Alex Scales has an interesting challenge for me — he asked, “What are some manga you would recommend to fans of the Vertigo line of comics?”
When I think of Vertigo I immediately think of titles with excellent plot “hooks” that first catch the reader’s attention and dynamic storytelling which keeps it. I think of titles that often go over well with indie-comic book lovers even if they are released by a very mainstream entertainment company. In other words, I think of titles which clearly come out of mass culture, but also maintain a strong sense of individuality.
1. 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa, published by Viz.
Description by publisher: Failed rock musician Kenji’s memories of his past come rushing back when one of his childhood friends mysteriously commits suicide. Could this new death be related to the rise of a bizarre new cult that’s been implicated in several other murders and disappearances? Determined to dig deeper, Kenji reunites with some of his old buddies in the hope of learning the truth behind it all.
Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren’t for them. In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns. This is the story of a gang of boys who try to save the world.
2. ES (Eternal Sabbath), by Fuymi Soryo, published by Del Rey.
Description by publisher: Ryousuke Akiba calls himself ES, a code name taken from a mysterious scientific experiment. Ryousuke will live to be at least two centuries old and possesses strange mental powers: He can enter people’s minds, discover their darkest secrets, even rearrange their memories so that complete strangers will treat him like family. Ryousuke acts not out of malice but for survival–wandering Tokyo for reasons known only to him. No one recognizes him for what he is . . . until Dr. Mine Kujyou, a determined researcher, meets someone who challenges everything she knows about science–ES, possessor of the Eternal Sabbath gene. But is he the only one?
3. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, written by Eiji Otsuka and drawn by Housui Yamazaki, published by Dark Horse.
Description by publisher: Your body is their business! Five young students at a Buddhist university, three guys and two girls, find little call for their job skills in today’s Tokyo… among the living, that is! But all that stuff in college they were told would never pay off – you know, channeling, dowsing, ESP – gives them a direct line to the dead… the dead who are still trapped in their corpses and can’t move on to the next reincarnation.
The five form the Kurosagi (“Black Heron” – their ominous bird logo) Corpse Delivery Service: whether suicide, murder, accident, or illness, they’ll carry your body wherever it needs to go to free your soul! The kids from Kurosagi can smell a customer a mile away – it’s a good thing one of the girls majored in embalming!
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