Adventure awaits within the pages of Ether. Boone Dias travels the alternate universe created from the runoff of all of the stories we tell. At his side is Violet Bell (a faerie warrior), Big Glum (the protector of the entrance to the Ether), and Grandor (a minotaur who Dias and company sprung from jail). They are on a mission to stop dangerous copper golems from entering the real world and creating chaos and destruction.

Coda takes place in the dredges of a post-high-fantasy world as everyone fights for what little of civilization remains. Some people are trying to rebuild society, some people have become marauders or rebels, and some people have become like the hero of this book. Hum could be one of the most intriguing anti-heroes that I’ve seen in some time. He keeps making decisions that surprise even me and yet feel completely in line with who he has become and what his ultimate goal is, which after the first three issues has been turned completely on its head in this fourth completely on-point issue.

When dealing with the esoteric and the surreal as part of a story, there are a lot of ways to go. I should say, I feel like there are a lot of bad, easy ways to go. Like, “Let’s throw everything into the pot, and the story not making sense will be weird!” There are fewer ways that actually work, but when they do, it can jostle your sense of reality. The creative team of Gideon Falls, a story about a place called the Black Barn that rests half in an alternate reality and half in the unconscious mind, and how it affects a certain group of people like a star slowly sucking everything circling it into its field of gravity, treads a fine line.

Podcasts, Dungeons & Dragons ,and comics are three of my favorite things in the world. With the release of the first The Adventure Zone graphic novel, all three of those things were rolled into one ridiculous and hilarious tome, filled with some good, good content.

Christopher Sebela has modernized the “on the lam” genre with Crowded, the latest book by Image Comics. In a world where technology has completely blanketed the socio-economic landscape, a young girl is being pursued by a willing mob of heavily armed regular folk who are all crowdfunded to kill her. The book is hot, heavy, and full of bloodshed. The characters are brutal and sassy. Crowded makes no apologies for its devout roughness and is better for it.

As goofy, fantastical, hyper-realistic, and chaotic as The Weatherman is, Jody LeHeup and Nathan Fox ground the characters in real, heightened emotions. When a gun is put to one of the character’s heads, they don’t grit their teeth. They experience true, genuine fear. They have no idea how that moment will end for them. This isn’t a story about heroes or villains, this is a story about people caught up in events that push them to their limits. In this case, the event is trying to track down who blew up Earth, so that it doesn’t happen to another populated planet. There are layers and levels to that, but this is terrorism on a planetary scale. It’s enough to push even the most trained warrior to their limits.

It looks like the “Mothering Invention” arc is coming to a close, and with it comes revelations, drama, and the promise of more of both. This series is hitting the home stretch, and the plans of the gods to stop the Great Darkness, themselves, and each other are hitting the final stages. Woden, Minerva, and the Norns are working to find the others while Persephone continues to implode for various reasons, leading to some pretty interesting consequences.

Both Dark Horse Comics and Brian Wood have proved themselves worthy caretakers of the Alien franchise, so one can imagine that more than a few fans welcomed the news that Wood was moving on to another beloved geek franchise with Terminator: Sector War. Set in 1984 and running parallel to the original iconic film in the series, Sector War trades the highways and back alleys of Los Angeles for the mean, gritty, and claustrophobic streets of New York City, and almost, at times, seems like an attempt to analyze Sarah Connor’s plight throughout James Cameron’s 1984 film and then craft an even more difficult scenario for our protagonist to endure and, hopefully, overcome.

It’s easy for me to read 350 pages of a Hellboy comic in one sitting, because the world is so damned enjoyable and diverse. You walk away feeling fulfilled, like you’ve been on a journey. There’s so much mythology that’s being mined; it has a sense of humor that ranges from the dry to the ridiculous and plenty of action to tie it all together, with strokes of pathos littered throughout. Whereas the first volume provided a lot of background for Hellboy’s adventures, including seeing Hellboy as a kid, this one spends a lot of time exploring and expanding the universe Hellboy toils in on a day-to-day basis. Like the first volume and regular series, Hellboy finds himself running into paranormal monsters all over the world: vampires of various kinds; the baba yaga (a Russian witch who comes back as a major villain in the third Omnibus that was just released); and some Japanese spirits whose heads separate from their bodies to eat you. It’s a hoot.

Who doesn’t want to be cool? It’s something we strive for from our earliest years, once we realize that we have a self-imposed responsibility to impress others and be the center of attention. The cool ones, after all, have the best lives, with the best things, and the most awesome friends… or so we let ourselves think.

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