- The Autumnal
The disgraced punk-as-hell badass daughter of a small coastal town returns upon her mother’s death with her rad daughter Syb–wait, sorry, her daughter–
You can probably guess the bones and roots of the story based on the cover; there’s a Dark Secret, there’s Something Wrong In The Woods, The Children Are In Danger, etc., and it does all of those well enough, but honestly Kat and Sybil are much more interesting, fleshed-out characters than the story really knows what to do with, and I recommend checking this title out on their merits alone. (Fortunately, that’ll be easy; much like last month’s Engineward, this collection was OUTRAGEOUSLY priced at drop and is now significantly reduced and well worth what they’re asking.)
- Thor By Donny Cates, Vol. 2: Prey
Look it’s hard to discuss the nature of this volume without spoiling The Thing of it, but allow me to say this: the previous volume dealt with the Black Winter, which is depicted as the Kelvin-zero heart of entropy given a form that hates you, it was terrifying, and in this volume Donny managed to make a man with a walking stick who has been pushed too far SIGNIFICANTLY scarier than the darkness behind the stars. This volume also deals with some of Thor’s history as a character, all of which is complete news to me and presented in a way that’s very accessible if you’re coming to it cold like I did, but also plays fundamentally into the grievance of the villain, which, spoiler, he’s…not as wrong as he could be, although I can’t condone the amount of stabbing he’s doing about it.
- Dai Dark, Vol. 1
I…truly don’t even know where to begin with Dai Dark, in the very best way, and it is a comfort that the Mangasplaining crew–industry experts, people whose literal job is to understand comics–were at just as much of a lovestruck loss as I was.
Okay it’s uh, a vaguely-defined far future, and much as in The Locked Tomb, much of the world revolves around bones, but also around meat, and just death in general. A boy named (?) Meatball Spaghetti (??) has a living skeleton-spacesuit, kinda (???) and is besties with an unkillable woman (????) who can explode people just by touching them and then eats their deaths/maybe souls, which look like skull-shaped chicken drumsticks (?????)
The book is fundamentally a comedy, with these characters wandering around doing mostly nothing in particular, makin’ sandwiches, going shoppin’, absolutely slaughtering entire spaceships full of people with dark powers that are never explained, goin’ to school, y’know, normal stuff. It’s deeply strange and pretty visually unpleasant on purpose and unceasingly violent in a way so ridiculous that it’s impossible to take seriously. It most certainly is not for everyone, but it is bonkers and horrifying and I am PRETTY ANNOYED that I have to wait until March for the next volume.
- Delicious In Dungeon, Vol. 9
What is the purpose of the dungeon, and of all dungeons? What lies at its heart and calls to our heroes in their sleep? Is the Lunatic Magician behind more than we thought? What does it all have to do with Laios’ sister? SHUT UP, WHO CARES, LET’S LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MONSTROS DELICIOUS.
Seriously though this is a lore-heavy volume which is fine, but it doesn’t skimp on the shit we care about, the reason we come to this book: naturalist studies of monsters-as-animals in their element, and how to murder, cook, and eat them.
- Kaijumax, Vol. 3: King Of The Monstas (R)
Who’s up for a good old-fashioned MONSTER PRISON-GANG WAR, and who will control the trade of uranium and other drugs in K-Max when the dust settles? Will it be the Cryptids, who are DEFINITELY not thinly-veiled white supremacists? The Robots, who seek only to live in peace and abstain from violence in communion with the Cloud but also reeeeaaaaaaaaaally wanna go full Ultrazord on some asses? Or the kaiju led by THE TERRIBLE APE-WHALE and his tiny disaster son Woofy? Where does the Creature From Devil’s Creek–a poor wee goatum what walketh on him hinders–fit into all of this? AND WHAT ABOUT THE CORRUPTION AT THE VERY HEART OF KAIJUMAX, which may or may not have something to do with the FRIGGIN’ MOON? Man these books are great. Also! There’s a monster-themed Hamilton parody in this volume. Myabe I should’ve led with that. I’m bad at this.
- Spy X Family, Vol. 6
NOW NATURALLY, we the readers have asked: Is there like…literally any other spy in this country? Is it just Loid? Just one little guy running around? As it transpires: No, there is at least one other one, code named Nightfall, and OH MAN does hers luff Agent Twilight, she thinks he is just the BUNNY’S BUTTONS is what, and also thinks this mission will be a perfect chance to win him over. Now I hate a homewrecker story as much as anybody, but in fairness she does believe that Loid and Yor’s marriage is just a bit of spycraft and that he’s fair game. What’s NOT a fair game (nice segue, Bageler) is the MURDER-TENNIS TOURNAMENT they have to compete in for the mission, G-Gundam style, if the Gundams had played tennis instead of punching each other and being a bunch of uncomfortable stereotypes.
- Eternals, Vol. 1: Only Death Is Eternal
This was my first exposure to The Eternals, and the only reason I took the plunge was because as far as I’m concerned my man Kieron can do no wrong, and while I enjoyed this I kind of felt like I didn’t really Get It, like some essential mechanism of the story was escaping me, so I checked with the foremost authority on the subject and my suspicions were confirmed: the Eternals are actually pretty boring, and this is maybe their greatest strength?
The question about them is always “What were they doing while Carol Danvers went full chronofascist/Venom symbiotes invaded books they had no business in/the Hulk met God”, and as with all things there are two answers: the Watsonian (in-world) is that they’re so old, that they’ve done the world-in-peril things so many times for so long, that they can’t engage it with anything like urgency; it’s like the weather to them, and it’s much easier to wait for the wind to pass than it is to try to punch it. (Although, Ikaris would probably give a respectable effort.) The Doylian (real-world, authorial) explanation is that if they’re too useful then 1.) No foe could be an interesting challenge to to them, and 2.) They would render the X-Men, Avengers, Alpha Flight, and every other non-Eternal hero-group useless.
And this is where their value lies: in them being so far above even the superpowered concerns of the Marvel universe that they kind of loop back around to being almost-mundane, and focus more on their relationships and extended family dynamic in ways that are extremely relatable; yeah yeah Silver Surfer, yeah yeah Mole Man and his Mole Monsters, can we focus for longer than five seconds on how Gilgamesh never paid me back those twenty Persian daric he borrowed in 540 BCE and now he can’t because they don’t exist anymore so no I will not “let it go”, thank you.
- Witch Watch, Vol. 2: A Friendly Scrum
Now remember: Witch girl 🧙 luff ogre boy 👹! But ogre boy is not here for love , only for DUTY 😤, only for PROTECT WITCH GIRL 👊. (And witch girl can still love ogre boy 😍 in safety).
BUT THEN: A CHALLENGER APPEARS 🤺. A new and handsome CROW BOY 🦆 (shut up there’s no ecrowji) arrives because witch girl’s parents 👨👩👧 think she needs a second guardian 💪, which is fair ’cause like, Moi’s super cool 😎 but he’s also like fifteen or some shit 👶.
Anyway this series continues to be extremely fun and cute and funny, AS I WOULD HOPE MY EMOJI CONVEY.
- Kaijumax, Vol. 4: Scaly Is The New Black (R)
Hoboy, this uh–like look this is an upsetting series, it’s supposed to be, it’s about a thing that destroys people, but woof. It’s still PLENTY fun, but as the title indicates, this volume focuses on women in prison, some in their 157th trimester of pregnancy, some with addiction issues involving black milk that imparts the starry wisdom of the universe, some forced to sell their bodies to survive (that’s not a euphemism; if I meant sex work I would say sex work), and all economically disadvantaged and done wrong by men and by the system.
But it’s fun! It has to be, because monstrous though they may be the inmates are fundamentally human (because the author is human), and humanity’s greatest strength and weakness have always been our ability to adapt to almost any circumstance given time, to find a way to make a life and continue to be a person despite systems and surroundings intentionally designed to murder their souls.
- The Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Becoming
Prior to this, my only experience with Mr. Thing was when he dicked Batman over after the latter agreed to help him, but assured as I was that this title would be a return to the character’s horror…ROOTS???, the bet seemed safe, AND IT WAS. This new gentleman bearing the mantle of the Green has got some SCARY problems, not just with waking up with no memory of where he is, how he got there, or what he’s been doing, but a pale presence lurking in the oil fields of Mexico that won’t rest until wipe ol’ Swampers off the face of the fucking earth. It’s terrifying and it rules, hard recommend.
- Kaijumax, Vol. 5: The Orange Mile
Ahhhhhh, finally, what this series has been missing: Pokémon as an allegory for both dogfighting and the catastrophic rate at which innocent prisoners are wrongfully executed in the United States of America.
But also a bunch of fun stuff about a team of defense lawyers on the Astral plane who are definitely not supposed to be Team Rocket, an evil volcano gets what’s coming to him, and the Devil himself visits Kaijumax intent, in his own way, on righting wrongs.
- Dungeon People, Vol. 1
Straight up: I did not like this book. It took an interesting premise–a hero in a dungeon accidentally breaks into the skeleton-warriors’ breakroom while one of them is reheating fish in the microwave, Susan, and gets recruited into helping run the dungeon–and gave us a protagonist who wasn’t interested in participating and overshadows everyone else by being ultra-powerful, and as a result we don’t get to engage with the setting or other characters at all.
It’s entirely possible that there’s something I’m missing, but I think the creator mixed two different things they wanted to work with but didn’t stop to think if they’d go together, and so both got ruined.
- Spy X Family, Vol. 7
This series is so fluffy and slice-of-life that it can be jarring when we get a reminder that there is a main plot going, as vaguely-outlined as it may be, and so it was something of a shock when Loid actually meets his target , the father of Sy-On Boy Damian Desmond, for the first time, and proceeds to use his every skill to grow close to him; he has to do this because y’know Anya, she hasn’t uh, really…distinguished herself academically in the way we’d all hoped and used that as pretext to befriend the boy and embed the Forgers into his family’s social circle. In fairness, Anya is only four years old, and I’m disinclined to blame a four-year-old psychic orphan for jibbin’ a fib because she was scared she wouldn’t get adopted if they knew she wasn’t six; she is fine with being thought of as a stupid six-year old, and the older I get the more I respect that.
- Thor By Donny Cates, Vol. 3: Revelations
God don’t you hate it when you’re finally getting a grip on how to mourn your father–who was also your god–and also live and lead your people–his people–in a world without him, and suddenly he’s not dead anymore? PICK A LANE, OLD MAN
This volume is, for me, the low point of Donny’s run, with the main story being relatively short and the back half of the book being made up of one-shots of varying length, theme and quality, but it’s important to note that when I say “this is the worst book in this series”, it’s the equivalent of saying “this is the worst episode of Ted Lasso“, still well worth your time and of the second-highest quality.
- The Book Of Fun – Russ Frushtick
A look at, and here I quote, ‘the history of having a good time’ by the tallest host on one of my favorite video game podcasts! I will be honest, for I owe my readers nothing less than the truth unless I think of something funnier, The Book of Fun is absolutely gorgeous (illustrated by the IMPOSSIBLE Sonny Ross) and well worth your attention as an object d’art, but I found the actual content–short entries on the histories of various Funs–to be pretty light and unsatisfying. HOWEVER: I’ve concluded that this is my fault; I was hoping for a more thorough, comprehensive guide basically because I wanted one, not because I really had any reason to expect one.
That said, it does offer a beautifully illustrated and fairly broad, if not particularly deep, collection of good-time activities that can serve as a great jumping-off point for further reading and research, and that’s fair enough; it’s a little bit of everything, much of which was completely new to me.
- Rooster Fighter, Vol. 1 ⭐️TOP MONTHLY RECOMMENDATION⭐️
I got to read a chapter of this for free in the VIZ 2022 Manga Sampler (which gets my unqualified recommendation; it’s hard to get better value for money than ‘free’) and it is…such an unbelievable cross-section of truly bonkers and absolutely impeccable, top-of-class skill and quality in both art and storytelling. Sweet beans what a book.
Okay uh, so, you know those Wandering Samurai stories, your Usagi Yojimbo and Lone Wolf And Cub and similar? Those rule, right? This is one of those! Except the samurai in question is a rooster. And instead of like, brigands and corrupt daimyos and whatnot, he’s in our modern world and fighting giant fucking monsters that as far as I’ve been able to discern are what everyday people transform into when an unexpressed desire, stress or anxiety overcomes the limits of their rational minds? And instead of a boy on rollerblades with a golden bat, they get a rooster who seems??? to have Dragon Ball Z-style powers to beat them back into human form. It’s wild and takes itself 10,000% seriously while also being hilarious and wonderfully sincere, it’s amazing, open a new tab and order a copy in your medium of choice right now.
- The Way Of The House Husband, Vol. 8
IT’S A DONUT-CART TURF WAR, MOTHERFUCKERS, AND TATSU IS HERE TO ENSURE THE PEOPLE OF HIS NEIGHBORHOOD GET QUALITY BAKED GOODS IF IT’S THE LAST FUCKING THING HE DOES.
This series has gone through an interesting arc; the first two volumes were nothing short of brilliant (see my review of Vol. 1 here) and was rightfully the frothing talk of the charts and podcasts, and then there was a noticeable…not ‘decrease’ in quality, but a leveling-off, certainly, and it became something that was still very much enjoyable and well worth reading, but no longer the stuff of comb-the-upcoming-release-calendar, must-read-on-release-day fever. And now it seems to have settled nicely into that groove and found its confidence there, allowing it to branch out and start telling more kinds of wonderfully dumb stories like this one. I like what it’s become, and I hope it stays this way for a good long time.
- Dai Dark, Vol. 2
Okay finally things are staring to make sense; see there’s a Space Rumor going around that whoever possesses Meatball Spaghetti’s human bones will have their greatest wish granted. Also he and his living skeleton-backpack-spacesuit get a spaceship shaped like a giant dog, and they go shopping using the bones they’ve collected from everyone who’s tried to kill them as money. That explains everything!
- Thor By Donny Cates, Vol. 4: God Of Hammers
There is something…living inside Mjolnir. Something contained within it. Something that wants out. And if it has to, it’ll go through Thor to find its freedom.
Look you guys know my thoughts on Donny and his oeuvre: YES PLEASE, and this both continues that general trend and is a sharp upturn from the minor disappointment of half of Vol. 3 being one-shots of varying quality. This also leads into the Banner of War crossover event with Donny’s UNBELIEVABLE Hulk series, which you should be reading. Go do it. I’m counting on you. Dare you disappoint your Bageler???
- Silk, Vol. 0: The Life And Times Of Cindy Moon
If you’re like me, I assume that Cindy Moon was one of the few parts of Spider-Verse that you managed to enjoy, and this collection of her 2015 first-outing series confirms that our suspicions were correct: she rules, and we are lucky to have her. This is her origin story (surprisingly busy spiders, bunker imprisonment, family secrets, etc.) and her first set of adventures and it kicks ass, go check it out.
(Nota Bene: in addition to these trades there’s a Silk: Out Of The Spider-Verse three-volume omnibus that attempts to condense and streamline the fairly complicated reboot-history of Cindy’s I think five??? series prior to the 2022 series, and offer additional context with issues of Amazing Spider-Man; I had already bought the individual trades when those came out, but they’re clearly the much more elegant option and probably better page-for-price.)
- Maniac Of New York, Vol. 2: The Bronx Is Burning
So by the creators’ own admission MONY is, among other things, partially an attempt to give Jason the Manhattan vacation he (and we) deserved and never got, and Vol. 2 asks the question: what if he also got to star in Billy Madison and Angels In The Outfield by visiting an elementary school and a baseball stadium? It is HORRIFYING
Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that the end of this volume marks a pretty fundamental change in the structure of this world, so we don’t have to worry about endless sequelitis and diminishing returns, and I sincerely have no idea where the hell Vol. 3 will go, but I’m excited and terrified to find out.
…I’m gonna have to wait a while though, because the news broke last week that Aftershock Comics, purveyors of such fine and fucked-up funnybooks as Babyteeth, The Kaiju Score, Bunny Mask, I Breathed A Body, Chicken Devil, Dark Ark, and Maniac Of New York has filed for bankruptcy and may not even be able to pay its creators what it currently owes them, let alone anything new. Presumably, its portfolio of titles will be sold off and hopefully most of its currently-ongoing series (like MONY) will be able to continue in some fashion. Good luck, gang.
- Silk, Vol. 1: Sinister
OKAY, Cindy’s doing great, she’s out of that bunker, she’s trying to find her lost family, she’s doing crimes with Black Cat–wait what? Wait why is Peter Parker mad at her? WAIT WHAT’S A GOBLIN KING AND WHY IS IT MAD AT HER? OH GOD HOW IS A GIRL SUPPOSED TO WORK FOR J. JONAH JAMESON UNDER THESE CONDITIONS
- Silk, Vol. 2: The Negative
OooooOOOoohhhhh, Cindy’s got a ~spectral boooYYYYyyfriend~! Oh also her family has been hanging out in the Negative Zone this whole time, she should probably go get them.
I’ll be honest: this one was still fun, but at this point the 2015-2017 series began to…m-melt in quality, at least for me. Still worth reading! Just with somewhat diminishing returns.
- Silk, Vol. 3: The Clone Conspiracy
Okay more honesty this one sucks, I’ve always hated the Clone Saga bullshit, I’ve never spoken to anyone who liked it and have heard at least one person sing about how they didn’t.
J. Jonah Jameson’s dead wife and adopted daughter come back though! Sure! I’m certain that’ll be a permanent change and have a meaningful impact on the ongoing story. Whatever, you’re fine to skip this one, I’m sorry to say so, it doesn’t feel good, but this was a slog and you could be reading other things.
- Silk, Vol. 1: Threats And Menaces
This one kicks ass though! New series, new writer who’s actually a dame of Korean extraction, like Cindy! And Cindy herself is getting a brand-new start, working for J. Jonah Jameson at his new, shouting-filled news outlet, Threats And Menaces! And furtherm–OH GOD GIANT CAT DEMON KILLING GANGSTERS, WHY.
I don’t wanna straighten up
I don’t wanna fly right
I just wanna drive around a while
And bust a couple things up with the bad kids