The manga sequel to Avalon High has finally hit the shelves. Ellie's adventures continue (but not until after explaining everything that happened in Avalon High for a third of the book) as she meets our dear Morgana Le Fay, reincarnated as Morgan, Will's (Arthur's) bad half-brother Marco's (Mordred's) girlfriend. Really, what seems to be about all that happens is she sets up the intro of Morgan and at the very end (not really a spoiler because we all knew it had to happen), Marco breaks out of the institute where he was getting "help" after he tried to kill Will in the last book.
I was really disappointed in the size of the book. It sits at just barely 110 pages, yet still cost me $8 to buy. And it really didn't give a lot of new story or plot. I did feel that we got to know Jen and Lance better, and the visuals can be pretty nice. But I think Will's character design is lacking (he does not look like a king, or even a high school class president), and his haircut is horrid. Now, I like shaggy hair on guys, but Will just looks like nobody's bothered to give him a trim in the last few years.
The art style is also this hybrid of American comics and Japanese manga style that I don't really like. As I read it, I'm very aware that this is not a Japanese manga, yet is trying to look like one. TokyoPop is trying to sell this as a manga, implying that it is Japanese in style, yet it doesn't really follow any of the standards. There are no silly places (like when the characters go chibi or you see humorous background images, elements that even "serious" manga tend to have), the lines are very dark, the panel set up is traditional American comic, and it just doesn't have a manga to feel to it. Granted it's hard to get American manga that turns out well, and many manga fans won't count anything that wasn't Japanese first. I think one American manga that worked was TokyoPop's Van Von Hunter, which follows the same conventions and tropes of a manga. I think maybe it's the faces in the case of Avalon High. The artist is trying to follow traditional American comic style faces, with defined eyes and noses, but then again, maybe it's not that. All I know is that as I read it, I was very aware that it was not a manga and that disappointed me. I had much higher hopes for TokyoPop's new crossovers with HarperCollins.
Overall, I kind of wish Meg Cabot had just written another book. It's nice to visually see the characters, and it does give more room for development for the minor characters, but it was just too short and didn't translate that well. I think an illustrated novel might actually be the best way to go for the Avalon High books. Let us get some visual pictures of the characters, but still let Meg write the text. Meg is good at engaging the reader in the story, though, unfortunately, her characters often fall flat and are stereotypical, and I think the manga version brings out these negative qualities even more.
Still, I am buying the next one. Even at $8 a pop, I'll get it and read it. But, I'll have to see after that if I want to buy it any more or not. I was excited about these books, and I still am, because I'm interested in modern interpretations of the Arthurian Legends, and the mixing in of high school drama is really intriguing to me.