27 First Set (Twenty-Seven)/ Charles Soule & others

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A “how to sell your soul to the devil and get away with it” story, told in a refreshing contemporary way.

Rock guitarist wants to regain his ability to play. Somehow gets hooked up with an entity called The Nine.

Not exactly the devil but a devil’s bargain in that sense.

Strange buttons embedded in his chest, each giving him strange creative abilities.

He gets 27 chances, hence the title.

And what happens in the end?

A perfectly logical twist.

Like I wrote earlier, in a way this is the ageless “how to sell your soul to the devil and get away with it” story.

Like the Billy Goats Gruff triumphing against the troll.

Underdog wins. That’s all I can say.

(Aside: from another angle, it’s like the devil and trolls being short changed, but that’s for another tale, I think).

Chew/ John Layman & Rob Guillory

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Had to borrow these since the title sported my family name!

It did not disappoint.

Tony Chu is a “cibopath” investigator for the US Food and Drug Administration, one who can get psychic impressions (past sequence of events) by taking a bite into things. Some things include corpses.

What a oddly different class of super powers.

Plus a really weird storyline that’s so quirky and somehow believable, in a comic book way.

The FDA is a powerful agency namely because if the Avian Flu outbreak, resulting in a global enforcement of a chicken and poultry ban.

Add some high-powered (money and/ or similar new superpowers) characters — baddies and sidekicks — in a unfolding conspiracy, plus Alien writing in the sky.

So very X-files.

Chew. [Volume 3]: Just desserts
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Chew. [Volume 4]: Flambé
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Runaways: homeschooling/ Immonen & Pichelli

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Issues 11-14.

Military craft crashes to their home. Some mysterious and probably dangerous package that’s hinted. The Runaways have a casualty. Then an uncle shows up.

TBC.

Includes a short story: what if the Runaways became be Young Avengers.

American Born Chinese/ Gene Luen Yang

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A 2006 publication.

Coming of age story about a teenage boy coming to terms with his racial identity.

The concurrent backstory is of the legend of the Monkey King Sun Wukung, and a Sit-com character about a extreme Chinese stereotype.

In brief, the protagonist finds his race (Chinese) a mark that prevents him from being assimilated with his American school mates. The parable though, is that the real obstacle is one’s acceptance of oneself.

“Returning to your true form is not an exercise of Kung-fu, but a release of it.” (The Tang Sangzang character to Sun Wukung; with the latter being able to free itself effortlessly by just reverting to his smaller monkey form rather than trying to be a man).

The book tackles the issue of racial identity by highlighting the particular perspective of the protagonist.

The theme probably resonated more then, compared to now (or are things the same?), where the dynamics of what it means to be “Chinese” is a lot more of an identity divide than now.

Astro City: the dark age 1 – brothers & other strangers/ Busik, Anderson, Ross, Sinclair

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Set in the 70s US, with the Watergate political scandal and involvement in the Vietnam conflict as backdrop.

Storyline revolves around two brothers, who ended up pursuing different paths on life after the tragic deaths of their parents. One is a cop and the other involved in crime.

The interesting thing about Busik’s style is that the whole superhero thing develops in parallel, often anchored to the two brother’s individual narratives. Like the controversy over the superhero vigilantes, the superpowered battles. The Silver Agent has a central role in all that is happening but we are left with hints and curiosity.

Gotta look for book 2!

Soulfire: Dying of the light/ J.T. Krul, Michael Turner, Micah Gunnell, Beth Sotelo

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A series created by Michael Turner. Collects issues #0 to 5. According to the Wikipedia article (and from what I gather from the introduction and preceding blurbs in this volume), the Soulfire: dying of the light is a spin off, much like a prequel; an Origins tale.

The story is set in the dying days in a medieval-structured society, of dragons and magic — where its inhabitants have wings and can fly. They find themselves plagued by a mysterious illness that cause people to lose their wings and/ or die (though not all who lose their wings die, it seems).

A few of them go on a quest to discover the cause and cure of this illness. Of which there isn’t any cure and no way out (this is a prequel to the series).

That isn’t all — there is a plot and uprising led by someone called Rainier. He is able to subjugate dragons (both good and bad ones).

Interesting stuff:

There are two species of dragons: four-legged and two-legged. The former are predominantly good and more intelligent while the latter are brutish (actually the two-legged have four proper legs, just that their wings are attached to the front like bats).

Apparent influences of ideas from East-Asian cultures and mythos. Like how the illness isn’t an isolated phenomenon but a natural cycle (influences of Buddhist-like philosophy of the cyclical birth and rebirth?) Or characters fighting with kungfu-like poses; of shaven-headed monks in isolated mountain temples (a bit like the US-made Kung Fu series that starred David Carradine).

Winterworld/ Chuck Dixon & Jorge Zaffino

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A re-print of a series that ran in the 1980s. Includes a never published sequel, WinterSea.

WinterWorld is one vision of what post-mordern North American society, experiencing an ice-age, might be like. The protagonist, Scully, is a lone hunter-trader who survives by barter trading and on his wits. A badger is his pet/ side kick. He meets Wynn, a girl-child, who claims she is from a tribe who have flying machines.

Plot-spolier: Scully and Wynn gets captured by marauding bands, forced to work as slave labour, make their way out, find Wynn’s tribe, Scully gets kicked out, learns that Wynn and tribe are in danger, goes back to save them.

WinterWorld is a place where there is some functioning technology, where bands of humans live in a hunting-gathering and trading culture. No warm agriculture or industry. It’s like what remained of human society has moved to Antarctica. The generations of humans, living in bands or slugging it out and have forgotten a life before the ice-age.

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