Image Previews Picks: June 2017

March 31, 2017

Lots of interesting new title announcements from Image coming out of the Emerald City Comic-Con a few weeks back:  Joe Casey and Ulises Farinas are bringing us “The New Lieutenants of Metal” which is aiming to be as gloriously incomprehensible as early Image comics were.  That sounds like a threat to me, even with art from Farinas.  Justin Jordan is writing “Death of Love” about cupids and chainsaws and an “ocean punk” series called “The Family Trade.”  He’s been more about style than substance in his work, so my “wait and see” approach is in effect here.  Prolific colorist Jordie Bellaire is writing her first series, “Redlands,” with artist Vanessa Del Rey about a fictionalized version of a real place that contains everything the writer is most upset about with our country.  Jeff Lemire is teaming up with artist Phil Hester for “The Family Tree,” a horror road comic about the journey to cure a young girl.  Ales Kot also has two new series in the pipeline with “Generation Gone,” featuring a couple in a toxic relationship that gets superpowers after they rob a bank, and “The New World” which is about California after the second civil war.  While these sound like straightforward premises, Kot tends to go to some really strange places for his creator-owned work which may render them irrelevant after the first volume.

 

However, the best news is that Matt Wagner will finally be delivering the final chapter of his “Mage” series.  “The Hero Denied” is set to debut this August with a zero issue and run for fifteen issues.  It arrives eighteen years after the end of “The Hero Defined” and promises an end to the saga of Kevin Matchstick.  New editions of the previous two volumes are set to be reissued during the run of this series, so if you’ve only heard about “Mage” through its reputation this is your best chance to get on board.

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Marvel Previews Picks: June 2017

March 29, 2017

The word around town is that Marvel’s latest revamp is not a revamp.  Confused?  Well, the idea is that the company wants to get back-to-basics with a lot of their characters much in the same way that DC did to much success with “Rebirth.”  Not only can you expect to see more classic iterations of characters -- working alongside their “legacy” counterparts, which Marvel is turning into its own thing with the “Generations” one-offs -- but a lot of titles will be resuming their original numbering as well.  After reaching an anniversary issue so that they can capitalize on that particular sales boost, of course.

 

Before that, the company has to get through “Secret Empire.”  Its latest event lumbers through these solicitations with two more issues in the core miniseries solicited alongside a host of tie-in issues and miniseries.  With the zero issue due to hit stands soon, previews have been making their way to news sites and what they’ve revealed about the story has been… disturbing.  Apparently WWII didn’t end the way we thought it did thanks to the use of a Cosmic Cube.  However, the actual truth is really goddamn depressing and throws a giant wrench into the concept of the Marvel Universe being “the world outside your window.”  I’d be more upset about this if it weren’t for the fact that this also reads like a giant swerve designed to get the reader to think the worst about the story before doubling back to reveal that actual inspiring, reassuring truth by the end.  Which, now that I think about it, does kind of line up perfectly with the company’s “not a revamp” revamp.

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The Girl From the Other Side: Siul, A Run vol. 1

March 27, 2017

Here’s a new title from Seven Seas that I feel owes its existence on these shores due to the success of “The Ancient Magus’ Bride.”  That’s mainly due to the number of superficial similarities the two titles share.  Like that other great title, “The Girl From the Other Side” is about the relationship between a human girl and an otherworldly being, the danger in interactions between the human and spirit realms, a focus on European culture and myth, and an art style that’s somewhat out of the mainstream.  However, this “Girl” is no mere clone.  Mangaka Nagabe is telling a more unsettling tale that goes further into the realms of fairy tale.

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DC Previews Picks: June 2017

March 26, 2017

There are plenty of new collections in this month’s batch of solicitations from DC.  But why concern yourself with them now when we have word about collections that will arrive even later this year!  Some of these are particularly long-in-the-coming, such as “The Atlantis Chronicles” from Peter David and Esteban Maroto, which details the pre-Aquaman history of Atlantis.  Jim Balent had long run on “Catwoman” during the 90’s before forming his own self-publishing operation to give us the soft-core likes of “Tarot:  Witch of the Black Rose.”  That run on “Catwoman” will have its first fifteen issues collected in “Book One” so expect more to follow afterwards.  All of the “Fourth World” comics Jack Kirby did will be getting an omnibus, and the entirety of the maligned “Detroit Era ‘Justice League’” is collected now that most of its members can be seen on DC’s CW shows.  Finally, in the “better late than never” category Rick Veitch’s run on “Aquaman” finally gets its second collection 15 years after vol. 1 came out.  No word on whether that first volume, which is currently out of print, will receive a new edition to mark the occasion.

 

Believe it or not, I have more to say about “Aquaman” and long-delayed trades involving the character after the break.

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The Autumnlands vol. 2: Woodland Creatures

March 25, 2017

This volume took a while to arrive, but it was ultimately worth the wait.  I thought that the first volume of “The Autumnlands” from writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey was the best new Image title to debut in 2015 thanks to its impressive worldbuilding, clever twist on the “legendary hero” story, and amazing art.  Dewey’s art is still amazing and Busiek clearly has a lot more to say about the world of “The Autumnlands” as dog apprentice wizard Dusty and human soldier Learoyd try to make their way back to civilization after surviving the explosion that sent them into the river at the end of the first volume.  Their travels take them into the lands of some none-too-friendly goats, and some far more accommodating sheep who ask for the assistance of these two “wizards.”  This is because there have been strange lights in the night sky by the mountains while the young and the old have fallen ill due to an unknown sickness.  It isn’t long before Dusty and Learoyd find their way to the source of the problem, and the cause isn’t something they could’ve anticipated.

 

What we learn about the cause also tells us a lot more about the world of “The Autumnlands” in the process.  Not to give too much away, but if you remember the old adage about how sufficiently advanced technology can appear indistinguishable from magic then you’ll be halfway there.  That may seem out of place in a story that presents itself as a high-fantasy tale involving talking anthropomorphic animals, except it was already set up with what we’ve learned about Learoyd and where he came from.  Toss in what we learn about the deities of the Autumnlands here and it becomes clear that Busiek has clearly thought all of this through.  In light of this, my complaints are relatively minor.  It feels like we’re lightly beaten with exposition in the latter half of the story, particularly after one of the gods shows up, and I was hoping to learn more about the other survivors from the previous volume after it was revealed that there’s a different kind of drama brewing with them back home.  At least that bit gives me something to look forward to in the next volume, along with the continuing adventures of Dusty and Learoyd in this fascinating land.

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Dark Horse Previews Picks: June 2017

March 24, 2017

You could say there’s been some good news on the manga publishing front at Dark Horse.  After a three year hiatus, vol. 4 of Kohta Hirano’s Drifters is solicited here (for release in August) following a successful anime series last Fall.  While they’re not solicited here, it’s been mentioned elsewhere on the web that the final three volumes of Yasuhiro Nightow’s Blood Blockade Battlefront will eventually be released here.  Possibly even in time for the second season of the anime.

 

Though this may seem like the start of a trend, you shouldn’t get your hopes up.  The only reason we’re seeing these series brought back from hiatus is because they spawned popular anime series.  It’s probably worth reiterating the fact that even though Hirano and Nightow were responsible for two of the most popular manga from Dark Horse, “Hellsing” and “Trigun” respectively, that success was largely down to the popularity of their anime incarnations.  Having a popular anime is the best sales tool a manga can have in the States, but it’s disappointing to see that Dark Horse couldn’t leverage the success of Hirano and Nightow’s previous series for their current ones.  So even though “Blood Blockade Battlefront” already has a manga sequel in Japan don’t expect to see it out here unless it gets its own anime.

 

That being said, the first three volumes of “Drifters” were great.  Everyone who liked the anime should go out and buy them, and then pick up vol. 4 when it comes out in August so we don’t have to worry about it going on hiatus again.

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Comic Picks #233: Sunstone

March 22, 2017

A comic with quality sex and substance?  Yes, such a thing does exist!

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Inuyashiki vol. 6

March 20, 2017

In case you weren’t convinced that Hiro was the bad guy in this story after the past couple of volumes, mangaka Hiroya Oku goes to make the case again here.  After a Japanese S.W.A.T. team busts into Shion’s home in the middle of the night, wounding the girl and her grandmother in the process of getting to Hiro, the cybernetically-reconstructed teenager murders the attackers without a second thought.  Then he goes to the nearest police precinct and spends a good chunk of the volume murdering everyone inside before turning his attention to the forces sent to apprehend him for doing that.  If that wasn’t enough, he then declares war on Japan at the end of the volume and states in no uncertain terms that his goal is to kill everyone in the country.

 

Where’s the title character in all of this?  Well, he gets more than a couple pages in this volume.  Mainly because he winds up as a supporting character in his daughter’s subplot.  Mari hasn’t been much of a presence in this series until now, serving only to fulfill the role of “teenage daughter who thinks her dad is soooooo uncool.”  We do learn that she wants to become a manga artist, and it is interesting to see her father’s reaction to that.  Especially since this comes after she sees her dad “in action” and realizes that he’s not an ordinary human anymore.

 

I’d much rather follow where that subplot goes than see more of Hiro’s selfish and nihilistic killing spree.  There’s a slow-motion sense of horror to his murderous stroll through the police station, but Oku never fully taps into the waking nightmare that these policemen must be experiencing.  In fact, most of the killing here almost feels glorified as Hiro uses his “finger-gun” to waste everyone he makes eye contact with and not experience any fear of retribution along the way.  Until he meets up with Inuyashiki, that is.  I hope that’s the case.  My patience with this series is wearing thing and I’d really like to see Oku get to the main event before it runs out.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Oh, and apparently there’s a giant meteor heading towards Earth in this series too.  Apparently the main conflict in this series just wasn’t interesting enough for Oku...

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta vol. 4: Under Devil’s Wing

March 19, 2017

The previous volume left off in a way that suggested big things were going to happen here.  Kyle Barnes had been captured by Sidney and his crew of possessed humans and was completely at their mercy regarding their plans for the Great Merge.  Those of you (myself included) expecting this to be a climax point after the events of the previous three volumes are going to feel a little disappointed here because what follows is… lots of talking.  You see, now that Sidney has the upper hand, he decides to lay out his best case as to why Kyle should join his side.  Our protagonist is not having any of that, and fortunately for him Reverend Anderson is hot on his trail.  There’s some fighting, a fire, escape, a chance for Kyle to perform another exorcism and add someone to their team, and a moment where Sidney has the tables turned on him.  Of course, with someone as devious and cunning as Sidney, can having him at your mercy even be a good thing?

 

There’s no denying that “Outcast” does the slow burn well.  Robert Kirkman builds character and tension well through his dialogue while also parsing out information necessary to the larger plot at the same time.  If nothing else, we do get a better handle on Kyle’s abilities, the nature of these demons, and what the Great Merge is in this volume.  Paul Azaceta also layers on menacing style throughout the volume, creating an uneasy atmosphere where the nightmares are all walking around with human faces.  The problem is that “Outcast” feels like it’s all about the slow burn after four volumes.  Twenty-four issues in and I’m still waiting for the creators to kick things into high gear and take it to the next level.  Now, that might happen in the next volume as we leave off on a shocking moment of violence that leaves one of the main cast quite dead if appearances are to be believed.  There’s no way said death won’t create some shockwaves, the least of which being what it means for the killer.  Who, I might add, has had one of the more interesting arcs in this series so far.  While I’m not about to recommend this to people who aren’t part of Kirkman’s fanbase, it’s still possible that I could wind up doing so in the future.

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

The Black Monday Murders vol. 1

March 17, 2017

With his track record, any new Image series from Jonathan Hickman is a reason to get excited about.  I was particularly looking forward to seeing how the full volume of “The Black Monday Murders” would read after I checked out the first issue several months back.  Now that the final volume is here, it still represents an entertaining read.  Though, that’s more because of the entertaining surface it presents than the world the writer is trying to create.

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