Update for 4/19/17

New review today for Magic Whistle #3.3 by Sam Henderson and pals and yes, that’s it for the reviews this week. I’m going to see if I can dig up some old comics that I never got around to reviewing last week, assuming no review comics come in…

Henderson, Sam (editor) – Magic Whistle #3.3

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Magic Whistle #3.3

Oh, Magic Whistle. What do you have against a table of contents? If you’re intimately familiar with all the artists listed in the tags, you’re in luck! If, like me, some of the names were at least mildly unfamiliar, best of luck to you in determining who did which story. Except for the Sam Henderson bits, of course. If you’re not familiar with his style, I don’t understand why you’re buying Magic Whistle anyway. Or how you can draw breath without a functioning sense of humor, but that’s your problem, not mine. So we’ve established that all right thinking people love Sam Henderson, what can I tell you about this issue specifically? There’s the Lonely Robot Duckling story by Steven Weissman, a haunting tale of living too much in the digital world and getting advice about disconnecting from it all. Also featuring horrific violence, of course. There are a couple of strips done in old timey comic strip art, with boxy panels and tiny writing underneath. Possibly by Jim Campbell? They were also my clearest indicator yet that I am seriously getting old, as the tiny text was too tiny for me and I gave up on both of the strips. But if you’re still young and healthy and haven’t had terrible eyesight for most of your life, have at them! Stay Out of the Closet by Jen Sandwich tells the story of the time she ruined Christmas, but mostly it let us peek into the world of her family, her parents, and the various tricks they all played on/to each other around the holiday. Yellowed Kid by Roy Tompkins shows us a “3D” space adventure featuring Frankenstein’s monster and a planet filled with cheese. Finally Honey by ____ shows us a disturbed peeper (more disturbed than most based on the subject matter of his peeping), the ways that the family deals with said peeper and their delightful holiday meal. And I haven’t even gotten to Sam’s bits yet! There’s the immaculate conception of Dirty Danny, a sentient snowman discovering heroin, even the return of Gunther Bumpus and his cat door. And lots more (Sam probably contributed to about half of the comic), but why spoil it? If you’re already a fan you either already have this or are going to get it now that you know it exists. For the rest of you… take a chance on laughter! $9.99

Update for 4/17/17

Sorry about the lack of reviews again last week, things are a bit crazy around here at the moment. New review today for How to be Human Day One by Joseph Hewitt! And I’ve mentioned that there’s no waiting list for review comics at the moment, right? So if you have comics and like people to ramble about them, that’s what I do here!

Hewitt, Joseph – How to be Human Day One

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How to be Human Day One

This one got off to an intriguing start, as we learn that our hero is an existential investigator very quickly. We learn this because the case we observe is one in which he’s trying to discover when a client lost her innocence,and he’s able to track down the exact date along with the contributing factors that led to its demise. We also quickly learn of his next job: tracking down an old tape called “How to be Human,” which is exactly what it sounds like: an instructional tape on how to be human. He’s allied with a crew of misfits who have also never seen the tape, and the tape is lost because nobody ever thought to digitize it. Which is quite a hook, as there are countless movies/shows/ads/etc. from the 70’s and 80’s that you kids have never seen because nobody bothered to upload it. Think of all the culture you’re missing! OK, granted, that was mostly a cultural wasteland. But think of all the hilariously earnest and/or just plain weird videos that you never got to see! Anyway, most of the rest of the comic is introducing us to the wide and varied cast of characters for future issues (including a drug-sniffing dog, a granny who isn’t easily frightened, those six misfits and a vampire), so there are more chapters coming to clear that up. After all, we haven’t even gotten a good look at the bad guy yet, even though he’s already up to shenanigans. Is murder considered a shenanigan? Oops, I’ve said too much. It’s an intriguing story about looking past the obvious to solve mysteries, and I’m on board to see what happens next. It’s odd that this isn’t listed at Joseph’s website at the moment, but send him an email, I’m sure he has a few copies of this around. Probably. Better hurry to be sure!

Update for 4/6/17

It’s the end of the big monster theme week! This time it’s At The Shore by Jim Campbell, with a monster you just might be able to spot on the cover, if you take a very close look at the swells in the ocean…

Campbell, Jim – At The Shore

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At The Shore

I don’t usually do this, but here’s a link to an old review of mine of one of Jim’s comics. Why am I linking this? Mostly because the review is at least a decade old (I really wish, and not for the first time, that the reviews still had actual publication dates on them), meaning the guy has been at this comics thing for quite a while, meaning that it’s a good idea to pay attention when a guy like that puts out a graphic novel. This is the story of… huh, it’s trickier to describe than I thought. It starts off with a group of teenagers hanging out, complete with some pretty great dialogue and some low-key flirting. They all decide to go to the beach, but one of them (Gabi) really doesn’t want to leave the car. When they wonder why that’s the case, she starts a hilarious running gag of attempting to tell them why they’re all in danger, but being such a poor storyteller (who is also stuck with friends with no attention span) that they keep interrupting her and shutting her down. Meaning that they don’t get around to learning what the potential danger is until they’re actually in danger, but that’s jumping ahead a bit. Before that they end up trapped on the beach after dark, see a few Nessie’s while they’re out (which is exactly what it sounds like: the mythical Nessie from Loch Ness), and are there zombies involved? There are certainly zombies involved. There’s also a professor who is the only one who knows how to stop things, Gabi’s family knowing how to combat those things but not being all that great at it, and just a touch of more flirting and some of them not being able to stand each other. Since I really don’t want to ruin the story bits, I’ll just add that the dialogue was consistently funny throughout, the story itself wrapped up very nicely, and Jim is really a master of facial expressions. With a few tweaks this could damned near be a wordless comic and you could follow along from their faces alone. Also if you’re one of the people who was buying this in comics form, don’t fret, as this book includes a few issues that look like they were never released as individual comics, so you’re finally getting the ending you were no doubt wondering about. For everybody else, you get Nessies, zombies, teenagers and possibly a mad scientist. What’s not to love? $19.99

Update for 4/4/17

New review for another comic with giant monsters, this one being the most obvious one of the bunch: Giant Fiend Comics by Aaron Norhanian.

Norhanian, Aaron – Giant Fiend Comics

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Giant Fiend Comics

There’s a threat rising from the land of Scandinavia! OK, it’s really a tourist with too much vacation time on his hands. But when he comes to America and succumbs to the American habit of eating and drinking too much, he succumbs to… American’s disease! Is it possible to write an entire review using unnecessary exclamation points? Well, no, because I just blew it with that question mark. Dammit! So our tourist friend eats way too much and turns into a giant monster. Well, not really a monster, just a giant human being who’s drunk and stumbles a lot, causing all kinds of damage. Normal weapons don’t work, so the top scientists are forced to call… other giant monsters! Ah, I knew I had another unnecessary exclamation point in me. Another giant monster is called, it’s not enough, yet another giant monster is called, and soon the scientists have far bigger problems than just one giant flailing tourist. This one is a big pile of fun, unless you’re one of the rare people who doesn’t like to see giant monsters fight each other and knock down buildings. I’m assuming a few people like that exist out there, but I’ve never met one. For the rest of us, get ready to enjoy some monster punching! $4

Update for 4/3/17

New review today for Konehedz #4 by Mark Velard, and it looks like there’s an accidental theme week here: it’s giant monsters week! Which wasn’t intended, but all the comics I grabbed to review this week just so happened to have at least a few giant monsters in them, so ta-da! Theme week.

Velard, Mark – Konehedz #4

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Konehedz #4

The mystery of the missing two issues of Konehedz is revealed! Right there on the cover, actually, making it one of the quickest mystery reveals possible. And something I would have known if I had looked at it before I reviewed the last issue, but these things happen. This one picks up right after #1 (and after one of the more thorough and comprehensive recaps I’ve ever seen, so kudos to Mark for that; seriously, you could miss the first issue entirely and know exactly what’s happening here), with our heroes getting off the boat and confronting… a giant eyeball fish monster? Something along those lines. They find its weakness quickly, then run into zombies (?) with pincers, who may or may not be hostile, but our heroes ripping an arm off of one of them decides that allegiance for them. More chaos, more monsters, and one of our heroes discovers a giant robot suit. And yeah, you’d damn well better believe that the next several pages involve that giant monster suit causing all sorts of havoc. Eventually they meet some friendly aliens, or at least not outwardly hostile aliens, so they follow a series of them to their leader. Which is where we finally get some answers, but I’m not going to tell you them here. One quibble: Mark really needs to work on his spelling. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the occasional word here and there, but there’s some long chunks of text towards the end and he misspells several words in most of the text boxes. The quality of his artwork improves as the issue goes on, and spelling words correctly is much easier and quicker than drawing, so… don’t do that! Or do it less, at least. That goes for all you young (or older and spelling impaired) comics artists out there: have somebody else read it over if you have to, but it’s an easy fix. That was a longer digression than I intended, and it really didn’t do much to lower my enjoyment of the book (not much cause for words in some of those glorious fight scenes, after all), which is still very much worth you checking out. Large portions of this one are even in full color! $3

Update for 3/30/17

New review today for Zugwang?! #3 by Willard Herman. Happy weekend everybody!

Herman, Willard – Zugwang?! #3

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Zugwang?! #3

Here’s a peek behind the curtain for the artists out there who have had books reviewed on this site: I usually forget what I wrote about the book pretty quickly. Not always, and not completely, but I review an awful lot of comics, and the specifics often fly right out of my brain in a hurry. Which can make things awkward at conventions when I’m asked questions about a past review, but I’m always willing to fess up about that fact. Why am I mentioning this? Because when I looked up Willard’s website, a review for a previous book of his came up right after his website, and it was from here, from a couple of years ago. Curious, I looked it up… and saw that I had basically cheated on it. The comic is question was so abstract that I just didn’t have a lot to say about it, so the review was one long stalling exercise. Well, that’s a cheat that I’m not going to use again. Granted, this comic is almost equally abstract, but there are a few stories in this one, not just the one wordless story that left me so little to go on. Stories in here include a truly terrifying number of stars, a story told without having a story (naturally, this one takes up the bulk of the comic), a man who is having a very difficult time finding the sun, and a monster trapped in a boat at sea. OK, I mostly guessed on the last one. There’s a lot to hurt your brain in this comic, but overall I liked it. That large story went on a bit longer than needed to get the point across, but it’s entirely possible that the excessive length was the point. It’s worth a look, is what I’m trying to say.

Update for 3/28/17

New review for SnowCone City #3 by Joseph Hewitt. Oddly, no giant robots in this one.

Hewitt, Joseph – SnowCone City #3

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SnowCone City #3

If you’re looking for giant robot action, you’ll have to look elsewhere this issue (but not to worry, the preview for #4 indicates that it’ll be back next issue). This time around we meet The Raven, the SnowCone City equivalent of Batman. And, in this city, Batman is a teenage girl who has to sneak out on her parents to fight crime. With all the various iterations of Batman running around out in the DC multiverse, it’s odd that nobody ever depicted him as a teenage girl (that I know of; DC has an awfully long history to draw from). It fits the temperament of that character perfectly. We also get to meet the Raven’s new sidekick, even though said sidekick has some trouble picking out a good code name. The actual adventure this time around comes from the army of zombie penguins that crops up and their ability to turn other penguins into zombies using their spit. An evil mastermind also manages to trick the Raven into a trap involving a building full of these zombies and no possibility of escape. So everybody dies and the series is over. Kidding! It is entirely possible that the day was, in fact, saved. But I don’t want to get into spoilers. It’s another fun issue by Joseph, and a nice bit of world building to see what things are like away from the big superheroes of this world.

Update for 3/27/17

New review today for Death in Oaxaca #3 by Steve Lafler. Hey, that theme week was fun. Anybody else have 3-5 issues of a comic series that they’ve made but haven’t been reviewed here yet? Or maybe there’s just a series that fits that description that you really like? Send me some comics! Or just tell me about it and maybe I’ll buy it myself.

Lafler, Steve – Death in Oaxaca #3

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Death in Oaxaca #3

As you may have guessed from that fake post-it addition to the title, there’s a bit more hanky panky in this issue than there was in the first one (I missed the second one). Steve did put a recap at the start of this book but it’s a little light on specific details for the characters, but it’s still clear that this issue is mostly about these people trying to live their lives, with the occasional outside forces trying to complicate things. There’s Eduardo (the vampire with a heart of gold who has given up blood), Gertie (with her secret identity as the Lucha Bruja), and Caroline (trying to get in on some of that hanky panky with Eduardo), all going about their lives, and all on the verge of doing some serious damage to those around them. Still, that’s what’s going on behind the scenes, mostly. There are a lot of quiet moments that make up the bulk of this issue, like Rex getting some fresh tuna, the family gathering together for a meal, a jam night with some local musicians and a mysterious cave that seems to be able to let people fly. OK, maybe that last one was more fantastical than the others. It’s another solid comic and another step in the mystery completed. Steve has been a pro in this business for decades, so you can be sure that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to pulling all these loose threads together. Check it out why don’t you! $5

Update for 3/23/17

It’s the end of Rob Jackson week, and today is the review for the final issue of Flying Sausage Academy, #4! No sausages went flying during the course of this series. Um, spoiler alert.

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #4

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Flying Sausage Academy #4

It’s the big finale! In this issue we learn why Mr. Bojangles is so bitter at the headmaster, see a bit of the play that has had our hero so nervous, and get not one but two confrontations between Daryl and King Penguin. Well, maybe one and a half confrontations, it depends how you score such things. Oh, and we finally get to see what the problem was with Daryl’s mom, or at least we finally see Daryl’s mom. I loved how this worked itself out, which means that I can’t tell you any more about it. Rules are rules! There’s also one more big fight scene, because who ever heard of the last issue of a series not involving a big old fight scene, preferably one involving giant monsters? This whole thing ended up being another great series from Rob. Maybe one of these weeks I could dig through all of his older series to say which one I think is the best, but that would probably require me magically getting a week off work with nothing else to do, as the man has quite the back catalog by this point. Basically you have two choices if you want to start digging through his comics, which you very much should: either pick a series or two to see what you think (my recommendation) or pick a few of his stand alone issues instead. One or the other, people! Get to it!

Update for 3/22/17

Rob Jackson week continues, and the new review today is for Flying Sausage Academy #3.

Jackson, Rob – Flying Sausage Academy #3

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Flying Sausage Academy #3

You know, it just now occurred to me that I never checked to see if #4 is the last in this series. Guess I’ll find out very soon; I’m just curious how many loose ends need to be wrapped up if that’s the case. In this issue we get to watch the sheer depths of panic that Daryl sinks to as he realizes that he has a lot of complicated lines to learn for his role in MacBeth, and that the entire school is going to be watching him and ready to make fun of him if he screws up. Daryl is also hunting for Mr. Bojangles, the missing music teacher. He’s given a cryptic map, which leads him to the prop department, giving the reader a peek into that world. As he’s practicing for the play a giant spider shows up, causing the whole school to come together to fight it, which naturally leads Daryl to seek out the source of the giant spiders. What does all this have to do with Mr. Bojangles? Plenty, as it turns out. How is this play going to turn out? Is Handsome Dan going to punch the guy who took his lead in the play? What exactly is up with Daryl’s mother? Read the next (final) issue to find out! Or just read my review of it in a couple of days, as I’m bound to give up a few juicy details. You should be reading this series, and damned near all of Rob’s series, yourselves, so if you’re quick about it you can order his books and get to the ending before me. It’s a race!