My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics): Next big thing alert! This fictional diary (complete with lined paper and faux Trapper-Keeper punch-holes) follows Karen Reyes as she attempts to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor in 1960s Chicago. At age 10, Karen is obsessed with classic horror movie monsters, sketching them in her diary, watching them on the big screen at her local theater, and even identifying as a werewolf. Her gothic preferences converge with a slew of suspects in her community, leading her to follow a winding trail into the past--where real life monsters prove far more fearsome. Ferris’ artwork is astonishing, cross-hatching images upon images, creating a tome that feels homespun but looks consummately professional. This is an emotional, dark, visionary talent to watch. (And her second volume will follow this fall.)
The Sheriff of Babylon Vol. 2: Pow. Pow. Pow. by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (Vertigo): Ex-CIA agent Tom King uses his real life experiences to create a believable and harrowing tale of murder and military corruption in Iraq, and with sharp, expressive artwork by Mitch Gerads, the criminal element is even closer to home. In the first volume, Florida cop Chris arrives in Iraq to train a new police force, only to become embroiled in a murder investigation. In this second volume, various threads (Baghdad cop Nassir and the political femme fatale Sofia) intertwine to form a complex knot around Chris, and the finale serves as a brutal reminder of how most wars never truly end.
Future Quest Vol. 1 by Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner, and Steve Rude (DC Comics): Let’s try something a little lighter, shall we? Hanna-Barbera’s sci-fi universe is re-imagined here, with Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, Birdman, and more! With even the universe at stake, these heroes never fall victim to brooding, thanks to Parker’s bright script that balances plenty of set-up with nostalgia and welcome continuity progression. Shaner and Rude’s artwork, paired with Jordie Bellaire’s colors, looks like the best Saturday morning cartoon put to page. This is fun for fun’s sake.
Dept. H Vol. 1: Pressure by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse Books): Writer/artist Matt Kindt begins a new mind-bending mystery series, this time underwater. In a “locked-room” setting, investigator Mia must solve, in 24 hours, who killed the smartest man on Earth, before the deep-sea lab floods. Each chapter represents one hour, and as the pressurized claustrophobia increases, so too do the secrets. With Sharlene Kindt on watercolors, this book feels very much like treasure buried at sea.
Empress Book One by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen (Marvel): Queen Emporia’s problem is a not a small one: she’s married to the biggest villain in the galaxy, Morax. So, she grabs her kids, her bodyguard, and three guns and escapes his grasp. As the engines fire at the end of the first chapter, the reader can practically hear Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” kick in, because like Future Quest, this is sci-fi fun. Plus, the always kinetic Stuart Immonen is along for the wide-eyed adventure, with his otherworldly character designs and stop-and-stare-at-them pages.
Please post your Feb faves below in the comments. Thank you for reading!