Quick recap from the last issue: The gang’s all broken up. Jayne has been arrested, because the sheriff thinks he’s Wash. River and Simon are playing along / egging on that notion. Kaylee and Leonard have gone to join / save them while Wash, Inara, and Book are trying to catch up with Zoe. Meanwhile, Mal and Moon continue their odd couple shtick.
Between this issue and the last, the world of Joe Golem has somersaulted and ended upside down for good. There’s no going back. These issues were like the bullet to the head of Joe. In a way, it’s heroic - the re-birth of something greater to fight evil - but, at the same time, it’s deeply sad and almost tragic. I think anyone who has been reading the series knew this was eventually going to happen, but, as it was finally happening, my emotions were greatly conflicted.
Sons of Chaos is a neo-peplum graphic novel written by Chris Jaymes and illustrated by Ale Aragon (28 Days Later, Death Orb) about the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s with a particular focus on Marcos Botsaris and his ascension to a Greek leader and national hero, and Ali Pasha of Ioannina, an Albanian who ruled much of Greece on behalf of the Ottoman Empire.
I have to admit that every time I see Cullen Bunn’s name on a series, I get excited. Here, he’s writing with Kyle Strahm who, up until this point, has been more of an artist working on series like Hack/Slash and Spread. Bunn is one of the best horror writers in comics right now, writing for almost every major publisher and going where the stories or collaborations take him. He’s such a freaking nerd about world building and lore that every one of his stories feels like they extend far beyond the reaches of the characters. He’s prolific and consistently wonderful.
The return of Bitter Root is one to be celebrated, especially with the Red Summer Special. With six short stories, we’re given an insight and history into each member of the Sangerye family and each of its members. What’s amazing isn’t just the new info that we learn about the Sangerye family's history, but what the future holds for the series.
Jeff Lemire has been spinning the meta storylines of Black Hammer for a couple of years now. They spin this way and that, presenting alternate histories (Black Hammer ’45), science fiction tales (Doctor Star and The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows and The Quantum Age), horror (Cthu-Louise), and tales of villains (Sherlock Frankenstein). All of these stories revolve around the central story of a group of Golden Age superheroes who mysteriously transported to a barn where they are forced to hide their super-powered selves to fit in. Along came a new Black Hammer, Black Hammer’s daughter, and those heroes were taken on a spin around a sort of storytelling multi-verse. (That paragraph was for all of the DC readers that may have popped over for the Justice League element. For everyone else, if you don’t know who the Justice League is, then what are you doing?)
Critical Role is a phenomenon. The live-streaming Dungeons & Dragons show has a massive following, wide-spread acclaim, and some incredibly talented voice actors as part of their cast. Through one hundred and fifteen episodes and more than five hundred hours of streaming content, the cast plays characters from the adventuring band known as Vox Machina, a ragtag group of very different people who come together, save the world, and do a lot of ridiculous things along the way. I've been a huge fan of the show for several years, both as a live show and a podcast. When Dark Horse Comics announced that the series was being turned into a comic book, I was extremely happy. As the second chapter of the book prepares to hit the comic book shelves, it looks like Vox Machina is back and better than ever.
Quick recap of the new arc so far: Xander has been sired… or not quite sired? In the equivalent of a magical Hail Mary, the Scoobies are trying to find a Soul Tie that may just fix the problem. For those who’ve read the Free Comic Book Day short, you already know how Buffy gets the map to the McGuffin. All caught up? Shiny!
I first came across Jason Aaron’s name from his run on Thor, and, oh my, what a run it has been. He really knows how to spin a yarn, so when I saw his name on a science fiction series, a small portion of me shrieked for joy. Here, he’s writing with Dennis Hallum who has been working with Marvel for just shy of ten years. I don’t know his work as well, but so far so good.