Drawn like a Don Bluth cartoon, Stray Dogs has an insidious central plot that I wish I hadn’t known about going in, but I also may not have said yes to reviewing it if I hadn't. If you wish not to know what the angle is, stop reading.
Something Is Killing the Children - this masterful, beautiful, gut-wrenching horror story about the loss of children in a small town in Wisconsin and the birth of a kickass, monster-killing hero with Erica Slaughter - comes to a bittersweet end, with the promise of a new beginning.
I was a little concerned after the first issue of The Last Ronin. It had been built up to such a degree as something more mature. I was hoping that it simply wasn’t because of the violence, but instead as a result of a more adult storyline. It turned out that the issue was a very well-plotted and elongated action scene. Beautifully rendered from one sequence to the next, I enjoyed the issue, but I struggled to connect on that deeper level. It never really slowed down for story until the final few pages, where a promise was made to me by the creators: that what I was hoping for was coming. That promise paid off in the immensely enjoyable, surprisingly emotional, best Teenage Mutant Ninja story that I’ve read in a long while with the second issue. Because of the depth of the second issue, in hindsight, the first issue now stands next to it on equal footing.
The Young Hellboy adventure is exactly that: a four-part comic book series geared towards young adult readers. A youthful, but no less impactful, Hellboy crash-lands on a mysterious island with his caretaker, Professor Bruttenholm. At this age, Hellboy is excitable and looking for adventure, and he - as well as the reader - will get plenty of that with giant crabs, gorilla-like creators, and the appearance of an unexpected ally!
Have you ever been in a toxic relationship… with a house? That may not be the main takeaway from the series, Home Sick Pilots, but it’s what our hero Ami is having to contend with. This terribly haunted house is gaslighting her to get what it needs (for what seems like nefarious reasons), and in issue three, her band members become even more embroiled in the proceedings than they thought they could have been.
Yes, Patton Oswalt - the comedian - has written for Black Hammer: Visions, and it’s wonderful. This is a gem of a series following my favorite character from the Black Hammer Universe (and probably the most heartbreaking character for me, as well: Golden Gail - the fifty-year-old who when she says, “Zafram!” turns into a ten-year-old with superpowers, the inverse of Shazam! Only now, Gail is stuck as the ten-year-old with all the needs of a fifty-year-old woman. There’s humor mined in this issue, but also a great deal of pathos. The original Black Hammer series was so heartbreaking every time it focused on Gail; she was angry and sad, frustrated and lost. Oswalt taps into that from a very different perspective.
Matt Kindt and Tyler and Hillary Jenkins have worked on three series together: Grass Kings, Black Badge, and now Fear Case. Once I saw that the series was coming down the pipes, I got very excited. Each collaboration between the three has gotten better and better, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that we’re off to a smashing good start with Fear Case.
I was left at the end of Nailbiter Returns #8 with a big question mark. The creators made a decision that could have sent the story spiraling off the tracks and into a ravine, but I’m happy to say that they wisely used a McGuffin to dig further into the past and who the characters are. I am also happy to report that writers Williamson and Henderson pushed further into a realm that I was hoping they would have explored in the original Nailbiter series: the supernatural.
Jeff Lemire’s Colonel Weird: Cosmagog, an extension of the Black Hammer universe, was made all the more enjoyable by the inclusion of one of my favorite artists, Tyler Crook. His painterly skills create a lush universe for the larger-than-life characters like Anti-God which is a breathtaking monstrosity under his care. His earthy palette follows Weird through his life, bouncing around from one time period to another as he tries to find the missing piece to a comic puzzle that leaves him vulnerable to his own madness. How would you react to knowing how everything was supposed to work out, but knowing that you had to make sure it all happened, the good and the bad.
Why? That is the question that has been coming up for me in the last handful of issues of this series. As readers, we now know how the monsters that kill children and terrorize small towns appear, but why? I feel that there may be a deeper psychological answer that Tynion and Dell’edera will leave up to us to figure out. On the other hand, if they end up giving us a clear-cut answer, I won’t complain.