Angel #24

Written by Juliet Landau and Brian Lynch
Art by Franco Urru
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

The last time I looked at IDW’s Angel series, it had just wrapped up the long-running "After the Fall" story (detailing what happened after the show’s conclusion), and seemed to be trying to find a new direction. To that extent, Angel seems to be working on the latter, opening with a story that takes place before "After the Fall" and focusing on a popular supporting cast character, Drusilla. Honestly, though, I was a little surprised to not see a huge "written by Juliet Landau!" (the actress who played Drusilla) byline across the cover. It’s definitely the greatest selling point of this comic.

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20th Century Boys Vol. 4

By Naoki Urasawa
216 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

It’s hard to believe that it was just earlier this spring when I first encountered the opening volume of 20th Century Boys. That first book, about the mystery of a former school mate who started a cult, drew me right into the series and made me want to read more. Now that I’m on the fourth volume, though, I find myself amazed at all of the surprises that Naoki Urasawa has unleashed upon his characters since that first book. To say that this is a series that keeps getting better and better is an understatement—and we’re only 1/6th of the way through the entire saga.

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Big Kahn

Written by Neil Kleid
Art by Nicolas Cinquegrani
176 pages, black and white
Published by NBM

I’ve been looking forward to The Big Kahn ever since Neil Kleid first announced it. The basic concept is one that might have been done before, but to me it sounded so original and smart that it was an instant, "I can’t wait" moment. After all, con men stories are a dime a dozen. Con men stories involving not only religious institutions but a member of your own family? Well, as it turned out, The Big Kahn really was worth the wait.

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Barefoot Gen Vol. 1

By Keiji Nakazawa
288 pages, black and white
Published by Last Gasp

There are sacred cows in all genres and groupings of comics, those works that if you haven’t read you’ll get a funny look (at best) by way of response. Over the years, one of the works I’ve meant to try out is Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa’s autobiographical account of living through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Earlier this year I finally broke down and picked up the first of its ten volumes. What I found inside was, well, not quite what I was expecting.

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Cursed Pirate Girl #1

By Jeremy Bastian
36 pages, black and white
Published by Olympian Publishing

Strictly as a title alone, Cursed Pirate Girl was going to get my attention. It’s a strange turn of a phrase, and I think creator Jeremy Bastian knew just that when he used it. But honestly? What it really took for me was the cover of the first issue. Looking at the main character, sword in one hand, and tendrils of hair extending and crawling across the space? Well, I was hooked with just that single glance. As it turns out, lucky us, the insides are even cooler.

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Written by Glenn Eichler
Art by Nick Bertozzi
128 pages, color
Published by First Second Books

Even under the best of circumstances, family can be difficult to deal with. That’s how Stuffed! opens itself to the reader, a story about a bizarre inheritance that freaks out the two brothers who find themselves with the delicate situation of dealing with its contents. It’s a basic story premise that’s been around for ages, with people having to either come together or be driven apart by a stressful third party. But while Glenn Eichler’s script is an amusing one, the element that’s missing in its pages may actually surprise you a little bit.

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Ooku: The Inner Chambers

By Fumi Yoshinaga
216 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

If you’re like me, a book called Ōoku: The Inner Chambers might make you think that perhaps an Ōoku is some huge slavering monster that lives in the depths of a cave. And like me, you would be utterly wrong. In Japan’s Edo Castle, the Ōoku was where the women who were attached to the current Shogun lived; aside from the Shogun, no other man would enter those chambers. Once I realized my error, though, I found myself drawn into Ōoku almost instantly with its alternate history concept that resulted in most of Japan’s men dying of a plague. For there, it seems, the Ōoku is something entirely different.

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Starstruck #1

Written by Elaine Lee
Penciled by Michael Wm Kaluta
Inked by Michael Wm Kaluta and Charles Vess
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

Starstruck has always been one of those semi-mythical comics that you hear a lot about, but probably haven’t read. It’s had several incarnations along the way; a strip in Heavy Metal that was republished in the ’80s as a graphic novel from Marvel’s Epic Comics, which was then followed by a mini-series. It was reprinted by Dark Horse in the early ’90s with the promise of more to come, but that’s when things started stalling out. Two publishers announced plans for various Starstruck material only to go out of business (Tundra Publishing and Marlowe & Co.), and from that point on it’s been curiously absent off of the radar. The idea that Starstruck is back is both exciting as well as a little daunting. After hearing about this project for so many years (and with such a high pedigree of talent), can it live up to its reputation?

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Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee Vol. 1

By Hiroyuki Asada
200 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

There’s no official creed of the United States Postal Service, but you often hear the following attributed as such: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." (Turns out it’s actually based off of Herodotus’ Histories.) I like to think that Hiroyuki Asada was inspired by something along those lines, though, when creating Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee. Of course, Tegami Bachi‘s postal carriers have bigger foes to worry about than snow or rain or heat, thanks to gigantic killer insects and worse.

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Doom Patrol #1

Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Penciled by Matthew Clark and Kevin Maguire
Inked by Livesay and Kevin Maguire
40 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I love the Doom Patrol. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol was one of my favorite comics back in the day, John Arcudi and Tan Eng Huat’s revival never got the attention that it deserved, and now that I’m reading the original run of the series, I’ve fallen in love with it too. Keith Giffen’s resurrection of the title, then, had me both intrigued and worried. When done properly, Doom Patrol can be a really fun and clever book. But it’s easy to take a misstep with the basic concept of outcast/freak heroes (the number of failures along those lines is staggering), and without the weirdness, there’s not much point to the book.

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