Book of Boy Trouble Vol. 2

Edited by Robert Kirby and David Kelly
108 pages, color
Published by Green Candy Press

What can I say? I was a fan of the old Boy Trouble comic book anthologies in the day, and now that they’ve moved to big, handsome graphic novels? I’m still all in favor of Boy Trouble. There’s something about editors Robert Kirby and David Kelly’s sensibilities when it comes to choosing stories that always makes these books fun; there’s a wide range of styles and approaches here, from innocent and chaste to naughty and sexual, and all combinations in-between. The only common theme? Strong storytelling involving gay characters. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit.

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Barb Wire Omnibus

Written by John Arcudi, Chris Warner, Anina Bennett, and Paul Guinan
Penciled by Dan Lawlis, Chris Warner, Mike Manley, Lee Moder, Andrew Robinson, and Robert Walker
Inked by Ian Akin, Ande Parks, Tim Bradstreet, Jim Royal, and Gary Martin
320 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

I have to admit that I am really enjoying Dark Horse’s omnibus collections of their old Dark Horse Heroes line. It’s a strange trip down memory lane, bringing back characters that have mostly laid dormant for a decade. Even better, though, you can take a historical look at these stories, trying to puzzle through what did and didn’t work. In the case of the Barb Wire Omnibus, I can’t help but think that a better title for the collection would be The Rise and Fall of Barb Wire. It’s hard to not read this book and just be puzzled by some of the decisions made over the thirteen issues collected here.

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My Alaskan Summer

By Corinne Mucha
96 pages, black and white
Published by Maidenhousefly Comics

There are times when, while reading comics, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. When reviewing Papercutter #8 last month, I’d commented on how much I enjoyed Corinne Mucha’s story "Growing Up Haunted," and I remember thinking that I wanted to see some more comics from Mucha. Well, in what could only be termed perfect timing, I have in front of me Mucha’s Xeric Grant funded My Alaskan Summer, and I for one and more thankful than ever for the Xeric Grant’s helping comic creators get their creations out there.

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Baby-Sitters Club Vol. 4: Claudia and Mean Janine

By Raina Telgemeier
Adapted from the book by Ann M. Martin
192 pages, black and white
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

I admitted a few years ago that when I was much younger, I’d secretly read my younger sister’s Baby-Sitters Club books. It’s been a real joy reading Raina Telgemeier’s adaptations of the books since then; there’s so much cleverness and fun packed into each book, and Telgemeier does a superb of bringing them out. Claudia and Mean Janine is the fourth (and possibly final) adaptation in the series, and I think that Telgemeier has saved the best for last. It’s definitely the most serious of the four, but in some ways I think it’s what helps it be so strong.

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Hexed #1

Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Emma Rios
32 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—more often than not, it’s not a matter of what story you’re telling, but rather how you’re telling it. There are some basic story ideas that we’ve seen over and over again, like a person who uses magic to steal. What’s important, though, is what you bring to that idea to make it feel different. Basic ideas are a dime a dozen. In the case of Hexed, though, it’s the world and the characters that make this book stand out from the rest.

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Gantz Vol. 1-2

By Hiroya Oku
224 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

Gantz is the perfect example of a title where I knew nothing about the book going into it, save that it was extremely popular and had spawned an animated version that was fairly huge. After reading the first volume, I thought I had an idea of what Gantz was all about and what future volumes would show. And then I sat down and read the second volume—and suddenly I wasn’t so sure about anything that has to do with Gantz.

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Unknown Soldier #1

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

When is an Unknown Soldier not an unknown soldier? In the case of this new revamp of the old DC Comics property, it’s when you know the titular character’s name and history from the opening pages of the comic, onwards. Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli’s take on this iconic character from DC’s past is breaking a lot of the old rules, here, and the end result is something that certainly bears paying attention to.

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Black Jack Vol. 1

By Osamu Tezuka
288 pages, black and white
Published by Vertical, Inc.

With more and more of Osamu Tezuka’s comics being translated into English, it was just a matter of time until Black Jack came back into print. With just two volumes of material originally translated and out of print for years, I knew about Tezuka’s stories of a renegade surgeon more by reputation than anything else. Now that Vertical is bringing its 17-volume run into English? I have to admit, I’m ready to go under the knife a few more times.

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Spawn #185

Written by Todd McFarlane and Brian Holguin
Pencils by Whilce Portacio
Inks by Todd McFarlane
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I will be the first to admit that I cannot remember the last time I actually read an issue of Spawn. Even as it continues to chug away (185 issues already? Really?), I’d stopped paying attention to Todd McFarlane’s creation. He himself had left the helm a long time ago, and neither the character nor any of the creative line-ups over the years had made me think I needed to jump back on board. But I must say, my curiosity got the better of me when I’d heard that Whilce Portacio would pencil the book, with McFarlane co-writing and inking. So for that alone? They got me. And I bet I’m not the only one dying to know what the end result was like.

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Burma Chronicles

By Guy Delisle
272 pages, black and white
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

One of my favorite travel books from the past couple of years has got to be Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. Traveling to the capitol of perhaps the most notoriously isolationist country in the world, Delisle shared his experiences in a graphic novel that was both fascinating and informative. When I heard that his latest book, Burma Chronicles, was about his living in the a foreign country for an entire year, I was more than a little excited. His stay wouldn’t be just for a month or two, but for such an extended period of time that it held many more possibilities. What I found? Not entirely what I expected.

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