What’s Michael? Fatcat Collection vol. 1
Wow. I had just about forgotten that Dark Horse had published this series. This series, about the wacky adventures of a cat named Michael, was just a bit ahead of its time. It wasn’t published in pamphlet form, but in slim 60-100-page graphic novels for around $7 IIRC. This was back in the late 90’s before the manga revolution and the series apparently did well enough to get to 11 volumes in the U.S., but not before being folded into the “Super Manga Blast” anthology. No knock against “SMB,” except the stated purpose of that anthology was to provide a home for oddball series that wouldn’t have survived on their own like “Seraphic Feather,” “Shadow Star,” and another series from “What’s Michael?” creator Makoto Kobayashi, the delightfully quirky “Club 9.”
Despite being a cat person, I never picked up a volume of “What’s Michael?” I think it was because my younger, less open, more value-driven mind couldn’t wrap its head around the way it was being presented. “You call this a volume! It’s too thin! Even if it is $7 I’m gonna go put my money towards this new volume of ‘Gunsmith Cats’” is something that I probably would’ve said about it at the time. However, because I am no longer the person I once was I’ll be picking up this volume when it drops early next year. Because hey: who doesn’t like wacky cat antics?
Aliens: Rescue: Another round of solicitations, another Brian Wood-written “Aliens” comic for us to consider. This follows up “Resistance” and while I haven’t read it yet I now know that it features Amanda Ripley and Zula Hendricks rescuing a young colonist. A colonist who grows up to be a Colonial Marine. Which is a move that I’m SURE Zula is bound to appreciate. Anyway, no points for guessing what he encounters when he goes back to the moon that he was rescued from back in the day.
Also, if you’ve enjoyed what Wood’s been doing with this franchise, then be advised that his days in the industry are likely numbered now. In this day and age I doubt that anyone could survive a headline like this.
Crone #1 (of 5): If Dark Horse can’t publish actual “Conan” sword-and-sorcery comics anymore, then they’ll just have to create new ones. That’s how we got “Conan in the Real World” series “Beserker Unbound” from Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato Jr. Now we’re getting “Old Red Sonja” from the team of Dennis Culver and Justin Greenwood. Bloody Bliss used to be the baddest barbarian queen around before age caught up with her. Now she finds herself on one last adventure that’s being pitched to us as “Xena: Warrior Princess” meets “Unforgiven.” So, something extremely campy yet self-serious? That sounds like a recipe to get me to laugh at the book rather than along with it.
Elfen Lied Omnibus vol. 3: ...not that laughing at a book can’t be enjoyable on its own terms. So long as you don’t encounter any “bad laughs” where the creator thinks that something like child molestation is hilarious.
ElfQuest: Stargazer’s Hunt #1 (of 6): “The Final Quest” was certainly that in regards to Cutter’s story. “ElfQuest’s” ostensible protagonist met his maker in subdued, affecting fashion at the end of Wendy and Richard Pini’s most recent ongoing series. Now his Brother in All But Blood has to figure out how to go on without him. While it feels a bit too late in the day for the Pini’s to start up a brand new “ElfQuest” epic, this series feels like the kind of story that should be told. So I’ll have no problem picking this up when it’s collected.
FF Dot: The Pixel Art of Final Fantasy HC: In case anyone was wondering how important these gaming artbooks/guidebooks are to Dark Horse’s bottom line, this article does a good job of illustrating why. I may have griped about how it looked like they’d be taking the place of manga at the company in years past, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, these books have helped to keep Dark Horse in the comics publishing business even after it looked for a while that it was losing licenses left and right. So if you’re wondering how the company has managed to stick around even though a lot of the comics it publishes aren’t setting the sales charts on fire, books like “FF Dot” are the reason why.
Hazel and Cha-Cha Save Christmas: Tales From the Umbrella Academy: Hey, an “Umbrella Academy” spinoff book, with art from Tommy Lee Edwards! That’s great! Gerard Way is listed as a co-writer. That’s great too! Who’s he co-writing this with? “Abe Sapien” and “B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know” co-writer Scott Allie… Yeah, suddenly I don’t mind if they take their time to work this one-shot into a collection.
The Witcher Omnibus: In what is going to be either excellent or terrible timing, this omnibus is set to arrive in the wake of Netflix’s “The Witcher” series. If the series turns out to be great, then this collection of three miniseries and a one-shot is going to sell like gangbusters. Even if the series doesn’t turn out to be good, I might still pick this up anyway. Why? Well I finally got around to playing “The Witcher 3” earlier this year and the game turned out to be just as good as its reputation made it out to be. Which makes me in the market for a bargain-priced collection of the further adventures of Geralt of Rivia.
Witchfinder: Reign of Darkness #1 (of 5): Having Sir Edward Grey take on Jack the Ripper is exactly the kind of adventure I think that Mignolaverse superfan Chris Roberson would cook up. In fact, now that I think about it, even though I like Roberson’s writing there’s an awful lot of fanboyishness in the stuff that Roberson writes about within the confines of the Mignolaverse: The random alien from “Conqueror Worm” in “The Visitor,” finding out what Bruttenholm and Rasputin were up to during WWII in “The Voice of the Dragon,” digging into the Black Flame’s origins in his “Rise” mini. I guess the lesson we’re supposed to take from all of the Mignolaverse-related minis he’s written is that it’s okay to indulge your fanboyish interests. So long as you can write them as decently as you would your creator-owned work.