According to Julie Andrews, a very good place to start is at the very beginning, so let's start there. 35 years ago, I was 5. Reagan was in the White House, New Coke was making its way to market, and late one moonless night, Dark Horse Comics was born. That brings us to today. Now that we're caught up, let's talk The Worst Dudes.
When I reviewed Jalisco in 2019, I was unaware that the plucky, determined young dancer would be the first member of a superhero team representing young women from different countries and backgrounds along the Latinx spectrum. Phoenix Studios saw the need for more representation in the genre (and they are not wrong!), and I presume loved Jalisco so much that one book wasn’t enough for her story. Santa and Loquita are the latest additions to this universe where young women possess powers to change the world, often through connecting to their cultural roots and loving their familias and compatriots.
Every now and again, I’m reminded that I live during a time in which we have been able to enjoy wonderful people and experiences like David Bowie, Robin Williams, and Star Wars. There are so many things that I could add to that list, and while reading The Last Ronin, one of those items is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maybe if I had been born in the '20s and '30s, I would have felt this way about Errol Flynn or Charlie Chaplin (who died a year before I was born and is one of my comedy and filmmaking idols), but during my youth, it was all about TMNT. As a kid, it was the indie comic (made more for adults). Then, as a pre-teen, it was the cartoon (made for kids), and as I became a teenager, it was the movie made for teenagers, and so on and so forth. I played every game. I had every poster hanging on my wall. I knew every lyric to every theme song (and still mostly do.)
I “squeeeed” when I saw that a new issue of Something Is Killing the Children was coming out. During lockdown last year, this was one of those things I was looking forward to every month, like a dog waiting for a milk bone. The lead of the story, Erica Slaughter, hit every single note that makes a character worth following: She was capable; she was emotionally affected by the violence around her; she was a bit unsteady mentally; against the worst of odds, she wanted to do the right thing; and even though we knew all of those admirable things, she also remained somewhat of a mystery.
Quick recap: Trouble seems to hound Mal, and no sooner was he back on Serenity that the crew fell on some bad luck. With no choice left to them, the Serenity plunged into the portal before Jayne blew it up behind them, leaving the rest of the gang behind while the Serenity made an emergency landing on a strangely familiar planet with hostile natives.
The tone of each of the Outerverse books from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden vary ever so slightly. Joe Golem was a film noir, Cojacaru was a WWII war story, and Lady Baltimore is a swashbuckling, Indiana Jones-style high adventure. All three are connected by one thing: witches and a realm called The Outer Worlds, where Cthulhu-inspired old gods exist.
I was introduced to independent publisher Mad Cave Studios five years ago when they released a new digital comic book series, Battlecats. I was drawn in by the fantasy adventure tale of a squad of warrior cats who had been sent on a heroic journey on behalf of their king and where their success or failure would impact the future of all. The setup in that first issues reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and with each subsequent issue of the first story arc, Battlecats established and delivered the promised epic tale glimpsed in the debut issue.
The Lunar Ladies is a modern-day tribute to the old sci-fi/adventure comics of the '40s and '50s. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you may know that I am a big fan of this style and genre. I’m happy to report that Lunar Ladies does well by it. It’s a fun and entertaining story that really does feel like you’re reading something from comics’ Golden Age—only without the problematic elements like casual sexism that frequently came with the comics of that era.
Whew! Boy! Holy shit! If you were waiting for Stray Dogs to go full serial killer, then this is the issue. Comic books don’t get that sort of surge of emotions out of a person unless they really, really, really nail the pacing and through that the elevation of intensity, and, well, no one wants to see anything bad happen to dogs.