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Key: (R) = Re-Read, (B) = Read To Wife At Bedtime, No Author = Comic
- A Galaxy Next Door, Vol. 1
Short take: a manga artist accidentally marries a space princess! Look, who among us, okay? Let they without whoopsie-spouse throw the first stone.
Long take, see here for my full review!
- Chainsaw Man, Vol. 10: A Dog’s Feelings
Okay look, CM has always been a deeply weird, horrifying, frequently-confusing title, but this is where things truly go off the rails. At almost no point in Vol. 10 was I entirely sure what was happening, but this actually wasn’t a bad thing; it’s clear that something is going on that works mechanically, and since Denji has always been our POV character we’re confused because he is, and the wheels turn and the bus rolls as they’re supposed to even if we’re facing backwards in our seats.
As for the actual events in question, okay, so, SPOILERMakimaSPOILER is pulling some kind of coup, I think??? What I know for sure is that major players are dying left and right in new and horrifying ways and it’s clearly leading to something, but what that might be and who’ll be in charge of it I couldn’t begin to guess.
- The Department Of Truth, Vol. 3: Free Country
This volume joins the ranks of Stephen King’s The Mist and The Secret History Of Twin Peaks as one of the few books I’ve ever had to stop reading because I was too goddamn scared. ADMITTEDLY, all three of those were in the middle of the night and I was in the wiggly grip of the SLEEP MADNESS, where that which is probably not real becomes that which possibly is real, and that which is a sleeping wife’s gentle snore becomes that which COULD BE a tiny chainsaw wielded by some kind of stealthy bed-bear, creeping across the duvet with malice aforethought.
Vol. 3 sees Cole and Lee learning the…truth??? sure, why not, about two of the things that freak me the fuck out most: the Mothman and alien abduction (feat. the Men In Black), and ends with the revelation of the existence of…well, you’ll have to read it to find out, won’t you? But let’s just say if you comb the upcoming Comixology release calendar the way I do, the title of Vol. 4 indicates that war is coming, if it isn’t already here.
- The Laundry Files, #4: The Apocalypse Codex – Charles Stross
Bob Howard’s back baybeeeee and this was one of the better installments for me, because it involves a couple of my favorite things: monsters from the godless black floor of the darkest sea, and Weird Religion, in this case specifically large-scale, influential fundamentalist “””Christians”””” (sarcasm-quotes for several reasons) working from texts that take some ah, shall we say liberties biblical canon, including some unorthodox communion Hosts and a more intense focus on human sacrifice and references to the Sleeper In The Pyramid than you typically find in the NIV or the KJV.
- Radiant Black, Vol. 2: Team-Up
I liked this one, maybe not as much as the first one, but in a different way because it’s telling a distinctly different kind of story: one of titular team-ups, one of exposition and worldbuilding and stake-setting and a TWIST and promises of things to come, including the set-up for the series’ first spin-off, Radiant Red, for which I am very excited. It’s good! If you liked the first one you’ll like this one!
- Astra Lost In Space, Vol. 2: Star Of Hope
More kids lost in space! No, not that one, sadly. Character development and similar!
- Astra Lost In Space, Vol. 3: Secrets
Seems like SOMEBODY isn’t being entirely HONEST here aboard the MYSTERY SPACESHIP IN SPACE. (Content warning for gender and body-issues, but honestly I think it’s handled better here than in most western media I’ve seen.)
- A Witch’s Printing Office, Vol. 5
Listen: Mika loves owning and operating Protagonist Press, but she wants to go the hell home to Japan from this fantasy-ass nonsense, and it is time to figure out how. Oh! Also: ASSASSINS!
- Spy X Family, Vol. 3
In this volume we meet Yor’s awful brother Yuri, who is pretty explicitly in romantic (and obsessive) love with her, it’s the worst, I don’t know if it’s one of those things where the creators intend for it to be off-putting and it just reads as failed comedy, but woof. Oh also he’s a rising star in the national security force that Loid actively bamboozling. Probably should’ve mentioned that. I’m bad at this.
- Hawkeye By Fraction & Aja: The Saga Of Barton And Bishop
So that Hawkeye progrum on the Mouse Channel was pretty okay, right? Certainly no less so than most of its superheroic offerings! Reader, I say with no disrespect to the show: everything you liked about it came from these comics, and they have 600% more of all of it. Except Vincent Donofrio, I guess, but we can hardly lay that at the creators’ feet; I think he was busy getting chomped by velociraptors at the time. These comics are the answer to the question “Why the hell does anyone care about Hawkeye”, and I encourage you to come a-callin’ and ask for yourselves.
- Killadelphia, Vol. 3: Home Is Where The Hatred Is
Listen, and please understand that I don’t mean this with any flippancy or dismissiveness: This comic book has Vampire Thomas Jefferson showing up when Vampire John Adams “wussed out” and “stopped murdering people” and “couldn’t reconcile his belief in democracy with forced mass vampirism”, and if those don’t have you clicking Buy Now (or at least Send Me A Free Sample), I have no idea what will.
- One Piece, Vol. 6: The Oath
PIRATE RESTAURANT, YOU GUYS. It’s as great as it sounds, both in your mind and on Pirate Yelp, which one has to imagine is called…KELP??? Also we meet Soji, who’s the most realistic chef in media this side of The Bear because he hates everyone, says ‘passion’ every four seconds, and smokes constantly.
- The Laundry Files, #5: The Rhesus Chart – Charles Stross
BRITISH MAGIC SECRET SERVICE VERSUS WAMPIRES!
What, you need more? Ugh, fine. Bob Howard discovers a disturbing trend–in the statistical sense–in the occurrence of rapid-onset dementia caused by a brain-eating parasite that’s attracted to people who do magic without the proper precautions, and declares a Magical Public Health Emergency; what he doesn’t know is that this specific parasite is also the mechanism by which vampires feed, the old correlation-causation fuckerment. Oh also that’s happening because there’s a new glaunch of vampires who discovered how to get fangly by accident and are embedded in England’s highest levels of banking and commerce, and they are being indiscreet about their dinner plans. Oh also his wife might be leaving him because she’s in charge of a violin that wants to fucking murder him because he’s inhabited by the ghost of his boss, who was not in any way human.
Look series like this tend to…stack things; Harry Dresden starts out as a wizard private eye and ends up as a wizard private eye who’s the personal knight of Queen Mab of the Winter Fae, and also the warden of a magical prison-island that could explode and take out all of Illinois, and is also “starborn”, which allows him to punch monstros, and also a Warden of the White Council. Bob Howard started out as an IT goon where the ‘t’ stood for ‘thaumaturgical’, and is presently a magic civil service secretary possessed by/of The Eater Of Souls, and is married to a woman who summons and kills ghosts with a violin made of human bones that houses a demon. Oh also one time he had an affair with a fish-woman. ONE LEADS A VARIED LIFE, OKAY.
- Astra Lost I’m Space, Vol. 4: Revelation
I’ve been pretty flip about these books because they’re fun and also thin in the way that manga tend to be, but uh, WOW does Some Shit Come To Light in this volume, hooboy. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that we finally learn why all of the kids’ parents are involved in the same circles and why their relationships to them are SO fucked up, and it really ties all of the clues and questions together very nicely.
- In The Land Of Leadale, Vol. 1
This is a pretty straightforward ‘trapped in an MMORPG’ isekai structurally, but it’s more thoughtful than most of them. For example the protagonist doesn’t randomly wake up in the game-world, she’s bedridden and disabled due to an illness, and games like this are where she lives her life, and very successfully so; she’s an entirely overpowered end-game character specifically because she plays this game her every waking moment, and as soon as she realizes what’s up, she sets to work putting her skills and resources to work making her new world a better place for everyone who lives in it, not just herself. The fact that she’s so invested in and devoted to this world and its inhabitants makes a refreshing change from the overpowered isekai protagonist who constantly reminds us and themselves that they’re in a game and these aren’t real people, because to her, it’s immaterial; they’re real to her whether they’re NPCs or actual players.
Anyway, there’s obviously room for it to grow, but it strikes me initially as that rare bird: a very familiar, comfortable thing done well, done differently, and most important done thoughtfully.
- Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 2
To fight monstros, dude must BECOME monstro. Then: victory??? Kinda, but also: hide from friends, who will straight-up murder him re: becoming monstro. BUT BEING MONSTRO MAKE HIM SO GOOD AT JOB! This is The Struggle™️, this is The Bus™️.
- Nita Haws’ Nightmare Blog, Vol. 1: The Fire Next Time
SPOOKUMS ABOUND in old Balti-More, and Nita Hawes–one-time paramour of Jimmy Sanger from Killadelphia just yonder–is here to stop them VIA THE POWER OF BLOGGING. Also solid investigative work that eventually leads her to confront a DEMON POSSESSING A CORPSE. This is pretty fucked up in a great way, and shares a lot of DNA with Killadlephia while still having its own distinct, terrifying flavor, and expanding (as Killadelphia eventually would) into other weirder, non-vampirous monstros and ghostums and such.
- Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome To Lovecraft (R)
Time for a run-up, since Locke & Key: The Golden Age would come out shortly! You don’t need me to tell you that Joe hill is the Actual Man, but let me assure you that this tale of a family returning to the ancestral manse following a tragedy only to discover much darker secrets remains as deeply upsetting and expertly-done as always. I still don’t like the art! But that’s a me-thing, nothing to do with Gabriel Rodriguez.
- Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San, Vol. 2
Honda sells more books to people, deals with corporate and breaks her fucking back trying to hoist a stack of glossy American trade paperbacks!
It’s a slice-of-life series, and the thing about those is that one slice is generally going to be very like another, so if you like the tase of that bread, you’re gonna have good sandwiches alllllll week.