I’ve lost a pet before. It was a grueling ten days. I often sat back and imagined what was happening from my cat’s perspective, and it always broke my heart. It had a happy ending. For the owners of the dogs in Stray Dogs, the beginnings aren’t so happy, and we’re getting that story from the perspective of the dogs.
Oh, “Chip Zdarsky.” I thought to myself. “I like him a lot.” So, I decided to take a look at Stillwater to write a review. I was sure I had seen the name of the series before, but didn’t know anything about it. I assumed Stillwater would be interesting and weird - ya know, amusing - like much of Zdarsky’s other stuff. Well, it’s terribly interesting. It’s just weird enough; however, Zdarsky - along with co-creator Ramón K Perez - have got some serious stuff going on here, and then underneath that, even more serious stuff.
James Stokoe is a monster of a creator: a creator’s creator. His artwork is tremendous and detailed, and his stories are strange and epic. Orphan and the Five Beasts is exactly those things while paying heavy homage to the manga and anime from the era of Fist of the North Star.
Aside from The X-Men, I’ve never seen Grant Morrison tackle a series that felt more directed at a teenage audience, but he - along with co-writer Alex Child and artist Naomi Franquiz - have given Proctor Valley Road that look and feel. Even the shenanigans of the teenage girls presented here feel very geared towards a younger, but learned, audience.
Guillem March’s Karmen #1 is a wonderful curiosity. The design alone of our eccentric angel, Karmen, who is portrayed on the first cover by Milo Manara (You can see his influence on March’s work.) is remarkable, but it is her effervescent, over-the-top behavior that puts her on track with being one of my favorite depictions of afterlife beings - the other being Death from The Sandman. Yes, and we're only one issue into the series.
There have been times in my life where I’ve felt lost, sincerely alone, or wanted some direction or meaning in life. That obviously doesn’t make me punk, but it does mean I know where Ami is coming from. Ami is our protagonist in Home Sick Pilots, and - like I have in the past - she has committed herself to something very strange to help shake her of those feelings. For me, growing up in mid-sized, middle-American towns, it was becoming a geek: D&D, Magic the Gathering, comic books. For Ami, it was befriending a haunted house that gave her powers to knock about and collect all of the ghosts that have gotten away over the years. The other thing that can happen when you are in the state of personal turmoil such as Ami is that you can be taken advantage of. I know this feeling, as well.
I love Matt Kindt’s work, but there’s something uniquely special about Fear Case. Maybe it’s the fact that Kindt and Tyler and Hillary Jenkins (This being the third comic that they’ve worked on together.) have just found a way to jive that other creative teams don’t get the opportunity to.
What I love about Jeff Lemire’s world of Black Hammer is that he isn’t precious with it and lets other creators play in his sandbox. That’s ultimately what Black Hammer: Visions is. How much say Lemire has over which stories are being told, or whether that lies on editor Daniel Chabon’s shoulders, or a combination of the two, I don’t know. This could also be their opportunity to grab some of their favorite voices to map out one issue's stories. Any way you shake it, it doesn’t matter. So far, it's great!
At some point, Keanu Reeves went to BOOM! Studios with an idea, and they hooked him up with creator Matt Kindt. The creative partnership was born that would kick off BRZRKR, one of the most highly anticipated comic books in quite some time. I personally have loved this period of both Reeve’s and Kindt’s careers. To see them team up is both unexpected and yet somehow perfect. Together, along with Ron Garney and Rob Crabtree, they have given us what may be the most violent comic book that I’ve seen since Kick-Ass, but also a character that reminds me of the heyday of Wolverine, near the beginning of comic book series. Our hero is drawn to violence, just as much as violence is drawn to him. Make no mistake: As with most of Reeve’s and Kindt’s work, amidst the chaos and blood-soaked panels beats a very human story.