Tim Palmer, Fanbase Press Contributor

Tim Palmer, Fanbase Press Contributor

Welcome to the wild and wooly world of writer Damon Gentry and artist Aaron Conley’s wholly unique Sabertooth Swordsman and the Mayhem of the Malevolent Mastodon Mathematician.  After a puny villager’s wife is kidnapped by the Mastodon Mathematician’s henchman, he travels to the sacred Sasquatch Mountain to be transformed by the Cloud God into a hero capable of rescuing her, and that hero is Sabertooth Swordsman.  From there, the story only gets weirder as Sabertooth Swordsman’s quest to find and rescue his wife Joleen leads him to strange, frightening places, encounters with duplicitous and downright hideous people and monsters, and straight into pummeling after pummeling.  While he may get the tar kicked out of him time and time again, and he may be smashed by crumbling buildings more than once, he never gives up, facing his enemies head-on, slicing them in half and tearing them to ribbons, all in the name of love.

Part of AFI Fest’s midnight screening series, Big Bad Wolves is an entertaining and unsettling revenge film from Israel. It is touted by co-writers and co-directors Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales as Israel’s second genre film ever; they made the first one a few years ago. The film concerns a town that is plagued by a pedophile that is raping and brutally murdering young girls, his final act to cut off their heads while they are still alive. The police have been unable to catch him, and Detective Mickey (Lior Ashkenazi) takes matters into his own hands at the start of the film, roughing up their sole witness, a school teacher named Dror (Rotem Keinan). Mickey’s only reward is that he gets temporarily kicked off the force, the police have to let the suspect go, and another girl turns up dead.

Welcome to Innovation, the brainchild of writer Wes Locher, in which Radical Development Scientific Laboratories Inc. (R.D.S.L.) is crafting the future, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  This is an anthology series of sorts, with each issue containing four stories written by Locher, with art by four different artists, and all in way or another relating to R.D.S.L.  In this premiere issue, Locher does a solid job of setting up the ambiguity of R.D.S.L., portraying the corporation as mysterious, subversive, progressive, and highly successful and intelligent.  This is a future you aren’t sure you want to be a part of, where you may be a guinea pig without even knowing it and where humans and advanced technology coexist, though often flawed by human error.

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus is an ephemeral and mysterious adventure from Hellboy’s childhood, written by his creator Mike Mignola and with art by frequent Mignola collaborator Duncan Fegredo.  The entire creative team is stellar, with Dave Stewart on colors and Clem Robins handling lettering.  Published by Dark Horse, the home of Hellboy since his start in the early nineties, The Midnight Circus deals with that place between being a kid and wanting to be an adult, which is even more confusing when you’re a demon kid surrounded by human adults.  It also explores the space between the present and the past, the known and the unknown, and reality and the supernatural.  This tale is about intangible in-betweens, and the emotions that manifest, flounder, and take over when these spaces are traversed and intersect with each other unexpectedly.  The supernatural here, as experienced by Hellboy, is a kind of mystical dreamscape, where you don’t always know if what you’re seeing and experiencing is real or imagined.  Magnolia deftly and darkly retells elements of the Pinocchio tale in this story, weaving Hellboy’s choices with those of Pinocchio, whose choices have strange and unfortunate consequences.  And, relating to Hellboy in even a more personal sense, as he realizes that choices simply do have consequences, something he has not really thought about before.  Though, what is frightening is that when dealing with the supernatural, which is the world that Hellboy exists in, outcomes cannot be anticipated, and choices can have much more serious and grave consequences.

Issue two of Brain Boy takes off, in a very literal sense, right where issue one ended, and the action here, part two of a three-part story arc titled Psy vs. Psy, is just as top-notch as in the premiere issue.  Writer Fred Van Lente, penciller R.B. Silva, and inker Rob Lean continue to develop the retro-futuristic spy world vibe of the life of psychic Matt Price.  On loan to the United States Secret Service to protect a foreign dignitary, things take a turn for the bizarre, and Matt isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be working for the USSS, either by his choice or theirs.  Trouble is coming to a head, and Price isn’t exactly sure how he is going to keep his, both physically and psychically.

Welcome to the review dossier for the first volume of IDW’s G.I. Joe Special Missions.  The book collects the first four issues and first story arc, titled Crush Depth, of the series, which has been a long-running one, at least in name, in the larger G.I. Joe milieu.  This marks my second foray into IDW’s current Joe universe, and it is one fraught with danger, intrigue, a fair amount of humor, and loads of sex appeal, the latter mostly supplied by The Baroness.  In fact, The Baroness never made pure evil look so good, though I can’t think she wears those outfits for their comfort.  Another fact is that writer Chuck Dixon and artist Paul Gulacy create an exciting story that is as much about the Joes’ Special Mission team as it is about the malevolent machinations of The Baroness, here working outside of the good graces of Cobra, all of which makes for an especially engaging read.

Dark Horse collects a bevy of bizarre, hilarious, and possibly largely unread, or read long ago, stories from its storied Star Wars publishing history into an exciting Omnibus entitled Wild Space Volume 2.  This does mean that an introductory Wild Space omnibus exists, and I am sure it contains just as many colorful and varied stories and adventures as I found in this over 400-page second volume, and I am sure there is enough unique Dark Horse Star Wars content to fill many more omnibuses, and maybe a few omnivans, too.  Yes, that’s a bit of a bad pun, but it is completely in line with the style of much of the Wild Space slice of the Star Wars universal pie.

Tall Tales from the Badlands is a western anthology series from independent digital publisher Black Jack Press, and I accepted the assignment to review the first three issues, each around fifty pages long, yet still the price of a regular-sized issue, sight unseen.  I was hoping my gamble would pay off with well-told, western-themed stories and solid art, and I was not disappointed.  Even better, now I am able to show Tall Tales from the Badlands’ hand, removing any uncertainty you may feel toward trying out a book and publisher that are completely new to you.

Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart is a complex, cerebral, and imaginative graphic novel, and that is simply scratching the surface.  The story and art are fluid, as in a waking dream where you think you know what is going on until you realize you don’t, you can’t see beyond the periphery no matter how hard you try, and though you remember aspects of it so intensely, it may all have just been a dream.  That also describes what reading Sin Titulo is like, as Alex Mackay finds himself jumping, dragged, and stumbling into and through a journey of confusion, impossibility, and discovery. It all starts when Alex goes to visit his grandfather at his retirement home, only to find out he died a month ago.  While rummaging through his grandfather’s belongings, he comes across a photo of his grandfather with a young woman, smiling and looking happier than he ever remembered him.  Curious about the photo, Alex inquires about the woman, setting into motion a chain of events that will dig up his past, destroy his present, and forever change his future. This is a book you can’t put down until you’ve reached the end – I tried, and I couldn’t do it.  The story and its immediacy compel you to keep reading, because, just like Alex, you have to know what it all means, you have to keep going until you can make sense of it all, until you find the truth.  

Get ready for irreverent, super heroic hilarity in Knuckleheads Issues 1 – 3 from Monkeybrain Comics, my favorite digital comics publisher. The loose, goofy, action-packed, neon-infused story of Knuckleheads comes from writer Brian Winkeler and artist Robert Wilson IV, and the look of the book is rounded out with colors from Jordan Boyd and lettering by Thomas Mauer. Originally created by Winkeler and Wilson IV in 2010 as a single issue print comic, Knuckleheads is getting a fantastic, new life as a digital comic, and the creators definitely play to the format’s strengths, especially with their bold, eye-catching covers. I noticed this right away, and my opinion was validated at the end of issue two where Wilson IV discusses how they came up with the style and look of their covers. Everything inside the issue is a blast, too, and there is an excellent balance between comedy and action . . . and most of the action is comedic, as well.  I would expect nothing less from a pink robe, goggles, and boxer shorts-wearing superhero, nicknamed ‘The Crystal Fist’ and/or ‘The Human Joystick,’ depending on if you’re talking to his best friend Lance or their new friend, Pizza Guy.

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