Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, May 24, 2013

Week ending May 24, 2013

CLAMP (text & illus.). Tokyo Babylon. Bk. 1. Dark Horse. 2013. 560p. ISBN 9781616551162. pap. $19.99. MANGA
This new omnibus contains the first half of Tokyo Babylon, a prequel to CLAMP’s unfinished manga series “X.” Teenager Subaru Sumeragi is the 13th leader of the Sumeragi onmyoji clan. As a trained onmyoji, Subaru very carefully uses his occult powers to protect the living and put the unhappy dead to rest. While Subaru confronts demons and ghosts, his twin sister, Hokuto, provides comic relief by urging him to form a relationship with their older friend Seishiro Sakurazuka. Although Seishiro jokingly plays along, it appears he may be serious in his affection for Subaru. However, Hokuto and Subaru suspect that Seishiro may have ties to the Sakurazukamori, ancient assassin enemies of the Sumeragi clan. Whether Seishiro is hiding something darker beneath his happy-go-lucky exterior remains to be seen.
Verdict Old CLAMP fans will rejoice at this omnibus reissue with its clear, smooth printing, and first-timers will be equally impressed with CLAMP’s intricate style. The English translation is clever and seamless. Recommended to old and new manga fans and those who like a creepy yet not too violent ghost story.—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

Milligan, Peter (text) & Miguel Sepulveda & others (illus.). The Death of the Red Lanterns. Vol. 2. DC. ( New 52; Red Lanterns). 2013. 144p. ISBN 9781401238476. pap. $16.99. SUPERHERO
Red Lanterns are superbeings with powers similar to Green Lanterns but are fueled by rage and the desire for vengeance, not the pursuit of justice and order. Steadfast fans of modern superhero comics should appreciate this second volume in the new ongoing series featuring the edgy wit of Irish writer Milligan and richly colored and dynamic artwork by a small army of contributing illustrators. Casual readers may become frustrated since full enjoyment of this book requires considerable background knowledge, plus the ability to grasp the complex plotting, character origins, and motivations throughout. The action centers on the corruption of the Red Lanterns’ power source—the Red Spectrum of Rage—and the resulting mayhem. Halfway through is an entertaining Stormwatch crossover.
Verdict Worthwhile for aficionados of the creative team, the Green Lantern Corps, DC’s “New 52” series, and vintage Image Comics aesthetics but optional for most collections. Plenty of typical large-scale “comic book” violence; suitable for YA and up.—J Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Nguyen, Dustin (text & illus.) & Derek Fridolfs (text). Justice League Beyond: Konstriction. DC. May 2013. 176p. ISBN 9781401240233. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
Creators Nguyen and Fridolfs (Batman: Streets of Gotham) are old hands in the comics industry, especially when it comes to DC’s stable of characters. Their take here does nothing to tarnish their reputation. Spinning out the now-defunct DC Animated Universe, this volume picks up several threads dropped in no less than three of the animated shows DC aired in the mid-1990s to mid-2000. When Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future, meets up with his Metropolitan colleagues, the Justice League Beyond (JLB), during an average day of stopping a mutant gang war in Gotham, he is then asked to help uncover and stop a plot by the international criminal cult Kobra. The nightmarish plot employed by the religious terrorist organization not only threatens the human world but also takes the JLB and Batman to the worlds of New Genesis and Apokalips. Also included in this volume are three origins stories of JLB members Warhawk, Marina (Aqua Girl), and Big Barda.
Verdict Nguyen and Fridolfs resurrect one of the lost gems of the DC Universe, tapping into the forsaken potential of a slew of innovative and well-scripted television series. Their attention to detail and passionate storytelling brings fans of the old DC animates series back to their first viewing.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"