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Forgotten History, Discovered Family
On this week’s review show, Derek and Andy W. look at three new titles, beginning with the new graphic novel from Ethan Young, Nanjing: The Burning City (Dark Horse). This is a riveting historically based narrative centered on Japan’s actions against the Chinese Nationalist capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It involves a captain in the Republic of China’s army trapped within Nanjing, now overrun by the Japanese, and his attempts to get himself and one of his soldiers out to safety. Young never flinches from the horrors of the war, yet at the same time he never falls prey to the temptation of demonizing the aggressor. His is a very human story, and both the invading Japanese troops and Chinese victims are shown in all of their complexities. Next, the guys discuss the first issue of Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox’s new series, Plutona (Image). This is a different kind of spin to the superhero genre, and the story begins by introducing us to a group of five suburban kids, each with his or her own personality and complications. What binds them all together is the discovery of the titular character, one of their city’s crime-fighting heroes who now lies inert in the woods. What makes this first so compelling is not only Lenox’s unique art, but the colors provided by Jordie Bellaire. And this more conventional narrative stands in stark contrast to the third title the guys discuss, Michael DeForge’s Lose #7 (Koyama Press). This is the latest in DeForge’s annual one-man anthology series, and in this issue we get three stories. The first and third are short, untitled abstract narratives, but the middle story is longer and more traditional in its construction. “Movie Star” is an unusual tale about a daughter whose father unexpectedly finds his long-lost sibling and how this discovery changes his life in unlikely ways. As Andy points out, all of the stories in this latest issue of Lose are thematically linked by a search for identity. In fact, you could look at all of the comics discussed on this episode as dealing with this very theme.