Deal Me In


The New Deal

If y’all read the “Green River Killer” graphic novel from a few years ago, you may be familiar with Jonathan Case’s artwork — and he’s still making cool graphic novels now.

His latest is “The New Deal,” set in New York City during the Great Depression, with most of the action taking place in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel. Our main characters are Frank and Theresa. Frank is a bellhop who tries to keep his nose clean, but has a bit of a gambling problem — hence owing a lot of money to a shady rich SOB — and a slight case of sticky fingers — nothing big stolen yet, but he could get in serious trouble if anyone catches him. Theresa is an African-American maid who really should be working a better job than a hotel maid. She’s also an actress, playing one of the witches in Orson Welles’ so-called Voodoo Macbeth. She’s smart and fairly honest and tries to keep an eye on Frank to keep him from getting into trouble.

And with a bunch of new guests in the hotel and a lot of pressure on the staff to keep the guests happy, there are suddenly mysterious thefts happening left and right — and both Frank and Theresa are being implicated! Can they discover who the real thief is? Can they avoid being sent to prison? Can they avoid being killed? Can they, against all odds, actually come out ahead when this is all over?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great light-hearted little caper, with plenty of twists and turns, villains and heroes and antiheroes, plots, schemes, cops, robbers, gangsters — and a worthwhile happy ending.

The characters were fun, and I felt like the characterization and dialogue were pretty great, too. I really loved the historical setting, and I was pretty excited to learn that Welles’ Voodoo Macbeth was a real thing — lots of cool historical details helped make the setting come to life.

All this, plus Case’s great (mostly) black-and-white artwork, too! You should be able to find this or order this through your local comic shop — it’s pretty much brand new right now — but you can also get it online, too.

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Chibi World


Astro City #27

Strange monsters are attacking all over the world, and while Honor Guard beats them, they always vanish into thin air, only to return later. But at last, American Chibi reveals that she knows what’s happening. She takes the heroes to an apartment where a woman is collapsed unconscious on the floor and then merges into her. It turns out the woman is Marguerite Li, a computer game designer, and the epic fantasy game she’s been working on for years has been co-opted by an eldritch interdimensional force that intends to use her monsters to over-run the world. But American Chibi was created as the game’s hero, uniquely qualified to destroying the villain’s plans. So Chibi leads the charge into the game’s fantasy world, followed by Honor Guard — who are all turned into adorable chibi versions of themselves. But can a bunch of big-eyed kawaii superheroes save the world from ultimate evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. American Chibi has been a seriously weird character, so even though she’s appeared only rarely, there’s been a lot of mystery about what her big secret was. The story really hits its high points when everyone is cute and cartoonish — guest artist Joe Infurnari is extremely good with cartoonish art, though his depictions of the real world are disappointingly scratchy and ill-formed.


Harley Quinn and Power Girl #4

Vartox is still evil, and when he gets the upper hand, temporarily, over Power Girl, Harley and her newly discovered Caticorn — like a green-furred lolcat Capricorn — ride to the rescue. The combination of Harley’s puppy-dog eyes and the Caticorn’s purring breaks the spell over Vartox. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that the Ex-Girlfriend Force survived their various traumas — but then Oreth Odeox himself attacks! Can anyone save our heroes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s cute, it’s funny — it doesn’t really aspire to much more than that, but I still enjoyed it.

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Hello, Kitty


Hellboy in Hell #8

Hellboy must be cured of the condition that’s causing him to waste away, and he needs to contend with the giant monster version of Dr. Coppelius, who wants to kill Dr. Hoffman — the only man who can cure Hellboy. Hoffman manages to trap Coppelius in the body of a dead cat — but at that point, you’ve got a giant vengeful dead cat, which isn’t much of an improvement. Once Coppelius is vanquished, Hoffman is able to reveal that the Furies themselves are after Hellboy, claiming that he spilled his family’s blood. But it turns out he’s innocent — his demonic half-sister is to blame. Who gets punished now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very fun story with Mike Mignola’s always great art. Loved the depiction of the Furies — a trio of monstrous buzzing green flies.


Red Sonja #18

The mad empress still wants the librarians’ spire burned down, and Sonja has committed herself to protecting them. While they wait, the librarian-priestesses read her stories from their books. In time, Sonja learns that the Empress has sent her Vipers — three vastly skilled and terribly cruel assassins. She’s heard of all three — she figures she might be able to take down two of them, but not all three. So what’s to be done? Will evil finally prevail?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A brutal and action-packed story — and a reminder that while Sonja is a devil of a warrior, she also has more brains and heart than anyone ever gives her credit for. This may be Gail Simone’s final story in this series, but I hope whoever takes over keeps up the high quality tales.


Nameless #5

Against the backdrop of a high-tech seance held in a gloriously eerie haunted house, we learn more (or do we?) about the monstrous and infinite power of Xibalba, and about the horrible past and present of the man called Nameless. Who are Nameless’s enemies? Who are his allies? What hope can there be when God is an impossibly sadistic alien serial killer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Half the time, I didn’t even know what was going on — but I still loved every minute. It’s creepy, gory, quiet, apocalyptic horror, and the series is still worth reading and enjoying.

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Rock Candy


Rat Queens #12

Violet helps Betty run off a hobbit-sized assassin, and Betty swears her to secrecy about the event. Later, while the Queens are on their way to Mage University, they stop to rest in a dank cave called Dank Cave — and Hannah runs into an old demonic friend, who sics a bunch of demons on her and her friends. Can the Rat Queens survive an unwinnable fight?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great humor, characterization, dialogue, and art — and an excellent crisis that sneaks up on everyone from out of nowhere. Also, “To the shitter, my Rat Queens!” is probably the best battle cry ever.


Prez #4

Beth Ross is slowly getting accustomed to her new job. She hires her old boss from the corndog palace as her chief of staff, and she starts working to try to shut down the Sentry program, which is widely abused because the people piloting the robot sentries are immature douchebags who are allowed to kill anyone they want. Senator Thorn has a new Sentry model that doesn’t rely on anyone else to pilot it and can be set to, again, kill anyone it wants. Of course, that leaves it free to go rogue…

Verdict: Thumbs up. What I love — perversely — about this comic is all the nobodies of this world we get introduced to. We learn who they are, how they’ve come to the rotten situations they’re stuck in — and then the creators make things even worse for them. And the world keeps spinning, because this particular future chews up and spits out everyone eventually. No one in this world is going to get saved — and that in itself feels liberating.

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Rock n’ Roll Mermaids


Lumberjanes #18

Well, the girls are just hangin’ out at the lake when they encounter a bunch of counter-culture mermaids — or merwomyn, as they perfer to be called. And things are not all great in merwomyn land — Harlow and Taylor are old friends whose friendship (and awesome rock band) broke up after too many other people got into the band and everything got too commercial. Can the Lumberjanes get the band back together, all while avoiding sea serpents and sneering rock hipsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not the greatest bit in the world — ’cause what the heck, a huge society of mermaids in a normal-sized lake? But it’s a pretty fun story with nice characterization and keen art by guest illustrator Carolyn Nowak.


All-New Hawkeye #5

Another tale set in the past and the present, as young Clint Barton discovers that the Swordsman is a thief and predator — but he may still be on Clint’s side. Meanwhile, in the present, Clint and Kate Bishop are realizing that the Communion kids are terrifically dangerous and sometimes murderous. Kate wants to continue protecting them, but Clint has given up and is willing to let them be taken away by others, even Hydra. And we get the briefest of glimpses into the future. How bad do things get for Old Man Barton?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This comic was the one I was looking forward to the least, and I definitely ended up enjoying it the most. Fantastic story and art, wonderful characterizations and conflicts, and a nice cliffhanger to set up our next storyarc.

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Evil Twins


Harrow County #5

Emmy spends most of this issue cementing her new status as the county’s good witch/kind mother. She makes nice with her dad, with the skinless boy, with her friend Bernice, with the gigantic demon in the woods, with a gremlin spoiling the grain at the local silo, with the townspeople — and she even makes sure the folks in town who think they can push her around know that they really, really can’t. And then they get a visitor in a fancy car, and she’s wearing a very familiar face…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even in an issue where it’s mostly Emmy going around being friendly with everyone, we still get some wonderfully creepy moments — anything with the monstrous demon in the woods, the little grumbling haint in the grain silo, even Bernice’s worries about whether she’s human or not. And to top it all off, there’s a nice supposedly-true ghost story about a movie theater ghost at the end.


Bitch Planet #5

Earth is eagerly awaiting the big Megaton match between the home team boys and the upstart women players from Bitch Planet. But a scrimmage game in the prison between Kamau Kogo team of prisoners and a team made up the guards makes it clear that this will be a very hard game for the women — the other team will be allowed to cheat as much as they want, and they’ll never suffer any penalties for infractions, no matter how severe. Is there any hope for the Bitch Planet team?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great story, great action — and a great illustration of how much trouble the team is going to have. They’re the despised women cast off from a deeply misogynist society where everything is permitted as long as it hurts a woman. They’ve got a severely uphill battle ahead.

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The Wicked + the Divine #14

An incredibly cool idea — this comic is a remix — nearly all the images are from previous issues of this series (a couple of pages have images from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s “Sex Criminals” comic), all repurposed, often recolored, with new dialogue to tell the story. It’s especially appropriate for this issue, as we’re focusing on Woden, who’s been styled to look like one of the musicians from Daft Punk.

So what has Woden been up to during the chaos of the last few months? Well, he’s been Ananke’s servant. He knows all the rotten stuff she’s been up to — heck, she doesn’t even try to hide any of it from him. She holds him in complete contempt — and with pretty good reason, because Woden is a contemptible little worm. But he has secrets he’s keeping from Ananke — will they be enough to redeem him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wonderfully audacious comic — you don’t see something this wonderfully experimental come along very often, especially in the middle of an ongoing story. And it just goes to show that this is one of the most amazing comics on the stands, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie may be some of the greatest comics stylists of the last decade.


All Star Section Eight #4

Section Eight wants Wonder Woman to join their team — but as Wondy herself says, no woman in her right mind would join them. As bad luck would have it, Bator is busy making repairs to the bar and takes the exact worst possible moment to fall off a ladder and knock Diana in the head with a gigantic cartoon mallet. Freshly knocked entirely out of her right mind, Wonder Woman gleefully joins the team — despite almost everyone’s absolute horror at how completely ethically messed up this entire situation is — and helps plan the wedding for Bueno Excellente and Guts — rendered even more blasphemous than expected when the demonic Bator officiates the nuptials. Will this be able to be wrapped up with any dignity at all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If it was anywhere other than this series, dedicated to deconstructing and making fun of superheroes and all the associated tropes — and if it didn’t include almost the entire team absolutely horrified at what was happening — we’d probably be burning DC down right now. As it is, it’s a very funny comic — and I dig the bike shorts costume John McCrea gives Diana — I always liked that costume option a lot, and it never gets used enough.

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Toys in the Attic


Giant-Size Little Marvel: A vs. X #4

The Avengers and the X-Men are working hard to impress the new twins in town, Zachary and Zoe, so they can get them to join their clubs — but things are complicated now, as the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans join the competition. This means there’s going to be a huge fight, with lots of Marvel characters rendered in Skottie Young’s cartoonish style, right? And who do the twins finally pick?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s wonderfully funny, and the double splash page, featuring several dozen characters, including Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel, Brother Voodoo, Cloak and Dagger, Shatterstar, and many more, definitely makes it worth the cover price.


Starfire #4

A creature called a chida monster from deep below the earth is wreaking havoc in Key West. Starfire has met up with Atlee — better known to fans of Palmiotti and Conner’s old “Power Girl” series as Terra. Atlee has a plan for dealing with the chida — throwing him over the ocean, have Kori blast him as he grows larger and larger, and let his weight drive him back underground. And what’s left after that? Brace yourself for… conversations.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, it’s a lot of talking compared to action, but I didn’t mind the talking all that much.


Ms. Marvel #18

Kamala Khan’s big brother Aamir has been exposed to the Terrigen mists by her former crush Kamran — but wait, Captain Marvel is here and knows what Terrigen mists look like, and this ain’t them. Besides, Aamir is showing signs of superpowers, and he hasn’t even entered the Inhuman cocoon — so he doesn’t seem to be an Inhuman at all. So why is he demonstrating the ability to form protective force shields? Kamala and Captain Marvel return Aamir to the school, and Carol reveals to Kamala that the world is probably about to end. Will Kamala’s last night be marred by the usual strife that keeps blowing up around them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I loved the heck out of this entire issue, but I think where this comic really sings is the fantastic family relationships we see here. Yeah, there’s lots of stress and irritation — let’s face it, Aamir may be a good guy, but he’s also a grade-A dick — but ultimately, there’s lots of affection and love. And I’m really looking forward to the next issue now, just so we can resolve that cliffhanger.

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Super Awesome Awesomesauce


The Awesome by Eva Darrows

First of all, could we please gather together to sing hymns of praise for this glorious cover (by artist Pye Parr)? May I also note that, in addition to this fantastic cover, the edges of all the pages are black, so it looks for all the world like you’re reading a chunk of obsidian coated with a lurid neon green skull? What’s the title of this book again? “The Awesome”? Why, yes, it is.

Our lead character is Maggie Cunningham, a teenager who is learning the art of monster hunting from her mother, Janice. The problem for Maggie is that she’s advanced as far as she can as a monster-hunting apprentice because she’s a virgin, and the smell of virgin blood makes vampires in particular react like someone just combined a mosquito, a shark, and a porcupine into one creature — they often go into a mad, desperately dangerous feeding frenzy that makes them terribly difficult to kill. So to become a fully-bonded and licensed monster hunter instead of just an apprentice, Maggie has to have sex.

Wait, wait, there’s the other problem for Maggie: Though she is a badass monster hunter and an expert in weapons and martial arts, she’s never been the type to care about fitting in with kids her age. In other words, her social skills aren’t really gonna help her a lot in snagging a boyfriend.

Oh, and one more problem for Maggie — while testing her out to see if a drunken makeout session was enough to qualify her as “no longer a virgin,” Maggie and Janice are forced to terminate a fledgling vampire — and the kiddie vamp actually had a very important sire, and the Cunninghams are in serious, serious trouble. Will Maggie and Janice manage to survive? And will Maggie ever get to home plate?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The plot’s fine, but aside from the fantastic setup, you’re not going to remember this for its plotline. What’s gonna make you love this book is the characters, particularly Maggie and Janice, who are gloriously badass, gloriously white trash, and gloriously in each other’s faces almost constantly.

These three facets of their personalities are really important to both of them — but they’re far from age-separated twins. While both Maggie and Janice embrace their white-trash, trailer-park lifestyle with nary a qualm — living on the outskirts of polite society makes it easier to be a weapon-slinging badass — their quasi-antagonistic relationship feels very true-to-life for a couple of strong-willed women, particularly with a close family relationship. Janice is always egging Maggie forward, partly to make her a better monster hunter, partly because she just enjoys pissing Maggie off. Maggie is mostly willing to take it, but she clearly dislikes being the junior partner.

And Janice’s occasional recklessness always seems to turn up when she thinks she’s let her daughter down — of course, that just gives Maggie a reason to try harder to be a bigger badass than her mom — to be the most Awesome she can be…

It’s a fun book, sometimes raunchy, sometimes action-packed, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but always rooted firmly in great characters. Go pick it up.

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Daredevil in the Details


Daredevil #18

Last issue, the Kingpin had Ikari attack Daredevil, but warned Matt that if he beat Ikari, he’d kill either Foggy Nelson or Kirsten McDuffie. And then the Shroud went and screwed everything up by killing Ikari. Now Matt has to masquerade as Ikari and hope Fisk doesn’t figure out the switch too quickly. Will Matt be able to beat the Kingpin? The Shroud? The Owl? Will he manage to get his autobiography published after all this time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story and art — and the one downside is that this is the final issue of this book for writer Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, who’ve enjoyed one of the greatest runs that this character has ever enjoyed.


Silver Surfer #14

The almost-certainly-sinister Glorian and Zee offer Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood the opportunity to remake the universe — Dawn will be in charge of re-creating the Earth from scratch, while the Surfer is going to handle the rest of the universe. But they run into some challenges — Dawn hasn’t seen enough of the world to be able to remake it, and the Surfer is reluctant to remake the galaxy’s greatest threats, like Galactus. Can they find a way to succeed, or are they merely the pawns of more devious powers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun story, and I’m really eager to see how this is all going to play out. I’m assuming we’re heading for the cancellation/relaunch all the other Marvel books are doing, but it’s hard to tell at this point.


Lazarus #19

Last issue, Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Family Carlyle, able to regenerate from any wound, got shot in the head by one of Hock’s soldiers — and she’s not recovering from this injury. Her family is in a panic, the soldiers accompanying her are in a panic. This could give Hock a decisive victory over the Carlyles, and her squad is very likely to get killed by Hock’s soldiers. Is this really the end of Eve Carlyle? Oh, you can expect it actually isn’t…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely suspenseful sci-fi. Sure, we’re all pretty sure Eve isn’t done for, but it sure takes her a frighteningly long time to get back on her feet. And the family’s schemes and machinations behind the scenes are also pretty wonderfully done.

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