Welcome, everyone, to This Week in Comics, or as I call it, Captain Comics' Random Thoughts About Comics and Stuff. I hope someone brought snacks.

GENRE MOVIES & TV

It's a quiet week on screens. There are no new fantasy/sci-fi movies and no genre TV premieres. A Discovery of Witches Season 2 is coming to an end, but only if you're watching it weekly — if you have cable access to BBC America, you could have watched the whole season on Jan. 8. And it's been renewed for a season 3, so it's not ending entirely.

Fortunately, there's still a lot of ongoing genre fare to consume. Here's the list:

  • Black Lightning, "The Book of Ruin, Chapter One" (CW, March 8)
  • Debris, "You Are Not Alone" (NBC, March 8)
  • Snowpiercer, "Our Answer for Everything" (TNT, March 8)
  • Superman and Lois, "Haywire" (CW, March 9)
  • The Flash, "The Speed of Thought" (AMC, March 9)
  • Riverdale, "Chapter Eighty-Three: Fire in the Sky" (CW, March 10)
  • Resident Alien, "The Green Glow" (Syfy, March 10)
  • For All Mankind, "Pathfinder" (Prime, March 12)
  • Wynonna Earp, "Hell-Raisin' Good Time" (Syfy, March 12)
  • A Discovery of Witches, season 2 finale, "Episode 2.10" (BBC America, March 13)
  • The Walking Dead, “One More” (AMC, Mar. 14)
  • American Gods, season 3 finale, “Tears of the Wrath-Bearing Tree” (Starz, Mar. 14)
  • Pennyworth, "The Rose and Thorn" (Epix, Mar. 14)

EVENTS/CROSSOVERS

Strangely, there are no King in Black books this week, or at least none listed as such. The crossover isn't over, though.

Infinite Frontier

Only four Infinite Frontier books make their debut this week. Wonder Woman and Superman return with legacy numbering but "Infinite Frontier" trade dress. An honest-to-Alfred anthology debuts, as does the second ongoing title starring everyone's favorite Clown Prince of Crime.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Writers: Chip Zdarsky, Matthew Rosenberg, Stephanie Phillips and Brandon Thomas • Art: Eddy Barrows, Marcos To, Ryan Benjamin, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar • Cover by Hicham Habchi • Batman/Red Hood variant: David Finch • Batman/Grifter variant: Kael Ngu • Blank variant cover

DC Comics • $7.99 • 64 Pages • Prestige format

I've said this in a few other places: I'm excited about DC Comics taking a chance on anthology comics again.

This book is the only legitimate anthology in their new lineup, a 64-pager with four stories. Elsewhere in the line are a few 40-pagers with 8-page backups — not quite anthologies, but multi-story packages that give second-tier characters a chance to shine. Given that DC is committed to a slimmed-down line, backup stories are probably the only place we'll get to see the likes of Hawkman, the Outsiders or Martian Manhunter as headliners.

Still, DC is really only dipping their toe in the water, trying exactly one Golden Age-length book, with their most popular character. I guess the thinking is that if it doesn't work with Batman, it's not going to work.

Although it's not really clear if Batman is going to be in this book. This first issue's four stories star Red Hood, Grifter, the Outsiders and Harley Quinn. (The last one leads into her new series.) I don't see ol' pointy-ears anywhere, except on the cover. Maybe he'll pop in and out.

The Joker #1

The Joker #1

Writer: James Tynion IV • Art/cover: Guillem March • Backup story writers: James Tynion IV, Sam Johns • Backup story art: Mirka Andolfo • Variant: Frank Quitely • Variant: Francesco Mattina •  1:25 variant cover by Riccardo Federici • Team variant: Mark Brooks • Blank variant cover

DC Comics • $4.99 • 40 Pages

The premise is that Joker is on the run after he did something terrible in Infinite Frontier #0. (Check below for Spoiler.) Ex-Gotham Police Commissioner Jim Gordon is in pursuit, serving as Inspector Javert to Joker's Jean Valjean. (Or Lt. Philip Gerard to Joker's Richard Kimble, for a more modern reference.) The manhunt will be worldwide, not in Gotham.

So, this ain't helping my Joker Fatigue Syndrome. Gordon's presence is the only draw for me, and I'm not sure that's enough to overcome my gut-level distaste for yet another interminable Joker story. "Joker War" isn't even cold yet!

Worse, the backup story stars Punchline, a character I find incredibly boring. No, that's too passive. I am actively repelled by her.

First, some speculation: I don't know anything about her real-world genesis, but it feels like she was created specifically to fill a Harley-shaped hole in the Joker mythos. Joker writers lost Harley to the white hats, and it feels to me like they're making Punchline utterly irredeemable to avoid that happening again. And, they are obviously positioning her as a breakout star without waiting to see if she's actually going to become one.

That's how it appears to me, anyhow. But whether or not any of my speculation is true, the fact of Punchline being irredeemable enters the category of unintended consequences, in that I find her literally repulsive. She's murderous, arbitrary and amoral. And despite her name, she's not amusing — in fact, she's virtually humorless. Her motivation seems to be, "Life is unfair, so I might as well kill people."

At least Harley's zaniness made her interesting, even when she was lethal. And there was an element of pathos at the heart of Harley Quinn, which made her at times a sympathetic character.

Not so with Punchline, who's a two-dimensional thug with a clown motif she stole from another character. I have zero interest in her, and see no reason why anybody else would.

But I also don't understand the appeal of Venom, Civil War II or Rob Liefeld's artwork, so maybe I'm not the best judge.

SPOILER FOR INFINITE FRONTIER #0

Arkham Asylum has been Joker-gassed, and it's assumed Joker did it. (That was never affirmed, so it might be someone else.) Only 20 people survived (including a new heroic cop character), so some D-listers might have bought it. We saw a deceased A-lister, Bane, which will probably stick for a while, given its prominence in the storyline.

SUPERMAN #29


Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson • Art: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur • Cover: Phil Hester • Backup story writer: Sean Lewis • Backup story art: Sami Basri • Wraparound variant: John Timms

DC Comics • $4.99 • 40 Pages

This is something we haven't seen in any kind of ongoing way: Superman and Superboy in action together. I rather like Jonathan Kent (at least how he's presented in "Super Sons"), so I might very well enjoy this.

The backup in the first issue is Jimmy Olsen, who is apparently now a straight-up comedy figure. The second issue's backup is Ambush Bug, also a comedy figure. Interesting.

Wonder Woman #770

Writers: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad • Art/cover: Travis Moore • Backup story writer: Jordie Bellaire • Backup story art: Paulina Ganucheau • Wraparound variant: Travis Moore

DC Comics • $4.99 • 40 Pages

I'm really enjoying the Wonder Woman renaissance kicked off by the movie. In the last few years her backstory, supporting characters and story opportunities have doubled or tripled. The various contradictions of her history (herstory?) have largely been ironed out. It's a joy to pick up a WW book these days, especially when I remember all the times in the last five decades that I'd pick up Wonder Woman to find a confused mish-mash that didn't know what it wanted to be.

The backup is Tales of Young Diana or somesuch, what we used to call Wonder Girl stories before, you know, Wonder Girl somehow metastasized into a whole different person. And then about four different persons. How many Wonder Girls are there now? Anyway, these stories are those of Diana as youngster, which, as the beginning to Wonder Woman 1984 showed us, can be fun.

HIGHLIGHTS & FIRST ISSUES

Black Hammer: Visions #2 (of 8)

Writer: Geoff Johns • Artist: Scott Kolins • Colorist: Bill Crabtree • Cover A: Scott Kolins • Cover B: Bill Crabtree • Cover C: Tom Mandrake, Sian Mandrake

Dark Horse • 32 pages • $3.99

I've already read "The Cabin of Horrors," the story in this issue, but embargoes prevent me from saying too much. I will say I enjoyed it. I think that's allowed.

This might be the best Geoff Johns story I've read in a long time. Maybe being freed from continuity allows writers to do their best work. Or maybe it's that "Black Hammer" exaggerates comics conventions in a playful and loving manner, which is appealing to comics fans, even when they're writers. 

In this case the convention is horror comics, with Madame Dragonfly as our ghoulish host. It's an entirely different story than the Golden Gail story in the first issue, but just as good.

Blade Runner 2029 #3

Writer: Mike Johnson • Artist: Andres Guinaldo • Cover A: Peach Momoko • Cover B: Syd Mead • Cover C: Rian Hughes • Cover D: Cosplay

Titan • 32ages • Mature themes • $3.99

I've been reading Blade Runner 2019, starring this same character, and I've enjoyed it. Of course, now that I've seen this book, I guess we can be pretty sure Ash is going to survive her 2019 adventures. Which is fine: I like this character, a hard-bitten P.I. type whose disability* is a constant source of dramatic tension but isn't used for self-pity or justification for failure. But her assured survival into 2029 does sort of ruin the suspense.

* At some point in her mysterious past, Ash suffered some sort of serious trauma to her spine. Her lumbar seems to be held in place, or maybe has been replaced, by an exoskeleton affair whose upkeep and energy requirements are costly. So Ash has to keep working, if she wants to keep walking. And, like in Silver Age Iron Man stories, her "armor" can run out of juice at inconvenient times.

Blade Runner Origins #1

Authors: K. Perkins, Mellow Brown, Mike Johnson • Art: Fernando Dagnino • Cover A: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau • Cover B: Peach Momoko • Cover C: Fernando Dagnino • Cover D: Robert Hack • Cover E: Piotr Kowalski • Cover F: Blank Sketch • Cover G: Peach Momoko

Titan Comics • Mature Themes • 170 x 258mm • 32pages • $3.99

I didn't know I needed an origin for the Blade Runner world.

One of the reasons I took to the original Blade Runner so well is that it presented a world that was conveyed visuallY, which the viewer intuitively understood. And the creators were wise enough to know that that would happen — that they didn't need to bury us in exposition. Possibly because Blade Runner lifted so much from pre-existing sci-fi dystopias. But who cares, when it's done this well? By the time Decker's boss made a  reference to "little people," I knew all I needed to know.

But Titan is giving us an origin story anyway, with a series set at the time of Tyrell Corp's release of Series 5 replicants. (If I remember correctly, Roy Batty & Co. were Series 6.) As usual, our hero is a hard-bitten cop with few illusions about justice, but an itch to seek it anyway. Just like Decker and Ash (the star of Blade Runner 2019 and Blade Runner 2029 comics).

What do you know? I did need an origin story!

Character sketch: Cal

Character sketch: Ilora

Children of the Atom #1

Writer: Vita Ayala • Art: Bernard Chang • Cover: R. B. Silva • Unknown Variant • Variant: Todd Nauck

Marvel • Teen+ • $4.99

I guess this is where we get into creating Chimera, the kind of mutants we saw in the future scenes in House/Power of X. You know, mutants who are given the gifts of multiple pre-existing mutants via genetic coding.

I don't know if we need another version of New Mutants, but I'll probably be along for the ride.

Incidentally, Cyclops is shown manually opening his visor in one of the covers above. Every time I see that, it reminds me: Why does he need a visor now? Canon says his inability to control his optic blasts was due to a head injury in his youth. Since the original Cyclops has been killed and he's had a new body grown on Krakoa, why would that injury persist? Cyclops 2.0 should have total control over his optic blasts, and not need a visor. And a new mutant who is given Cyclops' power genetically also wouldn't need a visor.

Can anyone explain this to me? Or X-plain it, I guess?

Deadpool: Nerdy 30 #1

Writers/Art: Various • Cover: Ed McGuinness • Variant: Mike Hawthorne • Variant: Rob Liefeld

Marvel • Parental Advisory • $5.99

I'm not a huge Deadpool fan. He's all right, and is funny in small doses. And I love the movies. But honestly, I've read all the Deadpool I need to.

However, my tastes aren't universal. You might be a huge DP fan, and if so, then here ya go.

God of War: Fallen God #1 (of 4)

Writer: Chris Roberson • Artist: Tony Parker • Letterer: John Roshell • Colorist: Dan Jackson • Cover Artist: Dave Rapoza

Dark Horse • 32 pages • $3.99

This from a video game, isn't it? Well, I can't tell you how game-accurate this is, because I don't play the games.

Not that it matters, because not much happens in this issue. I gather that the lead character, Kratos, is the God of War. He is immortal, but would very much like not to be. He wanders the Bronze Age Earth (looking for a way to die, I think), and occasionally a man or an ibis or a baboon will babble something about destiny to him. Also, when he sleeps, he awakes to find two flaming swords next to him, which also causes him some distress. Other than that, nothing happens.

This is the second miniseries starring Kratos, so maybe this would be more meaningful if I read the first one! Or played the video game. 

I do like the art, though.

Karmen #1 (of 5)

Writer/Art/Cover A: Guillem March • Cover B: Milo Manara • Cover C: Blank

Image Comics • $3.99

This series is a re-release of a European graphic novel, broken into five parts for the U.S. market.

The artwork is fantastic. And not just because one of the two main characters is a girl who is naked throughout. (Although that shouldn't be ruled out. I am a heterosexual male, after all.)

It should be noted that March isn't drawing this naked chick in an overtly salacious, fan-service way. Oh, she's attractive enough. But she's carrying a few extra pounds, and isn't always drawn in the most attractive positions.

But lordie, he draws her in all the positions.

That's because she's dead, and we're seeing her spirit, which is not only naked, but can fly. So bird's-eye view, worm's-eye view, we kinda see her from every angle.

I mention this as a warning, in case you're triggered by nudity, which, after about page 3, is on every page. I can see some decrying this as objectification, and I admit it's well over the story-necessity line and into some kind of gray area.

But the main character is, well, dead. From suicide. That's kinda the opposite of sexy.

Plus, it really illustrates March's talent. Not only can he draw the female figure from multiple angles, but he presents more than one female face/figure in evidence. The man can draw.

Anyway, our dead protagonist is getting some afterlife guidance by a quirky spirit named Karmen, whose nature hasn't been revealed. Death? An angel? Maybe both? Hard to say at this point what she is, except "eccentric." That's her on the cover in the skeleton costume (which isn't actually a costume) looking uncharacteristically subdued. She's actually quite perky in the story, talking a lot but not really saying anything.

We haven't gone far enough to know what direction this will take, but I'm enjoying the dialogue. A running gag about the name of the actor who starred in The Matrix is really pretty amusing, as the two characters toss out different names. Johnny Depp? Leonardo DiCaprio? Tom Hanks? So hard to remember! (It's Keanu Reeves, of course.)

This is pretty fun despite, you know, the subject matter. I'll be sticking around.

Maiden #1 (of 8)

Writers: Michelle Sears, Bart Sears • Art/Cover: Bart Sears

Heavy Metal • $2.99

What I remember about the Heavy Metal magazine of my youth is "Pretty pictures. No story."

This book has higher ambitions, though. Here's the blurb: "A young woman has forfeited her soul to a supernatural force of vengeance, never to be redeemed, devoted to annihilation as completely as her servant, the inscrutable and frightening Hag, is devoted to her. Haunting tales of unrelenting, unrepentant revenge. An epic mythos that spans time, worlds and genre, the horrifyingly tragic curse of the Maiden is written in the blood of many. Maiden is the boogeyman of a new generation."

Well, now! Sounds like there's some story there — or, to be more accurate, a bunch of stories from this springboard. And the cover promises pretty pictures, so maybe Heavy Metal has discovered how to make the whole package.

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1

Writer: Joe Kelly • Art: Chris Bachalo • Cover: David Finch • Variant: Classified • Variant: Chris Bachalo • Variant: Greg Laroque • Variant: Skottie Young • Variant: Alex Ross • Variant: Ken Lashley • Unknown Variant

Marvel • Teen • $4.99

Thirty years ago, there would have been a blurb on this cover reading "Action in the Mighty Marvel Manner!" But 30 years ago I was reading Spider-books, and now I'm not. (I stopped reading them when I realized I no longer recognized Peter Parker.) But I do love me some Chris Bachalo. On yet another hand, this book is rated "Teen" instead of the usual "Teen+" which might mean it's aimed at a younger audience. And yet: Bachalo. Decisions, decisions.

Nottingham #1 (of 5)

Writer: David Hazan • Art/Cover: Shane Connery Volk, Luca Romano

Mad Cave Studios • $3.99

In this adaptation of the Robin Hood legend, the famed archer is the bad guy, a serial killer of sheriffs. The Sheriff of Nottingham is the hero, searching for this villain.

Hey, I have an idea: Hold an archery contest. Locksley falls for that dumb trap in every Robin Hood movie.

Proctor Valley Road #1

Writers: Alex Child, Grant Morrison • Art: Naomi Franquiz • CoverA: Naomi Franquiz • Cover B: Chris Wildgoose • Cover F Unlockable variant: Christian Ward

BOOM! • $3.99

This is a horror series by Grant Morrison, which is pretty much all the description I need.

Which is good, because the BOOM website doesn't tell us a whole lot more. The premise is that four teens hold some sort of tour on the "most haunted road in America" — the Proctor Valley Road of the title — to raise money, and it turns out Proctor Valley Road has real monsters. And the teens ... I don't know what they do. Fight? Run away? Hail a cab? I guess we'll have to read the book to find out.

Star Wars: The Age of Resistance — The Official Collection

Titan Comics

HC • 144pp • $24.99 / SC • 148pp • $14.99

I feel obliged to mention this, since Titan sends me press releases on it. It collects Star Wars magazine articles on the topic into something between an annual and a book.

Thor & Loki: Double Trouble #1 (of 4)

Written by Mariko Tamaki • Art and Cover by Gurihiru • Head Shot variant: Todd Nauck • Variant: Erica Henderson • Carmen Nunez Carnero 

Marvel Comics • Teen • $3.99

Those who have only read Marvel's Thor comics and not the original Norse myths might be unaware that Loki is not the God of Evil he's the God of Mischief. If he was the God of Evil, Thor or Odin or somebody would have killed him outright.

But he's just a trickster god, who likes pulling (potentially lethal) pranks, and a shapeshifter who pretends to be other people to cause trouble. This was not necessarily a bad thing in Norse culture; Odin frequently wandered the Earth in disguise. Cleverness was admired among the Vikings, especially in battle. And he really is Thor's half-brother. The two grew up together, having adventures before, inevitably, Loki ruined everything.

Loki did eventually choose the wrong side in Ragnarok, but what do you expect of the son of a storm giant? He picked his real family over his adopted family, which was the choice of a Peaky Blinders character, too. And besides, there was all that pesky prophecy stuff. Nobody said gods had free will.

So the story of Thor and Loki isn't one of lifelong battle, it's the story two very different brothers falling out. In that sense, it's a sad tale and one not unknown to the Norse, where only the oldest brother inherited, forcing the younger ones to fight their siblings or leave to find their own fortune. Brothers were constantly fighting each other in Viking history, because their society literally placed them in an antagonistic relationship at birth.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, this looks like it's for kids. But it's a reminder of what Thor and Loki actually were, not what Stan and Jack made of them.

GRAPHIC NOVEL HIGHLIGHTS

Bad Summer TPB

Writer: Edward Laroche • Art//Cover: Edward Laroche

Behemoth Comics • $9.99

Behemoth gives only a short description of this book, a "story about Alain and Shar, a struggling couple in the Los Feliz area of East Los Angeles, as they have their resolve tested when a merciless heat wave threatens the sanity of everyone around them." That's not much to go on, but it's enough to get me interested. Whether it's just slice-of-life or the narrative tips over into horror, it sounds like this book recognizes what I've always known: The greatest danger in the world is other people. So in my case the story is probably bias confirmation, so I'd like to check it out.

Blade Runner 2019 Vol. 1: Los Angeles Artist's Edition HC

Writers: Michael Green, Mike Johnson • Artist: Andres Guinaldo

Titan Comics • $29.99, £26.99

Artist's Editions are all the rage these days, so it's unsurprising to see Titan jump on the bandwagon. I'm just not sure this book rises to the level of that kind of treatment.

I don't mean to denigrate Spanish artist Andres Guinaldo, whose attention to detail is impressive. But do we need to pay $30 just to see it bigger? Of course, you can apply that logic to any Artist's Edition, so you can guess that I don't really buy any of them.

Well, Titan has provided a generous preview below, so you can decide for yourself.

Breaklands TPB

Writer: Justin Jordan • Art/Cover: Tyasseta

Dark Horse • $19.99

So, this book was listed last week, and I remarked it sounded interesting. Then it got listed again, so I had a second chance at it.

And it's pretty good. The premise is this: Sometime in the future, in undisclosed circumstances, everyone on Earth gets super-powers. Some big powers, some little powers. They call it "The Break," hence the title. And, as you'd imagine, it becomes a super-powered free-for-all, which ends civilization.

Now it's 150 years after that, various barbaric civilizations are rising, and we're introduced to a brother (grade-school age) and his sister (mid-teens) who, we learn in the course of the story, have two of the greatest powers of all. The little brother is kidnapped by slavers (with super-powers, natch), and the sister goes after him, picking up various friends (also with super-powers) along the way. And since a lot of people can sense other powerful gifts, now everyone is after the brother and the sister. Can our ragtag band survive?

Well, now that I say it out loud, it's not that original a scenario. But what makes Breaklands interesting is that the art is reminiscent of Jean Giraud, or at least the school of art he inspired, while the writing is ... terse, I think is the word. Jordan lets the art speak, and the dialogue, such as it is, is generally of the banter variety that conveys only humor and personality, instead of information. Information comes with the occasional exposition dump which, as you'd expect, are necessary now and then.

This book collects Breaklands #1-5, so I assume it's an ongoing. Certainly this book didn't come to anything like an end, so don't expect one.

Call of Cthulhu & Dagon HC

Writers: H. P. Lovecraft, Pete Katz • Art: Dave Shepard

Canterbury Classics • $19.99

Another publisher is adapting Lovecraft next month, or maybe it's the month after. HPL must have come into public domain or something.

Anyway, I've never been a Lovecraft fan. Most of his stories involved things that are never described, and everyone who experiences them goes mad and can't tell us anything. And then nothing happens, except the crazy person is put away and everyone frets about what he saw. This is called psychological horror, but as a callow youth, I felt Lovecraft was asking the reader to do too much of the heavy lifting — to basically imagine the Elder Gods themselves, and write their own stories. Isn't the writer supposed to do that?

Further, I can't imagine anything so horrible that it would drive me mad. (And neither can you, since if you did, you'd go mad.) So I felt no horror. You need to tell me something scary, or I'm not going to be scared. I can dream up scary stuff on my own, but if I'm spending money on your story, you need to do that part. HPL never did.

Also, he was a horrible racist. That's a big minus.

As an adult, I don't feel much different. But I do feel that Lovecraft is part of the Nerd Canon, and I have a responsibility as an O.G. nerd to at least be conversational about him. It's been four decades or so since I read Lovecraft, so I guess this revival is a good time to brush up on him.

Diablo: Sword of Justice GN

Writer: Aaron Williams • Art: Joseph LaCroix

Blizzard Entertainment • $14.95

This is set in a video game franchise with which I am unfamiliar, since I am unfamiliar with all video game franchises. Hey, I'm old! But the art looks nice.

Hotline Miami: Wildlife Vol. 1 TPBWriters: Frederico Chemello, Maurizio Furini • Art/Cover: Alberto Massaggia, Ludovica Ceregatti

Behemoth Comics • $17.99

Another video game-based comic book! But since Behemoth doesn't send me DRCs, I can't tell you any more about it. The bird-head-guy has my curiosity going.

Let's Talk About It HC

Writers: Erika Moen, Matthew Nolan • Art: Erika Moen, Matthew Nolan

Random House • $23.99

This is sort of like how I described a different book last week, an owner's manual for the human body/social condition. Man, where were these books when I was growing up? You wouldn't believe the crap my friends thought about sex when we were kids. I knew they were wrong, but I didn't know what was right.

I sure could have used this book, which promises to cover "relationships, friendships, gender, sexuality, anatomy, body image, safe sex, sexting, jealousy, rejection, sex education and more."

I'm old and married, but I can still learn some things, right? So I cracked it open Saturday night.

The first several chapters were all about consent, which is an important topic, but they go into such detail and at such length that I can't imagine anyone applying these jillions of lessons in real life. ("OK, page 16 says do this if 'A,' but page 19 reminds that in case A.a do this other thing, but page 23 says in case of A.b do that ...")

And unless you're an incipient rapist, I think consent is a lot simpler than it's depicted. If your partner is enthusiastic and engaged, that's a "yes," just about anything else is a "no." Sure, there are complications — "yes" can turn into "no" midway, or "yes" can only apply to certain activities — but basically it boils down to being a decent person who is focused on the pleasure of your partner. That's really, really simple.

But the fact that it's not simple for a lot of guys (and some girls) is not the fault of this book, which is trying to correct the problem. But I'm not the target market. And for this old, long-married gender warrior, page after page of in-detail wokeness made me weary and I had to put the book down.

I still think the book has possibilities, and I'll try again later.

Post York TPB

Writer/Art/Cover: James Romberger • Editor: Karen Berger

Dark Horse • B&W • 112 pages • 6 5/8" x 9" • $17.99

Romberger writes in the copious after-comic material about Post York's creation: "I’d watched [my son] and his friends growing up in NYC Hip Hop culture pride themselves on free-styling, spitting impromptu lines to destroy their rap battle rivals. I borrowed that energy to freestyle the comics version of Post York in the act of drawing, without a script. For me, this approach to narrative is in sync with our visually-driven medium, as the improvisational “camera that writes” was for the cinematic French New Wave of the 1960s."

That is exactly the sort of artsy-fartsy thing you need to tell me if you want me to avoid your work like the plague. If that had been in a foreword, I'd never had read Post York.

But by the time I read those words I'd already read Post York, and it was pretty good. Not great, but full of heart. It's actually three stories; the first narrative is a full story, and then the next two pick up at a point of divergence in the first story, and follow that narrative to a natural end.

I got to like the lead character, based on Romberger's son, who does his best by wildlife and his world he can, including his pet cat Kitsky. His three different fates demonstrate that good intentions don't always lead to good results.

The kid has an awkward meet with a girl in another part of the building archipelago that is the flooded New York, and he never sees her again (in the first story). So there's that wistful "what if" feeling from this scene about these two lonely people, as one ponders the possibilities had they met under different circumstances. But as the next two stories make clear, the girl is gay, which gave me a chuckle. "What ifs" in our mind are usually better there than they ever would be in real life.

While I found the stories engaging and emotional, I wasn't as crazy about the artwork, which is in the "primitive" style so popular today. It's not popular with me; it feels rushed and unfinished, and I sometimes have trouble understanding what's going on. I find that frustrating, but others like it, so there's your horse race.

I mention after-comic material, and there's a bunch of it about what New York might really look like in the next 50 years, after the glaciers melt. It's not pretty. It won't be a building archipelago like in Post York, since the scientists consulted say that most of the buildings will collapse and/or sink in the initial flooding and the remainder won't last long. They're just not constructed to withstand those sorts of stresses, or are built on former swampland, or are built to share support with surrounding buildings -- so if one goes, they all go. And it won't be a serene sea; there will be exaggerated tides and such. I found this material borderline terrifying.

Reed Crandall: Illustrator of Comics SC

TwoMorrows Publishing • $39.95

The older I get the less interested I find myself in the Golden and Silver Age artists who drew stuff I liked as a kid.

It's the art I was drawn to; the stories and illustrations that fired my imagination all those years ago are still enjoyable today. I was vaguely curious about the real-life people behind the art in my youth, and I sometimes bought books about them. But now in my dotage I couldn't care less. They were ordinary people who had, by and large, ordinary lives, and they're all dead now anyway.And some of them, like Wally Wood and Bill Everett, had demons that make for unhappy reading.

I'm currently stuck in the middle of volume 2 of the biography of Basil Wolverton, because the author's close attention to the quotidian aspects of Wolverton's life are boring me to tears. Who would have guessed that a guy whose brain created those incredibly weird drawings could have such pedestrian ambitions?

But I'm curmudgeon, and perhaps you are not. You might have a burning curiosity about Reed Crandall's life, as God knows he was a great artist. If so, this is for you. It's by TwoMorrows, so the information will be good, and it will certainly not lack for gorgeous illustrations.

Rogue Planet TPB

Writer: Cullen Bunn • Art: Andy MacDonald

Oni Press • $19.99

A salvage crew in a space-faring future find an orphan planet with untold riches to be mined. However, as usually happens in these sorts of stories, they find they're not alone on the planet. And their company does not mind its manners. Plus, there are the usual geological and astronomic difficulties you'd expect.

Cullen Bunn knows his way around a horror story, so this probably head and shoulders above the norm.

And now you know all I know about this book. It looks interesting, but I just don't know much about it.

Saint Young Men Vol. 5 HC

Writer/Art/Cover: Hikaru Nakamura

Kodansha Comics • $23.99

I pulled this one out because of the premise: Jesus and Buddha incarnate on Earth and share an apartment in Japan. Yes, it's a comedy. But one I hope with a point. Who hasn't wondered what Jesus would say if he did return and saw how his believers act? "Get rich and screw the other guy" wasn't his philosophy, but that seems to be the mantra of the Christians I meet.

The Thud TPB

Writer/Art/Cover: Mikael Ross

Fantagraphics • $16.99

This is an empathetic story told entirely from a developmentally impaired boy's perspective. I welcome this book, and any other way to make people aware that the challenged are people like any other, with dreams and hopes and fears. And decency demands we integrate them into a supportive society, instead of warehousing them.

BOOK HIGHLIGHTS

DC Comics: Exploring Gotham City

Writer: Matthew K. Manning

Insight Kids • $29.99

"The first in a series of large-scale interactive books that explore the iconic locations from the world of DC Comics, DC Comics: Exploring Gotham City combines striking full-color illustrations of Gotham City with interactive elements that reveal the secrets of the most fascinating locations from the birthplace of the Dark Knight. Explore famous landmarks like the Batcave, Arkham Asylum, and Wayne Manor and uncover the mysteries of the Gotham City."

Not sure who the target market is for this book. I don't think younger readers will fight through all the words to get to cool Bat-stuff, and older readers aren't interested in "interactive elements" and are aware that any information found in the book will be rendered moot by the next reboot.

But who knows? Insight says they'll be doing Metropolis next, so they must be expecting good sales.

Flash Crossover Crisis Vol. 1: Green Arrow's Perfect Shot SC
Writer: Barry Lyga • Cover: Cesar Moreno

Amulet Books • $8.99

I had no idea there was a prose series set in the Arrowverse. Or maybe this is the first one. Anyway, Oliver Queen of Earth-TV is alive in this book, which is nice. Come to think of it, this might be the only place he's still alive.

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales to the Rescue SC

Writer: David Fentiman

DK Publishing Co. • $4.99

This is a learn-how-to-read sort of thing. I'm pretty surprised by all these superhero-related books. Is this new, or has it been trending and I'm just now noticing it?

Morbius the Living Vampire: Blood Ties PB

Writer: Brendan Deneen

Titan Books • $24.95

And here's another. This is a mass-market paperback, so I assume it's for grown-ups. Or mostly grown-ups. I further assume the release was timed to coincide with the movie, which — like most movies — has moved around the calendar a bit. Sorry, people who plan these things!

THE FULL LIST

The 27 Run Crush HC

Amazing Spider-Man #61

Amazing Spider-Man: Last Remains Companion TPB

American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s New Ptg

American Vampire 1976 #6

Antifa Super Soldier Cookbook one-shot

Archie 1000 Page Comics Delight TPB

Artemis Fowl Vol 2 Arctic Incident GN

Art of Supercell 10th Anniversary Edition HC

Aster Vol 2 Mixed Up Magic HC

Autumnal #5

Bad Summer GN

Batgirl Vol. 8: The Joker War HC

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Berserk Deluxe Edition Vol 7 HC

Betty & Veronica Friends Forever Spring Break #1

Birthright #47

Black Hammer: Visions #2 (of 8)

Black Panther Epic Collection: Panthers Prey TPB

Blade Runner 2019 Vol 1: Artist Edition TPB

Blade Runner 2029 #3

Blade Runner Origins #1

Bloodshot (2019) #12

Blue Barry & Pancakes Vol 1 GN

Breaklands TPB

Breathers #5

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: High School Is Hell Deluxe Edition HC

Call of Cthulhu & Dagon HC

Captain America by Jack Kirby Omnibus HC Madbomb

Charlie Adlard: Drawings & Sketches SC

Children of the Atom #1

Commanders in Crisis #6 (of 12)

Complete Chester Gould Dick Tracy Vol 29 HC

Conan the Barbarian #19

Conan the Barbarian Epic Collection The Original Marvel Years TPB Hawks from the Sea TPB

COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology GN

Cutting Edge: Devil’s Mirror #2 (of 2)

Daytime Shooting Star Vol 11 GN

DC Comics: Exploring Gotham City

Daredevil #28

Daytime Shooting Star Vol. 11 GN

DC Comics: Exploring Gotham City

Deadpool Nerdy 30 #1

Deep Beyond #1 (of 12) 2nd Ptg

Deep Beyond #2 (of 12)

Deep into the Amazon Jungle HC

Diablo: Sword of Justice GN

Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior Vol 1 Op Alliance GN

Disney’s Beauty & Beast:The Story of the Movie in Comics HC

Dragon Age: First Five GN

Dragon Ball Super Vol 12 GN

Dungeons on a Dime Vol 1 SC

Electric Black Presents #3

Eternals #3

Fantastic Four by Dan Slott Vol 1 HC

Final Fantasy XV: Official Works HC/Limited Edition

Flash Crossover Crisis Vol 1: Green Arrow’s Perfect Shot SC

Flying Witch Vol 9 GN

Fox & Rabbit Year Vol 1 GN

GI Joe A Real American Hero Vol. 24: Snake Hunt TPB

God of War: Fallen God #1 (of 4)

Golden Age Captain America Omnibus Vol 1 New Ptg HC

Goon #13

Grand Blue Dreaming Vol 12 GN

The Green Lantern: Season Two #12

Grendel Kentucky TPB

Grimm Fairy Tales #46

Grubbs #1

Haikyu Vol 43 GN

Hitorijime: My Hero Vol 9 GN

Home Sick Pilots #4

Honor and Curse #9

Hotline Miami: Wildlife Vol 1 TPB

I Hear the Sunspot Limit Vol 3 GN

Immortal Hulk #44

Incredible Nellie Bly GN

Invader Zim: Best of Gir TPB

John Carpenter’s Night Terrors TPB

The Joker #1

Karmen #1

Knock ‘Em Dead #4

Kona #2

Last Witch #3

Leak GN

The Legend of Korra: The Art of Animated Air 2nd Edition HC/Limited Edition

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol 08 GN

Let’s Talk About It HC

Low Vol 5: Light Brings Light TPB

Luna #2 (of 5)

Maiden #1 (of 8)

Maniac of New York #2

Marginal Operation Vol 5 GN

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales to the Rescue SC

Mighty Morphin #5

Minerva’s Map Key to a Perfect Apocalypse #1

Minions: Sports #1

Morbius the Living Vampire: Blood Ties PB

My Last Summer with Cass GN

My Little Pony Manga Vol 3

Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology #6

New Warriors Classic Omnibus Vol 1 New Ptg HC

Night Hunters #2 (of 4)

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1

Nottingham #1 (of 5)

Ocean of Secrets Manga Vol 3 GN

Oresama Teacher Vol 28 GN

Post York TPB

Proctor Valley Road #1 (of 5)

Queen’s Quality Vol 11 GN

Radiant Black #1 2nd Ptg

Rat Queens #25

Redemption #2

Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 4 Unspoken Truths TPB

Red Sonja The Superpowers #3

Reed Crandall: Illustrator Of Comics SC

Rent a Girlfriend Vol 5 GN

Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #4

Rin-Ne Vol 38 GN

Rising of the Shield Hero Vol 15  GN

Rogue Planet TPB

Rorschach #6

Saint Young Men Vol 5 HC

Scout’s Honor #3

Sea of Stars #9  

Seekers of Aweto Vol 1 Hunt Is On GN

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles Omnibus Vol 1 GN

Sensational Wonder Woman #10 (digital first)

Sera & Royal Stars Vol 2 TPB

Serial #2

Sh*Tshow #2

Shomin Sample: Abducted by Elite All Girls School Vol 14 GN

Skip Beat Vol 45 GN

Space Bastards #3

Specter Inspectors #2 (of 5)

Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane Complete Collection TPB

Spy X Family Vol 4 GN

Starcraft Ghost Academy Vol 2 TPB

Stargazer #6 (of 6)

Star Wars #12

Star Wars: The Age of Resistance Official Collection Edition HC

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Omnibus Vol 1 HC

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection Vol 5: New Republic TPB

Stephen McCranie’s Space Boy Vol 9 TPB

Strange Academy #9

Strange Disappearance of Barnabas Jones GN

Suneater #3 (of 9)

Superman #29

Superman: The Last Son Deluxe Edition HC

Super Turbo Vol 2: vs. Flying Ninja Squirrels GN

Sweet Tooth: The Return #5

Tart Soul Searchers one-shot

Taskmaster #4 (of 5)

Thor and Loki Double Trouble #1 (of 4)

Thud GN

TMNT: Jennika II #5 (of 6)

Tono Monogatari:  Shigeru Mizuki Folklore GN

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #6 (of 6)

Twin Star Exorcists Onmyoji Vol 21 GN

Twiztid Haunted High Ons Darkness Rises TPB

Vampirella #18

Vampire the Masquerade #6

Vampire the Masquerade Vol 1 TPB

Venom by Donny Cates Vol 5: Venom Beyond TPB

Waiting for Spring Vol 14 (of 14) GN

Wasted Space #20

Wave: Listen to Me Vol 5 GN

Whisper Omnibus Vol 02 TPB

Wolf in Underpants: At Full Speed Ya GN

Wolverine: Black White and Blood #4 (of 4)

Wonder Woman #770

Wrong Earth: Night And Day #3

X-Factor #8

X-Men by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee Omnibus Vol 2 HC

Zombie Tramp #78

Zorro in the Land That Time Forgot #3

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Thor & Loki: Double Trouble #1 (of 4): Those who have only read Marvel's Thor comics and not the original Norse myths might be unaware that Loki is not the God of Evil — he's the God of Mischief. If he was the God of Evil, Thor or Odin or somebody would have killed him outright. But he's just a trickster god, who likes pulling (potentially lethal) pranks, and a shapeshifter who pretends to be other people to cause trouble.

It's interesting that a lot of religions, including native religions in the Americas, include trickster gods.

Bad Summer TPB: Behemoth gives only a short description of this book, a "story about Alain and Shar, a struggling couple in the Los Feliz area of East Los Angeles.....

A geographic quibble. East Los Angeles is about nine miles south of the L.A. City portion called Los Feliz. Los Feliz is close to Hollywood and adjacent to Griffith Park, the site of the Observatory and the L.A. Zoo.

            Whaaa? After more than 40 years, ZINDA BLAKE returns and you didn't even look at it to determine if it was worth reporting on.

             Quite the website you've got here.

I've been reading Blade Runner 2019, starring this same character, and I've enjoyed it. Of course, now that I've seen this book, I guess we can be pretty sure Ash is going to survive her 2019 adventures. Which is fine: I like this character, a hard-bitten P.I. type whose disability* is a constant source of dramatic tension but isn't used for self-pity or justification for failure. But her assured survival into 2029 does sort of ruin the suspense.

Cap, I'm guessing you aren't completely caught up on Blade Runner, because Ash's survival is a lot less surprising if you are.

I have not read "Children of the Atom", but I wish I did.  There is a nice surprise there (beware of spoilers).

It seems to have far better characterization than the X-books usually do, too.

You’re right, Travis, I’ve only read the first story arc in BR 2019. Looks like I’ve got some cool stuff ahead!

And I’ve got CotA #1, Luis, but have yet to read it.It’s in the “read soonest” pile, so i should get to it directly.

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