Hellboy (vol 12): The Storm And The Fury - Mike Mignola

And so the Hellboy legend concludes; questions are answered and secrets reveled, but to what end for us weak humans? It's bittersweet to have the story end, although I'm sure there are plenty of other Hellboy tales by the time this is posted. Here, the destined destroy of humanity/hero confronts his greatest enemy and all existence hangs in the balance. It is hard to every be satisfied with an ending to something you rather see continue; however, I think my grievances are legitimate. The fact that Mignola had Duncan Fegredo do all but the epilogue of art seemed lame as I would have hoped the man who started it all would want to conclude it. I still don't see the point of Alice and even less of another character that is introduced here for no reason (you'll know it when it happens). Additionally, we have known for several volumes now that, for the most part, Hellboy can't die, so a lot of the lead up has lacked that element of excitement. It wasn't a bad tale and it is kind of nice to have a mythos wrapped up, yet I still am not fully satisfied and am more sorry to see it come to an end.   

PS And of course since this was originally written and scheduled to appear here, I have realized that the adventure does, indeed, continue, just in hell.

Hellboy (vol 11): The Bride of Hell and Others

Once again the main storyline of the hero, Hellboy, the demon said to be destined to destroy the world, is interrupted in order to bring us a collection of various caliber stories by various artists. And again, the one done by Mignola himself is the only one that really captured that atmosphere that is the heart of any Hellboy tale. I shouldn't be too harsh; there are enjoyable stories of Hellboy dealing with supernatural problems such as Hellboy in Mexico where he teams up with masked wrestlers to fight vampires (hilariously awesome even if I didn't care for the ending), and the Mignola drawn The Whittier Legacy that played off Lovecraftian plots. But others just seemed like they could have used another draft.

Hellboy (vol 10): The Crooked Man and Others - Mike Mignola

Most of this collection is The Crooked Man which is Hellboy's first US adventure, but it is an interruption from the main story, and maybe that's why I didn't care much for this volume. It does have the benefit of having an actual Mignola drawn story, which--surprise!--is the best of the bunch. For the most part the stories are rather typical Hellboy accounts, which is fine, but it is upsetting to have to put on hold the main storyline, deal with some just okay tales, and realize that a Mignola drawn story somehow manages to be so much better than anything else. I think it must be that when Mignola writes for others he is wordier and when he is drawing perhaps becomes more free flowing. 

Hellboy (vol 9): The Wild Hunt - Mike Mignola

Continuing with the saga from the last collection, the demonic hero, Hellboy, continues to try and not get killed by his numerous enemies. And, unfortunately, Duncan Fegredo is still doing the art that only Mignola can truly do. This collection starts to bring all the various pieces that make up the Hellboy mythos in order to tie it all together. Why Mignola brings in Alice who we really haven't seen anything of (trust me, you won't remember her) rather than one of the BPRD friends, I have no idea, but at least things are getting pretty hard core.

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites - Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson

I swear I've read some of these stories before but don't know when or how. It is possible as many of them are reprinted from years ago. I'll start by saying that I enjoyed this collection, but at the same time I can't really say who I would recommended it for. "Okay, so there are beautifully illustrated, often very cute, pictures of dogs and occasionally cats, by Jill Thompson, and the story is about these dogs that go on adventures." So far, so good. "And the adventures the dogs engage in usually involve fighting supernatural, demonic creatures." Not the run-of-the-mill average mix of things. Still, I enjoyed it. Beasts of Burden

Hellboy (vol 8): Darkness Calls - Mike Mignola [Take Two]

I feel my original review might have been too upbeat in terms of having Duncan Fegredo doing the art here as occasionally he gets the style close enough to being right, but then there are other times.... Anyway, old enemies converge to taken down our demon child super hero. It's been a long time since a Hellboy story was so involved (and that's probably why Mognola just didn't have the fortitude to draw it). I still liked it but it isn't for casual fans of Hellboy. 

Hellboy (vol 6): Strange Places - Mike Mignola

For no logical reason I don't have many Hellboy reviews, so let's make up for lost time as I'm rereading some collections. I (re)started with this collection randomly, which focuses on the demonic looking hero as he wonders around in Africa, gets kidnaped by a sea monster, and fights a resurrected devil worshiper, all the while learning more about the mythology of his destiny to usher in the apocalypse. Hellboy stories are not for everyone; they are heavy on atmosphere and some action scenes and light with characterization, but Hellboy works perfectly as Hellboy and must be approached as is, unapologetically. As such I very much enjoyed this collection. 

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For The End Times - Andrew Maclean

The physical quality of this book is quite good: thick pages, nice coloring, a certain style of art (Japanese influenced?) that I really appreciate, all bodes well. However, the plot and character development has much to be desired. There's this girl on a mission to find something, and she's working on a robot, and there's this cat, and a lot of Mad Max mutants, a bunch of opera, and quite frankly none of it is very interesting or exciting, which is really a shame. apocalyptiGirl

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys - Gerard Way & Shaun Simon

So it seems there's sort of a post-apocalyptic world, a corporation that controls everything, there are teenage rebels, robots looking for a Messiah, some now dead heroes, and a young girl who may be key to saving us all, and some other characters that are really unimportant, but I can't really say for sure. In general, please don't make me struggle to figure out what the heck is going on in a comic. While I like the art of Becky Cloonan, I don't want to spend every page trying to figure out what people are saying or what is going on or why any of it matters. If Way is going to work on anything it should be on Umbrella Academy. But as for this, forget it. Killjoys

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: New World - Mike Mignola & John Arcudi

I'm not really sure what's going on here. There seems to have been a bunch of other stuff that happened prior to this that I probably need to know, but don't. Anyway, populations of entire towns are going missing and it is up to the fish-man Abe to figure out what is happening. Oh, he might also be the anti-christ. Oh, and monsters and other horrible things are happening all the time so it might be the end of the world. I didn't really care for this, which sounds strange after that description. While there was action and some character development, I just didn't really care much and maybe this has to do with the fact that I don't really like Guy Davis's art. Sorry. 

Lobster Johnson (vol 2): The Burning Hand - Mike Mignola & John Arcudi

It's Labor Day, so naturally I'm reading comics. I really enjoyed the first volume of Lobster Johnson, and thought it was a one time deal, so naturally I was happy to see this collection. Tonci Zonjic's art is very nice as it has a simple noir feel to it that works very well here and the plot in general is also nice as it combines mobsters with the supernatural. However, it appears that Mignola and Arcudi are trying to lay the groundwork for a Lobster Johnson mythology through an array of characters, and this simply doesn't work as the characters are all completely superficial (including our hero) leaving us with nothing to gravitate to. Better to build such background over time. As is this collection is weak as it is merely set up for the next trade. 

Buy This Comic Now: Resident Alien 0-2

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/497/247290_20120419160005_large.jpg I cannot praise this comic book enough and I want you to buy it and support these creators, but only if you love or even only like murder mysteries and stories about benign aliens who have fallen to earth and are await rescue while having a deep impact on the people around them, a la The Man Who Fell to Earth or Starman. Maybe even if you don't like those sorts of stories you'll enjoy Resident Alien, published by Dark Horse Comics.

I'd stopped buying new comics regularly during summer of 2010 and only recently decided to buy three or four comics a month at a mere $9-14 total. A brief plot synopsis and the cover and skimming the interior of Resident Alien 0 fascinated me enough to buy it for $3.50 (I usually won't pay more than $2.99 out of disgust at Marvel and DC) and it sat in a short box for two months as I watched issue 1 come out and then 2 and I thought to myself, Let me read issue 0 before it's too late to get these later issues. I am so glad I read the zero issue, which collects three chapters from Dark Horse Presents and drew me into the seemingly simple world created by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, veterans of comics such as England's 2000 AD.

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Our protagonist, who goes by the moniker of a an MD, Dr. Harry Vanderspiegel, is a humanoid alien who has seemingly limited telepathic powers that allow him the ability to cloud his appearance to those around him, thereby appearing human. Flipping through the comic before buying it, I'd thought everyone knew he was an alien, which created an even more fascinating world to me, yet when I learned the truth, I wasn't disappointed because everything in this comic works so far in issues 0-2.

Whether through these powers or his incredibly powers of observation, he's able to read the truth and feelings in the people around him. His chosen last name is Vanderspeigel, which roughly translates into "of the looking glass," giving readers a chance to see ourselves through the eyes of this otherworldly visitor as he tried to figure out who murdered the town doctor. About one in a million humans have the ability to see through his disguise, so with living in a small mountain town, what are the odds of meeting someone with that ability?

When you live in the Pacific Northwest you're bound to live near people

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of indigenous origins and whether Hogan is knowledgeable about First Nations folklore or merely using that "Indian" trope of "greater than normal abilities," one of the magazine's supporting cast sees Dr. Vanderspiegel's face as a blur, for now.

When the town's only general practitioner us murdered, our protagonist, who'd lived as a recluse on a lake in the woods for three years reluctantly fills the doctor's role at the request of the slick-tongued mayor (think Jaws). Our resident alien is absolutely fascinated by humans and the murder mystery he's taken upon himself to solve as a serial killer may be loose and the mayor and chief of police are definitely hiding something, yet he can't seem to pick up on this.

The artwork and coloring contribute wonderfully to the telling of this tale and the pacing is well done, easing readers into this world and helping us like the protagonist even more than the revelation of his thoughts and actions alone. Good pacing like this is difficult to find.

Flashbacks show men in black locating Harry's crashed ship, so will they be a part of the stunning conclusion to this series or are they dealt with in more flashback pages? I'm so curious to find out and how the night nurse will react when her vision finally clears and she sees this visitor for who he truly is, as if his appearance is more important than his actions and reason for being.

I absolutely cannot wait for the third issue and conclusion to this series and pray it will not disappoint! Ask your local comics retailer to ask Diamond Comics Distributor for these awesome comics and reserve your copy of the final act!

I'd like to thank the inimitable Comic Book Database for cover images for 0-2 and the Dark Horse Comics website for the issue 3 cover images.

The Helm - Jim Harrdison

After being dumped by his girlfriend and fired from his job, Matt comes across a magical helmet that tells him that he is the chosen warrior for the forces of good, that is until the helm gets a better look at Matt and wants nothing to do with him. Too late. Now Matt has to live up to the role he is destined for (and hopefully move out of his mom's basement). For the most part this is a typical nerd fantasy, except one has to wonder how Matt got such a hot girlfriend to begin with or why he would want to take back someone who treated him with such disdain, and part of the reading enjoyment was lost due to the copy I read having curcial missing pages, but I will give it credit for raising the psychological issue of whether or not Matt is truly a chosen hero or simply a deranged lunatic. I actually thought it could have been fleshed out to make for a very good story.

Solomon Kane: Death’s Black Rider – Scott Allie

Out of all the Robert E. Howard characters, Kane is my favorite. Not that the stories with him were better than Conan or whoever, but Kane intrigued me due to his incongruity: He's a Puritan who kicks ass. (Ok, there are probably Native Americans who don't see any distinction between violence and Puritans but you get the idea.) Allie adapts a Howard story and story fragment for this second volume and the general plot is fine, but I was tuned off by Mario Guevara's art and Juan Ferreyra's coloring. I know they are trying for a dark and gritty tone, but I always feel that I'm viewing scenes I can't quite see due to low light.

Rex Mundi vol 1-6: The Guardian of the Temple, The River Underground, The Lost King, Crown and Sword, The Valley at the End of the World, & Gate of God – Arvid Nelson

Apparently this comic has been around for ten years and the first I've heard of it was when Cej sent me his copies to store for him (you know, for the apocalypse). I was immediately intrigued by the world wherein the protestant reformation never happened, America failed, and the inquisition and monarchies still rule Europe and struggle against various Islamic states. Oh, and magic is real. The year is 1933 and the kind Dr. Sauniere wants to find out by who and why a priest friend of his has been murdered. Naturally, this leads to his being reunited with his (perhaps) treacherous ex as he investigates a secrete society poised to take over France--and the world! There were moments when I thought this title was just going to be another take on the whole Grail legend and the bloodline of Jesus, but it was much more than that, filled with political and social machinations. And then it all fell apart. Somewhere around the fourth/fifth volume something went wrong. Characters stopped developing and instead just changed so radically they might as well have been someone else. The idea of magic got largely dropped only to reappear in the sixth trade without working as the concepts behind it shifted. Events happened too quickly as entire countries got destroyed and brought back to destroy other counties in just weeks and the early maneuverings are replaced with events just happening. It really is a shame as at first I couldn't read the stories fast enough and now I don't care if there is a volume 7 or not. Nelson does have a really neat method of summarizing issues with fake newspapers complete with actual historical pictures (although his attempts to make fun of entertainment news doesn't always interest me). Ideally, he will take a step back from this world shattering story-line and refocus on what I loved about the comic which is mysteries in a bizarre yet familiar world. He does this with mini-stories about Brother Matthew, a young, novice inquisitor with a penchant for solving crimes, and I hope to read more of these.

Red Rocket 7

Red Rocket 7Red Rocket 7 is a music lover and musician who gets to participate in the entire history of Rock and Roll. From Elvis to the Beatles to Bowie, Red provides camaraderie and inspiration to the industry's greats. Red Rocket 7 is also one of seven clones of an alien who has come to earth to escape the clutches of another alien race bent on his destruction. Unfortunately, these two ideas don't really work well together. I keep trying to like Allred's books; I find his art quite charming. But his stories and characters leave me cold. It's clear that Red Rocket 7 is a labor of love for Allred. His caricatures and behind-the-scenes look at the pop stars is something we haven't seen much of in comics. Had this just been a book about the history of Rock and Roll---even a fictionalized one---I think it might have worked. Adding the alien angle, along with a really creepy religious vibe, just turned me off.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others – Mike Mignola

I thought this tenth volume would continue the ninth, The Wild Hunt, but should have realized it wasn't since they were released too close together. This collection of a few Hellboy stories are OK, especially "The Crooked Man" wherein Hellboy deals with rednecks' legends, and "In the Chapel of Moloch" which is a welcome return of Mignola's art. It is the latter that reminds me that Hellboy and Mignola's art really go best together. It is a shame that the character is so popular to allow Mignola to concentrate of the one aspect of the work and ignore the other.