Look, money comes in, money goes out, and just occasionally special happy time money comes in, and Luscious gives me an allowance for shiny new rocks and twigs and things stolen from the hair of passing pedestrians…….
Um, yeah. I got me some new graphic novels recently. Let’s move on from unfortunate analogies that make me sound like a sex pest in a tree and see how they turned out, shall we? Quickly, now.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, Volume 2
Holy Jesus H Corbett, this is dark. The narrative drive is pretty much right there in the title: something is killing the children of generic small town USA, and a weird girl with big knives and a distinct lack of fuckgiveness — who coincidentally is just about the only person who can actually see the monsters slaughtering the children in front of their parents’ eyes — arrives to kick off some serious bloodletting. And this is the second volume, so you know things are only going to escalate. Cue our protagonist’s superior arriving from the monster-hunting organisation to which they belong, not to help kill the monsters but to make sure any possible eyewitness is removed from the situation, permanently. It’s brutal, unforgiving, and absolutely compelling. If it wasn’t for a certain fifth volume of a book I’ll be discussing below, this would be far and away the best new comic series I’ve discovered in years. I’m officially hooked AF.
MONSTRESS, VOLUME 5: WARCHILD
I really don’t know what else to say about this book. Either you’ve experienced it, in which case I KNOW, RIGHT?!, or you’ve yet to follow my increasingly shrill and persistent exhortations, in which case what the ever-living fuck are you waiting for? This is, quite simply, the best comic book in the last decade and beyond: I’m prepared to stand on the hill and say it’s the best comic since Sandman, and it may yet prove to be better. It’s that good.
This is the volume where all the threads start to fall in on our heroes. War catches up with Maika Halfwolf and her companions. Lives are lost. Humans, Arcani, Witches, Cats, Wolves, Pirates, and everyone else are swept up in the first attack by the Federation of Man on the arcane city of Ravenna. Everyone who knows she is there wants Halfwolf’s head, and those who don’t know soon will. The writing is sensational, the art is simply stunning, and… well, how long can I keep banging on? It’s absolutely magnificent.
FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: ESCAPE.
Honestly, I can never keep straight in my mind which crisis is which in the DC Universe. Is this the Superboy one? The Sue Dibny one? Is that the one with the Martian Manhunter dying, or is it the other one? And the White Lanterns? Is that a Crisis, or some other non-crisis crisis? To paraphrase the immortal Smith and Jones: “They can hardly call it ‘the crisis to end all crises except for the one we’re gonna have next’, can they?”
Just as honestly, it doesn’t really matter. This is a self-contained story involving one of my favourite Suicide Squad Nerds Only B-characters, Tom Tresser, alias Nemesis, a guy with the power to imitate anyone he comes into contact with. He’s been abducted by somebody — he thinks — and placed in a prison –he thinks — full of familiar faces –he thinks — and sometimes they disappear, and sometimes they die and reappear, and sometimes he’s pretty sure he dies…… and no matter what else is happening, he’s certain he’s going ever so slightly mad. It’s all good clean fun, but it does have a tendency to skirt the lines of incomprehensibility, and while the narrative does have sufficiently clean ends to tie a bow around, I’m not entirely certain the creators remain 100% in control of the material at all times. There are too many holes and jump cuts to make for comfortable reading, but that might just be the point. It’s either a fiendish Mobius strip of a book, or a perfect example of ambition outstripping talent. I just won’t know for sure until I’ve read it a few more times.
ZOMBO: I’M A GOOD BOY, REALLY
Ahhhh, the classic old story: spaceship lands on planet, planet is sentient and tries to eat passengers, passengers accidentally wake up and unleash genetically modified super zombie with extremely high intelligence and ludicrously elevated levels of politeness……
At this point, you either love the stupidly over the top childish mayhem of 2000AD, or you’re an uptight wozzer with a terminal case of buttock clench. Nothing I can do to persuade you either way. But if you are the former, this is perfect 2000AD madness, involving increasingly graphic and hilarious death scenes, a gang of classic House-of-Dredd disaffected youth trying to devise more inventive ways to kill themselves for internet votes, a sentient plague, more zombies than you can point a blaster at, and carnage, hijinks, and colossal two-fingers-uppishness with the usual bad jokes and side-eyeing self-awareness that makes this company’s work so deeply addictive. If you’re a fan of the kind of comic where it’s perfectly acceptable for a zombie chihuahua to chew off a bebop lounge singer’s nads, this is the very book for you. It’s a dark, narcissistic joy.
GOTHAM CENTRAL BOOK 2: JOKERS AND MADMEN
Well, God bless whoever looked at the Batman Universe and decided that what it was really lacking was a gritty police procedural, because damn it if this isn’t exactly what they ordered…… and damn it if this isn’t absolutely bloody fantastic. This volume follows the all-too-human members of the day and night shifts of the Gotham City Police Department — underfunded, swamped by cases, tired, and run ragged by normal criminals — when the supershit hits the fan and starts raining down. Specifically, when the Joker goes on a sniper spree and they’re caught between being the next to fall and a public administration (and populace) that sees them as little more than cattle to be kept quiet until the Batman arrives and saves the day. It’s gritty as all hell, with well-defined characters, a gripping sense of reality, and the overwhelming knowledge that nobody is safe: characters die, and because they’re not swathed in spandex you just know they won’t be coming back. It’s excellent stuff: well-rounded; realistic; and compelling. There are five volumes, and I’ll be getting them all.