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….
In the wind-swept lands north of the Roman built Hadrian’s Wall, the tumultuous history of Scotland unfolded over the centuries. A wee five years into the last millennium, Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (1005 – 1057) was born and probably raised in the county of Moray, where the lad became Mormaer of Moray in the early 1030s. He later became King of the Scots until his death in 1057. The name Mac Bethad may sound familiar for some readers; he is after all the king who inspired William Shakespeare to pen The Tragedy of Macbeth over 500 years later. Make another quick time leap to 2018 and land at writer Shaun Manning and artist Anna Wieszczyk’s Macbeth: The Red King, a comic book due to release soon from Lucha Comics/The Shooting Star Press Inc.
Here’s how you set the mood to read Nailbiter: Turn on YouTube (or talk to Alexa or Siri or whatever you have) and put on the sound of a storm in the background (or if you have a real storm, even better, but I live in Los Angeles where lightning doesn’t exist), then you go to YouTube, maybe a second time, if you already have storm sounds playing, and you turn on the original score to Se7en by Howard Shore, and then sit back and just try to peel yours eyes away from the pages. You won’t; you can’t.
Ken Reynolds is back with a new issue of Sliced Quarterly, collecting short comic works for our collective enjoyment. This issue is stuffed full of moving and intriguing work, with more emphasis on irregular or deconstructed narrative and experimental art. This issue will make you think, it will make you feel, and it has some really lovely instances of emotional communication. I'll briefly cover each one and my reactions to it, as I feel this collection is more about the artistic value and the discussions that could be prompted from the different reactions that they elicit.
“A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect went mad… The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again… After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.”
Zombies are no stranger to the horror genre, having slowly (or quickly - depending on your zombie mobility preference) crept into the pop culture zeitgeist over the past fifty years. From Night of the Living Dead to iZombie, re-animated corpses have not only come to pervade the horror genre, but they have paved their way into various other genres and mediums of entertainment. Given the ever-present nature of the zombie tale, it takes a truly special story to stand out from the ambling crowd, and Bliss on Tap Publishing's Train 8: The Zombie Express does just that.