By Byun Byung-Jun
240 pages, black and white with some color pages
Published by NBM

Assembling a book of short stories—be it by a single creator or an anthology—is a delicate undertaking. You can’t front load the book with the best material because if the weaker pieces are all at the end, you run the risk of the final impression for the reader being disappointment. On the other hand, saving the best pieces for the end has its own problems, where the early entries aren’t strong enough to have someone continue to read the book. All of this came to mind for me when reading Byun Byung-Jun’s Mijeong, a collection of the author’s short pieces. At the end of the day, I can’t help but think that whomever decided the order of this book could have done a slightly better job.

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Veil #1

Written by El Torres
Art by Gabriel Hernandez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

"I see dead people." It’s a statement that’s echoed through all sorts of media, for as far as history is recorded. So when you create a story these days about someone who is able to view ghosts, you need more than just that as your hook to draw the reader in. With El Torres’s and Gabriel Hernandez’s The Veil, the basic ideas in the first issue might be the same, but they’re able to bring a strong enough voice to the concept that I think they’ve successfully found their hook.

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Detroit Metal City Vol. 1

By Kiminori Wakasugi
200 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

This may sound strange, but comics like Detroit Metal City are, I think, an argument for why a collected edition is not always better. Don’t get me wrong, I like this first volume of heavy metal silliness. But this is definitely an example how when it comes to just from a pure reading standpoint, I wish I’d been reading it as a serialized comic every week.

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Chew #1

Written by John Layman
Art by Rob Guillory
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

For a non-comics related project, I recently had to perform a lot of research about avian flues. You can imagine my surprise and amusement, then, to read Chew #1 and discover that one of the plot points involves, yes, avian flu. But I have to give John Layman and Rob Guillory credit, this is absolutely not the way that I’d have expected such a take on current events. Anyone else might have served up a grim, depressing story, but Chew is a funny dark comedy with a sharp premise.

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Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

By David Petersen
192 pages, color
Published by Archaia

It took a little longer than planned due to some publisher reorganizing, but Mouse Guard: Winter 1152—David Petersen’s second Mouse Guard mini-series—has come to a conclusion. With a hardcover collection scheduled for this summer, it seemed like a good at time as any to sit down and re-read all six issues. While Petersen certainly made a splash with his debut mini-series (Mouse Guard: Fall 1152), I have to say I was a little surprised with this second story. As good as the first was, this one feels even deeper and richer than what we’ve seen up until now.

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Showcase Presents: Doom Patrol Vol. 1

Written by Arnold Drake with Bob Haney
Art by Bruno Premiani and Bob Brown
520 pages, black and white
Published by DC Comics

Of all of the Showcase Presents books from DC’s low-cost black and white reprint line, the one I’ve been looking forward to the most has been Showcase Presents: The Doom Patrol. I’ve heard so much about Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s original run on the characters that it’s been a must-read in my mind. But as someone who never read Doom Patrol until Grant Morrison’s revamp of the team in the late ’80, I couldn’t help be a little worried. Was I setting myself up for disappointment?

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Parker: The Hunter

Original novel by Richard Stark
Adapted by Darwyn Cooke
144 pages, two-color
Published by IDW

Depending on how you look at it, I’m either the right or the wrong choice to review Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Richard Stark novel The Hunter. Stark (a pseudonym of author Donald Westlake) was the star of no less than 24 novels, and The Hunter was adapted into two movies, Point Blank and Payback. Of those, I’ve read and seen none of them. But I love books like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal, or Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones’s You Have Killed Me. And in the end, I decided, surely that must be enough to get a good read on Parker: The Hunter and see just what Darwyn Cooke ended up bringing to life in comic book form.

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Chicken With Plums

By Marjane Satrapi
96 pages, black and white
Published by Pantheon Books

I don’t think there’s any denying that Marjane Satrapi didn’t so much arrive in comics as she burst onto the scene with her autobiographical Persepolis graphic novels. A huge success (both commercially and creatively) in both comic and movie format, it’s safe to say that Persepolis will be a work that leaps first to mind for most people when they hear about Satrapi. While she’s released two books for adults since then, though, they seem to have slightly fallen under the radar. So with Chicken With Plums just being re-released in paperback, it seemed a good at time as any to see what Satrapi’s been up to since Persepolis.

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Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

By Alison Bechdel
416 pages, black and white
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books

I have a confession to make. For years, I picked up a copy of The Washington Blade free weekly newspaper but often didn’t read a single article. Instead, I’d flip right to the back and read the latest installment of Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For. So while some people have Bechdel’s excellent autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home on their bookshelves, mine is flanked with a complete collection of Dykes to Watch Out For collections (except for the one that went missing) as well as her artbook. So it was almost a certainty, then, that I’d end up with her massive best-of collection, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. But for people who have only read Bechdel’s Fun Home, though, it’s a great way to see just what else you’ve been missing.

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Resurrection v2 #1

Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Justin Greenwood
32 pages, color
Published by Oni Press

A couple of years ago, Oni Press debuted Resurrection, a title that detailed just what would happen after the end of an alien invasion, once the planet is finally free. After six issues and an Annual, the book went on a temporary hiatus. Now it’s back, and this time in full color. But in an effort to bring in new readers, I fear that Marc Guggenheim is trying to push too much too fast into its new first issue.

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