What an exceptionally good time. Sea of Stars reminds me what it’s like to be a kid, to want to adventure into space, and to do amazing things. It brings the joy of space adventure - full throttle - back to sci-fi, landing more on the “fi” side than the “sci,” but so, too, did John Carter of Mars.
I just sat in a car for twenty minutes and explained how special Black Hammer is to someone. This series that began as a microcosm in a barn has expanded into a universe that wraps around the past, the future, alternate realities, and the deconstruction of the story and stories in general. It feels like I’ve lived through decades of Black Hammer comics, and it’s only been two years.
If you are not up to date on Gideon Falls, stop reading this review. Part of the magic of this book is that you only know as much as the main characters know at any given point in time, and I need to talk to some degree about what’s happening, which means spoilers would be ahead for those unfamiliar with the series.
I thoroughly enjoy stories that take some patience on the reader’s part, and Everything is one of those stories. From the first two issues, you had a clear sense that something was going on with the new store (called Everything) that opened in a quaint town. If you were savvy, you even recognized some of the underlying themes percolating about capitalism, depression, and happiness, even if you didn’t quite know how all of the characters fit together. There are a lot of characters that fill in the pages of Everything.
The single-minded need for Boone Dias, the hero of Ether, to satiate his curiosity through adventure reminds me of that of a child’s need to understand the world around them, even if it means touching the burner on the stove to see what happens. This character quirk has its charms, and Matt Kindt uses Boone’s intellectually charged naivety to stir laughter and a sense of joy from the reader, but like a cat spinning its body this way and that in the air to land on its feet, Kindt then uses these moments to create a bittersweet storytelling beat. These moments have come suddenly and unexpectedly throughout the series, giving weight and gravity to the tale - turning this sci-fi / fantasy adventure into more of a character study.
Invisible Kingdom follows the crew of a cargo ship working for a giant corporation that spans the universe. The Captain, Grix, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, but brilliant, pilot.
There are very few things that come close to the feeling that you feel when a comic book series that you’ve been reading for several years comes to a conclusion, especially if it’s been one long, continuous story. So much has happened in Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero that I couldn’t process it all while I was reading this final Omnibus, nor immediately after. I stared wide-eyed at the pages as they scrolled past me (We read in PDFs for reviews.), wrestling with everything in the moment. I felt like a ping pong ball as Hanazawa furiously ran from one side of the table to the other. For a series that has striven to both be epic and incredibly personal, this final Omnibus succeeds on so many levels.
I read somewhere that indie comic books are outpacing superhero comic books. Gideon Falls is one of the reasons why. Jeff Lemire and other writers of his ilk are writing books that tell stories in the comic book format that would be difficult to tell with any superhero at the center… because with superhero stories, you know - in one way or another - the superhero will win. Everything will be set right. Death is never forever. The only thing a reader can hope to happen that may mix things up is that the hero will lose something of personal value along the way. Some writers can tap into this for short runs. I’m not asking for tragedy. I’m asking for uncertainty. On the other hand, heroes may learn something new on their journeys, but how many times can those characters learn the same things… lose the same things over the course of 20, 30, 60 (!) years before readers start looking for fresh alternatives and new visions. The comic book industry is at a tipping point.
The first issue of Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’edera introduced us to a dark and bloody situation as a group of kids were brutally ripped apart by a monster. Because it’s James Tynion IV, it was emotional and provocative, and artist Dell’edera showed these events to us in a viscerally arresting way. The survivor: a gay young man in high school named James. By the end of the issue, James meets a wickedly badass monster hunter named Erica Slaughter.
I’m embarrassed to admit this: While I’ve owned every issue of Mind MGMT, this is the first time I’ve read what is now the third omnibus in the collection. I have no logical or tangible reason as to why I haven’t. The good news is that now my reaction to the third omnibus isn’t me reflecting on something I read three years ago. This is fresh in my mind, still bouncing around up there.