Awakening Vol. 1

Written by Nick Tapalansky
Art by Alex Eckman-Lawn
144 pages, color
Published by Archaia

I think it’s safe to say, at this point, that everywhere you turn there’s a new zombie-related story being told. Movies, books, television shows, comics, video games, even works of classic literature are all being invaded by the walking dead. What that means, though, is that you really need to stand apart from everyone else if you’re going to try and spring a zombie story on your audience. Or at least, that’s the common train of thought. The thing is, I’m growing increasingly convinced that people are concentrating so much on the twist that they are losing sight of just telling a solid story.

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Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

By David Petersen
192 pages, color
Published by Archaia

It took a little longer than planned due to some publisher reorganizing, but Mouse Guard: Winter 1152—David Petersen’s second Mouse Guard mini-series—has come to a conclusion. With a hardcover collection scheduled for this summer, it seemed like a good at time as any to sit down and re-read all six issues. While Petersen certainly made a splash with his debut mini-series (Mouse Guard: Fall 1152), I have to say I was a little surprised with this second story. As good as the first was, this one feels even deeper and richer than what we’ve seen up until now.

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Killer #1

Written by Matz
Art by Luc Jacamon
32 pages, color
Published by Archaia Studios Press

Anti-heroes are a popular character in fiction these days. You know the type—not really a “good” person, but not the villain either. They often operate under their own set of rules and ethics, and in the end bring about the resolution in a way that isn’t necessarily socially acceptable. You cheer them on even as a voice in the back of your head should be saying, “Should I be this gleeful?” Matz and Luc Jacamon’s The Killer seems to take a slightly different tactic. Their main character isn’t an anti-hero at all, he’s a thoroughly bad person. The only thing is, his story is remarkably enthralling.

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Artesia Besieged #1-2

By Mark Smylie
32 pages, color
Published by Archaia Studios Press

There are some comics that are inexplicably popular, that burn up the sales chart without any sort of logical reason why anyone and everyone is buying it. Conversely, there are also comics like Artesia where the big mystery is why it isn’t the kind of comic that everyone is reading. Looking at the first two issues of the new Artesia Besieged mini-series, I’ve finally come to a conclusion and I think it’s an important one: people are stupid. That’s just about the only reason why I can see that this isn’t a sales juggernaut.

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Mouse Guard #1

By David Petersen
24 pages, color
Published by Archaia Studios Press

There’s something that’s just sort of cool about the idea of mice wearing cloaks and holding swords. It’s funny, because I’ve never read the best-selling Redwall novels but for some reason, the idea is just golden. Needless to say, when I saw the cover of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard I absolutely couldn’t resist.

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Artesia Afire #1-3

By Mark Smylie
32 pages, color
Published by Archaia Studios Press

It’s hard to launch a fantasy series in comics. It seems like it would be a natural marriage of art form and genre, but somehow the two never seem to connect very well. Maybe it’s because of the number of failed “light fantasy” series, with pretty unicorns and elves and fairy princesses who traipse around the world in gossamer outfits. Meanwhile, books by authors like Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin continue to burn up the best-sellers charts in prose, proving that there’s certainly a market for well-written fantasy out there. Maybe what comics needs are more series like Mark Smylie’s Artesia, which show that it can work if you’ve just got the right material it can be golden.

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