New Comics Haul Week Of 10.12.22

CHARCUTERIE UPDATE: Asiago? Asiag-no. Thank you; as you were.

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A child, holding an unidentifiable but adorable stuffy, kneels on a carpet in front of a closed closet door that has moon and star shapes cut out of it
The Closet, By Tynion, Fullerton, O’Halloran, And Napolitano

Collects a tale of existential horror by JAMES TYNION IV (THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, RAZORBLADES) and GAVIN FULLERTON (BOG BODIES, Bags). Thom is moving cross-country with his family and dragging the past along with them. When his child, Jamie, sees monsters in the bedroom closet, Thom reassures him that the monsters will stay in the apartment after they move. But Thom is very wrong about many things, and the monsters continue to find young Jamie.
Collects THE CLOSET #1-3

As a man who is frequently also very wrong about many things, it’s nice to finally see some people like me in comics; all the situation-understanders and correct-choice-makers out there have had it too good for too long.
If I didn’t know any better–and I’ll remind you I don’t–I’d think this was an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Boogeyman, a story from Night Shift which, and this is not a joke, might hold the record for most film and television adaptations from a short-story collection.
Mostly I’m just a sucker for Tynion IV these days; I will admit I threw him more than a little side-eye when he quit writing motherfucking Batman to launch his own Substack and start several comics that will only be available there for a subscription fee, and if I’m honest I’m still more than a little salty about that, but that has much more to do with the trend across all media platforms toward content-as-service instead of allowing me to purchase a friggin’ comic book, and his publicly-available non-Substack comics remain just astoundingly goddamn good. The Department Of Truth is in my top-five favorite titles of the New 20’s and The Nice House On The Lake is eyeing a spot there depending on whether its sophomore volume and those that follow continue its trend of excellence, and while it feels really obvious it has to be said: Something Is Killing The Children and its spin-off The House Of Slaughter proves beyond a doubt that he understands the terror of children and how their world differs from ours, and while this doesn’t seem to be a companion to those I look forward to seeing how he handles young, powerless characters being menaced by monsters without the fallback of a bunch of badass hunters with machetes to rescue them. I mean I presume; theoretically I guess there’s nothing preventing a toddler from taking the words of Jerusalem to heart and adding a Dewey Cox Brother-Bisector to their bedtime lineup alongside a stuffy called like, Bearic Estrada.

This cover is genuinely difficult to describe, but I guess it's two guys, one big and kinda monstrous, one small and weedy in an orange jumpsuit, standing in front of a huge pile of weird humanoid creatures
DC Horror Presents: Soul Plumber, By Parks, Zebrowski, McCrea, Holden, And Spicer

From the creators of The Last Podcast on the Left, exorcism just got a whole lot easier. After attending a seminar hosted in a hotel conference room by a mysterious group called the Soul Plumbers, Edgar Wiggins-disgraced former seminary student-discovers what he thinks is the secret to delivering souls from the thrall of Satan. But after stealing the blueprints and building the machine himself, out of whatever he can afford from his salary as a gas station attendant, Edgar misses the demon and instead pulls out an interdimensional alien, with dire consequences for all humankind. Get ready for things to turn bizarre, barfy, and biblical! Collects DC Horror Presents: Soul Plumber #1-6.

Frankly I’m just #ConfusedButEnthused by the fact that DC has multiple horror-specific imprints with DC Horror Presents and Hill House Comics; they’re out there doing God’s work, and we lazy sinners bless them all for it.
It’s fallen out of favor to describe a work as “X Meets Y“; it’s seen as reductive and dismissive, symptomatic of the CinemaSinsification of our cultural critical discourse, and I think there’s validity to that point. But just as it’s important to recognize when a work is cohesive and original in its identity (or at least looking at its pieces from a new perspective), I actually think “let’s take all these things we love, put them together, make them work and make it our own” is also a perfectly valid and sincere storytelling technique; this is not a Hot Take, I just like to remind the reader that Tropes Are Tools, and the ability to recognize them or stack them up on top of each other isn’t the same thing as the ability to think critically about media or to tell a story.
To which point, I don’t think it’s at all a disservice to this title to say that upon reading its blurb I immediately started trying to guess what was under the hood and had a ball doing so. Obviously there’s some Ghostbusters (janky homemade spookum-zapper, and while none of the Busters were a defrocked clergyman that absolutely fits their ethos), but I think I also detect a soupçon of Prince Of Darkness (mysterious order dedicated to but failing to fight evil) and a dollop of From Beyond (banging too loud on the dimensional-walls and pissing off your neighbors) and Primer (zero-budget schizo tech has unintended consequences), and I can’t wait to see what else I taste in every big ol’ Cookie-Monster bite.

A dude with lidded eyes holds a coat over his shoulder Sinatra-style. Also? Him got a big poofy ponytail, it rules.
Kemono Jihen, Vol. 2, Story And Art By Sho Aimoto

Kabane has started working for Inugami’s kemono detective agency in Tokyo, and is trying to learn to get along with his new roommates Akira and Shiki. Inugami sends him to introduce himself to Superintendent General Inari, a kemono who holds a powerful position with the police. But the beautiful vixen appears to have an unhealthy obsession with Kabane’s lifestone… Is she friend or foe?

Vol. 1 was super fun, and set up a bunch of individual and group dynamics to look forward to while also doing some groundwork for the relationship between the supernatural and mundane worlds and how they overlap; if it’s fairly common in-the-masquerade-set knowledge that phantasmal bedbuggums munch upon us in our sleep, it makes perfect sense that monstro and half-monstro types walk among us unseen, chiefing our copshops, slicing our delicious deli-meats just how we like them, and WRITING OUR COMIC-REVIEW BLOGS. It’s early to have much to say about this one, not because it’s thin or bad but because it’s fairly slow and character-focused, giving plenty of time for Shiki, Akira and Kabane to stew around and see how their flavors interact. I’m actually really interested specifically in Akira, who very clearly likes and wants to be friends with Kabane but feels he can’t for bullshit Pride Reasons, and as someone who really wishes he had a cool big brother with whom to have a fractious but loving relationship that is just catnip to me.

A figure in a Power Rangers-style suit and wearing a respirator mask threatens us with two knives.
Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 4, By Naoa Matsumoto

The raid on the Defense Force’s Tachikawa base continues as the officers expend their efforts to fend off the yoju. Meanwhile, Hoshina unleashes his full combat power to take on the daikaiju—the mightiest kaiju of the group. Just when the battle seems to be over, the daikaiju transforms and Kafka’s detection ability reacts to it! Can Kafka find a way to save the day without revealing his secret?

Kaiju No. 8 just rocks, and I am loving the building pressure resulting from Kafka being squeezed between the developing plot on the kaiju side of things (what with the one who was basically A Guy except he was like a veiny mushroom made of ham who could shoot you with his mind, God I love manga) and the quickly-expanding roster of people on his own team who are extremely capable of killing him and have tried to do so several times without realizing it. This has gotta be it though, there are only so many times an elite monstro-murder squad can fail to realize that they’ve never seen a very specific teammate and a specific kaiju in the same place at the same time. I mean, my coworkers haven’t made that connection about me yet, but I’m always careful to wear a very distinctive hat so later they’ll say to themselves “No, that couldn’t have been him, he’s not wearing a stylish mega-homburg”.

A figure crouches in a subway car, I think turning gradually invisible? On the floor are pictures of Shen and Sakamoto. Oh also there's a guy with the head of a deer sitting in the background.
Sakamoto Days, Vol. 4: Quiet on the Train, Story And Art By Yuko Suzuki

The race to rescue Lu takes Sakamoto and Shin deep into an underground lab. However, they’re not the only ones there on a mission—the legendary members of the Order are there as well to investigate the mysterious X!

I simply CANNOT overstate how much goddamn fun Sakamoto Days is; every volume so far has seen our favorite former assassin and his family accidentally recruit yet another professional murderer into the service industry with their sheer wholesomeness, and I can’t wait to see how Inviso-Dave 1.) killing people and doing crime sucks, and 2.) figures out how to use his powers to restock products while not blocking customer’s view of the shelves. Also, the previous volume featured a city-wide paintball fight and Sakamoto and one of his new employees fighting an animatronic t-rex skeleton in a museum’s Dark Science basement, so I’m expecting–and indeed require–that level of bonkers energy to be maintained. They’re clearly building some larger myth-arc stuff–have been all along actually; the first volume kicked off with the Order declaring a price on Sakamoto’s head–but the key to this, as in its John Wick/Nobody counterpart The Way Of The House Husband, is just in the day-to-day shenanigans and the strength of the characters and their relationships, not that it’s necessarily Leading To Something.

A young girl stands on a rock outcropping looking out at the sea, where a truly gargantuan sea serpent erupts, so huge it won't even fit on the page
Sea Serpent’s Heir, Book One: Pirate’s Daughter, By Mairghread Scott And Pablo Tunica

What if you were destined to destroy the world?
For Aella life on Kinamen Isle is completely boring. She dreams of life beyond the horizon even as she spends her days fishing and minding her aunts.
Everything changes however when she awakens an ancient evil within herself: Xir the serpent that almost destroyed the world. Worse yet a fanatical religious organization has arrived on Kinamen Isle to destroy Xir.
As Aella is forced to fight for her life she’ll discover that her entire world is not what it seems. Her aunts know more than they let on-and what exactly does the infamous Pirate Queen want with Aella anyway?
From the team of MAIRGHREAD SCOTT (Star Wars: Resistance Guardians of the Galaxy) and PABLO TUNICA (TMNT Universe) comes an extraordinary tale of growing up and changing your fate.

So a wee girl has a secret inside her, that the older women in her family know about and that a religious organization is convinced that is the root of all evil and will destroy the world if it isn’t controlled–by them, of course. Hm. HMMMMMM.

Subtle as a shove from a high place, just the way it ought to be

And look I’m not clever for noticing that, any more than I wouldn’t be if I hadn’t, but it’s kind of hard not to see those shapes in light of fully half of our country being stripped of their right to bodily autonomy by zealot sleeper-agents placed within our government by Christofascist death-cultists.
I’m here for this on any number of levels, a very high one of which is 👏let👏more👏girls👏be👏pirates. Sure you’ve got Zamira Drakasha, sure you’ve got V’kebbe The Stray, but We The People deserve wholesome YA adventures where badass girls get to hoist the mains’l, and similar. Admittedly it’s something of a presumption that she’ll have to take to the seas either in this or in subsequent volumes, but it’s either that or uh, reason with a religious authority that thinks she’s the antichrist, so I think she’ll probably be wearing water-wings no later than the third panel of the second page.

Slumber, Vol. 1, By Smith, Cardinali, Robins, Wands, And Antos

We all have nightmares. What if you could pay somebody to enter your dreams and shoot that nightmare in the goddamn face? That’s where Stetson comes in. She’s a nightmare hunter. A dream detective. She enters her clients’ dreams through a door, investigates their dreamscapes, and kills their nightmares. But Stetson’s past comes back to haunt her as she tracks down a nightmare serial killer responsible for the mysterious death of her daughter.
Collects SLUMBER #1-6

Do me a favor, look back up at that blurb real quick:

What if you could pay somebody to enter your dreams and shoot that nightmare in the goddamn face?

Reader: I have only ever been honest with you whenever there wasn’t a funnier option, and I ask, you, could I have read that line, not bought this book and still called myself Your Obedient Bageler? To thine own self be true, etc.
I don’t have a lot else to say about this Constantinception except that they know how to hook a fella, and that’s half the battle.

Something Is Killing The Children, Vol. 5, By James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera, And Miquel Muerto

After a year since we last saw her in Archer’s Peak, Erica Slaughter resurfaces to take on the case of a girl who’s seen a new kind of monster, one with terrifying implications. But Erica’s broken ties with the House of Slaughter and that can have deadly consequences.
The Order of St. George does not forget nor do they forgive. Even as Erica goes on the hunt, she must keep an eye out for the mysterious figure on her trail in order to survive the coming storm.
Collecting Something is Killing the Children #21-25.

The last volume was a flashback, I guess you’d call it, showing us how Erica came to reluctantly call the House of Slaughter home to really emphasize how explosively correct she was to get the fuck out of there while the getting was good, not least because we’ve seen more than enough to be certain they are completely unprepared to adapt to the changing monsterscape in which they find themselves. So now Erica has that bullshit to contend with in addition to whatever has evolved out there, and she’s just the one dame! The one stabby dame! She can’t stab them ALL…can she???
I’ll be honest, I did get a little wary when they started building on the House of Slaughter mythos just because mysterious organizations tend to be interesting in direct proportion to how mysterious they are, which is interesting because the monstros themselves are the opposite; I’ll take a Class-VII Oscuromorph or whatever the fuck over “Yeah they’re a bunch of rich people with trauma and color-coded neckerchiefs, but they’re too bitchy to be interesting”, not that it’s gone that far yet. Oddly enough I actually love to see mysterious organizations go deeper than just mundane exposure; I wanna know how an ancient monster-killing organization gets its paperclips and letterhead stationary, I wanna know what the hell they file their taxes as since they’re technically a children’s-welfare organization with extreme prejudice, gimme a spinoff series about the Accountant of Slaughter all day.
I’ve gotten off track; kick their asses and save the kids, Erica. Godspeed.

Honorable mention this week that I didn’t buy because I have all of the volumes goes to the Joe Golem: Occult Detective Omnibus, a non-Hellboy series from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (who did a number of excellent Hellboy novels) about exactly what it sounds like and so much more than you’d guess; not only is Joe a Golem (spoiler: know how most fantasy fiction forgets golems are explicitly Jewish? Mignola and Golden don’t forget shit.) and occult detective, but he’s one in a flooded, Venezian alternate New York, in the same world as Mignola’s series Baltimore, set in a version of our world where World War I was canceled halfway through on account of vampires.
It’s a lot, is my point, easily as much as Hellboy without being As Much As Hellboy, if you get my drift, and I recommend the hell out of it.

So that’s me this week, what about you all? What other kinds of spiritual maintenance-technicians do you wish existed besides soul plumbers? Bones electricians? Lung gardeners? When was the last time you fought a t-rex for family and country? Why do you think asiago sucks so much? Lemme know in the comments!

Until next week, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamned masks, and order us some more paperclips.

–The Bageler

You never know how far from home you’re feeling
Until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling

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