The air is frigid. Snow falls to the ground, covering every inch moving forward. The fallen medieval soldier is within sight of sanctuary, a large house toward the mountain top. Though, his outstretched arm does not reach for warm comfort; instead, he reaches for some kind of snow queen cascaded in blue and white light. Will she rescue the warrior? Will her ability to control winter protect him from the brutal elements waiting within?
There are certain rides we all know that we shouldn't take - strangers with big vans, the cab without lights, some lady with a Jesus fish and beads on the seats - but some rides will really be your last. The Greeks had Charon to ferry souls across the Styx to the afterlife, Disney made a pretty penny off of giving Davey Jones and the Flying Dutchman a similar task, and now Simon Birks, RH Stewart, Lyndon White, and Dan Thorens at Blue Fox Comics present the last thing that some jerks will ever need: hope.
Welcome to the Grass Kingdom, a microcosm of civilization. In Matt Kindt’s newest series, Grass Kings, a collective of people have laid claim to a small territory of land. Here, they abide by their own laws and rules. The first issue has the local officer escorting a trespasser off the private land. The trespasser is a young man who calls the people who live there squatters. From there, the first issue is mostly expository as we’re given a tour of the Kingdom; it’s not a terribly involving first issue story-wise. Despite its lackadaisical beginning, Kindt has earned my trust in building a story, which only comes into focus at the end of this issue. Echoes of the past point to conflicts in the future, conflicts that appear to rise from a mystery that has been left unsolved: a crime.
They say that we can be our own worst enemies, and it’s true. How often do we fight with ourselves over the trivial things in life? How often do we struggle with our own inner demons more than others?
I’ve been reading Harrow County since the second story arc, and not once has Cullen Bunn broken the reality for a good scare. Not once has he cheapened the world by breaking the rules set forth. That’s not what kind of horror this is. The horror Bunn is dealing with is much deeper and darker than that. I think even profound. Yes, it has the witches, the monsters hiding in the dark, the struggles that take place at the ledge of life and death, but we’re talking about a character’s soul here. The soul of Emmy: a young woman born of evil, the offspring (of sorts) of a witch, and imbued with the power to direct the fate of others - humans and haints (those monsters in the shadows) alike.
I’ve taken to listening to music while reading comics, and I found the perfect (for the moment) song to listen to while reading Joelle Jones’ Lady Killer: "Zorba’s Dance" from the film score for Zorba the Greek. It has a nice, slow build with escalating anticipation, a playful rhythm, and a promise of something that’s about to happen while the enjoyment of what’s happening unspools before you. Like with the classic score by Mikis Theodorakis, you can tell Jones is having a hell of a good time on this book and that she really cares about it. How can I tell? Look at the detail.
Part 1 of The Drosselmeier Chronicles brings us The Solstice Tales, a beautiful weaving of fae fantasy with 19th-century classic literature. Wolfen M’s adaptations are inspiring tales of love and wonder, where recognizable characters interweave with fantastic creatures. Magical and delightful, The Solstice Tales is a great read for curling up in a comfy chair by the fire and letting your mind drift off into another land.
Rule 63 in Sherwood
The Robin Hood stories have always had a strong following. There’s something about taking from the rich and giving to the poor that resonates well with the majority of folks…can’t imagine why. The myth of the honorable thief mixed with an altruistic nature and forbidden love is hard for anyone to pass up. It’s the story that has it all, which is why seeing someone hit it with an alternate vision is such fun. It allows us to separate ourselves from the tales as we’ve heard them before [whether Flynn, Bedford, Costner, Elwes, or Crowe are your seminal take (We can all agree it’s not Crowe, right?)] and apply the touchstones of it in new ways (i.e., stealing from the rich and giving to the poor could be the result of trying to trick a populace into support, hiding your true self of being altruistic, and all the best things end up lining the rich boy’s son’s pockets). It’s a technique that can be very useful; changing minor parts allows the author to play us against the standard narrative and opens the world to incredible changes that can not only re-imagine a world that hasn’t been updated in a century or so, but broaden its message for the modern reader as well as being very entertaining.
Inspector Oh #1 ended with Ziyi valiantly trying to return her uncle to life with a magical pearl. The latest issue proves our fierce heroine succeeded, but Oh . . . well, isn’t quite back to his old self. (He initially confuses Ziyi with his nephew, Ging Han – of course, that’s pretty classic for the crazy exorcist.) Before their reunion can be complete, the pair has to escape from Hell and return to the land of the living, but without Oh’s powers, it could be a complicated task!
What would happen if the legend of King Arthur were propelled into the twenty-first century? Arthur would be a woman, of course. Dark Horse’s five-part series, The Once and Future Queen, brings us the exciting adventures of Rani Arturus, a 19-year-old chess whiz who pulls the sword from the stone. Chess is a fitting activity for a modern-day King Arthur, because it highlights Rani’s strategic skills and foresightedness. I expect Rani will have prowess and a cunning ability to be one step ahead of any enemy she faces in this series.