I have finally found the comic section in the local college library (only took me two tries, mixed up some call numbers the first time and somehow ended up in the German/Russian play area, there were an awful lot of books on that subject) and they have a good number of books about comics and, well, actual comics there. No manga sadly, everything there seems to be either American or European, so I went with the first title I recognized off the shelf, The Runaways which I was a little familiar with. I had read an issue of it a couple of summers ago and wasn't that impressed by it (yes it was in the middle/end of an arc but but the story wasn't confusing so much as not interesting) and decided that it was only fair to give the comic another shot, this time starting from the beginning.
The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona
Summary: Covering the first arc in The Runaways, the story explains how six kids discover that all their parents are supervillians who are out to destroy the world.
The Good: The issues contained here make up the first story arc which has a good beginning and end and the middle doesn't feel too stretched out either (by that I mean, the beginning feels like the right place to start the story and the end feels like the right place to end it). Some of the middle arcs do feel a bit fillerish (random vampires anyone?) but by and large the story feels well-paced. The characters powers are interesting, not just your standard super-strength/flying superpowers, and half of them don't technically have any powers at all which is really interesting. And since the story is going to continue it would be really nice to see these kids grow up and become adults in the process, they feel a bit young now so it's going to be really interesting to see them grow up.
The Bad: The ending feels a bit underwhelming to be honest. The mole in the group is dealt with quickly and easily, without a very convincing explanation for why they even were the mole in the first place, and it seems like an odd choice to have the story continue after this arc*. It seems like a very natural place to stop, I can't imagine they would find a much more satisfying place to stop later on, that continuing the series feels more like they're indulging the fans rather than telling the next part in a larger story.
The Art: The comic is in full color, with quite a few people working on the art, and is consistently drawn with interesting action scenes. The characters faces however don't look very distinctive from one another (so trying to piece together who has what parents takes a little while) and the cell-shading means that the faces, while they have more realistic eye, nose, and mouth proportions, end up looking flat and a little freaky. I'm not that big a fan of plan cell-shading in general (I never have been which is why it took me so many years to get into comics) but the colors are vibrant and technically it's well done.
So, not exactly my thing but I would read more if I found more, I just think it would be a little hard to find the rest of the issues in the right order, although I think I did see some in the local library near my college but I won't be able to visit that one until August at least.....
*yes I know the nerd god Joss Whedon wrote in and said that the story couldn't end there but seriously, you're talking to a man whose had almost all his series canceled and the one that didn't ran for two seasons beyond the original outline and didn't add that much to the overall story.