When I finished Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer what seems like forever ago (but not so long ago), I was left with something nagging at me. The story was brought to a conclusion, a sort of melancholy middle ground, but it didn’t feel complete. Over the last year, Lemire has continued tapdancing around the Black Hammer universe, bringing new characters into the fray, dealing with the same characters in the near past or distant future. It has been a remarkable world building experience, especially with all the amazing talent he’s brought on to help create this world. To what end, has been the question. Where is all of this leading? Why spend all of this time on these stories - just for a laugh, to cash in? Obviously not, Lemire isn’t a cynical creator. He’s a genuine writing talent. So, then, to what end?
I was a little concerned that I wasn’t the target audience for Geek-Girl #7 when I opened my review link to see an overly busty Summer as Geek-Girl plastered across the front cover. She looked flirty and confident, but her bust looked larger than normal, and it was clearly so male gaze-oriented that I felt taken aback (I’d also just seen a Facebook ad for a bra that could increase your breast size appearance by two cup sizes, so my brain was a little baffled.); however, the issue developed into a female bonding night out between BFFs Ruby and Summer and newcomer Kerry as they enjoy time as twenty-somethings in a college town.
For a series that has built to a crescendo on a couple of occasions, only to find out that this is the penultimate issue kind of caught me off guard. In the next issue, Gideon Falls concludes, and I’m two years and some change older. It has often felt like we’ve been nearing a conclusion on a number of occasions, only for the script to flip on the characters. Now with several new characters and storylines only recently introduced, in the blink of an eye, it will be concluded. If it sounds like I have mixed feelings about that… well, I do.
Building blocks, gently being placed one on top of the other. Every block brings a shift in dynamic, and every block below it gives it stability. Where will the next block be placed? Will it all come tumbling down? James Tynion IV’s Something Is Killing the Children is a masterclass in how to patiently construct a meaningful and powerful story. Every added story element surprises and brings about a greater dilemma but also makes complete sense. Plot holes? Tynion declares, “Never!” Unmotivated character decisions? Tynion scoffs, “Not on your life!”
Tango of the Matadors' second issue starts readers off with the sense that time has rapidly been passing in the monster-infested world. Adelita, Ramon’s young daughter from the original series, is old enough to tackle matador training under Arturo’s watchful eyes. Meanwhile, the Volgante’s children continue terrorizing the people of Guatemala as Ramon and his companions head toward her stronghold to attack the giant fly.
As the end of this arc approaches, it's time for the bleakness of Die to meet the epic fantasy battles of past entries into the genre. With the battle on the border between Eternal Prussia and Angria now in full swing, it's up to Ash, Izzy, and their armies to win the day, despite the obvious challenges that come with full-scale warfare.
If series like Undiscovered Country reflect the times we are living in politically, The Clock reflects one of the other major aspects that is currently impacting life: outbreak. This series focuses on something that hits so close to home it might as well be standing next to you, airhorn blaring: an outbreak of an incredibly lethal form of cancer is making its way through the world, with researchers and scientists unable to find a cause or a cure. This outbreak has taken many lives and threatens so many more. One of the many lives taken is the spouse of a top researcher of this outbreak, and her death sends shockwaves as one of the brightest minds in the world is now so deeply affected by this outbreak that it threatens to completely derail the ability to fight whatever it is.