story by Eiji Otsuka; art by Housui Yamazaki; adapted by Carl Gustav Horn
published by Dark Horse; $11.99 US
I was also glad to have back the annotations and endnotes by editor Carl Gustav Horn, as he’s credited for his adaptation. He begins by explaining and apologizing for the change in the cover stock, since it’s lost its “brown paper wrapper” feel as a way to cut costs. The insides are still as good as ever, though, with the motley bunch of dead-talkers exploring how their powers might work in an online realm.
The images make this story particularly creepy, as everyone has animal heads for their virtual personas. Men have been shanghaied to work off their debts for gentlemen’s clubs under control of a bosomy fantasy woman. The story quickly becomes more complicated with the introduction of a debt collector and the concept of physical identity theft. It’s a bizarre story with plenty of hooks involving modern concerns as well as classic science fiction allusions to such stories as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Face/Off. (It also justifies the book’s shrink-wrapping, with nudity and sexual situations, as they refer to them in the ratings game, as well as some explicit scenes of violence.)
The matchups are clever and come together in unexpected ways. The next story puts together a boy who survives by staying in apartments where the previous tenants committed suicide (in an end run around disclosure laws) and a girl who is capable of astral projection, making for an odd, yet charming, couple. The final story is perhaps the most disturbing, as it combines an otherwise-touching history of a bereaved brother with a too-realistic doll of a young girl. This match didn’t particularly work for me, as it tosses in a then-current political reference, and I thought the pieces didn’t quite jell. Also, there’s no such thing as a truly happy ending here, although the authors stretch to come up with situations that aren’t complete downers.
Still, I’d like to read more of this series, so I encourage you, if it sounds interesting, please buy a copy or request it from your library. This is a twist on a “zombie” comic that even people who don’t like the genre (like me) can appreciate. The publisher’s website has a short preview available.