Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer

By Andy Runton
160 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

One of the high and low points of reviewing is looking through books by creators you’ve never heard of. You’re always hoping for the next big surprise inside the cover, that it’s someone you’re going to be keeping your eyes on. More often than not, though, your hopes are far too high and it’s disappointing when the book is merely good (or perhaps not so good). But when you do strike gold… it makes all that digging through strange books worth it.

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Land of Sokmunster

By Mike Kunkel and Randy Heuser
56 pages, color
Published by The Astonish Factory

There are probably a million jokes about where socks that go missing in the dryer end up… possibly two million. Just when I thought I’d seen every permutation, though, along came Mike Kunkel and Randy Heuser’s The Land of Sokmunster. The idea of a land full of lost socks isn’t the big hook that got me, mind you; it’s how Kunkel and Heuser use it as the core of an adorable story about responsibility and friendship.

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Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals

Written by George Perez, Len Wein, and Greg Potter
Penciled by George Perez
Inked by Bruce Patterson
192 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 15 years since George Perez (along with Len Wein and Greg Potter) revamped the Wonder Woman comic. Starting it over from scratch certainly had the potential to chase away existing readers while not picking up any new ones. What actually happened, though, was a series of comics helmed by Perez that are still talked about today as being the definitive modern interpretation of the character.

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100 Bullets #50

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

How do you handle an anniversary story? There seems to be two different schools of thought on the matter. The first option is to make it a big payoff for your existing audience, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink that’s lead up until that point, a continuity follower’s delight and incomprehensible to anyone else who stumbles into the adventure. The second option is to go the opposite route, making a story designed to appeal to brand-new readers, even as your established audience quietly yawns and waits for it to be over so the story can start moving forward again. Naturally, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso have decided to take the third option that almost everyone else seems to ignore: make a story that lets new readers jump on board while still greatly advancing the storyline for your existing audience. And trust me when I say that Azzarello and Risso make that look far easier than it really is.

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Dreamland Chronicles #1

By Scott Christian Sava
48 pages, color
Published by Astonish Comics

Computer-generated comic book art is certainly not a new innovation in comics. The first ones to receive press were books like Iron Man: Crash and Batman: Digital Justice, both of which were about… surprise surprise… computers. So it’s with that in mind that if I had to pick the best thing about comics created on a computer in this day and age, it would be the fact that they aren’t all about computers. A computer never shows up center stage in The Dreamland Chronicles #1, and hopefully Scott Christian Sava will make sure one never does.

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Go-Go Girl #1-3

By Craig Bostick
12 pages (#1), 24 pages (#2-3), black and white
Published by Aquaboy Drawings & Design

Some comics are fun to read. Some are enjoyable. But only a rare few fall into a special category, which is snazzy. Trust me, when you find a snazzy comic, you’ll know it, and that’s exactly what Craig Bostick’s Go-Go Girl is.

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Hikaru no Go Vol. 1

Written by Yumi Hotta
Art by Takeshi Obata
192 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

Oh me of little faith. I admit it, when I first heard about Hikaru no Go I laughed, a lot. I’d heard of the game of Go, even played a dumbed-down variant of it as a child called Pente. But a comic about a kid playing Go being exciting and able to kick start a Go renaissance among the younger population of Japan? This just seemed too strange to be true. Well, Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata proved just how wrong I was. Let’s put it this way: I’ve got a new favorite comic appearing in the pages of SHONEN JUMP and this is it.

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Negima! Vol. 1

By Ken Akamatsu
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Now I’ll admit it—I’ve never read Love Hina. Both Negima! and Love Hina are by Ken Akamatsu, and perhaps if I’ve read Love Hina I might’ve had a better idea of just what was in store for me with his brand-new series Negima! (or Magister Negi Magi as it’s known in Japan). Since I hadn’t, though… let’s just say I was really surprised.

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Auschwitz

By Pascal Croci
88 pages, black and white
Published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.

Writing about the Nazi concentration camps of World War II is a difficult task. Not because of the lack of facts or material, but because of the emotional weight that they carry. Similarly, it can be difficult to review such a work either on a personal or professional nature. It’s all right to dislike a book on its technical merits while still appreciating the work and emotion that went into its creation. It’s with this in mind that with Auschwitz, I feel that I can say that while Pascal Croci has certainly poured his heart and soul into the book, the end result fails to come together.

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xxxHOLiC Vol. 1

By CLAMP
216 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I never have the slightest idea what I’m getting into with a new book from CLAMP. The four-woman creator collective’s books range in style and story wildly, and with four different possible creators that could be taking the lead role, there’s a number of possible outcomes. With one of their three series currently running in Japan, xxxHOLiC, I knew the contents would be a surprise. The only real question was, a good surprise or a bad one?

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