The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan – Robert Kirkman

Origin stories are for heroes. Whenever a villain gets one it always diminishes them as their sense of mystery and fear is gone. As much as you want to know where Lucille came from and how she got her name perhaps it is better if you don’t know.

This isn’t a bad volume but it is a little thin. Both in page count, which can’t be masked by the slightly oversize format and hardcover, and in content. Kirkman skips Negan through the 100 issues of time that Rick got to grow and develop, but does so aplomb. We also see some familiar names along the way.

The art is the same high standard as it the same people as the main issues.

As a fan of The Walking Dead you will want this and it is a lot more convenient than tracking down original issues. It’s a shame that it is so thin however.

Thumbs Up!


The Fuse Volume 4: Constant Orbital Revolutions – Anthony Johnston

This volume continues the high standard of writing we have seen previously and rewards those loyal readers that have been patiently waiting for the payoff. All those little hints about a larger conspiracy burst forth and are tied up nicely. So much so that this could be the last book for this wonderful world. It would certainly be a shame if Johnston doesn’t come back to this marvellous setting one day though.

The art is superb as always with great colouration helping to set the mood of the moment.

Thumbs Up!

The Fuse Volume 3: Perihelion – Anthony Johnston

This excellent Sci-fi police drama continues to deliver. Set against the backdrop of a carnival and all the crime and mayhem it brings this volume contains a complete story and as usual ends with a tiny teaser for the bigger picture.

The art is excellent with plenty of widescreen panels and lots of visuals to break up the dialogue.

Definitely a keeper.

Thumbs Up!

Usagi Yojimbo 30: The Hell Screen – Stan Sakai

It’s time for another bi-annual helping of your favourite rabbit. The contents page promises seven stories but one is three issues and it isn’t clear why each needs to listed separately.

Inspector Ishida makes a welcome return with another mystery and we also receive a visit from the Komori Ninja. You probably don’t remember Yamaguchi Kyosai from a rock delivering story but the reappearance of these minor characters adds weight and authenticity to Sakai’s world.

All of these feel original and explore cultural aspects we have not touched on before such as the problems Japan faces with its excessive rainfall.

Like normal there is a handy guide at the back which explains and enlightens you to the subjects covered.

The art is great as you would expect. The use of black in the night-time rain scenes and those set in caves are particularly effective.

Thumbs Up!

Crossed +100: Volume 3 – Simon Spurrier

Here is another book in the most interesting Crossed series to date. We leap forward five years, possibly as a jumping on for new readers, or possibly it ties into the number 13.

Like the first book this is another ‘grand plan’ epic in which Salt directs the fate of the Crossed – from the grave. Also like the first book we build to a shocking climax at the end. Or at least we attempt to. Having seen it done magnificently by Alan Moore the cat is definitely out of the bag and we aren’t going to have the rug pulled out on us twice.

There is an interesting family situation developing for ‘Future,’ our antagonist, and it will be interesting to see where Spurrier goes next having taken all this time to worldbuild.

Definitely worth a read but don’t expect lightning to be striking twice.

Thumbs Up!

Rat Queens Volume 4: High Fantasies – Kurtis J. Wiebe

The trouble with any book that follows a world-shattering event is where do you go from here? This volume feels very deflated as we almost go back to square one. Except we can’t because square one got blown up and not all the characters are still around.

But we love our Rat Queens and even if the plot isn’t up to much then just hanging around and laughing at their jokes will do for now. There is a nice old school D&D dungeon crawl that tickles the funny bones of any veterans out there and also a quirky flashback to some of the character’s origins.

Thumbs Up!

Mysterius the Unfathomable – Jeff Parker

This is a curious and comedic tale about an anti-hero magician. It reads partly like a noir detective story with maybe a sprinkle of Agatha Christie.

It is the kind of book you might use words like quaint and charming to describe and wonder at how it got commissioned in today’s world of consumable media.

There are three pages of prose story thrown in with a faux historical premise that these are from a much earlier edition of Mysterius’ adventures.

The art is definitely an eclectic style that embraces the caricature method with everyone having slightly exaggerated features and expressions.

Thumbs Up!

Brilliant – Brian Michael Bendis

This is one of those normal people get superpowers ideas. The twist is these powers were created by a bunch of college kids. The secret of which entered the corporate world becoming a commodity – making the whole story more of a political thriller. At least this would have happened if the book hadn’t been cancelled after 5 issues. A pretty weird thing since this is a creator owned work.

Maybe this is because most of the work is talking heads. Not straying too far from his Power’s style this is mostly kids standing or sitting talking. They are smart kids so the dialogue is smooth and sharp and not a chore to read but a definite waste of the medium. Then we take a twist and things get interesting – just in time to be cancelled.

The art is classic modern comics. Not a great deal of detail but plenty of colour. Another Bendis trademark is switching the panel read order. One minute you are going across both pages, then one page, then down each column and there is nothing to help you navigate. There is one clever sequence where this is actually turned into a good thing but mostly you read each page twice to see if an altered order makes a difference.

As a cancellation commiseration the five issues that did appear are in a hardback volume. There is a huge cover gallery – maybe the cost of all the variant art bankrupted the book – and full script for the first issue. Bendis’ notes to the artist are actually fascinating reading and give a glimpse into where this book would have gone.

Thumbs Up!

Runaways 9: Dead Wrong – Terry Moore

The golden age is over. No comics publisher can ever let things go out on a high so this is title is dusted off and given to an entirely new team.

The premise isn’t bad but the series appears to have been re-pitched for a younger audience. Moore deals with the characters enthusiastically but he is inheriting other people’s creations. And who can live up to Vaughn and Whedon.

The biggest shock is the art. We have gone from a consistent style that lasted 8 volumes to some hyperactive fusion of emo and cartoon. It is similar to that of Chew and isn’t an unpleasing style but it is definitely not what we have been used to.

It’s not a nosedive and if you are a fan then it is worth persevering with.

Thumbs Up!

Runaways 6: Parental Guidance – Brian K. Vaughan

At first glance the blurb on the back appears to spoil this storyline. But things are a little weirder and more convoluted than it makes out.

We open with a couple of single issue stories before we head back into the main plot. And have a trip into the past to see if any of you remember back to volume one. This book is relatively cameo light which makes a change but you are so busy looking for them it has the same effect.

There is quite an emotional punch in this part but as this is comics there is always the danger this will be undone in future.

The art is good particularly some colourful fire and explosion effects.

Thumbs Up!