Jess Ruliffson’s Invisible Wounds doesn’t pretend to be an earth-shattering story about war heroes; it is simply a tale of how facing death, danger, and heartbreak on the battle front can irrevocably change the men and women sent to fight for other nations’ freedom around the world. Based on interviews with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the comic gently and kindly tries to show how PTSD and other hidden injuries affect our warriors after they’ve come home from a tour of duty.
The first three issues of the hit IDW Transformers series, Windblade, set up a tale of political struggles, terrorist violence, and a struggle to survive. The final volume goes one step further and forces the young title character to deal with personal betrayal and a decision that affects all Transformers, not just the ones on Cybertron. The twists and turns are heart wrenching, but, ultimately, Windblade gets a chance to grow and mature, which leaves hope for her further adventures.
Billy the Pyro #1 and #2’s titular character is an angry, sullen teen with a lot to feel angry and sullen about. Billy’s mother died giving birth to him, his father is an abusive alcoholic who blames his son for the loss of his wife, and the young man has been labeled “not normal” for so long that he barely comprehends the definition. One fateful night, Billy flees his rickety apartment after another fight and runs into an agent of a shady organization known as G.A.P.R.I. The encounter triggers Billy’s innate fire starting ability, a devastating surprise for a teen who just wants to be accepted.
Chapter six of The Shadow Hero forces Hank into a battle for his life that challenges the foundations of his father’s teachings. The final battle is a redemptive moment for both the young man and his shadowy companion and shows just how clever Yang and Liew believe the original Green Turtle must have been. In the end, no one will be surprised if they understand Hank’s heart, but it’s the finale we all wanted to see (Okay, if you wanted to see our hero get the girl, it doesn’t quite go there, but he’s still a teenager!) with plenty of heartwarming excitement!
I first heard of Father Robot in my days as a Fanboy Comics reader, when writer Kristopher White talked about his new project with FBC Managing Editor Barbra Dillon. The idea of a robot gaining a degree of human feeling and sentience and protecting a little girl charmed me, so when I got the opportunity to review the first installment, I jumped on it. The first chapter moves more slowly than I anticipated, but the slow burn helps introduce the most important players in a comic about the nature of humanity and the bonds between parents and children.
Teenager Willie Jackson lives for one thing: avenging his father’s death at the hands of MMA fighter Kage in a title match when Willie was a youngster. When his father’s former trainer/manager refuses to help the young man learn to fight, a mysterious stranger steps up with an offer too good to pass up, throwing Willie into the tournament fight limelight. At the same time, haunted Yamato no Orochi Secondary School surfaces in Little Tokyo in downtown LA replete with demons from Ancient Japan. One young girl has already died, and demon hunters will have to get on the ball and not be deceived by anything to force the campus back into the darkness.
All young Falcio val Mond ever wanted was to become a fabled Greatcoat, an ambassador of justice who enforced the King’s Law throughout the land; however, he was born at a time when the Greatcoats had been disbanded, the Dukes held most of the power in the kingdom, and a young peasant could only dream about being anything other than a pawn in noblemen’s political games and lives in a tiny duchy named for a foul-smelling, oily blue flower. Destiny has a way of finding its targets, though, and through luck, tragedy, madness, and perseverance, Falcio helps enthrone a king who believes in the King’s Laws wholeheartedly. No one likes regime changes, though, and while Paelis rebuilds the Greatcoats and names Falcio First Cantor, he is, ultimately, deposed by those who dislike monarchical power in their duchies. Paelis leaves his former judges a final task: find the King’s Charoites, a difficult task when everyone from noble to peasant calls you “traitor,” and a nearly impossible one when no one knows what they are!
Windblade #3 takes its tale of the young Speaker for the City on a much darker path than the previous two, and they weren’t walks in the park! Windblade is sure Starscream is behind the ore mining and power drain of Metroplex she discovered at the end of Issue #2, but when she and her compatriots get arrested by Starscream, the truth turns out to be far more complicated. The unity between former Autobots and former Decepticons proves to be more fragile than it would seem, as well, threatening everything our heroine has been working for on Cybertron!
The man currently known as Robert Blank thinks he retired from being a multiple agent of the Information Underground when he fled Los Angeles after accidentally engineering his own assassination in Justin Robinson’s first novel, Mr. Blank. He has a beautiful girlfriend, a respectable career as the owner of an occult bookstore, and just wants his previous personalities to fade away; however, if you’re the star of a tongue-in-cheek comedy noir, life is never that easy, and when Mina is framed for the murder of one of Blank’s former contacts, he reaches deep into his bag of tricks to prove her innocence, even when it might put him back in the path of the people he betrayed in his former life.
At the end of chapter four of The Shadow Hero, Hank had stumbled across the casino lair of the mysterious leader of the Chinese underground, Ten Grand, hidden inside local landmark, Coolie Rock. The fifth installment, titled True Colors, puts Hank in a fight for his life that gives him the opportunity to avenge his father’s death and exposes the grocer’s son to opportunities he never expected. It’s safe to say that Hank will face many challenges in the upcoming fight, and he’ll have to learn to rely on his shadow companion for guidance.