No piece of entertainment is going to be a sure-fire hit for everyone—even The Princess Bride has one or two negative reviews—but sometimes I come across a piece of entertainment that seems to be for literally no one. That, alas, is the case with one of the new comics out this week, a bloody erotic mess that seems to be mad at everyone, including itself. Whenever I write these reviews I try to put myself in the position of someone who would enjoy whatever the work is, but this one truly has me stumped.
Fortunately, there’s also a truly excellent new series launching this week, and the good news is that it’s a continuation of another excellent series. If you haven’t read the first series of Eve, now’s a good chance so you can treat yourself to the sequel.
Thanks as always to Phoenix Comics & Games for sorting through the books!
A beautifully-illustrated retelling of a traditional Japanese folk tale, Issunboshi follows a 6-inch-tall farm boy who is the embodiment of the soul of a mythical sword. When an evil demon seeks to reconstitute the weapon, Issunboshi sets out to defeat the monster. How can a tiny little guy overcome a giant monster? With punching, of course. Lots of punching. The back-and-forth fisticuffs comprise a substantial portion of this graphic novel and don’t particularly contribute to the story of the character. But there also isn’t much character to speak of here; our hero sort of falls from one plot beat to the next without having any interesting choices or learning any insightful lessons. Other figures in the book are more likely to narrate the premise than take action. It’s a good thing the landscapes are such a feast for the eye.
Written, illustrated, and colored by Ryan Lang.
Rating: 👹👹 (2/5)
Lettering: Steve Wands. Designer: Sarah Rockwell. Editor: Amanda Meadows. Cultural consultation: Chiaki Hirai.
Eve: Children of the Moon Issue #1
An intriguing follow-up to the excellent original series Eve, this sequel picks up after the near-end of the world when two sisters saved humanity by the skin of their teeth. In this series, the youngsters who survived an airborne apocalypse are now in the process of building a new civilization amidst the ruins… but not all of the survivors are on board with the plan and conflict threatens to undermine the second-chance survival of the species. Newcomers to the series will probably be able to follow along, but this story will make a lot more sense (and be a lot more rewarding) to those who have read the initial run from 2021. This sequel deepens both the lore and the characters, setting up excellent tension between rival camps and, at times, within those camps. Of particular interest is a question that simmers in the background at first, but seems poised to break through into a much larger problem: Without a crisis to test our heroines, who are they?
Writer: Victor LaValle. Illustrator: Jo Mi-Gyeong. Colors: Brittany Peer. Lettering: AndWorld Design. Alt Covers: Ario Anindito, Jahnoy Lindsay, Miguel Mercado, Mike Del Mundo, Marcus Williams, Junggeun Yoon, Tony Fleecs. Logo: Scott Newman. Designer: Nancy Mojica. Associate editor: Ramiro Portnoy. Editor: Elizabeth Brei. Executive editor: Eric Harburn.
Publisher: Boom! Studios.
I generally try to review books on their terms. That is, evaluate them based on what seems to be the work’s intention. But I’ll confess I’m at a bit of a loss with this one because I can’t tell what it’s meant to be. An internet dominatrix broadcasts murderous torture sessions to violent misogynists, who apparently get off to abusing her as she abuses them. She snarls at the incels through the webcam, they snarl back at her through the chat, occasionally she kidnaps one and slowly kills them while the mob angrily cheers. But so what? The book is gory and pornographic, and maybe that’s the level on which it is meant to be consumed—just as the characters in the book consume images and sex and violence.
Sprinkled throughout the dialogue are comments about past heartbreaks that might’ve driven the men to get off on depravity and abuse; much of the torture-porn seems to hinge on a desperate need to be noticed by a woman, even if that attention is deadly. There is perhaps some idea buried in there about our inhumanity to each other, or about destructive responses to loneliness. The book seems to have no interest whatsoever in exploring the psyche of our heroine, the killer dominatrix; she is merely presented in various erotic poses, playing her malevolent on-camera character for the reader’s enjoyment. Inasmuch as the book seems to be condemning those who are cruel to women online, it seems to be the print equivalent of the very thing it’s criticizing.
Rating: 🐷 (1/5)
Story and art: Luana Vecchio. English adaptation: Edward Caio.
Also: Evil Cats!
Cats! What are we to make of them? They don’t want us to know their secrets. And that is the premise of Evil Secret Society of Cats, a very fun and adorable book about a diabolical cabal of felines. Also worth a look this week is Sensory: Life on the Spectrum, an anthology of stories about neurodiversity. There’s a new series about Gotham City’s Police Department (not sure if it’s pro or con or ambiguous), and also yet another Harley Quinn series. For more spookiness, check out the great creepy horror paperback It Took Luke; and for classic comic hijinks, look at Neil Gaiman’s long-awaited Miracleman series.