Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
First Impression Reviews: Q-Ko-Chan & Omukae Desu

Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1

The High Concept Reduction: It's Shadow Star meets Alien Nine by way of Precious Moments.

The Verdict: This is one of those incomprehensible books that still manages to appeal to me based purely on the strength of its art and atmosphere (see also: Shadow Star; Alien Nine). After my first read, I honestly have no idea what was going on in this book, aside from a young boy finding a girl mecha who wants him to "ride her right." Perhaps it'll make more sense if I read it again. Still, something about the minimalist visuals really grabbed me, despite the creepy children populating the narrative.

Distracting Details: I've heard of writers using the "Alan Smithee" pseudonym to disown work they're ashamed of, but letterers? Perhaps "Alan" saw the narrow word balloons he'd have to work with (which result in numerous instances of stacked text in skinny speech bubbles) and decided he didn't want to be blamed for any odd-looking results.

And, really: Precious Moments.

Breakout Character: Bucket-Man Mecha.

Other Reviews: Greg McElhatton ; Prospero's Manga ; Sequential Tart ; Joe McCulloch ; David Welsh

Omukae Desu Vol. 1

The High Concept Reduction: It's a cuter, cuddlier, more comedic version of Bleach. (Or, for American comic book audiences, it's Deadman, but with the twist that the main character lets ghosts take over his body instead of being a ghost that possesses living bodies.)

The Verdict: It's cute but perhaps a little too disposable. There's really nothing about this first volume that entices me to check out the next one. The humor feels forced and falls flat. The characters are barely one-dimensional. And the conceit of dressing up one of the characters in a pink bunny suit is a random gimmick with no logic or payoff.

There's also something odd about the book's pacing: single thoughts or statements are often stretched out over several panels (or pages, even), which makes it easy for the reader to lose the flow, especially when other story elements (other characters' words or actions) interrupt the main thread. (If you have the book, check out the sequence on pages 57-62 for a prime example of what I'm talking about.)

Distracting Details: The paper stock CMX uses for its manga books continues to feel cheap, but at least the binding allows you to open the book and read it comfortably, whereas earlier releases were so stiff they'd snap shut like bear traps if you didn't concentrate on forcing the pages back.

Also, that is one of the plainest cover images I've ever seen. The imprint that publishes the book isn't even identified on the front cover. (The image on DC's site shows the CMX logo on the cover but it's missing from the published book) It's an interesting, low-key approach, but it doesn't do much to establish CMX as a brand that consumers can easily identify.

Breakout Character: Chaga-Hara, the mean friend of overweight teenager Shian Nagasaka. Unfortunately, she only appears in a one-off backup story after volume one of Omukae Desu ends, so we probably won't be seeing her again.

Other Reviews: David Welsh ; Silver Bullet Comics

(Thanks to David Welsh for providing copies of these books for review.)