Friday, August 22, 2008

Battler Britton and Cowa!

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death. This time, reviews of Battler Britton (DC, 2007) and Cowa! (Viz, 2008).

I enjoyed the daylights out of this comic. The character originally appeared in some of the UK's older, digest-styled anthologies such as Air Ace Picture Library and this was his first outing in better than thirty years. Garth Ennis clearly has a lot of reverence for the original series and plays things straight, giving readers a solid wartime adventure in north Africa, with derring-do and human tragedy. This didn't sell as well as DC/Wildstorm were hoping, despite Ennis's other successes, putting the brakes on other period revivals. That's a real shame, because this is a truly fine comic which deserved a wider audience. Recommended for anyone who likes war comics.

Well, this is just about the cutest damn thing ever. I've mentioned before that since completing Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama has not committed to any long-form comics, merely short serials which run for only 13-14 weeks. Cowa! is one of these, a very fun all-ages story featuring a mischievous, well-meaning vampire kid in a monster village. To say more about Paifu, as the back cover does, gives too much away. Paifu and his best friend, a ghost named Jose, have to enlist the aid of a retired human sumo wrestler when all the town's monster adults come down with a deadly disease, and the only cure is 750 miles away.

Toriyama inks with a heavier line than he used to in this story, which was first published in Japan in 1997, but his storytelling prowess is every bit as good as in his Dr. Slump heyday. He still lays out the action better than anybody, and the old smacked-into-the-stratosphere gag is every bit as funny here as it ever was. Viz's new collection of this story, in its first American edition, actually includes the first episode in its original color, which is the first time I've seen that from Viz. Highly recommended for people who like fun, and especially those who have kids. Every elementary school library in the country should stock this book.

(Originally posted August 22, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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