One problem with reviewing monthlies is that, as a reviewer, you can only review month to month. There are writers that will leave each issue at a point, wanting you to read the next one. They’ll build in hooks and twists and turns and frame each issue just so, so that by the end, you want to come back. Matt Kindt can certainly do that. He has the skills to make that happen. Sometimes, however, a writer wants to break that mold; they want to take their time, be a little freer and looser and not adhere to the tropes of writing a serial. This makes it difficult for a reviewer that reviews based on what’s in front of them at the end of every month’s issue. With these sorts of books, it’s sometimes makes it hard to fully grade until an entire story arc is in. Grass Kings falls into the latter camp more than the former, and this issue (the end of the second story arc) left me very pleased that I’ve stayed on board.
This may be Superman’s strangest set of adventures yet. Keep in mind, I’ve read and reviewed three of these collections of Superman’s Sunday comic strips from the '40s and '50s already, so I know what I’m talking about. In the past, I’ve seen Superman transformed into an intelligent toddler. I’ve seen him put on his own one-man circus to save a down-on-his-luck ringmaster from ruin. I’ve seen him submit to a series of tests by the Metropolis Skeptics Society in order to prove his own existence. Still, none of that compares with some of the adventures in this volume.
Adam Korenman’s second installment in his sci-fi series, The Gray Wars, picks up almost immediately after the events from book one, When the Stars Fade. Everything humanity knows is in flux, with a rebellion on Earth threatening the current system of government, a sudden introduction to non-human life forms from the cosmos, and an interstellar war sweeping humanoids up in its tide. Alliances break and form in a heartbeat in the current world, and it’s becoming more difficult to tell who is an ally and who is a foe. Korenman’s people face challenges with spunk, vigor, and a zest to endure, but how long can it last when they’re outgunned, outmanned, and facing total annihilation?
Things get pretty intense in this issue. A lot has already happened in the two short installments we’ve already had. Our time-traveling outlaw hero, Teddy, found herself stranded in a town ironically named Prosperity. The citizens are poor, depressed, and addicted to virtual reality. Since their lives in the real world are difficult to bear, they retreat into fantasy instead of facing things head on. This, in turn, eats up all of their money and keeps them from facing or fixing their problems, so they remain poor and depressed forever. It’s an infinite loop, not unlike the one the series is named for.
Mike Mignola’s Koshchei the Deathless is enthralling. It’s a tale with the weight and humanity of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It tells the tale of Koshchei who recently killed Hellboy. Ironically, it begins in Hell with an intent Hellboy wanting to hear Koshchei’s story. This is a mythology that feels like it has roots well beyond the story being told, that each character is given life beyond the panels of the pages. Not just from a storytelling standpoint, but from a visual perspective, as well. I want to soak it all in.
Most comic book fans know of Sex Criminals by now, whether it be from reading the book, hearing about it from friends, or seeing the multiple and ridiculous social media posts form its creators, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. That being said, for those who aren't familiar, Sex Criminals is a comic book series about a young couple, Jon and Suzy, who have some very interesting abilities - namely, that when they have sex, they can stop time after they complete the act. Using this ability, they do what any decent human being with sex powers would do: rob banks. This conceit is the basis of what the story is about, though, it also turns out to be about so much more. The second volume of the series begins to take a turn with our sexy protagonists, as they've come to know that they are not the only people in the world with these kinds of powers. In fact, there are several, and some of them are not too happy with what Jon and Suzy are up to. A huge, ten-issue volume, things go from bad, to weird, to worse for our stalwart crew of morally ambiguous deviants.
Zombies, pirates, vampires, goddesses, romance, and battles: There is something for everyone in this latest edition of Angel, Time and Tide. The cover vignettes are spectacular, both enticing and jarring. Whisked away in a sweeping, romantic dip are a couple in period attire on the cover, inviting you into a magical, and yet dangerous, world. I was immediately struck by the boat etched in the woman's dress - its passengers and their stories. Turn the page to behold Angelus, the man in period dress now ripping into a woman’s neck and dripping in blood.
The Dragon Age franchise has a lot of incredible entries, with several hit games in its past. Through Dark Horse Comics, that lineage has continued with several popular and well-done comic books in this universe, and Dragon Age: Knight Errant is no exception to the rule. The story focuses on an elven squire who leads a double life as follower of her knight, and as a thief who uses her position as a cover for her secret occupation. This gets complicated as the elven squire, Vaea, is asked to handle a task for the Inquisition, an organization that is well known to those who have spent time inside the world of this franchise. This narrow path leads Vaea into uncharted territory and potentially puts her at odds with both the knight who saved her from her past life and with those who would look to take the objects she targets for themselves.
"Tristan pulled Cade up, ending their break. 'Let’s go, little brother,' he said. 'We’re almost there.' Cade looked at his brother and felt the need to say something. Something important. Soon, things would never be the same for them again. Tristan was about to be vaulted into a new life, and Cade would continue to be just Cade. It was as if Cade were standing on a hand platform, watching his brother board a ship that would take him somewhere he could never go. The idea filled Cade with a sense of loss, to mourning. But before Tristan departed, Cade wanted to somehow capture this moment and hold it so he could think back, fondly, on the last time there were a pair. Just like they had always been.” -Chapter 2