Sailor Moon Vol. 1

By Naoko Takeuchi
240 pages, black and white
Published by Kodansha Comics

Sailor Moon (or rather, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon as the cover states) is one of those comics that up until now, I knew a lot about but had never actually read. When both the manga and the anime were translated to English and brought to North America in the ’90s, saying it was a hit was an understatement. It’s probably safe to say that the amazing success of Sailor Moon is what helped position TokyoPop (then Mixx Entertainment) into a position of publishing strength for most of the last decade. And of course, I knew that Sailor Moon‘s target audience was teenage girls, something I’ve never had a problem reading in the past. But actually reading Sailor Moon? I must admit that this was not at all what I expected.

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Holy Terror

By Frank Miller
120 pages, black and white, with spot color
Published by Legendary Comics

Frank Miller made his name on comics like Daredevil, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and Sin City. Since then, though, his career has been anything but predictable; comics like 300, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Back have all had their share of both praise and hate, plus his forays into directing with Sin City and The Spirit. So when Holy Terror was first announced, the idea sent eyebrows shooting up for miles. The actual book, I suspect, won’t let those eyebrows go down any time soon.

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Wonder Woman #1

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Poor Wonder Woman. A lot of high-profile creators have taken stabs at the character over the past decade or two (J. Michael Straczynski, Gail Simone, Jodi Picoult, Allan Heinberg, Greg Rucka, Phil Jimenez, John Byrne, to name just a few), but none have managed to create a definitive, high-excitement run that kept its momentum going. Next up are Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, who both have the benefit and hindrance of getting the opportunity to start as much or as little from scratch as they wish. The end result? If I didn’t know better I’d think this was a hot new Vertigo series debut.

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Congress of the Animals

By Jim Woodring
104 pages, black and white
Published by Fantagraphics

Jim Woodring is that rare comics creator whose works are truly unique. On the surface, you might think it sounds otherwise—a silent comic about a protagonist (Frank) in a strange world that perpetually seems out to get him—but the reality is anything but. Of course, that’s in part because the word "reality" and Woodring’s comics about Frank really don’t belong in the same sentence; these are some of the strangest, trippiest comics to crawl out of anyone’s headspace in a while, and at such a continual basis at that.

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Star Trek #1

Written by Mike Johnson
Based on a teleplay by Samuel A. Peeples
Art by Stephen Molnar
32 pages, color
Published by IDW Publishing

Of all the various Star Trek comic book ideas, I think IDW’s new Star Trek series has one of my favorites to date. For those unfamiliar with the most recent Star Trek film, it tells the story of Kirk and company’s first adventure together. As part of it, there’s time travel involved, and the timeline ends up getting altered. And so, with this new status quo in effect… this Star Trek comic is now showing us stories from the original Star Trek television series, but with this new cast of actors and relationships firmly in place. In other words, it’s Star Trek: The Original Series: The Really Special Edition. Brilliant.

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Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is one of the odder choices from DC Comics to be part of the big re-launch of their line. A comic about a group of classic monsters working for a secret organization to stop strange things is hardly the sort of book that feels commercial, after all. But for readers who aren’t scared off by analogues of the Wolfman or the Creature from the Black Lagoon, there’s enough in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 to make this title feel like it fits in with the larger DC Universe.

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Mailing Address Change

I just received word today that the Post Office branch which hosts my PO Box (and which I opened back in 1999 when I started reviewing for is closing later this year. If you are a publisher/agent/cartoonist who used this address, please email me and I’d be more than happy to pass along my new contact information. Thank you!

Power Within

Written by Charles "Zan" Christensen
Art by Mark Brill
32 pages, color
Published by Northwest Press

The Power Within is that sort of comic where I find myself wishing that comics in general had a wider readership. Inspired by the number of bullying-related suicides of teenagers over the past few years, Charles "Zan" Christensen and Mark Brill took the 24-Hour Comics Day challenge to create The Power Within, where the lead character goes through his own particular trial by fire. And while those not in its target audience will probably miss out on a lot of the emotional heft in this comic, its core message is strong and it makes me like to imagine copies of the comic ending up with the kids who need it the most.

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Bake Sale

By Sara Varon
160 pages, color
Published by First Second

Sara Varon’s first graphic novel Sweaterweather shifted her from "she’s a good creator" to "I must read everything she works on." She’s had books since then like the adorable Robot Dreams, or her Cat and Chicken titles for much younger readers, but there’s something about her new book Bake Sale that particularly grabs my attention. Maybe it’s having the lead character running a bakery, or the underlying theme involving friendship, but there was something in it grabbed me in a way that even her previous works hadn’t already done so.

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Batwing #1

Writen by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

There’s something odd and initially off-putting about a book that is pitched as, "The Batman of Africa." Why Africa seems to get repeatedly lumped into a single region while similarly diverse continents don’t is beyond me (there’s much more respect for the different areas of Europe or Asia, for instance), but at the same time there’s so little in American comics set on this continent that my curiosity got the better of me. As it turned out, I’m glad it did; it’s a book that I suspect won’t be long for this world, but was definitely worthy of some attention.

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