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New Comics Haul Week Of 9.21.22

Guys, I…think I did a bad thing.
At the end of a work meeting today, the Executive Husks passed around this deck of corporate affirmation cards with things like ‘Enthusiasm’ and ‘Confidence’ and ‘Subservience To Authority’ and ‘Not Too Attached To My Family’ on them; you take one, you see the trait in yourself, same mechanism as Tarot, astrology, or the reading of charges at a particularly fun trial.
When it got to me I said “The heart of the cards” just softly, just for me, a wee man, who can have a little goof as a treat; but my boss, who had been saying ‘affirmations, affirmations’ after everyone drew their card like a prayer, heard me and started repeating it, going on about how that was exactly right, it’s the heart of the cards that will guide us in business and in life, and now I see only two outcomes: either he unknowingly makes a fool of himself in front of the entire Kids WB Generation because of me and I don’t even get the satisfaction of having done it on purpose, or he starts a game he can’t finish and gets us all sent to the Shadow Realm.
Either way, I…don’t have much hope for my upcoming annual review. Pray, good readers, pray for your Bageler, and send Millennium Items and however many of Exodia’s limbs you might have hangin’ round.

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Blood Stained Teeth, Book One: Bite Me, By Christian Ward, Patric Reynolds, Heather Moore, And Hassan Otsmani-Elhaou

Meet Atticus Sloane: misanthropic criminal, avid vinyl collector, and member of the aristocratic Vampire cabal the First Borns. For the right price, he’ll turn you into a Vampire, too. After all—immortality isn’t cheap.
CHRISTIAN WARD, the Eisner Award-winning co-creator of ODY-C, Invisible Kingdom, and Machine Gun Wizards, and red-hot artist PATRIC REYNOLDS (NITA HAWES’ NIGHTMARE BLOG, The Mask) bring you a fast-paced 100 Bullets-style crime saga with fangs!

I–me, your humble Bageler, this guy–am always here for a good story about the Wampire who is actually interacting with the world and doing something interesting with their immortality; admittedly “make hella monies on chumps (presumably to maintain a lavish lifestyle)” is a fairly boring thing an evil human can do, but w–like what expenses does Wampire have actually though? Is it just Netflix and that PlaystationPlus subscription that he keeps forgetting to cancel adding up over hundreds of years? Homie gotta get TrueBill or whatever it’s called now.
The idea of a dirtbag vampire out there who’ll happily share the secrets of immortality and also the best kinds of sunscreen for the right price is honestly delightful in and of itself, ’cause I have to imagine the World-Weary Nobles of the Night schtick would get pretty tiresome after a few centuries and then you’d be free to just get super into collecting Legos or the DNA of dead baseball players to clone and built the greatest league the world has ever seen or whatever, and the Sosa estate’s cooperation does not come cheap.

DC Dark Knights Of Steel, Vol. 1

An entire medieval world will be forever changed when a spaceship crash-lands from a doomed planet. Monarchs will die, kingdoms will rise, and what seemed the end of the world for many…was only the beginning! An epic high-fantasy story set in a DC Universe where nothing is what it seems… From worldwide bestselling writer Tom Taylor (DCeased, Superman: Son of Kal-El) and acclaimed artist Yasmine Putri comes a generational tale of good and evil within a brand-new DCU! Collects Dark Knights of Steel #1-6.

Listen, I’m a simple man: if you give the Batman a sword, I’m already in the car, seat buckled, tape deck loaded with my limited-edition cassette of Guitar Solos Playing Other Guitar Solos, Vol. 6. I’m obviously very into Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van clearly being portrayed in a pseudo-religious context (leaning into Superman-as-Messianic-Archetype instead of dancing around it), and I can’t wait to see what’s happening with who I can only presume is Alfred over there on the right. I’m…less enthused about Actual Court Jester Harley Quinn, mostly due to all the great work that’s been done in recent years to re-legitimize her character, but 1.) Not everything needs to be for me and 2.) I’m very willing to turn out to be wrong.
Tom Taylor is eternally The Man, which I say not to pre-judge this as being Good but to underline that these characters are in good hands, and also while I think it would be hard for anyone to do “make Batman and Superman have a swordfight” wrong, I also think it would be hard for anyone to do it better than him.

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read: The Complete Series, By Bunn, Leiz, Popov, And Campbell

A supernatural horror thriller for readers of Chuck Palahniuk (Lullaby and Haunted: A Novel), Marisha Pessl (Night Film), and Scarlett Thomas (The End of Mr. Y), The Last Book You’ll Ever Read tells the terrifying story of a woman who knows the horrific truth about the past – and future – of humankind, and, when she captures it in a book, it becomes the catalyst for worldwide, mind-numbing violence. Read this at your own peril. Olivia Kade wrote the book that ended the world. Now she needs someone who won’t read it. Civilization is a lie. Hidden deep in our genes is the truth. And it is slowly clawing its way to the surface. Olivia Kade knows the truth, and she has become the prophet of the coming collapse. Her book, SATYR, is an international bestseller, and it is being blamed for acts of senseless violence and bloodshed all over the world. Olivia’s own life is in danger from those who have read her work. Determined to conduct a book tour, she hires security professional Connor Wilson to act as her bodyguard. She only has one requirement: he cannot read her work.
John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness meets Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby in this terrifyingly dangerous tale of the descent of humankind where reality and fantasy collide. “I truly hope this terrific horror comic is in no way prescient or timely.” – Patton Oswalt “…perfectly disturbing and mysterious.” – The Beat “It’s creepy stuff… you won’t want to miss it.” – Kurt Busiek (Eisner Award and Harvey Award-winning comics writer of Astro City, The Avengers, Thor, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and more)

Cullen Bunn continues to be unstoppable and untoppable, and while I may not have consciously known that I wanted a comics adaptation of In The Mouth Of Madness, but now that I’ve seen those words in that order it’s the only thing I want in the entire world; hopefully it, like my life, will also end with Sam Neill insane in a movie theatre, but willing to share his popcorn with me this time.

Order Of The Night Jay Book One: The Forest Beckons, By Jonathan Schnapp

Making friends can be hard for a nervous bear, even at summer camp. But Frank’s about to discover a mystery… and the camp needs him to save the day! Frank is perhaps the most un-bear-like bear Camp Jay Bird has ever seen. Actually, he’s probably the ONLY bear Camp Jay Bird has ever seen. And there are tons of bugs, he’s getting picked on, and he can’t seem to earn a single badge! But there’s Ricky, an excitable little raccoon who shares Frank’s love of Mega Bunny comics. But Ricky’s friendship might be more than Frank can handle. After breaking camp rules, getting lost in the woods, and discovering ancient secrets about the long-forgotten Order of the Night Jay, how will Frank explain all this to his dad?

ADORABLE UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIPS! ANCIENT SECRETS AND CLANDESTINE FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS! Also I looked it up and to my pleasant surprise apparently ‘fraternal’ is gender-neutral, or as gender-neutral as anything from Latin can be.
I love it when a work recognizes the fundamental parts and story-shapes to which its narrative is inherently suited by its nature; specifically that someone, as some point while working on this, looked at their main character-concepts, were struck by a lighting bolt of elemental truth, and shouted “BIG 👏 TIMID 👏 GUY 👏 AND 👏 SMALL 👏 TALKY 👏 GUY” so loud it shattered a nearby aquarium, freeing several giant isopods, a confused aquaerobics class, and a mermaid on the run from the law.

Slash Them All, By Antoine Maillard

2022 WINNER for Best Crime Graphic Novel at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
Two high school students are found dead, stoking fears amongst the student body and surrounding community of a serial killer on the loose. Yet summer is approaching, and the future is fraught with uncertainty—if only things could go back to normal for just a while longer. Instead, the heightened police presence prevents Pola from dealing at school while her best friend, the typically discreet Daniel, resists increasingly morbid impulses. News crews speculate about the Bloody Batter, triggering PTSD and fueling paranoia. Meanwhile, evil has its own plans.
Slash Them All is cartoonist Antoine Maillard’s tribute to 1980s American horror cinema, skillfully absorbing the traditions and tropes of the genre, yet drawn in a gorgeous, grayscale pencil style that evokes 1950s film noir more than Jason or Freddy Kreuger. This singular work of graphic fiction is a story about adolescents thrust unexpectedly, unwillingly, and unpreparedly into adulthood, told with a graphic acuity and emotional depth that transcends its simple slasher inspirations.

We’ve been experiencing something of a slasher/serial-killer renaissance in culture; Stephen Graham Jones is the prose-author probably doing the best work in it with My Heart Is A Chainsaw (if you’ve never read anything I’ve recommended before, read that), alongside Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group, Elliott Kalan and Andrea Mutti’s Maniac Of New York, the shockingly excellent film Freaky and absolutely incomparable Scream 5 and Halloween (2019). I’m sure there’s a ton I’m forgetting and that I don’t even know about, so please let me know in the comments if you’ve got a rec, and then go watch Beneath The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon, because it’s the single best serial killer/slasher ever made and deconstructs the genre a decade before the meta-mockumentary format became de rigueur or, if you will, de rigueur mortis.
But Antoine Maillard–famous for inventing toast–is bringing a Frenchman’s perspective to the genre, which may have begun with the Italian Giallo but was thoroughly embrace and appropriated by American filmmakers because that’s what we do with everything, we’re the Thing from The Thing. My point is that I can’t wait to get a new point of view on a story-shape that is certainly not inherently American but that America identifies itself with, and even if he doesn’t take that opportunity (which he’s certainly not obligated to), I’m sure this will still be a great One Of Those. Also, I like that it’s a one-and-done; I used to feel like those were a poor time/money-investment as opposed to continuing series, but these days I’m a busier, more tired man, and while I definitely want to read this 26-volume manga or Jason Aaron’s 2,000-page run on various Thors, I’m much more likely to be able to read something more self-contained like this, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one working with those or similar constraints.

Spy x Family, Vol. 8, Story And Art By Tatsuya Endo

Yor is assigned to be a bodyguard for a mafia family on a cruise ship by the secret organization Garden. But with Lloyd and Anya also on board thanks to a giveaway they won, Yor is starting to have doubts about her secret life as an assassin…

Spy x Family continues to be one of the best mainstream manga currently running, and that’s simply all there is to say about it. After the first couple of volumes, it became clear that it wasn’t gonna be a new-mission-every-volume-or-two thing, and that Operation Strix was going to be the long-haul project for the series, or at least its first major arc, and given how dedicated it is to fleshing out the human side–the real side–of the story I think we can all agree that’s the absolute correct pace. That said, I do think the tensile strength of the narrative specifically regarding Yor and Lloyd and Anya (deep breath) and Bond being able to keep their respective identities and abilities from each other is wearing a bit thin, and I can’t think of a better place than a family cruise for two murderous weirdos who are obviously crazy about each other and a little psychic girl and her big psychic dog to all come clean and make an active choice to embrace the Real Family they’re inevitably becoming anyway.

Twelve Percent Dread, By Emily McGovern

Katie and Nas are best friends, exes, co-dependents. They share everything, including a tiny room in a North London townhouse belonging to their landlord Jeremy, former host of the hit 90s show ‘Football Lads’.
While Katie bounces from job to job and obsesses about falling behind in life, Nas has bigger things in mind—waiting endlessly for their visa to come through, while working on a seismic art project that will revolutionize politics and society as we know it. Their friend Emma, meanwhile, seems to have it all figured out—job, mortgage, engagement—yet the long hours working for tech giant Arko and endless wedding admin prove equally dread-inducing.
But when Katie’s latest job finds her tutoring the daughter of Arko’s formidable CEO, Michelle, and Emma welcomes the eccentric and enigmatic Alicia to her team at Arko, none of the three women are aware that their lives—and possibly the future of society itself—are about to change forever.
Twelve Percent Dread is a fast-paced, laugh-a-page graphic novel about friendship, capitalism, and never putting your f***ing phone away from Emily McGovern, author of Bloodlust & Bonnets and the hugely popular webcomic My Life As A Background Slytherin.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had this preordered for months and every single time I’ve looked at or thought about it, I’ve thought the title was Twelve Percent Dead and assumed that the pictured main character was a vampire, I am just now, as I write this, realizing my error. Could I lay the blame on Max Gladstone and his unbelievably excellent Craft Sequence novels, the first of which is called Three Parts Dead? No comment. Drop it. Move on, already, jeez.
Regardless of these baseless goddamn accusations, obviously this premise is relatable; who among us hasn’t gotten that weekly screen-time report and thought “Well that’s none of my business”? Who among us hasn’t stopped writing an article more times than they’d like to reveal in order to check Pokémon Go? Team Rocket isn’t going to kick itself out of Mesa, you guys.
It sounds like at least in Twelve Percent Dread things will come to a head of some kind regarding our relationship with phones and sōsh meed and similar, and hopefully reach resolution; in our world–optimist though I consider myself–I’m fairly confident we’re going to end up in Father John Misty’s version of the future, which will at least have decent tunes and video games.

That’s me this week gang! What ancient realm of darkness and torment did you accidentally condemn your office to, and could it just have been an email? What bill do you think vampires pay for the longest time without realizing it? What’s your driving-to-something-awesome mixtape called, and how many guitar solos does it have in the name? Let me know in the comments, or force me to wonder forever, like I do about a world in which the Jurassic World movies were good.
Until next week, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamned masks, and you’ve activated my trap card.

–The Bageler

Well all you have to do is wander
Over dark fields of time

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