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Comic Review: Fatima: The Blood Spinners #4
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Cashmere Smoking Jacket   |  
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Fatima: The Blood Spinners #4Fatima: The Blood Spinners #4
Story and Art by Gilbert Hernandez
Edited by Diana Schutz
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 19, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99

So, have YOU been reading Fatima by Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets)? No seriously, have you been following this madcap adventure through space, time, and zombies? I know that zombie storylines have been spreading in pop-culture like… a plague that is unrelated to zombies. Let’s just say its spreading like a Contagion. I don’t actually think it’s necessary or wise to list off all the zombie-related media out there right now. I mean, really: when Brad Pitt is the lead in the $125 million dollar adaptation of a highly acclaimed zombie novel by the son of Mel Brooks, I think it’s possible to say that a saturation point has arrived. That The Walking Dead is a best-selling ongoing comic, and the most popular show on a cable channel that Mad Men also calls home, AND apparently has certain character prologues being novelized, means I think we can throw out ‘possible’ and replace it with ‘redundant’. When I feel confident that I can mention the zombie preparation campaign by the CDC without linking to it because I’m positive everyone and their unborn (zombie, obviously) children have heard of it already, well that’s just straight tautological. Wait, so why read this mini-series, which closes this month? Oh right, because its awesome.

...continue reading »
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Comic Review: Blacksad: A Silent Hell
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Cashmere Smoking Jacket   |  
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Blacksad: A Silent HellBlacksad: A Silent Hell
Written by Diaz Canales
Art by Juanjo Guarnido
English-language Edition Edited by Diana Schutz
Dark Horse Comics
U.S. Release Date: July 11, 2012
Cover Price: $19.99

Noir stories have been making yet another surge in American culture, and especially the comics world over the past few years, with Warren Ellis’ Fell, Richard Stark’s adaptation of the Parker novels, Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s The Damned, and seemingly everything Ed Brubaker touches ever being just a few shining examples. Adding to this stack of worthy reads, Dark Horse has mined the European market for a more traditional hard-boiled detective in writer Diaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido‘s anthropomorphic creation, John Blacksad. Although the creative team is from Spain, they set Blacksad in the U.S. during 1950s and modeled him heavily on the archetype created by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

The first three volumes of Blacksad have already been collected in something of an omnibus of their work, and now the fourth one, Blacksad: Silent Hell, has been released for the American market. As a bonus, this edition includes two Blacksad micro-shorts and nearly 40 pages of preliminary sketches with commentary by the artist.

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Comic Review: Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 26
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Spartacus!   |  
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Dark Horse Comics: Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 26Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 26: Traitors of The Earth
Created Written and Illustrated by Stan Sakai
Introduction by Walter Simonson
Editor Diana Schutz
Assistant Editor: Brendan Wright
Design & Digital Production: Cary Grazzini
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: June 27, 2012
Cover Price: $16.99

Well, that’s it. Zombies have officially taken over. First that Walking Dead Stuff, then the Marvel Zombies. Before I knew it they were skulking about the bridge of the USS Enterprise and then that Blackest Night thing, but if they can make it all the way into the pages of Usagi Yojimbo then where else is there to go? Eightball?

Seriously, though, for better or for worse, in spite of the kick-ass cover, the living dead have not infected Stan Sakai‘s Talking-Animals/Feudal-Era-Japan, his samurai rabbit heroes’ morals do not get tested when he has to decide to hack off the head of a bitten loved one; in fact, it takes up a relatively small portion of this volume. As anyone who’s been following this book for years will tell you, anything goes here. Usagi Yojimbo Volume 26 has zombies, hidden fortresses, assassination plots, dudes getting stabbed to death, water spirits, former allys seeking vengece, and an evil wizard that reminded me of a Skeksie from the Dark Crystal. So, yeah, it’s not just ‘Usagi Fights The Zombies’ here. But, by the way, it is there. And it’s awesome.

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Comic Review: 3 Story: The Secret Files of the Giant Man
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Spartacus!   |  
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3 Story: Secret Files of the Giant Man3 Story: The Secret Files of the Giant Man
Story & Art by Matt Kindt
Digital Production by Clay Janes
Design by Matt Kindt with David Nestelle
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: April 18, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50

Dark Horse’s graphic novel 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man explores the life of Craig Pressgang, an American born during the Second World War who suffers from gigantism, grows to be three stories tall, and finds a place for himself as a U.S. government spokesperson. The book itself is told from the perspective of the three most important women in his life, his mother, wife and daughter, as he grows from a period of optimism to alienation and isolation for being so unique. It’s often said that the book, written by Matt Kindt, is a sprawling metaphor for the American spirit since the 1940s.

This isn’t that book. This book is a bit …ahem… shorter in stature.

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Comic Review: Usagi Yojimbo #143
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Spartacus!   |  
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Usagi Yojimbo 143Usagi Yojimbo #143
Created, Written and Illustrated by Stan Sakai
Cover Colors by Stan Luth
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50

For going on 25 years Stan Sakai‘s Usagi Yojimbo has been taking its anthropomorphized rabbit Samurai protagonist on adventure after adventure through Edo-era Japan while maintaining a steady rhythm of excellence in both storytelling and cartooning. Usagi Yojimbo #143 is no exception.

We find our hero in a new town and quickly embroidered in a new exploit defending the poor and defenseless against the powerful and bullying. It’s pretty standard fare for many samurai stories, or westerns for that matter. Sakai, of course, makes it worth our while with his richly detailed recreation of feudal Japan. When he sets the plot aside for a number of pages to take us on tour of a soy sauce brewery, showing us the process from soy bean to fermentation, it’s not tangential, it’s part of the fun.

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