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New Comics Haul Week Of 8.17.22

Readers, I come to you now in what may well be my final article; I’ve received a Cease & Desist from Sony Pictures Animation because they’re AFRAID OF THE TRUTH: my edit of ALF without a laugh-track is the SUPERIOR VERSION, and the PEOPLE DESERVE IT. That’s a joke in so much as it’s not “actually happening”, but I do believe what I said; some day I’ll write an article on how the strength of ALF comes from the deep vein of sincerity at the heart of the show, but until then: Hey look it’s comics!
(Just a reminder, if you don’t wanna miss any of my comics roundups OR that ALF article, you can sign up for my newsletter here and get a once-monthly roundup of everything I wrote on the previous page of the calendar.)

Batman and Robin leap from a Gotham rooftop, it's actually a fantastically gorgeous watercolor piece, and both of their costumes are extremely practical, realistic treatments without leaning too far into the gritty nonsense.
Batman & Robin, By Jeff Lemire And Dustin Nguyen

The legendary story of Batman and Robin has reached nearly mythic proportions. The crime-fighting Dynamic Duo are always one step ahead of the criminals they pursue and no case is too big for the pair. This isn’t that story. This is the story of a young Dick Grayson, newly orphaned, struggling to find his way in a strange, difficult, dark new world…this is the story of Robin and Batman. Collecting Robin & Batman #1-3! “Amazing in every sense. The story is great. The art is beautiful. The combo is unreal.” – Graphic Policy “A gorgeous retelling of the first days of the iconic dynamic duo, focusing deeply on the characters and their traumas, personalities, and the struggles to retain who they are in this burgeoning partnership.” – Comicon

I love art, but don’t know enough about it to opine with any authority; I’m an appreciator, not an aficionado, and certainly not a critic. That said: goddamn would you look at that cover, holy cow, man! I’d put that shit on me wall alongside the Roger Dean calendar and the Wishbow prints! In fact I might have to; lemme go yell at DC on Twitter, brb.
I don’t know how many fucking times I have to tell you people: I’m a simple man; I see the Jeff Lemire, I buy the Jeff Lemire.
I’m as alternately obsessed with and sick to death of the Bat-Man as anyone, but what, like I’m not gonna read what my boi Jeff has to say about him and his weird little acrobat-squire? Makin’ a ruckus for all the roustabouts and ne’ers-do-well out there? C’maaaan. Also, his last offering set in Gotham was a horrifying success; one could reasonably attribute at least part of that to the nature of the subject matter, but like, my dawgs, the best clay in the world ain’t gonna make itself into anything without hands that know what they’re doing. Also the fact that it’s a miniseries, and not having to worry about another goddamn title running for eleven volumes is its own kind of relief, while still being its own kind of disappointment.

Okay, so there's like a GIANT table in a fancy hall, set with giant plates and bowls and such, all of which our heroes are lounging in and eating from; standing on the table at full-scale to it, looking at us and kind of smiling, is a golden wingéd lion holding one of those honey-dipper things in his mouth.
Delicious In Dungeon, Vol. 11, By Ryoko Kui

It’s eat or be eaten…literally! Locked in battle with the Lunatic Magician, Laios is the last man standing against an array of the dungeon’s deadliest dragons. Using his extensive monster knowledge to his advantage, Laios manages to defy the odds of almost certain death—at least until Sissel devises an even more terrible plan! Will Laios’s love of dungeon dining prove to be his downfall?

I’ve always known that, being a food manga, this could theoretically run forever like some of its colleagues, but it’s not really in DID‘s nature, given that the protagonists have a discrete goal in mind that, as of the last few volumes, is swiftly approaching.
In a previous volume, Laios had finally articulated what his fuckin’ deal is re: monsters, and it turns out that his desire to consume them is an expression of an urge to live at peace with the natural world and come to a place of balance with its inhabitants, even those who would crack his armored ass open and carve out the dumdum-meat like so much giant himbo-crab. He’s basically if Theodore Roosevelt had added the culinary arts to his “I love animals so much I have to kill them” perspective, and I don’t see any version of this that doesn’t end with him being the warden (in the sense of protector) of the dungeon and working alongside Senshi to preserve its ecological balance.

The title forms a crest in the middle, surrounded by the main characters; Marcielle, Laios, Senshi, Chilchuck, and Izutsume.
Delicious In Dungeon World Guide: The Adventurer’s Bible, Vol. 1, By Ryoko Kui

Prepare for adventure! Delve into the depths of Delicious in Dungeon with a smorgasbord of illustrations, secret tales that couldn’t be told before, and detailed information about all the characters! Whether it’s their age, BMI, or the first time they died, this guide has everything there is to know. Get the scoop on all the various races and dungeons found throughout the world. There’s even an encyclopedia of monsters!

Look, DID I preorder this to use as a campaign sourcebook for an upcoming tabletop RPG game? Who can say? Who knows what goofs lurk in the hearts of men? They say the Shadow knows, but Lamont Cranston can’t even decide what class he wants to play as, so color me dubious.
Seriously though, I’m less here for the character bios and more for the worldbuilding and lore-dumps; tell me ’bout them other dungeons and what’s lurkin’ in ’em, gimme them little side-stories that didn’t fit naturally into the main narrative. One of DID‘s biggest strengths is that it goes to extreme pains to make its world feel alive and vibrant, and that the party and their story are just one thing happening in one part of it, and I’m here for everything I can get about that world and what all lives in it, even if it didn’t include nutritional-fact charts for everything.

A figure that one could reasonably assume to be a young lady walks through a forest path; around her is like ferns and one of those big woody-veiny-vine trees, and lurking behind it is some kinda--looks like maybe a whale?
Night Bus, By Zuo Ma

Journey through the countryside in this magical realist debut from an underground Chinese cartoonist In Night Bus, a young woman wearing round glasses finds herself on an adventurous late night bus ride that constantly makes detours through increasingly fantastical landscapes. Meanwhile a young cartoonist returns home after art school and tries his hand at becoming a working artist while watching over his aging grandmother whose memory is deteriorating. Nostalgic leaps take us to an elementary school gymnasium that slowly morphs into a swamp and is raided by a giant catfish. Beetles, salamanders, and bug-eyed fish intrude upon the bus ride of the round-glasses woman as the night stretches on. Night Bus blends autobiography, horror, and fantasy into a vibrantly detailed surreal world that shows a distinct talent surveying his past. Nature infringes upon the man-made world via gigantism and explosive abundance–the images in Night Bus are often unsettling, not aimed to horrify, but to upset the balance of modern life. Zuo Ma is part of a burgeoning Chinese art comics scene that pushes emotion to the forefront of the story while playing with action and dreams. Translated by Orion Martin.

Not a ton of thoughts on this one, I’m just here to support indie (which I can only assume ‘underground’ speaks to) and international creators and geek out on magical realism! I think from an American perspective it’s hard not to read that description and see that cover without thinking “Fuckin’ Ghibli-ass comic, hell yeah, shut up and get in my eyeballs”, and obviously that’s unfair, reductive and, in-context, kinda racist bro, don’t be that guy, c’mon, but exposing ourselves to more things from more and different places and people is how we get out of those mindset and reference-traps, and have fun doing it.

A put-upon young man in a blazer and tie points at the camera, upstaged by a BELLIGERENTLY enthusiastic girl in an idol-outfit holding a mic
Phantom Of The Idol, Vol. 2, By Hijiki Isoflavone

This top idol’s a meanie! Yuya Niyodo thought being an idol would mean easy money, but his lackluster performances and apathetic attitude meant his job was on the chopping block…until the ghost of Asahi Mogami possesses Yuya with the aim of becoming a top idol! After a bombastic Hottie Farm, ZINGS is the talk of the idol world. Yuya’s stage persona that switches between hot mess and god status is not only puzzling (and alluring) fans, but troubling Hikaru Setouchi, the leader of top idol group Cgrass, for Yuya’s apparent mimicry of star idol, Asahi Mogami!! Hikaru will not let this stand — for the sake of Asahi’s divine memory… even though it’s technically Asahi inside.

Besides the automatic +10 points this gets because the author’s last name sounds like one of Strong Bad’s scroll-button songs, I’m sincerely thrilled to see this second volume come out so quickly because the first was de-friggin’-lightful, to my pleasant surprise. A quick search reveals it wasn’t in one of my previous NCBD hauls so I must’ve picked it up midweek, but seriously go check it out for light, funny spirit-shenanigans that give some insight into the uh, frankly pretty disturbing world of idol-stars in Japan.
Due to the constraints not necessarily of the story’s medium, but of the industry in which the protagonists work, I don’t see this being a long-runner unless the fundamentals change and They Fight Crime or something, especially considering that Hikaru was this close to catching them at the end of Vol. 1. But I feel like when series of any kind don’t have to worry about distance, they have a lot more energy to explore and play in the space they occupy, and usually find a lot more fun stuff and fun stuff to do with that stuff when they have that chance.

A rooster with a BAD attitude is givin' us the ol' Glance Askance
Rooster Fighter, Vol. 1, Story And Art By Shu Sakuratani

The neighborhood cock of the walk is more than just an ordinary rooster—he’s humanity’s greatest defender! His opponents may be ten stories tall, but nothing is bigger than his stout heart and his fearsome battle cry—cock-a-doodle-doo!

Of all the titles I read wee slices of in the Viz Sampler (which is still up for free, go snag it!) a couple months back, this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. To anybody who read Chew back in the day, this will immediately read as just The Adventures Of Poyo; for anyone who wasn’t into the fairly niche 2010’s Image food-crime series Chew, basically thiiiiiiink Dragon Ball Z but with a protagonist who is, essentially, a rooster-samurai. Not in the Usagi Yojimbo sense, but in the scarred, badass cock-of-the-walk, defeat-means-friendship, actual goddamn rooster sense, and it fucking rules, I can tell you that much just from the preview chapter.
Look I’m always happy to barf words into empty space–I’ve read my own website, you see–but I really have nothing to add here, I just wanna watch the rooster kick ass, and I don’t know if it’s just like sea turtles and such like from the preview chapter or if it’s legitimate monstros as indicated by yonder blurb, I don’t care, just lemme watch this badass Chantecler bring a war to ’em, I will read forty-seven volumes of this.


A crowded city street of people flee as it’s destroyed by…god, okay, uh, I guess a kind of bipedal monster in a bikini with three long necks and heads, each of which has horns and a bob hairdo


The Swamp Thing goes RAAAA, and in front of him there's a weather-map looking thing indicating I think some kinda storm or cyclone maybe, it's one of those super-colorful ones, you know the kind
The Swamp Thing, Vol. 2: Conduit, By Ram V, Mike Perkins, John McCrea, And Mike Spicer

Levi Kamei finds himself pulled into service as the avatar of the Green: first to London, where the scars of old wars and the dangers of past ideologies resurface and then to the land of his making, the Kaziranga wetlands, where he must stop a deadly bio-agent before it poisons the Green, and finally to a terrifying reunion with his brother, Jacob, now transformed into the villainous Hedera. But with these events come revelations as the secrets of Levi’s past are revealed and his life, and our world, will never be the same because of them. Collects The Swamp Thing #5-10.

I rushed in the last week to finish Vol. 1 ahead of this and I’m glad I did because it fucking RULED; I’m not a student of ol’ Swampus except in his Sandman and Hellblazer contexts, but lemme tell ya he’s the greatest grouchy green giant. Having no prior experience with him I’m not sure how true to his horror roots (had to be done) most adaptations hew, but Ram V makes no bones about leaning into those origins and throwing him into direct conflict with ideas like “What if there was a guy like the Big Swamper, but instead of fartwater and slime and bugs, he was made of crude oil and diesel fumes and wandered the wastes surrounding the U.S./Mexico border eating people alive?” It’s fucking great, but it also focuses quite a bit on Levi as a character, as the one currently bearing the mantle of the Green, and it looks like this volume will continue to explore that as being of equal importance with his duties to the natural world, ’cause what’s the point in protecting the world if its citizens can’t live their lives and do what’s important to them?

Tatsu irons something as seriously as a human can iron something, while wearing his customary suit, shades, and shiba inu apron
The Way Of The Househusband, Vol. 8, By Kousuke Oono

The cozy yakuza comedy continues as everyone’s favorite househusband finds himself in even more crazy high jinks. Between a donut showdown and a new lady cop on the beat, Tatsu may have finally met his match! It’s just another day for the Immortal Dragon.

Listen, everybody loves TWOTH; anybody who says otherwise needs to be reported to the House Unamerican Activities Committee. But look, I mean, eight volumes of the Same Joke, right? And it’s a good joke! It works every time…and has for many times. I’m not saying I want the series to end, or necessarily undertake any longer-form storytelling in contrast to its tried and true gag-of-the-issue format, I’m just saying when you’ve only got the one joke, you gotta find new pants to put on it or something. I hope this one will do that! But let us be honest: There is something to be said for a known quantity, and we cannot love a title for reliably providing us its goofs and then suddenly be mad at it for the same reason. And what’s more, I’m ABSOLUTELY certain that as soon as I actually crack the book open instead of just thinking about it in the abstract, I’m going to call myself a dumdum for forgetting that this book is, for everything else you could say, 100% USDA Certified Good Time, and there’s simply nothing else any piece of art is required to be. Also, now I want donuts.

So that’s me this week, fools. What’d you all get? Are you sick of Way Of The House Husband yet? How many volumes of Wandering Samurai Chicken would you read? Lemme know in yonder comments! Until next time, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamn masks, and if you see four lights, say four lights. I’ma go play TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge.

I’ve waited for some things
That you would not believe
To come true

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