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Death Note: You Guys Were Right, this Comics is Good.

Short one. Not much to say, I guess, but I am full of enthusiasm.

Honestly, I did have some trepidation when I picked these up. This series was recommended in the comments to Burgas’ Fun Comics post, and it sounded interesting enough to overcome my anti-Manga bias. Which is pretty strong. (Except for Astro Boy.) Maybe it’s that I’m too attached too rhythms and storytelling structures of America comics, maybe its’ the fact that Japanese culture scares the crap outta me* – Either way, my distaste is probaly based more in personal prejudices than the quality of the work. But it’s still going to influence my reading, even if it’s not based in logic.

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But, geez. Y’all were smack dab on the money this time.** This series is (A) friggin’ spectacular, and (B) more addictive than sugar coated crack. Which is a PROBLEM, honestly. Some of us have work and jobs and need to sleep and don’t have time to be up ’till five in the morning. Thanks A LOT, commentators! Remind me to borrow a tuba and hang out under your window sometime when YOU need to sleep!

Anyway, for the uninitiated:
Synopsis time: The brainchild of Tsugumi Ohba (W) and Takeshi Obata (A), Death Note is a twelve volume manga series that was originally serialized weekly in the Shonen Jump Anthology. It starts with a fairly far out premise – Japanese High School Kid (Light Tagimi)_ finds a Macguffin… er… magic notebook that allows him to kill people by writing their names inside. Sensibly, he decides to kill all the evil people, take down the government and set up a Light-ocracy. The authorities glom onto the fact that SOMEONE has magic killy powers with a quickness, but they don’t figure out who’s doin’ it. And, oh yeah, Light’s father is on the task force to catch – well, his own kid, but he doesn’t know this. In charge of the task force is a dude just named “L,” who (at first) refuses to show his face and only communicates via computers or proxies. There’s a lot of plot in the first six volumes that I read, but the major conflict is Light vs. L.

And after this basic set-up… Geez, everything just gets more complicated and more complicated. Obata gives us two or three major plot twists a volume competeey rejiggering and reinterpreting the status quo every hundred pages or so. The coolest thing about Death Note is that I have NO IDEA what’s going to happen next at any given time, but all the developments stem logically from the already-established rules of the story.

This does means my discussion here is going to be a little sparse. Firstly : I jes’ don’t know enough about Manga to do the critic thing and provide useful comparative context, and lastly: I really don’t want to spoil anything.

Which is tough.

‘Cause basically anything I tell you is going to ruin some kind of surprise somewhere. And in a plot-based work like this, spoilers can imapct your enjoyment of the book. So just TRUST kindly’ol uncle MarkAndrew on this one. Or see if you can libraryize the first volume, ’cause it’s damn near impossible not to get swept up. It’s like these books were designed for compulsive readability – Hell, they probably were. The story what every stupid little Hollywood thriller wants to be when it grows up, and Obata’s artwork is pure storytelling with minimal flash, designed to make the story as immersive*** as possible.

Which means I’m up to five in the morning last night, starting volume six.

Um… recommended. Obviously.

But, I did have one complaint. ONLY one complaint, but it did serve to draw me out of the story in a big way.

While the two main characters are fully rounded and well constructed the female leaad – probably the third most important character in the series – is infantily simplistic in terms of characterization. She’s a model, she’s in love with one of the male leads and… that’s it, really. She’s (at least as of the end of volume six) essentially cipher who exists to react to the principle characters. Well, that’s not true – she’s also nails-on-the-chalkboard perky. And by “perky,” I mean “unbelievably annoying.”
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The character feels not just not-true-to-real-human-experience, but almost exploitative. She’s this hot little model who’s totally in love with a male character, up to the point she’s willing to die for him. I’m not sure if this is a common stereotype in Manga, but it feels like the readers are supposed to accept this, well stereotype, as part of a world full of well defined characters – basically, having such an empty character deflates the reality, and hence the intensity, of the story. (It’s POSSIBLE, I suppose, that it’s a parody of a common stereotype and is meant to be awful, but that would be surprising – The rest of the book plays it’s premise pretty straight.)

Honestly, I can’t see such a terrible designed character existing in American mainstream comics, where we can generally expect our female characters to have more than two character traits. And not to be completely dominated by the men. And, oh yeah, not act like retarded fucking cheerleader smile robot all the goddamn time. OK, Yeah, different cultures and gender roles and blah, blah, blah, but I gotta say that the lack of this kind of shitty characterization is a solid point in favor of American comics.

But that’s really my only problem. If most manga is like this, it’s no wonder the kids aren’t buying Spider-man or Outsiders. This is simply a much better piece of art overall.

OK, I’m done reviewing. But, just for fun, I’m going to make some predictions.

FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS AFTER VOLUME SIX.

But let’s see how close I can get. *POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE* and I can’t figure out how to do that tag thing. So if you haven’t read this, stop…. now.

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OK. Everybody past this point has read the book, right?

(A) That girl Shinigami hasn’t done much for the plot so far, and I’d bet my left nut that there are no red herrings in this series. She’s going to be REAL important, real soon. She’ll die, and she’ll (either directly or in) take someone with her, either the male Shingami or one of the main characters.

(B) Light’s dad is going to die. But probably not ’cause of Light. I know, it feels like it’s been leading up to Light having to kill his old man, but Death Note is all about keeping the audience guessing, not inevitable tragedy. But the book isn’t going to turn down the intensity either, which means that poor pop’s toast.

(C) OK… The relationship between “L” and Light is going to change. Neither of ‘em will die at least ’till volume 11, but I have a feeling L is going to end up subordinate to Light.

(D) OH GEEZ! L is going to end up with the notebook, isn’t he! That I’d almost bet on. Maybe Light’s sister, too. Again, no red herrings and she hasn’t had much to do with the plot.
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(E) We haven’t seen much of L’s parentage. Which is weird because the whole story is playing compare and contrast with L and Light, and Light’s family are well-defined and important. There’s a big reveal there – Maybe he’s someone’s long lost brother or son or somethin’?

(F) The Cop who left to be a cop. (It makes sense if you read it. ) Filthy, filthy traitor.

Don’t Tell Me If I’m Right!

(But maybe you can give teeny little hints.)

* Not individual Japanese people. Just the culture, and that’s mostly ’cause my main political bias is anti-authoritarian.

** Although I’m not seeing the Grant Morrison comparisons, T. Like, at all.

*** Huh. Windows Spell-check doesn’t recognize “immersive.” I always feel proud when I know a word that spell-check doesn’t. But “immersive” is common enough that’s kind of a hollow victory. C’mon Spell Check! Shape up!

48 Comments

I’ve read the first six volumes, and I watched the first episode of the anime on Adult Swim. It really is cool, isn’t it? And yeah, Misa Misa is the one I abhor. Loved it when she sprang up on Light, and Light was thinking along these lines: “I never wanted to punch a girl until now.”

I’ve had the last two volumes sitting on my stack for a while now, I just haven’t gotten around to reading them. My only problem with the series is that it takes twice as long or more to read than any other manga. There’s more plot in these twelve volumes than some other manga manage in 20-30 volumes.

Good manga is seriously underestimated.

Without getting into spoilers, this series goes WAY downhill and never really recovers around Volume 8 Which is really disappointing, because I was thoroughly enjoying it up to then, but seriously, after a certain point it just became painful by comparison to what had come before it.

As an aside, I recently saw the first episode of the anime adaptation, which seemed incredibly dull and lifeless by comparison. The dub doesn’t help either, they play up Light as batshit crazy way too early. You’re not supposed to be thinking “uh, calm down, dude” halfway through the first episode.

Death Note is pretty awesome. And I can recommend plenty of more good manga that will appeal to someone with an American comic pedigree-

- Akira
- Berserk
- Blade Of The Immortal
- Eden
- Nausicaa Of The Valley Of Wind
- Planetes
- Priest (this is actually a Korean title, which is called ‘manwha’)

Also Sgt. Frog and Yotsuba are both hilarious comedies that I think have great crossover appeal.

I couldn’t disagree more with Dave (post #4) — the series does shift some major gears in volume eight, but the quality of the storytelling remains solid and it all leads up to one of the most amazing climaxes I’ve ever read. Volume 12 will leave you breathless, MarkAndrew — stick with it and avoid spoilers at all costs!

Personally, no American comic in recent memory has come close to providing such a satisfying experience. Before Death Note, I had practically zero interest in manga — now I understand what all the noise is about.

I would just like to agree with Barlow. Volume 8 is a slight misstep, but afterwards Death Note returns to its usual brand of excellence. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don’t stick around long enough to realize it, as one bad volume and a shocking twist suddenly means the series is dead.

So, please, even if you feel the same, do peddle through. It’ll generally be worth your time, as what errors are in the end are the same errors that it had in the beginning: slight bumps in what is otherwise an excellent, thought-provoking ride.

Barlow — I’ll back you up on that. I won’t give away what happens, but let’s say, the reason most people don’t like this change is because you lose something you had before. The fact that the change is so jarring is a testament to exactly how wonderful this series is.

Volume 12 might be the single greatest climax in modern comics history.

AHHHHHH!

I don’t want spoilers but I HATE not knowing how this ends!

One more thing — Misa’s characterization is the worst of it, but there is definitely some Frank Miller-ish treatment of female personalities in this series. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it because of this, but be warned: Women tend to be two-dimensional, man-worshipping creatures in this series.

Huh. Frank Miller’s stuff doesn’t bother me as much as Misha here. Not that there isn’t some funky virgin/whore stuff goin’ on in Sin City and ASBARTBW and… well, everything Miller’s ever written sides Martha Washington… but because EVERYBODY’S an over-the-top caricature.

Which is a perfectly valid writing choice.

Well, theoretically.

Here we have annoying cheerleader robots hanging out with much more realistic characters – Which COULD work, if there was a legitimate thematic/narrative reason for it.

Here – There doesn’t seem to be. Just feels… kinda lazy. Like “I already made a bunch of good characters. I’m just gonna sluff off on writing the chicks.”

Honestly, I’ve heard good things about the ending of the series, and from the snippets I’ve read about it, it seems like it starts to get back on track the closer it gets to the end. But I just hit my breaking point once the whole scenario in America came into play, and I personally found none of the remaining characters compelling enough to want to stick with the series any longer.

I’m not saying it’s a bad series, and I can see where plenty of people could keep enjoying it, but I am definitely not one of them.

I am one of the people who recommended this series in Burgas’ fun comics thread, and I really admire your open mind regarding trying the series. It really is incredible, isn’t it? It also changed my view on what I consider pushing the boundaries of comic writing. Where Americna comics are only considered brilliant these days when they engage in pedantic and self-indulgent metacommentary, this is a book where the writer shows his brilliance WITHOUT MAKING HIMSELF THE STAR OF THE BOOK. No matter how great the ideas on the page, you never feel that author’s intrusive presence. No gonzo superheroes here, first and foremost it’s about the characters and the plot.

This is the severely limiting trend in American superhero storytelling these days, every writer feels like his ultimate goal in crafting a story is to relate to the reader how he feels about past superhero stories or the state of the industry today, rather than showcasing the characters. Metacommentary is out of control. I’d like to think the return of Chuck Dixon to DC’s writing staff is an indication of a move away from this trend, at least at DC.

Dave…with the manga, you only see the first two people Light killed. With the anime, you have a rich chorus as criminals drop like flies. Of course, one goes off a roof while getting a heart attack, and another goes through a glass ceiling, so maybe I’m a little biased about that.

Metacommentary is out of control.

Please. It shows up in, what, 2% of current American superhero comics?

Unless you got a list of titles that disagrees…

Please. It shows up in, what, 2% of current American superhero comics?

Unless you got a list of titles that disagrees…

I could be misusing the term here…

But it seems like there’s a Meta-SOMETHING whenever you’re writing a title that isn’t “yours.”

Except in a very few occasions, as a “caretaking” writer, you’re stuck with a group of characters, stuck with a certain bundle of themes, stuck with a setting, limited in the number of things your character can do…

So writing American superhero comics (to take the most prominent example) is usually at least as much about re-contextualizing other people’s work as it is about… well, plot and character development, where the writer’s are kind of forced into a holding pattern.

I don’t see *all* of the female characters in Death Note as simple or two dimensional. Part of disconnect, I think, comes from cultural differences — Raye Penber’s financee, for example, is smart enough to put the pieces together and pro-active enough to do something about it — she just had the misfortune of speaking to Light before she could share her information with the task force. That she had to put aside her career for her marriage (and that she was so easily dismissed by Raye) probably says more about Japanese society than a personal anti-female bias on the writer’s part.

As for Misa — yeah, she really bugged me at first, too, but I came to see her presence as yet one more extremely trying obstacle for Light to navigate. She’s as annoying to him as she is to us, but because of her circumstances he can’t simply eliminate her as he does with so many others who get in his way. She *should* be harmless, but because she’s such an airhead she’s actually one of the most dangerous people in Light’s circle, and he can’t do a thing about it. Which is kinda brilliant.

I’m pretty confident that is not what T was talking about when he said “metacommentary”.

Jason, I should clarify that when I say Light goes “batshit crazy” in the anime, I’m not referring to the onscreen events, but rather the performance of the voice actor in the english dub. I don’t know if you’ve seen the dub, but if not, you can watch the first episode on Adult Swim’s webpage. Believe me, once Light goes off explaining his plan, he doesn’t sound like an intelligent, calculating character. He sounds like an unstable ranting maniac.

It’s a bad choice on the director’s part, and given that the dub is going to be most Americans’ first exposure to the anime, I think it’s going to be a detriment to their experience.

I only read the first line of Dave’s post. It looked like spoilers, and I am paranoid. Can I safely read the rest?

Heh, told you so.

I see what you mean about Misa. I have a feeling she’s only there to add some hotness to a story that’s almost entirely centered on guys, in order to keep the attention of the thirteen-year-old boys it’s aimed at (yeah, it was made for young boys; it was published in Weekly Shonen Jump, right alongside One Piece and Naruto).

If anything, she and the other female characters are simply Light’s victims–if not murder victims, but psychological victims. Light is nothing if not a master manipulator, and for him, women are simply more people to be controlled. If anything, Misa is the most tragic character in Death Note.

But yeah, she is pretty annoying.

And yes, read Yotsuba&! It’s easily one of the funniest comics on the market right now, American or Japanese.

Oh. Never mind. Sorry Dave. (That’s kind of how I pictured him in my head, too. He alternates between being totally calm and being JUST on the edge of losing it.)

I see what you mean about Misa. I have a feeling she’s only there to add some hotness to a story that’s almost entirely centered on guys, in order to keep the attention of the thirteen-year-old boys it’s aimed at (yeah, it was made for young boys; it was published in Weekly Shonen Jump, right alongside One Piece and Naruto).

Yeeeaaaah… It definitely feels like Misa is there for commercial reasons rather than story ones. I cut the words “wank fantasy” from the actual piece, but I tried to keep the intent. :) I was also wondering if she wasn’t this recognizable school girl stereotype (IS she a recognizable stereotype) who’s there to make the audience feel comfortable, sorta?

Anyway I hate her. But I might have liked her if I was a thirteen year old boy.

My reading is that Misa is there in order to be despised, or perhaps grudgingly tolerated. At the very least she isn’t a typical female character of Death Note.

Maybe she is in the story in order to help us identify with Light, since she must bear with her and so do us. Anyway, I have every hunch that she is intentionally meant to be annoying.

And I will be very surprised if anyone identifies with her – at least up to volume six, since we’re limiting ourselves to that part.

BTW – here in Brazil I was surprised to find out that many people had a very different reading from Death Note than I did. I “chose sides” early on, midway through volume two if I am not mistaken, but apparently many Brazilians chose otherwise.

To my utter puzzlement.

“(That’s kind of how I pictured him in my head, too. He alternates between being totally calm and being JUST on the edge of losing it.)”

Yeah, Light definitely has the potential to lose it, but it’s almost always when he’s under pressure from the investigation that he starts to crack. In the dub he’s practically frothing at the mouth while he’s explaining his plan to Ryuk. It’s just a dumb interpretation of the scene, in my opinion.

Just as an aside, I’m really trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible and endeavored to clarify my own personal issues with the later volumes in only the most vague terms. It’s really difficult to discuss where the series stumbled for me without going into large-scale spoilers, so I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on the latter half of the series when you come to it.

I was also wondering if she wasn’t this recognizable school girl stereotype (IS she a recognizable stereotype) who’s there to make the audience feel comfortable, sorta?

I suppose if anything, she has the most in common with Lynn Minmay, the young, naive pop idol from Macross/Robotech, but with a goth flavoring to make her Death Note appropriate.

But when I was reading Death Note, I actually got the sense that Misa was there as a parody of sorts, of both Japanese pop idols, goths, as well as the various cults that have popped up in Japan since the war (although that last one applies to the whole “Kira” movement in general as well). I never would have thought before to connect Misa Misa to Aum Shinrikyo, but there you go.

“Honestly, I can’t see such a terrible designed character existing in American mainstream comics, where we can generally expect our female characters to have more than two character traits.”

uhm…

[...] [Review] Mark Andrew on Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s supernatural thriller Death Note. [...]

Honestly, Misa is an interesting character. I forgot where volume 6 is with everything, but I thought the same at an early stage and I was shocked to realize that Misa can eventually grow on you.

It’s cool to see people get excited about this series, since I agree that it’s totally addictive. MarkAndrew, your predictions are slightly correct, but mostly way off. The thing the series does so well is constantly surprise you and go in unexpected directions. While I don’t think it goes completely downhill after volume 8, there is a HUGE plot twist that is pretty much the climax of the series, and it never reaches the heights of volumes 3-7 (approximately) again. But it’s still quite enjoyable.

On the subject of Misa, she is pretty annoying, but she’s intended to be that way, I think. As Barlow said, she’s really one of the most dangerous characters, since Light has to try to control her, and walks the line between trying to use her for his own ends and having to rely on her too much when she’s not very smart (although she was clever enough to figure out Light’s identity). While I don’t know if she develops that much, she does end up being a pretty tragic figure.

I also don’t think she’s that unrealistic of a character, at least compared to the others. Light is a genius, the best student in Japan, able to outsmart people all over the world, and he’s the guy who just happened to pick up the notebook. L is a weird, reclusive, introverted type, also ridiculously smart, and he’s also a great athlete, apparently. They’re both pretty interesting, but realistic? Not very.

But it’s still a damn fine read, with some great moments. And it’s ridiculously addictive; once you start reading, you can’t stop. I was reading it as the volumes were coming out, and it was painful waiting a couple months to get the next part of the story.

Alright, good points. I take back “realistic” from comment 11 but I’m standing behind “slightly exploitative” “poorly defined” “empty character” and “unbelievably annoying.”

Interesting thing about all of the complaints about the “bad” female character writing in Death Note: the writer, Tsugumi Oba, is a woman. I wonder how she’d react to being told she’s biased against female characters!

But what must be remembered about Death Note is that it runs in Shounen Jump, an anthology of stories marketed aggressively at young-to-teenage boys. As an editorial feature of the anthology for years and years, no Shounen Jump series is allowed to have aggressive or numerous important female characters in the American style; the girls are always secondary to the boys as an element of genre.

If you want to see strong or subtle characterizations of women, then you want to read comics aimed at more mature audiences. Read Naoki Urasawa’s Monster to see women depicted in a way that would be pleasing to an American’s cultural ideas of “strength”, or anything from the sprawling genre of comics actually aimed at teenage girls in the way Shounen Jump is aimed at teenage boys. Nana is a good place to start reading girls’ comics (if you can get over the art, which is… uh, stylized), as is Please Save My Earth (if you can find it).

Misa’s purpose as a main character, while not important, shifts and she does not remain the main female lead. Perhaps the other female lead will impress you more. Misa serves a purpose that many anime/manga have, that of the vapid female lead who serves prodominantly as eye candy and has no other purpose then loving a (or many) male lead(s). Misa’s purpose in the story though is probably is important but the least developed.

My wife and I both consumed this series and got into it earlier this year, being all caught up when volume 12 came out.

As for MarkAndrew’s theories … some, dead on, others … wow so far out in left field. And as for who dies … assume no one is safe, because no one is.

A fantastic series and everyone who reads it … just becomes engrossed by it, which is amazing considering neither the antagonist nor protagonist is actually a completely symphathetic character and the antagonist changes. Great reading. Probably my number 1 manga recommendation.

Veidt

An interesting thing to add about Misa being intentionally annoying: let us not forget that in Japan, female idols are encouraged to act as she does. They are not meant to be mature adults, but bubbly children. While it may just be my way of tolerating her, I’ve always liked to assume that Misa is slightly cleverer than she is based on some slight evidence in the manga, but pretends otherwise because that’s how she should ask. More likely, it is the manga author commenting on that trend.

Or, most likely, she is just a fan service object and I’m just trying to find ways to not hate her. Yeah, probably that one.

Or, you know, what Alex Scott said but shorter. :D

Death Note does have interesting, strong female characters. My favorite is the young lady from volume #2, but she is not the only one.

But Misa is not meant to be one of those, and in fact she herself does tell that to Light shortly after they meet.

A strong point of Death Note which is surprisingly unmentioned so far is the marvelous character evolution. Some character from early on that barely register at first end up quite fleshed out.

I would elaborate on that but I am trying to avoid spoilers, so let’s just say that I like characters who earn their merits gradually more than those who are created with them – and Death Note does supply at least a couple of the first type, and one of them is a most remarkable case of character growth indeed.

Interesting thing about all of the complaints about the “bad” female character writing in Death Note: the writer, Tsugumi Oba, is a woman.

Prove it. :)

No, seriously. There seems to be a LOT of uncertainty on this point, and I couldn’t find a photo.

It’s generally translated as “Ohba” BTW. In case anyone wants to do any serious googling.

But what must be remembered about Death Note is that it runs in Shounen Jump, an anthology of stories marketed aggressively at young-to-teenage boys. As an editorial feature of the anthology for years and years, no Shounen Jump series is allowed to have aggressive or numerous important female characters in the American style; the girls are always secondary to the boys as an element of genre.

Didn’t know that. Seems pretty stupid t’me. I thought I found contrary evidence to this, too, except the character from volumes 7 and 8 that I thought was female turned out not to be.

AFAIK the true identity of the author of Death Note is indeed a secret. Wikipedia at least claims so:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsugumi_Ohba

I guess it depends on what your definition of metacommentary is. I admit that my definition of it may be more broad than yours is. If you are only including explicit, audience-addressing, break the fourth wall stuff like Morrison’s Animal Man, then yes I agree that it isn’t that much of a problem. The thing is, I don’t just include that in my definiton of metacommentary. I include any story where the plot is a metaphor or allegory for superhero comics in general, even if it doesn’t explicitly make the connection the way Animal Man did.

Infinite Crisis, where 7 issues are devoted to how dark the DCU is getting, which is really a statement about whether superhero comics are getting too dark? Metacommentary.

Seven Soldiers musing on the DCU as some sentient, growing organism, and especially the Bulleteer issues dealing with a superhero convention? That’s basically a statement on the superhero comics world and its fans. Actually, just about all of Morrison’s recent DC work since leaving Marvel has to varying degrees focused on how the characters are vaguely aware of their fictional status and how the DC universe is somehow a living breathing organism. Another of his more recent examples is his recent Joker issue in Batman which is basically a dissection of Joker comic incarnations throughout comic history disquised as a dissection of the Joker character within the story.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis? Abhay’s review talks about how the whole thing is a statement on how superhero comics have changed and innocence is gone. Little lines in Blue Beetle’s narration like “Fawcett City…it’s like a shiny new dime.” A reference to when comics cost 10 cents, a reference to how the old Captain Marvel comics were sunny and bright.

Dan Slott’s GLA and a lot of his inside jokes on She-Hulk are metacommentary. Meltzer’s JLA stuff where the characters are constantly reminescing on the past and how their lives (meaning superhero comics) have changed, with many flashbacks deliberately done in Silver Age style. Black Flash asking Wally West why Barry Allen’s villains never just unmasked or killed him when capturing and Wally responds “I don’t know…just a more innocent, naive time I guess.” A commentary on how comics have changed and gotten grimmer. The Team 13 backups by Azzarello. The attack on “kewl” characters as seen through Kingdom Come and its sequel. The story where Superman takes out the superteam analogue for the Authority, yet another writer’s statement on the state of comics (Joe Kelly in this instance). A lot of the infinite crisis tie-ins throughout the past few years. I don’t read that much DC anymore, but I’m sure there are tons of these metacommentary moments abound where the story is just a thinly veiled exploration of the writer’s view on comics.

And on the opposite spectrum, not quite meta but more a reaction to it, are the books that are trying so hard to go against the dour and serious grain of modern comics that they overdo it and just sound ridiculous, like Busiek’s style of writing the Avengers. The whole attempt to recreate the dated and stilted dialogue and recycle plots are in a way HIS own commentary on what comics should be, his own statement on modern comics, by using exaggerated nostalgia.

In all these cases, telling a gripping, in-character story takes a backseat to making a statement about comics in general. They are not comics about the human condition, they are comics about the condition of the superhero comic industry.

Oh, I forgot to include the quote I was responding to in my last response. Obviously, it was the one from Apocada:

Please. It shows up in, what, 2% of current American superhero comics?

Unless you got a list of titles that disagrees…

The only difference between Ohba/Oba spelling-wise is that some transliteration systems like to use “oh” to indicate a long ‘O’, as opposed to the short, more Italian-like Japanese short ‘o’. It’s usually a Japanese preference to use “Oh”, Americans tend to just use “O”. I don’t own any of the American Death Note volumes, so I really had no idea how Viz was “officially” spelling it.

I’ve usually seen the author of Death Note considered a “she”, if only because Tsugumi is typically a female name. For all the “mystery”, it is probably just one of the female writers Jump’s used in the past who didn’t want any possible controversy reflecting on her more innocuous back catalog, as the Wikipedia theory goes. For all the weird gender politics of Shounen Jump’s content, they’ve had a lot of their recent hit series written by women. Shounen Jump’s editorial policy regarding female characters seems stupid to me, but then again, I’m not Japanese– and if I don’t like it, I can go read shoujo comics and see a totally different bias!

This is not to say Jump stories are devoid of interesting or seemingly assertive female characters, and finding exceptions isn’t hard. (You can go as far back as Fist of the North Star and Saint Seiya and find some attempts at building strong female characters– and watch them quickly marginalized when the series grows more popular!) Still, watch the overall development of the story carefully. If the female characters are supporting a male character, then the female characters are usually strictly secondary and not allowed to be very assertive at the end of the day. They may be instrumental to part of the hero’s overall mission, but usually aren’t allowed to play the role of major (physical) antagonist or to perform any crucial day-saving tasks themselves.

If you love L like I do, learn to love Near.

It’s the only way.

The verry truth is I quote “If most manga is like this, it’s no wonder the kids aren’t buying Spider-man or Outsiders. This is simply a much better piece of art overall.”

It is I have watched the entire show and now I am about to read the novels

i love to read comics. and one of them is death note. i like 20th century boy too. it’s mysterious.. i think it’s a good comic

-The ending of the series not how I wanted it and it was hard to understand with everything reveiled at once but it was unexpecting and keep you on the edge of your bed,chair, or sofa…..I read the last fifth of the series in one night and could not put it down. What does everyone else think of the ending. Also does anyone know anything about a thirteenth volume called something like “How to read the notes”

Mark- I did a follow-up which you can probably find if you search for Death Note. Some discussion there. (Short Version: I REALLY liked the ending, but didn’t dig the stuff leading up to it so much.)

I’m definitely looking forward to volume 13.

well as a massive comic book and manga/anime fan i can say death note is one of the best manga i have EVER read and let me tell you i have read one hell of a lot

to MarkAndrew

has death note changed your view of manga a little?

may i just say you really have to try more manga they meny great manga series but i understand if you dont like it because there are lods of crap one out there as well

venomsgod101

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