Blacksad Collected Stories
This is more of a review of the format and less of the stories as 95% of this package has been previously released. If you are unfamiliar with Blacksad, just know that it is one of my favorite comic series due to the beautiful artwork by Juanjo Guarnido and the noir stories by Diaz Canales. Seriously, if you have any hangups about anthropomorphic comics get over them and do yourself a favor and get a copy of Blacksad.
I just want to give you a breakdown of some options here.
So before this edition was published, Dark Horse released the first three Blacksad stories (Somewhere Within The Shadows, Arctic Nation, & Red Soul) in one hardcover for $29.99. They then later released the stories A Silent Hell and Amarillo as separate hardcovers for $19.99 each. The hardcovers are extremely well done and incredibly affordable for the quality, as most Dark Horse hardcovers tend to be. So you're looking at $70 or so for that entire package.
In this new edition you get all of that content plus four pages of new short story material and eight pages of sketches, all for just $29.99. As far as content goes it's an astonishingly good deal. I'm just not as down with the choice to make it a softcover, mostly because I think it deserves better packaging and also because the chances of damaging in shipping are much better. While I know a $50 hardcover may limit some of the sales potential, I would absolutely kill for a complete hardcover in a slightly bigger format akin to the Hellboy Library Editions. And who knows, they may still do so and I'll eventually own that edition as well because I'm a sucker.
So yes, buy this edition, especially if you've never read Blacksad. If you're a stickler for hardcover formats like I am then I would say tracking down the previous editions is worth it, but you can also save $40 and spread that love around.
Fire In His Fingertips: A Flirty Fireman Ravishes Me With His Smoldering Gaze Vol 1
Listen, I have a hard rule (hahaaaaa) for ordering manga and it's that the more ridiculous the title is the more I need to find out what the deal is, so I have no regrets. Usually. And yes, this is definitely for mature audiences.
While I was expecting this to be a slightly more mature than usual rom-com, the solicit did say it was for ages 16 and up and uh I'm pretty sure someone could get in trouble for selling this to anyone under 18 because it's straight up an erotic comic with five full on super steamy sex scenes. It's patterned after American romance novels and aims more towards a female audience, so there's a bit of a different emphasis in how things play out. But yup yup, still pretty mature audience stuff.
With that in mind, it's also incredibly charming but also a little alarming as it's a little loose in establishing consent in the early chapters. The steaminess is supposed to be in that grey area of the 'forbidden romance' element and the main character's (Ryo) hesitation to hook up with her fireman friend (Souma) as she thinks he's too much of a hustler, not realizing he legitimately has feelings for her (which he unfortunately mostly expresses through horniness and seduction). Once the story kind of jumps that hurdle and we definitely know Ryo does want these physical elements to happen, there is a legitimate sweetness to this romance. And then smut. Sooooo much smut.
The art and storytelling are pretty great, and as it turns out this is Kawano Tanishi's first published book, which is frankly mindblowing for the level of quality on showcase. It also embraces a lot of its more ridiculous elements and has some fun with them, so while I wouldn't say this is exactly a metacommentary at any point it does step into the romance novel dialogue with full gusto with excerpts such as,
" I can't let him keep sweeping me away like this! But his skin is so hot; his breath is so heavy...and I melt into the pleasure. I can't resist his fiery touch...."
That's some pure gold right there, ok?
And holy crap, I did not realize that Fireman Romance Novels were such an established niche as this Goodreads list indicates. I now sincerely wish this manga gets introduced to American Fireman Romance Novel fans and causes a manga explosion in the states the likes that no one could have predicted. Move over Naruto and My Hero Academia, sexy firemen gonna take the US markets by storm.
There's also an anime, so I'm just saying, there's a chance.