Discovering military intelligence on corpse, brings subtle questions of honor and necessary evils into Zan’s depressed existence.
Florida is a place that captures the imagination, from the expanse of the Everglades to the glitz of Miami, to the sordid headlines the region seems to specialize in. Jordie Bellaire’s Redlands has been working some deep magic and weaving these threads together. The heroes are a coven of witches, backed up by a cryptozoological boyfriend, a bound ghost and a familiar. Bellaire’s story is aggressively feminist, and the subject matter, along with its stunningly kinetic depiction by artist Vanesa Del Rey, is decidedly for mature audiences. In forewords and afterwords, Bellaire continually reaffirms that the book was written for whoever it resounds with, be they male or female, rebel or more straight-laced.
For the futuristic world of Wakanda and a deeper exploration of Shuri, it’s only appropriate that Marvel bring in Hugo Award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor. Leonardo Romero brings a disciplined and authoritative style that brings life to the background hum of Wakandan life but keeps the characters front and center with excellent close work. Okorafor leans on Shuri’s wit and youth here; while she may have a direct line to Wakandan ancestors, she’s ever the little sister of T’Challa. With a convocation of “The Trunk”- a meeting of women- called to help determine Wakanda’s fate in the absence of T’Challa, the theme of youth and seasoned wisdom in conflux is a driving factor. Enter Shuri as the favored heir to the mantle of Black Panther in her brother’s absence. It’s a role she’s filled before, but never before with such a deeply explored and developed history, nor with the bandwidth generated from Shuri’s time on the big screen. Between the adventures of Shuri and T’Challa’s intergalactic quest to find home, fans have plenty of reasons to resound “Wakanda Forever” while they wait for Black Panther II to drop.
As the struggle for the soul of comic books continues to be waged in angry blogs and twitter screeds, lines are being drawn. While the fanatics foam at the mouth, many creatives in comic books are putting those lines to paper. Rarely has there been a takedown of toxic fandom put as succinctly or a beautifully as the Scott Aukerman’s first few panels of X-Men Black: Mojo. As a true connoisseur of the X-Men, Mojo believes only he understands his obsession and is more than willing to liquidate characters created in the name of inclusivity. It’s pure poetry that none other than the affable Blob shows up to provide an angel on Mojo’s putrid shoulder. Blob has never been, nor will likely ever be, a leading character, and his prominence in the story provides one of many levels to this middle-fingered salute to angry basement-dwellers.
The story is a timely one, and while Magneto’s own story is culled from the pages of history, this particular tale is ripped from the front pages. It has a predictable arc and the moral of the story is one of acceptance, tolerance, and equality. The fact that this is the predominant quality in the X-Men canon doesn’t detract from the exploration of Magneto Claremont offers. Rather than a devious villain scheming to further an agenda, Magneto is portrayed as a simple but haunted man, pushed to great extremes by a dangerous and hateful world. Of special note is that Magneto goes in for non-lethal measures to secure his goals, while his human adversaries fantasize about much worse fates for mutant kind. This warmer treatment of the usually steely Magneto is surprising and touching, and well worth the read.
For fans of alt-history intrigue in the vein of Thomas Pynchon, Warren Ellis’ Cemetery Beach has your number. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a secret military-industrial cabal figured out space exploration in the 1920s and secretly colonized a planet, this book aims to answer all of your burning questions. Equal parts post-steampunk and 1984, Cemetery Beach, illustrated by Jason Howard, paints a bleak, mysterious world, ruled by a mysterious fat bald man with literary pretensions. By way of a prisoner interrogation we get a tantalizing slice of exposition as far as the powers at play and the gap in technology, and after a prison break, we find our hero knows very little more about the target of his intelligence-gathering mission.
Zombie stories often explore the theme of economic inequality, and the human cost of might makes right. Kirkman’s story has been dropping hints of the seething unrest beneath the veneer of civility in the Commonwealth. The arc feels both timely and timeless, and many Charlie Adlard’s illustrations look like the front pages of newspapers the world over. Kirkman has inserted Michonne directly into a discussion of exactly how high a human cost society comes with, especially one that clings to the active disenfranchisement of people. Michonne (without her sword) is forced to defend her new way of life by defending a gang of murderous police enforcers. The event is the match that lights the fire Kirkman has been building for the last few issues, just in time for Rick Grimes and Governor Milton to arrive back from their diplomatic mission of goodwill to a world in flames.