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Tag Archives: manga-and-graphic-novels

Suicide Squad (2016): Desire Becomes Submission. Submission Becomes Power.

Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)


Time to play. photo credit:

After I saw the trailer for Suicide Squad the week before it came out, all the sudden I wanted to see the first superhero movie I’d wanted to see since Iron Man 2. It looked like ridiculous amounts of fun, starred Margot Robbie, who was so good in Z for Zachariah, and while I haven’t been a huge fan of the David Ayer directorial efforts I’ve seen, as a writer, man, he’s out of this world sometimes (two words: Training Day). And then the reviews started coming in, and they were terrible. But a friend wanted to see it and couldn’t find anyone to go with, and it was five bucks a ticket (and the theater in which we saw it, where I’d never been before, was loads of fun), so I figured why not? My ex-wife’s assessment of the film, which she’d seen the week before I did: “you get to see a lot of Harley Quinn’s ass.” What’s not to like? So we went, and while Suicide Squad is, on the David Ayer scale, far more End of Watch than Training Day, I thought it did its job, and even though I understand, and agree with, most of those critical reviews, I thought it did that job pretty well regardless.

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Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon (2013): Pee Shooter

Paul Tobin, Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon (Dark Horse, 2013)

Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC of this book via Netgalley.


The cover to Lawnmageddon, like the book itself, features every possible game reference they could cram in, but doesn't tell you much about the story.

36… 24… 36… hut-hut-strike!
photo credit:

I am a huge, huge fan of all things Plants vs. Zombies (though giantbomb’s First Look feature on PvZ2 leads me to believe that may not be the case for too much longer). I’ve played through adventure mode and gotten to gold-trophy status at least a half-dozen times, and when I have a spare moment, I’m as likely to play Vasebreaker Endless as do anything else. Going by number of hours expended, PvZ is easily in my top ten games of all time. So when Dark Horse announced there was going to be a comic book, I immediately sat up and took notice. If PopCap was involved, thought I, they’ll make sure the quality control is up to snuff. Rarely have I been more disappointed to be wrong.

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Demon Sacred, vol. 3 (2003): Cloven-hoof Gen

Natsumi Itsuki, Demon Sacred, vol. 3 (Tokyopop, 2003)


photo credit: Goodreads

We’re gonna need a bigger boat…

NOTE: This review necessarily contains plot spoilers for earlier volumes in the series.

Now we’re starting to get somewhere. Helmut is finally revealed, as is his tie to Shinobi, while we also meet Helmut’s slightly cracked (and entirely self-centered) sister. Keito, now aware of the existence of K2, becomes obsessed with meeting him and finding out how they can look so much alike and be so different. Meanwhile, Mona wants to see if she can find a way to work with the Griffin’s chain to keep the Griffin and K2 from constantly trying to destroy one another…and finds something entirely different than she expected. Here’s the volume where the series really seems to find its groove; there’s a lot going on here, and it all falls into a very nice rhythm, with the characters distinguishing themselves better, becoming more three-dimensional; at a guess, the Keito/K2 distinction is what made everything click into place. One way or the other, the series really starts picking up steam here. *** ½

Demon Sacred, vol. 2 (2003): I Ain’t Nothin’ but Your Fool

Natsumi Itsuki, Demon Sacred, vol. 2 (Tokyopop, 2003)


photo credit:

Spread your tiny wings and fly away…

NOTE: This review necessarily contains plot spoilers for earlier volumes in the series.

Having one demon around the house wasn’t enough? Now Mona needs to chain a demon of her own—and a much stronger one, no less, the Beast of the Apocalypse (the second-strongest demon in the universe, we are told). He’s not overly thrilled with having taken on human form—much less the form of a Jpop singer—but the discovery of his insatiable sweet tooth leads to Mona finding a quick way to bargain with him. Meanwhile, SMIC, the company Shinobi does research for, is about to unveil a new initiative they’re calling X-Day, and Helmut Rindelts, SMIC’s mysterious leader, seems to want Shinobi at the center of it…but what IS it? I’m still not quite sure the series has found its way yet, but there are more than enough intriguing ideas behind it to keep me going into the third volume. ***

Demon Sacred, vol. 1 (2003): Natsumi Itsuki’s Golden Years

Natsumi Itsuki, Demon Sacred, vol. 1 (Tokyopop, 2003)


photo credit:

Pop singers are actually demons? That certainly explains Justin Bieber.

Natsumi Itsuki, generally known for writing sci-fi-themed manga, turns in the first volume (of eleven, though Tokyopop only published four in English before they went under) of a fantasy series here. We open fifteen years before the bulk of the action, with a Japanese couple on their honeymoon in Finland viewing the northern lights. Something happens… fifteen years later, the world is now host to a new disease called Return Syndrome, which causes people to suddenly begin aging in reverse. The effects are usually instantaneous, but a scientist named Shinobu is cousin to Rina, a fourteen-year-old girl with a rare form of the disease that causes her age to rescind gradually; he’s trying to find a cure before she winks out of existence. The corporation he works for, SMIC, has found out that Return Syndrome is caused by exposure to demonic forces… forces which were unleashed into our universe during the happening fifteen years before. Shinobu has adopted, and now lives with, Rina and her younger sister Mona, and discovers that not only were they exposed to said demonic forces, but that a demon named Mika has been acting as their father all this time…

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Bizenghast, vol. 4 (2007): The Sacrifice

Alice LeGrow, Bizenghast, vol. 4 (Tokyopop, 2007)

photo credit:

Wizardwood meets goth-manga…

The personal touches in vol. 3, it turns out, are the development of story arc rather than just being personal touches, and we find out for certain this whole thing is keyed to Di and Vi, with Edaniel and Edrear as supporting characters (plus, one assumes, the other two gate guardians eventually). This one is more character-based than action-based, which is never a bad thing, and LeGrow pushes the series to new heights here; this is getting really good, like early-issues-of-Bleach-level good. ****

Bizenghast, vol. 3 (2006): The Plot Thickens

M. Alice LeGrow, Bizenghast, vol. 3 (Tokyopop, 2006)


photo credit:

This time, it’s personal.

Things take a more personal turn for Dinah in the main story in this volume, when it turns out that the ghost they’re battling is no stranger. Worse, she’s become so powerful that even with Edaniel and Edrear’s help, Dinah ends up realizing for the first time that danger in the nocturnal world of the mausoleum is just as real as danger in the waking world. In other news, Vincent, while researching the town’s history, discovers that Addie Clark may be a more instrumental figure in all this than they had first thought. Series keeps going strong. *** ½