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The Trades Thread - Hardcovers, Graphic Novels, and More


Akira book 2: Akira I (Wolverhampton Wanderers nil)

After the climactic battle between Tetsuo and the biker gangs at the end of book 1, Tetsuo is now part of the Government’s psychic programme, given the Number 41, Kaneda and Kei are prisoners of the army, and the psychic children are becoming aware of Tetsuo, and are increasingly worried about how he might awaken Akira. As Doctor Onishi’s desire to control and harness Akira’s power blinds him to Tetsuo’s increasingly sinister nature, The Colonel is worried about keeping him under control, and the children find allies to use in their fight with Tetsuo.

So this book is a much faster read than book 1, largely because the bulk of the pagecount goes to two big action sequences, the sprawling chase and fight involving Kei and Kaneda, Tetsuo, the Colonel and the psychic kids in the army headquarters; and Tetsuo going to see Akira, with the Colonel, Ryu, and Kei and Kaneda’s interactions with different elements. But in between these two sequences there are some notable moments, particularly the introduction of two new characters who are very important moving forward - Lady Miyako, an escapee from the psychic programme turned religious leader, and the power behind Nezu - the opposition politician and secret leader of the resistance; and Chiyoko, a muscular woman in the resistance who Kei calls her aunt like she calls Ryu her brother.

Also, if you’re only familiar with the anime of Akira, this is the point where the similarities between the two works stop. Until this point the broad strokes of the two stories are similar enough - and there are many moments in the anime taken directly from the manga, of course, but Akira’s nature in the manga is radically different from the anime, and the movie is almost finished at the point where this book finishes.

So what does this book add to the mix? Mostly scope and scale - the first action sequence is all in a single building - a very large one, but it’s all corridors and rooms. And the second one, while it’s mostly in the underground complex which houses Akira, it’s huge, with one of the setpieces being soldiers on flying platforms attacking Tetsuo in a massive lift shaft. The action also moves outwards to reveal the underground complex is under the crater in the middle of Neo-Tokyo, allowing for some amazing city shots, which in Otomo’s attention to detail show a path into the crater that maps onto the closeup scenes. The story also moves from a tale of two bike punks caught up in crazy shit to a grander scale, in which Tetsuo has stumbled onto an amazing power which could kill millions, especially if he awakens Akira, and the Colonel at least treats him as a threat on that level, going so far as to use an orbital laser weapon against him. And even with this grander scale, Kei and Kaneda remain relevant and vital as protagonists, the degree to which they’re intertwined with the plot never feels forced.


This is what shocked me most when I first read the series, as someone who had already seen the movie.

Realising that the stories diverged so much - and that the movie only covered a small part of the story told by the manga - was unexpected but exciting, as I had genuinely no idea where things were going to go next.


I got a huge dose of that because Marvel were still serialising Akira when I got into manga and anime in a big way, so I’d seen the movie, and then found oodles of the bookshelf format issues and the trades which collected like 3 issues each. And so I’d seen glimpses of the Great Tokyo Empire and plotlines like Lieutenant Yamada’s journey across Neo-Tokyo, the scientists on the aircraft carrier and the conflict between Miyako and Tetsuo before getting to read the book in sequence when it was serialised in Manga Mania.


So apparently the Kirby Fourth World Omnibus does have a trademark DC printing error after all. They’ve managed to reproduce a page of one of the Jimmy Olsen stories later in the omnibus a second time by mistake, and in doing so have omitted a full page of Kirby art.

Details here:

My copy that I ordered before Christmas still hasn’t despatched yet, and I’m wondering whether to just cancel it now. It seems that DC can’t put together one of these big collections without screwing it up somehow, and I don’t know if I want to reward that with my money.

I’m sure that to some readers it won’t matter much, but given the expense of these books I’m not really willing to shell out on them when they have errors like this, especially when they’re meant to be comprehensive collections and they end up omitting pages.

A shame.


I hadn’t heard about this upcoming Absolute yet:

It’s the version of the book that I’ve hoped to see for a while - the original colours and the new ones, as well as all the extras from the existing HC.

At that price it’s not too steep for an Absolute-sized book either.


Absolutely. The best price for this monster volume will be in the region of £78-82! And that’s with a massive online discount to take it down from the RRP of £135 / $150.

There’s no way this doesn’t do them reputational damage and DC already had that due to binding issues 3-4 years back on their big, deluxe trades - it’s why I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of more recent ones I grabbed last year, which has so far continued, but stories like this can only cast a pall over that.


Well, the easy solution is to print the missing page in the next Omnibus - something like Seven Soldiers - with instructions to cut out and glue into the Fourrh World Omnibus in the appropriate place. That’s proper old school. :laughing:

Another reason I’m glad I stuck with my old 4 part Omnibus set.


Last time I buy an omnibus from DC (actually it was a Christmas gift, but you get the idea).

I guess I’ll count my blessings that the error is in a Jimmy Olsen issue. Those have been the least enjoyable so far. I mean, none of the other books have Flippa Dippa in them.


Which is a mark against those.


Apparently they have issued stickers or done recalls to replace misprinted pages in the past.

But if you read through that thread, someone mentions that Didio was contacted about the issue directly on Facebook and said they have no plans to do either in this case.


Wow. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward fans who shelled out $150 for a book they messed up.


With the arrival of Grandville: Force Majeure, I thought I might as well reread all the previous books first. On reflection I’d say these books range from good to very good but are not as great as I remembered.

With respect to the latest volume, everything builds to a head and gets concluded which is nice but the execution is a bit off. There’s a saggy middle part where Archie tells Billie about an old police case. Okay, so it plays a very small part in what happens later but is unnecessary. What this does is make it about 50 pages longer than a standard Grandville book. How can that be a bad thing you ask? Well, it just serves to make the whole thing drag and with several other plot points bouncing around it seems a bit messy. Interestingly there is an anti-spoiler plastic seal around the last 50 pages. However, the twist was so obvious that my 2 year old could have guessed it so that seems a trifle irrelevant.

One thing that is great throughout is the lush art which really jumps off the page. It’s not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination and the Grandville series ultimately falls into the, ‘another good comic story’, rather than ‘classic’ territory. Here’s my order of preference

1- Grandville
4 - Noel
2/5 - Mon Amour/Force Majeure
3 - Bette Noire

I always judge a book by it’s rereadability and overall from this series I’d say I’ll likley only read volumes 1 and 4 again.


I’ve been doing a re-read too, and it’s taking me so long that I haven’t reached Force Majeure yet!

On reflection, I think the books are actually better that I remembered them. One of the reasons I’m reading them so slowly is that I’m lingering a lot more over the pages, and picking up a lot more jokes and homages than I remember from my original reads. Literally every page has something clever on it, something that doesn’t need to be there for story purposes, but adds to the overall enjoyment.


Oh, Bobby.


Akira book 3: Akira II (I can’t do the football scores joke two posts in a row)

Picking up immedately after the end of book 2 (as in, Tetsuo gets shot by SOL a second time in the first three pages), Kei and Kaneda find Akira and abscond with him, making contact with Nezu, only to discover that he’s striking out on his own and wants to cut loose ends. Meanwhile, the government wants to cover up, and have decided The Colonel is their scapegoat, so he kicks off a coup d’etat in order to focus on retrieving Akira. Realising that Nezu has betrayed her, Miyako deploys her own psychics to get Akira for herself. And it all goes downhill from there…

So, one of the taglines for the movie was Neo-Tokyo is about to E X P L O D E, and this volume is basically that line in a nutshell. The city was a ball of tension when the story began, but it’s been further destabilised since then, and now it’s all falling apart. Nezu’s betrayal of Miyako and attempt to clear up loose ends (read: kill Kei, Kaneda and Chiyoko) leads to open fighting with the army in the middle of their coup, and ultimately to disaster.

At the end of this book is one of the iconic sequences in the entire series - the destruction of Neo-Tokyo. It’s about 30 pages long, and it’s gorgeous. But imagine seeing this in a monthly US comic? How would fans of superhero books react if the next issue of Avengers was just splash pages of New York buildings collapsing? I mean, obviously this was accepted in western markets in the context of Akira - the series was serialised in bookshelf format issues back in the 80s and 90s, of course, but still, the storytelling in this book is quite different to mainstream superhero tropes.

One thing that makes the sequence particularly poignant and effective is that it’s preceded by a few pages that show random people in Neo-Toyko waking up, unaware of the previous night’s violence. It grounds the sepcatcle with a reminder that there are people dying in those buildings going smash. This is a recuring motif and strength of the comic overall, where crowd scenes are full of snippets of conversations, helping to make the world feel lived in.

At the literal halfway mark through the story, Akira presents a singularity - a point after which nothing is the same any more. The only hint in this volume as to what the future may hold is a faked up newspaper spread talking about the aftermath of the disaster and that aid volunteers have been attacked while trying to enter the city. In a very nice touch, the original spread is presented in Japanese and then in English, with the layout of the pages reflecting the difference in how papers are presented in Japan and the West.


Don’t be silly, you’re on Millarworld. Recycling jokes is what we do!




I’ve been reading the Black Panther: Panther’s Rage Epic Collection. It collects the two FF issues where BP first appears and the entire run of Jungle Action featuring Black Panther by Don McGregor, Billy Graham, Rich Buckler, and Klaus Janson. This is the run that introduced Erik Killmonger and fleshed out Wakanda as a country. I’ve finished the titular arc, which at 13 parts is one of the first superhero epics, and am now on the concluding 4-parter that has T’Challa fighting the Klan in his girlfriend’s small Georgia hometown. This story isn’t as good as “Panther’s Rage,” but it’s good so far.

Billy Graham’s artwork is fantastic. It’s a shame he drew so few comics (I think a stint on Luke Cage, Hero for Hire is his only other long run). He had a great sense of composition and action. Some of his layouts and splash pages are breathtaking.

In “Panther’s Rage,” McGregor crafts an engaging, intricately plotted story of T’Challa returning home from service with the Avengers to find his homeland embroiled in Killmonger’s revolution. Nearly every issue introduces a new henchman of Killmonger’s with their own motives and powers, giving the Panther someone to fight and (usually) defeat in each issue while Killmonger remains out of reach until the end. Except, of course, for the first issue (Jungle Action #6), where Killmonger beats up T’Challa and throws him off a waterfall. The shots of a waterfall in the BP trailer have me hopeful we’ll see this scene recreated.

Although the surface level of the story is T’Challa building himself up after his defeat, McGregor also works in themes of violence, revolution, and cultural change. Killmonger’s revolution is so successful because T’Challa has advanced his nation too rapidly, technologically-speaking, which leaves many feeling left behind or at odds with a quickly changing culture. Many of them feel threatened by having to coexist with the kind of technology Klaw used in his invasion of Wakanda (shown in the FF issues), which killed T’Challa’s father and wiped out Killmonger’s village.

The story looks at the violence both sides use, with Killmonger’s major weakness being that he has little regard for the lives of the people he’s supposedly liberating. Throughout the story, T’Challa is caught between having to use violence and hating it, and it’s that dilemma that the story’s really about, and ultimately that conflict in T’Challa shows why he’s a more suitable leader than Killmonger. Differing views of violence also play out among the supporting cast: W’Kabi’s “shoot first” rhetoric, Taku’s pacifism and empathy for his enemies, and Monica Lynne’s pragmatism.

McGregor does have a bad habit of over-writing. His descriptions are often superfluous, which is expected in comics from that era (70s and earlier) but they stick out because his sentences can also be really overwrought and repetitive. But his plots and characterizations have so much depth that it doesn’t significantly impact my enjoyment. If you’re curious about Black Panther and Killmonger before the movie, or if you just want to see a smartly-executed superhero epic from a time when they weren’t so common, then this book is highly recommended.


I read Panther’s Rage in its original format via bimonthly issues of Jungle Action, and I remember it fondly today. You’re right about McGregor being overly verbose; he did the same with his other project at that time, the War of the Worlds/Killraven saga in Amazing Adventures. But in both books, McGregor created a wonderful and memorable cast of characters, both heroes and villains, with fantastic names.


Yes! he’s a great world-builder and has a strong sense of pacing and focus. You can tell reading Panther’s Rage that he’s thought through every last detail. For me that more than makes up for some relatively minor aesthetic issues with his writing.