Comic Picks By The Glick
Chainsaw Man vol. 6

Chainsaw Man vol. 6

August 30, 2021

Thinking back on it, we shouldn’t have been too surprised by the fact that Denji’s new girlfriend, Reze, turned out to be a Devil.  If she had been a normal human and genuine in her intentions towards him then the only options are that she hangs around to potentially get fridged by a devil or Denji runs away with her and is chased by Makima and the rest of Special Division.  The outcome mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto has chosen for his protagonist here may have been the most obvious, but it also manages to be the most action-packed.  That’s because Reze’s devil power is one that happens to be very well-suited to a major Hollywood action blockbuster.  The level of carnage she inflicts on the town as everyone tries to get Denji in a place to actually fight back is truly impressive, as is the general spectacle of the action itself.  Too bad that it ends with something of a whimper as our protagonist finds a way to stop his girlfriend from fighting back in a way that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

 

It might seem like a fool’s errand to try and inject some real emotion amidst all the explosions… and Fujimoto doesn’t really try.  Which is probably for the best as he saves those beats for the beginning and end of the volume.  That the stuff at the beginning actually works is a testament to the mangaka’s skill as he gets you feeling that there’s something tragic about what’s going to happen between Denji and Reze.  As for what happens at the end, it’s on the predictable side as well.  Until it isn’t.  Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that if you haven’t picked up on the fact that a certain member of the Special Division is a genuine monster, then the ending of vol. 6 will leave no doubt about that in your mind regarding that.  It’ll also leave you hungry to know where the story is going to go next.  Maybe not as hungry as Denji, though…

 

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Dark Horse Previews Picks:  November 2021

Dark Horse Previews Picks: November 2021

August 29, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Joy Operations #1 (of 5)

 

This gets here mainly on sheer force-of-will as the big news last week was that Bendis is bringing his Jinxworld line of creator-owned projects to Dark Horse.  Expect new editions of his previous titles, a new edition of “Pearl” was mentioned, along with a softcover edition of “Powers:  The Best Ever,” and some new projects, of which this is the first.  “Joy Operations” takes place a little over 50 years from now in a world where Trusts are the corporate-owned cities that dominate the global landscape.  Joy is the top operative for the Jonado Trust and a living legend in those circles.  Until the day she hears a new voice in her head which has her questioning everything she’s believed in up until now.

 

We’ve seen this kind of premise before, but Bendis and artist Stephen Byrne have the talent to wring something engaging out of it.  The catch is whether or not this will be all we’re getting of this particular series.  If Bendis and Byrne are planning on making this a series-of-miniseries, then they had damn well better avoid the delays that have been plaguing Bendis’ other creator-owned work over the years.  After a big splash at DC, all we got was a second volume of “Pearl” before nothing until now.  I know that’s down to the corporate restructuring at DC parent Warner Bros., but the writer’s track record with his creator-owned work was atrocious at Marvel prior to that.  So while I want to believe this is a brand new era for Jinxworld, Bendis is going to have a lot to prove with that.  Starting with “Joy Operations.”

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Image Previews Picks:  November 2021

Image Previews Picks: November 2021

August 28, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

What’s the Place Furthest From Here? #1

 

Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss broke into the industry via their smash indie hit “4 Kids Walk Into a Bank.”  It was a really entertaining heist story, told from the perspective of the kids who were planning it, that was only held back by it’s too-dark final act.  Still, after this comic made their name, you’d hope that the two of them would be working together again in the future.  That time has finally come as “What’s the Place Furthest From Here?” again has them telling a story from the perspective of kids.  Only this time the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment where it appears that only kids are living in the ruins.  One of them believes that there must be something better for them out in the wasteland, and when she takes off to go look for it, her gang gears up to bring her back.  This may sound kind of grim, but I’ve got hope that this will capture the winning sense of irreverence that powered Rosenberg and Boss’ breakout.  It’s hard not to be optimistic about that when the solicitation text cites “your record collection” among the things that matter most to you.

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DC Solicitation Sneaks:  November 2021

DC Solicitation Sneaks: November 2021

August 27, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Batman:  One Dark Knight #1 (of 3)

 

Hey, it’s another “Batman” title in this spot!  Surprising, I know.  The thing is that there’s a lack of promising new titles in these solicitations and the collected editions I’m interested in are debuting hardcover-first, so a new miniseries featuring the Caped Crusader gets this month’s top spot again.  Which isn’t to say that this project looks underwhelming in any way.  It’s being written and illustrated by Jock, who previously tackled the character with Scott Snyder in “The Dark Mirror” and “The Batman Who Laughs.”  He’s also done some great work with writer Andy Diggle on “The Losers,” “Green Arrow:  Year One,” and “Snapshot.”  You’ve also got his three issue “Savage Wolverine” arc that he also wrote which saw the character stranded on a strange planet with a mysterious kid.  That one turned out pretty well.

 

So I’m genuinely interested in this new miniseries from the creator, which has a punny title that’s actually relevant to the main story.  It involves Batman assisting with the transfer of a dangerous supervillain named E.M.P. to Blackgate Prison.  If you can guess what E.M.P.’s powers entail, then it probably won’t surprise you to learn that soon all the lights are out in Gotham and Batman is having to drag the villain to Blackgate in a Gotham that has descended into chaos.  It’s a solid, easily graspable setup that also looks to be well-suited to the creator’s shadowy art style.  Yes, it may be one more “Batman” miniseries in a publishing schedule that’s full of them, but it also sounds like it’ll be a cut above the rest.

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Marvel Previews Picks:  November 2021

Marvel Previews Picks: November 2021

August 25, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Star Wars:  Life Day #1

 

The existence of this comic shows that either Marvel is completely shameless when it comes to exploiting the “Star Wars” license, or utterly fearless about doing the same.  For those of you who are either too young to remember or have blocked it from your mind until now (and if you’re just remembering it now, then you’re welcome) “Life Day” is a Wookie holiday that was originally introduced in the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special.”  Infamous for its 70’s song, dance, and skit presentation, none of which were very good.  As far as I know, this represents the holiday’s most prominent presentation since said special.  “Life Day” itself is an anthology comic, featuring work from “High Republic” writer Cavan Scott, “Thrawn” and “Tie Fighter” writer Jody Houser, Justina Ireland and Steve Orlando.  Only Ivan Fiorelli is mentioned as an artist, which likely means that only one of the stories had been illustrated at the time of the comic’s solicitation.  That this is going to be better, or at least far less embarrassing than the TV special is without doubt.  As to whether or not this will be good enough to make “Life Day” comics an annual tradition at Marvel, I guess we’ll just have to trust in the Force for that.

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Golden Kamuy vol. 22

Golden Kamuy vol. 22

August 23, 2021

In case anyone was wondering if I could actually review a volume of this series without waiting for a week’s worth of them to build up first, the answer is yes.  Yes I can.

 

With that out of the way, vol. 22 picks up immediately after the events of vol. 21 as now that Asirpa and Sugimoto have declared their intention to split from Tsurumi, they still have to get out of Odomari.  Their efforts in that regard are as thrilling as you’d expect based on mangaka Satoru Noda’s previous action scenes, and this is just one sustained burst of adrenaline that doesn’t really let up until Sugimoto jams a gun into a polar bear’s…  Well, let’s just say it’s an act as on-brand as you could ask for from this series.  By that point, you’re ready for the series to ease up on the throttle and maybe change gears towards something that doesn’t involve a major action setpiece.

 

Noda is only happy to oblige, though I’m not sure if the results will be to everyone’s liking.  As Asirpa, Sugimoto, and their companions make it further into Hokkaido, they come across a gold prospector and his family.  This in itself isn’t too odd, except for the fact that we’ve already seen someone like him being eaten by a bear.  While that same bear went on to eat another person, and then EXPLODE!  Then the bear starts coming for the main cast, except that they can’t find any trace of it when they come to look for it.  Meanwhile, the bear looks to have acquired a taste for the prospector’s family, and nobody notices this.

 

It’s not that “Golden Kamuy” hasn’t been strange before -- remember the arc that involved the tattooed convict who couldn’t stop having sex with animals (and if you had forgotten about that part up until now, you’re welcome) -- it’s just that said strangeness has been rooted in actual character behavior.  Noda tries messing with the reader’s perception of reality here, and I’d say the results are successful.  This is in the sense that I thought his storytelling skills had finally jumped the shark until I realized what was actually going on.  So if the mangaka does intend to try more experimental storytelling as the series approaches its end, I can only hope that subsequent attempts are just as entertaining as the one he delivers here.

 

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Hellblazer:  Rise and Fall

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall

August 22, 2021

Simon Spurrier’s concluding volume of “Hellblazer” wasn’t everything I wanted from a story about John Constantine.  Neither is “Rise and Fall.”  To writer Tom Taylor and artist Darick Robertson’s credit, however, they get a lot closer to nailing the appeal of the character and why I like reading stories about him.  Even if the story they’re telling feels like an amped-up fill-in run from the character’s Vertigo days.

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Thor by Donny Cates vol. 2:  Prey

Thor by Donny Cates vol. 2: Prey

August 21, 2021

The first couple of Aaron Kuder-illustrated issues of this volume are fun as they address the fallout of the first volume, show what happens when a random man gets the power of Thor, and feature a satisfyingly tense encounter between the title character and Iron Man.  This is good because the next six issues are considerably darker.  The reason for this is that Thor has figured out a solution to the threats he and Asgard currently face:  A vacation.  The God of Thunder has figured that it’s time for him to switch places with his old persona of Dr. Donald Blake so that he can have some time to decide what to do next.  Except that when he makes the switch, Thor finds out that the doctor hasn’t been doing well as of late.  You see, it’s been a long time since Dr. Blake was consigned to the idyllic dreamworld he’s been residing in.  So long that he finally woke up, realized what had been done to him, and is now hungry for vengeance.

 

What happens to a secret identity when it used to be a real person and was then forgotten about by the person it belonged to?  The answers are predictable (did you miss what I said about “vengeance”) but writer Donny Cates and artist Nic Klein do some smart things to keep this six-issue arc from becoming a real slog.  That they make Blake’s rage understandable counts for a lot, as it keeps him from becoming a one-dimensional cudgel used to beat on the main cast.  We also get to see the doctor struggle in his efforts to get what he wants, which is always welcome in any conflict, and especially in seeing who first lays the antagonist low.  There are other things, like Donald’s dinner with Jane Foster, the current sad state of Odin, which also elevate the story, leading to an ending whose emotional beats hit as hard as the fisticuffs.

 

...well, at least until the final pages.  That’s because the actual finale to this tale feels just too mean even when you consider what Blake has done up to this point.  It also bothers me that Loki is the architect of this as it implies a return to straight-up villainy for him.  I can’t say I care for him to go back down that route.  After everything that has come before in this volume, however, I’m willing to give Cates and Klein the time they need to spell out their plan.

 

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead vol. 1:  The Seeker

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead vol. 1: The Seeker

August 20, 2021

Al Ewing has been writing great, and underappreciated, comics at Marvel for a while now.  Though the likes of “New Avengers:  A.I.M.,” “Ultimates,” and “Loki:  Agent of Asgard” were all quite entertaining, none of them set the sales charts on fire.  Then along came his work on “The Immortal Hulk,” which vaulted Ewing onto the A-list at the company.  While this would lead to higher-profile writing gigs at the company, like co-writing the “Empyre” event, it also meant that he finally had the name recognition to branch out into creator-owned work, along with artist Simone Di Meo.  “We Only Find Them When They’re Dead” is the result of that, and while it’s a good start to the series, this is also something that reads more like a “Volume Zero” than a proper first volume.

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Comic Picks #348:  The Green Lantern by Morrison and Sharp

Comic Picks #348: The Green Lantern by Morrison and Sharp

August 18, 2021

How crazy is "too crazy" for a series from Morrison?  I've got your answer right here.

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