With Hockey Karma, the third and final book in the “Forever Friend’s” trilogy, author Howard Shapiro weaves a tale touching on the themes of the struggle of growing older, passing on your knowledge to the next generation, and the necessity of leaving behind a better world for those who will come after you. While readers of The Stereotypical Freaks and The Hockey Saint (Read my reviews of those books here and here.) will be eager to see where life has led Tom Leonard, much like his previous tales, Shapiro is not content to merely provide a soap opera-like dramatic detailing the trials and tribulations of his lead character as he tackles true adulthood. Instead, he offers a tale with a far deeper and more important message for the turbulent and divisive times we currently live in.

“I prefer not to know what it’s like to not be in awe of the stars.”

I love that Dark Horse has been collecting Eric Powell’s Goon trades into these library volumes.  It’s a great way to see how his work evolves over time and really be able to appreciate the man as an artist with a longer perspective than just in the trades or single issues.  This volume picks up right after the Chinatown storyline, and you can see the heavy influence of the story on our hero as well as the gravitas on Powell’s work.  The result?  First, we get a return to the crude humor and sensational horror that we’ve been used to, but we also get to see Powell open up more ideas, allowing himself more creative license within the framework to tell unique stories that continue the tradition of Chinatown’s growth, while still acknowledging the roots of the series as a whole, and turning it into something far greater than one may have expected from its humble knife-in-the-eye beginnings.

Kurtis Wiebe, creator of Rat Queens, collaborates with Mindy Lee and Leonardo Olea to bring a space adventure to Dark Horse Comics. Bounty has a futuristic Robin-Hood-in-space kind of thing going on, along with some bright neon colors and one extremely funny robot, giving it an overall fun feel.

Has anyone else noticed that when franchises become too big, the creators only make them…bigger!!!

Well, that’s what’s happening in a specific dimension of New York City, and the timeline I’m referring to contains mutants and teenagers and pizza-loving ninjas.  Oh my!

If you’re interested in finding a comic book that combines humor with the strong will of three college friends, then Giant Days by BOOM! Studios is perfect. The cover, created by Lissa Treiman, tells you exactly what you’re in for when you open up these fun pages. Three friends, Daisy, Esther, and Susan, are lying in the grass with trash and red plastic cups scattered nearby.

Talk about a concept that nobody knew they wanted.  Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 crosses over two cult classics by the legendary John Carpenter, both starring Kurt Russell.  The fact that both main characters are played by the same actor is actually a major plot point.  Let’s see if it holds up under it.

World War I was a pretty terrifying ordeal: the advent of modern warfare; the war to end all wars. Thousands died each day and that was just in Russia. From that war sprung painter Paul Nash, a British soldier so shaken by the war that it inspired some beautiful and powerfully surreal war imagery. He is quoted as saying, “I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls.” Now, approaching WWI’s centenary, David McKean embraces this passion and brings us a graphic novel in honor of Nash’s work.

Collecting volumes two and three of the popular manga and now film, I Am a Hero, by Kengo Hanazawa is one of the most fascinating, weirdly hilarious, and uncommonly human zombie epics in existence. Our “hero” of this story is Hideo Suzuki, a thirty-five-year-old reclusive manga artist who takes medication for hallucinations, illegally owns a personal shotgun (Look up Japan’s gun laws.), and who has yet to reach the popularity he’s struggled for as a creator. In Omnibus One, it almost begins as a slice-of-life character study, and zombies seem like a second thought to Hanazawa. Hideo has a girlfriend who can’t take her liquor and who looks up to another manga artist which causes some jealous friction between the two. Hideo’s co-workers don’t treat him well, while Hideo rants on and on about the true art of manga, and, honestly, the whole book could be this. I would have praised it.

Titan Comics has immediately thrust fans into a chaotic cover scene with their release of the third issue of Dishonored: The Wyrmwood Deceit. The main character, Corvo Attano, finds himself surrounded by three enemies armed with technological weapons standing tall atop menacing-looking mechanical legs. Corvo stares through his mask, ready to either strike or defend. He grips a short sword in one hand, while the other emanates a yellow and bluish-green glow. Will his powers save him or does the cover already indicate his fate?

In the annals of comic book history, the '90s are known as either the Iron Age or the Dark Age of Comics.  Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had just come out, and people were blown away at how comics, once perceived as a kid’s medium, could portray darker subject material.  Thus, comic companies started pushing for more antiheroes, grittier stories, and attempts at realistic topics and issues.  Unfortunately, this was mostly unsuccessful, leading to dramatic bombs in the comic world, all of them trying too hard to be edgy and turning out dull, uninspired stories.  Why do I bring this up?  Because today’s comic seems to be embracing the spirit of that era.

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