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Song of the Suns – First Session Introductions

Hi. This is Josh Hall, Games Manager, known to one as Josh the Taller (and now perhaps known to more). I’ve been completely obsessed with the Invisible Sun RPG from Monte Cook Games since I first laid eyes on the Kickstarter video two years ago. I’ve finally managed to put together a group that includes both veterans roleplayers and some who have never really roleplayed before. I will blog here periodically with updates about hos the campaign is going (spoiler free for my players). If you have any questions about what you read here, feel free to ask me at Fanfare sometime.

We have done our “First Session”, in which the players all introduce their characters and everyone else collectively creates the neighborhood for them (basically, you can choose your house but you don’t get to choose your neighbors). Here are summaries of our Primary Dramatis Personae and their neighborhoods.

Blue, an Eremitic Ardent Weaver who Walks the Path of Suns.

Blue yearns to see another sun, probably pulling her away from her hermetic lifestyle. She shares a love of books with Simon, particularly about Satyrine, which allows them to use the Silent Streets secret as long as they can see each other.

Blue lives inside a tree in a large city park near the Gate to the Hollows. It has windows and doors which look much smaller than a person could use but when entering sizes become relative. To the average passerby these doors and windows look more like they were added to make the tree look like a fairy’s home, so most just ignore it or find it quaint. Inside, the rooms are very organic in design with much of the furniture growing out of the walls, floors and ceilings.

Blue’s house is lived in (on the outside) by a trio of sentient squirrels. These three (Trevor, Slim and Mollineaux) are well meaning but easily disoriented and, frankly, a bit dim. They are constantly trying to get into the tree (it’s their home, after all) but don’t remember how. They can be sent on tasks, which they pursue eagerly (though usually fruitlessly). When lost they can usually persuade children to bring them home.

Not too far away is Trumbolt’s, a newsstand & bodega run by its namesake, an elderly and blind Eldebrin. Though blind, his senses are otherwise heightened by some means so that it is nearly impossible to take advantage of his condition. He likes to change his shape to mirror his patrons. However, the only thing he can’t seem to do is accurately change shape into what he wants, though he thinks he has done a good job. His regular patrons allow him to think he’s nailed it. Trumbolt sells all of the daily news rags, some magazines and assorted sundries. Special customers can ask for “specialty items”, Ephemera Objects, of which he always has a few (but they change each day).

There is often an elderly man named Leonard in a golfer’s cap set up with a table on which he is selling ten to twenty books. He keeps an umbrella handy for inclement weather which is capable of keeping all of his books and patrons dry.

In the center of the park is The Standing Statue. Both who (what) the statue honors and how it is captioned morphs during the night so that at each dawn it is new. No one has managed to find a pattern to the selections other than they all seem to have some connection to The War.

It is not uncommon for the park to be used for black market trading, making it unsafe at night.

There is a coven that meets in the park fortnightly. They seem to be more of a social club than actually up to something but do try to maintain an air of mystery.

Boodish, an Itinerant Empath of the Order Goetica who Provides a Vessel for Spirits.

Boodish does not remember her family since returning from Shadow and is now trying to find out about them. She is known to be a friend to nature spirits. She shares a Mystical Bond with Zeph.

She camps in the the shrubs behind a large tree in the far reaches of the backyard of a garden gnome who lives in a Smurf sized mushroom. The tree bears a different fruit each day, most of which are sustaining.

The gnome, Mr. Bumblecap, is a minor love cherub and about the crankiest gnome ever, partially because local youth pin love notes to one another on his favorite tree (he can frequently be seen pacing the yard trying to keep kids off his lawn). Mr. Bumblecap is unaware of Boodish because she is camped out deep enough on his land that he doesn’t get out there for years at a time.

Mr. Bumblecap’s land backs up to the Bleed. While this is potentially hazardous, this particular section of the Bleed occasionally spews forth items which have been lost (sometimes for a very long time and sometimes it’s just left socks).

Nearby there lives an herbalist named Helen Thieroux. She knows that Boodish is living in Mr. Bumblecap’s backyard but, being only tolerant of the churlish gnome, she’s keeping it secret for now. Her yard is a wild space full of plants from which she harvests her herbs. Occasionally, she will foray into Mr. Bumblecap’s yard for some of the herbs growing there naturally. This is how she came across Boodish. Helen is a non who has learned a few cantrips to help her raise her herbs and identify almost any plant she examines (and often a property or two).

Helen has a shop a couple blocks over called The Dried Root. It is only open Tuesday through Thursday from Noon to 4pm or by appointment.

The central square of the neighborhood serves as the grounds of a Farmer’s Market (of a sort), daily from 7am until Noon. Helen usually occupies one of the 117 stalls, none of which are ever empty. Most are selling some weird and magical food, usually freshly harvested, but some stalls will serve pies, breads, pasties and such.

Recently, herbal shops in the area have been the victims of poisonings (of their plants). This has led to a reduction in the amount of herbalists setting up shop at the Market. So far Helen has not been a victim, causing some whispered accusations, though nothing formal has been brought yet.

Larence Pannek, an Iconoclast Ardent Apostate who Converses with Everything.

Larry does not remember his father beyond the age of five and has decided to find out what happened to him. He has a mutually sarcastic friendly banter with the bookseller Leonard in Blue’s neighborhood. He has an Unrequited Bond with Zeph.

Larry’s house is a large A-Frame, unremarkable except for its lacking any doors or windows. To get in Larry walks around the house until he is suddenly inside, which is sparsely furnished as the house desires. To leave he similarly paces around until outside.

The neighbor to the left is Marigold Smythe. A petite late-middle aged woman, she has a small cottage with a white picket fence and a beautiful English garden. She loves to feed birds and will offer to feed Larry if he is outside for more than a couple laps. She always wears an elegant floral pattern dress, elbow length white gloves and knee length white tights with practical shoes.

Ted Burkowski (most just call him Burk) lives on the other side. He is a butcher and owns the local deli Fartown Fresh Meats. He is a Weaver who spent his time in Shadow on Long Island and he still has the accent. When home he tends to sit on his porch in a grubby t-shirt with a beer in hand and watch the neighborhood, often taunting Larry if he’s been stuck outside for too long.

Across the way is the counterpoint house to Larry’s, it is all windows and doors (though there are plenty of curtains for privacy. This is occupied by the Schulta family, father, mother and 24 daughters ranging in age from 4 to 24 (and at least one of them fancies Larry).

Burks’ Deli, obviously run by Ted Burkowski, is one of the best and most varied delis in all of Satyrine. Any given day there is a new menu as Burk has gotten a limited supply of some new delicacy or other. Reasonably price, Burk’s is always hopping, despite allegations of black marked meats.

Larry’s neighborhood is home to the Zoo of the Nearly Mundane. Home to such animals as a tiger with horizontal stripes, an elephant with a single tusk and two trunks and the infamous land shark, this attraction is a favorite of the children of Satyrine. The zoo is run by a Zilat Finder, Hassentile. It is known that the zoo uses the Bleed as a way to discard waste (some of which ends up in Boodish’s backyard but is quickly put to use by her herbalist neighbor). Lately some animals have come up missing (even foiling Hassentile’s abilities) causing rumors about new meat selections at the deli to feel a bit convenient. Nothing has been substantiated.

Simon Singer, an Established Stoic Vance who Listens to Whispers.

Simon is trying to find out what happened to his parents and twin brother. He has a burgeoning friendship with Wystrin and is reconnecting with his “crazy Aunt” Fenny, Phenimist Singer. He shares a love of books with Blue, particularly about Satyrine, which allows them to use the Silent Streets secret as long as they can see each other.

Simon’s house is a two-story square brick building with a cupola on top. It is surrounded by a brick wall within which is a yard filled with flowering plants. These all bloom the same color and that color changes every few sunrises. Simon’s house has several ghosts haunting it, not all human but none hostile.

Next door lives Versifer, a door to door vacuum salesman. His vacuums don’t clean dirt, however, but instead clean memories. Used judiciously they can remove selected memories but have the potential to do great harm. While these devices can be reversed, unless the bin is cleaned regularly, this can result in quite a jumble (potentially including others’ memories). Versiver’s yard is lined with crab apple trees which are usually overgrown due to his largely absent lifestyle. It is common for apples to drop in Simon’s yard.

Simon’s other neighbor is actually a small garden park, overseen by a self-aware Garden Roomba named Rooga. It does a decent job of keeping the park well groomed but often wanders into Simon’s yard and gets stuck. It has a mild fear of Versifer, suspecting that he want’s to take Rooga apart to see how he works.

Across the way is Aygee, a Journeyman Vance. Aygee looks up to Simon and is eager to please.

Situated at the top of a T junction, the house overlooks the only road into the neighborhood, a 3 block square within walking distance of the Vancian Campus. This gives Simon a good vantage point to watch Taxi’s pick up passengers at the entrance, enter and drive around the neighborhood, then drop the passengers back where they started. Why this is happening is a mystery.

The neighborhood is home to many cats, too many cats. At dusk many of them congregate atop Simon’s walls, looking almost like feline crenelations. One of these cats shows across its body the Blue Sun rising and setting during the day, becoming black at night.

There is a neighborhood Homeowners Association led by Reginald Worthington III. They are busybodies, often trying to enforce daft rules and blaming Simon for the crab apples in his yard and the cats on his walls (neither of which is within his control).

Zephir Warwick Kenmore, an Established Gallant who Understands the Words.

Zeph is trying to write a novel set during The War. He shares a Mystical Bond with Boodish.

Zeph lives in a nondescript Tudor style house. It is well appointed with a large library. It’s tall shelves have a rolling ladder to assist with retrieval and one bank of shelves conceals a small room with a trap door on the floor. Zeph has never attempted to open this door.

Most of the rest of Zeph’s block is taken up by an antiques scrapyard/warehouse owned by a former Maker, now Apostate, who goes by The Magpie. They are tall and statuesque with the head of a magpie (product of one of the Changeries). If you need something you didn’t know you needed, they have it.

Recently, a circus/carnival has taken up residence in what was formerly a vacant space in an adjacent block. Followers of “The Favored Way”, the carnies are constantly proselytizing. Basically, the Favored Way looks at life from the perspective of games of chance, odds always favor the house so it is best to be a part of the house. When a person joins it is unknown where they go but they aren’t seen again. Their most popular confection is a cotton candy wrapped in loss and acceptance.

Nearby lives Aria North, a reporter for the Crepescule Notion. If she sees a known Vislae (like Zeph) she will bounce up to them and ask for “the scoop”. While she never expects to get much from this she is a fan of catchphrases and has chosen that as hers. It’s not uncommon for her to be leaving her house just as Zeph is walking by.

Not too far away is a natural hot springs named Squirrel Springs. Popular for having minor healing qualities, these springs are equally popular for having minor intoxicating and hallucinogenic qualities as well. Since the circus arrived, the springs have become overrun by carnies, much to the irritation of the neighborhood.

New Games: Friday, April 19th, 2019

Big Trouble in Little China: Legacy of Lo Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey, wait a minute! This isn’t how it was supposed to go! You’re a reasonable person, but you’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things. For you it’s always in the reflexes, but not this time. You lost against Lo Pan and his minions today… but that doesn’t mean you gotta like it! Lo Pan’s plan was successful, he sacrificed Miao Yin and ascended to his trueform. But have no fear, Egg has a magical artifact called the Tardisian Hourglass that can transport you and your friends through time to stop him once and for all!

The Legacy of Lo Pan expansion increases the player count to up to 6 players who can now embark on an Epic adventure in the core game as well as experience the all-new quest book! You and your pals will play through the new time travel story campaign as you race through time to get all new special rewards to use in the new final showdown to defeat Lo Pan… again.

Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition: Anarch Sourcebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to a blood thriller on the streets of the modern nights. For centuries the Anarch Movement enjoyed an uneasy truce with the Camarilla, but no longer. Now, the Unbound refuse to bow to the sickening hypocrisy and tyranny of their former allies. Claiming the nighttime streets as their own, the Anarchs seek independence from the despotic Elders, by any means necessary. Only the toughest and smartest of self-made vampires will survive. Featuring all-new essays on nocturnal survival and politics from Juhana Pettersson.

Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition: Camarilla Sourcebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The global blood opera of the Camarilla story continues. As the eldest vampires begin to vanish, the Ivory Tower starts to crack under the weight of its own decay. Once it was the mightiest faction of vampires in the world, a stronghold of immortality. Now it retreats into a maze of neo-feudal conspiracies to protect itself against the deadly threat of the Second Inquisition, struggling to enforce the Masquerade in the face of modern technology. Featuring insights and perspectives on unlife in the Camarilla from Mark Rein-Hagen and Matthew Dawkins.

Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition: Slipcase Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vampire: The Masquerade is the original and ultimate roleplaying game of personal and political horror. You are a vampire, struggling for survival, supremacy, and your own fading humanity—afraid of what you are capable of, and fearful of the inhuman conspiracies that surround you.

As a vampire you suffer the pangs of the Hunger, the relentless and terrible thirst for human blood. If you refuse to deal with it, it will overcome your mind and drive you to terrible acts to slake it. You walk this razor’s edge every night.

Dark designs, bitter enemies, and strange allies await you in this World of Darkness.

This special Slip Case set features a copy of the core book, plus the Camarilla and Anarch supplements collected in a special slip case cover.

New Games: Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Aerion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charged with building a new fleet of airships to traverse the Oniverse, you must draft the best blueprints, acquire materials, and recruit a crew to build the most wondrous fleet ever seen.

The Archonts have given you a weighty charge: to build a new fleet, more beautiful than any that has ever sailed the skies. As a master air-shipwright, you have the skills to build a fleet to traverse the skies of the Oniverse, but you must proceed carefully to gather the components you need. In Aerion, one to two players work together to build six airships. Draft the best blueprints, acquire the finest construction materials, and recruit the most skilled crew. Can you build the fleet before your resources run out?

Six included expansions will alter your journey through the skies and offer new challenges to complete. Each expansion adds new cards and gameplay that can be played independently or freely combined. Use new abilities from the Factory cards to complete your most critical task in the Flagship expansion. Race against time with the Hourglasses. Or destroy Outposts and Lairs to defeat the marauding Hellkite.

Kiwetin

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is something odd about the Kiwetin forest: Its spirits have entered into a thrilling race. With the help of the wind, you will have to find your way from one branch to another and catch the sacred flower first. The forest will play tricks on you, though, which could be a help or a hindrance.

Kiwetin is a simple and addictive fast-paced board game. You play as one of these spirits, and your character’s caliber affects the way you move on the board. The randomly placed action tiles offer a unique experience during each game.

Beware of whirlwinds because you might turn everything upside down!

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embark on your own adventures in J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic world with The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, a fully cooperative, app-supported board game for one to five players! You’ll battle villainous foes, make courageous choices, and strike a blow against the evil that threatens the land—all as part of a thrilling campaign that leads you across the storied hills and dales of Middle-earth.

Each individual game of Journeys in Middle-earth is a single adventure in a larger campaign. You’ll explore the vast and dynamic landscapes of Middle-earth, using your skills to survive the challenges that you encounter on these perilous quests. As you and your fellow heroes explore the wilderness and battle the dark forces arrayed against you, the game’s companion app guides you to reveal the looming forests, quiet clearings, and ancient halls of Middle-earth, while also controlling the enemies you encounter. Whether you’re venturing into the wild on your own or with close companions by your side, you can write your own legend in the history of Middle-earth.

Star Wars RPG: Allies and Adversaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The galaxy is in turmoil. No one can escape the Galactic Civil War, especially the troops and commanders who battle on innumerable worlds throughout the stars. Civilians struggle to survive through legitimate or illegal means, while the scale of combat threatens even the wildlife on many worlds. It is these individuals, from lowly droids to powerful Force users, who will decide the outcome of the war and the future of the galaxy.

This sourcebook collects the profiles for heroic Rebels, evil Imperials, and galactic scum and villainy drawn from all three Star Wars Roleplaying game lines, along with a host of brand-new individuals who have never before been profiled. This sourcebook is an essential collection of NPCs, whether you’re playing Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, or Force and Destiny. In all, over 130 NPCs are fully statted throughout the book for use in any Star Wars Roleplaying campaign!

Wherever you travel in your Star Wars adventures, the Game Master needs to ensure there are plenty of memorable and exciting Non-Player Characters. After all, while the worlds and locations of Star Wars are iconic, it’s the individuals that make this universe so unique. Allies and Adversaries is the perfect resource for bringing these characters to life in Star Wars Roleplaying!

Time Stories: Madame Expansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N.T. 1673: Ah ! Versailles. Its court. Its eIteTqtue. 
iTs p1SG3Tre. DO. Hdesba rgasezfl. 
FATAL 3RR0R : 3ND OF TR4NSMISSION. 1011100101.___
After this adventure, nothing will ever be the same again…

Madame is the tenth scenario for T.I.M.E Stories and promises to shake things up.

Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG: Order of the Spellcasters Structure Deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The magical masters of Structure Deck: Order of the Spellcasters have transcended the need for physical forms and gained the ability to become Spells themselves! As Pendulum Monsters, they can be played as either monsters or Spell Cards, and have different abilities depending on which you choose.

With most Pendulum Monsters you have to choose between playing it as a monster or a Pendulum Spell, and once you decide, you can’t change your mind. With the new Pendulum Monsters from Structure Deck: Order of the Spellcasters, you don’t have to worry about playing your monsters as Spells because they all have effects that Summon themselves from your Pendulum Zones! After all, what good is being able to convert yourself into pure magical energy if you can’t regain your body later?

This Structure Deck uses the same “Spell Counter” system as the Spellcaster’s Command Structure Deck and the “Mythical Beast” monsters from Extreme Force, so cards from all three can be combined together to create an even more powerful Deck!

New Games: Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Adventures in Middle-Earth RPG: Breeland Region Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Bree and The Inn of the Prancing Pony!

Nestled at the foot of the ancient landmark of the Bree-hill, Bree and The Prancing Pony provide a welcome respite from the trials of the road. With a wisdom all its own, Bree has endured for centuries, minding its own business and serving passing travellers with good food and better beer.

Surrounded by deserted and dangerous lands, and watched over by the mysterious Rangers of the North, Bree is the ideal place to begin a new journey or take a rest from a wearying one!

Bree-land Region Guide includes:

  • Details of the Bree-land, including Bree itself, Archet, Combe and Staddle
  • Things to do in Bree: new undertakings and suggested adventure seeds
  • Maps of the Bree-land, Bree and The Prancing Pony
    A complete set of customised journey tables for the Bree-land
  • A new playable culture, The Dwarves of the Blue Mountains
  • Three exciting adventures that begin at level 1 and carry the heroes to 4th level or beyond: Old Bones and Skin, Strange Men, Strange Roads and Holed Up in Staddle.

Bree-land Region Guide contains the information and adventures previously released as Bree for The One Ring Roleplaying Game, fully converted to be compatible with Adventures in Middle-earth and the 5 OGL rules.

Challenge of the Superfriends Card Game

 

 

 

 

 

The Superfriends have gathered at the Hall of Justice to take on the challenge of thirteen of the most sinister villains of all time. Play your cards right and you’ll defeat the Legion of Doom! Based on the classic animated TV show, Challenge of the Superfriends Card Game utilizes Cryptozoic’s new GRYPHON card game engine to deliver a fast-paced, easy-to-learn tabletop experience.

  • Simultaneous play: 2 to 4 players play their cards at the same time to capture Super-Villains!
  • Simple, addictive gameplay that rewards both luck and strategy
  • Cards call forth allies or Super Powers that can change the outcome!
  • Play as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or Aquaman, with new art based on the classic TV series

Rick and Morty: Look Who’s Purging Now Card Game

 

 

 

 

 

Get ready to unleash your purging instincts with Rick and Morty as you fight to survive the annual purge festival on an alien planet. Play your cards right and you’ll make it out alive! Based on the popular episode of the TV show, Rick and Morty: Look Who’s Purging Now Card Game utilizes Cryptozoic’s new GRYPHON card game engine to deliver gameplay that unfolds at lightning speed and is easy to learn.

  • ​Simultaneous play: 2 to 4 players play their cards at the same time to rack up kills during the annual “Festival”!
  • Simple, addictive gameplay that rewards both luck and strategy
  • Weapon Cards are found items or Rick’s inventions, leading to effects that can change the outcome!
  • Play as Rick, Morty, and others with art from the unforgettable episode of the show

April 2019 Previews: Carman’s Picks

Silver Surfer: Black #1

APR190783

June 12, 2019

Publisher: Marvel Comics

(W) Donny Cates (A/CA) Tradd Moore

Spinning out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, almost the entire galaxy’s defenders have been blown through a black hole, including the Silver Surfer! But the story doesn’t end there… In order to fight back the oblivion, Surfer will have to fight to save his own soul and not lose himself to the void. Follow the Sentinel of the Spaceways on a journey that will change him forever!
From superstars Donny Cates (VENOM, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and Tradd Moore (ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER, VENOM)!
Rated T+

The cover alone should be enough to hook you on this one. Having Tradd Moore on a trippy Silver Surfer book is such an excellent choice. I’ve also yet to dip into Donny Cates’ work with Marvel (I know, I know — I’ve heard great things) and this looks to be great one to jump in with.

 

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Beast of Vargu

APR190224 & APR190225 (left and right covers above)

June 19, 2019

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

(W/CA) Mike Mignola (A) Dave Stewart (A/CA) Duncan Fegredo

Mike Mignola and fan-favorite artist Duncan Fegredo reunite in this all-new one-shot! This first issue in a new era of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. sees Mignola and Fegredo send Hellboy to Romania for a pair of tales set in a small village with a centuries-old curse and a man-eating monster which culminate in a sinister puppet show and a demigod’s ill-fated dinner.

Hey, Fegredo is drawing Hellboy again with Mike Mignola writing, to boot! With the end of modern day BPRD/Hellboy just around the corner, the announcement of Beast of Vargu is very welcome. Editor Katii O’Brien has been saying there is a lot to look forward to in the Mignolaverse later this year and it looks like Beast of Vargu will be a great book to kick that off.

 

Ignited #1

APR191783

June 5, 2019

Publisher: Humanoids Inc.

(W) Mark Waid, Kwanza Osajyefo (A) Philippe Briones (CA) Mike McKone

Welcome to the H1 Universe and Ignited, Humanoids’ first ever ongoing super-powered series-brought to you by an explosive team: writers Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and Kwanza Osajyefo (Black AF), and artist Phil Briones (Aquaman), with covers by John Cassaday and Yanick Paquette! It’s the first day back at Phoenix Academy High, but this year there’s no back to school excitement in the air as returning students and faculty are haunted by memories of last year’s horrific attack. So many friends and colleagues were lost, and some of those who survived underwent changes; they Ignited, gaining supernatural abilities they barely understand. Little do they know this is just the beginning!

If you’ve not read it already, I would highly recommend reading this interview with Mark Waid and John Cassaday from this month’s Previews. They go into detail about working on Ignited as well as the direction of their new H1 universe with Humanoids. The concept for this book is certainly ripped from the headlines and I’m optimistic that Waid, Cassaday, and the team will be handling it with appropriate care.

 

Test #1

APR192064

June 26, 2019

Publisher: Vault Comics

(W) Christopher Sebela (A/CA) Jen Hickman

Aleph Null is a lot of things: An orphan, a human guinea pig undergoing medical tests for cash, a bodyhacker, a hardcore future junkie, and a corporate asset. But now, Aleph is on the run from their old life, in search of a mythical, Midwestern town named Laurelwood where they’re test-marketing the future with tech that can’t possibly exist yet, and won’t for decades.

From Eisner-nominated Chris Sebela (Crowded, High Crimes) and Jen Hickman (Moth & Whisper) comes the story of a town out of time, full of mysteries, and populated by guinea pigs in need of liberation by the misfit least likely to be their savior.

I know I hit on this just a couple of months ago, but Vault is continuing to launch books with unique, compelling concepts. Here’s one with a cool idea from a team that seems so well matched for it. It’s also my reminder that I have to read the book Sebela did about his time living in the “Clown Motel.”

 

Marilyn Manor #1

APR190702

June 26, 2019

Publisher: IDW Publishing

(W) Magdalene Visaggio (A/CA) Marley Zarcone

Where were you in ’81? When the White House goes dark for 17 days in August, the president’s spoiled daughter and her best friend Abe-who claims to be possessed by the spirit of Abe Lincoln-throw a rager at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unearthing long dead historical figures and government secrets that are better off buried. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll séances, and secret passageways lead to time-bending mystical romps where past and present collide. But at what cost to Marilyn Kelleher, the world at large, and music television?

Uniting the red-hot Eisner-nominated talents of writer Magdalene Visaggio (Eternity Girl, Kim and Kim) and artist Marley Zarcone (Shade, the Changing Girl, Effigy) for the first time, MARILYN MANOR explores identity, classism, appropriation, and friendship. It’s a rollicking, neon party gone out of bounds when we need it most-set just in time for the greatest pop cultural marriage to date: MTV. 
  
“We’ve been trying to capture the feel, the excitement, the energy of the rise of the New Romantics, of the decade that embraced excess and excitement in hugely over-the-top ways, and filled it with chaos and insanity. This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever written in the best way possible, like an apocalypse directed by John Hughes.”

“…like an apocalypse written by John Hughes.” I love it. I’ve been rereading Shade the Changing Girl recently Zarcone’s art is just fantastic. I can’t wait to see what she and Mags have in store for Marilyn Manor.

March 2019 Previews: Carman’s Picks

Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1

MAR190458

May 29, 2019

Publisher: DC Comics

(W) Scott Snyder (A) Jonathon Glapion (A/CA) Greg Capullo

Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane.
And…he was never Batman.
So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape featuring a massive cast of familiar faces from the DC Universe. As he tries to piece together the mystery of his past, he must unravel the cause of this terrible future and track down the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as he knew it…
From the powerhouse creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the team that reinvented Batman from the emotional depths of “Court of Owls” to the bombastic power of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, DC Black Label is proud to present the bimonthly, three-issue miniseries BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH, published at DC’s standard comic trim size.
This could be the last Batman story ever told…

Snyder and Capullo teaming back up on Black Label Batman book. I think we’ve got a safe bet on this one, folks.

 

Midnight Radio

MAR191863

May 22, 2019

Publisher: Lion Forge

(W/A/CA) Iolanda Zanfardino

Four individuals living in San Francisco are released from the frustrations of their everyday lives by a late night radio broadcast suddenly hijacked by someone with a message for the world. The passion and honesty of the message steers these four lives in dramatic new directions . . .  

There’s not a whole from the solicit here, but I recommend checking out the extended look in Previews. Midnight Radio is a book I’ll definitely be picking up.

 

Excellence #1

MAR190016

May 8, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W) Brandon Thomas (A/CA) Khary Randolph, Emilio Lopez

Spencer Dales was born into a world of magic. His father belongs to the Aegis, a secret society of black magicians ordered by their unseen masters to better the lives of others-those with greater potential-but never themselves.
Now it’s time for Spencer to follow in his father’s footsteps, but all he sees is a broken system in need of someone with the wand and the will to change it. But in this fight for a better future, who will stand beside him?  
KHARY RANDOLPH (We Are Robin, Noble, Black, TECH JACKET) and BRANDON THOMAS (HORIZON, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, Noble, Voltron) ignite a generational war in this action-fantasy series, made entirely by creators of color, and committed to one truth above all others-Excellence is Real.

There are a quite a few books in this month’s Previews that look incredibly interesting and feature creators I’ve never heard of. I love that! Excellence, Midnight Radio, and She Said Destroy all fall under that category for me and I can’t wait to check them out. 

 

She Said Destroy #1

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May 29, 2019

Publisher: Vault Comics

(W) Joe Corallo (A/CA) Liana Kangas

Over millennia, Brigid, Goddess of the Sun, has conquered and converted the entire solar system into worshipping her and her alone, save one space colony. The witches of Fey are the last believers of The Morrigan, Goddess of Death, Brigid’s sister and the only other God left. As Brigid’s forces prepare for one final battle, The Morrigan prepares to do what she does best: Destroy!

If the great standard cover and title weren’t enough for you, check out this Saga homage variant for issue number one of She Said Destroy.

 

Copra (Volumes 1-5)

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May 1, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W/A/CA) Michel Fiffe

They’re ugly. They’re mean. But up until today, they’ve always been loyal. So when one of their own betrays them, COPRA has no choice but to turn their nightmarish skills back on everyone who ever even looked at them funny. Here it is: the first six issues of MICHEL FIFFE’s critically acclaimed superhero revenge machine. Collects COPRA #1-6.

Copra has been on my “hey, I need to read this” list for too long. Though the singles were offered exclusively though Fiffe’s Etsy shop, trade paper collections were previously released through Bergen Street Press. Starting in May, Copra volumes 1-5 will be reprinted through Image and it sounds like the series will be there to stay. Time for me to jump in!

February 2019 Previews: Carman’s Picks

B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #15

FEB190276

April 17, 2019

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

(W) Mike Mignola, Scott Allie (A) Laurence Campbell (CA) Mike Mignola

After fifteen years of B.P.R.D. comics, the series reaches its explosive conclusion!

No, you’re crying.

 

Ascender #1

FEB190010

April 24, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W) Jeff Lemire (A/CA) Dustin Nguyen

“THE HAUNTED GALAXY,” Part One
Powerhouse creative team JEFF LEMIRE and DUSTIN NGUYEN launch an all-new sequel series to DESCENDER with the launch of ASCENDER!  

Set ten years after the conclusion of DESCENDER’s storyline, magic has taken the place of machinery and the rules are very different indeed… Mila, the daughter of Andy and Effie from DESCENDER, spends her days exploring the lonely wilds of the planet Sampson and trying to stay out of the clutches of the evil disciples of the all-powerful vampire witch known only as Mother. But, like her parents, Mila doesn’t like to play by the rules, and when a certain robot pal of her dad’s shows up, nothing will ever be the same! 

With all the scope and heart of the sci-fi classic DESCENDER, LEMIRE and NGUYEN reunite to take readers on an unforgettable fantasy quest!

Though some long-running series like B.P.R.D. are ending, other series are returning. Sort of, anyway. Ascender is technically a new series but is also a sequel to Lemire and Nguyen’s Descender. If you’ve not read Descender yet, you’ve got some catching up to do on one of the best books to come out in the past few years.

 

Queen of Bad Dreams #1

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April 24, 2019

Publisher: Vault Comics

(W) Danny Lore (A/CA) Jordi Perez

When a dream entity known as a figment emerges from a dreamer’s mind, it’s Daher’s job as an IJ to track them down and make the call: reinsert the figment, or grant them agency in our world. After an especially powerful figment escapes the dreams of an even more powerful politician’s son, Daher is pulled headlong into an investigation that traces all the way back to the incident that sent dreams, even nightmares, spilling into our reality.

I keep hearing about Vault Comics knocking it out of the park with their new series and it’s time I jump on the wagon from the beginning. I’ve been hearing some great initial impressions of Queen of Bad Dreams and I’m really looking forward to checking this one out. Plus, look at this variant cover!

 

Little Girls

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April 24, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W) Nicholas Aflleje (A/CA) Sarah DeLaine, Ashley Lanni

Something hunts people on the outskirts of town…

Sam and Lielet are two new friends living in Ethiopia. They’re dealing with the kind of problems that all kids have: judgmental social cliques, condescending adults, alienation… and a legendary brain-eating monster straight out of folklore. Sure, it’s not going to be easy, but all they have to do is live through it.

Showcasing a quietly unsettling plot and building tension similar to NICK DRNASO’s Sabrina and ADRIAN TOMINE’s Killing and Dying, debut creative team NICHOLAS AFLLEJE and SARAH DeLAINE construct a poignant story of otherness and mystery.

The premise paired with the setting for Little Girls certainly has a promising hook. It doesn’t sound wholly dissimilar from other pitches for new series from Image but namedropping Sabrina and Killing and Dying has me very intrigued on the pacing and tone of this one. 

 

Hot Comb

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May 15, 2019

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

(W/A/CA) Ebony Flowers

Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into Black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn. The titular story is about a young girl’s first perm-a doomed ploy to look cool and to stop seeming “too white” in the all-black neighborhood her family has just moved to. Realizations about race, class, and the imperfections of identity swirl through Flowers’ stories, which are by turns sweet, insightful, and heartbreaking.

Drawn & Quarterly is another publisher that I’d like to start reading more regularly and I’m excited to read Hot Comb. I’d not heard of Ebony Flowers but I really enjoyed the preview on her website. Learn more about her here!

Panini’s 2018-19 NBA Player of The Day Promotion Starts March 4th!

The Panini NBA Player of The Day Promotion Runs March 4th – April 2nd!

Starting on Monday, March 4th and running all the way through close on Tuesday, April 2nd you have the chance to open some Panini NBA cards and win cool prizes!

This year’s prizes include 2 promotional Player of the Day card packs per daily win, plus posters, top loaders, and more! The store grand prize card this years is an autographed Luke Kennard card which you can see below!

Plus, this year you can become a Daily Winner twice a day, seven days a week! That means you can win more promotional packs and more entries in the Weekly Winner raffles!

You can check out all of the details below. We hope to see you soon!

How to Play

Step 1 – You can enter by purchasing either eligible packs or boxes of 2018-19 Panini brand NBA Cards. This includes popular brands such as , Hoops, Revolution, Complete and others. There is a no-purchase-necessary option as well (ask us to see the official rules for details).

Step 2 – This year you can become a Daily Winner up to two times a day! There are two ways to become a Daily Winner:

  1. If you buy packs, then all you have to do is open those packs in front of a store employee and pull that day’s highlighted Player of The Day or one of the promotions’ wild card players. If you do, then you will receive 2 promotional POTD packs plus you will get your name on our Daily Winners list where you could win even more prizes. Each pack can only win once even if you pull multiple winning players.
  2. For each eligible sealed box you purchase you will automatically become a Daily Winner. [1 box = 1 Daily winner entry plus 2 POTD packs]

Each time you are a daily winner you earn one raffle entry towards being that week’s Weekly Winner.

Step 3 –  At the end of each week of the promotion (4 times total) we will have a random drawing from that week’s list of Daily Winners to determine our Weekly Winners. Each Weekly Winner will receive special prizes and earn a raffle entry towards becoming the store’s grand prize winner.

Step 4 – At the conclusion of the 30-day promotion, we will randomly select one of the four weekly winners as the store grand prize winner. The store grand prize winner will be awarded the an autographed Luke Kennard card, plus their name will be entered into the Panini national sweepstakes where they have a chance to win a prize package that includes spending a day with an NBA Player plus a $250.00 shopping spree at Fanfare!

Check out this year’s Store Grand Prize card:

January 2019 Previews: Carman’s Picks

Black Hammer 45 #1

JAN190412

Mar. 6, 2019

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

(W) Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes (A/CA) Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt

During the Golden Age of superheroes, an elite Air Force crew called the Black Hammer Squadron was formed to fight the Axis powers. With occult threats from the German side, this team must save a family of scientists from the Nazi’s, but the mysterious and dangerous Ghost Hunter is hot on their trail. From the World of Black Hammer comes a truly gripping tale of war and intrigue!

Here it is — the Lemire/Kindt dream team (having Fawkes involved is great, too!). I’ve been dying to know what this book was going to be since Jeff Lemire tweeted this last September. Though I would have evaporated into a gust of ethereal whooshing if somehow their project was Twin Peaks-related like Matt Kindt hinted in his reply to Lemire’s tweet, I think this is safer for my health. Black Hammer and its spin-offs have been some of the best comics on the stands and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have another book in that universe that sounds like 1940s B.P.R.D. with Lemire, Kindt, Kindt, and Fawkes at the helm.

 

Invisible Kingdom #1

JAN190409

Mar. 20, 2019

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

(W) G. Willow Wilson (A/CA) Christian Ward

Set in a in a far-flung star system, this new epic sci-fi monthly saga tells the tale of two women-a young religious acolyte and a hard-bitten freighter pilot-who separately uncover a vast conspiracy between the leader of the system’s dominant religion and the mega-corporation that controls society. On the run from reprisals on both sides, this unlikely pair of rebels risk plunging the world into anarchy if they reveal the truth. But when your beliefs betray you, what choice is there left?
By Hugo Award-winning writer G. Willow Wilson (Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel) and Eisner Award-winning artist Christian Ward (Black Bolt, ODY-C).

G. Willow Wilson has been writing some of the best Big Two books in the past few years and it’s exciting to see her with a new, creator-owned book. Invisible Kingdom is the latest Berger Books title, an imprint of Dark Horse spearheaded by legendary editor Karen Berger. The story sounds rad and a great premise for some cosmic Christian Ward art.

 

Assassin Nation #1

JAN190122

Mar. 13, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W) Kyle Starks (A/CA) Erica Henderson

SERIES PREMIERE! Hot off her breakout success at Marvel, two-time Eisner award winner ERICA HENDERSON (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Jughead) teams up with KYLE STARKS (writer of sales beast Rick and Morty) for a hilarious twist on the hitman trope that will have readers laughing in the aisles over ASSASSIN NATION.
The World’s Former Greatest Hitman hires the 20 best assassins in the world to be his bodyguards. These mean-as-hell hired guns and murderers must work together to keep the new crime boss safe while attempting to solve the mystery of who’s trying to off him.
With the same laugh-until-you-cry spirit of action-comedies like Hot Fuzz, Tropic Thunder, and Deadpool, ASSASSIN NATION is the bombastic, side-splitting murder-fest you’ve been waiting for.

Wistful Stan, F*** Tarkington, Smuch Walker, Desert Regal, and Dave are just some of the assassin names that will appear in this book.

 

Exo HC

JAN191943

Jan. 23, 2019

Publisher: Humanoids Inc

(W) Jerry Frissen (A/CA) Philippe Scoffoni

A hard sci-fi story about the intersection of spatial exploration and earthy invasion. Near future. NASA is confident it finally discovered an exoplanet likely to accommodate life. Located 4 light-years from earth, Darwin II creates a lot of questions and is scheduled for imminent exploration by a space probe. At the same very moment, an orbital space station is struck by a missile shot from the moon, killing several astronauts. Coincidence or conspiracy?

Humanoids is a company that I’d mostly known for publishing The Incal, the renowed series by Jodorowsky and Moebius. That changed a few months ago when they announced their hiring of John Cassaday as their Chief Creative Officer and Mark Waid as their Director of Creative Development. Since then, I’ve certainly had my eye out for their books and Exo looks like a great (see creepy, sci-fi) place to dip my toes in. 

 

Daredevil #1 & Spider-Man: Life Story #1 (of 6)

DEC180841 & JAN190927

Feb. 6, 2019 & Mar. 20, 2019

Publisher: Marvel Comics

(W/A) Chip Zdarsky (A) Marco Checchetto (CA) Julian Totino Tedesco // (W/CA) Chip Zdarsky (A) Mark Bagley

CLASSIFIED

//

In 1962, in AMAZING FANTASY #15, 15-year-old Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became the Amazing Spider-Man! Fifty-seven years have passed in the real world since that event – so what would have happened if the same amount of time passed for Peter as well?
A special high-end limited series that’s a part of the celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY combines the talents of Chip Zdarsky (SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, MARVEL 2-IN-ONE) and Mark Bagley (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN) to tell the entire history of Spider-Man from beginning to end, set against the key events of the decades through which he lived!
In this first oversized issue, when Flash Thompson is drafted to serve during the Vietnam War, Spidey must weigh the question of where his responsibility truly lies!

Listen, I’m sure y’all know about Daredevil by now since Chip Zdarsky HISSELF made this promotional video for Fanfare. I should clarify that by “know about it,” I mean that you know it’s a book called Daredevil and that the solicitation just says “CLASSIFIED.” Zdarsky’s other newly-announced Marvel endeavor is Spider-Man: Life Story — a miniseries swinging readers through the history of the classic character, decade by decade. After Ed Piskor’s slick X-Men: Grand Design, it’s cool to see Marvel doing another one of these retrospectives. 

 

Little Bird #1 (of 5)

JAN190099

Mar. 13, 2019

Publisher: Image Comics

(W) Darcy Van Poelgeest (A/CA) Ian Bertram

MINISERIES PREMIERE! 
Director/screenwriter DARCY VAN POELGEEST boasts a long list of awards and accolades for his storytelling prowess and brings the same writing finesse to IAN BERTRAM’s breathtakingly detailed artwork in the gorgeous, hyper-detailed miniseries LITTLE BIRD.
With the same limitless scope as a new EAST OF WEST or SAGA and the drama and surrealism of Akira, LITTLE BIRD follows a young resistance fighter who battles against an oppressive American Empire and searches for her own identity in a world on fire.

All in all, we’ve only got about a one line description of the story in Little Bird, but sometimes less is more.The preview for this book looks cool and it’s always fun to take a chance on an Image #1.

Josh’s 2018 List

Welcome to the first annual J-Up Awards! During this year’s ceremony we will be celebrating some of Josh’s favorite comics of 2018. So, let’s crack some envelopes and get to it!

Best New Publisher of 2018: Ahoy Comics

Ahoy Comics entered the world this year and comics is all the richer for it. The publisher’s slogan “Expect More” is exemplified in their comic book magazine format. Their titles (which include High Heaven, Wrong Earth, Captain Ginger, and the sleeper hit Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Terror) feature not only ongoing comic stories, but the books themselves feature material like creative prose short stories, essays, and back-up comics in each and every issue.

Now, all of that wouldn’t mean anything if the stories weren’t good. But here’s the thing, so much of what they have put out is great! Wrong Earth has been telling an excellent story wherein a Batman 66 style superhero finds himself in a grim-dark 90’s universe (and vice versa) with amazing art from Jamal Igle. Grant Morrison’s back-up prose stories have been great throughout the line’s launch. High Heaven, which focuses on a man named David Weathers who is in heaven…but hates it, is equal parts hilarious and sad. Captain Ginger features cats in space! And…well, we sold out of Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Terror so quickly that I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I hear its great.

I hope Ahoy keeps the momentum in 2019 and that more publishers aim to cram as much creativity and energy into their books as Ahoy has managed to do in 2018. They set the bar high.

Best Series Featuring a Green-Themed Hero [Marvel]: The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett

In this newest iteration of the Hulk, Ewing cleverly revisits the original dynamic between Bruce Banner and his angrier side: night time is the Hulk’s time. That’s right, rather than the Hulk coming out whenever Banner gets angry, the Hulk comes out at night. Oh, and the Hulk cannot die (though Banner can). Oh…and if this sounds like a premise for a horror movie, that is because this series has reinvigorated the Hulk concept by introducing aspects of the horror genre to his story. I cannot say enough about this book, Al Ewing is Marvel’s most underrated writer and the work he is doing with Bennett by his side is incredible.

Best Series Featuring a Green-Themed Hero [DC]: The Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp

Okay, so I am a mark for anything Grant Morrison, but this book really caught me off guard with just how much I am loving it. This book was pitched as being, essentially, Hal Jordan: Space Cop, and it delivers on that front. We get to see some inner workings of the Corps with trappings of a police procedural.  

At the same time this is still an extremely weird and fun superhero book. Liam Sharp’s art is incredibly detailed and fully immerses you in the alien locales the book visits. The alien designs are wild…we’re talking creatures whose heads are erupting volcanoes, we’re talking a Green Lantern who is a sentient flu, and so much more that you need to see. His style almost makes this feel like a 2001 AD story but with enough visual connective tissue to ground it in the DCU. I find it to be a unique and rewarding aesthetic.

Morrison’s scripts have been filled with humor, adventure, and a sinister plot that I cannot wait to see more of in 2019. If you want to get weird with the GL Corps, look no further.

Best Dairy Based Crossover: Milk Wars by a murderer’s row of creators.

This Young Animal/DCU crossover felt like it was custom made for me. Doom Patrol team up with members of the JLA to take down a Superman analog known as Milkman Man who was born of nothing and now threatens the multiverse due to his employment by an evil corporation who are looking to homogenize the multiverse? Yeah. SIGN.ME.UP.

But wait, there’s more! All of the Young Animal books get a chance to crossover. We’re talking Cave Carson teaming up with Swamp Thing to battle evil Funko Pops, Shade the Changing Girl vs. a twisted version of Wonder Woman, and Mother Panic vs. Father Bruce Banner in a fight to free the citizens of Gotham City.  

Oh, and Frank Quitely did the covers. So. So. Good.

This event was bizarre, fun, and creative in the way that only comics can be and that is why I love it so much. The event stands on its own, but if you are a Doom Patrol fan, I would suggest reading all of Vol. 1 and 2 before you dig in as there are some slight spoilers for that series in the pages of Milk Wars. That said, more comics events should be this ambitious and fun in my opinion.

Best Horror Barn Mind Trip Of The Year: Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

Jeff Lemire is one of the best writers currently working in contemporary comics. So, when he announced that his project Gideon Falls was a “character-based meditation on obsession, mental-illness, and faith” inspired  by works such as David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, I was already sold on checking out the book.

What he and Andrea Sorrentino have delivered is even better than I could have imagined. The story focuses on two main protagonists: Father Wilfred and Norton. Father Wilfred is a priest who has arrived in the rural town of Gideon Falls to take over their local parish, though his faith may be waning. Norton is a man living in a city who suffers from some undefined mental illness. Their lives are connected, in ways we are still discovering, by The Black Barn, a mysterious building whose appearance leaves in its wake terror, madness, and confusion.

As always, Lemire’s character work here is phenomenal. The emotions of all the characters are realistic and their doubts, motivations, and confusion aren’t merely understandable in a clinical sort of way, but felt by the reader as well.

Sorrentino’s storytelling and art in this series is masterful. Conversations and quieter moments are given weight by his choice of character focus. To illustrate the effects of The Black Barn, Sorrentino employs layouts that twist the reader’s perspective in an effect mirroring the twisted perspective of the story’s characters. This book is a master class on visual storytelling.

Best Diced-Based Debut: Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

I love Kieron Gillen. His knack for examining and deconstructing the pop culture he loves has drawn me in since he and Jamie McKelvie first brought out Phonogram. His most recent book, Die, explores another one of his obsessions, role-playing games. The first issue was excellent and it has me passionately excited to see where this story goes in 2019.

Imagine the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon: a bunch of kids disappear into the world of D&D and become the characters they played. They have adventures and probably return to the real world unscathed. Well…what if they didn’t?

What if, instead, some horrible things changed while they were in that world. What if they leave scarred, emotionally and ,in some cases, physically? What would that do to a person? What would that do to a person decades later when they are forced to look back at that world and their actions? Welcome to Die.

Stephanie Hans is the artist on this book and she delivers a world that is just as lush and simultaneously drab as you hope for from a book that has famously been pitched as “Goth Jumanji.” Right now there is only 1 issue of this book out, but as they rediscover this fantasy world I cannot wait to see Hans’ imagination on the page.

What really draws me to this book is in part the promissory note that Gillen has given us in both the backmatter of issue #1 and in interviews surrounding its release. He has promised the book will deliver a Planteray-esque examination of the elements that gave birth to the modern conception of fantasy and RPG gaming. Given that Planetary (by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday) is one of my all-time favorite books, due in large part to its examination of  genres found in serialized storytelling, this technique as applied to fantasy and RPGS has me very intrigued.

At its emotional core, Gillen has noted the book is in part a metaphor for an adult looking back at their teenage fantasies and aspirations and realizing they have fallen short, in part or whole, on realizing those dreams. While potentially depressing, this type of emotional exploration in the medium of comics seems powerful in the hands of Gillen and Hans, and I, for one, am along for the ride.  

Best Series Featuring an Escape Artist/God: Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads

This book…what is there to say that hasn’t been said?

King and Gerads really created a masterpiece with this miniseries. While it started in 2017, it was 2018 that saw the resolution of this story that utilized the fantastical world of the New Gods to explore such real world issues as depression, parenthood, and the seemingly eternal work/personal life balance that many of us face.

The story finds Mister Miracle thrust into a war between Apokolips and New Genesis in the world of the New Gods. It also finds him trying to figure out how to rearrange his apartment here on Earth. This juxtaposition between the fantastic and mundane is unlike maybe any other story I have seen in comics, and it works to make the emotional beats hit for me as a reader. Gerads use of the nine-panel grid is a nice formalistic nod to the classic Kirby stories that came before, and his art in general is amazing.

In lesser hands, the story could have easily become grim and dark to the point of morbidity, but King and Gerads find just the right amount of humor to ease the tension found within the plot. Whether it is Scott Free’s seemingly endless superhero T-shirt collection, or the perfectly pictured moments of companionship we see between Scott and Barda, the dark never quite overshadows all of the light within the story.

I know this book has appeared on both Liz and Andrew’s lists, so I don’t feel the need to go on and on about it, but as a fan of the New Gods and a fan of comics aptly tackling real world issues, be they political or, in this case, personal, I really loved this series.

Oops. That music means it is time for me to wrap up these awards! Thanks to everyone for coming out this year. You can find your gift bag under your chair.