and-down struggle in my experience.)

One thing I wasn’t sure was so good about this book was the inclusion of weights – her weight loss process, the weight of another patient. This can be incredibly triggering for people suffering with an eating disorder, and can make people feel invalidated – feeling as if their ED isn’t as “bad” or “real” because their weight wasn’t quite as low. For this reason, I would be hesitant about recommending this book to people who are trying to recover from their disorder.

Overall, I felt it was a good portrayal of anorexia. It was brutally honest and included both the starving and the bingeing, which lots of people don’t often discuss. 4.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Harley’s Little Black Book

I love Harley Quinn as a character, so I happily agreed to review this novel. It definitely wasn’t as great as I hoped, or as good as Harley as a character in Suicide , but it still had some strengths.

So in this book, Harley basically just collects together a load of tales from her adventures with various characters. It contains a hell of a lot of innuendoes and sex jokes, and a makeout scene with Lobo that I really was not interested in seeing.

I did feel like Harley was just made out to be a bit of a sex-crazed idiot at times, when there’s actually a lot more of her character to be shown. There was a flashback to her childhood experience of being bullied, which I thought was fantastic. 

There was still the loveable, crazy character being written, and the whole stories/general writing had that kind of fun tone that I love about Harley. Again, it was maybe too light and fun, but it was a nice little read. 

Thank you to the author/publisher for giving me a review copy of this book

I maybe wouldn’t have liked this half as much if it was any other character, but I just love Harley Quinn. It wasn’t her strongest appearance, though, despite it being her own book. I’m going to give it 3 stars out of 5. 🌟🌟🌟