K

Hideyuki Kikuchi - Vampire Hunter D
I found this and a couple of his other books in a bargain bookshop the other day. They were a good  price and despite a general ambivalence towards manga I grabbed them.
It was an odd little read. I'm not sure if the writer has / had an odd style or if it's the translator who is at fault.  Some of the passages are really quite strangely written.  For instance, when D and Rei-Ginsei are fighting and D realises that he shouldn't stab at the heart D yells, "That was close" to which his opponent replies "I can't believe you changed your target at the last second...". So far so naff but then Kikuchi begins and explanation of this with...
'Here's what they meant by "That was close" and "you changed your target.".
It really is quite odd.
The story world was nicely realised though and the whole thing romped along with a vaguely spaghetti western flavour to it.  I must admit I quite enjoyed myself but i think maybe not enough to read the others any time soon.

Stephen King, Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque - American Vampire vol.1
It took me a little while to get into this one. I had a couple of false starts before I found the vibe of it and really started reading it.
The story is of a newly created vampire. A new type of one that is particularly American.  His story is told in two parts - simultaneously.  One part (written by King) is Skinner Sweets' origin tale, his genesis.  It's set in the old west where Sweet, an outlaw, is captured, tries to escape, is turned, buried, escapes, is buried again and finally gets away.
The second tale set some 16 years later has Sweet acting out some sort of Machiavellian scheme against the old vampires.  He creates a new vamp (an actress) and sits back and watches her tear through the ranks of the old guard.
It was a strange little book this one.  It really never felt like it had any real clout.  The idea felt fuzzy and the two stories were never more than vaguely readable.  I'd check out the second volume should it ever be put in front of me but I'm glad my local library stocked this and I didn't buy it.

Nigel Kneale - The Quatermass Chronicles
What a strange little artifact this turned out to be.  I’m really not sure what it’s meant to be; part documentary, part drama, part reminiscence / retrospection.  Throughout the two discs Nigel Kneale talks about the influences on each of the Quatermass TV series and attempts – rather clumsily – to put each into a socio-political context.  Interspersed with this is an odd little dramatisation featuring Andrew Keir reprising his portrayal of the now aged, retired and even crankier Quatermass who is ‘pushed’ into reminiscence of the events of his past by a young researcher turning up at his door.
It was a pleasure to hear Keir and the Kneale sections were diverting enough in their way but on the whole this was a bit of a non event.  The attempt at the very end to bring in a set-up for the world of the 1979 TV series was a nice little conceit but, much like the rest of it, rather clumsily done.

Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima - Samurai Executioner vols 1-10
(Dark Horse Comics)
Having completed it's mammoth task of publishing the entire 28 volume run of 'Lone Wolf & Cub' (incidentally the single greatest piece of storytelling in the history of words and I don't care if you disagree because you're wrong). Dark Horse Comics turns it's attention to the precursor to that work, the story of Asaemon, the decapitator of prisoners and tester of the shogun's swords.  As anyone who has read LW&C would expect this is a beautifully researched and realised excursion into the world of Edo period Japan.  Koike's painstaking research, flawless characterisation and monolithic plot building mix seamlessly with the power and clarity of Kojima's lines to enable the reader to feel, to smell, to hear, to taste and to touch, and be touched by, the stories.  The one flaw to this series lies in the fact that unlike LW&C there is no over-arching storyline to power it along, instead we simply have a collection of loosely related storylines that are simply wonderful to read. 
(www.darkhorse.com)


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