Week ending October 4, 2013
Doran, Colleen (text & illus.). A Distant Soil. Vol. 1: The Gathering. Image. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781607067870. pap. $16.99. SF/FANTASY
This new edition of the initially self-published (1987) space opera graphic novels by writer/artist Doran, recipient of the International Horror Guild Award for Best Illustrated Narrative, collects the first 12 issues of the series. Doran’s classic black-and-white penciling is the perfect accompaniment to this sprawling sf/fantasy epic, with some of the artwork reminiscent of art nouveau. From 1980s America to outer space to King Arthur’s Avalon, the story crosses time and space to bring together potential warriors to fight for the dying planet of Ovanan and the threatened planet Earth. Liana, the most powerful psychic in the universe, escapes captivity from a mental health and research institute with her brother, Jason, only to encounter a warship with aliens bent on assassinating them and another set of aliens from Ovanan. The latter, it seems, are set on making Liana believe she can help save Earth and the world her lost family is from—Ovanan.
Verdict This epic tale is a page-turner despite what seems like an odd mix of characters, times, and spaces. Doran could have updated Earth to reflect the present day, but the story would have lost a great deal of charm. This nuanced and compelling tale spans the wide range of imagination, bringing together the best of sf, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and the 1980s.—Michelle Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX
Yun, Mi-Kyung (text & illus.). Bride of the Water God. Vol. 13. Dark Horse. 2013. 176p. ISBN 9781616550721. pap. $9.99. MANGA
In this volume, Habaek the Water God has begun his quest to extend the life span of his human bride, Soah. Somehow he must obtain the last remaining Ban-do fruit from Mura, the Witch of Chung Yo Mountains. However, Mura is in love with Habaek, and on their journey to recover the fruit, Soah learns the tragic story of the last time a human was made immortal. As in previous volumes in the series, readers will be charmed by the attention paid to the detailed period clothing and setting. Creator Yun provides multiple splash pages heavily reminiscent of the lovely ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock prints. Some manga readers may be surprised to see this series produced in a left to right reading format, but manwhas, Korean graphic novels, are preformatted for an English-language audience; purists can rest assured no flipping of the panels has occurred.
Verdict Readers who enjoy period dramas, star-crossed love affairs, and court intrigue will get their heart’s delight with this shojo manwha. For readers who enjoy the clever attention to detail but prefer a little more action and adventure, CLAMP’s series “xxxHOLliC” and “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle” are highly recommended.—Marlan Brinkley, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.