Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Manga for the Comics Guy - Gantz Vol. 2

Gantz Volume 2 picks up exactly where Volume 1 ended, which is to say, in the middle of an exploding body. Again we get the various angles of the moment, evoking slow motion in a way that I don't think I've ever seen in a comic book. The attention to the small details is what sells these lingering shots. It may be that I'm more into the story, but I really feel like the art is much better in the second volume than in the first. There were several panels I just stared at for a while.

It all starts coming together, particularly for Kei Kurono, who chose to wear the special suit provided in the room. It turns out the suit gives him super-human abilities. In the process, we learn more about his past as an adventurous and daring kid. A past he seemed to have moved away from, but quickly recalls in the middle of his hero moment. While the first volume gave us lots of atmosphere, this volume also adds action to the mix.

Also in this volume, we get some more indication of what's going on. After what is basically a bloodbath, there are only 5 survivors: Kei Kurono, Masaru Kato, Joichiro Nishi, Kei Kishimoto and the dog. We also learn that this is some sort of a game, and that Nishi has been at it for some time. And that while they can return home after each round, life is not the same.

I'm still struck by the dialogue being kind of clunky. This is obviously due to the translations and cultural differences that don't come through very well. But as a result, I can't really see comparing this to Western comics in any fair way. American comics would just come off as better written, dialogue-wise, by default. But if we look at the writing just from the point of view of plotting and getting points across, it's pretty even. The pacing is different, with the Manga relying more on the relationship between images, I think. The reason the drawn out scenes of people just standing and not saying anything work is because they come after panels of intense action that is equally extended. I think modern American comics tend to fall back on dialogue or one big image to convey these things. Obviously, there are exceptions. However, I feel characters tend to be more real (within the context of the story) in American comics, perhaps because of the more extensive use of dialogue. Of course, these opinions will likely evolve as I delve deeper into manga, but we'll see. The point is, the arguments about one being superior to the other are silly. The fact is, they are basically the same thing and have influenced each other too much to be considered separate.

Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Today is new comics day. Out this week, Walking Dead #82, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. Here we have a book that uses dialogue effectively, but also uses long drawn action/inaction and crafts a very real, very cinematic world where the characters drill into your subconscious. You should be reading this book.

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