Two Italian Guys

By Chris Yura
36 pages, color
Published by Mangia Industry

Every now and then, a book shows up in my mailbox that I’ve never heard but instantly grabs my attention. Two Italian Guys by Chris Yura did that, published in a landscape format and with a slick, attractive hardback cover. With this attention to publishing quality, it ended up quickly shifting up to the top of the to-read pile (although having three grandparents being immigrant families from Italy probably didn’t hurt my interest). What I found inside, though, was one of the stranger comics I’ve read in a while.

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Black Blizzard

By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
136 pages, black and white
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

Drawn & Quarterly, over the past few years, has dipped its toe into translating manga into English, primarily the works of creator Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Books like Tatsumi’s autobiography A Drifting Life and short story collections Abandon the Old in Tokyo have proven to be fascinating, looking at his attempts to break free of genre and industry constraints at the time. So when Drawn & Quarterly announced Black Blizzard, Tatsumi’s debut graphic novel, I was intrigued. (And not just because the creation of Black Blizzard is part of the time period retold in A Drifting Life.) What I found, though, was a creator that shows talent but was still beginning to learn his craft.

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Meta4 #1

By Ted McKeever
24 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

When you have a new comic from Ted McKeever, just about the only thing that’s certain is that you’re going to have a bit of oddness. That’s a good thing, in my book; I remember first encountering his Metropol back in 1991 and being simultaneously bewildered and enchanted. Twin Peaks was big at the time and I remember thinking that McKeever was to comics what David Lynch was to television and film. I don’t think it’s a comparison that still holds muster now, but you get the basic idea. Meta4 is McKeever at one of his stranger moments, but at the same time I think it could be one of his most accessible stories to date.

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Incredible Hulk #610

Written by Greg Pak and Scott Reed
Pencils by Paul Pelletier and Miguel Munera
Inks by Danny Miki and Jeffrey Huet
40 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I’d love it if big comic companies would gleefully advertise "reset buttons" being pressed in the way they used to write cover copy. "Because YOU demanded it: everything goes back to the way it was!" Unfair? Probably. But reading the latest issue of Incredible Hulk, it’s certainly hard to shake that feeling that honesty needs to be employed a little more in an industry that (mostly) seems determined to change as little as possible in their most recognizable characters.

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Joker’s Asylum II: Harley Quinn

Written by James Patrick
Art by Joe Quinones
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

DC’s Joker’s Asylum one-shots are such a simple idea—the Joker tells stories about one of the other Batman-centric villains—that it sounds like it would be hard to go wrong. I admittedly missed out on this series of one-shots the last time around, but so far I must admit I’m surprised with how much fun the Joker’s Asylum II specials are. Take, for instance, the Harley Quinn one-shot. The idea is straightforward, with Harley trying to rescue a kidnapped Joker, but what makes it work is the way that James Patrick and Joe Quinones channel the sheer derangement of Harley.

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7 Psychopaths #1

Written by Fabien Vehlmann
Art by Sean Phillips
24 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

It’s hard to not make the obvious comparison between 7 Psychopaths and Inglorious Basterds, both of them being about a team of slightly crazy people in World War II trying to assassinate Hitler. Once you move past that, though, the first issue this comic imported from France has little else in common with Quentin Tarantino’s film. 7 Psychopaths is a much more sedate story, at least so far, but at the same time Fabien Vehlmann and Sean Phillips are doing a good enough job that you’ll want to read more about these seven psychopaths.

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Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit Vol. 5

By Motoro Mase
240 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

I’ve noticed more and more that in this day and age where we have long-form stories running in comics, books, television series, and anything else you can imagine, audiences seem less inclined to jump into the middle of a series. I know I’ve been equally guilty of that problem, and so when I received a copy of Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit Volume 5 in the mail, I decided to put it to the test and see how well it would read considering that I’d never read volumes 1-4. As it turns out? I must have picked the right series of which to jump into the middle, because I had a blast.

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Thunderbolts #144

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Kev Walker
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

When Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley created Thunderbolts some thirteen years ago, they might not have imagined that their book would be one of the few new ongoing franchises at Marvel that would prove to have enough power to stick around. It was a sharp enough concept—villains pretending to be heroes—that even with minor tweaks along the way it’s kept going. Jeff Parker, the book’s latest writer, came on board a few months ago to wrap up the "Dark Reign" era of the title, and usher in the next incarnation of the title. So far? I think this is probably my favorite take on the title since those original Busiek and Bagley issues.

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Turf #1

Written by Jonathan Ross
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

While American readers in general aren’t familiar with Jonathan Ross, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the UK. A hugely successful television and radio host, Ross writing his own creation Turf is certainly a big deal there. Ross is also known for being a big comics fan, with a collection to die for as well as reading all sorts of current comics. So knowing that he’s paired with veteran comics artist Tommy Lee Edwards, it would stand to reason that Turf could avoid a lot of the beginner’s mistakes that people from other disciplines make when crossing over into comics. The reality, though? Well, that’s something else.

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