Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

It’s difficult for me to believe that the next issue will be the final issue of Rick Loverd and Huang Danlan’s Venus. There are layers and layers of world building happening. You can feel the breadth of the universe they’ve created expand little by little with every passing issue, all seen through the eyes of the remaining crew of astronauts who find themselves stuck on the hostile planet, Venus.

There’s something to be said about the level of insight in a political satire when the most level-headed character in the political spectrum of campaign managers, news casters, and politicians is not human at all, but a talking dolphin.

This I know: Zodiac Starforce #4, the final issue in this first story arc, has taken its time coming out. And the best thing about it is that it promises more. I don’t care how long it takes for each issue to come out, Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau have filled a void in the comic world that is necessary. Starforce is a subtly progressive, all-inclusive girl power comic book. It pays homage to all the magical girl genre books before it, like Sailor Moon, and incorporates recognizable contemporary teenage tropes, but roots it all in the fertile soil of acceptance within our modern culture that continues to expand outward that young people (and old people, it seems) need to see put into action. Sailor Moon welcomed and loved everyone no matter who they were, Panetta and Ganucheau, as creators, have incorporated that spirit into their book without drawing attention to itself. It just is because that’s how it should be. They don’t preach, they allow it to exist.

This is probably my favorite book out there by Cullen Bunn. There’s more heart in this horror story than most any of his Marvel books (though Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars put my tear ducts to work). He’s at his best when the air is tinged with something bittersweet, lonely, or even tragic. Harrow County is like a child’s fairy tale, at least how they were before Disney got hold of them. Tip toeing around the darkest edges of humanity with the joy and curiosity of a child.

Alex Paknadel and Eric Scott Pfeiffer, having organically stuffed more ideas into a story than most people do in ten, bring their eight-issue series, Arcadia, to an end, albeit a bittersweet one. And, surprisingly, what started out as a sci-fi series about an artificial society laced with all the political and societal allegories that go along with it, ended up pulling a fast one as it zeroed in on what was actually the family drama at its core. The pitch: Humanity faced a pandemic and uploaded most all of the population into a simulated world known as Arcadia, leaving the few who were immune to the disease in what is known as the Meat, or the real world. This creates divisions on all levels in incredibly inventive ways, and the family at the center of it has to go through some pretty trippy, mind-bending, reality-subverting things to become as whole as they can be in the end.

There’s a cadence to Caitlin R. Kiernan’s handling of language that lulls one into a dreamlike calm. Her words sooth the brain as they blanket over that part of us that has to listen to crappy pop lyrics, and political sound bites, and promises that everything will be okay. To a world becoming more akin to the one imagined in Orwell’s 1984, Kiernan’s poetry is a welcome return to emotional resonance through rhythm of speech – akin to some of the greatest writers. 


I seriously hope they use that as a pull quote, because it sums up my feelings reading the first issue of Mirror by Emma Rios and Hwei Lim perfectly. It’s a four-part spin off from Image’s other series, 8House, which I have not been following, but now feel like I must! The idea I suppose is to fill in the world of 8House and bring it to life, but Mirror is full of so much life of its own that it probably does its job too well.

The creator of Beserk, Kentaro Miura, weaves a new tale whose engine is run by just enough exposition so that something can fight something else. For me, this falls into the Dragon Ball Z-style anime/manga, the subgenre of Shounen – created for boys eight to eighteen years of age. This would also include episodics like Bleach and Naruto. Some of these series are certainly better than others. I’m not a huge fan of DBZ but find Naruto to be enjoyable.

Prison story in an animal kennel is the premise behind Kennel Block Blues. Our hero dog finds himself wrongfully incarcerated in one of the worst maximum security kennels around. He’s also a little nutters, as anytime anything remotely stressful happens, he breaks into song and imagines the world around him as roses and daisies.

Basically this is Santa: Year One with some Siberian lore and shamanism mixed in – which is a pretty cool premise. A village has been under the iron fist of a man wearing a black cloak and hood. No toys, no celebrating, no joy – and, apparently, he’s working upon the whims of another greater, darker power that whispers from the shadows. Who? We don’t know yet. Meanwhile, Klaus, a very buff, Viking-like pre-Santa, is working as a vigilante in town, spreading toys to all the children and being chased around by city guards because of it. He has a white wolf at his side. Even though he’s shown a bit of reluctance, the forest spirits encourage him to continue his self-appointed quest.

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