Good Comics at the Comic Shop February 19

For me, this week is all about the guilty pleasure manga from Yen Press. You may not find them at your local comic shop, but there are plenty of other sources.

For kids forced to kill each other on a deserted island, there’s BTOOOM! Volume 5 ($11.99), which starts another storyline by showing us the girl’s backstory. (Her name’s Himiko, but it doesn’t matter, since there’s only the one girl character, used mostly for fanservice.) For kids forced to kill each other in a warehouse to atone for their (yet unrevealed) sins, there’s Judge Book 3 ($12.99). While the early scenes will be familiar to anyone who watches Survivor or similar shows, with groups of competitors forming alliances, not much else happens. Lots of conversation leads into some late revelations about the game history but little on who’s behind it or even what some of the characters are about. I guess that keeps us ready for the next book.

In much different mood is No Matter How I Look At It It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular Book 2 ($11.99), a dark comedy about a seriously anti-social girl who desperately wants her video game experience to translate to real-life popularity. It doesn’t, and there’s a certain “thank goodness I’m not that lonely” feeling to seeing just how badly she can mess things up.

For kids of all ages, there’s the first collection of Batman: Li’l Gotham (DC Comics, $12.99). If you missed these six issues digitally or in print, this is a convenient, affordable way to read fun Batman (not a contradiction!) stories, holiday-themed, done in distinctive and eye-catching watercolors. A whole panoply of Gotham inhabitants appear, both heroes and tons of villains, creating a vibrant world of excitement.

More high-toned is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Bloomsbury, $22), a retelling of Mark Twain’s story adapted and illustrated by Seymour Chwast. Although I’ve heard the title many times over the years, I’ve never actually read the story, but I suspect Chwast’s abbreviated version is more entertaining, given how much rambling there is to the events. His monochrome, thin-line, flat cartoons add another level of absurdity to the story of a gentleman who gets knocked on the head and awakens in Camelot, where he introduces gunpowder, the telephone, a newspaper, and soap to the feudal society.

On Loving Women (Drawn and Quarterly, $16.95) is a collection of lesbian coming-out stories by Diane Obomsawin. The characters, often teen-aged, relate how they realized that they like girls in simply drawn tales populated by animal-headed figures. Since the stories are based in real life, they meander at times, but the moments can be touching. Probably of most interest to women who empathize with the emotions and discoveries portrayed.

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