Reading Pile: Zaya HC
Zaya is an interesting package that I would generally recommend taking a look at, unfortunately its currently out of print and it seems that nice copies online breach into the $50-100 price point. While it's visually interesting, the story just isn't worth forking over that much cash.
Translated into English for the first time by Magnetic Press back in 2014, this collects the three chapters by writer JD Morvan and popular Chinese manga artist Huang-Jia Wei. The premise is basically a spi-fi mashup of Ghost In The Shell and Aeon Flux as we follow a retired agent from an intergalactic secret agency who's been called back into duty to....do...stuff.
Essentially there's an assassin killing other agents from the organization, and they track him down to a vacation planet and attempt to trap/murder him. So they ask Zaya to be a hostess? Because they want like everyone on the boat to be an agent, just in case? But the killer was planning this all along, so it was like, a double trap? Because his plan(?) is just to kill more agents? But then he randomly gets in Zaya's space ship, and she goes on the run from the police, even though she kills the bad guy? But then she falls through anti-space(?) and is erased from history? And in the new alternate reality, that's maybe just reality(?) but she was just erased from it (??), the killer that she killed has replaced her and married her sister but had Zaya's babies???
All of that alternate world stuff happens in the third act and it is just as messy as it sounds. Which doesn't mean there are no good ideas or sequences. I really enjoyed the sub-plot of Zaya giving her ship's AI a reformat so that it can be truly independent, essentially creating a new lifeform that's learning new concepts along the way as it helps her on her mission. It doesn't really go anywhere with it, but it was a fun little aside.
Listen, the plot is....the plot is a thing that is here, and the art is just draped over it like a pretty but ill-fitting suit. The art is unique and interestingly fluid, giving everything an engagingly organic feel that really pops. On the flip side though, it can be very difficult to really figure out what is happening in some of the fight scenes. Some of these sequences are just visually muddy and cramped, forcing you to look over them a few times in an attempt to decipher what is actually happening. And sometimes you'll decide it's not worth the time and you'll just move on. That is......not great.
But hey the spaceships and sci-fi tech are pretty cool looking.
The book clocks in at 216 pages in a nice oversized 8.5x11 HC package, and like all Magnetic Press projects it's lushly designed and looks great on a shelf. The original price point was $30, which is solid for what you're getting, especially if you see this as more of an art book. If the art hits you then I would even say $50 isn't terrible. It's just that the messy storytelling and scattershot plotting make it difficult for me to really recommend you hunt this down.
But if a copy just randomly (and affordably) falls in your lap, there's a couple interesting ideas and nice art in here.