I love a good Hellboy tale more than almost anything else. Like Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman or Lone Wolf and Cub, his stories are a comforting place to return to.

Up until a few months ago, I had no idea what a cozy mystery was. What’s worse is that I have a few friends who write them. (I am a bad friend. *Sigh*)  If you haven’t a clue (Get that? Clue?) of what a cozy mystery is, it is a sub-genre of crime fiction, where the sex and violence are downplayed and the crime occurs in a small community.  (Thank you, Wikipedia.)  Anyway, I decided it was time to read something that was a little lighter than my usual fare of science fiction and fantasy mayhem.

As usual with a good story, not everything is what it seems.

Previously on… Hellmouth #4: Having claimed Angel as her vessel, the Hellmother now only needs the blood of a Slayer to have the power to leave the Hellmouth. Good thing she has a Slayer all by her lonesome in the Hellmouth…

Bering Strait is perhaps the most human book I’ve read in a very long time. Ironically, its subject matter is not primarily human, per se. That is to say that the protagonists are not modern Homo sapiens, but rather our cousins, the Neanderthals. Set against the harsh tundra during the sunset days of the Neanderthals, it’s a searing look at what it means to be self-aware, to innovate, to fight for survival, to hope for a better future, to question what it means to be a people, and what makes us human.

In this issue, Bernice sets out with her goblin friend to find the source of the music that’s bringing the dead back to life in Harrow County. It’s World War II, and many of the dead are soldiers who are bringing comfort to the families upon their return; however, there are also dark forces coming back and taking the living with them.

I really enjoyed the first volume of Blackwood, a sort of Harry Potter-like story for college-age kids dealing with occult and Cthulu-like baddies. It turned out the headmaster was one of these baddies and had put a curse on the new kids that their fates would perish with the school. One of those kids did. Of course, there was another villain, and it became a dark story of failed love in the end. It was fun.

I’m so happy that #StoriesMatter to me. That I can pick up an issue of a comic book by one of my favorite writers, knowing that I’m going to be taken someplace completely unexpected. That’s how I always feel reading a book by Simon Spurrier.
Having relished his previous series, Coda, I was 100% ready to dive into his next creator-owned project.  Here it is: Alienated - a sci-fi take on what it means to be a loner in high school. The first page of this issue will never prepare you for the final page, and that’s what I love!

While this is not the penultimate issue, Ronin Island’s end is drawing nigh. All of the forces are converging on the island of refugees that our young heroes have so bravely sought to protect. Hana and Kenichi, beginning this story just as they became adults, were put to a much bigger test than the those faced by the island. Fighting against and for a new Shogunate, fighting against and for each other, every step of the way they have learned something new about themselves and what it means to sacrifice for a greater cause.

In his introduction, writer/translator Zack Davisson discusses the accidental beginnings of the feline character, Michael, who appeared in a How to Draw Manga instructional guide by Makoto Kobayashi in 1982.  The cute feline was a departure for Kobayashi who had been writing/illustrating sports-oriented stories targeting young boys.  His editor knew that Michael was special and, as a result, the What’s Michael? series was born.

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