Inio Asano is a creator that has a long history of making some of the most effecting comics I have ever been lucky enough to come by. First discovering SOLANIN when I was working at a different book store and having it absolutely destroy me with it's subtly and genuine depictions of it's characters and a twist that comes from nowhere, just as it would it reality.
Following Asano's career has been one of the most rewarding in my long life of following comics. The range is staggering, shifting effortlessly from the psychological horror of NIJIGHARA HOLOGRAPH to the absurd yet genuine depiction of surviving trauma in GOODNIGHT PUNPUN. Anytime someone tales the time to translate the work to English is an occasion to celebrate.
Luckily, this week, we are blessed with the first installment of one of the longer works in Asano's oeuvre, DEAD DEAD DEMONS DEDEDEDE DESTRUCTION. While not as heavy as some if their previous work, it still is just as meaningful in the world we experience day to day.
We see a world where Japan has been invaded by an alien force, and after four years everything is juast as different as it has not changed at all. While the Self Defense Force try's futility to retake their home, a group of high school kids does what they can while also living their lives like everything is normal. A grand metaphor for having the end of everything looming but you still have to live your life like it the end will never come.
The TL;DR/Elevator Pitch is if TREES were also a high school drama.
Mike Carey and Peter Gross, who previously worked together on THE UNWRITTEN over at Vertigo after pretty illustrative careers independently, join forces once again for a brand new dark fantasy.
There is a fair number of similarities between this and UNWRITTEN, both are the stories of young people with destinies larger than they can fathom at the outset and a connection to a world separate from their own that the series will spend the length of it's run exploring.
Highest House finds it's own identity in leaning into the creators strengths. Mike Carey writes a dense and rewarding script with lavish fantasy flourishes in a world that feels fully formed the moment we walk in to it. The fullness of the setting lays equally at the feet for Peter Gross who gets to do the best work of his career afforded by the larger format of the book, plus Gross seems to have been holding out in the past on his layouts as this is some top tier design happening on these pages.
Issue #2 released this week if you are looking to have a longer read and want to get into some thoughtful, gorgeous fantasy work.
- Comic: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker
- Staff Member: Liz
If you love Indiana Jones but sometimes wish he were a little less good and a lot more female, I need to talk to you about Doctor Aphra. The second volume of Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker's Star Wars comic about a very morally dubious archeologist comes out today, and it's the perfect time to start in on this series. Chelli Lona Aphra is an archeologist in the way that a mattress store jingle is a song. She's all about making money. Technically, she is a doctor and she knows what the heck she's doing, but she's only really concerned with the profit that her discoveries yield, not studying or preserving the precious objects she finds. Somehow, though, Doctor Aphra is a deeply likeable character. She's competent, funny, and exciting. Plus, she's the leader of a crack team made up of two murderous droids (think R2-D2 and C-3P0 but with homicidal tendencies) and a former-gladiator Wookiee that she's indebted to. The Doctor Aphra series is fun, fast-paced, and feels like a Star Wars book without requiring much knowledge of the Star Wars universe to enjoy it. Pick this one up now!
- Comic: There's Nothing There by Patrick Kindlon and Maria Llovet
- Staff Member: Liz
The plot of Patrick Kindlon and Maria Llovet’s There’s Nothing There is familiar. Filthy rich, Kardashian-esque Reno is famous for being famous. Her life is filled with social media, parties, fake friends, and general debauchery. She doesn’t even blink at the prospect of an orgy, which turns out, actually, to be a bit of a problem; her cycnical nonchalance keeps her from realizing that she’s stumbled into a demonic, ritual orgy instead of your average, garden-variety orgy. As a result, she ends up cursed, the prey of a demon that will erase her very existence if it ever catches her. I don’t want to give away too much but what follows is a horror story that’s deeply rooted in our and image-obsessed culture.
There’s Nothing There is scary and beautiful, a rumination on fame and social media and the constant visibility that both demand as much as a demonic horror story. Patrick Kindlon and Maria Llovet pull of both with ease, though. Llovet’s art, especially, provides a throughline, representing the grotesquery of celebrity with always stylish but almost impressionistic art. It seems constantly in motion, never settling into any image too comfortably. Reno’s fame is similar. No matter how glamorous on the outside, at its core, it’s a constant struggle to maintain attention.
There’s Nothing There was one of my favorite comics of this year, and in my opinion, it was seriously under-read. The collected paperback comes out today from Black Mask Studios.