GOOD WEDDIN’-DAY, all. I will tell you, without shame: it’s been a rough little while, for many reasons, and it heartens me to know that I am not alone in this. Join me in taking what comfort you can from this new and tiny monster, Soon-To-Be-Celebrated Local Cat Finland J. Cat:
Beyond him, and the comfort he offers, let us find what solace we can in our old familiar home: New Comic Book Day.
“The legend of Batman starts with Bruce Wayne…but that’s not where it ends. Featuring fan favorites like Terry McGinnis and Cassandra Cain—Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 2 is a can’t-miss collection of the best…and worst that Gotham has to offer! And who can solve the murder of Bruce Wayne?! Collects Batman: Urban Legends #7-10.”
Urban Legends, Vol. 1 was one of the best all-around titles I’ve read this year, and is maybe on par with The Doom That Came To Gotham in terms of quality Batmans I’ve read in the past few. I’d be lying if I said that Chip Zdarsky’s absence from this volume wasn’t a small disappointment, but it’s certainly fair considering his other Batmanagement responsibilities, and while the ol’ Chipper does fall squarely into the Venn-overlap of Footloose and Fancy-Free, I feel fairly confident that he’d make sure he was leaving a title he led to success in good hands.
I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a big Azrael fan, I don’t know a bunch of the other characters on that cover and I wasn’t aware that this apparently includes the long-awaited Totally Spies crossover, but I’m still game, because Batman is like pizza: 10% of it is Good As Hell, 80% is Perfectly Fine, and you gotta really scrape to get down to that 10% of inedibility.
“Meek office woman Shizuka is a one in a thousand rarity — she’s a witch! Despite her uniqueness, she wonders if she’s more oddity than miracle when her powers attract criticism from peers and superiors alike. However, one friendly face stands out among the antagonism. Coworker Misono has never been anything other than accepting, even when Shizuka couldn’t return his feelings. But as affection between them grows and they begin to date, an emerging power of Shizuka’s could whisk her away from her chance at love!”
As I’ve mentioned, this series is adorable, and I was very relieved when the first volume ended on a definite Note Of Romance, eschewing the will-they-won’t-they romantic-storytelling fallback that so many series rely on instead of actually developing their characters. (And I mean look, people gotta eat, I’m not here to judge, I’m just saying there’s telling a story with a beginning and end, and there’s publishing every week for as long as possible by changing as little as possible.)
Given that, I’m excited at the promise of that romance progressing that the blurb provides, and while I’m definitely not here for the idea that a romantic partner should–or can–‘fix’ you, it’s clear that Shizuka struggles on a daily basis with who and what she is, and it’s my hope that Misono do what a partner is supposed to do and show her all the great things she can’t see about herself. In fact the more I think about it the more I hope this is a limited-ish series that sees definite growth and ends with the two of them leaving the office that yes, brought them together, but that also prevents Shizuka from developing any sense of self-esteem, and starting a new life together in a place where both of their skills are valued. I’m getting ahead of myself of course, but Vol. 1 gave me hefty expectations for the quality of subsequent volumes, and one cannot help but speculate.
“Ichigo Washio is a young man with a bright future — a bright future, that is, within the gangs of Shinjuku. When he meets Ringo Takamizawa, a fellow student hell-bent on revenge on those who took everything from his mother, the gregarious Ichigo doesn’t think twice about helping Ringo — even when it means it’ll pit Ichigo against men he’s looked up to his whole life. But Ichigo knows he’s in the right, and with his new friends and a healthy dose of stupidity to guide him, he’s ready to return justice to Shinjuku’s streets! From the author of “Tokyo Revengers!””
This is the only title from this week that I’ve already read; you can read my full review of it here, or you can take it from me: buy and read the shit out of Desert Eagle, Vol. 1 without delay.
“From New York Times bestselling and Eisner award-winning Black Hammer creator Jeff Lemire comes this ambitious and haunting graphic novel about family, mourning, and reality.
A lonely building inspector still grieving the loss of his puzzle-loving daughter receives a mysterious phone call one night from a girl claiming it’s her and that she’s trapped in the middle of a labyrinth. Convinced that this child is contacting him from beyond this world, he uses an unfinished maze from one of her journals and a map of the city to trace an intricate path through a different plane of reality on an intense and melancholy adventure to bring his daughter back home.
Collects issues #1-5 of The Mazebook and featuring a sketchbook section and pinups by Andrea Sorrentino, Dustin Nguyen, Dean Ormston, Matt Kindt, and Gabriel Hernández Walta!”
I’ll say it as many times as you monsters need me to: the only Jeff Lemire title I won’t buy and devour is one that doesn’t exist yet. Admittedly there’s risk inherent to that; no creator is immune to the occasional clanger, and objectively good books that just aren’t books for you; his last offering, Primordial, was beautiful and heartfelt and mysterious and also did almost exactly the opposite of what I hoped it would, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.
It’s friggin’ impossible to know ahead of time with this guy whether “phone call from dead daughter” means spookums and spirit worlds and similar, or whether we’re in an Underwater Welder situation or what, but one of Lemire’s magic tricks is that magic-v.-mundane is just Coke-v.-Pepsi, and what he’s peddling is purest corn syrup that you’re getting no matter what color can you like it in.
More and more the older I get, I really enjoy a limited series, a done-in-one trade like this that I don’t have to worry about keeping up with every six months when the new one comes out, and it seems like Lemire, though always friend to that format, is developing a stronger preference for it as well.
I’ll meet y’all in the center of the maze, and we’ll see what we can find there.
“In the aftermath of a failed utopia, an exiled woman fights to be reunited with her children by harnessing the mythic power that changed the planet forever.
From the Sunday Times-bestselling creator of Newbury & Hobbes and author of numerous comics and novels for Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Warhammer 40,000, comes an epic modern fantasy, rich in mythology and adventure, with an emotional personal story at its heart.
Twenty years ago, the World Mother awoke, forming an enormous “worldbridge” from manmade ruins and knotted vegetation that spanned the globe. Borders fell, millions migrated, and legendary creatures returned to the forests. But recently, the World Mother has gone silent, and the worldbridge has begun to whither. Borders are being reinstated. Now, one woman, cast out by her adoptive nation, must assemble a team of outcasts to reawaken the World Mother and bring down the wall separating her from her family.”
At first glance I was afraid this was a continuation of I Breathed A Body, which was wildly ambitious and original and powerful but was not the book for me, but it looks like certain ideas re: vegetal apocalypses are in the zeitgeist for reasons that I think we can agree are understandable, and the blurb makes it sound like this iteration of that unexpressed anxiety might be more up my alley.
I’m not familiar with either of the creators’ other works, though a quick search reveals George Mann has been prolific in the fields of steampunkery, Doctor Who fiction and Sherlock Holmes stories, and while truth be told I don’t see how that leans especially into floral cataclysm except by way of being the opposite, maybe that’s exactly what makes him perfect for it. Also? Sounds like there’s some magic shit in there, unless “legendary creatures” just refers to creatures that now only exist in legend, like the Tasmanian tiger and white rhino, and you’d best believe I’m here for that too, so it sounds like a good time all around.
“Shinobu Asakura has never been able to read or write — and not for lack of trying. It’s made getting and holding down jobs difficult, and he’s constantly berated by people who think he’s simply slacking off when he’s just trying to keep up. But a chance meeting with a café worker who introduces a new word to Shinobu’s vocabulary — dyslexia — may just change the course of Shinobu’s life forever.”
I actually started this one last night, and shut up I’m not crying, you’re crying. Like any good story featuring a disabled protagonist, MWW exposes by its very nature the way in which the world is built with ableist systems by default, and whether or not they intend to, they shut out people who aren’t built to operate within those relatively narrow parameters. To whit: Shinobu was never diagnosed as a child, and is so dyslexic that he’s functionally illiterate, and on almost every page it’s impossible to escape how that fact actively excludes him from nearly every aspect of daily life, including employment, healthcare and that purest of all human ambitions: obtaining a friggin’ sandwich. I won’t go into any more detail because I’m still reading it and I think I might end up doing a full review, but safe to say: Give this one a shot, because you’ll never look at the world around you the same way, and you’ll look at people who aren’t like you with more of the care, respect and non-patronizing decency that they deserve.
So that’s me this week! Also starting this week, I’ve begun recording these again; search your favorite podcatcher for The Bageler and you’ll find me.
Sound off in the credits, tell me what you snagged this wonderful Wednesday, and I’ll see you next week!
Be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamn masks, and if you see four lights, say four lights.
I’ve been waiting on the open invitation