Godzilla #1-2

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Simon Gane
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

I’ll admit that I’ve only seen a small percentage of Godzilla films, knowing more about the property via its reputation (and friends who get excited about the Godzilla pantheon) than experiencing it myself. But after initially raising an eyebrow and walking past this latest Godzilla comic, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a look at what Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane came up with. And I must say, I’m quite pleased that I did so.

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Dare Detectives: The Snow-Pea Plot

By Ben Caldwell
208 pages, color
Published by Archaia

Sometimes we do get a second chance. Take, for example, Ben Caldwell’s The Dare Detectives: The Snow-Pea Plot. My only previous exposure to Caldwell was his Wonder Woman strip in Wednesday Comics, which never quite clicked for me. And somehow, I’d entirely missed the original two-part publication of The Dare Detectives by Dark Horse quite a few years ago. But inevitably, what’s old is new again, and with Archaia collecting both installments into an attractive hardcover, this seemed to be as good a chance to check out Caldwell’s comics. What I found was an interesting mix of comics and animation sensibilities.

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Astonishing X-Men #51

Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Mike Perkins and Andrew Hennessy
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins taking over Astonishing X-Men—a book that has floundered for a direction, creative team, and publishing schedule ever since the tail end of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run—should have been a great thing. Their debut with issue #48 was not without its problems, though, and the highly-publicised engagement issue of Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle for #50 felt like things were getting worse, not better. But curiosity got the better of me for the big wedding issue this month. Because, after all, in fictional works everything always works out just fine once the wedding itself arrives. Maybe the real world would follow suit?

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Fallen Words

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

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s career as a manga creator is long and varied; originally known for helping create the "gekiga" alternative manga genre in the ’40s and ’50s, and then bursting back onto the scene a few years ago with his enthralling autobiography A Drifting Life. With Fallen Words, his new short story collection, Tatsumi addresses an old Japanese storytelling technique and group of long-standing stories (called rakugo) by shifting them from performance art into a comics page. And once again, Tatsumi shows the reader that he’s still got the skill and craft that’s made him an important craftsman of manga all these years.

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Double Barrel #1

By Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
122 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about watching digital comics take off is the different ways that people have approached this way to deliver the medium. DC Comics, for instance, have created original comics that are connected to their characters but are just far enough removed to let them try things a little differently. (The new non-continuity Legends of the Dark Knight series, for example, or Smallville comics.) Some cartoonists are posting a page every couple of days, funding the comic with things like donations, merchandise sales, or Kickstarter fundraisers. In the case of Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon (who aren’t actually related, as they’re quick to point out), they’ve created a new digital comic series titled Double Barrel, where each issue contains portions of new graphic novels, plus additional short stories, sketches, and essays. Based on this first issue, I think they’ve got a good thing on their hands.

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Only Skin

By Sean Ford
272 pages, black and white
Published by Secret Acres

It’s easy to tell a suspense or horror story if you have distinct, identifiable, gruesome monsters jumping out of the shadows at every turn. Sean Ford’s Only Skin doesn’t take that easy route, instead building its nightmares through a combination of an iconic ghost design, and the terror of what we didn’t see. And in doing so, Ford’s debut graphic novel becomes a genuinely scary adventure for reader and character alike.

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Crogan’s Loyalty

By Chris Schweizer
184 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

It’s nice to be dependable, and that’s a word I’d used to describe Chris Schweizer’s Crogan’s Adventures series of graphic novels. Debuting in 2008 with the pirate romp of Crogan’s Vengeance and continuing in 2010 with the Foreign Legion desert adventure of Crogan’s March, I’ve liked the idea of every two years getting a new volume. That trend’s continued with this year’s American Revolution story of Crogan’s Loyalty. And when I said that Schweizer was dependable, I wasn’t just talking about his publishing schedule; I know by now that each new story in the Crogan family tree is going to be a good, solid graphic novel.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #1

Written by Damon Lindelof
Art by Jeff Lemire
20 screens, color
Published by DC Comics

DC Comics has been entering the digital comics realm more and more over the past year; with the arrival of their new digital series Legends of the Dark Knight, there’s now a new original digital comic available each weekday from the company. It’s been a nice surprise to see that these aren’t comics getting tossed out for the sake of having something in the digital realm, though. With this new Legends of the Dark Knight comic, the first installment is by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, two talents hardly worth sneezing at. And at 99 cents a comic, it feels like a steal.

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Harbinger #1

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Khari Evans
32 pages, color
Published by Valiant Entertainment

When the original Valiant Comics published Harbinger back in the early ’90s, it was a title I found myself uninterested in right off the bat. The characters seemed a little too nasty and horrible to one another, and while I’m not against the idea of a less-than-admirable protagonist, it had felt a little too rough. It was one of the biggest hits for the company, though, and with the new Valiant Entertainment re-launching some of the original properties, it seemed like a good chance to see how the new version of Harbinger was shaping up. What I found was a book that deliberately doesn’t make things easy for readers.

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Written by Boaz Yakin
Art by Joe Infurnari
192 pages, sepia-tone
Published by First Second Books

It’s no secret that I’ve been a distance-runner for a little over a decade; I ran my first marathon in 2001, and have run 11 of the events (plus numerous half-marathons and shorter distance races, and more recently a handful of triathlons). A comic about the origin of the marathon, as a result, should be the ultimate attraction to me as it mixes two of my obsessions. What I found in Marathon by Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari, though, was a graphic novel where one of the creators does all of the heavy lifting.

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