My Ainsel #4 is another foray into the deep, dark depths of both America and human nature. I feel as though each month, American Gods takes us into a Gothic dungeon for story time. The stories are typically meant to educate, illuminate, or ruminate on some larger issue, but they do not contain the typical moral lessons you’d find in fairy tales or myths. This is a Gaiman world, and in a Gaiman world, we must expect to be shocked, disturbed, and confused. Lessons may not be obvious or necessarily seem relevant, but they are all part of the anthology of Gaiman’s mythology.
I recently reviewed the first collection of Hellboy comics from legends Mike Mignola and John Byrne. Walking down that memory lane was highly enjoyable. Each issue featured serial-style, occult-based action. While other characters went on these missions with Hellboy, many of them either died or ended up outside of the splatter zone. One thing was for certain: Each time, Hellboy ended up at ground zero dealing with the worst of the worst and focusing almost solely on punching things and cracking wise.
Issue three of Frank Miller’s Xerxes takes on both an experimental and an artistic turn when compared to the first two issues of the series. While issues one and two focused on combat sequences and the Battle of Marathon, issue three is completely devoted to Xerxes and his rise as a god king. Miller accomplishes the telling of Xerses’ transformation by having every single page of issue three be a double-page spread.
If you're unfamiliar with the Transformers, they're just about the coolest robots to ever grace toy shelves across America. What started as a relatively simple line of toys has expanded into one of the most complex brands ever. From reboot after reboot on TV to the comics switching timelines and continuities left and right, it can be hard to know exactly what is going on in this universe.
All factions converge in Sword of Ages #4 (the second to last), as full-on war erupts outside the citadel’s walls with Avalon and her party, along with the White Monks of the Twin Moons, combatting the combined might of the Red Sun Clan and the Black Star Templars. This issue is non-stop action without a pause for breath; each panel showcasing hordes engaged in swordplay, ginormous beasts flinging soldiers around, and structures being battered. The battle is certainly not in favor of warding off the assault on the citadel, and losses are great in issue four, but perhaps the appearance of old friends from a prior issue may help to turn the tide…
In its final issue, I finally found my way, wholly and completely, into Grass Kings. Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins avoid every possible cliché ending that could have occurred based on the final panels from the last issue. They undercut every expectation, they stripped away all of the tangential plots, and they wnet straight for the gut…and the heart.
A couple of issues ago, Emmy (the hero of this horror series that has become greater than its genre in every way), made the mistake you didn’t want her to make: To become powerful enough to defeat her witch mother Hester, she consumed her sister, putting greater power over greater goodness. Now, as the final battle between Emmy and Hester draws closer, the darkness that now lies within Emmy is beginning to take root. If all of that seems baffling to you, then you haven’t been following along. You don’t know the rich textures that Cullen Bunn has woven into this world, the history, and its mythology. Harrow County is a world with a beating heart at its center, a world that is only a handful of issues away from ending.