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I haven’t been doing weekly comics reviews, and I don’t know that I’m going to start, but this week was seriously amazing, and I want to write about it.
Alabaster: Wolves #4 by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Steve Lieber (Dark Horse)
I’ve said it before, but this book is wonderful. It’s set in a South that feels very much like the real South, even though it takes place in a ghost town (sort of literally?) and I don’t think a non-supernatural character has appeared (outside of flashbacks featuring characters who became supernatural later). There are werewolves, demons, an angel, a talking bird, and a sort of take on the idea of a “slayer” that goes in a whole different (and much darker) direction than Buffy took. This issue reveals the secrets of the ghost town in question, and it’s a rewarding payoff. If you’ve ever lived in the Deep South, the idea of a little town that never fully recovered from being cursed during the Civil War, only to get worse at an accelerated rate in recent decades… Well, let’s just say it resonates. If you haven’t bought this series, you really should, but don’t start here- one of the great things about the digital comics era is that you can always find the earlier issues.
Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy (Marvel)
Like a lot of women (and other people too, I’m sure) who love comics, I’ve been counting the days till this book came out. Not because I felt obligated to buy it, but because it looked really super-awesome. And guess what? It is. I had read that the first issue would tell the story of Carol taking on the mantle of “Captain,” and I admit I was a little worried that this was going to involve Eon or the Supreme Intelligence or Mar-Vell’s ghost showing up and declaring “YOU ARE CAPTAIN MARVEL NOW!” But no, although another Captain recommends the idea, Carol becomes Captain Marvel by her own choice, for her own reasons. And you know, that’s Carol. I love that this issue revolves around showing us who she respects and admires most, without taking away from her particular brand of brash independence.
Dracula the Unconquered #2 by Chris Sims and Steve Downer (Action Age)
I love Dracula (he’s my second favorite vampire), but I think Chris Sims loves him more (maybe not quite as much as he loves Batman, but that’s a high bar). This book is easily my favorite take on the character in a decade or two. Respect for the source material is adeptly balanced against a whole new narrative direction and a tone that’s humorous without slipping into parody. Also Steve Downer’s art is just gorgeous. I understand self-publishing is rough, but I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for issue #3, because this series is awesome. If you haven’t read it yet, you can buy the first two issues for a dollar apiece.
Glory #28 by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell (Image)
This books is ten times more violent that anything I’d ever expect to enjoy this much. Seriously, if blood and gore bother you, I’d have to say don’t read it. I’m loving it, though. Every time it seems to be going one way, you turn the page and something totally crazy happens. Which frequently involves some person or creature having their face blown off, but still. Ross Campbell is one of my favorite artists working right now, and this book really lets him shine. The variety of monsters and aliens he can squeeze into one issue is impressive, and the way he draws women continues to impress as well. This works well for Glory, who is herself a monster, an alien, and a woman all at the same time. It also makes me really happy that the human protagonist, Riley, could reasonably be described as a cute little Asian girl, but at no point does she even slightly resemble the stereotypical image that pops to mind when I say “cute little Asian girl.” Also, the twist at the end of this issue, and the stunning visual that accompanies it, has me really excited for the future.
Saga #5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
I have a really hard time guessing what the larger arc of this book is going to look like as time goes on. We’re five issues in, and it still feels like we’re at the very, very beginning of a cosmically huge story. I guess the title kind of implies that that’s the case? This makes me a little wary, since I got kind of fed up with Vaughan’s last epic, Y the Last Man, and quit reading before the end. So far, though, this is pretty great. The newly formed family at the center of the story feels very real and likable, and I want to know everything about the aristocracy with TV sets for heads. The Will had better find a way to go back and rescue that little girl pretty soon, though. Now that we’ve met her and know what’s being done to her, I don’t think I can deal emotionally if that plot thread dangles for long, and I doubt I’m alone.
Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom #1 by Kevin Church and Grace Allison (Monkeybrain)
Olive is exactly the protagonist that a high fantasy book needs to be interesting in 2012. Not because she’s a cynic from our world, but because she’s a very specific sort of underemployed, ex-grad student, theory-conversant cynic from our world. Which is to say, she’s not just from our world, she’s from my world. I love the bit when she reacts to the unfortunate racial implications of one of the characters’ origins, while he’s sitting right in front of her, and nobody even vaguely understands what she means. This book is a lot of fun, and I feel like it has the potential to get better and better as the narrative gets more complex (and the number of ridiculous things Olive has to react to increase accordingly).