22 December 2012

Limit (Keiko Suenobu)

Since one of my selected post-apocalyptic reads was a bust, I decided to cheat a little and swap in something I'd read previously: the first two volumes (of 6) of Keiko Suenobu's Lord-of-the-Flies-meets-Mean-Girls manga Limit.

A bus crash on a high school class trip kills all but five girls: Konno and Haru, both acolytes of now-dead queen bee Sakura; meek, injured Usui; level-headed Kamiya, indifferent to the cliques and callousness of her peers; and outcast Moriko, whose awkwardness conceals a reservoir of rage. And she's the one who scrounged a garden scythe from the wrecked vehicle, which puts her immediately at the top of their improvised society. She won't be a benevolent ruler.

It's the tiniest of dystopias, putting the ordinary teenage cruelties into a pressure cooker. Not having read all of it, I can't judge the whole narrative, but the first two installments are fantastic, edgy and troubling, with striking art--lots of slashing diagonals in the panel layouts, the dialogue parsed out between successive bubbles in a way that really draws out the tension. I think it's my favorite manga of the year (with Flowers of Evil a close second. Teenagers messing with each other's heads = compelling drama).

P.S. Speaking of comic dystopias, Chris urged me to read Tales of the Bizarro World, a collection of Silver Age hijinx from the crazy-wacky-zany square planet Bizarro, populated with imperfect clones of Superman and Lois Lane. I would say the target audience is maybe 6 or 7, whatever age it is where Opposite Day is the height of mind-bending comic genius: people break into jail! Every woman wants to win the ugly contest! The alarm clock rings when it's time to go to sleep! It is very, very silly, in short. Helps to be drunk when you read it.

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