Monthly Archives: February 2017

Murcielago vol. 1

Do you like lesbians?  Do you like mass murderers?  Do you like lesbian mass murderers?  If you answered yes to all three of these questions then boy do I have a series for you!  Yoshimurakana’s “Murcielago” is about Kuroko Koumori, plucked from death row for murdering a ton of people to put her talents to work for the state.  So when a pro wrestler goes on a drug-fueled killing spree, she’s the perfect candidate to take him down.  Same goes for a German murderer who’s partial to Beethoven and mollywire after he takes over a commuter train.  It’s not all business all the time for Kuroko, however, sometimes she has to relax and enjoy herself.  That usually involves setting up dates with unsuspecting women through a dating service, getting it on with the daughter of a local crime boss, hanging out with and trying to put the moves on her ditzy handler Ritsuko, and accepting an invitation from a vengeance-crazed millionaire who wants to rid the world of killers like her.  It’s never a dull moment when you’re living life like Kuroko is!


Whether or not the reader will feel the same way about her adventures really does depend on how you answered those initial three questions I posed.  Mangaka Yoshimurakana isn’t lacking for style in her over-the-top presentation of the action as you can expect to see cars driving fine after they fly off buildings, trains flying into buildings, and a mansion full of enough creative deathtraps to give the makers of the “Deception” games pause.  It’s also refreshing to see that there’s no redemption angle being pursued with Kuroko’s job, and the fact that the sex-crazed protagonist of a manga actually manages to have sex (more than once) is certainly novel.  The main problem here is that if you’re looking for any kind of depth to the characters or the storytelling beyond their dedication to providing slick, sexy thrills you are going to find yourself thoroughly out of luck.  Also, anyone looking for more positive examples of LGBT representation in comics may find themselves put off by the fact that “Murcielago’s” approach to lesbianism is mainly geared towards appealing to guys.  That’s part of its clear approach to pleasing its specific audience who will no doubt be pleased with what this volume has to offer.


In other words, expect a review of vol. 2 from me after it arrives in May.

Ultimates/New Avengers: Civil War II

Whether they wanted to be a part of it or not, pretty much every Marvel comic released in the past few months offered some sort of tie-in to “Civil War II.”  While this proved to be a sure-fire sales-booster for titles who tied into the original event series, this time around has served as a proof of the law of diminishing returns.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been good stories told under the “Civil War II” banner.  In the case of these two distaff “Avengers” titles from writer Al Ewing, however, their success is directly proportional to how closely they tie into the events of this particular crossover.

Seeing as how Carol Danvers is one of the key figureheads in “Civil War II,” it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Ultimates:  Omniversal vol. 2 has the closer ties.  After a strong first volume where her team, also featuring the Black Panther, Ms. America, Monica “Spectrum” Rambeau, and Adam “The Blue Marvel” Brashear, solved the problem of Galactus and went on a journey outside of time, this one hits the sophomore slump.  Mainly as a result of its connections to the event in question which leads to a choppy narrative in the first half if you haven’t been reading it.  Which I haven’t.  There’s also the matter of how the first volume showed these intelligent, ambitious, and opinionated people capable of working together for great things only to have their team fall apart in the second.  It’s not that I don’t think they’d eventually have a falling out, but to have it occur so quickly smacks of editorial meddling secondary to the crossover.


All of this is too bad because there’s strong work in the individual issues.  Even though I have yet to read “Civil War II” Ewing does a good job of dramatizing the emotional fallout from Thanos’ fight with the Ultimates.  For that matter, he does a great job handling the Mad Titan, emphasizing how skilled a manipulator he is before breaking out the power to achieve his goals.  There’s also a good done-in-one which showcases the team working with Ulysses, the Inhuman precog at the center of the event, to help save an interdimensional traveller.  I also liked the arc of Connor Sims, who starts off the volume in a bad place before inadvertently winding up in a better one thanks to Thanos’ meddling.  It was also nice to see the team coming together against Thanos at the end, defeating him with some good old-fashioned on-the-spot superhero improvisation.  Honestly, the Mad Titan deserves an MVP award for this volume as he provides the only through-line for the plot of these issues while also giving them what little momentum they have.


Thanos doesn’t even get name-checked in New Avengers:  A.I.M vol. 3, but one of his former cohorts is on hand to be the big bad here:  The Maker, the character formerly known as Ultimate Reed Richards.  His organization, W.H.I.S.P.E.R., has been lurking in the shadows for the past two volumes, setting things up for their takedown of the Roberto “Sunspot” Da Costa-led Avengers Idea Mechanics, the one group standing between them and world domination.  The Maker has even assembled a New Revengers group for this purpose, and now all he needs is the right distraction.  A superhero civil war?  That in itself isn’t enough for an opportunity.  However, when S.H.I.E.L.D.’s John Garrett is delegated the task of taking down A.I.M. and kicks it off by capturing Da Costa’s mole in his organization, causing A.I.M.’s leader to send some of his best in to rescue her, The Maker now has his opportunity.


This arc only pays lip service to the goings-on in “Civil War II” and is all the better for it.  That’s because Ewing has been playing the long game with his plotting since the first volume and it all pays off here.  Yes, it starts off with the bad guys holding all the cards, but Da Costa is subsequently shown to be the smartest guy in whatever room he happens to be in.  The dudebro-to-corporate executive arc the character underwent in Jonathan Hickman’s “Avengers” run was fun to witness, but Ewing really sells the idea that the character is worthy of his status and position.  There are a ton of reveals and twists that Da Costa is shown to be responsible for and they all satisfy because they were properly set up.  Throw in plenty of clever one-liners, some well-executed fanservice — particularly with Da Costa’s “New Mutants” history — and I’m honestly left wondering if I’ll read a better superhero comic this year.


“New Avengers” also benefits from the slick, professional art of Paco Medina for the six issues of the main arc, and capable work from Carlo Barberi in the epilogue.  Medina has never been an exceptional stylist, but his work is always full of energy and clear storytelling.  His work also benefits from the coloring work of Jesus Alburtov.  There’s a brightness to the coloring which suits it well, compared to the murkiness which accompanied the work of original series artist Gerardo Sandoval.


Kenneth Rocafort’s work may have more style than Medina’s, as well as more intricate linework, but these things only really matter if you’re able to show up for a whole issue.  In the case of “Ultimates,” Rocafort only manages to fully illustrate the first two issues in its second volume.  He then trades off pages with Djibril Morissette for the next three.  The problem here is that Morissette’s work would be better appreciated in a series where his loose, thick-lined style wasn’t diametrically opposed to Rocafort’s.  While it looks like there was an attempt to manage the different styles of these artists, with Rocafort drawing the more epic cosmic-level scenes, and Morissette handling the regular superhero stuff, the difference in styles is still glaring enough to pull you out of the story when the shift happens.  Christian Ward doesn’t fare much better in the final issue of the volume.  Except, the unevenness in his art looks to be down to the fact that he really likes drawing large-scale cosmic psychedelia and is bored to death by regular superhero stuff.


Both volumes give the impression that Ewing is building to something bigger between the both of them.  Even with the flaws of “Ultimates” there’s still enough that works to keep me interested in seeing where he’s going here.  That said, both series are “ending” with these respective volumes with “New Avengers” being replaced with “U.S.Avengers” and “Ultimates” getting a “2” added to its title.  If you’re thinking that this means sales for each series haven’t been all that great, you’d be right.  It’s still good to see that Marvel has faith in what Ewing is doing with these titles.  With these relaunches, here’s hoping they’ll let him determine how closely he wants to be involved with their latest crossover.

Rumble vol. 3: Immortal Coil

You know, it’s really disappointing that this series isn’t selling all that well in single-issue form because it’s a ton of fun.  I realize that the first volume takes a while to get going and to make its purpose clear, which is a liability when you’re drip-feeding your audience information on a monthly basis.  Three volumes in and writer John Arcudi and artist James Harren have done an excellent job building on the story of their fantasy warrior from a million years ago, Rathraq, who has woken up in the present day in a scarecrow body while the monsters he used to fight, the Esu, thrive in the shadows and have possession of his old body.  Now, the crafty Cogan, who appears to be on no one’s side but his own, has found a way to put one of Rathraq’s old foes, the six-armed former King Asura, into his old body.  While the plan was for Asura to burn the body to spite Rathraq, the former king decides he likes this new body a whole lot more and sets about to capture its missing heart from the Esu so he can rebuild his kingdom on Earth.


In case that summary wasn’t clear enough, this volume is no less weird than the two which preceded it.  Arcudi also manages to fill the margins of the story with more fun strangeness like the group of half-Esu rooming at Del’s apartment subsisting on anchovy pizza and repeated viewings of “Frankenstein in the Congo,” Cogan taking Asura’s pet hydrant out for a walk and waiting for it to do its business, and a couple of cops watching the Rathraq/Asura fight unfold in front of them while one calmly reasons that their sidearms and 12-gage aren’t going to make a lick of difference in this matter.  On that note, the volume does manage a nice escalation of carnage throughout as more parties keep getting involved, right up through a flame-throwing battle royale in the streets.  Yet for all this craziness, Arcudi and Harren still manage to give the story some heart at the right times, usually seen through how regular guy Bobby copes with what his life has become.  Though, this time around it’s his sorta-girlfriend who winds up saving the day here.  Vol. 3 does end on an ambiguous down note, which has me hoping against hope that this isn’t the last we’ll see of “Rumble.”  If you’re like me and not into buying single issues, then go pick up the trades (and convince two of your friends to do the same) so we can make sure the story doesn’t end here.

Morning Glories vol. 10: Expulsion

What the hell happened to the art in this volume!?  I’ve warmed up to Joe Eisma’s work on this series considerably since it began, but he really drops the ball here from the first page.  All of the characters have weird-looking googly eyes, awkward facial expressions, and misshapen noses.  It’s insanely distracting to look at and a major step down just from the previous volume in the series.  I understand he’s also working on other projects like the “Archie” reboot with Mark Waid, yet that’s no excuse for the substandard work Eisma delivers here.


Worse still is that the quality of the art also saps the wit and drama I’ve come to expect from Nick Spencer’s writing on this title.  This is especially bad because vol. 10 isn’t one of the “Morning Glories” volumes which offers a nice self-contained experience that shows the writer has his crazy train of a narrative on track.  Things start out fun enough with a secret party that segues into Casey’s debate with her rival Isabel for student council president.  It all culminates with Casey having a long meeting with a very important person while several plot threads culminate in violent, destructive, and deadly fashion.


The back of this volume promises that one of the biggest mysteries of the series will be revealed, but after finishing vol. 10 I feel just as confused as ever.  Essentially, this is another volume where I feel compelled to warn off new readers from starting “Morning Glories” until we see if Spencer and Eisma can stick the landing.  Not only does this volume not inspire confidence about that, but now I’m wondering when (or even “if”) we’ll see the finale to this series.  I’ve mentioned Eisma’s other work, and Spencer is currently writing both “Captain America” titles at Marvel while also masterminding their upcoming “Secret Empire” event.  Spencer has said in the past that “Morning Glories” was planned for a sixty-issue run, so there should only be ten issues left to go once he and Eisma get their act together.  Sooner, rather than later, to make sure that there’s still an audience around for the finale.

Vinland Saga vol. 8

There’s a scene early on in this volume where Thorfinn recounts to the family he left behind what he’s been up to for the past sixteen years.  Mangaka Makoto Yukimura doesn’t have his protagonist go into specifics, only showing Thorfinn calmly narrating, the shocked looks of those around him, montages of panels from chapters past, and captions which convey the emotional weight of the events in question.  It ends with the captions noting that the man’s story has left all who heard it speechless.  Rather than coming off as self-congratulatory, it’s a pretty effective encapsulation of how good the series has been up until now.  Vol. 8 continues that tradition even as it takes a swerve regarding where I was expecting “Vinland Saga” to go next.

After Thorfinn stated his desire to head off to Vinland and establish a land where all who lived there could be free, I thought we’d finally make it to the titular place after all this time.  As it turns out, getting there is going to require a lot more work than having Thorfinn and his brother-in-arms Einar simply get in a boat, sail across the ocean, and set up shop there.  No, they’re going to need enough money to secure the supplies they and a hundred men will need to survive for at least a year when they make it to Vinland.  The problem is that there’s only one man in Thorfinn’s neighborhood who has enough wealth to fund such a proposition:  Halfdan.


Readers with long memories will recall that he’s the landowner whom Thorfinn’s father Thors bargained with for the fate of a runaway slave way back in the first volume.  The intervening years haven’t lightened his mood any.  In fact, his constantly dour expression makes one wonder if he derives any joy from the things he actually likes doing.  While Thorfinn, Einar, and Leif Erickson are aware of all this going in, they happen to arrive at a fortuitous time:  Halfdan’s son Sigurd is getting married.  To Leif’s sister-in-law, Gudrid, no less.


There are complications to this arrangement.  The biggest being that Gudrid is a huge tomboy who has wanted to go on one of Leif’s expeditions ever since he first told her about them.  Had she been born a man, she could’ve easily become a first-class sailor.  As a woman, Gudrid has to settle for being married off to the foolish and short-tempered Sigurd.  She’s not very happy about it and most of the first half of this volume is seeing how Gudrid struggles against her current lot in ways that are comedic, tragic, and (ultimately) triumphant.


Gudrid is a lively presence and that helps to energize her arc.  Most of the comedy is front-loaded in her appearance as she meets Thorfinn and co. in a way that Solid Snake would definitely approve of.  Yet while Gudrid is a thoroughly likeable character with struggles that are easily understood, there’s a certain predictability to her arc.  By that I mean, save for a moment of violence on her wedding night, Gudrid’s characterization so far is almost identical to your average Disney Princess.  She’s strong-willed, pushing against the role of women in her society, and yearns to see more of the world than she knows.  Thankfully, we’re spared any equally predictable musical numbers here.  Gudrid does work well within the established cast of the series and works out to be a convenient point-of-view character for this arc so I’m not unhappy about her addition to the cast.  The challenge here will be to see if Yukimura can break Gudrid out of her familiar characterization.


Much in the same way he did with Thorfinn over the course of the previous volumes in this series.  From a kid with curious and violent tendencies, to a vengeance-crazed teenager, to a broken young man, and then the contemplative and remorseful adult that we see in this volume now.  It’s a remarkable journey which the character has undergone so far and Yukimura keeps building on it as he acknowledges the man’s progress so far.


We see that Thorfinn hasn’t completely let his skills as a warrior go to seed in encounters with Sigurd early on and a bear much later.  Yet his desire to find peaceful resolutions to sticky situations at the cost of his pride is still intact, as Halfdan finds out when he asks the man to kiss his boots in exchange for the funds he needs for his expedition.  So when Leif says that he’s willing to give founding a new colony in Vinland another shot because he believes that Thorfinn will be able to find common ground with the natives, you believe him.  But Yukimura isn’t about to let his protagonist off of the hook for all of the killing he did during his time with Askeladd’s band.  There’s some great drama here as a result of that, but it also leads to an unimaginative cliffhanger ending for this volume.


Which is too bad, not just because of “Vinland Saga’s” annual release schedule over here, but because the new journey of Thorfinn and co. has the makings of a grand adventure through the Old World.  They’re off to Miklagard (A.K.A. Istanbul, A.K.A. Constantinople) to pass off Narwhal horns as Unicorn horns in order to get the funding they need for the Vinland expedition.  So far we’ve seen them meet up with some of Leif’s friends, encounter a village razed by vikings, and meet up with a female hunter who has a deadly crossbow.  You can’t be sure what everyone will encounter next, though it’s hard not to expect the results to be entertaining.  Much as they have been throughout the series so far.

Star Wars: Han Solo

I’m honestly surprised it has taken this long for us to get a Han Solo miniseries in comics.  Yes, he was a featured player in several comics from the Dark Horse era, but even Marvel held off for over a year after re-acquiring the rights to “Star Wars” before giving Solo his own solo vehicle *rimshot* courtesy of Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks.  It comes with a great setup:  Han is laying low from the smuggling life and the Rebellion until he’s pulled back in by a request from Princess Leia.  It turns out that a network of Rebel informants needs to be extracted and they need Han to do it.  Why?  Because they’re going to be using the infamous starship race known as the Dragon’s Void as cover for the extraction.  This is a race that Han has dreamed of entering (and winning) ever since he became a pilot.  He doesn’t need to win the race in order to make sure the informants are extracted, but will Han be able to keep his competitive impulses in check in order to make sure everyone makes it out alive?


It’s been awhile since I’ve seen interiors from Brooks and he doesn’t disappoint.  He clearly put a lot of effort into this as each page is crammed with detail that’s worth pouring over.  The “Star Wars” look is captured quite well here (as is young Harrison Ford’s likeness) and I can see why George Lucas wanted all of the original art for this mini.  Liu’s script isn’t bad, but it does falter when trying to find an emotional arc for Han in this race.  Said arc involves the scoundrel getting to know a legendary racer and finding out what it means to be a real pilot.  It’s overly sentimental and I can’t quite buy the idea that the Han coming off of “A New Hope” would be selfless enough to go along with it.  Still, Liu captures Han’s sarcastic voice perfectly along with his resourceful nature.  This isn’t the best possible “Han Solo” miniseries we could’ve wound up with, but it’s also better than most of the other “Star Wars” minis Marvel has put out so far.

Descender vol. 3: Singularities

Sometimes progress in a series is not always in a straight line.  There are times when creators will forego the steady forward progression of the plot to focus on the characters in a story.  Mind you, the idea is not to forego progress entirely.  If this approach is done right then the reader is rewarded with a deeper understanding of the cast as a whole while also seeing the plot advance in a meaningful way by the end of the volume.  Jason Aaron has done this really well twice now with the second and third volumes of “Scalped” and “Southern Bastards,” respectively.  Now we have Jeff Lemire trying his hand at it with this volume of “Descender” and the results aren’t nearly as impressive.

The main reason for this is because Lemire tries to do double duty on these single-issue stories as they all take place in the past and the present for the given character.  So while it’s helpful to learn the backstory of Tim-22 and why he’s so bent out of shape about Psius welcoming Tim-21 into the fold, there’s precious little space to deal with the cliffhanger ending from the previous volume.  In fact, Tim-22 is still trying to kill his counterpart during his last appearance here.


What’s also disappointing is that most of these flashbacks follow predictable arcs in how they flesh out the cast.  I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that Tim-22 was treated badly at the hands of humans or that Telsa had a difficult upbringing with her father who was against her joining the military.  Bandit’s is easily the most pointless as most of it is wasted on the robodog acting cute until it comes time to reveal the (minor) plot points he’s responsible for.


Things do improve once we get to Andy and Effie’s story.  Both of them get nice, smooth arcs that show how they fell in and then out of love as a result of their beliefs regarding machines.  Predictable arcs, to be sure, but they’re still sketched out well enough so that when Andy shows up at Effie’s side after she’s received robotic parts as treatment following an attack the awkwardness and pain in their encounter resonates.  As does Effie’s desire to embrace her newfound cyborg life.


Driller’s is probably the closest a story in this volume comes to fulfilling its stated purpose.  We see the drilling robot’s arrival at the Dirishu mining colony with Scoops, an excavating robot, and are shown how the two come to bond over the years.  Things take a tragic turn once time and lack of maintenance catch up to Scoops and human indifference to this fact cause Driller to…  Well, if you’ve ever wondered why Driller keeps referring to himself as a killer then you’ll have your answer here.  It’s a good reveal that also sets up a potentially interesting conflict for the future.


So I’m not about to write this volume off yet.  Still, I’ve come to expect better from Lemire, and from artist Dustin Nguyen too.  In Nguyen’s case, however, I think I’m just going to have to accept the fact that I don’t like his painted work as much as his pencils.  He and Lemire have done better work elsewhere, which is why it’s frustrating to see neither of them demonstrate what they’re really capable of here.

Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide vol. 4

This volume of “Worldwide” is all about setting up the next big Spider-event as the title of the arc collected here, “Before Dead No More,” indicates.  Vol. 3 left off with the cliffhanger of Jay Jameson, father to Jonah, wife to Peter’s Aunt May, collapsing suddenly.  He’s in the hospital and things aren’t looking good.  But wait!  Along comes New U Technologies with some revolutionary medical techniques that will save Jay.  Before they can do that, an explosion goes off at a Parker Industries plant and Spider-Man springs into action to save its employees.  One of them winds up on the brink of death and Peter requests that New U use their techniques to save him.  That they do and the man is as good as new afterwards, save for the fact that now his very presence sets off Parker’s spider-sense like nothing else.


While the reason for that isn’t given here, it’s likely to have something to do with the fact that New U is being run by one Miles Warren, A.K.A. The Jackal, who has a history of clone-related shenanigans with Spider-Man.  Though this makes it look like he’s the bad guy here, he has yet to do anything truly villainous.  Even his gathering of a rogues’ gallery of Spider-Man villains has yet to blow up in his face.  Granted, Warren’s constant proclamations that he’s not the bad guy here are a sure sign that he’s exactly that, but writer Dan Slott has some good fun playing them for self-aware laughs here.


As far as setup for the main event goes, this volume of “Worldwide” does its job pretty well.  In addition to introducing the main big bad, a number of other notable plot threads are teased here as well.  From the compromising of Hobie “The Prowler” Brown, to a surprise resurrection, and the return of the one true Doc Ock, there’s a lot of promising stuff on the table here.  Most interesting for me is the involvement of the Kingpin, which is expertly set up in two connected shorts at the beginning and end of the volume.  It’s not all success, as the drama involving Jay’s condition reaches a familiar-for-Spider-Man fever pitch near the end that feels more manipulative than anything else.  That aside, this volume works well enough to get me sufficiently enthused for the main event.

Image Previews Picks: April 2017

Image Comics launched 25 years ago this month.  If you told me back then that they wouldn’t have lasted this long, I probably would’ve believed you.  That said, if you had told me that they’d be leading the vanguard of creator-owned comics that were actually worth reading, I certainly would’ve laughed my ass off.  While holdovers like “Spawn” and “The Savage Dragon” are still hanging around, Image’s output is vastly different and better than the adolescent-fueled superhero comics that drove the company back in the day.  It may have taken them a while to reach this point, but it has been absolutely worth it in the end.  Here’s to them maintaining their creative dominance for the next 25 years, and establishing sales dominance as well!

Black Cloud #1, Rose #1, & Plastic #1 (of 5):  There are times when a good solicitation can make a difference.  Take the titles leading off this month’s selections from Image:  Black Cloud #1 from writers Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon, and artist Greg Hinkle, Rose #1  from writer Meredith Finch and artist Ig Guara, and Plastic #1 (of 5) from writer Doug Wagner and artist Daniel Hillyard.  While the former two titles are from established creators who I recognize, their solicitations don’t do a good job of making them sound very interesting.  Black Cloud is about a woman named Zelda who is described as a woman born into a world of dreams and is now in the run in ours with the pieces of her world up for sale.  It’s a confusing mash of ideas that mixes metaphor and literality in a way that doesn’t sell itself.  As for Rose, it sounds fairly generic in that it’s about a girl trying to restore balance to a broken (fantasy) world.  With a premise as plain as that, you’re going to need some real cleverness and attention to detail to make it stand out.  I don’t think we’re going to get that from the writer of a mediocre run on “Wonder Woman.”  To be fair, I think Latour is a better artist than he is a writer, and I have yet to read anything from Brandon.


Then there’s Plastic, which tells us about a retired serial killer, Edwyn, whose urges are quieted by Virginia, the woman he loves.  They spend their days eating doughnuts and enjoying their appetites for each other, until Virginia is kidnapped by a Louisiana billionaire and Edwyn has to start killing again to get her back.  While this may not be for everyone, the premise is at least different.  Then this little tidbit is dropped, “Oh, and did we mention that Virginia is a sex doll?”  I can’t help but think this may have limited “Plastic’s” appeal even further, but it’s just the right amount of wrong to get me interested.  All thanks to its solicitation.


Descender #21:  Notable for the fact that it’s teasing an “event” storyline for the next arc, “Rise of the Robots.”  You don’t see many “events” in creator-owned comics mainly because most of them don’t usually last long enough to set the groundwork for them.  “The Walking Dead” does this every couple of years with its wars, and you could even argue that “Saga” did it with its most recent arc (the only one to have a title) “The War for Phang.”  I’d say this is a reason to get excited about “Descender” for showing such ambition, but the quality of the title itself isn’t high enough for that.  Particularly after its momentum has been derailed, in my opinion, following its third volume.  Maybe the “Rise of the Robots” will be what it needs to get back on track?  We’ll see.


Sex Criminals #18:  This arrives touting “the long-awaited return of JAZMINE ST. COCAINE!!!”  Considering that she was in the previous volume, this does not strike me as a particularly effective selling point.  Unless we’re talking about the current Dr. Ana Kinkaid re-assuming her nom-de-porn and getting back into the industry.  That would be a noteworthy development for this title.  Of course, it’s likely just Zdarsky, or Fraction, or both of them playing up their absurdist sides for this solicitation as they are often wont to do.


A.D.:  After Death HC:  Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire’s long-in-the-works series about a future where the cure for death has been found gets the hardcover treatment.  I’m a little wary about this one since Snyder’s creator-owned work can be either worthwhile (“American Vampire”) or kind of a trainwreck (“The Wake,” “Wytches”).  “A.D.” is also described as “A unique combination of comics, prose, and illustration” which is just enough pretentiousness to make me think it’ll fall into the latter camp.  So I’ll be waiting for this to hit paperback or for a digital sale to come along.


Moonshine vol. 1:  This is the latest collaboration from Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.  It’s also the first to not come from DC or its Vertigo imprint.  Which kind of says all you need to know about the state of creator-owned work at that company these days.  Anyhow, this takes place during Prohibition in the 20’s as a mob torpedo by the name of Lou Pirlo heads out to West Virginia to strike up a deal with its top moonshiner.  The catch is that said moonshiner is more cunning than your average country rube.  He also has a secret that anyone who has been following the announcement and solicitation of this title is already privy to.  A hint to that can be found in the title, which in this case is more representative of the kind of wordplay Azzarello likes than any kind of homebrewed alcoholic beverage.


Surgeon X vol. 1:  The Path of Most Resistance:  The title character is a vigilante doctor in near-future London who helps those that have been abandoned by the system.  It’s a premise that sounds like it could also function as non-fiction in a couple years.  So check it out now to get ahead of the curve.  While I’m not familiar with its writer, Sarah Kenney, this series is being edited by Karen Berger who built Vertigo into a legendary imprint before the suits at DC and Warner Brothers started asking for more restrictive contracts with its creators.  There’s a bit of nostalgic appeal in seeing a new title edited by Berger, is what I’m saying.  This also represents the last work from artist John Watkiss, who passed away after completing work on the issues that make up this volume.  He could always be counted on to produce distinctly appealing work and will be missed.


We Stand on Guard:  Brian Vaughan and Steve Skroce’s sci-fi story about near-future war between the U.S. and Canada hits paperback.  While Skroce’s art boasts impressive detail and designs, and Vaughn has some interesting ideas on display, this miniseries didn’t really click with me.  Part of that is because the writer rehashes a lot of familiar arguments and character types in presenting the perspectives of all sides in this fictitious war.  The other part is likely because after “South Park:  Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” I’m incapable of taking the idea of the U.S. going to war with Canada with any degree of seriousness.  Then again, if Skroce had been able to draw a scene of Satan bursting out of the ground to take on all of our advanced warfare mecha that probably would’ve been AWESOME to see!