Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is a hell of a premise. Death is fired because immortality may become a thing, but what will death do to make sure that she retains her job? How far will she go? But this isn’t Neil Gaiman’s Death of the Endless, this isn’t the Western version of death in a cloak, this is the Hindu Goddess of Death with six arms - Kali - and she’s fiery.

Writers Fleecs and Forstner are taking their time, every issue slowly upping the stakes for our lovable piecemeal dog family that has been taken in by a serial killer after he murdered their female owners. Yikes! The genuine originality of this idea is only bested by the execution of it.

If you read my review of Ultramega #1, you’ll see my unabashed enthusiasm. I love a great kaiju story… Heck, I love a terrible kaiju story, but make no mistake Ultramega falls in the former category. It is stellar. The first issue introduced us to a world in which people turn into kaiju, and three humans were given the power to turn into protectors and fight them off. You saw how weary these heroes were, how depressed they were. The battles were insanely cool, and the ending was a shock!

The writing team of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden jump right into the action with this new series. It’s World War II with witches (both good and bad). The British Allies have a special item, and they need to get it to safety before they’re all wiped out.

James Stokoe’s Orphan and the Five Beasts is continuing to be as deliciously weird as I was hoping it would be! Taking its inspirations from manga and anime like Berzerker and Fist of the North Star and Hong Kong kung-fu cinema, Stokoe has fashioned a tale full of Chinese mythological world building and epically daffy anime-style battles. It’s perfectly magical and freaking badass.

I wasn’t sure if I would have anything new to say after reading another issue of Home Sick Pilots, but let me tell you, folks, each issue includes so much story that there’s always far too much to say. Just when I thought this series would be finding its way to a conclusion… it makes a hard left turn. The absolutely unexpected occurs.

I’ve spoken about my love of Black Hammer, as I’ve read almost every issue in the expanded universe, but one thing I haven’t said about it is that it’s one of the more curious superhero universes I’ve dived into. For instance, in the main story, certain characters fall into an incredibly meta aspect of this universe, which makes it possible for pretty much anything to happen. With that in mind, most all of the other stories have played within the boundaries of the said universe as opposed to going bonkers, filling in a rich history with an alternate timeline of superhero world events, but also filling in the already rich lives of our heroes. It has remained, above all things, incredibly human. In this issue of Black Hammer: Visions, Chip Zdarsky and Johnnie Christmas bring us a tale of an aging Abraham Slam and all of the existential crises that come with it.

With a vampiric villain introduced in issue 2 of Young Hellboy: the Hidden Land, there’s no doubt that there will be a conflict between our heroes and this new, terrible villain. And things go from bad, to worse, to far worse in this issue.

I’m going to be honest: When I first saw Tyler and Hillary Jenkins’ work some years ago (the artists on Fear Case), it didn’t connect with me. That has all changed, and let me preach to you right now: They are brilliant. They have found a way to portray tone that captures the soul of the series they’re working on like few artists have. When I read Fear Case, the imagery, textures, colors, and their choices don’t just show you what you’re looking at, but they invest you in a very specific world. You can feel the Southern California night air around our two Secret Service agents. You walk through the neighborhoods with them. You feel something encroaching, even when there’s nothing there. This is pulp horror noir at its best.

Beasts of Burden brings me great joy, and Occupied Territory is tickling the release of the same endorphins that the first handful of volumes did. This is a world in which animals use magic, in this case pooches (a.k.a. doggos) - man’s best friend. Here, they are known as Wise Dogs. What kid who owned a dog didn’t think their pet was magical? I certainly did. These good pups protect their neighborhood, but after the harrowing events of the last story, they’re taking a little down time and listening to a story from one of the dogs that’s eternal: Emrys, a shaggy-haired Wise Dog.

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