When "Amped" begins, the Supreme Court has just ruled discrimination against amps to be legal, and things go downhill fast. A charismatic senator leads the fight to strip amps of human rights; amp extremists launch terrorist attacks; innocent amps are forced to live in "safety camps".
It reads like a much less sophisticated version of Nancy Kress's "Beggars in Spain", which was a brilliant exploration of the causes and effects of prejudice and fear. The plot turns in "Amped" are all right out of English 101. It has no sense of history, a glaring lack. There were no references at all to civil rights landmarks or historical events. SOMEONE should have made the connection between the amp safety camps and the internment of Japanese American citizens in WWII, for example. The absence of historical awareness was strikingly off-putting.
The story is unsophisticated, but at least it has the good grace to be quick. The breakneck pace helped make "Amped" tolerable.
I feel like there's probably a great story here, but the whole experience was just...awkward. While I obviously can't fault the book for it, reading right to left and back to front was annoying; I couldn't get immersed in the story because I was constantly reminding or correcting myself on which side of which panel I was supposed to be reading.
But the translation was also awkward. The awkward way most of the word balloons were awkwardly split to both sides of a panel, at an awkward point IN MID-SENTENCE, was awkward. And almost all the characters look like girls. For these things, I do fault the book.
Were I an experienced mangaphile, I imagine this might--maybe--have been a five-star experience. But I'm not, and it wasn't.
Wonderful from page one. The first scene is smart and funny. From there things become less amusing and more serious, more intense, but they never get less engaging. Barbara learns a few things about friendship and discovers that there is a lot more to a person beneath the surface. The revelation of her Big Secret is handled beautifully.
At first I thought the ending was a little too happy, a little too bright, but the whole point of I Kill Giants--that we're stronger than we think we are--required the ending it was given.
American Flagg is smart, sharp. The TV ad and newscast satire pack some bite. Reminded me of Robocop.
There's not much of a central conflict, Flagg's change of career is just an excuse to explore this cynical dystopian future and have some fun.
Much as I respected American Flagg, I found myself bored with it. Not sure why.
Cold City begins shortly after Jack abandons his family and drops out of college to find his fortune in the Big Apple. We meet a few characters who appear in the main series (Abe, Drexler, Julio, Vinny Donuts, a Septimus goon named Kris, a woman with a dog) and a number of important characters that I don't recall. I can only assume they're Red Shirts.
It's all about Jack learning the ropes. We see his introduction to gun culture, learning how to stay off the government's radar and invest his ill-gotten gains, and stretching his legs in a couple of early fixes.
Cold City felt--WAS--incomplete, but it's a lot closer to the juicy fun of the early Repairman Jack novels than to the tortured contrivance of the last few, which were completely hijacked by the Adversary series.