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New Comics Haul Week Of 8.10.22

Readers: Hello.
You read the words of a Bageler fresh from the egress of a crisis of identity, or at least of branding. What the hell’s a Bageler? Why should anybody care to read what one has to say? Surely some other name, something more indicative would suit me better and draw an audience more certain of what it would find, like The Bureau of Credulity, Gremlinguistics Inc., The Frat Crab Ruckus Bucket: Home Of The Rowdy Pile; any number of names less vague and less, well, stupid.
And then I remembered The Tragedy Of Cracked, and the way many of the creators I loved there went on to form 1-900 Hot Dog, a great site from creators who are now much sharper and more practiced, but which has, I think we can agree, an absolute dogshit name. But the thing is, ‘Cracked’ isn’t any better or any more evocative, I just associate it with the monsters and nonsense I already know and love, and of which I have exceedingly fond memories; with any luck at all you’ll come to feel the same way when you read the name ‘Bageler’, because I made a hard deposit on a dumb name, and I have a duty to see it through.

‘Til death do us bagels; you may now kiss the article.

A blonde girl sits in one of those school desk-and-chair combos that never gave you enough goddamn space for your paper AND book; her bag is on the floor next to her, and she eyes a pretty large spider dangling its way down in front of her from the ceiling
Giant-Size Gwen Stacy #1, By Gage, Nauck, Rosenberg

“Gwen’s own miniseries finally gets its ending, and we’re putting it all together! It’s got everything! Gwen! The Green Goblin! Kingpin! The X-Men!!! Re-presenting issues #1-2 of the GWEN STACY limited series (2019) with the story finale presented for the first time!

Most of what I know about this one regards its tortured and circuitous road to publication, which has chugged along since the first issue dropped in 2019, for Spider-God’s sake, and while it’s difficult to describe anything Marvel does in terms of ‘struggling’–they’re the Tony Stark of companies, guys–getting this series finished and collected has apparently been a genuine labor of love on the part of the creative team, and I’m thrilled that they were finally able to. I dunno if this is a What-If or related to the Spider-Gwen narrative octahedron or what, but any story whose parents have worked this hard to produce it deserves to be read, and I’ll be thrilled to do so.

A boy in a short-sleeved skeleton hoodie pulls on red gloves, staring at the camera
Kemono Jihen, Vol. 1, Story & Art By Sho Aimoto

In a quiet rural village, livestock has been dying off in a strange manner. Inugami, a detective of the occult, is summoned from Tokyo to solve the mystery. He meets a boy scorned by the villagers, who call him Dorotabo after a yokai that dwells in the muddy fields. Inugami soon learns that there is more to the boy than meets the eye… and vice-versa.

Don’t know anything about this one! Just sounds cool! Also I’m intrigued by the implied combination of modern-world trappings (the hoodie and gloves above) with older-world circumstances (rural, superstitious–although rightly so–village, traveling occult investigator). I’m not generally super-interested in yokai stuff, but that could easily be a lack of exposure to good examples of it, and SOMETHING’S gotta be sickening this livestock. What else could it be? Are the cows just brewing barnyard-wine in their stomachs, and if so, why are they holding out on me? Don’t they know I always get my cut?

A woman with glasses in a sleeveless chinese-style dress--turns out it's called a cheongsam!--holds a cigarette in one hand and a slice of watermelon in the other
Kowloon Generic Romance, Vol. 1, By Jun Mayuzuki

“Welcome to Kowloon Walled City: a dystopian townscape where the people are brimming with nostalgia, and where the past, present, and future converge. Amid the hidden emotions and extraordinary daily lives of the men and women working in its confines, a tale of romance begins to unfold for real estate agent Reiko Kujirai—one that feels as familiar as Kowloon itself…”

Reader I will be honest with you, as I have only ever been, except when it would be funnier not to: I preordered this based on the description, before the cover was available, and while I do not consider myself a prude, I would almost certainly not have ordered anything with an ‘explicit content’ warning on the front. No judgment on those whose tastes run to sauce, but if I wanted to read the latest in Erotic Thrills Illustrated, I could and would just buy those; lord knows there are plenty of them, and right on rock’n’roll to those who make and enjoy them. That said, I’ve been known to return a volume for turning out to be spicier than advertised, but a brief flip through this reveals that while there’s some definite steam between these pages it’s certainly nothing even the delicate fern-fronds of my sensibilities would call ‘explicit’, and what’s more it’s contextually and narratively appropriate, not just random ‘whoops forgot about the horndogs, better toss ’em something’. Not that one should neglect the horndogs; they’ve had a hell of a time, they deserve a little something once in a while.

A Simpsons still; a group of women including Maude Flanders and Helen Lovejoy are gathered. Helen's face is in her hands. A captions reads "Oh, won't somebody please think of the horndogs?'

Regardless, Kowloon Walled City was a fascinating place on pretty much any axis you wanna choose: historical, sociological, architectural, infrastructural and logistical, political; there’s nothing about the joint that wasn’t unique and strange and worth learning more about (I recommend this episode of 99% Invisible on the topic), and while I would definitely be here for just like, an illustrated history of the city, I think a story about what love is like within its walls is one of the best ways to show us what it actually means to be human there.

A figure in a white mask, like a hockey mask but with no holes and with red marks on, holds a bloody-looking metal implement and looms over a city, which one of those green freeway-signs reading Welcome To The Bronx, Enter At Your Own Risk
Maniac Of New York, Vol. 2: The Bronx Is Burning

After the tragedy of The Death Train, Detective Zelda Pettibone and mayoral aide Gina Greene have lost the trail of the Maniac — and the support of the city. Copycats are springing up, ten-sions are high and traffic is a nightmare. So, what happens when your favorite unstoppable, mindless killer resurfaces in a Bronx high school? Can Zelda and Gina get there before Maniac Harry adds to his body count? Will the students tear their attention away from their phones long enough to notice there’s a monster in the halls? This volume collects the entire second volume, issues #1-4.

HARRY’S BACK, BAYBEEEEEE wait oh god that’s a bad thing, HARRY’S BACK, RUN.
This has been one of my most anticipated titles since I was joyously slaughtered by the first volume last year, and while there’s certainly bound to be mayhem aplenty for those with the taste, I find myself mostly excited to see how Kalan & Ko. are going to use Harry to reflect the events that have stalked through our world like a murderman in a mask since the last time we saw him. They’re not obligated to, of course, but by his very nature (and ours), the reader can use Harry to represent any number of forces in our lives that are actively killing people–climate change, governmental corruption and scandal, surges of white national christofascism, pandemic bumblement, stripping of reproductive rights–but about which the Powers That Be tell us we’re being hysterical.
I don’t know much about New York, and less still about the Bronx specifically; in fact most of what I know, I gleaned from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The City We Became (which I loved), and what Ben Grimm has to say about Yancey Street. But of one thing I think I can be fairly sure: if anybody finally takes Maniac Harry down once and for all, it’s not gonna be the cops, and I’m sorry to say it’s probably not gonna be two righteous rogue badass lady detectives; it’s gonna be pissed off New Yorkers who will, yet again, have to do for themselves what ought to have been done by those who profit by their sweat and blood and imagine themselves the better of the common American.
(Yes, I’m implying that a bunch of crusty I-Was-There-For-The-Blackouts Old New York swamp monsters are going to have to abandon their street-corner doo-wop groups and stickball games and come beat Harry into the fucking blacktop like in Halloween Kills, it’s gonna rule.)

A young man in a military-ish uniform smiles and holds his left hand out; behind him there is a large magic circle, mostly obscured, with a versicle filled by clearly very-carefully Not Hebrew script, good on them.
A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special, Vol. 1, By Wookjakga, Original Story By Usonan

THE WORST CALAMITY HUMANKIND HAS EVER FACED… Shadow Realms have ravaged the earth and decimated almost everyone in their way. The survival of humanity hinges upon the success of just six mages, including analytic fighter Desir Herrman. The remaining heroes make one final stand to end the bloodshed…but to no avail. Desir closes his eyes on what should be the end of his life—only to open them and see the beginning of his school days?! Desir has returned thirteen years back to the past, where he’s been given another chance. A chance to see the loved ones he lost, a chance to meet his fellow warriors again, and a chance to save the world…!

Look, do I really have to explain why a fantasy about a hero faced with cataclysm getting a chance to go back and try to prevent the seeds of the world’s destruction from being planted appeals to me? Also that is a sick magic circle, and I’m just a huge mark for that bullshit, always have been, always will be.

A red background with a black forest-top poking up; in foreground, a male-looking figure in bowler, coat, vest, tie and gloves with NO FACE BUT RATHER A GLOWING SWIRL, holds a sawn-off shotgun in one hand and a revolver in the other, while being crawled all over on by a handful of very large spiders. At page's bottom lies a giant spider-face; whether it's just superimposed or whether the figure is supposed to be riding it: unclear.
The RUSH: The Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills, By Spurrier, Gooden, Duke, And Otsmane–Elhaou

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD. ALL THAT HUNGERS IS NOT HOLY. ALL THAT LIVE ARE NOT ALIVE. Historical horror that chills to the bone, The RUSH. is for fans of Dan Simmons’, The Terror mined with a Northwestern Yukon gold rush edge. Answer the call of the wild north and stampede to the Klondike… This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills. 1899, Yukon Territory. A frozen frontier, bloodied and bruised by the last great Gold Rush. But in the lawless wastes to the North, something whispers in the hindbrains of men, drawing them to a blighted valley, where giant spidertracks mark the snow and impossible guns roar in the night. To Brokehoof, where gold and blood are mined alike. Now, stumbling towards its haunted forests comes a woman gripped not by greed — but the snarling rage of a mother in search of her child… From Si Spurrier (Way of X, Hellblazer) and Nathan C. Gooden (Barbaric, Dark One) comes THE RUSH, a dark, lyrical delve into the horror and madness of the wild Yukon. Collects the entire series. For fans of The Terror, Fortitude, Coda, and Moonshine. “The Rush is a chilling bit of historical horror. Rugged and raw and thoroughly researched. It’s got such a wonderfully creepy sense of menace but most of all it’s the moving story of a mother searching for her child, that’s its beating heart. Wonderful work.” — Victor Lavalle “The Rush is a splendidly savage tale of frontier scum and the doom they’ve brought down upon themselves, and the innocents cursed to suffer alongside them. I for one can’t wait to see more.” — Garth Ennis

I don’t know much here, amn’t familiar with the creators’ previous work except in the broadest sense, but just from basics this has me written all over it: historical monstros, the greed of men leading them to Dig Too Deep and wake up something they cannot put back down, strange and unnatural weapons, and complete, contemptuous dismissal of the Square-Cube Law. Fuck the Square-Cube Police!

A still from Atomic Robo:
Robo and a scientist look up in awe; Robo says 'Why do we even HAVE the square cube law?", and the scientist
(Biomega Beast unrelated)

A young man  falls from the sky, a city street behind him, aiming a rifle at us! What then heck, guy
Sakamoto Days, Vol. 3, Story And Art By Yuto Suzuki

“Team Sakamoto enters an airsoft tournament organized by the shopping arcade in the hopes of winning the million-yen prize. However, things don’t go as planned and they find themselves teaming up with a not-so-sharp sniper called Heisuke. Meanwhile, some shady characters connected to the secret organization that raised Shin are on their way to Sakamoto’s…

Sakamoto Days absolutely rules, I love it almost as much as I hate ‘[Noun] Days’ titles, and I have absolutely no idea if it’s escalating to something (as possibly indicated by the presence of this League of Assassins), or if it’s gonna take the the Way Of The Househusband route and just be endless goofs and hitman-of-the-weeks, but either way: what it’s doing is working, and I am here for this darkest-timeline Kim’s Convenience. (I’d be more worried about the ethnic mismatch in that comparison but uh, Kim’s Convenience itself wasn’t particularly worried about it, so.)

A girl in a purple ruffle dress is in the foreground, the background is a mosaic of scenes involving her, such as a selfie with another girl, holding up a dress in front of herself, and looking at us out of a coiled scarf, all in sepia
Uncle From Another World, Vol. 5, By Hotondoshindeiru

This fantasy uncle is in the zone! Of the many souls Uncle encountered on the other side, few stand out like the nameless female elf. Every anecdote about them crossing paths has been filled with surprises—but the time Uncle was a raging Blaze Dragon might just top the list! As the story of their rolling, sky-high clash unfolds, Takafumi and Fujimiya grow even more eager to learn the truth: Who is this mysterious and beautiful warrior, and why does she stalk the land? The answers are close at hand…

The last volume was equal parts Indistinguishable Magic Princesses and Essays On Classic Sega Consoles, so that should be an easy bar to pass, although I personally wouldn’t be mad about more of it. UFAW doesn’t seem quite able to decide if it wants to be a slice-of-life kinda-romance or a serial isekai magic-adventure or thinly-veiled Sega edutainment publication, and it makes for kind of an uneven, lumpy oatmeal sometimes, but it’s still a tasty one, so the cook must be doing something right.

World End Solte, Vol. 1, Story & Art By Satoshi Mizukami

In a world plagued by magical pollution, Solte — an orphan whose mother and father were killed trying to wipe out this blight — decides to follow in her parents’ footsteps. But rather than cleansing the pollution, she wants to venture into it, like the Salvagers who reclaim treasure from its depths. Only she wants to travel farther, to see if she can find the other side!

Okay LOOK, so sometimes a guy goes on a preorder-jag because comics are his only vice that isn’t Diet Coke, and sometimes that guy sees two titles that are similar enough to get confused and accidentally buy them both, so yes, I managed to buy TWO different manga series that deal with large-scale crises and individuals who have to find a way to deal with them/move forward in their aftermath, because the only way out is through. I’m actually much more intrigued by this one than Return To Magic Sender or whatever, because it seems to reflect the situation we’re actually in (and how the individual ultimately can’t do much about it) and embraces it, trying to find a new world instead of lamenting the old. That isn’t a lot in the way of practical advice for us, of course, but I’m looking forward to it much in the same way my wife and I are enjoying reading The Stand together at bedtime; catharsis–in the original sense of ‘purification and purging through pain’–is sometimes the only defense against, y’know, *gestures vaguely*, that whole deal.

So that’s me for the week, gang. What’d you get? How do you feel about the Square-Cube Law, and why do you agree with me and Atomic Robo if you know what’s good for you? What apocalyptic media are you engaging with in an effort to lean into the tidal wave? And which of the million goddamn other enormous things that happened today did you read about instead of reading this? Well, just a reminder, if you’d prefer not to worry about missing my new posts or having to hunt through my amateurish website, you can sign up for my newsletter here and get a once-monthly email with a brief roundup of everything I wrote during the last page of the calendar.

Until next time, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamn masks no matter what the fucking CDC says, and above all, if you learn nothing else from me, please, #RememberTheHorndogs.

There are greedy crows
In God’s great dust storm

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