Criminal: Bad Weekend HC
When I was talking about the two-issue “The Orville” miniseries in the Dark Horse Previews Picks, I mentioned that you could make a collection out of a two-issue miniseries. It’s effectively price-gouging your audience, especially if you put it in a hardcover, but you could do it. Now, guess what Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are doing for this latest “Criminal” graphic novel? That’s right, “Bad Weekend” is a collection of issues 2 & 3 of the title’s current ongoing series in a hardcover edition priced at $17. None of this sounds good on paper, until you hear that the creators are adding extra scenes to the story to flesh it out and up the page count to 72. Which was the same length as their excellent “My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies.” So there’s precedent here and I’m honestly willing to let it slide because it’s Brubaker and Phillips doing “Criminal.” I do wonder what the first collected edition for the current ongoing is going to look like now that this is coming out.
As for the actual story of “Bad Weekend,” it’s about a man who makes comics. Hal Crane has been in the industry almost since the beginning and he’s currently attending an out-of-town convention to receive a lifetime achievement award. While the solicitation text promises a look at the secret history of an industry “that’s always been haunted by crooks, swindlers, and desperate dreamers” it’s light on actual details of the plot. Which I’ve read elsewhere involve Crane’s assistant trying to manage the old man as he embarks on an ill-advised scheme to recover some old art of his. That’s a good setup, and should ultimately prove to be a great read once this hardcover hits in time for Comic-Con. Regardless of the weird way it took to get here.
Sea of Stars #1: From a kid’s perspective, parenting looks a lot easier than it is. Just one or two people telling you what to do or not to all the time. From a parent’s perspective, parenting is a near-full-time nightmare of worrying about what your kid is up to interspersed with moments of pure joy that make it all worthwhile. “Sea of Stars” looks to combine these perspectives from two writers: Jason Aaron, who’s handling the kid’s perspective, and Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, who’s giving us the father’s. Because this is a comic book, the father is a space trucker who is separated from his son after his big rig is bit in half by a leviathan. While he’s frantically scouring the cosmos for his son, the kid is having the time of his life with a talking space monkey and dolphin. Stephen Greene provides the art for this series, which I’d say would be worth your time… if it wasn’t for Aaron’s current track record with creator-owned titles. “Southern Bastards” and “The Goddamned” are currently on “indefinite hiatus.” If this series falls by the wayside as well, that’ll put him up there with Nick Spencer when it comes to “unfinished Image titles.” Or Hallum could just take over the whole thing, which wouldn’t be an unpleasant outcome.
Unearth #1: It would seem that Cullen Bunn has reached his limit when it comes to series that he can write by himself. After “Manor Black” this is the second series he’s co-writing, this time with “Spread” artist Kyle Strahm. They’re working with artist Baldemar Rivas to give us the story of a scientific task force who’s investigating a flesh-warping disease in a remote village in Mexico. Unfortunately for these people of science, they soon find themselves up against a supernatural threat. Solo work from Bunn is still something that I’m just okay with, and teaming him up with the artist of “Spread?” *shrugs* We’ll see if this winds up being a breakout success for the creators or just the thing they did before their next project.
Reaver #1: “Mr. Style-Over-Substance” Justin Jordan has a new series coming out through Skybound, Robert Kirkman’s imprint at Image. The talented Rebekah Isaacs illustrates this story of six awful prisoners who have been let off their respective leashes to stop a war in a fantasy realm that has lasted for over 200 years. “The Lord of the Rings” meets “The Dirty [Half] Dozen” if you will. That’s a good setup for a series, even if Jordan’s involvement has me believing it’ll have some kick-ass action sequences to offer and not much else. Still, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read anything from him. Maybe he has more to offer as a writer now?
Black Science #43: WHOOOOPS! It turns out that issue 42, which I talked up back in January, is not the final issue of this series. This is the actual final issue, and the wait for the final volume just got that much longer. In case you’re wondering “What’s up with the four-month wait between issues?” that’s down to a combination of commitments from writer Rick Remender’s other series, the “Deadly Class” TV show, and the fact that he’s admitted that he just can’t bring himself to be done with “Black Science.” Not that I can’t understand that feeling, but Rick -- some of us ARE ready to be done with “Black Science” and we’d appreciate it if you’d hurry it up a bit!
Paper Girls #30: Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s time-traveling puzzle-box sci-fi series also wraps up this month with a double-sized issue. While this series will likely wind up being the runt of the writer’s creator-owned titles, it has still had its moments over the course of its run and the penultimate volume at least left it in a good place for the finale. Still, this is one of those series that was clearly planned out from the beginning, so my opinion of it could change drastically once I have had the chance to sit down and re-read the whole thing from beginning to end.
DIE!DIE!DIE! vol. 1: The series that Robert Kirkman surprised launched with co-writer Scott Gimple and artist Chris Burnham gets its first collection. What’s it about? A secret cabal of assassins working within the U.S. government who kill people that are actively making the world a worse place to live in. That’s a premise which has all sorts of interesting moral implications to consider, and I’m not sure it’s going to engage with any of them since what little I’ve read about this series implies it’s mainly a venture for the creators to get their action comics rocks off. Gimple’s involvement doesn’t inspire any confidence either since “The Walking Dead” actually got better this season after he stepped down as showrunner.
Outcast vol. 7: Meanwhile, in more encouraging Kirkman-related news, his horror series with Paul Azaceta reaches its penultimate volume. Vol. 6 may have left Kyle Barnes and co. in a bad situation as they hunkered down for a siege, but also provided some hope as well after we found out there was a group of other people like them who were going to get involved. Expect lots of good vibes for the first half of this volume as these people’s help turns out to be just what everyone needed, and then get depressed for the second half after everyone starts dying to amp up the drama ahead of the final volume.
The Walking Dead #193: The solicitation text reads, “Out in the countryside, trouble is brewing for a certain someone.” This issue marks the start of the next volume. It’ll also have been three full volumes since a certain someone was left to rot by himself in a solitary outpost. Coincidence? Maybe, except for the fact that I was sure he’d be coming back sooner or later…