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Tatsumi has been called the "grandfather of Japanese alternative comics," and this third collection of his stories shows why. Tatsumi takes on subjects as difficult as the legacy of Hiroshima, incest and the sexual humiliations of postwar Japanese soldiers, yet is never exploitative. Instead, the stories humanize all of the characters involved. Tatsumi excels at depicting honest human reactions to complex situations, and he refuses to rely on a single style of storytelling. The first story, "Hell," is a brief masterpiece. A freelance photojournalist snaps a picture of one of the infamous Hiroshima shadows-shadows of people burnt into the walls by the intensity of the atomic blast. The shadow appears to be a boy rubbing his mother's back, but years later, the photographer learns the awful truth behind the scene. By contrast, "Just a Man" forgoes the O. Henry twist, instead telling a circular slice-of-life story about the quiet despair of a Japanese salaryman. "Rash," a brief story of a man afflicted with a psychosomatic skin condition, reads as if Haruki Murakami decided to try his hand at manga. Tatsumi's art is masterful: he switches art styles from cartoony manga to stark realism with ease and is equally adept at depicting graceful motion, grisly suffering and complicated emotion. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.