Changers Book 1

By Ezra Claytan Daniels
96 pages, black and white
Published by Dream Chocolate

One of the things I love the most about comic book publishing is the wild diversity. I’m not talking just about content, but presentation. Once you get away from most of the books published by the “big” publishers, you end up with a wide array of shapes, sizes, and even paper stock. Take, for instance, The Changers. Printed in digest format using green ink and looking like a training manual, its look alone will stay with you.

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Junko Mizuno’s Hansel & Gretel

By Junko Mizuno
144 pages, color
Published by Viz

If you think about it, the original story of “Hansel & Gretel” isn’t terribly logical. Parents, unable to feed their children, decide that abandoning them in the middle of the forest is the answer to all their problems. (And if at first they come trapsing home, abandon them even further into the forest.) Only once they’ve avoided near-death at a witch’s hands do they come home, and all is well with their family life because now they can eat the witch’s edible candy house and not have to try and write each other off. Either these are the most-trusting, or the stupidest children in the world. Possibly both. In any event, this probably explains why in Junko Mizuno’s Hansel & Gretel, Mizuno only took a couple of specific elements she liked from the original story and threw out the rest.

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

By Marjane Satrapi
160 pages, black and white
Published by Pantheon Books

It’s hard to be compared to a legend. Advance word on the translation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, the story of her childhood growing up in Iran, was pretty positive. So positive, in fact, that the comparison of Persepolis to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus was one I kept hearing get thrown around. The problem with being compared to something that powerful is that if the comparison isn’t completely accurate, it’s going to make the new work look poor in comparison. Now, I don’t know if this is the new Maus… but this sure is an awfully powerful book in its own right.

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Mythstalkers #1

Written by Douglass Barre
Art by Jiro
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

The Victorian Era has always been a popular time period for science-fiction. This could be in part because of Jules Verne’s novels, which in many ways planted the seeds for modern science-fiction. With comics like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen high in popularity, it’s not a surprise to see more and more comics in this era like Mythstalkers showing up. The real question is, when the charm of the setting wears off, how is the work itself?

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Way of the Wolf #1

Written by Michael R. Barklage
Illustrated by Robert Graham
24 pages, black and white
Published by Blueshift Studios

Chubby Checker would be delighted at today’s entertainment industry, because everyone involved seems determined to do the twist. A bigger twist would almost be to not have a twist, because you can’t help but find yourself bracing yourself for that sudden reversal of reality that’s determined to shock the audience. So when I found myself reading The Way of the Wolf, I was already prepared for some sort of big surprise at the end. The question is, were the creators able to pull it off? Or were they only tricking themselves?

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Three Strikes #1

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Drawn by Brian Hurtt
32 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

Ok, first the bad news: Three Strikes is not an English-language adaptation of the hit Japanese comic Touch, which was all about baseball. In fact, Three Strikes has nothing at all to do with baseball, so you’ll need to get past your disappointment there. Now for the good news: Three Strikes is the brand-new project by the Skinwalker team of Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, and Brian Hurtt. Trust me, if the first issue of Three Strikes is any indication, these creators were just getting warmed up, because with this book they’re hitting a home run.

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Hellblazer #182-183

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Lee Bermejo
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

When DC Comics began its Vertigo imprint ten years ago, six existing titles were shifted into its offices: Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer, Sandman, Shade, the Changing Man, and Swamp Thing. At the time, Swamp Thing was the longest-running book to make the shift, and was often predicted to be the book that would outlast all of its brethren. While Swamp Thing ended with #171, and four of the other “anchor” ongoing series for Vertigo have also come to an end, one of them is still being published ten years later. Reading the latest story in the pages of Hellblazer, it’s not hard to see why the book is still going strong.

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JLA: Age of Wonder #1

Written by Adisakdi Tantimedh
Breakdowns by P. Craig Russell
Pencils and inks by Galen Showman
48 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

When DC Comics first introduced its Elseworlds line of books, it was known for its clever takes on existing characters and concepts; people buying every Elseworlds release was a pretty common occurrence. Over the years, though, it seems to have mostly turned into an endless series of uninspired retreads of movies and cornball ideas. Maybe that’s why so many people are talking about the first half of the new JLA: Age of Wonder mini-series… because it’s actually good.

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