DEARLY BELOVED, WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY TO CELEBRATE THIS THING CALLED NEW COMIC BOOK DAY.
Just for the record, when I do these lists they’re only for things I’ve preordered or things that came out in the given specific week; this doesn’t count like, me desperately cross-referencing which issues are included in a Fantastic Four omnibus and trying to figure out if I’ll miss any by buying the individual volumes because they’re on sale. I wouldn’t subject you to that; you didn’t marry me, you didn’t agree to take on that responsibility and endure me yelling about how Marvel should’ve either stuck with its Masterworks collections or just done Epic Collection omnibuses from the beginning of their archival-collection efforts. How is a man meant to complete his Conan collection as thoroughly as possible under these conditions? This is the true Riddle of Steel.
“Chainsaw Man has escaped Makima’s attempts to control him so far, but she now reveals the full extent of her plans. Denji will need the help of his remaining friends if he is to have any chance of defeating Makima in their final confrontation!“
Oh, Chainsaw Man. You started out as a goofy-ass gorenado with an unlikeable scrappy protagonist one couldn’t help but root for against the monster of the week, and then you made us care about him, and now you’re making us watch him have to kill everyone he loves. Kinda? It’s honestly hard to tell, there are a lot of moving pieces and double-agent nonsense, and I don’t know if I’m just bad at that or if the plot-dynamics are actually incomprehensible, but from what I’ve been able to gather Makima has declared devil-powered war on…everyone? And is using Denji as her sword? Shit got fuckin’ dire last volume as something like 70% of the main recurring cast were spontaneously killed, although this series being what it is, it’s hard to know if killed means killed off, but still.
Chainsaw Man remains one of my automatic-preorder, read-immediately titles, and unlike with many long(er) running series that instinct has not diminished in time but only accelerated as the story begins to head in some catastrophic directions at speed. The author’s previous work, Fire Punch, had a similar structure where it turned into a different kind of story halfway through, and while I really, really disliked where Fire Punch ended up going (and wasn’t crazy about where it started, either), I’ll be interested to see if this goes WAIT HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS, I JUST LOOKED IT UP, I THINK THIS IS THE FINAL VOLUME, WHY DID I THINK THIS HAD SO MUCH LONGER TO GO?! (Because the last time I checked how many volumes it had was a year half ago when only three volumes were out.) Oh frick, okay, well, I guess I don’t have to worry about Chainsaw Man ‘going’ anywhere, because it’s there, it’s where it was going to go, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Let’s see if a dog can become a man.
Good luck, Denji.
“Five years ago, the realm of comic book fiction collapsed into our very real world. And now, amidst the chaos, a new threat has risen. Someone, or something, is killing comic book writers and artists all over the country. Watch as the mystery of this serialized killer explodes into four-color carnage with some of our wildest creator-owned character reveals yet! SCOTT SNYDER! BRIAN K. VAUGHAN! CHUCK ZDUSKY! ROBERT KIRKMAN! BRIAN MICHEAL BENDIS!! No one is safe in this action-packed, blood-soaked second volume of…CROSSOVER! The powerhouse creative team of DONNY CATES (Venom, Thor), GEOFF SHAW (Thanos Wins), DEE CUNNIFFE (REDNECK), and JOHN J. HILL (NAILBITER) brings you the second volume of the ongoing genre-defying series. Collects CROSSOVER #7-13“
The simple fact of the matter, undeniable and proven by court and combat, is that Donny Cates is a dangerously powerful comic book writer and should be contained for the common good. Red Neck, God Country (also with Geoff Shaw), and Baby Teeth are all top-tier and would earn any writer a place in the conversation, and that’s before we get into his Marvel work. His runs on Thor, Doctor Strange, and Venom were what got me into those characters at all by reminding me that a great story will transcend its genre; Venom By Donny Cates isn’t a capes-book in the same way that The Godfather isn’t a mob movie, it’s a movie about America’s brokenness and why violence is the closest thing to a love language fathers and sons are allowed to have and how you can possibly keep from turning into what you always hated most, dressed up in a mob-movie’s pants. I do not make that comparison lightly; Donny’s Eddie Brock is one of the deepest, most emotionally realized comics characters I’ve ever read.
All of which is to say that he’s good at what he does. Sorry, I got caught up in the hagiography again.
Crossover is a series about realities literally colliding when a comic-book world manifests itself, physically, in the center of a city, sealing itself off and becoming a dome of exactly the kind of chaos and destruction that I think we can all agree would absolutely plague our world if superheroes were real. The previous volume (spoiler) concluded with the protagonist learning that the stray child they’ve been caring for is actually one of them, a funnybook-picture, who is on the run and needs their protection from the forces inside and outside the dome that are hunting her.
This is a huge series because it does what it says on the tin: It brings together characters from countless comic-book worlds and folds them all together into ours; it’s got your Madman, your Hit-Girl, your Negan, your Godzilla, your Colonel Weird, basically an ambassador from any comic property you can name, and I have no fucking idea how they wrangled the rights to that. This, plus its monthly release schedule, lead me to believe that while this is listed as an ongoing series, it’ll be ‘ongoing’ until maybe the fourth volume, but truly I would not be surprised–and would actually be quite happy–if Vol. 3 was the last word. It is an extremely potent brew, but like all strong tastes is not one you’d want to buy by the case, or drink to the exclusion of other, less taxing (if less flavorful) sips. That said, I’m thrilled it’s here, and prepared to be delighted by every page of it, especially the bits where Donny gets to go on for a while about how much he loves Madman.
“Avery Aldridge was a decorated soldier during World War II; now he’s just an ordinary young Black man busy providing for his family. But he’s haunted by the wounds of war, and after a run-in awakens latent abilities, he’ll discover he’s anything but ordinary. But between flashbacks, ever-emerging and frightening powers, and a seemingly kind doctor with unclear motives, will Avery be able to make sense of his newfound abilities and what’s been done to him? Can he keep his family safe in a society that never wanted him to have any power? A bold, evocative genre-bending saga by NAACP Image Award-Winning screenwriter LaToya Morgan (AMC’s The Walking Dead, Into The Badlands), artists Walt Barna (The Osiris Path) and Moisés Hidalgo (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), and colorist A.H.G. (Broken Bear) about the power of love, family, and resilience. Collects Dark Blood #1-6.“
Guess what! I don’t know anything about this one! But I’m 1,000% here for everything this book seems to have on tap: limited series, depictions of what life is actually like as a non-white person actually created by non-white people, the damage war does to the people we ask to wage it (and how much more so to a soldier of a darker shade), powered individuals in a non-powered war, they all check off on a list I didn’t know I had. Also: I’m not saying I think it’s what’s going to happen, or even what I want to happen, but remember that bit in DC New Frontier where John Henry forges two huge hammers and uses them to beat Klansmen into the ground like railroad spikes? That was pretty good, and a lot of similar groundwork is already laid here, right? And look: my desire for Black Revenge stories may be a self-congratulatory symptom of my left-leaning belief that Whitey has had it far too good for far too long (which we have) and I hope every Black creator gets to tell exactly the story they want to tell whether it’s joyous, vengeful, heartbreaking, hilarious, surreal or just plain bad, because not everything a marginalized group makes should have to be that film adaptation of Fences with Viola and Denzel, they should be able to make mediocre garbage and flourish just like white creators do. That said: like look dude’s got glowin’ peepers and there’s lightning on the cover, what am I supposed to do, hope he doesn’t physically cram 47 racists into a single telephone booth?
“Perfect good looks, a genius mind, and the status of most promising up-and-comer in a large international company; for Hibiki Yoshida, a total catch and the envy of the whole world, a man who seems like he could have anything he wanted, there’s just one thing that’s out of his reach. That is… “The heart of the woman he loves”…! For the longest time, Yoshida has been in love with his old classmate Sena Shimakaze, a mangaka whose work sells like hotcakes. He spends his days as her biggest supporter (caretaker?), throwing everything he has into helping her with her work and life, nonstop, even sacrificing sleep. Yoshida’s love is so obvious, anyone could see it. But with her terrifyingly high levels of denseness, Shimakaze is not just “anyone”…“
Okay so this cover, if spotted in the wild, could be…misinterpreted, but like they told us in Baptist school, LET NOT THE PROMINENT DÉCOLLETAGE DECEIVE YOU, for this is not a series about an ink-splattered dame, it is a story about the man who secretly loves her. Look at the cover again, okay, now to the right, now down, THEEEEEERE HE IS, it’s Yoshida, the salaryman who volunteers after work at a mangaka’s studio making sure she gets her pages done A-CUZ HIM LUFFS HER. TTOSLOYTC (jeez) is super sweet and cute and a refreshing reversal of the common girl-loves-oblivious-boy dynamic; these reversals are becoming more findable on these shores (such as the also excellent She’s My Knight), but for now this is one of the best and most enjoyable examples I’ve seen for several reasons.
First, Yoshida is–and I cannot overemphasize this–The Man; he’s a badass at work, earning all the promotions, great at everything he does, dreamy as hell, stoic and professional and dependable and Grown Up, and he becomes an absolute blushing muttermublestumblegoober around Shimikaze, who is not merely oblivious to him but just to anything that isn’t her comic in general, because it’s a huge, complex process. (As I’ve mentioned, there are many manga about people who make manga, and if you read them you’re gonna learn and you’re gonna love it.)
Secondly, he is not her sole assistant, she has other staff, and they form a goddamn YACHT CLUB of shippers-on-deck who want the two of them to make with the smooching already; naturally they form a Greek Chorus commenting on the spoiled romance opportunities, but they serve another function that I think is actually more important and is legitimately genius:
Shimikaze’s herd of assistants are always present, because they work there full-time and Yoshida only comes in after work and weekends, so with maybe a few exceptions that I can’t remember offhand, we get the story from their perspective, not Yoshida’s or even Shimikaze’s. This makes the whole thing play out much more like an adorable romantic-workplace-sitcom-soap-opera than the anguished lovelorn story it could easily be if Yoshida were our POV character or the too-zany straight work-com it could be if Shimikaze were, and the fact that there are I think half a dozen assistants means we also don’t get sick of them as one easily can with a single POV character. It’s really goddamn smart structurally speaking, is my point, and also gives you a stable of personalities to squee over the romance with just like if you were watching a show with friends or family or spouse or dog or haunted suit of armor.
It’s obviously way too early in the series for the will-they-won’t-they to reach they point where they need to either do-they or don’t-they, but I do wonder about the longevity of a series whose premise is fundamentally based in something not happening; I don’t know how long that can be interesting, but I’m happy to be here for as long as it can manage to be.
And that’s the haul this week! Sound off with what you picked up in the comments, and/or lemme know what you think of these in the comments OR you can now @ me on Twitter @ItsTheBageler! Have a good week!
and I could’ve been your four-leaf clover