Comic Picks By The Glick
Dark Horse Previews Picks:  January 2022

Dark Horse Previews Picks: January 2022

October 31, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Cat Gamer vol. 1

 

I like videogames.  I like cats.  Show me a manga where the two come together and you can be sure that I’ll buy it.  “Cat Gamer” comes from mangaka Wataru Nadatani and is about aging (she’s 29, so I’m going by Japanese standards here) office worker Riko who is a mystery to her fellow co-workers.  What they don’t know is that she takes off from work each day to enjoy her true passion:  videogames.  This is until the day she encounters a stray cat at the office parking lot and it decides to move in with her.  Now Riko is using her gaming knowledge to adapt to her new life as a cat owner, while the cat tries to figure out what the deal with his new owner is.

 

“Cat Gamer” is an outlier in the last few years of manga licenses from Dark Horse.  This is in the sense that it’s an original title without any ties to existing movie, TV, or videogame franchises.  I’d love to know how the company rationalized that they could put out a title without those hooks (maybe those “What’s Michael?” omnibi have been doing the business...), but I’m glad to see Dark Horse publish an original manga title.  It lets me know they haven’t fully regressed into focusing solely on their existing manga backlist.

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Image Previews Picks:  January 2022

Image Previews Picks: January 2022

October 30, 2021

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

God Hates Astronauts Omnimegabus

 

Ryan Browne may be busy these days with his own projects and illustrating stuff other people have written, like “Curse Words” with Charles Soule, but his signature project in my opinion will always be “God Hates Astronauts.”  Why does God hate astronauts?  That’s not the question you should be asking here.  A better one to ask would be, “Why didn’t this mad, mad series about awful puns, even worse superheroes, and bizarro sound effects that arose from the fevered stew of Brown’s fetid imagination take over the world when it was first published?”  ...I may have answered my own question there.  However, if you do want to see what unrestrained insanity looks like in comics form, Browne has you covered with this omnibus.  In addition to collecting the three “proper” volumes of this series, you’ll also get the “3D Cowboy’s 2D Spectacular” graphic novel, and a collection of garbage-written miscellany all for the very worthy price of $40.

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Marvel Penguin Picks:  January 2022

Marvel Penguin Picks: January 2022

October 29, 2021

New year, new title.

 

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

X-Men by Gerry Duggan vol. 1

 

This month it was less a question of if I was going to pick an “X-Men” book than what “X-Men” book I was going to pick.  The first volume of the latest “X-Men” series is arguably a safe choice, but it still has some intriguing unknowns to it.  First and foremost being whether or not new writer Gerry Duggan has a plan for his run.  The solicitation text tells us to expect the likes of the High Evolutionary, Dr. Stasis, Cordyceps Jones, the Headless Horseman, and Captain Krakoa as potential antagonists in this volume alone, which is an eclectic mix of new and old threats.  Then you’ve got the team itself which is made up of expected members like Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Wolverine, and Rogue, along with new members Polaris, Synch, and Sunfire.  All of this does not give me a clear idea of what to expect from Duggan’s first volume and, as I’ve said before, that’s actually a plus.  Except for Pepe Larraz and Javier Pina, who are providing the art for this first volume.  Those two I know I can expect great things from.

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Comic Picks #353:  Superman/Action Comics by Bendis

Comic Picks #353: Superman/Action Comics by Bendis

October 27, 2021

Do a lot of great little moments make up for a lack of an overall direction in this run?

Asadora! vol. 3

Asadora! vol. 3

October 25, 2021

If you thought that Asa meeting up with Keiichi at the end of the previous volume was going to be the start of this series moving on to bigger things, then you were right.  ...From a certain point of view.  That’s because we’re still in 1964 and the Tokyo Olympics are about to kick off!  It’s going to be the event of the decade for Japan, and the government wants to make sure that nothing interferes with it.  This includes the possibility of a kaiju attack.  It’s what Kasuga’s shady government friend has recruited him and Asa for as they’re the only ones who a) have firsthand knowledge of it and b) can fly a plane.  Believe it or not, they’re Japan’s best defense against Not-Godzilla.

 

As for what they’re supposed to do when they encounter it, your guess is as good as mine.  It’s not something that happens in this volume, though.  Vol. 3 is mainly a whole lot of setup to make sure that everyone is in place for what happens next and that we care about them when they get there.  Which is why we get chapters devoted to seeing Shota practice his running and seeing Asa’s family deal with some bullies.  These are fine, even though you can see mangaka Naoki Urasawa clearly pulling the strings behind each encounter.  The same goes for all the encounters Asa has, be they explicitly plot-relevant (anything involving Keiichi or her new driver), or simply frivolous (the business involving her friends at school).  My gut and the last page tell me that this will likely lead somewhere interesting.  It’s just that if Urasawa was really bringing his A-game to this then all the string-pulling wouldn’t be so obvious.

 

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

BRZRKR vol. 1

BRZRKR vol. 1

October 24, 2021

Since 2014 and the release of the first “John Wick” film, we’ve been living in the Keanussance.  Decades from now, historians will look back on this period and recognize it as the time we as a civilization realized that the star of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Speed,” the “Matrix” trilogy was actually still cool and a really great guy all around.  While it’s likely that the next “Matrix” and “John Wick” movies will only offer further proof of the Keanussance’s continuance, I assert that the moment we found out that the first issue of “BRZRKR” was the highest-selling debut issue for an original comic in the past 25 years, will stand as the biggest example of his popularity during this period.  This would be because he got a lot of people to buy a comic he co-wrote and created -- something a lot of famous people and creators have failed to do over the years.

 

If only the comic that he was getting people to buy was actually good.

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Batman by John Ridley

Batman by John Ridley

October 23, 2021

Tim “Jace” Fox was supposed to be the next Batman.  No, really.  The plan was that he’d debut in Batman #100, written by Academy-Award-winning scribe (and actual comics writer) John Ridley as part of an initiative that would see other longtime DC heroes replaced by new characters.  Then the initiative behind this was scrapped and the work that had gone into it was repurposed into the “Future State” event from earlier this year.  “The Next Batman” lives on, however, as the third Ridley-written miniseries is currently being published.  As to whether this will ever be a bigger concern than some miniseries written in an alternate, dystopian future, this first volume offers few clues.

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Deep Beyond vol. 1

Deep Beyond vol. 1

October 22, 2021

In the world of “Deep Beyond,” the Y2K bug took no prisoners when it hit.  Every computer on Earth shut down and the planet descended into barbarism as a result.  Then it got worse as an infection of strange plant life started creeping in from the seas.  In the face of all this, humanity persevered and rebuilt itself by living in self-sufficient colonies, which is where we find scientist Paul Bailey at the start of the story.  He’s just learned that Pam, an old friend who he had feelings for, is presumed dead after a mission she was on to investigate an anomaly off the coast.  Before he can fully process this, he’s kidnapped by her twin sister Jolene into helping her crew steal a submarine to go after Pam.  That’s because the last message she sent indicated that she had found something big.  Something that could either save the world or destroy it all over again.

 

If nothing else, I have to admire all the genres that this series manages to smash together underneath its big sci-fi umbrella.  There’s post-apocalyptic restructuring, undersea exploration, and at least two more that I won’t mention for fear of spoilers.  The underwater stuff did give off some very “Sphere”-ish vibes, but even if the story’s setup does recall the high-concept sci-fi of Michael Crichton it’s not quite as engaging as the stories he spun out of it.  There’s also the issue that co-writers Mirka Andolfo and David Goy don’t really do anything new within all of the genres they’ve featured here.  They do, however, embrace one thing that critics loved to pile on Crichton for  with their cast of one-dimensional characters who feel like they’re only there to help advance the plot.

 

Holding this all together is the art of Andrea Broccardo.  While I remember him from his fill-in work on “Doctor Aphra,” he delivers some next-level stuff here.  That’s because he thrives on all the genres he’s being asked to tackle as he gives us a convincingly rebuilt society, some impressive underwater sights, and visions of a new world beyond all of this.  Oh, and lots of monsters as well.  It’s ultimately enough to make me want to see where this is going to go in the title’s second, and concluding volume.  It may not go anywhere I’m not expecting, but I imagine it’ll at least look good while getting there.

 

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

Batman:  White Knight Presents — Harley Quinn

Batman: White Knight Presents — Harley Quinn

October 20, 2021

This isn’t the actual sequel to “Curse of the White Knight.”  No, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for the concluding chapter of Sean Murphy’s “White Knight” saga.  Not only does he shift the focus onto one Harleen Quinzel for this volume, but he also steps back from writing and illustrating the story.  Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera take up those duties, respectively, to show us what the doctor is up to in the wake of the previous volume’s events.  

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Kaguya-sama:  Love is War vol. 20

Kaguya-sama: Love is War vol. 20

October 18, 2021

I’m not sure I could ever describe a volume of this series as “coasting,” but things come awfully close here.  The opening chapters, which involve detailing a certain character’s backstory, Miyuki and Kaguya reaffirming their love for each other, and setup for the Valentine’s Day chapters, are all fine.  It’s also nice to see Ishigami coming out ahead on this holiday for once.  The problem is that they’re not particularly funny, nor do they advance any particular character arcs.  This continues into the volume’s back half as we get a couple of genuinely great chapters, which revolve around the Shirogane family’s move to a bigger place, and Chika and Ishigami’s shared birthday, and a couple more that are just fine.  It’s probably worth mentioning that this title’s “fine” is still better than most other manga rom-coms best efforts.  Yet I’ve come to expect more from “Kaguya-sama” after all these years.

 

Which is what we get to close out this volume.  Longtime readers will know that Ishigami came to Shuchiin Academy under a dark cloud where he was rumored to have stalked a girl at his previous school.  While he’s been able to carve out  his own space here, that initial misunderstanding has never been cleared up.  Until now.  Only not really.  Let’s just say that one character has decided to fight gossip with gossip, and suddenly Ishigami’s prospects are looking that much brighter.  The catch is that this also ties in a bit with his romantic prospects, and the drama there is sky high as it’s still unclear who he’ll wind up with between Tsubame or Ino -- or neither of them -- in the end.  That’s what has me excited for the next volume, moreso than the usual comedic antics of the series’ main couple.

 

glickscomicpicks@gmail.com

(Also, some of you may be wondering why Miyuki is so upset about why his dad refers to himself as Mr. Minato Ward at one point.  While I don’t know if that particular name has any specific connotations, I seem to remember Mr. Shirogane referring to himself as a Downtown Independently Livestreaming Father at this same point.  No idea what that means either, though... )

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