Black Cat Volume 1

Kentaro Yabuki, Author, Kentaro Yabuki, Illustrator
Kentaro Yabuki, Author, Kentaro Yabuki, Illustrator . Viz $7.99 (200p) ISBN 978-1-4215-0605-0
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Although working within tired conventions, this collection adds up to a surprisingly enjoyable action adventure. Train and Sven are "sweepers," smalltime bounty hunters who survive hand to mouth. Sven is an eye-patched ex-cop; Train is a glamorously mysterious ex-crook. Along the way, the two team up with cute but sneaky Rinslet Walker, who's planning a big heist from a really dangerous master criminal. Readers may be reminded of Cowboy Bebop and a host of similar capers, but the interaction of these characters is brisk and funny, partly because they feel like such old friends. The dash of novelty is Train's not-so-secret identity as the Black Cat, formerly an unkillable assassin for a worldwide criminal conspiracy. He not only does incredible stunts like any action hero but also looks and behaves like a cat, agile and unpredictably feline: aloof and irritating one moment, then ingratiating and playful the next. He's the kind of hard-boiled manhunter who'd take a criminal on a good-bye visit to his family, while excusing the trip as a chance to sample a new town's famous onion buns. The art is familiar but well executed as Yabuki gives old material an enjoyable workout. (Mar.)

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