Johnny Hiro #1-2

By Fred Chao
32 pages, black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

Every now and then, I hear people talking about the idea of going away from single issues of comics (in favor of strictly longer-form graphic novels) and I think to myself, “Would that really be such a bad thing?” What always makes me come to my senses, though, is coming across a comic that uses the single-issue format perfectly. And so, with that in mind, another book to add to that list is Fred Chao’s Johnny Hiro, one that can best be summed up as 32-page bursts of sheer fun.

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By Doug TenNapel
112 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

Having an effective ending to a story is, ultimately, crucial to how people will remember your creation. It’s the last thing that you encounter, so a mediocre story with a great ending will probably be thought of as better than its average level of quality really is. Likewise, a good story with a bad ending can poison the proverbial well, destroying a lot of goodwill that was built up with the audience until that point. In the case of Doug TenNapel’s new graphic novel Flink, the shift in my reception because of the last six pages? To say that it was immense was an understatement.

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MPD-Psycho Vol. 1-2

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Sho-u Tajima
184 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

I feel like I should open up this review with a note of congratulations to the creators and publishers of the book. So, to Sho-u Tajima, Eiji Otsuka, Kadokawa Soten, and Dark Horse, well done. You’ve done what very few other comics have managed; I was thoroughly disturbed by reading your comic, yet I’m dying to read more. I’m not sure what this says about you, me, or this comic—but for now I’m going to assume the comic. It’s going to help my peace-of-mind with the idea that a book about a series of disturbing and horrific murders and a multiple-personality-profiler helping solve them is not, in fact, a trope that would hook me regardless of quality.

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Lobster Johnson #1-3

Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Jason Armstrong
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

Maybe it has to do with Mike Mignola having more free time on his hands now that he’s not drawing new issues of Hellboy, but it certainly feels like there’s been a small explosion of Hellboy material as of lately. The B.P.R.D. spin-off series is chugging steadily along, the Hellboy: Darkness Calls mini-series is coming to a conclusion, the new Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others collection just hit stores, and if that wasn’t enough now there’s the Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus mini-series, spun out of earlier Hellboy appearances. But is it possible for there to be too much of a good thing?

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Daybreak Vol. 1-2

By Brian Ralph
48 pages, black and white
Published by Bodega Distribution

When is a gimmick not a gimmick? That’s a question I quickly found myself contemplating as I read Brian Ralph’s series Daybreak. Taking a rarely used storytelling device of setting the story in the second person (and thus making the reader part of the story), it’s easy to write off the decision as an attention-grabbing stunt, or just an attempt to be different. The more I read of Daybreak, though, the more convinced I am that Ralph’s using it as part of a plan to tell a very different story of survival. And when you look at it that way, it works remarkably well.

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