Comic Review: Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1
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Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1
The Parasol Protectorate
Written by Gail Carriger
Adapted & illustrated by REM
Yen Press
Release date: March 1, 2012

Last year, I wrote about a deal for the Kindle ebook for Soulless, the first book in Gail Carriger‘s The Parasol Protectorate series. I had never heard of it, but two pages into the book’s online preview, I knew I’d love it. While this first book came out in 2009, a manga version of the novel, Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1, was released today by Yen Press that’s a great adaptation for both fans of the series as well as manga enthusiasts.

Soulless takes place in Victorian England in a world where vampires, werewolves, and ghosts live amongst humans. Along with the supernatural and the regular humans are extraordinary people, like Alexia Tarabotti, an unmarried half-English half-Italian young woman who’s not only considered a spinster, but also a little bit odd. People in this uptight English society find Alexia unusual because of her intelligence as well as her Italian physical features and seemingly hot-blooded temperament. Little do they know that she’s what’s known as a preternatural; she has no soul, and when she comes into contact with the supernatural, they lose their powers.

After Alexia is assaulted by a rogue vampire, known as a rove, an official investigation reveals that there’s trouble in the supernatural communities and Alexia is unwittingly at the center of it. The preternatural spinster has to now watch her back on all levels, while dealing with her growing feelings for the Alpha werewolf Lord Maccon, the head of BUR (the Bureau of Unnatural Registry).

Since I had read the novel, I already had the look of these characters in my mind, so I wasn’t expecting to take to the manga art so quickly. But, just like with the novel, I read the first few pages, and was immediately hooked on the manga edition. The art by REM is beautiful, but while their adaptation is faithful to Carriger’s original writings, the story at times goes by so quickly that the reader might miss important details. For instance, while Alexia states in the beginning that she’s a preternatural, the implications don’t immediately come across. Yes, everyone knows that vampires suck people’s blood and werewolves transform at the full moon, but what does being a preternatural mean in the Soulless universe? You have to look really carefully to see the affects Alexia has on the supernatural, especially since her abilities are something she hides from her judgmental family.

Another aspect of the novel that differs greatly from the manga is that the novel has a lot of inner monologue. We learn a lot about Alexia’s feelings, another aspect of herself that she keeps hidden from those around her, but those feelings are not really conveyed in manga form. The story contains quite a bit of action, which is where the manga version really shines. Not only are there plenty of attack and fight sequences, there’s also a lot of racy scenes in the novel that are illustrated perfectly.

When I first began reading the novel, I thought if only Carriger had included some hot male leads and some steamy sex scenes, this would be a must-read for anyone who likes the True Blood, as I felt that Soulless was like a Victorian England version of the True Blood/Southern Vampire books, except without the sex. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when propriety went out the window and things really heated up. With that, I should mention that the manga is labeled for “Older Teens” as there is sex, mild nudity, and violence, although the illustrations are tastefully done.

Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 is a wonderful accompaniment to the Soulless novel, and makes a great read all on its own as well.

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