I started scrolling through the PDF reviewer’s copy of The Last Ronin, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tale from the dynamic duo of my youth, Eastman and Laird. “These are amazing alternate covers,” I thought to myself. I continued to scroll, “Oh, wow, more!”… I continued to scroll… and scroll… and scroll… just as Pee Wee Herman kept knitting and knitting and knitting. There are 71 retail covers for The Last Ronan. SEVENTY-ONE! All beautiful. All showing a scarred, broken, and aged mutant turtle armed to the hilt with all four of the brothers’ weapons - katana, nunchucks, staff, and sai - and wearing a black mask around his eyes.
Back on Sampson, Iffy and Andy are introduced to a small human population that has survived right under the noses of Mother and her minions. Iffy figures out why pretty quickly which is annoying to the village elders, yet timely. Meanwhile, Mila, Telsa, and the crew have made it to Phages where Mila is attacked by the “ghosts” who are really gas-based life forms, but they are in for a surprise. Quon has survived and become part of the machine-world. Surprised to see a Bandit who has been damaged, he offers to repair the small, affable robot, hoping it might lead them to finding the Descenders. What happens next is pretty cool.
Skipping thirty-nine issues into the future, we finally get to see how the story we've been following for all of these years ends. With the release of the final issue of the Sex Criminals series, everything that has been established in the first thirty installments is resolved in some way, with the realization that, sometimes, things don't work out how you expected, but it can still be pretty good.
Wynd #5 brought tears to my eyes. Good tears, hopeful tears. Wynd is a character that has grown up believing he has been cursed with magic, having nightmares that portend his changing into a monster that everyone will fear. He has been taught this, because people have been taught to hate and fear magical creatures. The king has magical creatures killed on sight, and his hunter, the Bandaged Man, is the best there is at killing them. He can sniff out magic, and he is relentless.
Now, Wynd has been whisked away on an adventure, joining the king’s son, the son of the royal gardner who Wynd has a crush on, and his best friend, leaving the relative safety of Pipetown with the Bandaged Man hot on their heels.
Quick recap time: Team Angel has lost Fred to Baphomet and Wolfram and Hart, and now possibly Gunn, too. While investigating a rash of brutal murders, they encountered their latest ally/enemy, a teenage werewolf named Oz. Meanwhile, Fred’s meatsuit is now under the control of Baphomet, but she’s not fully given up control just yet…
When I finished Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer what seems like forever ago (but not so long ago), I was left with something nagging at me. The story was brought to a conclusion, a sort of melancholy middle ground, but it didn’t feel complete. Over the last year, Lemire has continued tapdancing around the Black Hammer universe, bringing new characters into the fray, dealing with the same characters in the near past or distant future. It has been a remarkable world building experience, especially with all the amazing talent he’s brought on to help create this world. To what end, has been the question. Where is all of this leading? Why spend all of this time on these stories - just for a laugh, to cash in? Obviously not, Lemire isn’t a cynical creator. He’s a genuine writing talent. So, then, to what end?
I was a little concerned that I wasn’t the target audience for Geek-Girl #7 when I opened my review link to see an overly busty Summer as Geek-Girl plastered across the front cover. She looked flirty and confident, but her bust looked larger than normal, and it was clearly so male gaze-oriented that I felt taken aback (I’d also just seen a Facebook ad for a bra that could increase your breast size appearance by two cup sizes, so my brain was a little baffled.); however, the issue developed into a female bonding night out between BFFs Ruby and Summer and newcomer Kerry as they enjoy time as twenty-somethings in a college town.
For a series that has built to a crescendo on a couple of occasions, only to find out that this is the penultimate issue kind of caught me off guard. In the next issue, Gideon Falls concludes, and I’m two years and some change older. It has often felt like we’ve been nearing a conclusion on a number of occasions, only for the script to flip on the characters. Now with several new characters and storylines only recently introduced, in the blink of an eye, it will be concluded. If it sounds like I have mixed feelings about that… well, I do.
Building blocks, gently being placed one on top of the other. Every block brings a shift in dynamic, and every block below it gives it stability. Where will the next block be placed? Will it all come tumbling down? James Tynion IV’s Something Is Killing the Children is a masterclass in how to patiently construct a meaningful and powerful story. Every added story element surprises and brings about a greater dilemma but also makes complete sense. Plot holes? Tynion declares, “Never!” Unmotivated character decisions? Tynion scoffs, “Not on your life!”