May 30, 2021
Radiant Black vol. 1
Nathan Burnett’s life sucks right now. How badly does it suck? So much so that he’s celebrating his 30th birthday by moving back in with his parents. The good news is that he’s about to find the power of the Radiant which will change his life forever… Assuming that the cosmic beings who created it and the Red Radiant who has a mad-on for him don’t kill him first. This comes to us from writer Kyle Higgins and artist Marcelo Costa, and it’s worth noting that Higgins has a long history writing “Power Rangers” comics for BOOM! My initial impression was that this series was effectively a version of that long-running franchise with the serial numbers scrubbed off of it. I haven’t heard anything to suggest that I’m wrong, but “Radiant Black” has turned out to be a much bigger hit than I was expecting it to be. Which means that it’s time for me to pick up the first volume and see if the hype is real.
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May 29, 2021
She Could Fly vol. 3
Vol. 1 boasted a compelling illustration of mental illness, along with a lot of quirk to go along with it. Vol. 2 had me getting better acclimated to this title’s quirkiness while also giving us a quasi-ending that wrapped up the story as best it could. It also left the door open for a third volume of the adventures of Luna Brewster, which is where we are now. Following in the recently-established tradition of Dark Horse putting out new volumes of previously serialized series (why hello there “Invisible Kingdom”) comes this latest volume from writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Martin Morazzo that sees Luna getting a better handle on her life. She’s 18, estranged from her parents, and experiencing fewer mood swings and hallucinations. While these are all good developments, a new flying woman has emerged on the scene. One bent on using her flying machine to raise all kinds of hell. Now it’s up to Luna to put a stop to her, for her own sake and the memory of original Flying Woman Mayura, and for Cantwell and Morazzo to send off this series on a high note.
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May 28, 2021
X-Men: Hellfire Gala -- The Red Carpet Edition HC
I am nothing if not consistent when it comes to putting big “X-Men” events here. That said, the “Hellfire Gala” is a bit different from the likes of “X of Swords.” Where that storyline sprawled through multiple titles and one-shots, the spine of this one is the one-shot “Planet-Sized X-Men” with all of the satellite titles showing the Gala from their own perspective. So if you really wanted to see how the cast of “Hellions” was going to raise some hell during the Gala, then you’d just have to read issue #12 of their series.
Another thing that’s different about this event is how it’s being collected. The “Red Carpet Edition” in the title of this hardcover isn’t for show as it collects “Planet-Sized” and ALL of the relevant tie-in issues. This is opposed to the “Hellfire Gala” paperback which is arriving at the same time and collecting just the main issue, “Marauders” #21, “X-Men” #21, and “S.W.O.R.D.” #6. Interestingly, material from “Classic X-Men” #7 is also noted to be collected here, but isn’t mentioned in the “Red Carpet Edition.” A little extra for this collection or a solicitation mistake? My money is on the latter, but this event, which marks the changing of the guard from Jonathan Hickman to Gerry Duggan as the public face of the series should still make for some great reading.
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May 26, 2021
A flawed-but-fascinating take on a legendary bluesman from one of the last creators you'd expect!
May 24, 2021
As far as cliffhangers go, the one for vol. 9 of this series was top-notch. It implied something awful and I was bracing for the worst when I opened up vol. 10. What I got… was a big ol’ flashback to when Teacher was still human. While his days as a human had long been hinted at over the course of this series, I wasn’t actually expecting to see them explored in the level of detail shown here. Mainly because I didn’t feel that they were entirely necessary to the story. Mangaka Nagabe clearly felt otherwise and so here we are.
At first, the flashbacks feel intrusive. If you’re like me then you wanted to know what happened after the end of vol. 9 at the start of vol. 10. That doesn’t happen as Nagabe takes their time giving us a brief glimpse of how good Teacher’s life was before things went bad. Then there’s something that looks like a nightmare and we’re back in the present day as Teacher tries to find out what has happened to Shiva.
To say more would be to spoil things as Nagabe builds to a climax that manages to be even more heartbreaking and cliffhanger-y than what they delivered last time. The mangaka takes a little while to get there, to the point where they could even be accused of spinning their wheels for a bit. This is a far less egregious case of wheel-spinning compared to the last time I talked about it here, thankfully. In fact, once the revelations start coming, you may even wish that things had been drawn out just a little longer. If only to keep that ending from hitting as hard as it does. The only good thing about the cliffhanger here is that for all the awfulness that it implies/foreshadows, it gives me hope that the actual ending of “The Girl From the Other Side” will be the mega-happy one that Teacher and Shiva deserve.
May 23, 2021
Tom Taylor has written several comics I’ve really liked, with his run on “All-New Wolverine” and “DCeased: Unkillables” chief among them. So when I heard that he was going the creator-owned route with artist Daniele Di Nicuolo for “Seven Secrets” at BOOM! I knew that I had to check it out. Never mind the fact that I’d not heard of Di Nicuolo prior to this -- mainly because he has a long history of drawing “Power Rangers” comics at the publisher. The thing is that by the end of this volume, I was far more enthused about the art than the writing.
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May 22, 2021
When vol. 4 ended, scientist explorer Nathan Cole was kind of screwed. He was stuck in Oblivion with no clear way home and was effectively Public Enemy No. 1 as far as the Faceless Men were concerned. Still, as the foremost expert regarding this place, its ecology, and inhabitants, you’d think that Nathan wouldn’t have to wait too long to be rescued by his people. Unless they were convinced that rescuing him would be more trouble than it’s worth. Or if Nathan found a reason to stay and try to help the Faceless Men save their world.
Believe it or not, this is actually the penultimate volume of “Oblivion Song.” It’s not that the series is ending prematurely, it’s just that it’s ending without me ever feeling that it built to something. The major question of what happened to the people who were originally sent to Oblivion was wrapped up in the series’ first year while the conflict with the Faceless Men reached a climax in the previous volume. Vol. 5 jumps back and forth across a time gap to set up the Faceless Men’s latest charge, led by their greatest warrior Dakuul, and ends on a note that lets us know things are about to get real bad for humanity.
Does this all work? Yes, it does. Robert Kirkman is a guy who knows how to do the work to make you care about his characters while also throwing in a surprise or two to knock you off balance and have you anticipating what’s going to happen next. Lorenzo De Felici is also quite good at selling this stuff, throwing lots of detail into the alien world of Oblivion and its inhabitants, and showcasing quality action. So while I’ve enjoyed the work they’ve been doing on “Oblivion Song,” it doesn’t feel like the series has actually been building towards the point we’re leaving off on at the end of this volume. While the overall quality of this volume does lead me to believe that we’ll get a satisfying finale, I can’t bring myself to expect more than that, or to tell everyone to get onboard with this series before its end.
May 20, 2021
I, like many other people, was greeted with some truly awful news when I went to check the online news this morning. Kentaro Miura, the creator of “Berserk,” passed away due to aortic dissection on May 6th. He created a number of shorter works such as “King of Wolves,” “Japan,” and “Giganto Maxia” over the course of his career, but it’s his genre-defining masterpiece that he’ll always be remembered for. While the story of “Berserk” can be boiled down to being a simple revenge story, Miura imbued it with so many memorable characters and breathtaking art that it stood above its seinen brethren. So many other titles simply revel in violence and bloodshed for their own sake, but “Berserk” told a story where these things were necessary and rendered with a level of craft that made them as horrifying as they were thrilling.
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May 19, 2021
After mixed-but-promising results from Soule’s first volume, I went into this one expecting him to start delivering on that promise. Vol. 2 is still something of a mixed bag however, as “Operation Starlight” shows that the writer’s run isn’t quite clicking in the way that I was hoping it would. I do have to give him credit for trying to build up the new villain he’s introduced to menace the Rebels here. We get Commander Zahra’s origin story here and the reason she’s got a mad-on for the Rebellion, and Leia specifically, makes a lot of sense. She’s also shown to be quite capable in terms of planning and hand-to-hand combat, and you get a sense that Zahra is actually working to earn her successes rather than have them handed to her by the dictates of the plot. Still, this two-part story which opens the volume didn’t offer any real surprises to it. Which extended to the solid-but-capable art from Ramon Rosanas.
That same sold-but-capable descriptor can be applied to Jan Bazaluda’s three-issue-arc as the Rebels try to solve the problem of their cracked codes. Fortunately for them, C-3P0 has a solution involving a droid stored in the Imperial Museum on Coruscant. That’s only part of the story as the rest of it involves some dicey negotiations, and nearly everything going wrong as they try to get the codes out. It’s all handled well enough, though, the stuff that Soule is doing with Lando and Lobot are the only bits that actually have any real drama to them. I mean, it’s hard to get worked up about Shara Bey’s fate at the end of the volume when we know that she eventually has to give birth to Poe Dameron. So it’s another volume that shows me that Soule has some decent ideas for his run, even if he’s not delivering them with the kind of interesting twists or surprises that would really grab me. We’ll see if Boba Fett and the “War of the Bounty Hunters” he brings with him will liven things up next time.
May 17, 2021
Am I going to keep talking about each volume in this series as it comes out? Yes. Yes I am. At least until the inevitable anime adaptation arrives. Most likely after the end of this series.
Which, if you squint after reading this volume, may just be barely in sight. This is another volume where mangaka Ryoko Kui advances just about every major plot and subplot in this series. It starts off with a bit of backstory regarding why Marcille joined up with Laios and Falin, which involves a Dullahan, a headless horse, the headless horse’s head, and just the teensiest bit of retconning. Then there’s a two-parter which has “Izutsumi, Alone Against the Succubi!” which is action-packed, if not as racy as that would sound. This is followed up by another encounter with the Winged Lion, who shows Laios his ideal world. We then change perspective entirely to find out what happened to Kabrun and Mithrun after they fell into the hole created by the Mad Sorcerer in the previous volume. While there are some fun encounters with monsters that we’ve previously seen, the real focus is on Mithrun and revealing his backstory.
Which is quite interesting and tragic. If you thought that his absent-mindedness was a personality quick mainly designed for comedy, then you thought wrong. It’s actually the result of an encounter with another lord of the dungeon like the Winged Lion. In telling us about this, Kui does some deft worldbuilding as we learn about the true nature of dungeons and why they need masters who have strong desires. Like Sissel. Or Laios. Or one other character whose real desire hasn’t been revealed yet. Because this is “Delicious in Dungeon,” the reveal of how screwed the world might be if Laios does wind up becoming the new Master of the Dungeon is played for a pretty great punchline. In fact, it’s pretty impressive how Kui keeps comedy at the forefront of this series without muting the impact of the drama. Which is one more reason why I still think this is the best comic being published today.