Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

With the first mystery, “What happened to Jimmy?,” out of the way, Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins dig in and start to knowingly play with young adult tropes we’ve seen in fiction in recent years while continuing to build the web of intrigue around the Black Badges, Jimmy, and the people (government?) who control the Badges.

At the end of my last review, I wrote “one more issue left” and made a comment that this wasn’t one of Cullen Bunn’s world-building efforts . . . I spoke to soon. Cold Spots #5 is a really nice way to wrap up this limited series before things get worse in what appears will be a much longer and more involved story.

I still really have no idea what exactly is going on in the military sci-fi action world of The Warning, only that from beginning to end, it’s such a well-plotted and visually mapped-out series with interconnected, non-linear events that I want to know what’s happening. If Edward Laroche can keep readers in the dark for two issues while at the same time keeping them intrigued, imagine what he can do when we actually know what’s happening.

In Gideon Falls, the characters circle each other like they’re caught in a water vortex, slowly being pulled towards a center that may be devastating for all involved. Like the gatekeeper and the key master, maybe it’s best that they never meet…but, boy, do we want them to. Every step that these characters take which brings them together, converging on the Black Barn - a supernatural distortion of time, space, and reality where a being called the Laughing Man inhabits - is a step that makes me want the next issue to come out sooner.

I read issue one of The Empty Man, but a concussion kept me from writing the review at the time, so here we are at issue two as Cullen Bunn taps into what makes online urban myths like The Tall Man spooky as hell to me. The Empty Man is a virus, or maybe a person, or maybe both that gets into the heads of its victims, making them do erratic and violent things. It can affect anyone at any time. It makes you see things, think things, believe things. It alters your reality. The idea is unnerving. The execution makes it more so.

Ho, ho, Hellboy, the magical man in red is coming to your comic store this holiday (this Wednesday to be specific), and he brings with him some most welcome friends. Considering that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, a Hellboy Winter Special seems far more fitting than our usual festivities. I wonder if the Winter Solstice festivals around the world would ever consider incorporating this wonderful creation and bizarre world of talking animals and snotty spirits into their celebrations. If this new movie is a hit (Fingers crossed!), Hulu or Amazon should do a Hellboy Winter Special… but I digress…

I know this is issue #1 of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D 1956, but, really, it’s an ongoing series that’s well into its run. Be that as it may, this issue is sort of ground zero for a new story arc, and I thought I’d see how easy it would be for me to jump on board. While there are some story beats between characters that are lost on me, the general sense of the events are pretty understandable.

Things are getting dangerous in Joe Golem: Occult Detective - The Drowning City #4. What’s happened thus far is a pretty tangled web of intrigue and occult-style mystery. Over the last three story arcs, some pretty intricate layers have been built. The foundation is that of Joe and his boss/father figure Mr. Church. Mr. Church is a complex individual, alive well beyond his years, fighting against dark forces. He’s old enough now that he has to use Joe to do the foot work. Basically, Joe is the muscle. Mr. Church also helps Joe to forget. The fact is, Joe is older than Mr. Church, and as his name implies, he’s not necessarily human. Anytime Joe becomes confused with dreams of a distant past featuring a golem that killed witches, Mr. Church gives him tea that muddies his brain and causes him to forget.

I can only begin to process what’s happening in the Black Hammer universe, but what started out as a fun jaunt into the future with Quantum Age has now become intricately and seamlessly plotted into the main storyline as past, present, and future all collide, and it is an absolute joy to be a part of it from month to month. If the entirety of this world were Jeff Lemire’s final work of fiction, I couldn’t imagine any other way to go out. This is like the Catcher in the Rye of comic books. It puts Lemire at the top with some of the greatest comic book creators of all time.

There is no role small enough in the Black Hammer universe that doesn’t deserve to be dug into. Afterall, Black Hammer is all about stories, and everyone, no matter how seemingly inconsequential or powerful, has a story. What felt like a throwaway punchline character, Cthu-Lou, fit snugly into the Golden Age-era tropes of the 1950s superhero genre that the Black Hammer universe plays in. Now, that trope has been turned on its head, and we are introduced to Cthu-Lou’s teenage daughter, Cthu-Louise.

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