Love cures all ills. Or most of them.
The last series of Samurai left us on a happy note, though tinged with mystery. Having freed the Island with No Name from the grip of a Yakuza heavy, Takeo and his brother pursue the mystery of the sigil and note that he was left along with his unconscious state. Buoyed by their good fortune and incorrigible Buddhist companion, they set out to take the world on their terms, but it’s not long until the world imposes on them.
Betvin Geant and Kay have consistently produced a thoughtful, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining book in Rise of the Antichrist. What’s incredible is that every issue has managed to up the ante in scale and scope, mining the source material and creating a depth of character that drives the plot. The premise of a man with powers and a history of mental illness assuming the role of the Savior makes for an unusual hook, and what makes it truly interesting is the fact that the story rides the fine line between deranged superbeing and actual son of God. Michael manages to always find an answer through his faith, but it’s never overtly evident whether these are actually signs from a deity or the result of a mind searching for answers and finding them in itself. This issue ramps all of these things to 11 and leaves us with one hell of a final page.
And so, too, must all things end, and what then?
Have you had that moment when a story finishes, regardless of the medium, and you find yourself disoriented? Like you’re caught between the place you were in the tale and the world in which you pay your taxes and do your grocery shopping? You take a deep breath, your focus having been so completely in that other place that you scarcely breathed, and whatever compelling part of the story that drew you so far in lingers awhile, overlaying your reality like an AR game. This is the feeling that some of the greatest stories I’ve read have left me with, and every one of them lingers into the “waking world” (for lack of a better term), because the truth that lays at the heart of them was powerful. Rick Remender has assembled just this sort of tale from top to bottom, and the finale is wonderfully executed. There's a breath after the last page where you'll need that moment to remove yourself from that world, and the cautionary tale within will stick with me for a really long time.
There is no spoon, but there's lots of ice cream.
In The Matrix, Keanu Reaves went on a quest of self-discovery that was laden with import, high tension, and the fate of the damn world hanging in the balance. Hard Wyred is a lot like that, but with much more "I know Kung Fu" and less "I would know the One because I'd love him." It's what would have happened if James Gunn had directed The Matrix instead of the Wachowskis. Don't get me wrong, that film is a classic and a paragon of the form, but it's fun to watch these guys turn the basics and go sideways with it.
God save ‘er.
Jamie Me has begun a story that feels apropos of today’s political climate: a woman is offered the chance to cut through the nonsense of bureaucracy to do some good on behalf of those whose voices (we assume) have been muted by the system. With the recent election nightmares here in the States, it’s a scary glimpse into the anger that pundits believe is underlying the electorate at the moment, and the moral quandaries that accompany it.
Technology is madness.
I’m really not sure how to classify Jeremy Thompson’s novel, Let's Destroy Investutech. There are equal parts of romance, techno-thriller, eldritch horror, and a myriad of other styles crammed into his narrative. Beginning with several short stories that have little to do with one another at first, we’re given many pieces of a world that is at once familiar and alien to us, one where technological marvels are the focus of each vignette. We see the overreach of callous masterminds pushing the advancement of things they don’t fully understand intellectually or morally and the uniformly terrible events that result. Once the main narrative begins, there is a weaving in of what came in the shorter stories, but not all at once. Rather, they’re feathered in as we go along.
Ho ho hooooo no.
I giggle every time I think of the premise of this book. It’s silly, irreverent, and simply perfect for the medium. There’s nothing inside these pages that isn’t downright fun; the hard-drinking and side-splitting antics of the man named Santa are a joy to behold, but not the “to the world” type. The peace that this Kringle is bringing is the more eternal sort, and the ride getting there is hysterical. There’s not many stories that I can kick back and simply enjoy nowadays, but this series is certainly one of them. Outfitted with crazy characters, crazier antics, and the craziest plot twists, this is a book that just wants to grab a beer and beat the living snot out of anything that cramps the Claus style.
Things get a little weird.
It’s no secret that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the adventures of the terror upon cute that is Gertrude, former Queen of Fairyland. In this issue, Mr. Young brings in guest artist Jeffery “Chamba” Cruz who partners with series colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu to give us a sweet alternative kind of tale for our demonic damsel. (Sweet as in badass, not tea parties.) We’re now into the series proper, and things are working well with the episodic nature. We now get to see Gert kick a little butt on the page instead of inferring between issues.
When you like your action slow, thoughtful, and callous.
There’s an obvious swing in comics towards physical perfection in male characters, and impossible contortions of anatomy and sense in female ones. Mark Hobby’s book, Job Dun: Fat Assassin, eschews that standard in its main character, giving us an overlarge guy who bulls through a world that prides itself on looks and the application of social expectations that can boggle the mind. Taking the path of least resistance in all things, Job Dun is like a foul-mouthed Buddha chucking fools to the afterlife while keeping after what’s important.
Who needs a whole seat when just the edge will do?
Mark Millar sets the galaxy on fire once again with the newest issue of Empress. Having been separated from the children by slavers, Dane, Emporia, and Tor struggle to get out of a tricky situation, while the kids have to look to their own devices to figure a way out of their predicament. This is the most action-packed issue yet, which is saying something if you’ve been reading the series, and the “Hell Yeah” moments are riddled throughout an issue which best exemplifies what we’ve seen so far.