How do you sum up an opus like Harrow County? It’s not simply a beautifully rendered horror story. It’s not just a hauntingly dark fairy tale. It’s not merely an emotionally ambitious coming-of-age story. For the last (almost) three years, Harrow County has been consistently one of the best comic books on the stand, but that’s also not all it is. Harrow County is an incredible work of fiction that Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook have brought to life in a way that defies the greatest of expectations. The hero of the story, Emmy, has become real to me; her struggles have been felt, her pains and losses have weighed on me, and I’ve desperately wanted her to make the right decisions. Coming into this final issue, I had no idea what exactly she would do, but the final step of her journey has deeply affected me. Harrow County is sincerely one of the great accomplishments in comic books of this decade.
I’m looking at the cover of the first issue of Modern Fantasy right now, and the drawing of one of the characters, Lizard Wizard, is making me laaauuugh. The experience from the first to the last page of this delightfully mature twist on the fantasy world meets normal world was an absolute joy to read.
In Blackwood #2, our curious, delinquent twenty-somethings become further embroiled in the dark, magical world of the college known as Blackwood. In the first issue, they arrived and were immediately up to their necks in a dark mystery that was reminiscent of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world, only littered with H.P. Lovecraft-style shenanigans.
Bedtime Games is a really interesting comic book. It feels like one of the classic books from EC Comics - Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, etc. - only instead of filling in all of the blanks with endless narration, it takes its time, really letting the characters settle in. In fact, most of this comic focuses on the characters, very much like the first half of a Stephen King novel. The build is slow, but it’s well constructed.
Dark Horse Comics continues its run of Neil Gaiman's adapted graphic novels from incredibly talented writers and artists. Some are absolutely worthwhile digging into, bringing to life thought-provoking and interesting worlds, while others are fun trifles that don’t amount to much, except the pure pleasure of reading them. Some feel unnecessary, more like writing exercises than stories that have real heft and weight. Here, Rafael Albuquerque has the honor of adapting Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald. I say it falls more in the middle, aspiring, at times, to be the first category (thanks to Albequerque’s incredible artistic talents) and threatening to become the final category, but Albuquerque does a good job of keeping that balance.
"Love Town is a city built upon a foundation of corruption, violence, and greed, where millionaire celebrities rub shoulders with ruthless gangsters and scheming politicians, where the figurative magic of the silver screen competes with the literal magic of the streets.
Magic is the siren’s song that lures so many in Love Town to their doom…"
The world is a hectic place; there is a cacophony of good and bad things trampling over one another that makes up life. It’s understandable, then, that some people just want peace. But what is peace without that chaos? What happens when you think have the world figured out, and then when you have grown old, you find out it’s not at all what you think it is? It’s a question that writer/illustrator Zep presents to us in this international sensation, A Strange & Beautiful Sound.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. We’ve all seen the historic moment: Neil Armstrong stepping off the ladder, taking a few bounds, and saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But how did they get there? Who were those brave men who took that mission, and what was the process that took them from the Kennedy Space Center to the Moon and back?
Creator Joss Whedon returns to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the release of the premiere issue of Buffy: Season 12 #1, the fifth comic book “season” released by Dark Horse Comics. Featuring a story by Whedon and writer Christos Gage (who is also serving as the writer on the series), the creative team also includes the return of artist Georges Jeanty to the franchise and promises to deal with one of the biggest remaining story threads left over from Whedon and Jeanty’s original collaboration on Buffy: Season 8.
Where do I even begin? Recently, a few characters from the comic book world had found their way into my top two. Out of nowhere, The Hulk and Swamp Thing began speaking to me. I still love Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and The Punisher (my favorites growing up), but their battles with who they are sort of softened over the years. The flaws in who they were, the aspects that made them - well, at least Wolverine, Batman, and The Punisher - anti-heroes began to lose out to their more heroic natures, and Spider-Man’s internal conflicts began to soften some. Their heroism became more front and center, and decisions became easier to make. As my childhood fantasies began to drift away, The Hulk and Swamp Thing - and who they are at their core - began to make sense to me. They are beings that desperately want to be human and want to love, and yet they are monsters. There’s an inherent tragedy in the fact that they simply exist, but every day they wake up and fight back against the monster within them.