Previously on… Hellmouth #4: Having claimed Angel as her vessel, the Hellmother now only needs the blood of a Slayer to have the power to leave the Hellmouth. Good thing she has a Slayer all by her lonesome in the Hellmouth…

Bering Strait is perhaps the most human book I’ve read in a very long time. Ironically, its subject matter is not primarily human, per se. That is to say that the protagonists are not modern Homo sapiens, but rather our cousins, the Neanderthals. Set against the harsh tundra during the sunset days of the Neanderthals, it’s a searing look at what it means to be self-aware, to innovate, to fight for survival, to hope for a better future, to question what it means to be a people, and what makes us human.

In this issue, Bernice sets out with her goblin friend to find the source of the music that’s bringing the dead back to life in Harrow County. It’s World War II, and many of the dead are soldiers who are bringing comfort to the families upon their return; however, there are also dark forces coming back and taking the living with them.

I really enjoyed the first volume of Blackwood, a sort of Harry Potter-like story for college-age kids dealing with occult and Cthulu-like baddies. It turned out the headmaster was one of these baddies and had put a curse on the new kids that their fates would perish with the school. One of those kids did. Of course, there was another villain, and it became a dark story of failed love in the end. It was fun.

I’m so happy that #StoriesMatter to me. That I can pick up an issue of a comic book by one of my favorite writers, knowing that I’m going to be taken someplace completely unexpected. That’s how I always feel reading a book by Simon Spurrier.
Having relished his previous series, Coda, I was 100% ready to dive into his next creator-owned project.  Here it is: Alienated - a sci-fi take on what it means to be a loner in high school. The first page of this issue will never prepare you for the final page, and that’s what I love!

While this is not the penultimate issue, Ronin Island’s end is drawing nigh. All of the forces are converging on the island of refugees that our young heroes have so bravely sought to protect. Hana and Kenichi, beginning this story just as they became adults, were put to a much bigger test than the those faced by the island. Fighting against and for a new Shogunate, fighting against and for each other, every step of the way they have learned something new about themselves and what it means to sacrifice for a greater cause.

In his introduction, writer/translator Zack Davisson discusses the accidental beginnings of the feline character, Michael, who appeared in a How to Draw Manga instructional guide by Makoto Kobayashi in 1982.  The cute feline was a departure for Kobayashi who had been writing/illustrating sports-oriented stories targeting young boys.  His editor knew that Michael was special and, as a result, the What’s Michael? series was born.

The After Realm is a well-written tale from one of my favorite artists: Michael Avon Oeming. While the first 99% of the story tackles what is a fantasy adventure tale about a young Elven ranger named Oona, the final page of the comic opens the flood gates to what might be a pretty bonkers, post-fantasy world overridden by the elements of chaos.

Gideon Falls hits a crossroads as it wraps up its fourth story arc. The great evil known as the Smiling Man is getting ever closer to what he wants: Danny. The rest of the characters try their damnedest to fight back. Although, how do you grapple with something that lies beyond comprehension? Is a victory a real victory? Is a defeat a real defeat? My mind is bent. Every step that creators Lemire, Sorrentino, Stewart, and Wand take is even more unexpected than the previous one. This is storytelling on a mythic scale. At the same time, it never loses sight of the personal journeys of its characters within this expansive, breathtaking puzzle.

Described in its simplest terms as “Goth Jumanji,Die is several things all at once. It's a comic book series, a role-playing game, a comic series about a role-playing game, and - like more popular fare such as Dungeons & Dragons - Die is a way for those playing or reading to exorcise some of their demons through the guise of a fictional world. Though, tell that to the group of long-suffering adults who've found themselves trapped inside the tabletop game created by their friend.

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