I'm not sure what I went into this one expecting. In the Love & Rockets universe, one of the characters, Fritz, is a B-movie actress. This is the adaptation of one of her first films, a comic book version of a movie that never really existed. So it's a stand-alone graphic novel where one of the minor characters looks like a different Gilbert Hernandez character.
Man, it's bleak. It's not as explicit as some of his other material - I guess it was "cleaned up" for the screen or something - but it's even more patently adult in content and tone, with terrible fates befalling unhappy people. It's a really ugly world which I didn't enjoy visiting, but I was nevertheless caught up in the story and cared what happened to Empress, the strange, lonely girl caught in ugly situations. Recommended with a pretty strong mature readers advisory.
Much, much better. The previous volume of Emma had me deeply annoyed with both protagonists for their very stupid decisions and actions. This time out, Emma and William are recovering from what they'd done, Emma is actually interacting with her fellow staff and not being so uptight, and William... well, I think book six is going to be pretty interesting now that we've met this Viscount fellow. Best of all is an exchange of letters between the two which is, quite unexpectedly, the hottest thing ever. Oh, the passions! Oh, these Victorians! Recommended!
...but it's not recommended half as highly as this baby. This is one of the best of the English-language Golgo 13 books yet. The bulk of the volume is given over to a captivating little political study called "Okinawa Syndrome." You probably never gave a thought in your life to how Okinawa's exchange rate with the US affects its ability to attract manufacturing business, but such minutiae fuels a remarkable story of an attempted military coup. Golgo 13 doesn't even show up until halfway through the story, and, in a break with the series' conventions, you have no idea what he's doing there and whose side he's on.
Possibly even more entertaining is the short story which follows, in which somebody gets mistaken for Golgo 13 and comes to the inescapable conclusion that he has made a genuinely horrible decision in passing himself off as something he's not. Then again, he accepts his fate with such engaging, infectious good spirits that you can't help but chuckle, and the climax is the most unexpected thing you've ever seen. Highly recommended!
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(Originally posted November 29, 2007 at hipsterdad's LJ.)