The List: 4/6/08 (The Sniffly, Sneezy, Coughy, & Wheezy Edition)

We're on Cold #5 (I think) of 2009 - man, will I be glad for summer this year - so life has really slowed down, but I'm still trying to make it through my To Read pile. Here are the latest short reactions to comics I've read recently. Let's (cough, sputter, gasp) go.

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vol. 1 - I usually just get my manga fix through the library, but this sounded interesting, and the word of mouth was universally positive, so one Borders 40% off coupon later, I picked it up. And not only did it live up to the hype, but actually kinda exceeded it. So many layers here... it's a look at what it was like to come of age at a unique time in Japanese history, just as Western culture was really starting to take root; it's about that point in your adult life when you realize that your childhood dreams probably aren't going to come true and you just have to accept it and be a grown-up; and there's this dark, disturbing underside to the whole thing about a cult that seems to want to destroy the world in order to save it. These threads are interesting enough on their own, but trying to figure out how, where, and why they'll eventually all come together elevates this to brilliance. More, please.

Gus and His Gang by Chris Blain - Picked this up on a whim from the First Second booth at NYCC, and I'm glad I did. Given that Blain is a French cartoonist, I wasn't expecting a traditional Western or anything, but the book was even more nontraditional than I would have thought. Because, sure, it's about a band of Western outlaws, but it's really more about love, sex, family, and trying to find whatever it is that makes you happy in life. Lucky Luke it ain't. The stories are short but packed full of ideas and emotions, all conveyed in urgent, expressive fashion by the Harvey Kurtzman-esque artwork. Funny, moody, violent, dark, and sexy... in other words, it's French as hell. Definitely give this a shot.

The Muppet Show #1 - I knew Rodger Langridge nailed this just a few pages in, with the "song" about the toads and the beans. In my mind, I could hear the whole thing happening as I read it... the voices, the music, even the very particular sound effect they'd use whenever Muppets would explode. I was hoping for merely funny, but I got more than I could have hoped for: a note-perfect recreation of an actual episode of The Muppet Show. Everyone involved with this book deserves makes a mint off of it. Buy the hell out of this, people.

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