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Mouse Guard heats up at halfway point

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Mouse Guard #4 (of 6)

David Petersen

Archaia Studios Press

$3.50 US

**** 1/2 (out of five)






The ancient order of the Mouse Guard has been betrayed in an unthinkable way — by one of its own.


Three brave Guardsmice — Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon — have uncovered a plot against the town of Lockhaven and followed a path of clues to the town of Barkstone. As Kenzie and Saxon provide a diversion, Lieam sneaks away to find more pieces to solve this puzzle and ends up tricking his way into the secret militia they were seeking.


The distraction proves costly for Kenzie and Saxon, however, as they are captured and left hanging by their ankles outside the city gates.


Issue #4 of this lavishly illustrated miniseries sees the strung up duo rescued by a old mouse named Celanawe, whose allegiance is suspect, while Lieam gets in over his head as the militia quickly becomes an army. All this and the mouse betrayer is revealed! Well, sort of.


While the premise of Mouse Guard (sword-wielding mice) may seem curious, creator David Petersen blends some of the best elements of fantasy storytelling to come up with a series that is innovative, imaginative and a true treat for the eyes and mind.






Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #1 (of 3)

Manny Trembley & Eric A. Anderson

Image Comics

$3.40/$2.99 US

****



“Why does every sad story have to start with a dame?”


With that line we are introduced to Sam Noir: Samurai Detective and get instantly swept up in the case of his life: Who killed the girl he loves and why?


After Jasmine, the girl Sam has been anonymously hired to shadow (and whom he has fallen for) is shurikened down in cold blood right in front of him, the man in him seeks revenge, while the detective in him tries to find out who did it and why.


The first chapter is so vivid you’ll swear you can see the red blood spray — and it’s a black-and-white book!


With an unusual, but seamless, combining of genres, creators Manny Trembley & Eric A. Anderson have fused Sam Spade and Lone Wolf into a sword-swinging gumshoe with an attitude and placed him in a story that’ll have you turning pages faster than a katana through a bad guy’s gut.






Cross Bronx #1, 2 (of 4)

Michael Avon Oeming & Ivan Brandon

Image Comics

$3.35/$2.99 US

****



Rafael Aponte is having a crisis of faith.


It’s not that his faith in God is gone, he lost that ages ago having seen the darkness of humanity firsthand as a New York City police detective.


What’s troubling Rafael now is his faith in himself and in his own sanity.


After getting called in to investigate the brutal slaughter of a bunch of gangbangers, Rafael and his partner Tico Velez locate the murder weapon and track it back to a long dead cop. When they track down the cop’s widow, Rafael discovers that she has suffered another family trauma. Her daughter, 19-year-old Marta Ortiz, was drugged, raped and hurled from a moving car out onto the Cross Bronx Expressway. Marta is now comatose and paraplegic, while her mother is cagey and appears to be dabbling with black magic.


Meanwhile, the same killer — revealed to be an athletic young woman — guns down another group of gangbangers and in turn nearly gets Rafael and Tico killed.


Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Thor) and Ivan Brandon (NYC Mech, Ruule) weave a complex and compelling crime story together with characters of substance and come out with a superb miniseries.






Mystery In Space #1 (of 8)

DC Comics

$5.50/$3.99 US

*** 1/2



Captain Comet is dead… isn’t that Weird?


I suppose more correctly that should be The Weird.


As the late Captain’s love interest, the warrior referred to simply as Eye, and his bulldog Tyrone reminisce about Comet’s life and adventures (conveniently getting readers up to speed), the man himself is describing his gruesome death. In the fallout of the Rann-Thanagar War and Infinite Crisis miniseries, the space-faring superhero is roasted alive by a blast of immense heat, only to find he’s not quite finished. Instead he reaches out with his last efforts and merges ever so briefly with a nearby energy being, the creature once known as The Weird.


The result is both dead men regaining corporeal form with a lot of explaining to do and a lot of lingering mysteries — delivering on this book title’s promise.


Industry legend Jim Starlin (Infinity Gauntlet, Cosmic Odyssey) delves back into the deepest parts of the DC Universe as both a writer and artist — along with Shane Davis, Matt Banning and Al Milgrom — in this solid foundation issue.






True Story, Swear To God #1

Tom Beland

Image Comics

$3.35/$2.99 US



*** 1/2

Tom Beland is a stranger in a strange land — and he’s never been so happy.


This ongoing autobiographical love story, about how California-native Beland moved to Puerto Rico to be with the woman of his dreams, starts off with a little summation and segues into how he copes with being a ‘gringo’ and an occasionally starving artist.


After daring all and moving in with Lily, Beland decides to break some other boundaries in his life — starting with collecting on a bunch of long-overdue paycheques. With an almost-perverse glee, Beland devises diverse strategies to guilt, harass and generally nuisance those who owe him. The result is a little more cash in his pockets and a chance to impress Lily with a home-cooked meal.


Beland’s work is wonderfully heartfelt and genuine. It’s nice to read a story about someone who isn’t angst ridden about finding the right person and losing them, or worse, never even finding them. True Story’s stranger in a strange land is not only happy, he’s funny and off to a fine start in his monthly debut.






The Trials Of Shazam #1 (of 12)

DC Comics

$4/$2.99 US

***


It’s time for a new Captain Marvel.


Hot on the heels of the Day Of Vengeance and Infinite Crisis crossover miniseries, Earth’s mightiest mortal is getting used to his new role as the keeper of the Rock of Eternity.


Without the aid of the rock’s former keeper, the wizard Shazam, Billy Batson is charged with both keeping a watchful eye for magical dangers that threaten the planet, and with stopping them.


But in this new era of magic, things don’t always work out that way they should and Billy finds himself transformed not just from a tween boy to Captain Marvel and back, but in a dramatic twist, into someone unfamiliar.


Writer Judd Winick and artist Howard Porter begin to set the stage for the future this DC Comics stalwart, but they’ve cut their work cut out for them to make the character once aptly dubbed “Captain Whitebread” relevant again.




jonathan.kuehlein@metronews.ca

 
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