Universal War One… Stripp’d

Gestalt Mash have the second issue of Stripp’d, my monthly column looking at translated comic series.

Written and drawn by Denis Bajram and released in two volumes by Marvel, Universal War One begins as a Dirty Dozen in Spaaaaace story but, once the characters are bedded down and the theme of redemption is introduces, Bajran starts to mess with the gonzo knobs, slowly ramping up the epic and the fantastical until the series ends in a widescreen expose of man’s unparalleled hubris. I enjoyed it quite a bit… it’s silly.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers – Volume 4

Gestalt Mash have my fourth piece on Fumi Yoshinaga’s alt-historical manga epic Ooku: The Inner Chambers.

Volume 4 shifts the timeline forward in order to see how later Shoguns fare with the task of managing a changing Japan.  By allowing us to see the ways in which these later Shoguns struggle to fill the first female Shogun’s sandles, Yoshinaga not only invites a more generous appraisal of the first Shogun, she also shifts the series register away from an explicitly feminist analysis of gender differences and towards a more general political analysis of the responsibilities that accompany power.

Oh… and the book ends on a spectacular cliffhanger!

Ooku: The Inner Chambers – Volume 3

Gestalt Mash has my third piece on Fumi Yoshinaga’s alternate history manga Ooku: The Inner Chambers.

Following hot on the heels of the second volume in the series, volume three teases out a political conflict at the heart of the Shogun’s court.  A conflict in which the forces of conservatism battle the forces of social progress for control of both Japan and the mind of the Shogun.  Beautifully drawn, exquisitely written and awesome in the power of its insights into contemporary attitudes towards gender and sexuality, Ooku continues to be a fantastic piece of sequential art.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers – Volume 2

Gestalt Mash has the second of my pieces about Fumi Yoshinaga’s excellent Ooku: The Inner Chambers.

Having introduced us, in the first volume, to an alternative history of Edo-period Japan in which 75% of the male population has been killed off by disease, Yoshinaga goes about trying to explain why it is that this culture allows women to rule while also paying lip service to the idea of masculine superiority.  Intelligent, insightful and quite moving, Ooku: The Inner Chambers continues to be a very rewarding read.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers – Volume 1

Gestalt Mash has recently relaunched itself and it brings with it the first in a series of posts about Fumi Yoshinaga’s Tiptree Award-winning manga series Ooku: The Inner Chambers.

Set in an alternate Edo-period Japan in which the male population has been decimated by a terrible disease, the series is an examination of why it is that old values (in particular the myth of masculine supremacy) outlive their utility in the face of social and demographic change.