The morally challenging adventures of John Lincoln continue in Dream Thief: Escape, the second volume of writer Jai Nitz and artist Greg Smallwood’s spectacular series from Dark Horse. John has finally started to get the hang of being a Dream Thief, which means ghosts seeking justice possess him while he sleeps and get said justice by murdering those who murdered them. John’s body is the vessel for judge, jury, and executioner, and after the deed is done, John wakes up with all of the various ghosts’ memories and skills, and, often times, a body that needs disposing. So, this means John is now an expert marksman, a bona fide lawyer, and has connections to the criminal underworld. It turns out he will need all of these recently acquired talents, along with the help of his best friend Reggie, the only person who knows John’s secret, to rescue his long-absent father from a strange and horrible fate.
Kingdom of the Wicked is a riveting, bizarre nightmare-dream of decimated nostalgia and destroyed memories. Written by Ian Edginton and magnificently illustrated and colored by artist D’Israeli, this is the third time this inventive and disturbing book has been published, first by Caliber Comics, then Dark Horse, and now Titan Comics. Kingdom of the Wicked still though has the feeling and urgency of being created yesterday, and it was a wonder to lose myself in its world. That world is the imaginary land of Castrovalva, created by writer Chris Grahame as a child, and then abandoned years later as he advanced on into adulthood. But, when Chris returns to Castrovalva, a place that has continued to exist in his mind without his conscious involvement, he finds all is not well, and it turns out that all is not well with Chris either.
Outrageous and incredible are just two excitable adjectives out of the vast armament of exclamatory words I could use to describe Tom Scioli and John Barber’s new Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series from IDW. Mind blowing is another adjective that bears mentioning, as no fan of Transformers or G.I. Joe has seen anything like this series before, even though the Joes and Bots have had numerous interactions over the years in the comics, largely due to the fact that both are owned by toy company Hasbro. But, this is new territory, a brave, new, idiosyncratic world run amok with a plethora of characters culled from eighties nostalgia and intricate research and full of unpredictable action that is, at times, as loose, over-the-top, and bizarre as both the cartoons based on these properties actually were, especially looking back on them as an adult.
The adventures of Brain Boy continue, and they are as weird as ever. For those of you just joining us, Brain Boy is the unwelcome nickname of telepath Matt Price, raised by future tech developer Albright Industries after his parents’ death and loaned out to the United States Secret Service for tasks that require an extra level of protection. Originally a short-lived sixties character, Dark Horse and writer Fred Van Lente have given new life to the mentally minded hero, and his world is spinning madly out of control as fast as it is expanding. The Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T. compiles the second Brain Boy arc, while the overarching mysteries keep getting deeper and more intricate and intertwined. You could start reading Brain Boy with this volume, but then you would miss out on all of the amazing groundwork that Van Lente laid in the first volume, which introduced us to the troubled past of Matt Price and the laissez-faire lifestyle he was leading as the best of the best telepaths, until his world is turned upside down and everything he believes comes into question.
The Midas Flesh caught me off guard, but in the best of ways. I knew writer and creator Ryan North’s story involved dinosaurs in outer space, and I assumed it also somehow involved an aspect of the King Midas mythology, but that was it. North is probably most well known as the writer of BOOM! Studios’ insanely popular Adventure Time series, which has created a whole new life at once part of, and apart from, the cartoon. I also was aware that The Midas Flesh was one of BOOM! Studios' first titles from its BOOM! Box imprint, along with the stupendous Lumberjanes. So, perhaps I knew more than I thought I did. But still, the story was a mystery to me, and as it unfurled over the first four issues that make up Volume One, I found myself sucked into a vast intergalactic world, and the harrowing attempt of three outcast friends to set their universe right again.
Circumstances always seem to get worse before they get better, and in Amelia Cole and the Enemy Unleashed, it looks like better may be a long way off. From digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics, this third volume of the ongoing adventures of the titular hero, released in print again by IDW, comes hot on the heels of the events in Amelia Cole and the Hidden War. If The Hidden War was a spark, then The Enemy Unleashed is a roaring fire, poised to consume everything and everyone, with only Amelia and her friends standing in its way.
I first came across Gabriel Hardman when I reviewed the Dark Horse one-shot Station to Station, drawn by Hardman and co-written with his wife and regular collaborator Corinna Bechko, and I was immediately drawn to their creative and artistic sensibilities. Then, there came whispers in the digital comics-verse of a new Gabriel Hardman book called Kinski, and then there it was, nestled amongst a plethora of other creatively stupendous titles put out by digital publishing favorite Monkeybrain Comics. If all that wasn’t enough to get me on board, Monkeybrain Comics’ Knuckleheads had a cover that paid direct homage to Hardman’s series, and, in that moment, I knew that I would review Kinski at the first chance I got, and, thankfully for you and for me, that chance has come.
Creators Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman are back, and they’re taking you on a non-stop bruise cruise into a neo-future with old friends, new alliances, and tougher enemies with Burn the Orphanage, Volume 2: Reign of Terror. Never heard of Burn the Orphanage? Then, you’ve been missing out for a while now on some truly retro, nostalgia-fueled zeitgeist storytelling. So, go out, find the first Burn the Orphanage collection, Born to Lose, read it, read my review of it afterwards (to get an even better appreciation of the book, of course), then repeat that process with this second volume, Reign of Terror. But, don’t forget to come back and finish this review after you’ve returned from your eye-opening journey. That’s not a threat, just a request. I’m not much of a brawler myself.
Station 16 is a taut, creepy, and inventive slow burn of a graphic novel. It starts off simple, almost mundane, then everything gets turned upside down and around and just like the characters, you don’t know which way is up, or what is right and what is wrong. Station 16, written and illustrated by Hermann and Yves H., who are also father and son, thrives in these grey areas, where reality and the unknown and the impossible blur together in the cold, desolate Russian landscape. As unforgiving as the climate is the ordeal a small band of Russian soldiers finds themselves unable to escape from after answering a distress call from the long-dormant Station 16, located out in the middle of nothing.
Eduardo Risso may be the artist of Red Moon, but this is no 100 Bullets. Both writer Carlos Trillo and Risso are from Argentina and have worked on a variety of projects together over the years, including Vampire Boy, which some of you may know. Red Moon is the tale of young Moon, a flame-haired girl (Literally, her hair will light up a dark room, or cave, or basement.) and the daughter of the Lord of Burien. Her best friend becomes Antolin, an orphan and traveling acrobat, and together they embark on a variety of interconnected adventures. This is a wonderfully whimsical fantasy book, full of broad comedy and bizarre characters, and it oscillates between absurdly unexpected and ridiculously straightforward, all with joyous results.