Y: The Last Man Vol. 8 — Kimono Dragons
Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka, José Marzan Jr.
$19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)
Reunited and it feels so good.
Not to get all Peaches And Herb on you, or to spoil any key plot points, but Kimono Dragons sees Yorick Brown, A.K.A. the last man on earth, finally locate his monkey Ampersand after the animal’s shocking abduction two collections ago.
But in typical Y: The Last Man fashion, there’s a beautifully bizarre road to be traveled in both the locating and the freeing of the little creature.
Yorick, along with his traveling companions, the mysterious Agent 355 and even more secretive Dr. Alison Mann (along with her new girlfriend, Rose), arrive in Japan in search of Ampersand, who contains the cure to the plague that wiped out all the men.
Y and 355 head to Tokyo on the monkey trail that involves android prostitutes, a Canadian Yakuza pop diva and more, while Rose and Mann head to the latter’s home in search of her mother and wind up in a fight for their lives and perhaps even the identity of the person behind the Gendercide.
Four year into its planned five-year run, Y: The Last Man is the model of consistency. The stories and weird, wonderful and utterly compelling and the mysteries built up over the life of the series will make for a heck of a payoff over the final year.
Gotham Central Vol. 4: The Quick And The Dead
Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudino
$19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)
The Gotham City Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit is facing its toughest test.
After the brutal events of 2004’s Batman: Gang War, which saw dozens of cops killed and the Dark Knight stage a hostile takeover of the GCPD, Commissioner Michael Akins declares the vigilante a criminal and orders his officers to refuse to cooperate with him ever again.
When a beat cop has his physiology radically altered by a chemical trap, detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen have track down the person responsible. When it turns out to be the villain Doctor Alchemy, the officers may have no choice but to accept Batman’s assistance — whether they want it or not.
This sadly missed series — it ended in February 2006 — was just so incredibly well put together and it really shows in The Quick And The Dead. There’re only a few brief cameos by Batman and the book proves it doesn’t need that famous face to shine. The characters were so darned strong (as evidenced by Montoya’s current starring role in DC’s 52 and Allen’s turn as the new Spectre).
There’s still a couple of collections to come to finish Gotham Central’s 40-issue run in trade paperbacks and one can’t help but wonder if they’d rushed the collections of this series out a little faster if it could have propelled it into stardom where it belonged.
Noble Causes Vol. 6: Hidden Agendas
Jay Faerber, Fran Bueno, Freddie Williams
$15.99 US (Paperback)
The Nobles have been the most popular family on the planet for a very long time.
But things can change.
Doc Noble’s old foe Hunter Blackthorne has been released from prison and after reuniting with his wife and children — who like the Nobles all have super-powers — he immediately begins plotting the perfect revenge on the heroes.
In a fantastic web of deceit, lies and treachery, the Blackthornes conspire to knock the Nobles off their pedestal and even worse — take it for themselves.
Noble Causes continues to be the best super-hero soap opera around, blending the best of the Bold And The Beautiful and The Brave And The Bold.
Conan: Book Of Thoth
Kurt Busiek, Len Wein & Kelley Jones
Dark Horse Books
$17.95 US (Paperback)
The star power alone would be a reason to pick up Conan: Book Of Thoth.
You’ve just can’t go wrong with any title that features regular Conan writer Kurt Busiek (Astro City), Swamp Thing and Wolverine co-creator Len Wein and horror comics’ master illustrator Kelley Jones (Batman).
But better than the sums of those talents is the sweeping epic they’ve created.
Book Of Thoth is a true chiller featuring, for the first time ever, the origin of Conan’s most reviled enemy, the sorcerer Thoth-Amon.
From his beginnings as a street urchin and his first murder to his discovery of the snake god Set and his mischievous and duplicitous rise to power in the nation of Stygia, the book is grand and glorious in its portrayal of the lure of power.
On top of this super story, Jones is at the top of his craft, with lush and moody page after page showing why nobody can do horror books any better.
Devin Grayson, Phil Hester, Ande Parks
$19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)
Dick Grayson: Renegade.
So here’s the deal: Grayson, A.K.A. Nightwing, is purportedly so fed up with having a bad year (he got shot during Batman: Gang War) that he tries to infiltrate the mob and then the Secret Society of Super-villains by acting mopey, getting a new (and hideous) costume and taking the name Renegade.
Not even the appearance of Deathstroke, one of the coolest bad guys around can save this one. Thank goodness for One Year Later so we can fast forward and hopefully forget any of this ever happened.
Batman/The Spirit #1
Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke
Batman. The Spirit. Jeph Loeb. Darwyn Cooke.
What else do you need to know?
OK, let’s try it this way: two classic heroes, an amazing assortment of their evil foes, one of the hottest writers in the world (that’s Loeb, whose TV gig Heroes is one of the year’s hottest shows) and an Eisner and Joe Shuster Award-winning artist (that’s Cooke).
DC couldn’t have picked a better team to handle this new classic adventure. Loeb and Cooke both throw themselves into this slightly campy adventure and the result is a fun, fresh ride on a trip down memory lane.
Will Eisner would’ve loved it.
Meltdown: Book 1 (of 2)
David B. Schwartz, Sean Wang
The Flare is one hot super-hero — too hot, in fact.
He’s found out that his powers are killing him —within a matter of days he’ll go up in a puff of smoke.
So in an effort to go out in a blaze of glory, The Flare is going to take every super-villain he can with him.
As readers learn about the hero’s past, both the good and the bad, they are led to his inevitable final conflict with his nemesis, Maelstrom, who just might hasten The Flare’s trip into the great beyond.
From the minute you see the striking Chris Bachalo cover to this series you’ll get sucked in. There aren’t a lot of original concepts here, it’s simply a really well told super-hero story, with an interesting protagonist and some eye-catching art.
Go ahead and pick one up and try to resist.
The Killer #1 (of 10)
Matz, Luc Jacamon
Archaia Studios Press
I love French comics.
There’s just this fantastic feel to so much of the work coming from that country, especially over the past few years.
Whenever some of these beauties are translated into English — and unfortunately right now it’s coming at a snail’s pace — they are treats to be savoured.
Such is the case of Matz and Jacamon’s The Killer.
This moody and striking series, first published from 1998 to 2003, is regarded as a classic in Europe and it’s easy to see why.
This first issue sees the unnamed assassin sitting in wait for his next victim as his mind wanders from his recent slayings to his inauspicious beginnings.
It’s probably best that the rest of The Killer will be parsed out over the next nine months because it seems like a meal best served in multiple courses, lest it be devoured too hastily and not savoured as it should.
The Walking Dead #33
Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Well, he did have it coming…
This is the issue that fans of this series have both been anxiously awaiting and kind of dreading: Michonne is finally ready to get her revenge on the vicious and cruel Governor of Woodbury.
First the setup: Michonne, along with Rick and Glenn, three survivors in the land where the dead are still up and walking and hungry for flesh, were captured after finding Woodbury. Inside, Rick had his hand chopped off and Michonne was repeatedly brutally raped by the Governor, while Glenn was forced to listen.
Fast forward to issue #33 and you will find the single most violent, shocking and brutal torture scene you’ll ever see in comics.
There’s a sword, a hammer and nails, a power drill, an acetylene torch, pliers and more.
It is truly and utterly horrifying and disturbing and a swift kick in the ass for anyone who’d dare accuse this book of stagnating.
Kudos to Kirkman, Adlard and Rathburn for taking the best horror book on the market up a notch.
The Official Handbook Of The Invincible Universe #1 (of 2)
One of the hottest characters around finally gets the who’s who treatment.
Half of those wild and wonderful extra characters from this sensational monthly series — from Allen The Alien to Komodo Dragon — and the teen hero himself, get profiled in this first volume, accompanied by art by some top illustrators like: Canada’s Kaare Andrews and Kalman Andrasofszky, Ed McGuinness, Terry Austin, Paul Smith and many more.
It’s not complicated, it’s a handbook and it’s a darned good one.
Hellgate: London #0
Ian Edginton, Steve Pugh
Dark Horse Comics
Curse you Dark Horse Comics! Now there’s another video game I want to play!
Hellgate: London is a preview book for the hotly anticipated PC game of the same name that sees a group of survivors battling the hordes of hell in a grim near future.
Ian Edginton and Steve Pugh do a pretty good job of whetting gamers’ appetite for what looks to be a hit game with a sweet little prequel book.