Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor

Forget everything you think you know.

So speaks the Ancient One to Mister...forgive me, Dr. Strange.  It's also a good reminder for the audience, as well, though judging by my theatre, everyone was ready for a new kind of trip.  Marvel's doing something hard, something almost more difficult than tossing RDJ into a powered suit and seeing what shakes out.  They have to build it again, but in a world where we already have so many pieces and a comfortable sense of what's happening.  The success and shine of Winter Soldier and Civil War have spoiled us with solidly continuing storylines that have built upon everything that came before, with Ant Man and Doctor Strange opening up new worlds (the Quantum Realm and, well, the entirety of the multiverse, respectively) that are harder to ground in reality.  The only current franchise that has attempted that has been Thor, and it's not an uncommon belief that those films tend to be the weakest of the offerings we've have over the last decade.  This is the ground that Marvel has to win to bring Infinity Wars to the screen, and, honestly, Phase 3 looks to be shaping up pretty well.

Once you know your enemy, you’ll not fear them.  Yeah, sounds good.

Schismatic is based on a solid and horrifying premise, where parents fighting against a Lovecraftian cult are separated from their children and spend 10 years imprisoned in mines before managing an escape.  Having sneaked into the heart of their enemies’ stronghold (after making some intriguing allies), they come face to face with their worst nightmare: their children.  Having spent the whole of the narrative with the adults, this issue flips the script and fills us in on what the kids have been going through (now that we have confirmed that they are alive) for the last decade.  It’s not a story of hope, but my goodness is it one that’s thoroughly engaging.

Innkeepers and karma are quick to collect debts.

After keeping his brother safe while insensate, Takeo is more than ready to get some answers from him while Akio himself is more interested in getting some fun in after having missed any earthly pleasures for a while.  Aided and abetted by the less-holy-than-thou monk, Akio manages to bull his way into a load of trouble and debt while Takeo finds himself wanting to spend time with a lovely young lady with whom he has more than a passing fancy.  Of course, all of this takes place in the slightly less romanticized version of Feudal Japan that creators Di Giorgio and Genet are playing in, so the stakes are very high, and terrible things are in store for anyone caught not paying attention or not possessing enough money to be considered worthwhile as a person.  So yeah, pretty much anyone.

Oh, my heart?  Yeah, won’t be needing that anymore.

Good god, I just finished the latest volume of the Last Man series, and I just want to crawl into a hole and stay there.  This book series has been unbelievably deep and wondrous in its multifaceted plot, and the upcoming sixth installment is in no way different.  The fifth just launched a little over a week ago (at the time I’m writing this), and I devoured it and the follow up that this review focuses on in two afternoons.  Firstly, if you’re reading this and haven’t yet stepped into the world that Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville, and Balak have brought to life, then you should bookmark this page, run off to read them, and come back so that I can share (without spoilers) what you’re in store for come November. 

I am called Jack.

There's no more seminal series from my childhood than Samurai Jack.  It was on at a time when I was learning what animation could really be, and this show defined it for me.  Genndy Tartakovsky created many shows with iconic status for Cartoon Network, but Jack's tale is one that stands above all others.  With an incredibly rich aesthetic, there is a trust in allowing the visuals to tell a story with dialogue only interrupting the atmosphere when someone absolutely needed to speak.  In fact, in some episodes there was no dialogue recorded by Phil Lamar as Jack and the irreplaceable Mako as the demon Aku.  I can't describe how perfect a show it was; all I can say is that it's on Netflix, so go and be prepared to be blown away if you've not yet experienced it.

Nothing like the end of the world.  Nothing like it in the world.

Skottie Young brings about the end of Fairyland in the finale of the second arc.  All done, go home.

A beast is, of course, to be feared, but what of man who knows his depravity?

Hello darkness, my old friend.

There’s a new genre making itself known in the gaming sphere at the moment that is being termed as “immersive storytelling” by…people who name such things.  This genre is defined by typically nonviolent, but highly engaging, single-person narratives that leave the player alone in spaces that have been uninhabited by other people.  Games like Gone Home, Tacoma, and Firewatch are leading the forefront of this new space, and I bring them up because I see a lot of similarity between them and Simon Birks and Tom Eddy's Gone.  With a protagonist whose presence is often dwarfed by the omnipresent heavy and mysterious atmosphere, the emptiness fights our little, robotic hero as ruthlessly as any antagonist, holding its secrets with a tenacity that engages the reader far more than you’d expect in such a simple presentation.

You seem familiar to me…

Titan’s blurb promoting their new series, The Chimera Brigade, seemed to imply a new super-verse for readers that would be set in World War II.  I thought that this was going to be something new, with the powered individuals receiving their gifts by way of chemical and radiological weapons from the trenches of The Great War.  Upon meeting this new group, however, it seems that things are going to more closely clone the Big Two than I had reasonably expected.  At first I was taken aback by it, especially with how far artist Gess went to make sure that we knew the inspiration behind each superhuman (which I’ll get into in a second).  It seems, instead, that this book will be focused more on the daughter of Madame Curie who seems slated to be a witness to history rather than its author as her mother was.

“I prefer not to know what it’s like to not be in awe of the stars.”

I love that Dark Horse has been collecting Eric Powell’s Goon trades into these library volumes.  It’s a great way to see how his work evolves over time and really be able to appreciate the man as an artist with a longer perspective than just in the trades or single issues.  This volume picks up right after the Chinatown storyline, and you can see the heavy influence of the story on our hero as well as the gravitas on Powell’s work.  The result?  First, we get a return to the crude humor and sensational horror that we’ve been used to, but we also get to see Powell open up more ideas, allowing himself more creative license within the framework to tell unique stories that continue the tradition of Chinatown’s growth, while still acknowledging the roots of the series as a whole, and turning it into something far greater than one may have expected from its humble knife-in-the-eye beginnings.

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