Southern Cross, Volume 1, Cloonan/Belanger/Loughridge: I bought the first two issues of this title and then dropped them. I love Becky Cloonan, but the story wasn’t gelling for me the way I hoped it would. I also suspected it was one of those titles that would be better in collected form; it’s frustrating to read a mystery that stops periodically and makes you wait for a few months to pick up again. I was right about reading it in trade being a better experience, but, well, by not getting the single issues, I missed the genre switch from noir-ish mystery set in space to psychedelic sci-fi horror. It was a bit of a surprise to come across that shift in tone. It’s still an amazing read, and the colors start making sense with the change; the palette is all sickly oranges and blues, with occasional splashes of red gore. That said, I don’t think I need to buy Volume 2; this isn’t something I’d normally pick up. But if you enjoy any Cthulu mythos stories, I think you’ll be happy with this title; if you enjoyed the movie Event Horizon, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this.
Noragami, Volume 1, Adachitoka: Before I really start singing this volume’s praises, can I just say how nice it is to have a shounen/seinen manga that doesn’t have gratuitous cheesecake or panty shots? It’s really, really nice, and it makes me want to read more solely to tell this author/illustrator: YES YOU ARE AWESOME. (Granted, there could be more cheesecake down the line, but volume 1 was mercifully free of that.) Happily, respectful treatment of the female characters isn’t the only good thing about this title. Volume 1 is a little more of an info-dump than I’d like, but it’s clear that the story has an ambitious scope that necessitates said info-dump. I like the way that Adachitoka makes his main character, Yato, a god who’s trying to crawl his way up in the pantheon, ever-so-slightly not-human with cat-like eyes in the frame of a young man. There’s great action in this story, as Yato does battle with creatures to occupy humanity’s blind spots, Shinto-like animistic monsters that follow depressed people around. There’s also a lot of information about how Yato’s powers work, and the things he needs to help him gain power and followers. I’m not sure where the female lead character, Hiyori, will end up in our story; so far her story is pretty vague, and it’s not clear what kind of a person she is, other than shounen manga spunky/nice female character. I have high hopes for the next few volumes, though, especially if we see more supernatural creatures and Hiyori’s personality develops further.