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New Comics Haul Week Of 10.19.22

Well, my wife just called them ‘vampire seeds’ after mishearing me say I was going to have some sunflower seeds, so OBVIOUSLY that’s all I’m ever calling them again; frankly I’m surprised it took this long.

She also hates Brad Bellflower, the absolutely fictional founder of Apartments.com, with an incandescent loathing that would kill any three real people. I’ve gently confirmed that she understands he’s Jeff Goldblum playing a character, and she knows this, she just doesn’t accept it; according to her this is not an actor acting but rather “a fucking lie“, much as she insists that seahorses are not a kind of fish, but simply seahorses. I tried to set her up with a blog where she could vent these dearly held, deeply strange beliefs (much as I have with my Word Crimes series), but she rejected this idea, saying that “getting a dot com would make [her] no better than a common lying Goldblum”, and I honestly can’t get enough of a grip on that argument to refute it, so, uh, checkmate, I guess? It’s only now, years into this marriage, that I truly understand the old adage the Abraham Lincoln impersonator told us as he officiated our ceremony: marry for money, bid adieu to your honey; marry for confusion, preserve your union.

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When retired cop Hiraga Raizou gets a lucrative gig working for a shadowy government organization, he is in for a rude awakening. The first day on his new job, he comes across a grisly murder and a lone little girl who’s far from innocent. She’s Suzukaze Miharu, an 11-year-old master assassin — and his new partner! The arrangement is simple: she kills, he cleans up and hides any evidence. Sure, the pay is great, but how much blood is Raizou willing to get on his hands?

I don’t normally include back covers–when digital volumes of manga even bother to include them; looking at you, One Piece–because they’re usually just some copy and/or maybe a piece of character art, if that much, but I absolutely cannot get over how much I love the design on Candy & Cigarettes, Vol. 1‘s back cover, MAN that’s gorgeous. As opposed to the front cover, which I believe is probably supposed to make us at least a little uncomfortable and does its job admirably!
We all love not just a roaring rampage of revenge, but specifically one against those who are well-protected against the authorities, who are either too law-abiding (lol) or scared to touch them, and there’s nobody better to clear out that kind of corruption than someone that’s been on the inside. Just as Sakamoto Days proved, to my delighted surprise, to be the John Wick/Nobody counterpart to The Way Of The Househusband, I’m hoping Candy & Cigarettes will prove to be a kind of mirror Spy X Family, although the Lone Wolf & Cub/Road To Perdition parallels are obviously impossible to ignore.
Also, this is a small thing, but something about “first day on his new job” when the job is explicitly “a shadowy government organization” just absolutely tickles me for reasons I can’t quite pin down, it brings to mind like the mafia putting a ‘wish me a happy birthday’ sign on the back of one dude’s jacket when they go out to do a Legitimate Business to someone. Actually wait a second it just hit me:

A screenshot from the Resident Evil 2 Remake showing text superimposed over a bloodied letter, reading "Leon S. Kennedy, we're putting you on a very special case for your first assignment. Your mission is...to unlock your desk! The key to your success is in the initials of our first names. Input the letters in order of our desks. There are 2 locks--1 on each side of your desk. Make sure you get them both."
Honestly this is what the Raccoon City PD gets for moving so much to their Welcome Wagon Committee Fund from their In Case Obviously Evil Megacorp Breaks Bad Rainy Day Account

Head Wounds: Sparrow, By Brian Buccellato, Robert Johnson, John Alvey, Oscar Isaac, Jason Spire, Christian Ward, And Robert Johnson

Tangled up in the battle between Good and Evil, a crooked Louisiana detective with a higher purpose must psychically suffer the wounds of those he’s sworn to protect until he brings their assailants to justice. No one would call Leo a good person — much less a good cop. But when his best friend is shot in front of him, he wakes up with a hole in his own head that only he can see, and a host of mysterious strangers calling on him for action
Most people go about their daily lives ignoring or unable to see the divine battle for Good and Evil raging around them, but it has just become very very real for Leo. As angels and demons vie for the fate of humanity, he must choose a side or risk seeing everyone and everything he has ever known destroyed as the stakes get higher and higher.
As Leo sees the true faces of the people around him he must decide — will he do what’s best for him alone, or follow a higher purpose?

Wait I’m sorry, quick question, super brief clarification, maybe I had some corn in my ear; did I mishear you or did you say that Duke Leto Atreides of Caladan and then briefly of Arrakis needs me to buy a comic book for/from him? Well citizen I’ll tell you this much: I am in NO MOOD to turn in my Father Issues Card–I only have to cry during Fantastic Mr. Fox three more times before I earn enough points for a baseball mitt, which seems like an odd thing for them to offer considering how few cardholders have anyone to play catch with–and so I am going to do what Poe Dadmeron tells me to.

A still of Oscar Isaac in Dune saying 'A great man doesn't seek to lead; he is called to it. But if your answer is no, you'd still be the only thing I ever needed you to be: my son."

What’s really interesting here is that in addition to being part of the creative team, Oscar Isaac appears to also be…the protagonist??? Why don’t we get more of that? Let Donny Cates struggle with the Venom symbiote, gimme Erica Henderson and Ryan North as Squirrel Girl and Tippy Toe, I will not rest until the public sees Shu Sakuratani in a giant chicken suit, covered in scars and with attitude to match.
Naturally that was a joke but it’s still an interesting expression of a creator’s presence in their art; also yeah, it probably won’t hurt your sales numbers to put Moon Knight Himself on your cover.
Listen, Scumbag Caught Between Heaven And Hell Gives Them Both The Finger is a tried and true trope for a reason; we all love an underdog, we love someone who refuses to accept The System, and we love a character that’s morally flawed enough that we can relate to but still feel superior for him. I also personally love Bad Person Is Forced To Do Good Deeds–where my 99 Deeds For Eddie McDowd homies at–and I’m intrigued by the title’s implication that this is just the beginning of a larger story.

Hellboy: The Bones Of Giants, By Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Matt Smith, And Chris O’Halloran

When a startling discovery is made in Sweden, the B.P.R.D. sends Hellboy and Abe Sapien to investigate. What ensues is a wild adventure full of Norse legends, mythical creatures, and a threat that could bring not just Earth but the Nine Realms of Norse mythology to their knees.
Based on the illustrated novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, this hardcover collection brings readers into Hellboy’s fight against the Frost Giants with stunning art by Matt Smith (Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: Long Night at Goloski Station, Barbarian Lord, Folklords) and colors by Chris O’Halloran (Folklords, Black Panther, Ice Cream Man).
Collects Hellboy: The Bones of Giants issues #1-#4.

JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT HELLBOY WAS OVER TH–yeah no we knew Hellboy wasn’t over; we got that Sword Of Hyperboria coming up, we got House of Lost Horizons, we got Sir Edward Grey: Acheron, all the prequel B.P.R.D and Young Hellboy whatnot, which I have got mixed feelings about. And anyway this appears to be an adaptation of one of Christopher Golden’s Hellboy novels, which I almost read one of!
I’d be a little more worried about those parts all moving together, but Golden has been a longtime Hellboy collaborator with Mike Mignola and I more than trust their understanding of Big Red, and if this leads to more semi-original, non Muppet-Babies content I’m 100% here for it. Furthermore, I like that this A.) Is a standalone Thing That Happened One Time and B.) Puts HB in the mythological arena, where I think he really functions best.
Y’know it’s funny, I used to prefer Hellboy to Hellboy II: The Golden Army because the first was more tied into the Ogdru Jahad/Rasputin mythos that we weren’t tired of yet in 2005, and the sequel (while more fun) was steeped in the faerie-tale stuff, which is both where the comics ended up eventually anyway and where we’re leaning as a culture, not in the sIcK, tWiStEd fAiRy tAlEs way of the late 90’s/early 00’s, but the C.S. Lewis way that comes with experience and the eventual understanding that sincerity beats edginess and genuine mystery beats artificial darkness. I don’t think it would be stepping on too many toes to draw a line between Norse mytho-religious narrative and faerie tales; obviously colonial forces and translation-as-betrayal have made it almost impossible for us to interact with any version of them except the ones that we’ve sanitized and created and allowed to survive, but they share a sense of literal otherworldliness and the clear understanding that humans are not the only or the main players in the world. But that’s just it: Hellboy has a hoof in every world, and seeing how he navigates walking those boundaries is a very enticing idea. HELLBOY ESSAY OVER.

Hellboy: The Silver Lantern Club, By Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, Christopher Mitten, Ben Stenbeck, And Michhelle Madsen

His uncle and former member Simon Bruttenholm relates tales from his time with the Silver Lantern Club, which included Sir Edward Grey, Sarah Jewell, Lady Bai, and Major Singh, as they investigated the mysterious happenings in London near the end of the 19th century!
Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson expand the Hellboy universe with a new tale of strange spiritual happenings. They’re joined by artists Ben Stenbeck and Christopher Mitten, with colors by Dave Stewart.
Collects Hellboy: The Silver Lantern Club #1–#5.

HELLBOY ESSAY NOT OVER! It’s like reading the comics all over again!
I wasn’t aware until the blurb up there that this was a sort of anthology collection. Ordinarily that would annoy me but honestly I’m more than fine with the bits-and-pieces approach while Mike & Co. are working on whatever’s coming next, which they obviously, absolutely are; I’m just a humble dumdum that reads a lot, but even I know that you don’t put Liz Sherman in a damn prism and preserve her until the rise of the post-human successor species and not do something with that. You don’t do that, Mike.
These listed stories sound fun, and despite my 🫤 reaction to Sarah Jewell’s solo outing earlier this year I’m actually most excited for hers, because I think the short-form story is probably a better environment for her kinds of adventures and I’d really like to be able to appreciate a female–and LGTBQ+–main character set in this world after all these years of dudes sprinkled with like, dame-asides (or, in Kate Corrigan’s case, dame-icide). Obviously Liz got tons of page-time and rightly so, but her whole deal was a lack of agency in her own story, and Sarah won’t brook that shit for a second. Takes all kinds.

Hulk Vs. Thor: Banner Of War, By Donny Cates, Nadia Shammas, Martin Coccolo, And Nic Klein

Hulk and Thor have both undergone massive changes recently, but one thing remains constant — their heated rivalry! When mysterious circumstances bring them into conflict once more, will the God of Thunder be able to triumph against a Bruce Banner who can now control his rage? And will Iron Man regret coming between these two titans…even with his new Celestial Hulkbuster armor?! Celebrating the 60th anniversary of both characters, writer Donny Cates pits the stars of his two titles against one another in his biggest blockbuster yet — and that’s saying something! Key mysteries from HULK and THOR will be revealed, and this clash will have shocking consequences for the future of both characters! It’s a cataclysmic crossover destined to be a smash hit!
COLLECTING: Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War (2022) 1, Thor (2020) 25-26, Hulk (2021) 7-8

I…don’t think I was ever as excited for Christmas or a birthday or an impeachment hearing as I am for this book.
Both of the series whose lines meet here (and yes, I’m very annoyed by what that probably means for where it goes in my Comixology library) are by Donny Cates, of whose work on Redneck, Babyteeth and God Country I enjoyed tremendously, and who in the past year has rocketed into my automatic-buy list with his work in Thor, Doctor Strange, Crossover, and Venom; my dude simply does not miss, and he’s taken two characters that were previously very difficult to care about or identify with and made them heartbreakingly human in their lonely brokenness and terrifying in the shape of the empty spaces inside them, and what might come to occupy them.
All of which is very abstract; when we last saw Bruce Banner, he was using the Hulk’s body as a spaceship powered by hatred and about to collide with a newly-reforged Mjolnir, just as Thor is informed by a recently maybe-not-quite-deceased Odin that he can’t stop haunting his large himbo son because Valhalla has been destroyed, its gates quite specifically SMASHED.
So yeah, I think these two are gonna have words. By which I mean punches. I might actually legit make popcorn for this.

New Masters, By Shobo Coker and Shof Coker

Creators for Creators’ 2019 grant recipients, Nigerian brothers Shobo and Shof Coker, present New Masters, a groundbreaking blend of science fiction, adventure, drama, and vibrant Afrofuturism. In a striking vision of West Africa under the thumb of alien colonizers, a motley crew of outcasts find themselves caught up in a power struggle for control of an ancient artifact with immense power. 
Collects New Masters issues #1-6.

Afrofuturism and its Saturday-night persona Afropunk are on the rise, and for several good reasons:

  1. We’re finally pouring more resources into amplifying marginalized voices like they’ve always deserved; I worry that our system is far too broken to ever allow for a level playing field, but it’s certainly worth the effort to try.
  2. It frequently portrays familial, ecological, and societal models that allow balance and sustainability with the world in which it takes place, something audiences are desperate for in this low-rent Blade Runner bullshit we find ourselves living in. I’m a little worried that sounds patronizing–claiming that African civilizations are more ‘in touch with the earth’ or whatever is some white supremacist bullshit, just like it is with Indigenous people here in the U.S.–but what I mean is that a continent ravaged by the forces of virulent colonialism and capitalism are more equipped than any to push back against those ideas and envision other ways of life, many of which existed and thrived for millennia before fuckin’ Whitey™️ showed up.
  3. Most of it absolutely kicks ass, and even if it doesn’t, even if it’s Just Okay or outright Bad, then fuckin’, like…so??? Oppressed voices shouldn’t have to knock it out of the park every time just to be seen as ‘deserving’ as many swings as everyone else. To draw a bad comparison for which I hope everyone will forgive me, Captain Marvel was really, really Fine, right? Like it sure was a Marvel movie and there wasn’t much else to say about it, but at the time everyone acted like it proved the infeasibility of the female-led superhero movie, despite the fact that Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man got three movies each, and usually only one of a given trilogy was better than Fine. Captain Marvel shouldn’t have had to be great to justify its existence, and oppressed creators shouldn’t have to be shining beacons of literary genius to ‘earn’ a place in the conversation.
    (I know that was apples and oranges, but I wasn’t gonna use Black Panther as an example; Black Panther kicked ass despite or perhaps due to the fact that it wasn’t aimed at me, Whitey™️, like every other MCU movie is.)

As for this particular work, it’s got all the hallmarks of a great sci-fi story already: you know I love an ancient artifact of immense power, and a ragtag crew sells itself. But without suggesting it to be the case—per Point 3, New Masters can and should be and do whatever the hell it wants—I’m really most interested in how the concept of alien colonizers could be used as a mirror for non-Black people to actually Get It, that this is what imperialism is and does and looks like and leaves in its wake, and why nobody’s sad (at least on a political level) that the Queen died. Also, I tend to be less wordy on art because it’s so subjective but that cover is gorgeous, and given that this was such a small creative team I feel the chances are good that the inside will look just as fantastic, and I can’t wait to find out.

Radiant Black, Vol. 3: Rogues’ Gallery, By Higgins, Costa, Monti, Carey, Siegel, Clark, Holmes, Ferigato, Simeone, And Angulo

Alien sword guy? Dealt with. Best friend? Saved. Giant space war? A problem for another day. With all the big problems handled, Marshall is looking forward to some good old-fashioned downtime.
But the power of the Radiants won’t stay secret forever, and as his personal life starts to unravel, Marshall will face a gauntlet of new foes that threaten to put an early end to his superhero career!
Collects RADIANT BLACK #13-18

Definitely Not The Power Rangers are BACK baybee!
The cosmic-scale reveal of the previous volume is rad, there’s simply no denying it and I defy you to try, but having some human-scale challenges for our newly-formed, distrustful team of chromatic superfolk to deal with will give them a chance to grind some real EXP and bond as a group.
I always feel bad that I don’t have much to say about Radiant Black, but it’s the kind of problem that comes with being an exemplar of its kind; there are plenty of things I would compare to this as a point of reference in how I hoped they might develop, because it’s just really good and well-done, and I can’t wait to see these characters kick some villains’ asses and become a proper team.

Refrigerator Full of Heads, By Rio Youers, Tom Fowler, Craig A. Taillefer, And Bill Crabtree

The bloody follow-up to Hill House hit Basketful of Heads now available in one complete volume! For a year now, the mysterious axe that unleashed pandemonium on Brody Island during the hurricane of ’83 has waited at the bottom of the bay, but nothing that powerful stays buried forever. When vacationing couple Calvin Beringer and Arlene Fields find themselves on the wrong side of Brody’s unsavory elements, their beachcombing will turn up something a lot sharper than sea glass… Collects Refrigerator Full of Heads #1-6.

Time has gone kaboom (no relation) and I have no idea how long ago Basketful Of Heads was (I wanna say Medieval France???) but it feels like last week because it fuckin’ rocked and I am BEYOND thrilled that we’re getting a full-length followup. I don’t hope for answers—what the fuck is up with that axe? what happened to all the other heads it’s previously added to its roster of bitchy bowling balls? is that Mayor ever gonna get what’s coming to him? (read: beheaded)—but I do hope EVER so much to be gifted a set of new, horrifying questions to yell off the freeway overpass come the weekend. Do the honks mean ‘yes’, or ‘no’, or ‘sir please lower the snifter of Sharkleberry Finn and take off the Yautja mask’? Yet another question I may never get an answer to, but one I must ask.

Sensory: Life On The Spectrum: An Autistic Comics Anthology, Edited By Bex Ollerton

A colorful and eclectic comics anthology exploring a wide range of autistic experiences—from diagnosis journeys to finding community—from autistic contributors.
From artist and curator Bex Ollerton comes an anthology featuring comics from thirty autistic creators about their experiences of living in a world that doesn’t always understand or accept them. Sensory: Life on the Spectrum contains illustrated explorations of everything from life pre-diagnosis to tips on how to explain autism to someone who isn’t autistic, to suggestions for how to soothe yourself when you’re feeling overstimulated. With unique, vibrant comic-style illustrations and the emotional depth and vulnerability of memoir, this book depicts these varied experiences with the kind of insight that only those who have lived them can have.

So, we all know Autism-spectrum diagnoses are on the rise, both because our understanding and criteria are getting better and for the same reason being LGBTQ+ or left-handed or non-Christian or whatever are more “common” now: because now you’re less likely to be fucking murdered for it. Not NONE likely, unfortunately; violence against all of those groups is still very high before considering the point multipliers questions of gender and ethnicity, but it’s still better than it’s been in most places and certainly better than it has been here for most of history. (This is sadly untrue for those other groups, against whom violence is on the rise due to right-wing fearmongering; it’s a complex topic.) And then, much to everyone’s relief, I stopped talking about a game in which I have no skin!
The Autism spectrum is becoming particularly open and celebrated in many of the arts, and nowhere more so than in comics (at least that I’ve seen; I’m definitely biased toward exposure to that community), and it kicks ASS that this collection is here both to serve as a broad self-introduction from individuals in the community AND as a multi-author graphic memoir, which is filled with some of the best work in the medium (I particularly recommend Kate Beaton’s Ducks: Two Years In The Oil Sands, which I finished last night and was DESTROYED by). I’m ready to celebrate this automatically as an underrepresented group getting a chance to tell its own story, because it’s always, always worth trying to understand another person’s experience and perspective as best you can, but I bet it’s going to be gorgeous and fun as hell, too.

If This Book Exists, You’re In The Wrong Universe (John Dies At The End, Book Four)

If the broken neon signs, shuttered storefronts, and sub-standard housing didn’t tip you off, you’ve just wandered into the city of “Undisclosed”. You don’t want to be caught dead here, because odds are you just might find yourself rising from the grave. That hasn’t stopped tourists from visiting to check out the unusual phenomena that hangs around our town like radioactive fallout. Interdimensional parasites feeding on human hosts, paranormal cults worshipping demonic entities, vengeful teenage sorcerers, we’ve got it all.
Did I mention the possessed toy? It’s a plastic football-sized egg that’s supposed to hatch an adorable, colorful stuffed bird when a child “feeds” it through a synchronized smartphone app. What’s actually inside is an otherworldly monstrosity that’s enticing impressionable wayward youth into murdering folks and depositing their body parts inside the egg as if it’s a hungry piggy bank to trigger the end of the world.
That’s where Dave, John, and Amy come in. They face supernatural threats so the rest of us don’t have to―and sometimes even earn a couple of bucks to so do. But between the bloody ritual sacrifices and soul-crushing nightmares, our trio realizes this apocalypse is way above their pay grade.

John did in fact Die At The End–died several times actually–but that hasn’t stopped him, Dave, and Amy from coming back for a fourth round against the shit that collects on the bottom of the universe’s shoe. I’ve been a JDATE fan since before the first book was even a book, published in web-serial format on Jason Pargin’s (then under the nom-de-dong and author-insert-character David Wong) own website, back in the Cracked Was Still Good days of the Internet.
All of these books are fantastic, each one reframing a genre of horror story (Lovecraftian/conspiracy, zombie apocalypse, and kiiiiiiind of faerie-tale/multiversal horror, respectively) with a distinct mythology and aesthetic, relatable characters, realistic depictions of depression and addiction and how the average person would deal with the stresses of having been through several cosmic horror reveals, and dick jokes. Even my notoriously fickle wife, whose general stance on most things is that they “aren’t even that good”, loves these and has had me read them to her at bedtime several times each, including a run-up earlier this year.
If my thoughts and the blurb above intrigue you, if you’re a fan of horror/comedy/social commentary/dick-jokes, I strongly endorse you checking out both the first three books and this one, although this will doubtless be mostly standalone, as the others have been.

Well this has certainly been what we in the business call “entirely too long” and “probably for no one” and “you’re fired”, and you’re welcome.
What about you all, what did you get this week? What unlikely appliance have you filled with severed human melons? If you think about it, aren’t we all piloting spaceships made of meat that smash their way through the universe? What have you done for Oscar Isaac today? Lemme know in the comments!
Until next week, be good to yourselves, be good to each other, wear your goddamn masks, and gimme some of those vampire seeds.

–The Bageler

Mom and pop
They will fuck you up
For sure

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