October 18th, 2023
Dwellings #2 - The October entry for Jay Stephens horror anthology is packed with chilling tales and comic kitsch. In “Quiet Suki,” a visit with grandma becomes a journey into memory and madness for Charlie. To find their way out of the literal and metaphorical woods, Charlie takes the questionable advice from a talking hand puppet. Is Suki the Bear leading Charlie back to the truth or further into madness, and which is worse? The second half of this issue is a series of interconnected stories centering on or told by small town journalist “Ham” Hamilton. He’s an older man increasingly out of touch or at odds with a changing world. When a wealthy influencer opens a new kind of haunted house, Ham digs into his shady past and soon finds himself contemplating the horror of history, how the crimes and iniquities of history are echoed in the present. The entire issue is united by themes of history and memory. With the first installment, Stephens proved that he could combine cartoon cuteness and shocking horror, and succeed at both. With this we see an artist expertly using theme and subtext to question our personal and collective relationship to the past.
The Incredible Hulk #5 - The horror themed hulk goes all out for Halloween. Spooky otherworldly imagery, ghosts, gore, giant spider monsters, body horror transformations, and a guest appearance from Man-Thing! In the nexus of realities, Banner asks the Man-Thing for aid in the battle with the mother of monsters, though Hulk is not as interested in a partnership. The mean green isn’t very concerned about the monster of the week either, but Bruce manages to coax a little heroism from the Hulk when their traveling companion Charlie's life is on the line. As glorious a monster on monster fight as we’ve come to expect from this series follows. The overarching plot takes a new turn when an old character returns with a new (and Halloween appropriate) look. Guest artist Travel Foreman gives this issue a unique look still in line with the dark and slanted look inspired by classic horror comics that this series excels at.
Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #1 - The town of Woodbrook is a slice of small town americana, full of smiling faces, the kind of place where people know their neighbors and there’s always time to stop and chat. If that weren’t cute enough, the citizens of Woodbrook and the wider world of this comic are anthropomorphic animals. Writer/illustrator Patrick Horvath evokes the style of classic children's books (Frog and Toad, the works of Richard Scarry), and combines it with the creepy serial-killer procedural narrative of Dexter. Samantha is a friendly bear, running the local hardware store, living a quiet life in a quiet town, a life she means to keep quiet. So when the urge to kill rises, she takes to the big city. People disappear there every day. The plan works as long as she follows the rules, but there’s a new killer in town with rules of their own, and Samantha isn’t going to let an amateur ruin a good thing. This book is delightful, it reminds me of Blacksad in it’s incredible attention to the details of an iconic art style.
Hack/Slash: Back To School #1 - Hack/Slash is back and more brutal than ever, just in time for Halloween! Zoe Thorogood has quickly become my favorite artist in recent years and when I heard she would be in charge of this series, I was overjoyed. This new run will serve as a prequel and jumping on point, taking place at the ‘Hunters For Hire- Academy For Girls’, just before Cassie and her partner Vlad are fully recognized hunters. Thorogood was the perfect choice for this project as her unique writing and artistic style both offer new avenues for this story and Cassie’s character to explore. Zoe is a fantastic artist, and I can confidently say that if you were to flip this book open and point to a random panel you would most likely find something visually appealing. There are new characters to give this run a unique sense of identity; You have Boo, who is just Juliet ripped straight from Chainsaw Lollipop, Mabel, a too-cool-for-school techie, Sam, the resident goth girl, and Darla Ritz, stone-cold killer and Headmaster of the Academy. Hack/Slash has always been an extremely unique series since its inception, and to quote Thorogood: “...It’s a series of endless, absurd possibilities and it’s been a real joy to put my spin on it in the form of a monster hunting school for girls with mommy issues”. Back To School is definitely shaping up to be everything fans of the series could have hoped for, as well as an interesting enough debut issue to attract hordes of new fans. Do yourself a favor, and come grab Hack/Slash: Back to School today.
Titans #4 - The latest issue of Titans was wonderful, and is perfectly setting the stage for the super team going forward. Touched by their encounter with the Church of Eternity, Gar wants to prove there’s more to being a hero than punching a bad guy in the face and calling it a day. He leads a Reforestation Effort with the help of the Titans and stops a group of mercenaries from murdering a group of civilians. Due to the impending death of the speedster, Wally West is benched yet again as the Titan’s plan to relocate him to a secret facility, only accessible via Boom Tube. This issue was packed with several moments that highlighted just how much this team cares for one another and the planet as a whole, which in my opinion has been the selling point for this series. This group genuinely feels like a small family concerned for each other's well-being, even when tensions are high- without sacrificing their sense of justice as guardians of Earth. This issue also gave us plenty of hints regarding what happened to Wally in the future, and what the Church of Eternity is planning.
Hawkgirl #4 - I’ve been loving the Hawkgirl series and issue four was groundbreaking! The issue opens up with a flashback of Galaxy and Vulpecula before throwing us straight into a dragon attack happening in current day Metropolis. Hawkgirl and Galaxy find themselves teaming up with Supergirl and Steel to fight off this threat and it was an absolute treat to witness this epic team up. Amancay Nahuelpan did these characters justice with his striking artistic design and particular eye for action scenes. The dragon proves to be quite the formidable foe, forcing Hawgirl and Galaxy to come up with a creative solution to the threat. You will definitely enjoy this issue, and if you haven’t already I highly recommend reading through this series as it seems that the new villain, Vulpecula seems to be ready to act on her grand scheme!