Usagi Yojimbo #143

By Stan Sakai
24 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

In the world of monthly comics, there are a handful of creators who really should reign supreme. At the top of the list? Stan Sakai and his long-running title Usagi Yojimbo. Usagi Yojimbo chronicles the adventures of Usagi, a ronin (masterless samurai) who wanders Japan during the early 17th century. In the latest Usagi Yojimbo, we’ve got everything you can want in an issue; action, intrigue, bad guys, and soy sauce recipes. No, really.

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Tale of Sand

Original screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl
Adaptation and art by Ramon K. Perez
Additional inks by Terry Pallot, Andy Belanger, Nick Craine, Walden Wong, and Cameron Stewart
144 pages, color
Published by Archaia

Archaia’s been publishing some comics based off of some of the smaller Jim Henson properties in recent years; books like The Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock come to mind. But perhaps the most interesting one to date isn’t a prequel or sequel to a Henson creation, but rather an adaptation of one that was never made. Henson and Jerry Juhl had written a screenplay titled Tale of Sand early in their careers which was never made, one that artist Ramon K. Perez has adapted into a graphic novel. And the end result? It’ll probably make you wish someone had filmed this script.

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Blue

By Pat Grant
96 pages, color
Published by Top Shelf Productions

I’d never heard of Australian cartoonist Pat Grant before Blue, but in a matter of pages I found myself deeply impressed by the creator. In his graphic novel, Grant does more than just tell a story about three teens on a local adventure; he brings a story together in a way that can be read with as much or as little allegory as you want and still have it provide a punch, and in a way that immerses you in the Australian culture of Grant’s youth that ends up dropping you in, wholesale.

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Whispers #1

By Joshua Luna
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Joshua Luna and Jonathan Luna are best known in the comics industry, collectively, as the Luna Brothers. They’ve had three hit series from Image Comics—Ultra, Girls, and The Sword—and I think everyone assumed that their next project would also be together. With Whispers, though, Joshua Luna is not only writing but drawing this new series. And if this is what happens when one of the brothers works on a solo project? Well, nothing against their successful partnership, but I’d like to see some more solo comics from time to time.

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Ray #1-2

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Penciled by Jamal Igle
Inked by Rich Perrotta
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I still remember when DC published the revamp of The Ray back in the early ’90s, with Jack C. Harris and Joe Quesada taking the core concept and creating Ray Terrill, a new character with the power to transform into and manipulate light. With this new The Ray mini-series 20 years later, I’m getting a similar vibe from Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Jamal Igle. And that’s a very good thing indeed.

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Steed & Mrs. Peel #1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Ian Gibson
32 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

When Eclipse published Steed and Mrs. Peel twenty years ago, I knew who Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson were, but had never actually watched an episode of The Avengers television show. I’ve since fixed the latter omission in my entertainment knowledge, so it’s nice to have Boom! Studios bringing this long-out-of-print series back to life for another go-round. And so far? Well, like any story involving John Steed, Emma Peel, and Tara King, it’s a mixed bag.

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Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation

Written by Brandon Seifert
Art by Lukas Ketner
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With the number of comics currently being published, it’s easy to have one (or lots) slip past you. That was the case with Witch Doctor, a mini-series from Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, and published under Robert Kirkman’s imprint (Skybound) at Image Comics. Fortunately, Seifert and Ketner aren’t above giving readers a second chance, and that’s what I feel like I was handed with the Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation one-shot published last month. In many ways, it’s a model approach that I’d love to see more creators follow.

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Dark Crystal: Creation Myths Vol. 1

Written by Brian Holguin and Barbara Randall Kesel
Art by Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John
Concept by Brian Froud
96 pages, color
Published by Archaia

As a kid, I didn’t like the film of The Dark Crystal. The problem I had with the film was simple; I’d read A.C.H. Smith’s novelization first. I remember reading it over and over again back in 1982, fascinated by the world of Thra’s mythology and grand ideas that came to life in the book. By the time I finally saw the film a few months later, it felt curiously empty in comparison. So many of the big ideas that I’d gotten from Smith’s book were muted in the film, and it just didn’t live up to what I’d wanted from it. It’s somewhat apt, then, to find that Archaia’s new The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths manages to scratch that same itch that Smith’s novelization did back in the day, filling me once more with that sense of awe and wonder.

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Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Tonci Zonjic
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse Comics

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Lobster Johnson comic. The pulp-inspired character first appeared as a ghost in Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics, before getting stories of his own set back in the 1930s. With 2012 gearing up to be a big year for Mike Mignola’s various properties, it feels as good a time as any to see the return of Lobster Johnson. This time, though, the comic has the perfect addition of Tonci Zonjic on art.

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Memorial #1

Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Rich Ellis
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

I’ve enjoyed Chris Roberson’s writing on other people’s properties—finishing up the "Grounded" Superman arc, and writing the Fables spin-off miniseries Cinderella—but I think it’s his own co-creation iZombie that has impressed me the most. So when I heard that Roberson had a new creation with artist Rich Ellis in the pipeline involving a woman who lost her memories and a strange antique store? I knew I’d have to give it a whirl. And while these are early days, there’s enough in this first issue to have my interest officially piqued.

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