Friday, October 9, 2015

Area 51, vol. 6 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)
(Top right: Son Goku, zombie, Chinese zombie maker; Middle from top: Charming, Pike, McCoy;
From top left: Valkyries, Odin, Fenrir)

Area 51, vol. 6, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A

(The Area 51 version of a jackalope. In panel 2, the Chinese idea of a zombie maker.)

H21) Please Sing a Song For Me Tonight, Prince
McCoy drops by Son Goku's estate to give him the treasures she'd taken from Ginkaku and Kinkaku (as per the Journey to the West legend). Goku (who looks more lion-like than monkey-like) enjoys collecting various liquors, but there's one that remains mythical, which supposedly can only be made from a flower that grows from a man that's been killed 6 times. Such a flower had existed once, but he ate it. The talk turns to a request Goku wants to make - seems that something is creating zombie UMA (unidentified mysterious animals, such as the jackalope). Goku's job is destroying these zombies, but he'd like to know where they're coming from. McCoy and Charming ask around, while the Prince keeps offering to sing songs about their quest, and McCoy keeps telling him to stop. Eventually, she learns that there's been a regular human from the outside world, Ryuu, from China, whose wife is ill. To get the medicine she needs, Ryuu came to Area 51, but was almost immediately killed in a street robbery. His spirit hid in the sewers, where he found a recipe for creating life. The ingredients include parts from the jackalope, from the god Achilles, a dragon, from Finn McCool, Ambrosia from the Gods, etc. Unfortunately, being dead, Ryuu got the instructions wrong, and instead had each of those creatures kill him by mistake. In return, though, he converted his victims to zombies. The last missing ingredient is the flower Goku ate. Ryuu shows up, and Goku uses his expanding staff to lay the zombie to rest. However, this mysterious flower springs up over Ryuu's grave some days later. Rather than eat it again, Goku sends it to China, where Ryuu's wife keeps it in a bowl of water, and becomes healthy. Her mother insists that she remarry, but the woman can't keep her dead husband out of her thoughts anymore. The story closes with McCoy asking Charming to sing his song now.

(McCoy and Charming versus the troll.)

H22) Donut's Repay... Maybe Not
Odin wants Kusanagi no Ken, the sword buried in McCoy's chest, and he has his Valkyries spying on her to learn more about this foe. They research Pike, the intelligent gun, and McCoy's abilities to use judo while fighting trolls. Meanwhile, Amaterasu knows that Odin is up to something and is using her crows to spy on him. Problem is that there's a full solar eclipse coming up, and all of the sun-based gods are going to lose their powers at that time. To help protect McCoy in secret, Amaterasu tells Charming what's going on, and that Odin wants the sword. The Prince wants to know why such a horrible thing could have happened to his boss, and Amaterasu just smiles evilly at him. The next day, the eclipse begins while McCoy is out in the park, feeding pieces of donuts to the pigeons. Charming notices a figure standing in the shadows of an alley and intercepts it. Turns out the figure is a female kappa looking for revenge for the murder of her brother, Kirimaru. She stabs Charming in the back and runs away. The Valkyries take this opportunity turn from a flock of pigeons into humanoid forms and attack. Pike is currently sleeping, so McCoy tries to use judo on her attackers. But, Odin had cut their arms off and then sewed them back on, so when McCoy tries to throw the Valkyries, their arms pop off and she falls on her face. A lot of the Valkyries are killed, but there are too many of them and McCoy is taken to Odin's castle tower, Valhalla. When Charming staggers to her bench, she's gone, and Pike is left lying on the pavement.

(Hebi does his mind trick on Odin. The apple is probably symbolic.)

H23) Didn't Your Mommy Tell You, You Can't Put Women Under Restraint
Odin's into fetish bondage, and he's used a magical material that can't be broken to hold McCoy in her prison cell. The same material he's using to hold the Fenrir Wolf in a separate prison facility. Odin is terrified of Ragnarok, and his thought is that if he has the power of the Kusanagi sword, he'll be able to kill Fenrir, and stave off the end of the world for a while longer. The question now is how to get at the sword, since it's still attached to McCoy. The solar eclipse ends, and Amaterasu visits Charming in the hospital bed at the Four Legged Clinic. She explains the mix-up with the female kappa, and the fact that things are too far out of control for Charming to be of any use anymore. He goes into a funk. That night, Odin can't sleep, and as he wanders through Valhalla, he runs into The First Snake, Hebi. Being the First snake, he/she has power over all of the other snakes in the realms of the other gods, including Jormungund, the monster snake encircling the world. It's to Hebi's advantage that Ragnarok be postponed, too. Hebi uses its power to bring out people's greatest fears to wrap Odin around its finger as well (Odin thinks that he's too weak, too old, he doesn't have enough generals in his army, or that he has the wrong ones, etc.) Soon, Odin is completely trapped. But, as a gesture of good faith, Hebi reveals that it's killed Fenrir, and is sitting on the wolf's massive dead head as proof. The next day, the Council of 10 Gods meets at the restaurant, with Amaterasu taking her brother's place. Pretty quickly, Odin picks a fight with Hades, and uses a sneak attack to spear Hades in the head, killing him.

(Sky fish, a Japanese delicacy.)

H24) Man Must Be a Sword
Lt. Felix is called out by his men to investigate the disappearance of the Restaurant of the Gods. It's not actually gone, just floating several hundred feet up in the sky, at the bottom of Tower Valhalla. The people outside are wondering what's going on in the Restaurant, including the minions of the Gods still trapped inside. More and more supernatural minions show up, and Felix fears there's going to be a war on his hands soon. Back at the Four-Legged Clinic, Cyclops has recovered from the injuries received from Ginkaku and Kinkaku, and has used his mechanical skills to make himself a new arm, and a new sword for Charming. Charming is still in his funk, so Cyclops says "just do what you can, that's all you can do. Sometimes, a man has to become a sword that someone else wields." Cheered up, Charming goes back to work, and is joined by every single person in Area 51 that calls McCoy their friend, including the yakuza. Tengu had learned of something that Japanese people apparently eat, and had talked the yakuza into getting some big bags of the things. Pike is slung on a rope and hung from Charming's neck, and Tengu flies them up to the tower. The tower is being protected by some kind of robot laser cannon, which has already shot down several military jets, a TV reporter's helicopter, and a few supernatural minions. What Pike and Charming noticed from the TV footage is that the cannon has trouble differentiating certain kinds of targets. When they get closer, Charming opens the bags to release hundreds of Sky Fish (a variant on flying fish, but with more armor). The cannon can't track all of the targets, and Tengu throws Charming and Pike at a window before returning to the ground. With all of the fireworks in the air, the Gods' minions are getting riled up, and Felix is working himself into a real panic. At about the same time, Zeus is in his repair shop watching everything on TV, when he's visited by a familiar small terrier. He sees the spirit of his brother standing next to Cerberus and immediately understands what has happened. He leaves his shop and makes his way to the scene of the carnage.

Short Story: Area 51 e no Michi (To Go the Road of Area 51)
Masato tells a rather strange tale about how he started out as a manga artist in 2003, and had made a promise to protect the heroine from his earlier manga, Jabberwocky. He's imprisoned when Jabberwocky loses popularity in the magazines and is discontinued. But he makes a break for it, and starts up Area 51 in order to compete with all of the other manga on the market. Unfortunately now, his Jabberwocky heroine is a prisoner somewhere and is being tortured and he needs to save her. He stumbles on the secret lair of a new publisher, and that is how Area 51 first sees print in Comic Bunch in 2011.

(Top right corner in red: the three Japanese gods, with Amaterasu in the center; below in red, members of the Council of 10 Gods; Yellow, from top, Felix, Zeus, Hades, Sky Fish, Yakuza, Tengu, Cyclops with his new arm; Left, in gray, Hebi.)

Summary: The etchi factor is getting a bit out of control, and the manga is moving into the Rated R category. Things are still not all that graphic, detailed or gory, but it's no longer "family friendly", either. But, I love the artwork and the introduction of all the various mythological beings here, and Masato's twists on them. I'm having fun with this title and am looking forward to getting the next volume.

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