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.
Little Guardians: Volume 2 - Bandits and Betrayers opens in media res, partway through the attempted robbery of Verdo the Whole-Saler by a group of unidentified ruffians, setting the reader up to expect troubles for Verdo (now with only half of his stock), as well as the return of the ruffians and the treat of lawlessness they bring. Good thing for Subira’s mentor and guide who expertly cons their way out of the village for Guardian training, so that Subira can earn her spirit orb. Or, this is the story that is forecast in the opening pages; we don’t get much exploration of Subira and her story in this installment. Instead, we get a bit of movement in her storyline. She is well on her way to Guardian training by the end!—and a lot of stage-setting in her home village of Yowza that helps to build stakes for her eventual, triumphant return.
Pandora’s Legacy is a fun and charming Young Adult adventure story that delves into the myth of Pandora’s Box in a really clever and fun way. Creator and Writer Kara Leopard doesn’t waste any time, sending siblings Janet, Charlie, and youngest brother Trevor into the woods to retrieve their silly cat named Po. Po leads them further into the woods than they’ve ever been, where they stumble upon a strange piece of architecture that resembles something right out of Clash of the Titans, amidst the trees. It’s full of beautiful carvings in the ground, life-like statues (two of which hold up a large circular mirror), and an old jug…which they happen to break. Except, that’s no ordinary jug, but an updated version of Pandora’s Box, and the kids have to figure out how to deal with the chaos they’ve unleashed along with their cat who has now been taken over by Prometheus.
The Resurrected is a dark, sci-fi thriller from Carnouche Productions that “delves into dark social-political issues, most significantly those dealing with the colonisation of Australia and the treatment of the local indigenous population” (Kickstarter campaign). With this near-future story, writer/creator Christian Carnouche seeks to give the Indigenous-Australians voice, because their representation in all forms of media is often suppressed, or when inserted in media, it is to their detriment, such as through minimizing stereotype characterization. In this successfully crowdfunded comic book series, Carnouche explores themes of mortality, redemption, and personal culpability for one’s actions.
I’ve been a mostly avid tabletop gamer for much of my life, and there’s always that one person who takes the game way, way to seriously. For them, it’s life. Here is a comic that feels a bit like It meets The Chronicles of Narnia, but with roleplaying, and with someone who takes it way, way, way too seriously. I could throw in a few more “ways,” but I think you understand.
In the days before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the shifting sands of Jakku revealed the final resting place of the Imperial Star Destroyer Spectral. Since the Empire's fall, the lost behemoth has become the stuff of legends and ghost stories among the desert dwellers. In the first issue of Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down, intrepid scavenger Rey races to be the first to the relic with junk boss Unkar Plutt and his cronies close on her heels. The second issue picks up with Rey repelling into a dark corridor of the scuttled ship. She comes across Z2-Z2, a rebel astromech droid who's been aboard the Spectral since its last stand. Zeet helps her to safety and gives her an interface key with a holographic recording of rebel pilot Bak Rychuk. And the recording may just have the answers to how the Spectral came to be buried in the sand. The backup story, titled "The Ghost Ship," takes place three decades earlier during the battle of Jakku. The Spectral comes out of hyperspace above Jakku badly damaged. Rebels Bak Rychuk and Zeet find themselves trapped on the star destroyer just as its experimental new weapon causes a critical systems malfunction.
The chaos of the first two issues of Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion begins to find stability in issue #3, and it is a dreadfully pulpy good time. That’s the difference in tone with this story arc and what’s come before. Previously, the stories were very anti-superhero centric, spinning archetypes into mirror versions of themselves. In Hotel Oblivion, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá leave the superhero pretenses behind and take these scarred characters with super powers and drop them into pulp genre decadence. Gracing these pages are smatterings of crime pulp, sci-fi pulp, and espionage pulp, and it makes perfect sense.