An unintentional Gerry Finley Day double header over the past couple of days with the second Rogue Trooper “complete case files” volume and The Dracula File (another Rebellion reprint from the IPC vaults). Was surprised that the Traitor General story actually got wrapped up at the end of the Rouge Trooper book and interested to see what happens next so will have a look for the next volume.
The Dracula File was a cracking read though a shame it just ended (though understandable given that Scream, the comic it was published in, got cancelled).
Once I finished the books I was left with one question: what happened to Finley Day? As far as I can tell he’s still alive but not active in comics anymore and hasn’t been for decades.
Akira book 4: Kei I
Time has passed since the end of book 3. Neo-Tokyo is in ruins. A helicopter carrying supplies to the survivors is attacked and looted by men claiming to be soldiers of the Great Tokyo Empire. A team of special forces operatives infiltrate the ruins of the city in order to figure out what’s happened, and it’s through Lieutenant Yamada, one of these soldiers that we learn something of what’s happened in Neo-Tokyo in the interim. The Great Tokyo Empire’s leader is Akira, with Tetsuo as his right-hand man (and presumably the power behind the throne, as Akira literally doesn’t have a personality), set up on one side of the city’s remains, while on the other side Lady Miyako is taking in the needy and feeding and protecting them. The people of the city fully expect the two powers to clash sooner or later.
Meanwhile, Kaneda is missing, presumed dead, Kei and Chiyoko are holed up in a ruined building with Masaru and Kiyoko - the surviving psychic children, searching for drugs to help them cope with their powers. The Colonel and one of the surviving scientists are planning to use SOL to try and kill Tetsuo and Akira. Naturally, all these characters start in divergant places but are on a variety of collision courses.
To some degree this is a reset to the story and a rehash of book 1. A chunk of the volume is setting up the new status quo, but like book 1 Otomo immedately sets about unravelling this. Neo-Tokyo was a powerkeg in book 1, but now it’s a powderkeg where the trail of gunpowder leading out of it has been lit and is fast approaching. The situation for most of the characters is untenable, and as Yamada reveals to Ryu, the destruction of the city has lead to international tension, with the Soviets annexing parts of Japan, and an American fleet off the coast of Neo-Toyko, wary of Akira’s presence but considering an attack against the city. And perhaps surprisingly, the actions of some characters in this volume lead to immediate consequences, resulting in the soldiers of the Great Tokyo Empire attacking Miyako’s temple by the end of this volume.
There’s also a marked increase in sexual content in this volume. Back in book 1, it’s implied that Kaneda made one of the girls in his school pregnant, and he’s been a horndog towards Kei, but it’s been alluded to or described rather than explicit. Here, Kei faces sexual assault twice in a single book, Tetsuo engages in group sex with three girls (there’s a bigger discussion over whether this is rape or not. The three are basically pulled off the streets, undressed and left in Tetsuo’s room, but they do seem to be willing partners during the actual sex scene), and there’s subtext about the fate of women in post-destruction Neo-Tokyo. Twice there’s a mention of how attractive women are rare “these days” - once from one of Kei’s potential rapists, and once from Tetsuo’s main aide, after he found Tetsuo’s bedmates. This suggests that a lot of women have been killed, possibly after being used for sex, though the book does explicitly state that people had the ability to leave the city, so presumably many women did this to escape a horrible fate. This is also the first volume with explicit nudity - non-sexual in one case, being Chiyoko bathing topless, but everyone’s naked in Tetsuo’s sex scene. As per the usual conventions of manga, no genitals are shown, but Otomo sneaks an erect penis into one shot - the first set of attempted rapists flash Kei before attacking her, and the head of one of the gang’s penis is vilible; and after she kills the second person to try and have sex with her, his compatriots find his corpse with a visible erection through his trousers, which they comment on.
Probably the most interesting part of this section of the story is Tetsuo. His powers have expanded massively, and at this point the drugs he’s been taking are limiting rather than expanding his powers, though he’s also using them to make more psychics to fight for the Empire. His own plight leads him to speak with Miyako, who suggests he go cold turkey. This leads Tetsuo into a massive period of introspection. What’s interesting is that Tetsuo is in many ways fundamentally different from the brash teenager with a chip on his shoulder in books 1 and 2. There’s part of him still there, but he’s muted somehow. As I noted above, Akira has no personality - the way in which he accepted his power stripped it away from him, and Tetsuo is on the verge of a similar moment. Miyako is playing a long game with him, the details of which remain to be seen.
The other thing to note in this volume is the introduction of Kaori, seen in the movie as Tetsuo’s girlfriend from school, but here she’s a refugee, one of the girls picked up for Tetsuo’s orgy. She’s the only one to survive Tetsuo’s telepathic outbursts during sex, and becomes a companion and caretaker to him and Akira, with a closeness to the pair that nobody in the Empire can match. Kaori and Tetsuo’s relationship is one of my favourite elements in the back half of the series, with some fascinating subtext.
Finally, the pacing of the book is worth noting. Reading this in a serialised form, the battles between the Empire and Miyako’s followers took a few months to resolve, but in the collection it’s a couple of hundred pages of consecutive action. The cuts to other characters during the fighting are pregnant pauses in the collection, while they felt more like complete scenes when read in a periodical. It’s an interesting contrast.
I think Dave Bishop happened to Findlay - Day
His scripts apparently were quite scrappy and required a bit of editorial tidy up, which Bishop wasn’t happy with and he got bombed out a bit.
Pat Mills has been trying to lure him back for years and says that the amount of ‘effort’ required was totally overstated by certain editors and that the time was well worth it as Findlay is an excellent ideas guy.
How is it reading Akira in its original right-to-left format? This is the first time it’s been presented that way in English, isn’t it? Has it improved the experience at all?
It is indeed. It’s been long enough since I originally read Akira that I don’t have a specific memory of the flow of panels, but intend to grab the UK collection of book 1 down off the shelf and do a side-by side comparison/
The script thing is mentioned by many, that Finley-Day was a great ideas man but some of them were almost incomprehensible and required severe rewrites.
My memory says Bishop may need to get a pass on this one though. I’m pretty sure his work disappeared from the progs long before his reign as Tharg.
A quick check - yeah his last regular credited work is 1985 on Rogue Trooper which they handed over to Dave Gibbons when the book added more colour. 11 years before Bishop took over and Steve McManus was editing.
You are probably right
I just like blaming Bishop for everything
And I think what you’ve said there in relation to McManus ties in with what Mills says in his Be Pure…book
Received the first BPRD Hell on Earth hardback and it is another, excellent volume that goes very well with the Abe Sapien one.
It’s going to be good to assemble this set.
I have some sympathy for McManus if he did dump him, as much as I liked a lot of his stories (Harry 20 is a huge fave of mine, it started running not long after I started reading).
Editing a weekly anthology comic by all accounts seems very difficult. To add on the task of hefty rewrites must be quite an overhead, especially when you have new blood coming in like Milligan and Morrison that started getting published in 1985/6.
I tried to Google what he’s done afterwards (outside he came back for a couple of short strips in 2010/11) and there seems to be nothing on the web at all. All I saw was a succinct summary from Mills:
People are divided on Gerry’s writing – professionals didn’t like it, but the readers often did and still do. (In the end, the professionals won and Gerry left 2000AD)
I’m currently listening to Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! on Audible, read by Mills himself, and that is exactly how he puts it. Mills is a big fan of Finley-Day, but it seems he scripts we’re horrendous for an editor to translate. Mills also mentions judging how exciting a story was by how scruffy and dog-eared the script was, adding that neat-looking scripts contained boring stories. I suspect that may be apocryphal, but I get his point. (Damn, my script are pristine .)
Akira book 5: Kei II.
A Soviet helicopter approaches the US fleet off the coast of Neo-Tokyo. Its lone passenger - a scientist joins an eclectic group of scientists and a mystic, gathered to monitor and analyse the psychic phenomena in the city.
In Neo-Tokyo, Kaneda is back, returned alongside the remains of the buildings Tetsuo brought back at the end of book 4 from wherever Akira sent them at the end of book 3. His reunion with Kei is short-lived, as their paths diverge quickly. Kei press-gangs the Colonel into taking her into Chiyoko, who was injured saving him in book 4. Kaneda reacquaints himself with Kai, the only other survivor of his bike gang, who introduces him to the black market - run by his old biking rival Joker.
Meanwhile, Tetsuo’s power is veering wildly between under his control and not, with his chief aide becoming increasingly worried by his outbutsts, his increasingly erratic behaviour and his disinterest in the Empire. Tetsuo is far more interested in his psychic development, and to a lesser degree tormenting the scientists off the shore. Miyako’s plan is revealed, to goad Tetsuo to higher levels of power, allow his personality to fall away, and then pit it against Akira to try and destroy them both. To do this she, Masaru and Kiyoko need Kei’s talents as a medium to focus their power together and direct it.
And then things fall apart. Again. The final confrontation looms and the fate of Neo-Toyko lies in the hands of Kei, Kaneda an their friends.
So this volume is very much a case of escalation and chaos. Much of it feels like a repeat of story beats from the prior volume- American soldiers infiltrate Neo-Tokyo, Kei and the Colonel fend off soldiers of The Empire, an injured person is carried to Miyako’s temple, Tetsuo flies in and causes devastation, but the way they’re used makes sense, because they’re more an escalation than padding.
There’s also one more of the comic’s iconic scenes in this volume - when Tetsuo flies to the moon and pulls a pillar of rock out of it, causing massive destruction (of course) on Earth. It’s a gorgeous sequence, rendered amazingly, especially a shot of the aftermath with a ring of debris orbiting the broken moon. It’s also the start of the body horror elements so famous in the anime, where Tetsuo’s self-fashioned artificial arm grows uncontrollably, though here he’s better able to control it for now. There’s a particularly effective moment where Kaori is peacefully asleep on his lap, and shrouded under his cloak you can see the mass of organic growth that was his arm.
Oh my god. As much as I don’t want to know anything about the latter volumes of Akira (having read the first three there’s no way that I’m not going to read the rest), everything that you wrote just sounds so good. I can imagine the moon sequence that you describe but I guarantee that it will be even better as rendered in the comic than in my head.
Yeah, I’ve stopped reading @Lorcan_Nagle’s Akira posts as they’ve inspired me to do a reread soon and I want to go into the later volumes “unspoiled” (it’s been years since I’ve read it and have forgotten how it plays out).
There you go, Lorcan. Your posts are so good people don’t want to read them.
I’m so impressed with Lorcan I can only pay the ultimate compliment of ignoring all his posts until 2019.
That’s a bit half-assed. I’ve undergone psychic surgery to remove all my knowledge of Lorcan’s posting hist–what a minute, what am I talking about? Who’s Lorcan? Where am I?
Does anyone else get annoyed by how creators are sometimes billed on collections?
I ordered the Daredevil: Heart of Darkness Epic Collection at my LCS but it hasn’t arrived yet. I ordered it just knowing it was the next one collecting Nocenti & JRJR’s run. Today I felt like reading about it on Amazon and saw the cover credits. Here are the names on the cover in order: Wright, Nocenti, David, Bagley, JRJR, Medina. Who the hell are all these other names (I know Bagley and David but what are they doing on there)? Was I gonna have to sift through mishmash just to enjoy Nocenti & JRJR?
Luckily I looked at the table of contents. The TPB opens with an annual of short stories mostly written by a guy named Gregory Wright (wrote a few comics in the 90s, mainly Silver Sable, Deathlok, and Morbius, hasn’t done much since). After that there’s #271-282 of Nocenti’s run, concluding JRJR’s contributions. Then there’s a 4-part crossover between Daredevil, Punisher, Hulk, and Silver Surfer annuals. The Daredevil one is written by Wright, the others aren’t. I take it he’s listed first on the cover because his contributions technically come before Nocenti’s in the reading order. And Peter David, who only writes the Hulk annual, is up there before JRJR because of the overly rigid writer first, artist second rule for crediting. Bagley draws one of the first DD annual shorts so he gets his name in front of Romita.
I get the logic but it’s bad logic. This should be sold to readers as a Nocenti/JRJR book. The Epic Collections include everything from the chunk of time they collect so I get why it might not be seen as simply Nocenti/JRJR. But as you’re encouraged to pick and choose with these collections, since they’re not published in order, most people are gonna get it for Nocenti and Romita. Especially as their run’s never been collected in full before. It just seems dumb to credit them this way. Other Epic Collections have done this, too. On a Moon Knight volume, a writer named Jack Harris got his name before Sienkiewicz, who draws nearly every issue, because he wrote a single fill-in issue.
Granted, that’s more an example of following a rule too closely for no real reason, instead of being confusing like Heart of Darkness is. Why minimize the contributions of the main creators contained in the books? Especially for, I’m sorry, a no-name writer like Wright? Why bill him as the main guy? The rigid writer then artist crediting rule is pretty dumb regardless but if you’re gonna do it, at least do it the smart way and put the main contributors first, with writers and artists who provide supplementary material behind those names in a smaller font.
I know this is a really minor thing to be annoyed about, and I wouldn’t have brought it up if not for this making me second-guess whether I wanted the book or not. If I hadn’t ordered it via my LCS I may have even canceled the order; I really didn’t want to read a 500 page book where the cover suggested only half of it might be by the creators I’m interested in. Good thing I checked the table of contents, but not everyone’s gonna do that. Just seems like a thoughtless way to market the book, imo.
I think it may be primarily a Marvel problem, their credits on Marvel Unlimited are appalling. They often credit the editor and the cover artist first. It looks like similarly on the Epic collections they are getting someone who doesn’t know comics and simple things like everybody buys those Moon Knight comics for the Sienkiewicz art.
Did you know the classic death of Jean Grey story in Uncanny X-Men #137 was by Claremont, Novak and Orzechowski? John Byrne not involved it seems.