A very special guest appears in the new The Rack, featuring art by Tracie Mauk and colors by Joe Hunter.
Things escalate and a rescue is foiled in the new Signs and Meanings.
The ninja is an icon, a piece of Japanese storytelling and history that westerners seem endlessly fascinated with, even if we don’t actually know anything about them. Plain teenage mutant turtles are creepy talking animals that live in the sewer — throw in the word “ninja” and they become a media powerhouse that have been going strong for over 25 years. Even movies like American Ninja and Miami Connection can’t kill them completely, and it’s natural that someone would want to write a book that helps non-natives understand their history and place in culture.
Unfortunately, Ninja: 1,000 Years Of The Shadow Warrior isn’t a text that achieves that purpose. John Man’s rambling look at the ninja in Japanese culture fails to establish an interesting narrative, despite literally having centuries of amazing stories to use as fuel. In fact, the book is so poorly structured that I wonder if he shuffled a deck of index cards with chapter titles and then put the sections in that order. The first two-thirds of Man’s book jumps wildly from subject, probably in an attempt to engage readers who might be lost by page after page of Japanese history but instead ends up disjointed and unpleasant.
After this, however, it seemed like things might pick up — I’m always fascinated by how modern cultures internalize (and profit from) their past — but for every interesting look at something like the Nakano Spy School and the Japanese survivalist soldiers who outlived World War II, there’s a frustratingly myopic look at other aspects of the ninja meme. As someone who learned of the ninja through the western interpretation of it, I was hoping for some sort of dissection of why ninja became as huge as they did, but the book fails utterly in this aspect. There are several pages devoted to You Only Live Twice (likely because of Man’s being British), but nothing about how Sho Kosugi and his ilk brought the ninja-as-lead to life in the West.
Overall, I’m going to say that instead of reading Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior, one shoal instead pick through its bibliography. Man did a lot of research for this book and it’s likely that you’d be able to rifle through his sources and create a more entertaining and complete look at Japan’s greatest non-Godzilla export.
A review copy of this book was provided by Harper Collins.
The first installment of the relaunched Boldly Gone is now live. Written by this blog’s editor and featuring art by Bruce McCorkindale, Boldly Gone tells the story of the captain and crew of the Mandela, a ship whose reputation is not quite as stellar as that of the most famous ship in Starfleet.
I really like the Gumroad system for offering digital deliverables to people and the ability to let people choose the price they want to pay is ingenius. I’m going to be using Gumroad going for digital downloads of the comics I write that aren’t for other publishers and to start off, here’s three catalog titles that have a suggested price of $1 each. Each one of these books has extras that aren’t available on the web and will never be! What’s a buck to read a new 22-page Lydia story or to find out how to make the perfect roast chicken from The Line‘s Paul Greenfield.
The end of “Three Days of the Con” is here! Click here to read it or click here to start at the beginning of our longest storyline ever!
That’s a good question, but unfortunately, there aren’t any answers to be had in the new Signs and Meanings!
In the new The Rack, Aaron and his hero have a conversation. Click here to read it!
Steven Soderbergh is, in my mind, the perfect director, someone who wants to explore genre and the medium in such a way that he’s sometimes invisible (second unit on The Hunger Games? What?), sometimes front and center (weird indie films like Bubble and the gleefully subversive Magic Mike), but always there. He’s a man who enjoys the work and the final product alike. Reading interviews with him always makes me excited about creating things, and that’s rare nowadays. His sense of perspective and lack of ego when talking about his box-office failures (especially Haywire, which I loved but the audience thought was poison) is also inspiring. The fact that he’s opting to stop making films while he’s still at the top of his game and move on to new challenges only makes me admire (and maybe hate) him a bit more.
I’m going to miss going to see two or three of his movies every year, but with such a varied back catalogue (including an HBO series I completely forgot existed), I’ll be able to revisit and re-appraise his work for the rest of my life without ever getting bored. Thanks, Soderbergh.