Suki: A Like Story Vol. 1

By CLAMP
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

One of the problems of being a collective of writers and artist who all use the same name is that as a reader you never really know what you’re going to get. That’s how I feel about CLAMP, a four-woman creative team in Japan. For every CLAMP book I’ve loved like Cardcaptor Sakura or Wish, there are ones like Clover which just don’t seem to work quite as well. I’m not sure just what made me decide to give CLAMP’s Suki: A Like Story a try, but I’m really happy that I did. This is definitely one of the CLAMP books that fall into the “good” category for me.

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Scarlet Traces

Written by Ian Edginton
Art by D’Israeli
88 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

We’ve had Martian invasion stories more often than I can count. We’ve seen inventive takes on the basic idea where the Martians invade Victorian England, like Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2. What really attracted me to Scarlet Traces was not so much that it was another invasion of Victorian England, but that the book is set ten years after the invaders were destroyed. You see, that’s where Ian Edginton and D’Israeli really take the book into a fun area.

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Hack/Slash

Written by Tim Seeley
Penciled by Stefano Caselli
Inked by Sunder Raj
48 pages, color
Published by Devil’s Due Publishing

Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has talked in great detail about how he created the character as a reaction to one of the staples of slasher horror movies: the helpless cheerleader being slaughtered by the monster. One gets the impression that’s the same genesis that Tim Seeley had for Hack/Slash. The question is, have Seeley and company managed to create a property that can achieve the same level of popularity?

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Drowned

Written by Laini Taylor-Di Bartolo
Art by Jim Di Bartolo
80 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

So often in comics, the learning curve is on display for everyone to see. With self-publishing a much easier possibility than in most other mediums, people are able to get their comics out to an audience while sometimes still learning the techniques of their chosen craft. It’s a thought that often crosses my mind when receiving review copies of books by new creators—but it never even entered my mind when reading Laini Taylor-Di Bartolo and Jim Di Bartolo’s The Drowned.

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Bug Boy

By Hideshi Hino
208 pages, black and white
Published by DH Publishing

What happens when you mix Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis with a children’s book and a comic creator known for his horrific stories? In most cases, you’d end up with a mess. That’s thankfully not entirely the case with Hideshi Hino’s The Bug Boy, but it’s definitely one of the odder books I’ve read this year. In a good way, mostly.

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Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde Vol. 4

By P. Craig Russell
Based on short stories by Oscar Wilde
32 pages, color
Published by NBM

It’s been a little over six years since the last volume of P. Craig Russell’s Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, and I hadn’t realized how much I missed them. As I read the two stories Russell adapted here, it was nice to see that over 110 years after Wilde originally wrote these pieces, they’re just as relevant and pleasant to read now as they must have been then.

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Iron Empires Vol. 1: Faith Conquers

By Christopher Moeller
168 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

About six years ago, one of the books in DC’s short-lived Helix imprint was Sheva’s War, by Christopher Moeller. I remember thinking that the art was gorgeous, but knowing that it was the second volume in a series I decided to pass on buying the book. (Let it now be known: I am solely responsible for the failure of the Helix line.) The first series had been published years earlier, and finding it would have been near-impossible. Well, it’s better late than never, because Dark Horse is now reissuing Moeller’s Iron Empires series as two trade paperbacks, with the first volume (Faith Conquers) now available.

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Bite Club #1

Written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman
Art by David Hahn
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Which came first: the title or the concept? While not as theologically sticky as the whole “chicken or the egg” question, I think it’s still a legitimate query. It’s certainly a clever name for a series, evoking a certain image in the buyer’s mind. But did the title come about because of the contents of the series, or did Howard Chaykin and David Tischman retrofit certain ideas into the comic after he decided on a name? Because right now, I’m leaning towards the latter.

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Less Than Heroes

By David Yurkovich
152 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

When I was first planning on writing this review, it was going to be a bit of a strange review. I hadn’t read the first half of Less Than Heroes, which collects four comic books by David Yurkovich. I’d only read the second two-issue story in the volume… but based on that and the other works by Yurkovich that I’ve read, I was still more than ready to whole-heartedly recommend that you buy this book. Quite frankly, I’d told myself, even if the first half of the book was blank you’d still be ahead. But then Top Shelf sent me a preview of the entire book, and I got to read the first half of the book… and you know, it’s just as good.

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Black Forest

Written by Todd Livingston and Robert Tinnell
Art by Neil Vokes
104 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

Do you ever get the impression that you’re not reading so much a comic, but a movie pitch? It’s a phenomenon that crops up from time to time, often following in the wake of a comic suddenly getting an impressive option reported in the news. (Like, for instance, the fun 30 Days of Night.) It’s a feeling I was never able to shake while reading The Black Forest—that some creators figured this would be a way to both tell their story the way they wanted it to, and get it optioned for Hollywood. Everyone wins, right?

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