Yotsuba&! Vol. 1

By Kiyohiko Azuma
232 pages, black and white
Published by ADV Manga

Every now and then, strange packages arrive at my home. They’ve usually got scrawled notes attached to reams of paper, and the notes say something like, “You’re going to love this!” or “Wow, check this out!” So often the end result is one of disappointment, as my secret sources let me down horribly. I keep hoping, though, because every now and then one of the mystery packages comes through with something that’s a lot of fun, and that’s exactly what happened with Kiyohiko Azuma’s new series Yotsuba&!.

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Shadow Star Vol. 6: What Can I Do For You Now?

By Mohiro Kitoh
224 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

It’s been a while since the last collection of Shadow Star was published in English—almost a year, and it was a year before that we saw the previous volume—and it’s safe to say that any momentum of interest and word-of-mouth may have gotten killed as a result. Now that the series is (hopefully) back on track, what better time to remind people of Mohiro Kitoh’s puzzling and intriguing series?

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Hopeless Savages: B-Sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies

Written by Jen Van Meter
Art by Vera Brosgol, Becky Cloonan, and Mike Norton
32 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

After the unfortunate publishing delays in the last Hopeless Savages mini-series, it’s nice to see the new Hopeless Savages: B-Sides one-shot. Not only is it good because it’s a single-issue story, but it’s a good refresher on why I’ve enjoyed Jen Van Meter’s series about the best punk rock family ever.

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Long Haul

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Eduardo Barreto
176 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

One of the biggest films of 2001 was Ocean’s Eleven, a movie with a ringleader organizing one of the biggest heists ever. It’s easy to compare Antony Johnston’s and Eduardo Barreto’s The Long Haul to Ocean’s Eleven, but not for the obvious reason. Heist stories are a dime a dozen, but what these two really have in common is that their main characters have incredible charisma and charm. That’s what’s going to keep your interest; the sheer likeability of the cast.

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Sin City: That Yellow Bastard

By Frank Miller
240 pages, black and white, with some spot color
Published by Dark Horse

With the movie adaptation of several of Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels about to hit theatres, and the re-issuing of the books with a new uniform trade dress, now seemed like a good time as any to re-read Miller’s works. While I found most of the books matched my memories of them, one book in particular stood out above the rest: Sin City: That Yellow Bastard.

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Tarot Cafe Vol. 1

By Sang-Sun Park
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

Sometimes I buy a book based on little more than a hunch, or a lightning-fast initial impression. That was the case with The Tarot Cafe Vol. 1, which seemed interesting enough. The more I read it, though, the more I began to wonder… had I seen this somewhere before?

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Carnet de Voyage

By Craig Thompson
224 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

People who have read my reviews for a while now will have figured out that I love well-told travel stories and journals. When I heard that Craig Thompson was releasing a journal of his recent trip through Europe and North Africa, well, I was ecstatic. I adored Blankets and I was trying not to get my hopes up too high—this would certainly be a different beast than his other books—but I was really expecting Carnet de Voyage to transport me to another world. And thankfully, that’s exactly what it did.

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Samurai Executioner Vol. 1-2

Written by Kazuo Koike
Art by Goseki Kojima
312 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

One of my earliest exposures to the world of comics in Japan was First Comics’s translations of Lone Wolf & Cub. Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s epic enthralled me from the very first page, and when Dark Horse brought it back into print several years ago I was overjoyed that I could finally read the story that had grabbed my attention all those years earlier. Now Dark Horse is publishing Samurai Executioner, Koike and Kojima’s spin-off of a minor character from Lone Wolf & Cub. When it comes to the sense of wonder that the duo had with their earlier collaboration, the question quickly becomes: can lightning really strike twice?

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DC: The New Frontier Vol. 1

By Darwyn Cooke
208 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

One of the things that struck me the most about DC: The New Frontier is that creator Darwyn Cooke’s entire focus is on telling a good story. It’s not wondering on how the book fits into the continuity of 1950s comics, or if the book should be an “Elseworlds”, or if there’s some sort of agenda or big event spin-off that needs to get across. To me, DC: The New Frontier felt like a book with a singular goal, and that’s to be written and drawn as best as it possibly can. It succeeds, too.

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