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Comics (1634)

To put it frankly, Black Stars Above is one of the most intimate comic books I have read in 2019.  The series is about a fur trapper (Eulalie Dubois) that leaves the burden that her family places upon her to find herself by wandering into the wilderness during a wintered cosmic hazard in 1887. Our protagonist Eulalie Dubois has left the confines of her family’s fur trapping business to deliver a parcel to an unknown town in the northern wilderness. Unbeknownst to her, there is a darkness enamored with what she holds.

This book wasn’t at all what I expected. The term “graphic biography” made me think it would be an account of Elvis’ life, told in graphic novel form, perhaps similarly to the way The Fifth Beatle chronicled the life of Brian Epstein and the rise of the titular band. Instead, what we’re given is a fairly standard biography, chronicling the highlights of Elvis’ life and career, alongside drawings of him and the people from his life.

“They took everything.” A statement uttered by a character in the town of Holland, Michigan, your average, middle-American town where a newly opened store called Everything is taking its toll on everyone… by giving everyone exactly what they think that want. Consumerism and, as an extension, unfettered capitalism are the villains in this new, genre-bending sci-fi comic book series by Christopher Cantwell and I.N.J. Culbard.

This collection is a joyous showcase of great scenes from the Final Fantasy series that are blended with our everyday items, including great still images of Chocobo miniatures adventuring past a field of tennis balls or Cloud and Sephiroth miniatures fighting their iconic showdown atop an open can representing the Nibel Reactor tower.

Let’s start with a couple of quick expository facts. The entirety of this hefty tome (some 472 pages) is set between the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider, where Lara encountered the Deathless Prophet in her quest for the Lost City of Kitezh, and the concluding gaming chapter to Crystal Dynamic’s reboot, Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Naturally, Trinity still looms large over her; their long shadow and longer reach are a constant threat. This large omnibus consists of 3 collections: Tomb Raider Volume 2 Issues #1 - #12, Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade Issues #1 - #4, and, finally, Tomb Raider: Inferno Issues #1 - #4.

The latest (and penultimate) issue of Criminal offers new insight for this series arc, with Brubaker leaving readers with a surprising cliffhanger. While Brubaker is entrenched with all-things noir, this series consistently demonstrates his mastery of comic book storytelling. He has created a fantastically atmospheric issue while diving deep into character explorations, fueled with fantastic anxiety of the consequences of their actions.

As a series that is steeped in themes of the disparate, it is only fitting that the innovative comic book series, East of West, conclude on something radical: love. Through the series' yearning sensibilities within its amalgamation of genre, writer Jonathan Hickmas has weaved grandeur into the emotional arcs of these characters. 

Craig Johnson’s Project: Saviour continues in issue #4, where we’re left with our hero mindlessly pounding a man’s face and inching closer to that line all heroes should never cross. That line may be easy to cross, but is that the person he wants to be? Is trying to do the right thing as easy (or as hard) as it seems?

“And they lived happily ever after” isn’t necessarily a cliché, but a common theme in stories. It can be a satisfying conclusion if executed well, but it can also come across as something rushed.

For years, Samurai Jack comic book adaptations have always captured the intersection of nostalgia and new adventure. From the time that the animated series left the air, the comics have acted not as supplemental material, but as a means of logging Jack’s adventures in a strange, new land. Now, with the collection of Samurai Jack: Lost Worlds, readers have the chance to read about Jack’s other adventures.

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