Ur (2015) Eric Haven (AdHouse Books)
Haven’s short book (48 pages) is filled with oddball, absurdist and hilarious fun with several brief tales focusing mostly on the apocalyptic. The Race Murdock stories are the longest and I think the best. (Haven is also an Emmy-nominated producer of the TV show MythBusters.) (color; adults)
Street Angel (2004/2015) Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca (AdHouse Books)
Rugg and Maruca’s adventures of the homeless, skateboarding 12-year-old street kid Jesse Sanchez (first published in 2004) come to life in an in-your-face manner as she fights ninjas, mad scientists, robots, and algebra in this collection of stories. The humor is outstanding, the action never-ending (and sometimes violent), the characters solid and likable. (pink and purple – yes, you read that correctly; mature teens and up)
The Oven (2015) Sophie Goldstein (AdHouse Books)
A couple leaves the protection of their domed city to live in a desert area, far away from modern conveniences and government interference. The book has a lot of interesting things to say about small life, consumerism, totalitarianism, communal living and so much more, yet more importantly it’s an examination of the human experience and how relationships develop in challenging situations. (black-and-white and orange; adults)
Moving Pictures (2010) Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen (Top Shelf) (2x)
After reading the Immonen’s Russian Olive to Red King earlier this month, I decided to revisit their earlier independent work Moving Pictures, an amazing narrative of Ila, a curator of a museum in German-occupied Paris during World War II. As the book opens, Ila is being interrogated by a man named Hauptmann, a representative of the German Military Art Commission. The development of character and pacing in this book is extraordinary. I’ve read it twice and still don’t believe I’ve come close to picking up all the subtleties and nuances of the work. If you’ve read Russian Olive to Red King, you’ll want to pick this one up as well. (black-and-white; mature teens and up)
Maggie the Mechanic (Love and Rockets) (1981 and beyond/2006) Jaime Hernández (Fantagraphics)
For years I’ve wanted to start reading Love and Rockets from the very beginning and now I’ve taken that first step. Maggie the Mechanic introduces us to Maggie (an actual mechanic) and her best friend/lover Hopey, who plays in a punk band. In fact this collection weaves in and out of the punk scene, science fiction, Latino culture and more, but primarily these stories are all about relationships, relationships so rich and layered that you’ll be amazed. And the artwork by Jaime Hernández is spectacular. This first volume from Fantagraphics collecting the early Maggie and Hopey stories is from all reports the best way to go through the Love and Rockets universe. Sign me up for the next installment. (black-and-white; adults)
Grip: The Strange World of Men (2002/2015) Gilbert Hernández (Dark Horse)
Gilbert Hernández, another essential part of the Love and Rockets team, published five issues of a standalone comic called Grip for Vertigo back in 2002. This new collected edition from Dark Horse includes a new four-page introduction (which adds some important elements to the story), but the edition removes the color from the individual issues, resulting in a black-and-white book. No worries, though, because Grip is such a strange, weird trip, I really can’t imagine it in color. Derek and I discussed this new edition on a recent review podcast over at The Comics Alternative. Hope you’ll check it out. (black-and-white; adults)
Shadowman, Vol. 1: Birth Rites (2013) Justin Jordan, Patrick Zircher, Brian Reber (Valiant)
I’ve only dipped into the Valiant universe here and there, but was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this superhero/horror title. I wasn’t a fan of Justin Jordan’s The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, but really like Jordan’s writing here. Patrick Zircher’s art is outstanding. The New Orleans setting is handled well and the creep factor is very strong. I certainly want to read more of this title (and more) from Valiant. (color; teens and up)
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (2015) Eric Shanower, Gabriel Rodríguez, Nelson Daniel (IDW)
I’ll admit it: I had huge reservations about this title going in. I absolutely love Winsor McKay’s original Little Nemo comics from the turn of the 20th century and did not want anyone to create anything that might mar that beloved title in any way.
I had nothing to fear. Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland is a beautiful, wonderful homage to the original without sacrificing any of the elements that made McKay’s title a masterpiece. You can hear more of my thoughts (and Derek’s) in a recent review podcast at The Comics Alternative. I certainly look forward to more Little Nemo stories from Shanower, Rodríguez and Daniel. (color; all ages)
Bravo for Adventure (2015) Alex Toth (IDW, Library of American Comics)
My only complaint about Bravo for Adventure is I wish it were longer. Alex Toth’s Bravo should have had many, many more adventures, but the few collected here – reminiscent of Milton Caniff’s adventure strips from the 1930s and 40s – are wonderful. Thanks to IDW and the Library of American Comics (and, of course, Dean Mullaney) for making this book available. Look for a full review soon at The Comics Alternative.
Haunted Horror Vol. 2: Comics Your Mother Warned You About! (2014) Craig Yoe, Clizia Gussoni, Steve Banes, editors (Yoe Books! IDW)
Yoe’s second collection of vintage precode horror comics does not disappoint. Part of the charm of these tales lies in the fact that the editors present them very much as they originally appeared without a lot of fuss. Oh sure, they’ve been cleaned up but not tampered with; there’s a difference. You even see some off-set color printing as you did with the original comics from the 1950s, which makes you feel like you’re really there. The stories themselves are frequently predictable, but often so weird you don’t know what’s coming next. Pick up these volumes and see what all the fuss was about. To Craig and all the folks at Yoe Books, keep up the good work!