Back in time

The manga Luca, The Summer I Shared With You is essentially a love letter to classic Western sci-fi, with most of the chapters being titled after science fiction classics. The throwback atmosphere is probably why I liked this book so much.

The story itself is about a teenage boy whose sister’s mind has been replaced by that of a soldier from the future trying to prevent a disaster. It feels kind of like a mid-century sci-fi juvenile novel, especially with the focus on the made-up science and the way the protagonist is always coldly rational, though the weird time travel sex shit is more like Heinlein’s adult works.

But hey, the art is great.

Bottom line? I loved this manga, warts and all.

War in the Pacific

So it appears that they’re really serious about promoting the new Star Wars films on a global level. There’s a licensed Korean webcomic adapting the original trilogy and putting in extra stuff. It starts from when Luke was just a towheaded moppet on Tattoine learning to shoot a laser rifle from Uncle Owen.

Young Luke Skywalker lying on his back on a Tattoine night and fantasizing about the distant stars

This adaptation is pretty smart, because I hadn’t thought about it but there have been like two generations of moviegoers born since the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi. I do like how the artist doesn’t try to slavishly reproduce the actors in 2D. The linework reminds me of art from some French sci-fi bandes dessinees. But who the hell’s Windy, is he from the Expanded Universe?

Anyway, if you want to check the webcomic out (for free by the way) go to LINE Webtoon and sign in with Twitter. You’ll get to read the official English translation. I’m not sure myself if I’ll stick with this comic, though if you want to check out other webcomics in this library I would say Hive is a safe choice – basically Walking Dead with giant bugs, and prone to the comic and TV show’s trick of always pulling the rug out from under the protagonists to keep the status quo.

Or for actual good stuff, Chiller‘s a horror anthology that goes multimedia with sound effects and mild animation – for maximum effect I recommend reading it alone in a room with the lights off – and Witch Hunt, which is about demons hunting witches in modern South Korea.

The Golden Age

Haha, this is nuts. I had no idea mental illness played such a part in the development of science fiction:

In 1950 Horace (H.L.) Gold launched the last of the Golden Age pulps, Galaxy Science Fiction, with the deliberate intention of de-emphasizing technology and concentrating on serious sociological and psychological stories. Unfortunately Gold also suffered from severe agoraphobia, and many writers quickly realized that they could sell to Galaxy by writing fiction that catered to Gold’s illness, hence the large number of “domed city,” “underground city,” and “the whole world is just one big city” stories that dominated printed science fiction well into the 1970s.

Ultraelectromagnetic pop

I’ve noticed that a lot of manga that I like were initially published by BEAM COMIX (rendered as Comic Beam in the linked Wikipedia article for reasons I can’t ascertain).  It’s a magazine that serializes manga mainly targeted at an adult male audience.

It seems to me, judging from their published titles that I’ve enjoyed, that the publisher releases offbeat works with unique premises that are compellingly readable. What have I read of theirs? Let’s see, there’s the magical realism of Ran and the Gray World, the character-driven kitchen sink comedy of Hinamatsuri, the indie comic action of Bambi and Her Pink Gun,  the anthropological detail of A Bride’s Story, the science fiction violence of Immortal Hounds, and the adventure comedy of Dungeon Meshi. This is an all star line-up.

According to the ol’ Wiki, the magazine is considered by many as focusing on “alternative” manga, which from context sounds like the Japanese equivalent of indie comics. It has a very small readership of 25,000 but consisting largely of hardcore enthusiasts and art students. To my mind, BEAM COMIX’s readers would probably be the type to own copies of Understanding Comics (the comic book bible) were they to live over here instead. In fact, quite a few of the magazine’s Japanese audience probably do own copies of Understanding Comics themselves.

Whatever they’re doing, BEAM COMIX is doing it right. Their editors know how to pick a winning story. I’m going to keep an eye out for their other stuff from now on.

Captain America versus Cuba

Over on Space Battles some people have been discussing what the 20th century would have been like if the movie version of Captain America had been around – Vietnam, the Iran Mossadegh thing, the Bay of Pigs. Then someone posted a comic book treatment of what Cap would do during the Cuban Revolution:

[Captain America]’s going to kick open the door to Fidel Castro’s guerrilla hideout and give the strongman a speech on ethics, individual responsibility and freedom and the ideal that the Cuban people should strive for. Then the two of them are going to go out and fight evil Batista’s fascist dictatorship and Rogers will train his ragtag guerrillas into diet Special Forces. During the War in the Mountains, entire battalions of Batista’s troops will switch sides after being given an eye watering speech on freedom and American history. Then in the climactic issue, Captain America leads his… I mean Castro’s… Rebel band into Havana and they storm Batista’s palace and suddenly realize the power behind Batista’s dictatorship was HYDRA all along working with the evil Mafia Maggia. Using American Judo Boxing, Captain America defeats the Supreme Hydra before Batista takes Fidel Castro’s brother hostage and is like… I’ll kill you all unless you put down your weapons! So Captain America puts down his shield and then Batista shoves Raul Castro aside and then takes aim at Captain America and FIRES!

But Che Guevara, the idealistic young man with a promising medical career who decided to become a freedom fighter and has become like a protege to Captain America suddenly leaps into the path of the bullet as Fidel Castro hoses Batista down with a burst of gunfire from his All-American ™ Tommy Gun. Che Guevara dies in Captain America’s arms, his last words being… “I would have liked to have seen the Washington Monument…”

Afterwards, Captain America makes another speech to Fidel Castro about some Latino dude he knew back in the Howling Commandos, because all brown people are kinda similar and then asks what Fidel Castro will do. And Fidel Castro is like I’m going to redistribute liberate the wealth stolen riches of the landowners fascist supervillains and foreign businesses Maggia criminal groups to help support the poor and working class Cuban people in order to build a better future by investing in infrastructure and education. And Captain America will be like, that sounds like the right thing to do! And Fidel Castro will respond… it’s the American way!