Help Us! Great Warrior is silly, adorable, and hilarious. In the best ways, Madeleine Flores’ creation, Great Warrior - the heroine of the book and a greenish, roundish, smallish creature with small arms and legs - looks like she just wandered out of an episode of Adventure Time. Great Warrior is the type of character that doesn’t seem at all worried about fighting the giant demon coming toward her, unless she drops her cake because of said demon.
“If you have any last words, I’ll listen.” And so, Yamada Asaemon does, the central character of Kazuo Koie and Goseki Kojima’s follow up series to their brilliant Lone Wolf and Cub. In Samurai Executioner, Asaemon is the executioner who swings his blade to cut off heads of the convicted, and that very simple premise brings us into the world of feudal Japan during the Edo period. Through Asaemon’s simple question, we explore many stories that lead to the soon-to-be-convicted’s death. Some violent, some funny, some heartbreaking – but always haunting. The most effecting images of decapitation I’ve ever seen, the images imprint themselves in your mind – these characters on the page have vitality beyond their constraints. It’s like looking at humanity through a microcosm of individuals. Like the Twilight Zone but with Samurai instead of people with pig faces.
Gail Simone (Secret Six, Batgirl) and Jim Zub (Wayward, Samurai Jack, Munchkin) keep up the pace with the second issue of Conan Red Sonja. This time, along with Conan and Red Sonja, we have pirates(!) and you get the sense that Simone and Zub are in for the fun of it. Picking up a few years after their first run in with each other, the duo are up against those strange, red vines that ended our previous issue.
I’m not sure if Oni Press (Scott Pilgrim) knew exactly what they were going to get when they gave the go ahead to Princess Ugg, but writer and artist Ted Naifeh (Gloomcookie, and the Eisner-nominated Courtney Crumrin) has given them a possible classic. Having found Issue #4 only a couple of days ago, I took my time paging through to the end of Issue #7 today, appreciating the pristine character development, the exceptional dialogue writing, and the beautiful, emotionally charged artwork. Princess Ugg is a treat full of excitement, intelligence, and pathos. Part fairy tale princess land and part Game of Thrones gritty reality (without the explicit sex and violence), I laugh, I worry, I wonder, and, today, I cried. It's one of those special books I can’t wait to get my hands on every month. It’s simply beautiful.
One thing I’ve been noticing about comic books lately is that, within each issue, less and less story is being told, so story arcs can last over the course of many more issues. It’s not a complaint, just an observation. That isn’t a problem with Rat God from Dark Horse Comics. Writer and artist Richard Corben (Heavy Metal, Den, Hellblazer, 2012 Eisner Hall of Fame Inductee) fills every page with twists and turns, drama, and humor. It’s a real ride.
I want this comic to be better, simply because the art is unbelievably amazing. I was intrigued with the first issue. Josie Schuller, a Mad Men-era housewife who also happens to be an assassin, is our hero. There was a nice tone to the first issue that doesn’t carry over here. There’s nothing really humorous, mysterious, or even life threatening - the stakes are very low. So, what the writers, Joëlle Jones (Spellcheckers, Hellheim) and Jamie S. Rich (12 Reasons I Love Her, You Have Killed Me, both collaborated on with Jones) want to convey to their audience isn’t completely clear to me.
Matt Fraction. That should be all I need to say to recommend his newest book from Image Comics, Casanova: Acedia.
It used to be that I followed artists. If the artist I liked was moving to that comic, I’d follow them. In this slightly more mature period of my life, I follow writers, and Fraction (multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-winner: Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, ODY-C) is one of the best around. But, enough about him. Let’s talk about Casanova: Acedia.
I had the pleasure of reviewing the first issue of this four-part mini-series by Roger Langridge (Fred the Clown, The Muppet Show Comics, Popeye), and when the second one came up, I jumped at the opportunity. Abigail and the Snowman #2 picks up the story of Abigail, her single-parent father, and her new best friend, Yeti, that only kids and Government Agents with special sunglasses can see. Otherwise, no adults can see this giant, friendly beast. This is the ultimate invisible best friend. And, it is charming.
The newest collection of Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories (Volume 4) is not the place to start but the place to finish, and the finish is spectacular.
I am a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I just recently watched again to show my girlfriend, because she really wanted to see The Legend of Korra. I told her, no – Avatar first.
Let me tell you how much I love The Legend of Korra, which I’m currently making my way through Season Three. The world is rich and the characters even richer. It’s more than just a cartoon, it’s an experience. I adore the art deco-enhanced, fantasy-sci-fi designs whirl-winded together in Republic City that harken back to the gangster-ridden, screwball world of the 1920s and 1930s cinema. The music, the animation, the “talkie” voice-over recap at the beginning – everything. Just thinking about it makes me spasm with joy. The creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, have endless amounts of creativity to spare. To get a behind-the-scenes look at how this world came to be, one would think would be an absolute treat . . . and it is. With the new year, Nickelodeon is publishing The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Three: Change. Is it worth it? Let me break it down.