Note: rather than do two Comics Hauls a week because Tuesday has become a sort of New Comics Day Eve, I’m just lumpin’ ’em together. Trust me, it’s for the best.
Comics Haul 5.18.22
“It is 2029. Renegade Replicant leader Yuton’s call to arms to all Replicants has seen the city of LA ravaged by urban warfare and terrorist attacks, culminating in the destruction of the iconic headquarters of the LAPD Police Department. Now Ash and her lover, Fresya (leader of the Replicant Underground) are on the run, hounded by Blade Runners and Yuton’s followers. And with time running out for both sides, Ash finds herself on a collision course with Yotun.”
So here’s the thing, licensed comics–meaning comics based on a preexisting non-comic thing–usually range from Not Great to Terrible with a distressing frequency, to the point where the ones that are Just Okay end up being the best examples you’re gonna get. (To say nothing of the titles that focus on, shall we say, certain parts of a story or franchise that miss the point entirely.)
That said, while ‘Voted Best Licensed Comic’ might sound like damnation by faint praise, I need to you to understand that all three series of Blade Runner comics–2019, 2029, and Origins–are fucking fantastic, they are EXTREMELY goddamned good comics, and I while admit that there might be some lingering taste of a bar set low-low-low in that praise, that doesn’t stop it from being true. 2019 was a complete, self-contained story and 2029 is a sequel in the true sense, in that it isn’t just the other half of the first story, but is the next story for Ash, the bionic bounty hunter shunned by the humans she worked for and the Replicants she hunted, and this volume is set up to be the conclusion of the 2029 arc. A cult leader among Replicants is stoking a civil war, the LAPD headquarters has been destroyed, and if they aren’t stopped, the city of Los Angeles itself will be next. It’s all been leading to this. Good luck, Detective.
“LAPD Detective Cal Moreaux has teamed up with an escaped experimental Replicant, who has been uploaded with the memories of a dead Tyrell Corporation scientist, whose suicide he was sent to investigate. Now they must run and fight a conspiracy hatched in the very heart of the Tyrell Corporation.
Collects Blade Runner Origins #5-8″
Okay, it would be REALLY easy to just see BRO and, well, react the way we react to most things that are subtitled ‘Origins’: a presumably well-deserved eye-roll. Maybe if this is the first story, they shoulda just told it the first time, amirite? No, Clarf, shut up, here’s what:
Cal Moreaux is the first Blade Runner. He is the one in whose image Deckard and Ash and K will be made, but he is not of their worlds; his still has an environment, if only just, the evacuation of the planet to off-world colonies hasn’t begun and something is not right in the Tyrell Corporation, because people are uploading minds and swapping replicant-bodies and it is ALL bad, and now he has to deal with a DEAD SCIENTIST’S MIND in a brand new SUPERPOWERED BODY whose help he needs to unravel the conspiracy.
BRO has a markedly different tone from the other two comic series or either of the movies, and that’s a strength: for one thing, Cal is much more detective than bounty hunter, and the job that was invented just for him hasn’t developed the language of run-chase-shoot-into-crowd yet, kinda like Robert Pattinson’s Batman instead of Ben Affleck’s; both have things to offer, but the first is a refreshing change of pace that allows exploration of the same stories in new and interesting ways.
Secondly, these comics are canon, which means that it is now and forever official that the first Blade Runner was black (or at least clearly dark-skinned) and probably gay depending on how you read a few things, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after two straight, white dudes over the course of almost fifty years, the creators of these comics said “Nah, people of color, women, possible LGBT+ representation” and didn’t address it at all, letting it speak for itself. Genius.
Anyway yeah I’m super hype for this second volume; Origins doesn’t suffer from the Prequel Problem, being “We already know where this goes, so it can’t change anything”, because one of the appeals of this universe has always been that any given story set in it has only been one of many, and while Los Angeles certainly seems to get more than its fair share, the systems of this world are scattered and decentralized enough that it’s easy to believe Origins could go almost anywhere with its climax and resolution without interfering with the circumstances that led to Blade Runner.
“The conclusion to the year’s most critically acclaimed new series is here!
Self-loathing Chinese-American detective Edison Hark uncovers the secrets behind the murders terrorizing 1936 Chinatown and their link to his family—but exposing the truth may mean toppling everything he holds dear. Writer PORNSAK PICHETSHOTE (INFIDEL) and artist ALEXANDRE TEFENKGI (OUTPOST ZERO) wrap up their Chinatown noir starring the first generation of Americans to come of age under an immigration ban…the Chinese.“
To my embarrassment I still haven’t made the time for The Good Asian, Vol. 1, only because I need to be in a pretty specific mood for noir and want to give it the reading it deserves, although even just glancing at the description–“a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective—on the trail of a killer in 1936 Chinatown”–I wonder why the hell I didn’t trust it to put me in the necessary mood. Explorations of race and identity, oppression and assimilation, and the central lie of the American Dream? Are you kidding me, did fuckin’ Michael Chabon write this?
I bought Vol. 1 for two reasons: first, the guilty white instinct to support marginalized creators in that most American of love languages: dollars, and also because I had VERY much enjoyed Pichetshote’s previous work, Infidel (in which a ghost powered by RACISM haunts an ethnically diverse boarding-house), to which this is apparently something of a followup, and I’m heartened by the suggestion that Vol. 2 is the concluding entry, if only because to the extent that I speak noir, it seems like it is best used to construct short, complete sentences.
“From the universe of Eisner-nominated series KILLADELPHIA comes a terrifying new tie-in horror series by acclaimed Marvel writer RODNEY BARNES and fan-favorite SPAWN artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER.
Untold evil lurks the streets of Baltimore as the demon Corson surfaces from the underworld to possess a man once wronged…and his vengeance will come at humanity’s despair! As gods and demons clash, humanity’s fate hangs in the balance! But paranormal investigator Nita Hawes—a woman with plenty of demons of her own—has set out on a quest to root out the evil from her city. Guided by the ghost of her dead brother, she must come to terms with her own past, lest she become a victim herself and join her brother in a state worse than death!
Collects NITA HAWES’ NIGHTMARE BLOG #1-6″
I was hype for this before I realized it was a Killadelphia spin-off and that’s a good sign, because Killadelphia is easily strong enough to provide lumber for any number of side-stories but any solo title that comes with required reading is doing something wrong.
Nita Hawes is, apparently, the former inamorata of Killadelphia‘s deuteragonist Jimmy Sangster. (‘Deuter’ because 1. The main character of Killadelphia is AMERICA, and 2. Lol ‘doot’) and has set herself up as a paranormal detective, which is a good thing because there’s a friggin’ DEMON loose in the city of Baltimore, the place and the people that Edgar Allen Poe called his own. Is she up to the task? Even if she isn’t, it won’t be a big disappointment to them; as Dr. Crane said, Poe folk don’t ‘spect much.
The, I dunno, Killadelphianchise started out Mundane (But Vampires) and, as of the second volume, progressed to Mundane With Vampires (And Also Magic And The Afterlife Is Real And Has A Revolving-Door), and I’m intrigued by this Oh Yeah There’s Demons Too branch that’s shot off from the main stalk; this is listed as Volume 1, and given the occult detective-story nature of the series it sounds like its bread and butter will be self-contained (or close enough) stories, so this could go on for a while and you can sign me up right now, he said, aware that it would be hilarious if he were proven immediately wrong.
“Mind-bending sci-fi and Cold War thriller collide in this 6-issue series by the bestselling, Eisner-winning creative team behind GIDEON FALLS! In 1957, the USSR made history by launching a dog named Laika into Earth’s orbit. Two years later, the USA responded with two monkeys, Able and Baker. These animals never returned. But unbeknownst to everyone, they did not die in orbit…they were taken. And now they are coming home.
Collects PRIMORDIAL #1-6″
Reader, I’m a simple man; I see the Jeff Lemire, I read the Jeff Lemire. Does this ALWAYS pay off? No! But it’s paid off enough that I’m 1,000% comfortable doing it again, because for every Sweet Tooth (which was good, but a bummer) you get a Black Hammer AND an Underwater Welder AND a Gideon Falls AND Descender and and and and and.
As to why this specifically, I’m a big sucker for This Historical Event Is Not What You Think (For Weird Reasons™️), and the space-race-era tone tastes a lot like The Department Of Truth; admittedly, both represent a clean, optimistic America that never actually existed, but the America we’ve got right now is…uh, it’s in the shop, it’ll be back next week, let’s enjoy this one for a while instead.
“Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where mythical creatures roam free and only the brightest students are invited to study them. In Book 1 of this riveting new middle grade graphic novel series, a gifted young cryptozoologist-in-training must learn to tame powerful beasts—including her own inner demons.
For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices.
But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper.
When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected . . .“
As mentioned in a previous Comics Haul, I’ve been trying to engage with more YA and children’s media, especially writing and comics, and there are fewer ways to get me on board faster than by offering cryptozoology. I was briefly confused to see that several more volumes of this are available, only to realize that they’re in mostly French and a little German; Douyé is in fact apparently fairly prolific, but this looks like the first of her work that’s been translated into English so far, and I am very much here to support international female comics creators when given the chance, so I’m looking forward to this on a couple of levels.
“Flow — the phenomenon that occurs when matter falls out of balance and changes form. Flow creates oddities big and small that can be disruptive or delightful in equal measure, and it’s up to Flow Disposal departments and independent contractors to shepherd the Flow back to its natural form. For Chima Kondo, a 35-year-old woman stuck in the body of a 12-year-old thanks to the effects of Flow, understanding how Flow works and how to disperse it has become critical. But when she joins Flow Disposal contractors Hirota and Shacho of Hirota Flow Inc., she finds that there’s more to Flow than she once knew, and plenty more to find out… A supernatural story from the author of “Mushishi!”“
Yo I am 👏here👏for government agencies that handle Weird Shit, always have been, always will be, and I’m also extremely onboard for when Weird Shit is actually just an aspect of the natural world that we don’t understand yet, as appears to be the case here. Also, as a 33-year-old man, I can confirm that this is really the exact age from which I’d like a chance at a fresh body, like how I just started a new game in Pokemon Legends Arceus: I know enough about what I’m doing now to get back where I already was fairly quickly, with less effort and waste and in much better condition (re: with awareness of congenital heart disease/how the crafting system works), but I’m not so far into the playthrough that I’d fret over losing the hours I’ve sunk into it.
I’m not familiar with Urushibara’s previous work, Mushi Shi, but the Vol. 1 synopsis (“THEY HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME. Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. They are known as mushi-creatures that came into being shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze. They still exist parallel to our own lives and can only be seen by a select few. As a mushishi, Ginko is one of the few who are aware of their existense, and this young man with a sardonic smile roams from place to place with the knowledge and skill to aid those unwittingly affected by mushi.”) leads me to believe that the author gets what I am about, and also has a pronounced interest in people who help people afflicted by things they can’t control or understand, which is extremely interesting and not a trait that Western comics are so much willing to put money behind. Now I have to read them both! Both things!
So that’s me haul for the day! Give a shout in the comments and lemme know what you picked up, what YOUR school offered instead of cryptozoology, and how a monkey came back from space and framed a suicide on YOUR nightmare blog!
you looked like an amateur
and that’s the real crime