Roger’s Comic Ramblings: In Case You Missed It

Roger Ash

Roger Ash

by Roger Ash

I thought I’d take a look back at a couple books that came out this past year that deserve your attention. Just because something isn’t brand-spanking new doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. Here we go!

The Autumnlands Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw

The Autumnlands Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw

The Autumnlands Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw

Writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey have put together quite the opening to an epic fantasy in The Autumnlands. The first thing you notice about any comic is the art and Dewey’s is stunning. I was unfamiliar with his work prior to this, but now I predict a bright future for him.

The story is set on a world populated by anthropomorphic animals. The upper class lives in lovely floating cities while the lower class live on the ground below. Ships sail the skies from one port to another. This is a world of magic, but the magic is running out. A plan is hatched by a sorceress named Gharta (a warthog) to restore magic. In the distant past, The Great Champion somehow unleashed magic into the world. Her plan is to reach magically into the past and bring The Great Champion to the present to save them. It is a risky plan and not everyone is in favor of it. However, she does it anyway and the drain on magic causes the floating city they’re on to crash to the ground, killing many of the citizens. And The Great Champion is nothing like what they expected.

For starters, The Great Champion is a human, which none of the animals is familiar with at all. Second, he is more a warrior than a mystic. Some are not even convinced he’s The Great Champion at all.

The story in this volume deals with how the people whose city crashed will survive. They need to find someplace safe as they are menaced by bats and a bison tribe who would happily see them dead. Mixed into this are some wonderful characters including Learoyd, The Great Champion, and the wizard Gharta. There’s a scheming owl wizard named Sandorst who tries his best to turn the tragedy to his advantage. There’s a coyote scoundrel named Goodfoot who will happily play both sides if there’s a profit to be made. There are also a number of younger animals observing the proceedings, the main of which is a terrier named Dusty whose father was killed when the city fell.

The relationship that develops between Dusty and Learoyd is what really drew me into the story. It’s sort of a father/son or mentor/student relationship, but neither of those is quite right though there are elements of both. They are obviously fond of each other, so maybe friends works as well.

The story is full of action and adventure and moves along quickly. The volume ends with one heck of a cliffhanger and you definitely want to know what happens next. You can continue the story in individual issues, wait for the next collection, or both!

The Autumnlands is for mature readers as it does get quite violent at times, there is swearing, and there is occasional nudity. This is one of Image’s value priced collections, so there are no extras. If you’re a fan of epic fantasy stories, you should definitely be reading this!

Lady Killer

Lady Killer

Lady Killer

Lady Killer is a wonderful thriller/black comedy from Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich. The star of the book is Josie Schuller, a stereotypical late 1950s/early ‘60s housewife with a husband, two kids, and live-in mother-in-law. She can put a full meal on the table while still looking her best. What her family doesn’t know is that she’s also an assassin and a damn good one, too. Things take a nasty turn when her employer decides she’s become a liability and sends someone after her.

While you do meet her employers, it’s not entirely clear who they’re working for. That’s a perfect example of something I really like about the book – you only get what you need to know. There are so many stories these days that are padded out to make a collection. That’s definitely not the case here. While there are quieter moments in the story, the whole thing moves along briskly to a satisfying conclusion. Think of the first three James Bond films with a modern sensibility and you have a general idea of what’s in store for you.

And yes, there is violence, lots of it, but Josie’s an assassin so it makes sense. The violence is balanced deftly with wickedly funny dialog. The story is filled with memorable characters and some of the supporting characters surprised me by the end of the tale.

I haven’t talked about the art yet, but it’s fantastic! I’m a fan of Joelle Jones’ work and I think this is her best yet. She does a great job of mixing the typical looks of the time (home, gentleman’s clubs, Tiki parties, vehicles, clothing, etc.) with the violence of the story. And she really gets to show off in the story’s climax that takes place at the Seattle World’s Fair.

There are a few extras included as well, such as the covers, fake ads that Jones drew while developing the series, and more. The story told in this collection is self contained, but there are definitely ways Jones and Rich could tell more stories starring Josie Schuller. I hope they do because I really enjoyed this book.

That’s it for this time. I hope one (or both!) of these books piques your interest and you give it a try. They’re too good to be missed. What came out last year that you think people should know about? Please share in the comment section so we can check it out!

Now, go read a comic!


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