Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie

Drawn & Quarterly

$21.95/$19.95 US (Hardcover)

**** (out of five)


The best works of literature have the ability to effortlessly transport you to different times and places and will surround you with characters full of depth and richness to complete your mind’s journey.


Reading Aya is like taking a luxury cruise to late-1970s Africa — Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast to be more specific — where we are immersed in the lives of the title character, her two best friends and a colourful and quirky cast of characters.

Writer Marguerite Abouet and artist Clément Oubrerie deliver a fun and quick-witted tale of teen pleasures and troubles as the sensible Aya watches with fascination while her friends outwit their parents and sometimes even themselves in pursuit of fun times.

The wonderfully immersive setting of the book is working-class neighbourhood of Yopougon with its vivid colours and distinctive tastes — offering a sadly seldom seen more joyous and identifiable side of African life that is truly fascinating.

Manhunter: Trial By Fire

Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina, Jesus Saiz

DC Comics

$23.99/17.99 US (Paperback)


Kate Spencer has brains, beauty and is tough as nails.

She has to be, not just for her night job as the vigilante known as Manhunter but also for her day job as a U.S. federal prosecutor trying to keep super-criminals behind bars.

As far as Kate’s concerned the guilty get two options: Be fairly convicted in the courts or use legal trickery to get off and see their brains blown out by her alter ego.

Now, as the trial of her career looms, Kate must pull out all the stops to earn a conviction against the villain called The Shadow Thief, a man she knows to be guilty, while his allies in evil target both the Manhunter for catching him and Kate herself for trying to put him away.

Writer Marc Andreyko and artists Javier Pina and Jesus Saiz deliver a roller-coaster of action, drama, humour and more in this whopping 222-page second collection of the recent Manhunter series, which sadly was cancelled recently by DC Comics due to poor monthly sales.

Hopefully this fine work will at least garner some attention and allow for the collecting of the whole series for those “waiting for the trades”.

Ion: The Torchbearer

Ron Marz, Greg Tocchini, Jay Leisten

DC Comics

$19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2

The all-powerful Ion is back — but is he friend or foe?

DC Comics’ 2006 mega-crossover series Infinite Crisis saw longtime Green Lantern Kyle Rayner regain the massive power of Ion after his one-time girlfriend, the hero Jade, transferred all her energy to him with her dying effort.

Kyle had previously called himself Ion when he held as much power — far more than a standard Green Lantern ring provides — and he’s done so once again (which also works out since DC he too many characters called Green Lantern kicking around).

As this 12-part miniseries begins, Ion is devastating entire regions of space and killing alien beings by the thousands. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner is trying to sort out his complicated life by spending time painting at an artists’ retreat.

Confused? Well that’s the point!

After being attacked by a bounty hunter, Kyle heads off into space to figure out what’s going on and the answers he finds lead to even more perplexing questions.

Writer Ron Marz returns to the character he created and delivers an enigmatic piece of the puzzle to the future of the DC Universe.

Superman: Emperor Joker

Jeph Loeb, J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Schultz, Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Mike Miller, Duncan Rouleau, Scott McDaniel

DC Comics

$19.99/14.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2

The notorious villain Superman has escaped from Arkham Asylum and only the heroic Bizarro can stop him.

Uh…. what?

In a nightmare come true, Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, has acquired god-like powers and remade the world to his liking. This means Superman is Public Enemy #1, the Justice League are reviled as the world’s worst crooks and it rains pies from the sky. Seriously.

In order to restore things to the way they ought to be, Superman seeks out the help of evil-genius and billionaire industrialist… Lois Lane?

But can even their combined might overthrow Emperor Joker? And where exactly is the Dark Knight?

An all-star cast of creators, including Jeph Loeb (TV’s Heroes), Ed McGuinness (Superman/Batman) and Scott McDaniel (Green Arrow) combine to tell one wild and wacky, but pretty darned entertaining, Superman adventure.

Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil #1 (of 4)

Jeff Smith

DC Comics

$7.25/$5.99 US


Jeff Smith’s award-winning series Bone remains one of the most popular independent series in comic book history.

So how do you follow something like that?

Well if you’re Smith you dive into your first ever full-length mainstream super-hero work, Shazam: The Monster Society Of Evil.

With his trademark art style, his keen wit and humour, Smith sets out to retell the origins of DC’s Captain Marvel and how a young homeless boy named Billy Batson comes to be the world’s mightiest mortal by simply uttering the word “SHAZAM”.

This first issue recounts Billy’s first encounter with the powerful wizard who merges him with the mighty hero and our first hints at who exactly the Monster Society is.

Smith’s follow-up to Bone took quite a while to complete — three years or so — but all evidence so far indicates it was well worth the wait.

Maintenance #1, 2

Jim Massey, Robbi Rodriguez

Oni Press

$3.50 US

*** 1/2

The only worse than a rampaging evil scientist is having to clean up after one.

Hidden deep within a secret complex inside the Mt. Harmony Bunny And Orphan Fawn Preserve (trespassers shot on sight) is the headquarters of Terromax, the world’s leader in evil science. Every day, the employees a Terromax are working hard to create the next great development in evil science. And when it blows up and leaves monstrous green beast that smells like a pile of fetid shit behind, Doug and Manny are there with a mop and bucket.

The two lowest-level employees at Terromax are pretty low-key about the craziness they deal with every day, from the carnivorous zombie kitten in the vending machine, to K’Arl, the freeloading Roswell alien and the bipedal Manshark whose sole exposure to the world outside his lab is watching Porky’s 2: The Next Day over and over again.

They don’t even freak out when one scientist’s experiment gone wrong sends them back in time into a cave full of pissed-off, jet pack-wearing Cro-Magnons.

Writer Jim Massey and artist Robbi Rodriguez deliver over-the-top fun at a working man’s pace with their hilarious new series.

Pieces For Mom: A Tale Of The Undead

Steve Niles, Andrew Ritchie

Image Comics

$4.60/$3.99 US

*** 1/2

Mike life has gone to hell since his mom died and his dad disappeared.

Check that: his life was pretty messed up since he began living in a world where the dead walk around and take bites out of the living — his mom having joined that club just makes things worse.

But Mike is a good son and while he does keep his mother tied to a chair in her room so she won’t eat him or his brother, he will go out and find food (yeah, people) for her to munch on.

This story of life in a world gone mad gets even more horrifying when Mike’s latest food run leads him to another group of survivors — and a familiar face.

Nobody does horror any better than writer Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night) and along with artist Andrew Ritchie (Cthulhu Tales) they’ve plumbed some spectacularly gory new depths with Pieces For Mom.

Conan And The Midnight God #1

Joshua Dysart, Will Conrad

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US

*** 1/2

Conan has everything a barbarian could ever hope for.

He has claimed the throne of Aquilonia, married the beautiful Zenobia and she is carrying his child.

All seems perfect until the arrival of an envoy from the land of Stygia, homeland of Conan’s arch-nemesis, the wizard Thoth-Amon.

While this ambassador, Ra-Sidh, claims to come in peace, his mere presence causes Zenobia to have nightmares. Shortly after Conan has Ra-Sidh and his entourage escorted from his castle, Zenobia falls ill and goes into labour, delivering the king’s son — stillborn.

Knowing in his heart that Ra-Sidh’s sorcery is to blame, Conan declares war on all of Stygia and sets out on a campaign of destruction.

Writer Joshua Dysart (Violent Messiahs) and artist Will Conrad (Serenity: Those Left Behind) lay a great foundation for a promising new series should be full of intrigue and bloodshed.