Week ending February 8, 2013
Azzarello, Brian (text) & Cliff Chiang & others (illus.). Wonder Woman. Vol. 2: Guts. DC. (New 52). 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781401238094. $22.99. SUPERHERO
Azzarello’s (“100 BULLETS” series) best-selling second volume of DC’s reboot continues to strengthen the story of the new Wonder Woman. Zeus has vanished, and his latest conquest, Zola, bears his child. She has been taken by Hades, and now Diana seeks help from Hephaestus to rescue her. Hephaestus arms Wonder Woman with the pistols of his son Eros, and she descends to the underworld with Hermes as her guide and ally. Hades demands the pistols as ransom for Zola but then shoots Wonder Woman. Zola is rescued, but Diana must wed the king of the dead. Strife, sister of War, wends in and out of the story while other immortals such as Hera and Apollo make their own plans. Chiang’s bold art of interesting interpretations of the deities’ forms is a powerful asset to this book—the cover alone should be enough for any fan-boy to sit up and take notice.
Verdict The relaunched Wonder Woman is a heroine to watch. Readers will be eager for the next installment.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids
Tezuka, Osamu. Message to Adolf. 2 vols. Vertical. 2012. tr. from Japanese by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Vol. 1: 648p. ISBN 9781935654438. Vol. 2: 608p. ISBN 9781935654445. ea. vol: $26.95. F
“God of Manga” Tezuka received a Kodansha Award for this mature, provocative work—his last major manga before his death in 1989. A Japanese reporter assigned to cover the Berlin Olympics finds that his Berlin-based brother has been killed, somehow in connection with a secret message sent to Japan. The message contains evidence that Hitler had Jewish blood, and so Nazi official Wolfgang Kaufman, living in Japan with his half-Japanese son, Adolf, is charged with recovering the dangerous document. This Adolf’s best friend is a Jewish lad, Adolf Kamil, and he has no interest in Nazi anti-Semitism. As the reporter searches for clues about his brother and Kaufman searches for the document, the two young Adolfs become involved. Tezuka uses a style more realistic than cartoony, with frighteningly good renditions of the third Adolf: Hitler himself. Issued in seven volumes by VIZ Media in the 1990s, this edition fits all into two.
Verdict This alt-history murder mystery offers a nuanced, psychologically based realism rarely seen by U.S. manga readers. Best for older teens up owing to violence, it’s a real treat for lovers of historical fiction and “what-if” scenario-building.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia
Vehlmann, Fabien (text) & Gwen De Bonneval (illus.). Last Days of an Immortal. Archaia. 2012. 152p. ISBN 9781936393442. $24.95. SF
In a future where immortality is assured through memory transfers between humans and their echoes (clones), some still cling to death. Humanity has joined an interstellar community where the Philosophical Police deal with conflicts between humans and members of other races with vastly different cultures and viewpoints. Elijah, a highly successful and famous but overworked member of this agency, is asked to arbitrate a dispute between two alien races who share one planet: one humanoid and one composed of slow-acting, noncorporeal sentient waveforms. Elijah and his echoes, juggle his responsibilities while dealing privately with issues of stagnation and change and an inevitable side effect of extended life: the loss of one’s oldest, and sometimes dearest, memories.
Verdict De Bonneval’s accomplished black-and-white cartooning is simple and disarming, while Vehlmann’s humor is laced throughout. Together, they lend a welcoming charm to a deeply thoughtful story exploring complex philosophical issues, resulting in highly compelling sf. Nudity and explicit depiction of sex justify the “Mature readers: 18 and up” label on the back cover.—Steve Raiteri, Green City P.L., Xenia, OH