Of all the deities and figures of Greco-Roman mythology, perhaps none is as renowned or revered as that of Hercules (Heracles). His legends and deeds have endured centuries of adaption and appropriation, inspiring art, film, comics, and other stories. Steve Reeves’ portrayal of Hercules in the 1958 peplum film of the same name set the template of a cinematic Hercules which would be echoed over the years by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and Dwayne Johnson, with a small-screen incarnation portrayed by Kevin Sorbo. Hercules has appeared in various comic book iterations at DC, Dell, Marvel, and Gold Key and in a set of graphic novels by Steve Moore, The Thracian Wars and The Knives of Kush. Each of these iterations of Hercules take liberties with his mythology (which itself is fluid and composed of conflicting accounts and tales), but interprets and builds upon it, as well.
Being a child of the '80s meant so many things, but it ensured you grew up with some of the best children’s shows ever created - among them, Fraggle Rock, a show from the ingenious mind of Jim Henson. Fraggle Rock opened up a whole new world to kids, with morals hiding in the songs from these mostly hyper puppets. It provided a different character for almost every personality, leaving kids able to relate to someone on the show. But, it also gave laughter, hope, and music to children. It was always a beautiful world to visit.
I would have loved this comic when I was a kid. A fun, comprehensive look at what robots are and their place in both science and society, it’s packed with robot facts, history, examples, instructions, and more. It’s exactly the sort of thing that would have captured my young imagination and inspired me to want to go out and build robots of my own—possibly a whole army of robots programmed for world domination, because I was an ambitious and somewhat disturbed child. But I digress.
St. Paws’ Princess Kat is back in The Fuzzy Princess: Volume 2. She is joined by her human friends, Jackson and Jordan, as well as Gladdie and Tara. Her St. Paws’ companions, Chiro the bat and Kuma the Haiku poet bear, make brief appearances, while a royal visit by Queen Felicia, Kat’s mother, and neighbor Mr. Tim are introduced in this book. This ongoing series is the brainchild of Charles Brubaker (Ask a Cat, The Smell of Despair and Pepperoni), a jack-of-all-trades creator who is a contributor to MAD Magazine and SpongeBob Comics, as well as artist/animator for Pencilmation, Toons These Days, Fishing, and Guard Dog Global Jam.
Upon finishing issue one of Lucy Dreaming, the creators should be happy to know that I applauded at my computer screen. Max Bemis and Michael Dialynas dive directly into the deep end of thirteen-year-old Lucy’s mind: a self-described outsider who yearns to be on the inside of the popular crowds at school and yet despises them. She is someone who feels should be a prodigy but is too angry to allow herself to be a part of anything, someone who finds the most comfort in disappearing into books. She’s hilariously self-aware and yet has no idea who she needs or wants to be. This was an incredibly accurate depiction of what I went through as a young teenager, minus the periods, and that made it immediately enjoyable and relatable. That’s one half of the book…
I jumped on this review, as I had the pleasure of watching the excellent German TV show based on the Babylon Berlin series of novels by Volker Kutscher, and I was curious to see how the graphic novel differed from the TV series. It became clear very quickly that it adhered more rigidly to the novels than the series did, and given the constraints of a graphic novel, I understand why.
The final issue of a series reads fast, too fast. You want to live in it, soak it up, let it linger in you as long as you can, because there won’t be anymore. Dept.H has been a powerfully built, surreal, and intimate roller coaster ride, and the final issue boldly sticks to that. It would have been easy for Matt Kindt to adhere to classic genre constructs and spectacle, as this is essentially a sci-fi murder mystery, but he has something else on his mind. The murder mystery, while being the engine that drives the story, was also a doorway to tell a story about an estranged woman, Mia - estranged from her father, estranged from her passion, estranged from herself. By wanting to solve the murder of her father, she was really wanting to solve the mystery of what she was missing, what was no longer working and why. This was therapy by way of extreme danger and heightened circumstances.
Issue #29 begins the final story arc of Harrow County - one of my favorite comic books of the last couple years - and contains one of the most moving and heartbreaking story beats I’ve experienced in a while. The story of Emmy, while wildly succeeding on the level of the horror genre which it finds itself comfortably living in, also succeeds at reaching the heights of an epic Greek tragedy set in the gothic south. Whether the story will end tragically, I don’t know…in fact, I have no idea how this is going to end, only that in this small neck of the woods called Harrow County, gods and monsters, family and friends, family and family, and all manor of loved ones wage war against each other. They spill each other’s blood and eat each other’s flesh. It’s a dark, morbid tale penned by Cullen Bunn and with the beautiful fable-like artwork from Tyler Crook.
After a narrative sidetrack during issue two, issue three of Vinegar Teeth sees officers Buckle and Vinegar Teeth back into proper action. The issue begins with Vinegar Teeth accidentally eating two cultists while trying to apprehend them and seeks out Buckle afterwards for consultation. They both proceed to get drunk (or drunk-er in Buckle’s case), with Vinegar Teeth having dreams of a spiraling Azathoth-ish chaos at the center of the universe. Afterwards, as quickly as he had left the police force, Buckle rejoins (more or less making his abdication from the police force superfluous). He and Vinegar Teeth take to the beat, arresting Cullzathro cultists as the city plummets into a stage of anarchy. Buckle and Vinegar Teeth are soon requested personally by the mayor for protection duty. All of the foreshadowing in prior issues comes to fruition, as Buckle realizes that there is something very, very wrong with Brick City’s water….