Opus: Satoshi Kim's last, unfinished work. Meta ass story about a manga creator who ends up fighting his characters when they don't want to go with the ending he wants, essentially. Gorgeous pages, a really well thought out story, and even though it leaves off in a weird place (the magazine it ran in was cancelled and the last chapter is only roughs), it's weirdly fitting in the context of the story. Would highly recommend. A Long Walk To Valhalla: A story about two brothers (one who's mentally challenged), the event that changed their relationship, and a small girl who claims to be a Valkyrie who helps them process all that happened. In the same kind of vein as I Kill Giants, and just as wonderful. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank 4: We get this kid trying desperately to help her dad and the full shape of the caper finally unfolding. Looking forward to seeing how this wraps (next issue is the last I think? Not sure). Single Issues: 164 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 54 Omnibuses: 1
The Bear, Chrissy Williams: A friend's first poetry collection. It's a very true reflection of her voice, and I liked a lot of the poems. It comes out Stateside in September, would recommend. books read: 30
The Private Eye: BKV and Martin do a weird near future where the Internet no longer exists and everyone's right to privacy reigns supreme, and a murder mystery that threatens to undo it all. Some of the ideas don't always carry through (see: journos as law enforcement), but it's pretty and a neat concept. Day Men vol 1-2: i completely forgot what I read of vol 1, but hearing Stelfreeze rave about it at C2E2 had me come back to it and then read the second volume that we found half price. The story is still close enough to Vampire the Masquerade that I hope White Wolf doesn't look too close at it, but man, Stelfreeze does some really good work here. Shade the Changing Girl 8: Tbh I bought this for the Jen Bartel Lisa Frank velociraptor cover. Shade does the tourist thing in Gotham. *shrug* Batwoman 3: I don't know if this is the editor clamping down or Tynion smothering Bennett, but this feels like a generic Batbook, which is not a thing I want from this. Hoping next issue course corrects. Bug! The Adventures of Forager 1: I'll be real blunt: I have no fucking clue what's happening here, and I like it. Dialogue is funny, art is great, will probably follow this on the trade. Single Issues: 163 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 52 Omnibuses: 1
Godshaper 2: We get more of the world shaped out in a really good issue, and the larger threat starts to take shape. Also, holy shit the art and colors on this are gorgeous. (Goonface was selling original inks from $45/page yesterday on Twitter. You might wanna get on it.) WicDiv 455 AD: *twang twang* Andre Lima Araujo gets to do some absolutely gorgeous and nuts and gory art this time around. Kieron's having fun as ever. Arclight: Stunningly, this does end up making a bit more sense as a cohesive story on the trade (though not gonna lie, the six month gap when the writer and artist broke up as a couple really show). Marian Chuchland is a fucking goddess, and everyone should come correct. A Land Called Tarot: Gael Bertrand does an entirely wordless comic whose aesthetic is best described as Moebius meets Miyazaki. Each chapter is also based on a card of the Tarot. Absolutely gorgeous and worth your time. Single Issues: 160 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 49 Omnibuses: 1
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu: These tend to be either hit it out of the park good, or so eyerollingly cliche that you want to throw it at a wall. You can also see the structure of his stories kind of become samey as the collection goes on (and he also reuses names a lot, which becomes super noticeable bc the reused names are his wife and kids' names) which is mildly awkward. Also the silkpunk is a 50-50 shot of actually landing in a given story. I like him best as a translator and a short story writer I think. Standouts from this collection: title story, The Regular, and The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary. American Gods (Authors Preferred Text), Neil Gaiman: Okay. So. I've read this book front to back several times over (used to reread it once a year). Haven't read it in a few years, the show coming up made me want to do a read of the authors preferred version, and my opinions on Gaiman in the intervening years have changed a bit. Still a solid novel, if a bit weirdly structured. But what I notice now is how much the women in this novel either serve as people for Shadow to fuck, to get dead, to have an emotion at, to help him as a plot point, or sometimes all of the above. This compounded with some really tasteless stuff that Gaiman adds back (notably: trans joke with Bilquis) in this edition leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Still gonna watch the tv series at some point and hope Fuller gets to improve the material. Also fun: Death cameo from Sandman, seeing Karen Berger and Kelly Sue DeConnick in the reader credits. Books read: 29
Persona 5: We finished this up last night, and I kind of already want to dive into a new game plus run (which lets us carry over money, social skills, all the Personas we made, special items) and see if I can't max out the social links we just barely missed. We hit 90 hours for this playthrough (we went for the True ending), and we still have stuff I want to try to complete. The story goes epic on a scale I haven't seen since P3 , and while it goes a bit off the rails towards the last five hours on the True run, it's still great. The Persona formula is still there, but it's basically been refined to the point that it goes off almost perfectly - and while this run of games (3, 4, 5) has been great, I'm interested to see what a new team will do with Persona (GIVE US A FEMALE PROTAGONIST AND QUEER ROMANCE OPTIONS FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK). The camera is still your first, last, and worst enemy in this. Especially when you're trying to figure out some of the puzzles towards the end of the run. (Also Atlus please let up on the stupid fucking restriction on using the PS4 Share feature, I just want screencaps of Sojiro's skeptical face and to be able to take photos without having to rely on my phone.)
Secret Empire/Spectacular Spider-Man FCBD: So, for Secret Empire - it does some neat things with panel logic and breaking it down towards the end of the 10 pages, but after a certain point it does get a bit hard to follow the specific details of what's going on. Spectacular Spider-Man is restrained for Zdarsky, but still funny, I'll page through it here and there when it comes out. Drawn and Quarterly FCBD: The excerpt of the Chechnyan hostage story was tense and for mostly being drawn in the same colors, gorgeous. The Poppies of Iraq does good stuff with narrative flow, not necessarily my favorite style, but still well done. Valiant FCBD: Good lead-ins for the upcoming Bloodshot and XO Manowar arcs. Would highly recommend XO if you haven't been reading that. They also have a preview for Secret Weapons, which we've been lucky enough to read in its entirety (episode coming up), and which I will also highly recommend. Secret Weapons 1: You'll be hearing about this on an upcoming podcast episode. TLDR? You're gonna want to get this, especially if you loved the feel of the Aja/Fraction Hawkeye. Weekend Routines: A zine-type comic, nothing too notable, but fun. DC Superhero Girls FCBD: It's cute, it's fun, it weaves in a lot of the ladies from their superhero properties and does fun cameos too. Also apparently a lead in for a summer type graphic novel, which is good thinking on their part. I Hate Image: Very effective use of I Hate Fairyland's Gert to introduce a lot of their properties and make fun of themselves. I think this is the standout of FCBD this year, if only because it made me laugh out loud in the middle of a restaurant several times. Harrow County v1: Southern Gothic horror as fuck, and yeah, I'm definitely here for this. Might've already had one of the major twists already spoiled by the issues Carla sent me, but these are still gorgeous and creepy and lovely. Shutter v4: Styles go from old school romance-esque comics to Tintin to Disney-esque to three parallel stories in one issue differentiated only by color scheme. Holy fuck did we ever sleep on this. Story jumps off again in a big way. This wraps up this year, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Single Issues: 158 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 47 Omnibuses: 1
The Coldest Winter: solid spy story featuring one of the characters from Coldest City (though I definitely thought one of the few female characters was gonna turn out to be Lorraine in disguise). Not a fan of the art style here; feels like the artist did photorealistic tracing and then filled it in black and white in Photoshop. Single Issues: 151 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 45 Omnibuses: 1
Fun, cute thing while reading Black Hammer last night: at one point one of the issues is told in the style of the old school horror comics. Two of the characters that approach the creepy ass cabin are called Len and Bernie, and Bernie is wearing a hat that's very close to the one Wrightson wore a fair bit. The one called Bernie is eventually turned into Not the Swamp Thing.
I was in the middle of that one weird random sickness combo I had, and Preston suggested that I check the site out while I was busy trying not to die on my family's couch, and here we all are, kids. <3
Bloodshot Reborn vols 3-4: Volume 3 and the bullshit "it's all in your head" twist at the end can fuck the fuck right off. The art wasn't spectacular, and it felt like a bad Mad Max fusion prior to that, but the twist moved a solidly mediocre volume into bullshit. Volume 4 (Bloodshot Island) is pretty amazing, though. We get follow through on some stuff that was mentioned back in volume 2, and what is a pretty great premise and great art by Suayan combining in a pitch perfect way. Also includes the Bloodshot Annual, which is worth it for the Bloodsquirt story alone. Skip vol 3, but vol 4 is worth your time. Wrath of the Eternal Warrior 5-6: Turns out there were two issues I missed in the lead up to the Labyrinth arc where Juan Jose Ryp just lets loose and goes full Conan, and it's pretty goddamn great. Also explains one bit of Labyrinth that I didn't fully get when I was reading just the issues. (Also paged through the rest of the Labyrinth arc, because this was in the vol 2 collection, because goddamn, that fucking arc). Doctor Strange: What Disturbs You, Stephen?: P Craig Russell does a reworking of a Doctor Strange annual he did back in the 70s. Both the expanded retelling and the original are included, which I really like, just to see the difference in how he does it 20 years on versus when he was just starting out. P Craig Russell is fucking gorgeous, news at 11, etc. Also includes some of his earlier art and inking work on Doctor Strange, some of which feels like they were grasping for content to fill out the trade, but hey, we found it for $10, we're not complaining. Black Hammer vol 1: Totally not the Justice League getting stuck in a mysterious small town/Essex County Elseworld/AU story, no sirree. Lemire does great with the riffs on the golden age archetypes (Gail forever), and Dean Ormston does great at capturing both the small town dread and the Golden Age flashbacks, and differentiating between the two well. Very interested to see where this goes. Black Hammer Annual: Great use of a uniting story to give it over to individual artist/writer teams to riff (including the Kindts, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox, Ray Fawkes, Mike Allred!) for a few pages each. Caravaggio vol 1: MILO MANARA DOES LADIES AND SEX AND BOOBS PAINTING AND SWORDS REAL GOOD GUYS. Don't think this needs too much more than that. (Other than god bless Dark Horse pricing almost everything at 40 to 70% off in the last hours of a con because they don't want to drag shit back to Oregon.) Single Issues: 151 Trades/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 44 Omnibuses: 1
Mass Effect Andromeda: We were way more into the side missions than we were the main missions too, tbh. Like, I loved the loyalty missions (MOVIE NIGHT), and the little pieces of the world (emails, bulletin boards, KROGAN LARPING). The main story was.... a thing? That ending mission was clearly what they wanted to do originally with ME3 but got overridden. I'd be up for seeing these characters again, and maybe doing another run through to romance someone else (but honestly, I might just look up our other options on YouTube), but as is? I'm alright. Two other major bugs that we ran into, even after the patch that was supposed to fix a lot - our Ryder didn't load in during the final movie night cut scene, which made it look super eerie, and during the final fight sequence, none of the enemies loaded in. Persona 5 on the other hand, we have already agreed that we're gonna purchase this on the PS3 too, and will probably spend a week around Christmas just not going outside and playing the shit out of it again, and we're only about at midgame. The story is absolutely insane, and I have no idea how this is going to turn out, which I really like, tbh. Except for Ryuji, I love our crew. We've got several guides that we're attempting to follow now, but for the most part we're also going in a bit blind for maxing out skills, social links, etc (that's what round 2 will be for in the winter). Persona fusion is pretty much the platonic ideal of what we've been hoping for. The UI is goddamn gorgeous in its flow and sheer stylishness, and the game really commits to the prison/French theme/aesthetic in almost all aspects. The battle system basically is a further evolution of P4, and now adds some fun new magic twists. Dungeon crawling has multiple save points, and isn't nearly so unforgiving (you can restart boss/midboss battles if you lose, and dungeon deaths bounce you to your last save point), and has some pretty solid mechanics this time around (attempts at stealth, puzzle solving). I mean, the camera is still godawful, and the "older gay men are predators" bullshit is still there, but everything can't be perfect. Have picked Overwatch back up a bit with the new event; the PvE mode they have for it is perfect, and I honestly hope it sticks around.