I know I’m repeating myself here, but public libraries have become an excellent source of comics entertainment for me. At a time when most everything costs more, at a time when my disposable income is low, at a time when I’m striving to reduce my vast accumulation of comics and books, I cherish my local library. Due to its being part of ClevNet, an organization of more than a hundred area libraries, I can get just about any comics collection, graphic novel or non-fiction book about comics. I can even take chances with my reading material because it doesn’t cost me anything and, if I don’t enjoy what I’m reading, I can stop reading it and return it without the least bit of guilt about wasting money.
Comics are being appreciated by readers old and new. Creators and publishers are still selling books. New comics fans are exposed to great comics and often go on to buy those books now and in years to come. It’s a win-win all around.
I get all kinds of comics collections and graphic novels from the library. From time to time, I write about them.
I’ve been dipping into the “Age of Krakoa” X-Men collections. Most recently, I read Way of X by Si Spurrier Vol. 1 [Marvel; $19.99]. Here’s the book’s back cover come-on:
Only one mutant senses the looming shadows. On Krakoa, mutantkind has built a new Eden — but there are serpents in this garden. Some mutants struggle to fit in. Some mutants turn to violence and death. And the children whisper of the Patchwork Man, singing in their hearts. Snared by questions of death, law and love, only Nightcrawler can fight for the soul of Krakoa. Only he — and the curious crew he assembles — can help mutants defeat their inner darkness and find a new way to live! But the malevolent force hiding within Krakoa has begun to show its true form, and answers are hidden…within the Mindscape! As the X-Men’s greatest foe — mutantkind’s primal evil — slithers in the minds of its most senior leaders, can Nightcrawler light the spark that will drive out the shadows, or will Krakoa slip into the abyss?
There are a lot of terrific ideas in what I call the X-Men’s “Age of Krakoa.” There’s a big terrific idea in this series: the quest to unite the mutants in embracing a way of life. Nightcrawler, his faith tested by events, is seeking that way of life. While it’s not a religion per se, it is kind of sort of spiritual. I enjoyed this collection of Way of X #1-5 plus X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation. Even though I was often lost because of how much happens in other X-Men titles. These “Age of Krakoa” titles are not easy-to-follow.
Sidebar. I would love to see Marvel publish some sort of “What You Need to Know about the X-Men” book that summarized all that’s been going on in the world of the X-Men. Sort of handbook to the giant ideas and challenges of their brave new world. If Marvel publishes it, I’ll buy it. The design-y snippets of graphics and text in the comics themselves just aren’t doing the job. End of sidebar.
Writer Spurrier is joined by artist Bob Quinn, color artist Java Tartaglia and VC’s Clayton Cowles on the lettering. Quinn’s art and storytelling are very good. Tartaglia offers varied color schemes that are neither too bright nor too dark. The lettering is great, easy to read. Editors Jake Thomas and Sarah Brunstad and Senior Editor Jordan D. White did a good job tying all the elements of story and visuals together.
With the warning that this vast story can be confusing, I recommend you give Way of X and some of the other X-Men titles a chance. You might enjoy them.
I kind of sort of know stuff about Japan’s Kamen Rider, but kinda of sort of not really. I know it’s a popular manga. I know it’s a long-running super-hero series with multiple incarnations. But I’ve never read the manga or watched a full episode of any of the Kamen Rider live-action series. Which is why I was thrilled to get Kamen Rider - The Classic Manga Collection [Seven Seas; $32.99]. Over 850 pages of the comics by Shotaro Ishinomori. Here’s the back-cover copy from this hefty tome:
Fans the world over have long been enthralled by tales of Kamen Rider, the masked, motorcycle-riding superhero who protects the world from injustice. Kidnapped and experimented upon by the evil terrorist organization known as Shocker, Hongo Takeshi manages to escape their clutches and use his newfound strength to fight against their schemes. These are the first adventures in a legacy that spans dozens of television series and films, drawn and written by series creator and manga superstar Shotaro Ishinomori. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the classic 1971 publication, this collection is the first hardcover edition of Kamen Rider in English. It features the original Kamen Rider manga series plus special bonus materials and full-color inserts.
Here’s the rub. Try as I might, I couldn't read the last story in this volume. I just couldn’t keep going because every story was padded with repetitive actions and villains. The same evil organization in every story with their hybrid animal/cyborg hit men. The countless huge panels stretching not particularly deep stories to a hundred pages or more. It’s not that there was nothing there. It just did not hold my interest.
SPOILER WARNING. The most interesting aspect about Kamen Rider is that, a couple stories into the collection, it kills off its cyborg hero. The mantle of cyborg rebelling against the evil organization is taken over by a new character while the original Rider’s brain is in a lab and communications with his replacement. I thought that was an interesting plot development that, sadly, got weakened by the repetative fight scenes. END OF SPOILER.
If you’re a fan of Kamen Rider or similar Japanese super-heroes, I think you’ll get something out of this collection. But prepare for a long haul reading its 850+ pages.
Watch for more library reviews in future installments of the blog.I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2022 Tony Isabella