Martin & John 1

January 30, 2009

Of all the Tokyopop titles that got cancelled, it will be Hee Jung Park’s titles that I will miss the most.  I would give all my copies of Sorcerer Hunters and Boys Be for them.  Hotel Africa was truly unique in almost every way, in the story it told and the narrative structure and setting and… well, everything.  I haven’t yet read the second volume because I know I will only want more when I finish it.  Martin and John was the one that sounded the best out of all of them (I didn’t really like the first volume of Fever and I didn’t realize Too Long had come out), but it took me forever to get ahold of it, long after the cancellation notices had come.  And again, I was hesitant to read it because I knew I’d love it and wouldn’t be able to get more.

I was right.  I was absolutely right.  I actually liked this volume more than I did Hotel Africa, though Hotel Africa is still probably the better series.  I like the premise for Martin and John quite a lot.  It sets out to tell the stories of different men named Martin and John and the bonds that they share.  The first story in this volume is one of romantic partners and the troubles they were having together, and the aftermath of an accident.  It was really, really beautiful, and accomplished a lovely story with nothing more than three characters.

The second half of the volume tells the story of a musician named John who winds up with his stepmother’s adopted 4-year-old son after his father and stepmother die.  This would have me cringing in most cases, except the boy keeps doing creepy things and showing signs of abuse.  The plot develops in that direction, with John caring more and more for the boy as he finds out about the kid’s past, and the volume leaves off with the question of his father’s money and the boy’s original mother trying to adopt him back to get the inheritance.  It’s got more elements of humor in it than the first half of the volume, and is quite a nice story by the time it cuts off at the end of the volume.  Once again, I’m really rather upset that I won’t get to see a continuation of this series.

The little boy is named Martin, as is John’s best friend and confidante.  The John in this story is straight, and sleeps with many women.  Elder Martin might not be, but not much comes of that.  I’m not looking for the two to hook up or anything, especially since most of the focus is on the younger Martin.

There’s also a single chapter at the beginning of the book that… I think is unrelated?  I had a hard time getting into the beginning because I thought that the Martin and John featured in the brief first chapter, a weird sci-fi type story with a master/servant relationship, were the same Martin and John in the first half of the volume.  I don’t think they are, but they do all resemble one another.

It would be kind of awesome, actually, if all the stories were connected in some way.  I would love to see a series finale that pulled that off after a few volumes.  This seems to be the best-selling of Hee Jung Park’s Tokyopop titles (at least on Amazon), so I can always hold out hope that at least this one will see a continuation in better times.

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