Comic Picks By The Glick

Dark Horse Previews Picks: July 2019

April 26, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Empowered vol. 11


Hey, it’s about goddamn ti--  I mean, it’s great to see another volume of Adam Warren’s consistently great superhero parody/actual superhero series.  Yes, he’s been putting out spinoff miniseries like “Soldier of Love” and “Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell” with different artists, but there’s no replacing the feeling that you get from reading an actual numbered volume in this series.  There may be plenty of times when Warren’s writing makes you want to club him with his thesaurus, but it’s more than worth it to see the expertly balanced blend of comedy, drama, and sentiment that you get with the main series. Vol. 11 promises more of the latter two than the first one after vol. 10 ended on the series’ first-ever cliffhanger.  It was a doozy too: After Emp and Thugboy had an emotional heart-to-heart about the latter’s past, he went and pushed her off the roof. But that’s okay because he was being mind-controlled. What’s not okay is that he was being mind-controlled by the psychic brother of the deceased Mindf--- who’s as psycho as they come in comics. Fortunately Emp has Mindf---’s psychic ghost rattling around in her head to give her an edge in a fight where everyone (and I mean a full Gary Oldman-style “EVERYONE”) in the city is out to get her.  It’s been something of a wait to see this volume, so I’m QUITE EAGER to see how it’s all going to turn out.


That said, it’s a credit to Warren that he’s been putting out new volumes in the series every other year in addition to the spinoffs.  He’s got a long way to go before he dethrones the king of “Taking His Goddamn Time” in my book…

Berserk vol. 40:  There will (hopefully) come a time when this series is completed and when I sit down to re-read it all of the long waits between volumes will have become irrelevant.  We’re not at that time yet, and seeing how this is advance-solicited for September I’m just a little concerned that mangaka Kentaro Miura’s efforts to put out a new volume each year are going to fail in 2020.  I hear that he’s about to resume serializing new chapters in Japan, but this comes after he took an EIGHT MONTH hiatus. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why he did this. We just haven’t heard about it yet…  Anyway, I’m hoping but not expecting this volume to end with some resolution to the current arc, which has Schierke and Farness exploring the desolate wasteland that is Caska’s mind in the hope of putting it back together.  Considering how Caska’s mind got this way in the first place I imagine things are only going to get much worse for them before the end.


Black Hammer/Justice League:  Hammer of Justice #1 (of 5):  With the series wrapping up in Black Hammer vol. 4:  Age of Doom Part 2, also in these solicitations, where does this miniseries fit into the timeline?  It could wind up being the actual ending of the series with the ersatz-DC-cast of “Black Hammer” coming face-to-face with their inspirations.  Or, it could just be the Justice League finding their way onto the “Hammer” cast’s farm while they were still stuck on it. The former sounds a lot more interesting to read about than the latter.  Though I imagine the real appeal will come from how much interest you have in seeing writer/creator Jeff Lemire, and artist Michael Walsh, play with the characters he’s created and the characters he’s written for DC.


Critical Role:  Vox Mechnica Origins -- Series II #1 (of 6):  While I remember seeing the previous miniseries in Dark Horse’s solicitations, I can’t remember writing a thing about it.  “Some miniseries based on a YouTube gamer series” is probably what I thought after reading the solicitations and didn’t give it much more thought.  Flash forward to today and I’ve heard a lot about how the Kickstarter for an animated series based on the Critical Role characters has broken all sorts of records.  So there’s definitely an audience for this and I shouldn’t be surprised that the original miniseries is getting a sequel. It looks to be in good hands to with one of the key people from the series, voice actor Matthew Mercer, co-writing with Jody Houser, veteran of Dark Horse’s “Stranger Things” and “Starcraft” series and the quite-good “Thrawn” adaptation over at Marvel.


Dissident X:  Originally published in the mid-90’s with the title “Triple X,” this graphic novel from the Pander Brothers gets a reissue with a more market-friendly title.  It’s about a journalist with a photographic memory who escapes to Amsterdam after New York falls to martial law. What sounds like a great idea on the surface quickly becomes an “...into the fire” situation when he finds himself dealing with tyrannical conspiracies, state-controlled media, and family secrets.  Interesting stuff, even though reading the solicitation text gives me the nagging feeling that this is going to feel a lot more relevant now than it did when it was originally published.


Elfen Lied Omnibus vol. 2:  Vol. 1 hasn’t shipped yet and here we are with vol. 2.  Remember, this is a twelve-volume series being collected in three-in-one omnibi so we’re already to the series’ halfway point in these solicitations.


Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.:  1956: I’m pretty sure this represents the last of the “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” series-of-miniseries and one-shots that Mike Mignola has been doing with writer Chris Roberson.  It sounds pretty final as well with the conflicts between the Russians and the B.P.R.D. coming to a climax here. You need more proof than that? Well, this volume also collects the “Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson” one-shot, which feels like a weird place for this kind of thing since it has no relation to the story being told here.  I’m guessing it’s here because there weren’t any other era-appropriate collection options for it.


Manor Black #1 (of 4):  The ever prolific Cullen Bunn strikes again with this new miniseries about the aging patriarch of a family of sorcerers who grants an outsider the powers necessary to safeguard his family and legacy.  What’s interesting here is that this appears to be a joint project between two of his best buds, “The Sixth Gun” artist Brian Hurtt, and “Harrow County” artist Tyler Crook. They are co-writing and illustrating this miniseries, respectively.  I’ve yet to start reading the latter and what I’ve read of the former has been fine, but not compelling enough to have me actively track down the rest of it. If either or both of those series have been your jam, however, then you should probably check this out.


Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles vol. 1:  Hmmmmmmmm…  I’m of two minds about this release.  The cynic in me thinks that this title got picked up because someone at Dark Horse went, “Have there been any anime released in the U.S. and haven’t had their source manga picked up as well?”  The optimist is of the opinion that someone at Dark Horse really wanted to translate this series but couldn’t do so until it got an anime adaptation. I’ll pick it up because I can always appreciate a good foodie manga, even if this one looks decidedly light on plot next to the likes of “Iron Wok Jan” and “Antique Bakery.”


No One Left to Fight #1 (of 5):  I’ve heard this miniseries from writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Fico Ossio described as what happens when a shonen (Jump) protagonist runs out of villains to punch in the face.  The overall concept isn’t new, but this is the first time I’ve seen it done with a manga genre in mind. Could be good, could be a huge misfire. Sitterson and Ossio have mentioned that they’re HUGE “Dragon Ball Z” fans, so if you’re into that series it might be worth picking this one up just to see how their homages line up with the real thing.


The Orville:  New Beginnings #1 (of 2):  When I heard that Dark Horse had picked up the license for “The Orville” I wasn’t expecting their first project to be a two-issue miniseries.  Granted, it does come from executive producer David Goodman and promises to bridge seasons one and two. Still, two issues? There’s clearly going to be more after this because how do you release a trade paperback with only two issues?  You can do it, usually in a prestige hardcover, but it’s honestly kind of annoying since you’re effectively price-gouging your audience. So if you’re an “Orville” fan and interested in reading the story being told here then you’re advised to go pick up this and the subsequent issue since it might be a while before you read them in a collected edition.

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