The Weekly Round-Up #243 With Fatale, Armor Hunters: Harbinger, Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo, Mind MGMT, Sandman Overture, Star Wars & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Fatale #24And so ends the longest-running series of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s long history of collaborating together (being a number of pages longer than Sleeper).  This series has been interesting from the very beginning, as the creators have explored the concept of the femme fatale, ultimately placing that character in a sympathetic position.  Josephine has lived a very long time, and has always had a lot of control over men, even when she did not want it.  For decades, she has been pursued by the bishop of a strange, chthonic religion, and in this issue, he finally gets his hands on her.  Plot-lines that were laid out two years ago come to a very satisfying conclusion, as Phillips and Brubaker wrap up the story quite nicely.  I’d say I would miss this title, but their next series, The Fade-Out, is beginning next month, so I’m not really going to have time.

Quick Takes:

Afterlife With Archie #6 – After a lengthy wait (I’m not sure why the cover date for this book says October), the new issue of AwA doesn’t check in on Archie and the gang at all, and instead gives us a done-in-one story about Sabrina, and what she’s been up to since being exiled by her aunts.  She’s found herself in a mental asylum, where she is being cared for by a Dr. Lovecraft (because even the new, mature Archie comics have to be completely obvious, apparently), who has plans to help her usher in a new age for some old gods.  It’s a good enough issue, and features art by Francesco Francavilla, so of course it’s attractive, but I feel the momentum this series had built up slipping away.  I also can’t help but feel kind of suspicious that a big part of the thinking behind this book was to use it to preview writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s upcoming Sabrina solo series, which is not in the same continuity as this title.

Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1I’ve been enjoying the Armor Hunters event at Valiant, and when I saw that Joshua Dysart was writing the Harbinger tie-in mini-series, I knew I’d be picking it up.  He’s done great work with the main Harbinger title, and I thought it was interesting that this mini would focus on the Generation Zero kids, who have been supporting characters not given a lot of play as of yet.  I didn’t expect that two of the Renegades, Zephyr and Torque would be showing up, and to be honest, I found that a bit disappointing.  Anyways, all of these Psiots are in Mexico City working to help with relief after the Armor Hunters blew the city to bits.  Of course, because this is a three-issue mini-series, there has to be some sort of new threat that comes from the blast centre, but aside from that, this is a nicely character-driven story so far.  Artist Robert Gill does good work here – I think that this guy is going to be big soon, after the excellent work he did on Eternal Warrior.

Avengers #33 – I think I’ve given up on trying to follow this latest arc, which now has Captain America jumping some 51 000 years into the future to a world where AI is the only form of sentience.  I know that Jonathan Hickman has some sort of plan here, that, when fully revealed should be impressive, if for the strength of its planning, if nothing else, but I don’t know if I really care anymore.  There’s just too much time travel in the Marvel Universe these days, and I’m getting a little bored of it.  Time to think of a new crutch to beat to death guys…

Avengers World #10 – Finally, the three different threads that have been making up this series are starting to come together, as Captain America, Bruce Banner, and Maria Hill try to come up with a way to stop the multitude of threats they are facing.  This series was really starting to lose me, but this issue does a better job of holding my interest, as it checks in with a massive number of characters.

Baltimore: The Witch of Harju #1The last Baltimore mini-series was really the perfect place to finish, but for (I assume) reasons of commerce, the series is continuing with this new story, set in Estonia in 1920.  Lord Baltimore is walking through the Estonian countryside with some companions (including a South Asian man in a turban, for some Orientalist fun) where they come across a young village woman (who luckily speaks English) who is being pursued by what appears to be a zombie, her dead husband.  I have no idea who Baltimore’s companions are, or why they are wandering through Estonia.  I know that this character has been the star of novels by writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, so perhaps there’s a book that helps set this all up, but having read the whole comic, I don’t really understand how we got to this place.  The story is pretty standard Mignola and company stuff – there’s a talking cat, and portents of witchcraft that Baltimore is going to put a stop to.  Peter Berting is drawing this mini-series, and his approach fits nicely with what Ben Stenbeck usually does on this title.  I’m hoping for a little more explication next month.

Black Science #7 – Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s very good science fiction odyssey series has returned for its second arc, and the creators are keeping it close to form, as once again the central part of the issue revolves around a crazy chase scene (on a world where fish with legs are used as horses).  Kadir, the jerk who put everyone in the world-hopping situation they are in, is desperate to honour his promise to Grant and to protect his children, but that’s problematic, as they are about to be eaten alive as part of some ritual carried out by goblin/lizard people.  Remender doesn’t waste a lot of time setting up the scene, but does use narration boxes to help cast Kadir is a more favourable light.  Scalera is given tons of crazy things to draw, and once again gives us a very kinetic and exciting comic.  There are perhaps a few too many parallels between this issue and the first issue of Remender’s Low, which debuted this week (see below), making me wonder if he’s in danger of having his writing associated with too few themes, sort of like Scott Snyder, who always writes about fathers (except for The Wake).

Chew #42 Thanks to Diamond being Diamond, it’s taken me this long to get a copy of this comic, which came out over a month ago.  It’s a pretty typical issue of Chew – Tony is sent on a deep undercover assignment (at the bottom of the ocean) to try to find out who killed a USDA seal agent (not a SEAL, but an actual seal) while Colby brings a surprise guest to a party celebrating his new marriage.  This book is always hilarious, and very tightly plotted.

Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo – I’m glad that John Layman and Rob Guillory don’t dip into the Poyo well too often (aside from the usual gag in Chew that shows the cyborg chicken fighting some incredible creature in a double-page spread each issue, to explain his absence from the story), because I could see it getting old eventually, and this way there is more of a sense of anticipation when a new Poyo one-shot comes out.  In this one, after saving the President from EGG terrorists, Poyo is transported to a fantasy world, where a Groceryomancer has taken over the kingdom through his control of sentient vegetable creatures.  A large group of heroes have been brought to end the evil sorcerer, but of course it is Poyo who matters.  This is a delightfully funny comic, with a last page surprise that I thought was hilarious.

Cyclops #3 – Greg Rucka (who unfortunately only has two more issues left on this series) finally explains just how Corsair is still alive, as he and Scott crash their stolen Badoon ship on a remote planet, and are now basically camping together and getting closer to one another.  On a character level, this issue works very well (and looks terrific), but plot-wise, the crash landing is pretty weak – there’s no real reason given as to why their ship would fall apart so suddenly, and so completely that they aren’t even able to hang out in it afterwards.

Deep Gravity #1I preordered this new science fiction mini-series on the strength of the writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman (from a story idea by Mike Richardson), although I did think that Hardman would also be drawing it.  Instead, the art is by Fernando Baldo, who I’m unfamiliar with, but whose work I like now.  Anyway, this series is set around the planet Poseidon, a three-year trip from Earth.  Workers for a mining company can only stay on the planet for three years, before it’s hostile environment causes lasting damage to their bodies.  We meet an incoming crew who are there to relieve the existing crew, including an engineer who has travelled all this way only to have a conversation with his ex.  There’s a lot of information dumped in this issue, but the writers keep it all pretty interesting.  Elements of this story remind me of Aliens and that sci-fi TV series of a couple of years ago where people travelled back to dinosaur times to escape overcrowding (really don’t remember the name).  The book looks cool, and Hardman and Bechko are great writers, so I’m happy to stick around for the whole mini-series.

East of West #14 – Whereas a lot of recent issues of this series have focused on one event or one group of characters, this one is much more expansive, taking in the plans of the three Apocalypse children, the beginnings of war, the ambitions of the man likely to become the new President of the Confederacy, and Death’s quest for his son.  A lot of different plotlines are going to be converging soon, as this book gets even more interesting.  Jonathan Hickman puts so much more into this series than he does his Avengers writing, and Nick Dragotta’s art just keeps getting better, and it already started at amazing.

The Fuse #6The first arc of this futuristic police procedural ends very well, with just about everything explained and wrapped up, with the seeds of a new mystery planted for the next arc.  I get the feeling that writer Antony Johnston was not completely sure he’d be getting a second arc, since things wrapped up so nicely, but that has not caused my interest in the next arc to diminish at all.  This is a smart and entertaining title.

Hawkeye #19 – It’s been a long time coming, but the ‘sign language’ issue of Hawkeye is finally here.  Clint’s been deafened by the Russian ‘bros’, and now he’s wallowing in self-pity.  His brother Barney is still around, and he does his best to bring Clint around, before the two of them go out to take the bad guys down.  It’s a visually interesting issue, as David Aja uses a bunch of images that could have been taken from a visual sign language manual to have Clint communicate, but at the same time, it doesn’t really compare to the ‘Pizza Dog’ issue, which is more of a classic.  Reading this, I was reminded of the fact that once upon a time, Clint wore a hearing aid (back in the West Coast Avengers days).  How did that get resolved, or did it get retconned away when Brian Michael Bendis killed him and brought him back to life?

Iron Patriot #5 – I’m not really surprised that this series didn’t make it past five issues.  It’s been a long time since the Iron Man franchise could support more than one title (remember Rhodey’s last book, Iron Man 2.0?  Really, neither can I), and this one was pretty unconventional, in that for most of the series, Rhodey had to find ways to eject himself from his suit, which he barely used.  On top of that, writer Ales Kot never identified the villain in the series, leaving him in some generic armor.  This character has a long and storied past at Marvel, but is too much in Iron Man’s shadow to be used well.  He should be given a role in a book like Secret or Mighty Avengers, and be given time to develop again.

Letter 44 #8Charles Soule’s work on this title continues to impress me.  This series has an American team in deep space investigating our first evidence of extraterrestrial life, while at home, a new President enters into his administration, having inherited this problem, and the various solutions of his warhawk predecessor.  In this issue, President Blades authorizes the use of new military hardware that was developed in secret, but refuses to explain where the stuff came from or why it was developed, which sets off a number of interesting repercussions.  I love the way Soule writes Blades, especially as he is getting more confident with his power and his own decisions.  In space, the crew of the Clarke is getting closer and closer to the Chandelier, an alien device that looks like it has finished being constructed.  There is some dispute among the crew about how to proceed, especially now that they have a baby on board to consider.  This is an excellent science fiction series that examines some big ideas, while remaining very character driven.

Low #1 – It’s weird how often the same idea will pop up in comics that would have been started a while ago, most likely in isolation.  Undertow and The Wake are two series set largely beneath the ocean that recently finished.  Aquaman has reached a level of success not seen since the 70s, or even earlier.  And now, Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini have started this new series, which also takes place deep in the ocean.  This title is set far into the future, as humanity, hoping to escape the radiation of the expanding sun, have moved beneath the waves, although it seems there aren’t all that many of them living in a domed city.  This issue introduces the Caine family, who are hunters.  The husband/father controls a special suit of armor that only his family can operate, and when he leaves the dome, he takes his young daughters with him to teach them how to operate the suit.  They are attacked by outlaws, and the series is underway.  It seems that Stel, the wife/mother is going to be the central character in the book, despite the fact that she doesn’t narrate it.  She’s one of the few people still working to find humanity a new home, but she is given a new mission in life in this comic.  Remender tosses a lot of ideas at the reader, and Greg Tocchini, while being a visually interesting artist, doesn’t do a great job of making these ideas easy to understand.  I felt a little lost a few times (kind of like I did when he and Remender made Last Days of American Crime, which was not at all fantastical in its design), and couldn’t always understand what I was looking at.  Still, this is an interesting comic, although not as immediately captivating as Black Science and Deadly Class, Remender’s other two Image titles.  I’ll definitely stick around for a while though, to see where this all leads.

The Manhattan Projects #22For the last little while, Jonathan Hickman has had the Manhattan Projects exist largely independently of the political and social issues of its time period, but that changes this issue, as Khrushchev takes power in the Soviet Union, effectively ending the involvement of Star City in the Projects, and as Kennedy responds by getting more involved in what the Einsteins and the others are doing.  Of course, because this is this comic, the Soviets have blended with some kind of alien lifeform found in Tunguska, and the scientists that work for the Americans would rather strike out on their own.  This is always an entertaining read, and it feels like Hickman is going to be taking the series to some new places.  It’s nice to see regular artist Nick Pitarra back on the book; his is the definitive vision for this world.

The Massive #25 – It feels like Brian Wood may be moving into the home stretch with The Massive, as this issue marks the beginning of a six-issue arc (they have always been three-parters up to now), Callum Israel’s illness is progressing rapidly, Mary returns to his life, and the weather starts to act all crazy, as if the Crash were happening all over again.  We are still needing a lot of answers as to what this title has really been about, but I feel more certain than I have in a long while that we are about to get them.  It’s nice to see Garry Brown back on the art for this comic, as he’s kind of made it his own since he took over back near the beginning.

The Mercenary Sea #6 – The first arc of this excellent new series ends with a sub attack on a Japanese destroyer, followed by some hard-core flirting.  This series does a great job of blending action and adventure with strong character development, and a good sense of history.  I urge people to check out the upcoming first trade to take a look at some very stylized and unique artwork, and to dive into this great story.  I’m looking forward to the second arc, which starts in November.

The Midas Flesh #8I really enjoyed this oddball science fiction series from Boom!  I’m thankful that the staff at the comic store I shop at recommended this title to me, because it’s been a pretty unique and interesting read.  The basic premise of the series is that the Midas of legend, when given his wish to be able to change everything to gold, immediately changes the entire Earth, and anything that comes into contact with it, into gold forever.  Thousands of years later, two young women and a dinosaur, working to overthrow a dictatorial galactic regime, the Federation, journey to Earth and manage to retrieve some of the titular Midas flesh, which they hope to use as a weapon.  Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and by the time this final issue begins, solar systems and planets have been destroyed, and it looks like the flesh is going to get spread throughout the universe.  Worse than that, it looks like our heroes are about to get covered in some of Midas’s blood.  At this point, writer Ryan North has to rely on a bit of a deus ex machina (technically, dei) to set things to rights, but since that involves Joey and Fatima arguing with Dionysus and his mother, it’s all good.  What’s impressed me from the start of this series is the way in which North has applied cold, logical, scientific analysis to comic book science, and then extrapolated it in a believable way into a story that includes alien dinosaurs.  It’s a hard science fiction story, but one that includes cutesy characters, thanks to the great art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.  I really recommend this series, and suggest that you check it out in trade.

Mind MGMT #24 – Matt Kindt’s brilliant and strange series has reached the two-year mark, and by way of celebration, we are given an issue that focuses on Henry Lyme, a central character in the book, and given glimpses of his life as an agent, and of his actions after he left the organization and went into hiding, basically setting up the first issue of the series.  Kindt’s story has always been complex, and these occasional issues where the story meanders back upon itself work well to remind the reader of some of the more subtle moments from before that still have significance.  I think it’s interesting that Dark Horse considers this issue to be a good starting point for new readers, when the wrap-around cover is designed so that the logo and trade dress are on the back cover, while the banner declaring it a good place to start is on the front, meaning that these potential new readers either see the title of the comic on the stands, or learn that they could start here, but won’t know both things at the same time.

New Avengers #21New Avengers has been floundering for a little while, but this was an excellent issue.  With a planetary collision that will destroy two universes imminent, our heroes have no choice but to defeat the Justice League analogues from the other planet, and destroy their world.  When it comes down to that final moment though, none of our heroes have it in them.  Jonathan Hickman writes the best Black Panther this side of Christopher Priest, and he does a good job of challenging the conflicting desires of that character in this issue.  The ending is not a surprise, but it does qualify as a very good moment in comics.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #2 – Outcast is two for two with this excellent new issue, that digs a little deeper into Kyle’s past, and his relationship with his mother (who is basically comatose) and his adopted sister.  There are intimations of problems coming for Kyle and the preacher who he helped last issue, but for now, this is mostly a character study that is really pretty interesting.  Paul Azaceta was a very good choice for the art on this title.

Pariah #6 – I’m really enjoying this series, which is about a group of Vitros (basically, test tube babies who are incredibly smart) who have been exiled to an orbiting space station.  They are just about ready to push off to investigate the galaxy, when they receive information that the Earth is suffering from the worst influenza outbreak since the First World War.  A few of the Vitros want to work to cure the outbreak, which causes tension among the group, as different people jockey for power.  I like the way Philip Gelatt has built each issue around a central problem to be solved, while still advancing the larger plot.  This is always an interesting series, which always has great Brett Weldele art.

Prophet #45I don’t know what’s going on with Prophet (this issue was solicited for January), but this issue had some serious forward momentum, especially compared to the last few issues.  Old Man Prophet ends up meeting up with another John, who is working to free some slaves on the remains of Glory’s body.  It’s a pretty solid issue, with great art by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, and Giannis Milonogiannis.

Sandman Overture #3 – When I read the original Sandman title (by which I mean the original Neil Gaiman run, not the Golden Age one), I was pretty much blown away by it on a regular basis; the sense of majesty and the depth of the description really impressed me.  That was a long time ago, and I’ve matured as a reader, and now, reading Gaiman’s new prequel series, I’m starting to wonder if it’s not just kind of pretentious.  I still feel a lot of affection for the original material, but this series (leaving aside for a moment the art, if it’s possible to do that), doesn’t seem to be going anywhere interesting, and all sense of drama (what little there is) in the story is negated by the fact that we know what comes afterwards.  Dream (both the man we are used to, and his cat form) are walking on a bridge to a city of stars, but along the way they rescue a young girl, who then goes with them and asks questions, and needs a bedtime story.  Oh, and some beetles attack, but then don’t.  Saving this is the gorgeous JH Williams III art, which elevates the thin material to new heights.  Maybe I’m just grumpy because I’m reading the book in small installments spread about six months apart, but I have no investment in this story whatsoever.  It’s a pity, because I really wanted to like this series.  Imagine had Gaiman and Williams collaborated on something brand new, how cool that could have been…

Secret Avengers #6I’ve enjoyed writer Ales Kot’s little nods to literature in this run (such as the poet Artaud Derrida), but he really caught my eye this month when he has Phil Coulson travel to Venezuela, where a shaman type makes reference to Tlön, Uqbar, and Orbis Tertius.  I got even more interested when that same shaman sends Hawkeye to Argentina in pursuit of Coulson, giving me reason to hope for a cameo by Jorge Luis Borges.  Beyond that, I’m not too sure where this story is going.  Most of the issue is given over to the Black Widow fighting Lady Bullseye on a speeding Japanese train, while Spider-Woman looks for a bomb to defuse.  I know that all of these different things are connected (MODOK tells us that much), but I can’t really predict where Kot is taking this story, which makes it more enjoyable.

Sovereign #5 – Since this series began, it’s not exactly what I expected it to be, but writer Chris Roberson really shakes things up with this issue, which doesn’t feature any of the characters we’ve come to know over the last four months, instead focusing on a group of woman who have been abducted from their mountain village to be trafficked across the ocean.  One of the women serves as our narrator, and develops a ‘strength’ (Sovereign for powers) that helps her friends out.  I don’t know where or when this story fits into the larger plot of this book, but I still enjoyed it, and Paul Maybury’s art.

Star Wars Rebel Heist #4 – Matt Kindt’s short foray into the Star Wars universe comes to a close with this issue, which continues to feature narration by a new character, this time an Imperial spy who has been following Luke Skywalker as he completes his part of the mission, which also ties together all the contributions of Han, Leia, and Chewie from the earlier issues.  It’s a nice tribute to the original main characters of the franchise, and the strength they find in depending upon one another.  This was a very well-written mini-series.

Uncanny Avengers #22We finally reach the end of the long-running Apocalypse Twins/Kang storyline, as the assembled heroes have to stop Kang’s plan, even if it means that Havok will have to sacrifice his daughter (and end up looking like Jonah Hex).  There’s a lot of stuff crammed into this issue, and not all of it is clear (like what happened with Rogue and Wonder Man at the end of the issue), and I’m surprised that the story didn’t more explicitly set up the upcoming Axis event, since Rick Remender’s stories have a tendency to roll from one to the next like that.  Things felt a little rushed, as Sunfire is turned into something more akin to Wildfire, and Immortus shows up with a group of heroes who barely get shown in the comic, despite having a big role to play.

Uncanny X-Men #24 – I have no idea what Brian Michael Bendis is doing with this ‘Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier’ arc.  On the one hand, I like the way he’s using the reading of the will to bring together the two X-teams, but the revelations of the will don’t make a lot of sense yet.  I will say that artist Kris Anka has been an excellent addition to this book.  I love the facial expressions he drew on the different X-Men when the first of Charles’s revelations, who his wife was, was announced.  There are some pretty questionable things about this comic though, such as Dazzler’s new look, which involves ripping her Australian outback-era outfit to shreds, and giving Firestar, a new member of the team, so many prominent lines.  Still, this book has been pretty entertaining lately, even when it doesn’t always make sense.

Veil #4 – It’s good to see this series coming out again, as Greg Rucka makes things a little more clear, giving some big hints as to who Veil really is, and explaining the deal with the rat that’s always around her.  Dante proves himself to be a better person than people expect him to be, and we move towards the conclusion next issue.  This has been a strange series to find Rucka’s name on; it’s a supernatural horror story, and he doesn’t usually do that.  I’m not sure yet how completely successful I’d consider it, but it’s a good enough read.

Vertigo Quarterly CMYK #2 – Magenta It’s really difficult to tell a complete story in only eight pages, especially when the story is expected to not just have a clear beginning, middle, and end, but is also supposed to explore the themes inherent in the colour magenta, one of the four used in four-colour comics.  As such, some of these stories work very well within their confines, others escape their confines completely, and still others just kind of fall flat, or feel like they are being used to test out a concept for a possible longer follow-up.  Among my favourites in this anthology are Fábio Moon’s strip, which features the only story that may be continued from the first CMYK anthology (about a man who meets a woman at a bar where a band is playing), and Rian Hughes’s exploration of the colour magenta, through the life of a shy girl who dresses boldly.  The best piece in this book is the story by Jody Houser and Nathan Fox, which is about two girls, one quite young, and the other not nearly as old as she’d like to be, as they have to attend a funeral.  It’s a very effective story, mostly told through the older sister’s relationship to her younger sister’s doll, and everything that it symbolizes to her.  In addition to these gems, there is some good work from Matteo Scalera, Carla Berrocal, Tommy Lee Edwards, Andrea Mutti, and Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo.

The Wake #10 – I’m not entirely sure I completely understood what Scott Snyder was trying to say with this series, and I feel like at the least I need to read this issue again.  Still, when all is said and done, and the story did finish here, Snyder does reveal all sorts of things, as we learn the truth of who the Mers are, and just how Leeward was able to hear a radio broadcast from Lee, despite her having died years prior.  The best thing about The Wake has been Sean Murphy’s visuals, as he’s had a great time designing a very strange vision of the future.  This was a pretty interesting series, but I think the delays towards the end of it hurt the sense of momentum it had going for it.

X-Men #17I’m pretty sure this is Brian Wood’s last issue of X-Men, which also means that it’s my last issue, as I have no real interest in an X-title written by Marc Guggenheim, who is a capable writer, but not exactly one that I follow.  In this issue, Wood wraps up the team’s fight with The Future, which requires a little sacrifice on the part of Shogo, and some more awkwardness between Storm and her teenage daughter, Kymera.  Wood is a very talented writer, but I’m not sure that his time on X-Men ever really worked.  He is a big idea writer, but having been relegated to a second-tier X-book, his writing felt like it suffered from a number of constraints, and from some strange characterizations.  In the final analysis, I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t get more time and space, but I’m already buying too many X-books, so I don’t mind giving one up.

X-O Manowar #27 – This title continues to show us the history of the Armor Hunters, making these rather generic characters more fleshed out and interesting.  Reebo and Malgam join the Armor Hunters in this issue, and go on their first hunt.  I like the way that Robert Venditti is using this arc to build the Valiant universe in a new way, and I’m sure that the information being given will come up again in this title when it shifts back to normal after this event.

Comics I Would Have Bought if They Weren’t $4 (or More):

Bodies #1

Caliban #5

Guardians of the Galaxy #17

Original Sin #3.3

Red Sonja #0

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Foster

Written by Biran Buccellato
Art by Noel TuazonI was pretty excited to finally be able to sink my teeth into the completed Foster.  I’d picked up the first two issues a couple of years ago at TCAF from artist Noel Tuazon, and really enjoyed the beginning of the book.  Like many self-published titles though, it kind of disappeared, except for prohibitively expensive ‘convention editions’ or digital editions available online.  Now the whole six issues have been collected into one trade paperback by OSSM Comics, a pretty new company, and I could finally read the whole story.Foster is set in Vintage City, which is Buccellato’s amalgam of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and LA (although it mostly resembles New York), in their dirty seventies and eighties incarnations.  The city is run down, as are the people living in it.  Eddie Foster is one of the most run-down people around.  An alcoholic and a war vet, Foster is haunted by the choices he’s made in his life, and mostly spends his time drinking in a crummy apartment, next door to a junkie prostitute he used to date. 

One day, he comes home and finds that his neighbour has taken off, and has left her son, Ben, with no one to look after him.  Foster takes him home with him, and gets him to school the next day, assuming that his responsibilities are complete.  When he gets home, a gigantic man-like creature, a Dweller, shows up looking for the boy.  The Dwellers are evolutionary offshots (or maybe forebears) of humanity, who live in secret, preying on the edges of civilization.  Lots of people are aware of them, but nobody talks about them, and in their dark trenchcoats, they blend in with the urban decay around them. 

As it turns out, Ben is the only hybrid born of a human woman and a Dweller (I’m not sure how they reproduce, because they all look like men to me in this book).  Foster does everything he can to keep the kid safe, as the King of the Dwellers wants his son back, and the other Dwellers just want to kill him. 

Buccellato really builds the story nicely, and has a good feel for that era.  Tuazon’s rough pencils are perfect for portraying this kind of world, as everything feels like it has a layer of grit on it.  This graphic novel is nicely self-contained, and would work very well as a film.  I am very glad I finally got to read the whole story, and recommend checking it out.  It’s a good chunk of story for only $12.99.

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