Release Date: 4/6/16
Words: Mark Millar
Pictures: Stuart Immonen
65 million years ago, Earth was ruled over by the ruthless King Morax. King Morax likes to rule his people with the threat of violence and death. He is married to a woman named Emporia, who after seventeen years of marriage makes a break for freedom from her husband’s tyranny and a better life with her three children, ages 15, 10 and 18 months. Emporia and her children, together with the help of her loyal body guard, Dane Havelock, begin an escape that is all danger and fast-paced action.
Mark Millar rarely disappoints with his stories and this is no exception. Empress is all science fiction and action, crazy fast action that does not stop. The main protagonist is a strong female lead, a woman who is smart, determined and courageous enough to not sit around and allow her children to grow under the influence of their ruthless father. She wants a better life for them and intends to get it for them. Never underestimate a mother’s love. Emporia is one bad ass mother.
Immonen’s art is dynamic, using vibrant colors and panels that display a grand scale of story telling. There is a seamless flow of fast movement that gives the reader a sense of urgency and anticipation. The depiction of so many contrasting characters and their personalities while they deal with what life throws at them is as effortless as it is beautiful.
Empress #2 was released 5/4/16. If you are a fan of the thrilling, high-paced science fiction chase, give Empress a try. The art alone is worth it.
… for yet again allowing life to get in the way. Hang tight and I will catch up soon. In the interim I have started a public Instagram for all things nerdy in SacTown: sebyasin.
Thanks for your patience.
Release Date: 11/18/15
Words: Mark Millar
Pictures: Rafael Albuquerque
Huck is an intellectually disabled young man with super powers who lives in a small, quiet, seaside town. His fellow townspeople keep the secret of his abilities so he, and they, can continue to live their peaceful and idyllic existence. This life allows Huck to grow into the good natured soul he is, having been brought up to value the importance and actual practice of doing at least one good deed a day for the town and its people. Huck’s acts of kindness are often slightly odd but done with gentle humor because Huck is the ideal do-gooder and gentle man. Huck’s world and character is Rockwell-esque perfection until a newcomer alerts the media, forcing Huck on a whole new scale of adventure.
This is the most hopeful and optimistic comic story I have read in a long time. When I said “Rockwell-esque,” I meant it. The whole book just feels good, warm and fuzzy, but not saccharine sweet. Millar’s words and Albuquerque’s pictures work to tell an engaging and beautiful story of hope and goodness at a time when we (humanity) really need to be reminded of why we continue to fight the good fight. Huck’s character is developed and defined not by any disability but by the actions of the man himself. I love how Huck is so sweetly mischievous and laconic that the silent sequences tell more than words ever could. Actions here really do speak louder than words.
Did I mention how beautiful this book is? Did I mention how in love I am with Albuquerque’s art in general? Those silent sequences I mentioned before are outstanding. This book showcases his softer side of watercolor style and is breathtaking to behold, making the feels so much more intense. The contrast of the monochrome television screen depicting the outside world’s turmoil within Huck’s utopian world’s setting is striking. Although I have to admit I am biased. I could flip through pages of Albuquerque’s panels indefinitely when they are as magical as the first few pages of this book.
Huck is a hopeful and uplifting book about a tender-hearted, readily likable character, carefully crafted by Mark Miller and Rafael Albuquerque, reason enough to add this title to your pull list today.
Release Date: 11/25/15
Words: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Pictures: Natacha Bustos
Lunella Lafayette is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world with her super brain. Her fear of the monstrous INHUMAN genes inside her drive her desire to be part of the science that makes the world a better place. Her life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant from the prehistoric past is teleported to a distant future we know as PRESENT DAY. Together, the pair become not just the most inspiring Marvel Team-Up, but the cutest.
It’s not a secret that I love most anything with a relatable female protagonist, especially of the younger variety. Little girls need all the representation and diversity they can get. Lunella is the hero we both need and deserve. She is proof that the most powerful things can come from the smallest of packages. She is the awkward girl genius that is picked on for not quite fitting in. Her mind is constantly on the next big project, always striving for better despite rejections and facing people who don’t understand her goals. Her determination, bravery, and super brain are all she needs to be the hero all girls can look up to. Lunella is so freaking adorable and kick ass that I made my twelve year old daughter read it. My daughter is often a difficult one to please and she actually liked this one. She was smiling when she said it was “cool.” I knew that she related to Lunella perfectly when upon her returning it to me she immediately initiated her own discussion of evolution. (Yes, I’m shamelessly proud.) Those familiar with Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur will know the other half of this new dynamic duo. There are a few pages that wrap up Moon Boy’s relationship with Devil Dinosaur before he crosses over to Lunella’s brave new world. With Reeder and Montclare writing together one should assume a good story is in good hands.
Bustos’ art fits nicely with the story. There is a grounding realism to her work while, at the same time, being super cute. Her action sequences are clear cut and at a level appropriate for younger readers, that can still be appreciated by adults. The colors are bright and colorful for all ages without taking away any of the validity of the story. I liked seeing how diverse Lunella’s world is, as seen in a realistic school room in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Also, big love to seeing a poster of Neil Degrasse Tyson over Lunella’s bed.
There is much promise in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur for all readers. If you are looking for something all ages to inspire that special little female in your life, this is the book to start her on. Pull list worthy all the way.
Release Date: 10/7/15
Words: Brian K. Vaughan
Pictures: Cliff Chaing
In the early hours of the morning after Halloween 1988, four twelve year old paper delivery girls uncover a story bigger than any headlines they have ever delivered.
Fans of Vaughan will want to buy Paper Girls because they well know he can craft a good story. He has a knack for creating well fleshed out characters that will intrigue the reader from page one. Personally, I cannot pass up a book immersed in the innocence of the 80’s, especially one that focuses on the smarts and strengths of individual girls banding together. These girls are not just together for the sake of girl bonding, they are together to survive an adventure. This is the coming-of-age story of and for girls that the 80’s should have given us. It’s a bit Monster Squad meets Stand by Me meets War of the Worlds. I already love these fearless girls.
Chiang’s art is already well known and appreciated from his work on Wonder Woman. He works so cohesively with Vaughans’ story that I felt I was drawn into a movie, not just a book. His skills only solidify the character development. Each girl has her own distinct personality and expressions. You can feel the 80’s in his splash pages, the days when helicopter parenting was nonexistent and kids were able to grow up and figure life out on their own while exploring the world around them.
Also, props to the detail of the Depeche Mode poster on Erin’s wall.
If you’re looking for a new story with some good, strong female leads and/or an immediately intriguing sci-fi adventure, Paper Girls is the new ongoing series that is one for the pull list.
Release Date: 9/2/15
Words: Chelsea Cain
Pictures: Joelle Jones
Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 issue also contains the debut of The Red Widow, Red Widow: First Strike, words by Margaret Stohl and pictures by Nico Leon.
Mockingbird has always been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best agents but a crime against someone close to her forces her to take matters into her own hands. Using her many special skills, she will do what she needs to do to see justice is paid.
Mockingbird is a stand-alone, one shot look at the Mockingbird character, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan favorite that has not gotten the attention she deserves. Sadly, this isn’t an ongoing book. It’s a real shame as Cain seems to really know Bobbi Morse. She has made an intriguing mini-story depicting Bobbi as a multi-layered woman who is super smart, snarky and badass. I would love to see what Cain could do with an actual ongoing book for Mockingbird like they have done for Black Widow and Electra.
I have to confess the main reason I had to get this book, the art. Joelle Jones’ art is so freaking rad. (Hello? Lady Killer anyone?) She makes Bobbi look awesome. Her style is clean, bold, and breathtakingly beautiful. She has a gift depicting kickass female spies with so much style and badassery I can never resist picking up one of her books. All you have to know to get this book is that Bobbi Morse is not just a scientist, she’s a biochemist. She’s also a super hero and spy. This woman can do anything and with Jones showing you how Bobbi does it all is worth every penny.
The teaser mini-story follow-up, The Red Widow: First Stike, promotes Stohl’s upcoming YA novel Black Widow: Forever Red on sale in October and is worth a look. Stohl paces a good story full of intrigue and drama in just a few pages. Leon’s art is a little subdued but also knows how and when to throw a good punch. Don’t stop reading when Mockingbird is done.
Release Date: (in trade) 9/16/15
Words: Kelly Thompson
Pictures: Meredith McClaren
From the Dark Horse description:
When the Man with No Name breaks Emma’s heart, she wants to die. But you never die from these things; you just want to. In a moment of weakness, she wishes her broken heart away and a mysterious stranger–who may or may not be totally evil–obliges. But emptiness is even worse than grief, and Emma sets out to collect the seven pieces of her heart spread across the country, a journey that forces her to face her own history and the cost of recapturing it, and leads inevitably to a confrontation with the Man with No Name himself!
It’s a simple enough concept. Obviously, Heart in a Box is a metaphor for life and heartbreak. This is all a given. What isn’t a given is how heartfelt and sincere this story is. Thompson has created a beautiful story that at once is painful but heals more than anything. I must confess that I love when these seemingly small fantasy stories get inside the core of my feels and force my usually cynical and dead heart to start beating again. That’s magic. Thompson is my new storytelling crush.
McClaren’s art has a bit of a Manga influence. She has a gift with depicting human emotion, the eyes in particular are very expressive. I love how, though a bit cartoonish in a good way, her character designs are super real, too. Her use of color is harmonious, flowing and changing with emotions in the same way sadness and joy flow in and out of our own personal real life stories. She makes the passage of time look almost tangible. It really is a beautiful book.
Heart in a Box is the kind of book you want to cuddle up with on a Sunday morning. I also would love to buy several copies of this book to give to friends for when some inevitable heartbreak comes along. Life happens. Why not make it a little more beautiful by getting this book for yourself or someone else?