This round of solicitations sees not one, but TWO collections of “Conan” for us. Unfortunately, it signifies the start of a trend that I’m not really that keen on. You see, a few weeks back the second volume of the “Road of Kings” series (subtitled “Throne of Aquilonia”) arrived in hardcover. This was unusual because Dark Horse always publishes the hardcover and softcover editions of the title at the same time. That’s not going to be the case anymore because the softcover edition of that volume arrives in January alongside the hardcover edition of the first collection of Brian Wood’s run. So we’ve essentially transitioned into what Marvel does with their “premiere hardcover” line. As you might’ve guessed, I don’t think that’s a plus.
47 Ronin #1: This is a five-issue mini-series from Dark Horse co-founder and publisher Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai tackling one of the most famous stories in Japanese history. Not only is it notable for being the most substantial non-”Usagi Yojimbo” comics work from Sakai in... well, I think “ever” is the right word here, it’s also only the second time I’ve seen him tell a story involving human characters. The last time was the color short he did for Greg Rucka’s “Queen and Country” over a decade ago. This series also boasts “consultation” from legendary “Lone Wolf and Cub” writer Kazuo Koike, so I’m definitely onboard. Interestingly enough, given the way the company tends to schedule their collected editions, the one for this will likely arrive in time for Keanu Reeves’ film of the same name next year. I say “film of the same name” because I’ve heard that his version is more of a “fantasy action” story than “historical drama.”
Gantz vol. 26: Not only is the solicitation text a spoiler for events in the manga, but they’re also spoiling what I think is a very underwhelming event. I’m not going to say exactly what it is, but for those of you who have been reading the series and know that one of the options for players who get to 100 points is to bring someone back to life... well, think about which recently departed member of the cast would be most likely to receive that treatment and there you go. Though I can certainly understand mangaka Hiroya Oku’s desire to change things up after the title moved into its next phase with vol. 20, it’s utterly disheartening to see that the twists, the new characters, have all fizzled. Fortunately he can still do some pretty intense action sequences so the series hasn’t become “actively” awful enough in order to get me to stop reading.
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia: This isn’t comics, but since it’s in the solicitations I figured I’d talk about it. It is interesting that we’re getting this at all as while sourcebooks like this are a dime a dozen in Japan, we rarely see their like over here. However, with Zelda having the profile it does, I’m guessing someone at Dark Horse thought this would be a no-brainer to translate. By the fact that it dislodged “Fifty Shades of Gray” from the top of the Amazon bestseller list, they were right. Even so, there’s one thing about this book that annoyed the living hell out of me upon its release. Still does, as a matter of fact. That would how Nintendo finally revealed the chronology for the series long after it had ceased to have any meaning. While there are some titles that make direct reference to each other (i.e. “Wind Waker” to “Ocarina of Time”) and others that are marked as direct sequels (“Zelda” and “Zelda II,” natch) everything else feels like it exists in its own separate continuity. Listening to people try to fit it all together was also an exercise in frustration for me as well. Now that we do have an established continuity... I have to say that it feels pretty ridiculous, since we’re now dealing with three different timelines thanks to “Ocarina of Time” one of which involves the canonization of any player death(s) that happen in the game. It also means that any future Zelda title is going to have to observe this continuity. Fortunately, Nintendo’s continuity-lite approach to the series (which is what got us into this mess in the first place) means that even if they do have to fit things around the other games, it probably won’t factor too much into any of their upcoming stories.
Reset HC: A 96 page hardcover for $16? It’s in black and white, but that’s still more affordable than a lot of softcovers I see from Marvel these days. My experience of writer/artist Peter Bagge has been limited outside of his defining “Hate” series, but now I’m interested in picking this up just on the cost/value basis I see here.
Star Wars: Blood Ties vol. 2 -- Boba Fett is Dead: Riiiiiiiiiiight. Even if it is only to spike sales, I have a hard time believing that they’d kill off one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars mythos like that. The solicitation text also makes it harder to believe as we’re told that members of the team who killed Fett are being offed one by one themselves. My cynicism sense tells me that they obviously failed to kill him and that this mysterious avenger is Fett himself. I could be wrong... but I think my money will be better spent elsewhere in January.