Brody’s Ghost Vol. 1-2

By Mark Crilley
96 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

New comics from Mark Crilley are always a reason to celebrate, as anyone who’s read Akiko or Miki Falls well knows. So ever since we got some teaser stories in MySpace Dark Horse Presents, I was looking forward to his new series Brody’s Ghost. And right off the bat, I found that this series was a little different from Crilley’s previous works; not just in terms of having a male protagonist, but its overall feel and its pacing. It’s an interesting shift for Crilley, and after two volumes I feel safe to say that it works well for him.

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Blue Estate #1

Story by Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev
Script by Andrew Osborne
Art by Viktor Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, and Robert Valley
24 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With three writers and four artists attached to the first issue, it would be understandable if you thought that Blue Estate was an adaptation of a movie, or perhaps a video game. As it turns out, it’s not, but rather a comic that shifts its visual style on a regular basis, while telling a present day crime noir, (semi-)hardboiled detective story. And while it’s it not a bad debut, I do worry that at times Blue Estate #1 feels like it’s trying to get a little too clever for its own good.

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S.H.I.E.L.D. Infinity

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra, Zachary Baldus, Kevin Mellon, and Gabriel Hernandez Walta
48 pages, color
Published by Marvel

If I had to make a "top five comics from Marvel that have caused some long-time readers to go into a tailspin over the past several years" list, S.H.I.E.L.D. would certainly be on that list. Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s stories of ancient history in the Marvel Universe (showing the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization spanning thousands of years, complete with alien invasions dating back to the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Imhotep) mix our history with that of the fantastical from Marvel, and it seems at times almost designed to ruffle feathers. The idea of a S.H.I.E.L.D. Infinity issue sounded interesting, then, taking a break between the first and second volumes to let some other artists step in and draw vignettes from Hickman about the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. But while I enjoyed it, I was a tiny bit disappointed in that as a potential jumping-on point, S.H.I.E.L.D. Infinity is anything but.

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Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish

Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Kevin Nowlan
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

One of the many things I’ve always appreciated about Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is that he’s not afraid to shift its tone from one story to the next. So right now, the "main" arc running in Hellboy: The Storm (and the upcoming Hellboy: The Fury) is a dark and serious story, with great portent for what’s still to happen to the world. But then, in-between those two mini-series, we get something like Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish, which is one of the stranger and funnier Hellboy stories to date.

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Unwritten #24

Written by Mike Carey
Layouts by Peter Gross
Finishes by Al Davison
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Where do story characters go when their series are over? Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s series The Unwritten has over the past two years explored the between-the-pages lives of fictional characters, secret societies that manipulate the written world, and the strange relationship between a story and the real world. One of the most memorable issues of the series, though, was The Unwritten #12 where Carey and Gross introduced us to Pauly, a human transformed into a rabbit and trapped inside a thin analogue of the Winnie the Pooh universe. Now he’s back, and this time he’s going to drag all the other characters into hell with him.

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Peanuts: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown

Based on comic strips by Charles M. Schulz
Script by Stephan Pastis and Craig Schulz
Layouts by Vicki Scott
Pencils by Bob Scott and Vicki Scott
Inks by Ron Zorman
96 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

One of my top five favorite comic strips is, without a doubt, Peanuts. And in terms of the great Peanuts multimedia empire, there’s been a lot to love over the years. (Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas happens in my home every December, for starters.) So a new graphic novel based off a new direct-to-DVD animated special? Well, I certainly had to take a look and see just what we were offered up.

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Salt Water Taffy Vol. 4: Caldera’s Revenge! Part 1

Written by Matthew Loux
Art by Matthew Loux and Brian Stone
96 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

It’s nice to see a series you love come back after a hiatus, and to that list we can now add Matthew Loux’s Salt Water Taffy. The first three volumes were a great bundle of all different sorts of fun, mixing the typical "summer adventure" genre with big crazy ideas. And after a little over a year and half, it’s even better to be able report that the new book is just as much fun as you remembered.

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Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire

Written by John Ostrander
Penciled by Luke McDonnell
Inked by Bob Lewis, Karl Kesel, and Dave Hunt
232 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Once a year or so, when I’m looking at comics, I’ll find myself wondering why there currently isn’t an ongoing (and wildly successful) Suicide Squad series, preferably written by John Ostrander. It’s a simple but easy to understand premise (a government black ops team, partially staffed by criminals in exchange for lesser sentences), and the possibility for different characters to appear left and right is fairly limitless. Hopefully this long-awaited first volume of Suicide Squad reprints will drum up some interest, because a strong revival is long overdue.

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How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less

By Sarah Glidden
208 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

It’s hard (although not impossible) to find someone who doesn’t have a strong opinion on Israel and Palestine. Sarah Glidden is no exception to that rule, so when she got the chance to go on a Birthright tour of the country, she was skeptical even as she signed up for the experience. Her opinions of Israel and Zionism were well constructed by this point in her life, and she figured nothing that she saw or experienced in Israel could change her mind. What she found? Well, it was meaty enough to result in her graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.

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March Story Vol. 2

Written by Hyung-min Kim
Art by Kyung-il Yang
192 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

A lot of people have become a bit obsessed with starting at the beginning of a series, or nowhere else at all. It’s not exclusive to comics, either; the number of people who won’t jump on board to a television series without seeing all the previous episodes is a prime example. But lately, I’ve found myself increasingly curious on seeing how well a series holds up if you don’t begin with the first volume. So when I came upon the second volume of March Story, I decided to give it a whirl even though I’ve never read the first book. Quite frankly, I’m glad that I did.

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