I can identify the moment, at the age of seven, when I acquired my neurotic fear of abandonment: it was after a summer course, when I was brought back to the care area. parents in the high school cafeteria and I could not, for a few minutes, locate my family. It had never occurred to me that I might have to fend for myself, and I clearly remember the shock of realizing that I could exist, sometimes, as an individual, rather than a cog in a machine. collective family and that it is possible for a person to find themselves completely alone in an unexpected way.
Maybe that’s why I marry so well with my partner, who revel in his independence to the point of being completely impenetrable to others. His sister likes to tell the story of the time she was hanging out with friends and he was walking around the room, a jar of Nutella in one hand and a lightsaber in the other. “What are you doing?” she asked, and he shrugged, “my thing,” before disappearing into the basement.
People are like volcanic islands, in that we may appear to be disconnected, but below the surface we have reefs connecting us, and those connections are exposed by the ebb of the tide. This week’s comics tackle that balance between isolation and connection, and the surprising ways loners might find they aren’t as isolated or unloved as they might have thought. Thanks as always to Phoenix for helping pick out this week’s best comics – the store recently resumed its community game nights, another chance to feel less lonely.
If MTV is not going to make new episodes of the series Daria, that’s the next best thing. A cynical and sarcastic teenager is sent to a week-long craft camp somewhere in the Oregon wilderness; and although something sinister seems to be lurking just out of sight, wouldn’t you know, our heroine manages to muster the energy for some deadpan jokes. Camp-gone-wrong is a favorite young adult comic book genre trope, in part because it provides an easy rationale for telling a story without cellphones, the only tool that would solve the whole dilemma in seconds. You can assemble an entire shelf full of books with premises like this; but few would land comedy so skillfully or feature such funny or scary characters. This series follows in the footsteps of the 2019 book by the same team man eaters, in which a 12-year-old girl must save the world when a mutated microorganism causes humans to turn into cat killers every time they have their period. Cursed is equally quirky, subversive, and devious – with a hint of supernatural humor-horror.
Rating: ⛺⛺⛺⛺ (4/5)
Writer: Chelsea Cain. Artists: Kate Niemczyk, Lia Miternique. Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg. Writer: Joe Caramanga. Poem & Post-it Lettering: Elisa Fantastic Mohan. Haiku: Emily Powell. Additional interior art: Stella Greenvoss.
Writer and artist David Petersen has achieved something remarkable with his Mouse guard series, which consists of creating a universe of fables and moral tales that seem to have been transmitted for centuries. This latest issue is woefully thin – beautiful art really calls for a hardcover – but is welcome nonetheless. We are entitled to three short stories which, like a fable by the Brothers Grimm or Aesop, feature talking animals learning a powerful lesson; although humans do not seem to exist in this world, every story is imbued with humanity. As with many Mouse guard works, stories are told at high speed, almost always in summary instead of stage. These are quick reads, or at least they would be if the lettering was a little more readable; my only complaint about the book is that some of the calligraphic fonts are beautiful but rather difficult to decipher. As always, the juxtaposition of adorable little rodents with gruesome battles is indeed jarring, and flows nicely between moments of tender reflection on lessons learned. Each page is beautiful enough to hang on the wall. A must for Mouse guard collectors, and a good entry point for those new to the series.
Rating: 🐁🐁🐁🐁 (4/5)
Writer and Artist: David Petersen.
I often complain that horror stories spend too much time on character exposure and world building, unnecessarily delaying the start of the adventure. This is not a problem with Beyond the breach, who exuberantly embarks on a terrifying car crash, followed by the arrival of disgusting monsters. What are these creatures and why are they here? Who are the unlikely survivors thrown together in this chaos? What the hell is happening? There are no answers to these questions, and there is not even time to ask them if our heroes want to survive. The story wastes no time with a little “So where are you from” speech – instead, we immediately rush from one bloody disaster to another, every adrenaline-filled page until the end. latest cliffhanger, which features a moment of violence that is truly surprising (no small feat for a story that has already been crass enough) and made me moan with impatience for the next issue. Maybe this one will provide some downtime during which our heroes can present themselves properly; but I wouldn’t be angry if we never got to know their pasts and instead got to know them through the panic of desperate and creative survival.
Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛 (5/5)
Writer: Ed Brisson. Artist: Damian Couceiro.
Also of interest this week: Alone in space, a pretty hardcover collection of short stories about loneliness and, get it, space. There is also Ghoul next door, about a reluctant 11-year-old ghost hunter. And check out two beautiful reprints of Marvel: the first is Ultimate by Al Ewing: Complete Collection, which brings together the stories of various fan-favorite characters over the past six years; the second is History of the Marvel Universe, a 2019 book that explains (as best we can) the entire timeline of Marvel mythology. It’s a handy reference, especially for anyone trying to unravel the ever-growing roster of TV and movie characters.