Dark Horse’s publication of videogame related artbooks continues apace in this month’s solicitations with The Art of Mass Effect: Andromeda. “Andromeda” is the first game in the series after the original trilogy and will take the player out of the known universe to set up a colony in the Andromeda system. While I’ll definitely be picking up the game, I’ll probably be giving a pass on the artbook. However, I am grateful for its existence as the original solicitation text for this book mentioned that it’ll be published simultaneously with the game on March 21, 2017. That bit of text has since been removed, but given that the game was delayed to the first quarter of 2017 this date still seems pretty likely. So to whoever screwed up there, thanks!
Also in “Mass Effect”-related comics solicitations: The series jumps on the current adult coloring book craze with one of its own. I’m even less interested in this than the artbook. That said, I have to give the person who wrote the solicitation text credit for invoking one of the more (in)famous lines from the series with, “I’M COMMANDER SHEPARD, AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE COLORING BOOK ON THE CITADEL!” Well said, sir.
Black Hammer vol. 1: Secret Origins: On one hand, you could take the story of this new series from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston on an entirely surface level. It involves old superheroes who were banished from the universe they knew by a crisis of infinite proportions who now live peaceful lives in a timeless farming town. Everything’s good until someone shows up with the promise of bringing them all back for one last adventure. This is a solid enough setup, even though Ormston’s involvement means this is likely to tilt more towards the creepier side of Lemire’s writing. Now, on the other hand, you could interpret this story as a narrative metaphor for what happens when superheroes are written out of continuity and the fun/trouble that ensues when someone decides to bring them back. That’s the story I’m more interested in reading about. The heroes may be living in a small farming town, but I’ll be plowing their narrative for subtext when I pick this up.
B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth vol. 15 -- Cometh the Hour: An ominous title, no? This is the final volume of “B.P.R.D.” and we’re told that the organization is focused on stopping the tide of monsters being released from the Ogdru Jahad from destroying their headquarters -- and the world! Meanwhile, the head of the organization’s Russian counterpart, Director Nichayko, appears to have sealed his fate by attempting to bargain with the little demon vampire girl Varvara. If we’re lucky, only Nichayko will wind up dying horribly because of his actions and they won’t have any effect on the larger conflict. I’m probably kidding myself with the last part, unless the director has a plan. Even if he does, I’m worried because the first part of it involves him getting drunk on vodka and letting Varvara out. So either he’s got a really great plan involving lots of misdirection, or the final page of this volume will show us that EVERYONE has died at the end. While that may be a real possibility, I still can’t wait to see how this volume is going to turn out.
Briggs Land vol. 1: State of Grace: Even before the first issue of this series hit the stands, it was being pushed with the announcement that it was being developed as a series for AMC. Dark Horse has continued to push that line with each successive issue, and now the first trade paperback, though I have yet to hear of any significant movement regarding the television future of this series. Not that it doesn’t sound like it’d make for a great TV show: When the head of the largest anti-government secessionist movement in the U.S. is incarcerated, his wife wrests control of the organization from him. Now she has to deal with the blowback from inside the movement, and the attention her actions have drawn from the FBI. Brian Wood is writing, and he knows a thing or two about anti-government movements after his time with “DMZ.” Even if this winds up being just a comic, it still sounds like a good one.
Hellboy Winter Special 2017: Are more “Hellboy”-related short stories never not a good thing? This time around we get shorts involving Edward “Witchfinder” Gray teaming up with the heroine of the recent “Rise of the Black Flame” mini for a caper in London of the 1890’s, Hellboy, Liz, and Abe in 1980’s New England looking for some missing kids, and a story featuring Hellboy in the 50’s. That last one appears to be the most relevant to the ongoing slate of Mignolaverse titles as it’s advertised as leading into the next “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” series. It also features art from Paul Grist of “Kane” and “Jack Staff” fame. So if he’s illustrating the next miniseries, that’ll be great. Not as great as a new “Kane” miniseries, but it’ll still be interesting to see how he interprets Hellboy and his world.
Henchgirl: Dark Horse has a long history of picking up titles that were previously self-published by their creators or from small press operations. This collection falls in the latter category, and it’s got a fun premise: Mary Posa is stuck in a dead-end job where her co-workers are jerks and her boss doesn’t appreciate her. What is this job? Being a supervillain’s henchgirl. She doesn’t want to do this for the rest of her life, but how do you extricate yourself from this line of work? I’m curious, and the fact that this collection’s 304 pages can be had for $18 mean that it’s going to be pretty cost-effective for me to find out.
The Manara Library vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories: I’m well aware of Manara’s reputation as a legendary artist who loves to illustrate eros, but the only full-length story I own featuring his work is “The Borgias.” That’s mainly because it’s a collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky that I found for half-price last year at WonderCon. Dark Horse has been publishing Manara’s complete works in hardcover, but the $60 cover price per volume is prohibitive by my standards. Now, they’re publishing “The Manara Library” in softcover at $30 a volume and I’m a lot more amenable to getting my hands on these volumes thanks to that lower price.
Slayer: Repentless #1 (of 3): The legendary thrash metal band gets their own comic after all these years, and it’s about… Well, I couldn’t tell you from these solicitations. All they say is that this comic is based on the videos from the band’s latest album, also titled “Repentless,” and features, “a raging road trip down a bloodstained highway, a tale of the doomed, the damned . . . and the repentless!” So maybe this will be the equivalent of “The Devil’s Rejects” in comic book form. I wouldn’t mind reading that. Art comes from “Conan” artist Guiu Villanova, and it’s written by Jon Schnepp who has some interesting credits -- “Metalocalypse,” “The Venture Brothers,” “The Death of Superman Lives” -- for someone who’s writing a comic based on a Slayer album. Then again, capturing the spirit of a band or its music in comic form is usually a very dicey proposition unless your name is Kieron Gillen. Probably best not to expect too much from this if only so we can be pleasantly surprised when it clears that low bar.