Saturday, July 6, 2013

39. Last Hope Vol. 1 by Kriss Sison & Michael Dignan

Writer:  Michael Dignan

Artist:  Kriss Sison

First Publication:  2005

Challenge:  Graphic Novels Challenge (#16)

Publisher:  Seven Seas Entertainment

Summary (from Wikipedia):

Do you believe in alternate dimensions? Ikuko, her friend Colleen, and Alvin at Hawaii's Maunaloa Institute for International Studies become believers when the class hunk, Hiro, confesses to them that he's really a prince from another world on the run from the evil Lord Kumagai! Now that they've been dragged into it, Hiro, Ikuko, and their friends must traverse countless alternate dimensions and survive the terrors they find there or die trying; whether at the hands of the ruthless Lord Kumagai or the alternate dimensions' hostile inhabitants.


The art by Kriss Sison is fantastic.  Combined with Michael Dignan's scripting, it makes for a very good manga book.  I enjoyed the interaction of the various characters at the school.  One of my favorite parts was the group traveling to an alternate reality version of the school.  It brought back memories of the television show "Sliders".  At first it seemed like they were back home but it soon became evident that this was a different reality.

In some respects, "Last Hope" reminded me of one of my favorite anime shows "The Vision of Escaflowne".  Both feature a journey to a drastically different world, a mysterious hero of royal descent, and a normal Earth girl.  Sison and Dignan channel the spirit (either intentionally or not) of "Vision" without copying it.  They make it their own story.

Recommended to fans of manga.  I downloaded the second book on to my Kindle Fire.  From the Wikipedia article, it lists that the third book was delayed.  Hopefully it will be out soon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

36. Red Sonja, She-Devil with a Sword Vol. 9: War Season

Writer:  Eric Trautmann

Artists:  Walter Geovani, Patrick Berkenkotter

First Publication:  2011

Challenge:  Graphic Novel Challenge (#16)

Collects issues 51-55 of ongoing series.

Publisher:  Dynamite Entertainment


From Comixology:  Red Sonja is sent on a last-ditch, desperate mission across the border into Shem. Her mission is more than it seems, as Sonja leads her mercenary allies into a quest for a deadly secret hidden within the walls of the city-state, Persemhia. But others seek this mysterious prize as well, as the armies of Koth and Argos mass to crush Red Sonja's ragtag band. It will take more than skill with a blade for any to survive this deadly season of war...


One of my best friends, Terry Kissinger, told me that this is one of the best Robert E. Howard comics ever.  According to Terry, it is up there with the original Conan work by Roy Thomas, J. M. DeMatteis, and Jim Owsley.  After reading this collection, I can see why he liked it so much.  Trautmann is either a big Robert E. Howard fan or a very good researcher.  He takes the time to use the countries, etc. already established in this universe.  It seems like, in recent times, that the creators just make up names for the countries instead of using the ones that already exist.  Trautmann takes the time to flesh out places from other stories.  The way he writes the series, a new reader does not need to worry.  All you need to know is on these pages.  But if you are a fan of Red Sonja or Conan, you get the added pleasure of visiting places you have heard about in the past.

As far as characterization goes, Trautmann nails it.  He gives different personalities to each of the members of her group.  And he wrote the best Red Sonja I have ever read.  I have quite the number of collections to enjoy since Trautmann stays on the titles until issue 75.

My favorite part was the epilogue which was issue 55 in the ongoing series.  Sonja reflects on the events of the four part story arc.  In this brutal universe, it is a chore just to survive.  Many people do not make it out alive.

The pieces are in place.  The reader gets a great story that actually has consequences.  And, according to Terry, this story will have repercussions in future story lines.  I can't wait to read more.