ROD (Read or Die), vol. 1

Librarians kick butt. I live with one of them, so I should know. I also know that many people tend to underestimate Librarian-kind – their physical prowess, their dedication to the job, their cunning, their focus, their ability to do acrobatic tricks. That last talent might be a bit of a stretch (ha!) for the average librarian, which is why we’re lucky that books have another protector in the operative code-named The Paper. From 9 to 5, bookish, awkward Yomiko Readman teaches a class, stalks her favorite writers, and dedicates every instant she can to reading books. From the silliest romance to the weightiest historical tome, to Yomiko books are as alive and require as much attention as any human child. Off hours, Yomiko works as The Paper, a feared agent for British Special Operations whose single-minded fixation on books and affinity for paper have endowed her with special abilities. Paper itself reacts to Yomiko’s presence, allowing her to create lethal weapons out of the scrawniest of post-it notes. Using her special talents as well as her innate librarian’s cunning, Yomiko, aka The Paper, saves valuable first editions from unscrupulous buyers, tracks down book thieves, and champions the written word wherever it is found. When Yomiko’s favorite author is kidnapped by a super-creepy, super-villain fan she is ready to bring all of The Paper’s power to extricating her friend. Unfortunately for Yumiko, her arch nemesis just may have found books’ worst enemy to fight on his side. ROD is adapted from the anime series of the same name, and in my opinion the transition to print is, ironically, not a graceful one. The world absolutely needs another librarian superhero to keep Barbara Gordon company, so it is disappointing to see artist Shutaro Yamada spending so much time on fan-service shots of breasts and scantily-clad girls when I really just want to see The Paper waste some evil villains and get back to reading her latest novel. As well, while its fine to show that your hero with exceptional talent is a gawky girl like the rest of us, the storyline would have been much improved if Yumiko spent more time exploring her amazing paper-shaping talents and less time tripping over her own feet and squealing in schoolgirl glee. All of this is very much a matter of taste, however, and ROD certainly provides plenty of action as our hero races from one challenge to the next, book in hand.

ROD (Read or Die) Volume 1
by Hideyuki Kurata and Shutaro Yamada
ISBN: 9781421502489
Viz, 2003

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