Thursday, February 19, 2009

Delirium, Pluto, & 20th Century Boys

Today's blog entry will be the first time I've written an entry while drinking a beer at the same time. I'm also writing this from my store and it's not even noon yet, so.... I rarely drink beer while I'm working, but every once in a great while I like to interact with my customers with a slight buzz going on (usually my work buzz of choice is caffeine via energy drinks).

The beer I'm drinking is one a friend (Rob Perez) brought over to our house on Christmas day and I'm just now drinking the last one. Said beer is called Delirium Tremens and is from Belgium. Delirium Tremens won the World Beer Championship in Chicago in 1998, I prefer the light Delirium to the dark Delirium even though I've found over the last year and a half that I generally like dark beers. The alcohol content is 8.5% so keep that in mind as you read this entry.
Pluto and 20th Century Boys are both by Naoki Urasawa, who also was the cartoonist that did the excellent manga, Monster, which just had its concluding volume translated here in the U.S. a couple of months ago. Urasawa is highly regarded in Japan and these two new releases have been highly anticipated by those that have read Monster.

Pluto is basically a modern "realistic" version of Astro Boy (the legendary manga and anime by Osama Tezuka, often rightly called "the God of Manga"). Pluto was the villain in what is considered one of the best Astro Boy stories, "The Greatest Robot On Earth". Urasawa's Pluto is set in the future in which people live alongside robots (it may be more accurate to call them androids as many of them look just like people) and the first volume is a great set up (especially the last couple of pages) that makes me want to read the next one right now (lots of intrigue, just like Monster). A favorite, poignant sequence in this volume is when robot, North No. 2, who was previously used as a major weapon by the military, wants to learn how to play the piano. This manga revision of Astro Boy was doen with thr full cooperation of Osama Tezuka's son and Tezuka Productions.
The first volume of 20th Century Boys also starts this new (well new to U.S. audiences) manga by introducing the main characters (and there are a few) with flashes back to them as children to hint at what's to come (especially in regard to a symbol they used in the past that is popping up in their present lives and people they haven't seen in years entering their lives again). As to what 20th Century Boys is ultimately about isn't clear to me yet, other then these boys, who are now adults, are somehow responsible for whatever happened at the end of their 20th century not ending in total disaster, but as Urasawa showed in Monster, the journey will be an experience that will reward readers looking for mature, complex escapism.

As I finish my last gulp of Delirium, I want to mention again (or for those of you new to my blog) that I largely do this blog not as an outlet for insights into great works of sequential art (because that's not even my strength), but rather to give a shout out to comic books / graphic novels that might have gotten lost in the sea of super hero titles (of which, yes, there still are some good ones, like Umbrella Academy). And as always, thanks for reading!

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Happy New Comics Wednesday 12/6/17 - Batman, Superman, BIG DC Holiday Special with 11 new stories including one by Tom King!, Walking Dead, Captain America, Larime & Sylv Taylor Artist Spotlight Opening Reception edition!

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