So far, we’ve looked at December offerings from DC, Marvel, Image, and manga publishers. Now it’s time to skim through the rest of the Previews Catalogue and find some other titles worth your attention. This is the Best of the Rest.
1. Is It “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Breathers”
Justin Madsen’s drama centers on several survivors of an apocalypse. Earth is not in a great place, no one can breathe the air anymore, and yet, people persevere. The people here are trying to making up for the sins of their past, trying to connect with people they know longer understand, and trying to adjust to a new world. Madsen’s art has the haggard look of a Lemire page, where the dreary and the fantastic coexist and pop.
Written Illustrated by Justin Madsen
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Even when our own planet can no longer sustain us, humanity clings to life in this thoughtful dystopia where air itself is deadly.
Follow the lives of a small cast of survivors as they struggle to keep going in a world where the air is fatal. A detective must battle not only the deadly air, but his own demons; a lost pair of siblings question the supposed apocalypse; a mother and daughter fight tooth and nail to stay together; and a salesman peddles breathing masks, trying to do some good to make up for the sins of his past. They are all survivors-they are all Breathers.
Created, written, and illustrated by Justin Madson, the full nine-issue series originally published by IT’S ALIVE! is now collected together for the first time!
. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Chronophage”
High concept science fiction courtesy of Tim Seeley and Ilias Kyriazis. There’s lost mothers and time travelers and branching timelines. Most of all, there’s memorable characters and art willing to explode outward.
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Ilias Kyriazis
Published by Humanoids
A single mother becomes involved with a mysterious man who consumes moments of her life, leading her to question her choices, and whether they can-or should-be undone.
When Chloe begins a passionate relationship with a traveling businessman named Heath Doran, her life immediately changes for the better, and not just because she’s getting laid. Friends thought long lost return, and new opportunities suddenly present themselves out of nowhere. Soon, however, she begins experiencing horrific encounters with ghostly beings eventually revealed to be the echoes of moments she has somehow no longer lived. Terrified at the realization that her past is being rewritten and that Heath is not who-or even what-he seems to be, Chloe must find a way to take back the seconds, minutes, and hours stolen by the alien chronophage masquerading as her new lover. But before she can act, Heath has one last surprise for her: a chance to undo the brief sexual encounter that turned her into a single mother sixteen years ago.
3. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Dead Seas”
What if the sandworms in Dune were really ghosts? What if a person’s past, their troubles and worries come to haunt them while they desperately try to escape a sinking ship? Such is the case in this new world created by Nick Brokenshire and Cavan Scott.
Dead Seas #1
Written by Cavan Scott
Illustrated by Nick Brokenshire
Published by IDW Publishers
Ghosts are real and dangerous. But they’re also valuable, their ectoplasm capable of curing countless diseases. There’s only one problem: harvesting the wonder drug can be just as deadly. Prisoner Gus Ortiz is willing to take the risk in return for a reduced sentence-anything to see his daughter again. All it will take is a few months at sea scraping ectoplasm off the walls of the Perdition, a floating prison containing the most vicious ghosts on Earth. Surrounded by dark waters, Gus soon realizes that angry spirits are the least of his worries. The Poseidon Adventure meets The Haunting of Hill House in this supernatural thriller.
4. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Delver”
C. Spike Trotman, under the Iron Circus imprint, has released a fascinating and exciting swath of comics. Trotman joins M.K. Reed and Clive Hawken for this new dungeon crawling adventure. Exciting visuals! Clever twists! Loveable characters! It looks like all of it is here.
Written by C. Spike Trotman and M.K. Reed
Illustrated by Clive Hawken
Published by Dark Horse
When the door to a living dungeon surfaces in the tiny hamlet of Oddgoat, village girl Temerity Aster has two choices: abandon the only home she’s ever known to carpet baggers and sellswords, or carve out a place for herself and her family in the new and dangerous world of delving.
5. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Godhead”
There’s a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Belloq tries to convince Indiana Jones to join him with the Nazis in obtaining the Ark of the Covenant. “It’s a transmitter,” he says, “a radio for speaking with God.” As we know, the transmitter is a two-way device with a powerful currant. That same energy and irony seems to permeate through Anderson’s latest. Expect some existential dread delivered through heavily contrasted imagery. Rad as hell.
Written and Illustrated by Ho Che Anderson
Published by Fantagraphics
A sprawling contemporary saga with a science-fiction edge, Godhead explores the collision course between science and religion when a corporation creates a device that can talk to God. Is this humanity’s salvation or the equivalent of a Doomsday machine? Godhead is Ho Che Anderson’s most conceptually and thematically ambitious graphic novel to date, his first in over ten years.
6. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Heaven No Hell”
A new edition of a short story collection filled with the usual Michael DeForge oddities. Obsessive angels and unborn kids and characters filled with turmoil and dread. DeForge is back, baby!
Heaven No Hell
Written and Illustrated by Michael DeForge
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Heaven No Hell collects DeForge’s best work yet. His ability to dig into a subject and break it down with beautiful drawings and sharp writing makes him one of the finest short story writers of the past decade, in comics or beyond. Heaven No Hell is always funny, sometimes sad, and continuously innovative in its deconstruction of society.
7. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Know Your Station”
It’s murder mystery autumn. Sarah Gailey’s novels have been continual delights while the imagination Kangas has shown in her art is exciting and engrossing. Eat the rich, but I guess it’s worth figuring out who offed them.
Know Your Station #1
Written by Sarah Gailey
Illustrated by Liana Kangas
Published by BOOM! Studios
The wealthiest people in the solar system abandoned the Earth for a private sanctuary in space, leaving the rest of us to die amidst cataclysmic climate change.
But the 1% won’t be safe for long…A murderer is on the loose, specifically targeting the super-rich.
Soon Elise, an employee of the billionaire’s space station, is wrapped up in a deadly investigation, with each issue featuring a new, diabolically different kill!
2021’s breakout writer Sarah Gailey (Eat the Rich) and rising star Liana Kangas (TRVE KVLT) take a stab at the ultra-wealthy, their dreams of escaping the very planet they’ve put in peril, and the consequences of a future that might not be so far away…
8. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “The Legend of Luther Arkwright”
This is one of those your favorite comic people’s favorite comic books-type books. Talbot’s panels are filled with wild, intricate details and precise imagery, lines upon lines upon lines, yet it all reads clear and concise with absolute control. Jaws drop at what Talbot pulls off.
The Legend of Luther Arkwright
Written and Illustrated by Bryan Talbot
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Bryan Talbot’s groundbreaking science-fiction epics The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and its sequel Heart of Empire have been acclaimed by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, and more. Talbot now launches a third Arkwright saga, The Legend of Luther Arkwright, another milestone in graphic literature.
Luther Arkwright, a being of vast psychic power capable of traversing the swirling multiverse of infinite existences, is pursued by a far superior adversary across multiple historically divergent parallel worlds, both utopian and dystopian, and only Arkwright’s experience and force of will provide any hope to avert humanity’s annihilation.
9. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Season of the Bruja”
This title feels like it’s been written by someone who has experienced years worth of Mexican Catholic guilt. Like someone who can barely make a move without the weight of catechism doctrine pushing down on them. Like someone who knows they can never appease their family unless they’re Juan fucking Diego. This book feels like it gets it.
Season of the Bruja #1
Written by Aaron Durán
Illustrated by Sara Soler
Published by Oni Press
Season of the Bruja follows a young woman as she comes into her magical abilities and faces reemergent threats from the past.
From a young age, Althalia knew she would someday be the last of her kind-a bruja, tasked with keeping the power and stories of the ancient ways from fading fully into history. Never alone, Althalia works in a paranormal museum with her friends, a real-life Chupacabra and a were-coyote, while living with and caring for her beloved abuela. Through these powerful connections, her skills and knowledge grow.
But the prejudice her people have always faced continues, and after a seemingly random encounter with a priest, Althalia feels the weight of hundreds of years of religious oppression coming down upon her and her abuela. She must realize her destiny and grow into it quickly if she is to prevent the church from achieving its ultimate goal-destroying the last bruja.
10. Is it “Battling Boy vol. 2?” No, but it’s “Star Wars: The Nameless Terror”
Bring back Star Wars horror comics. Bring back comics unafraid to frighten children.
Star Wars: The Nameless Terror #1
Written by George Mann
Illustrated by Eduardo Mello
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Even in the shining light of the High Republic, there are shadows lurking in the galaxy.
A Jedi mission to the planet Dalna suddenly comes under attack by unknown assailants. As the knights retreat to an ancient structure, it quickly becomes clear that they are far from safe.
Something evil stalks the ruins, a ruthless predator, an unknown terror, a Nameless Fear!
For the longest time, I told myself I would continue these articles until Paul Pope’s “Battling Boy Vol. 2” released. It’s been almost ten years since the first volume was published, and despite my goal, the time has come for me to step away from this column. It’s been fun talking about these books month after month with you over the last seven years, digging through the Diamond lists to find the exciting, weird, esoteric, sometimes education, and emotionally charged titles from smaller, independent, alternative, and underground publishers. Comics are for everyone, and I can’t wait to see where Greg Matiasevich takes us next!