The House of Lost Horizons

The House of Lost Horizons

The House of Lost Horizons introduces (or reacquaints) Mike Mignola’s Sarah Jewell and Marie-Thérèse LaFleur. In this new story, the intrepid female detectives investigate murders in a house on an island. There is a storm, there is a vault filled with occult items ready to be bargained off. It’s not an original tale, but it has been masterfully presented.

Introduced in Rise of the Black Flame, this is one of the first times the lady detectives star in their own story, and it hits the mark straight out of the gate. You don’t need to have read their debut (which is for the best, considering the prices paper copies seem to go for these days), as there is just a passing allusion to The Black Flame Cult that will hit home with those who have.

No, all you need to do is pick up and enjoy this story, and live though the storm, just like the characters, to discover what the blazes is going on.

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The Day the Klan Came to Town

The Day the Klan Came to Town

The hooded robes of the Ku Klux Klan are perhaps the most visible symbol of white supremacist terror in the United States. They are rivaled only by the same organization’s tradition of burning wooden crosses.

In the 1920s, the Klan were a scarily powerful organization, with chapters all over the country. They hated many, many groups: African Americans, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Polish Americans, Catholics, Jews, and others. They were vicious, violent and had no qualms about killing, or being provocative. Once such time was when they marched on Carnegie, Pennsylvania, a mostly Catholic suburb of Pittsburgh in 1923.

That clash, which left at least one Klansman dead, is dramatized in The Day the Klan Came to Town, a graphic novel from PM Press written by Bill Campbell and drawn by Bizhan Khodabandeh. Befitting the publisher’s political inclinations, it is a very clearly political work, with a number of deliberate parallels to the present day.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Raider of the Copper Hill

Raider of the Copper Hill

By 1884, the heydays of the cattle trails were coming to an end. As accurately depicted by Ken Don Rosa in the fourth of the original twelve chapters of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, the American West was becoming less wild. Fenced-off farms were taking the place of the great open-range ranches of the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.

In this volume, Scrooge quits the employ of cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie, who would go on to become mayor of Trinidad, Colorado in 1891 and later a member of President Theodore Roosevelt’s National Conservation Commission, to try his luck at silver mining.

There is little silver to be found in Montana, but the ground is rich in copper — just as demand for copper, to make electric wire, skyrockets.

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Adventureman

AdventureMan

Adventureman is the graphic novel pulp-loving readers were waiting for.

It has grand adventures (obviously), dashing heroes, ghosts, magic, science and interesting villains. It’s a perfect combination of a forgotten past and a remembering present, and never have I ever seen a title “The End and Everything After” that was both so self-explanatory and giving away nothing at the same time.

At least, not until you start reading and the story unfolds.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 6: Sangre

Lady Mechanika, Volume 6

Lady Mechanika‘s sixth volume (chronologically the seventh), Sangre, disappoints and delights.

As always, the storyline is fantastic. The supernatural theme from Volume 5 (review here) is continued, but with a whole other manner of creature on the opposing side. You don’t need to have read the previous volume to understand the events of Sangre, although I recommend reading the chronologically first story of the series, La Dama de La Muerte (review here).

This edition switches between prologue events taking place 500 years before the story of Sangre, drawn by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel, and the main storyline, drawn by Brian Ching.

Ching is by no means a bad artist. Its just that he’s not in the same league as Benitez and Montiel. And it shows. You see some of the story’s antagonists in the prologue, and they are much cooler; Lady Mechanika is so much more stunning. Their art is just better.

It’s disappointing, after six volumes of a beloved comic starring a much beloved character, to see the world and its inhabitants portrayed in a different manner that isn’t as pleasing as the original. But that is my only gripe.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 5: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Lady Mechanika, Volume 5: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Lady Mechanika returns for a search into her mysterious past. This time, she finally has a few resounding clues thanks to the help of her close friends and allies, Archibald Lewis and Inspector Singh. As was to be expected, the search is difficult at best and perilous at worst. To top it all off, Mr Lewis finds himself in a spot of mortal trouble.

The chronological sixth volume in the series does not disappoint. The art, which has always been stunning, gets even more beautiful in this one. The new villains are splendid, as are the recurring characters. The story is magnificent and I personally can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The second of the in-between, or “B”, chapters in Keno Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark (1998) takes place immediately after young Scrooge’s first American adventure in The Buckaroo of the Badlands (1992, annotations here).

Having left the employ of the Scottish-born Montana cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie, Scrooge is shipping two Texas longhorns aboard the famous Cutty Sark to the Dutch East Indies, where he will witness the eruption of Krakatoa.

The plot came easy to Rosa. Having decided he wanted Scrooge near Krakatoa in 1883, he discovered that the greatest sport on Java, the main island in what is now Indonesia, at the time was the annual Madura Island bull race, or karapan sapi. The Cutty Sark really did make a voyage to Australia for wool in 1883. There is no record she made a side trip to Batavia (now Jakarta) that year, but, writes Rosa in Volume 8 of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library (2017), “prove that it didn’t happen, I dare ya’!”

Less easy was drawing the Cutty Sark, with its tens of thousands of square feet of sail and its ten miles of lines, in every other panel…

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 4: The Clockwork Assassin

Lady Mechanika, Volume 4

Lady Mechanika, Volume 4: The Clockwork Assassin (chronologically the fifth in the series, as the unnumbered volume La Dame de la Muerte fits best in between 1 and 2) takes us to Mechanika City, home to the Lady Mechanika and her friends.

It is one of her closest friends, perhaps her closest, Mr Lewis, that this volume focuses on. You see, people from his past have started to die, and the murderer has an M.O. suspiciously like that of his mechanically augmented friend.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Buckaroo of the Badlands

The Buckaroo of the Badlands

Much like he entered the steamboat business at the dawn of the railway era in The Master of the Mississippi (annotations here), Scrooge seeks his fortune in the American West when it was scarcely “Wild” anymore in The Buckaroo of the Badlands (1992). At age 15, Scrooge is employed by Murdo MacKenzie, the Scottish-born Montana cattle baron, and meets the later president Theodore Roosevelt (although he doesn’t know it yet).

Keno Don Rosa skillfully integrates the tidbits about Scrooge’s cowboy days Carl Barks had revealed over the years, starting with “Only a Poor Old Man,” published in the very first issue of Uncle Scrooge (1952), in which the then richest duck in the world tells Huey, Dewey and Louie he made his fortune “on the seas, and in the mines, and in the cattle wars of the old frontier.”

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Fatale, Book 1: Death Chases Me

Fatale, Book 1: Death Chases Me

Fatale is widely regarded as one of the top-ten horror comics available. Surely, this little noir gem by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is making good on that promise with their almost surreal detective story.

Book 1: Death Chases Me introduces us to the contemporary leads, but the real star of the story is Josephine. A woman looking like the clichéd femme fatale, but with a dark secret. Immortal and forever beautiful, her strange magic affects men and what seems to be a Lovecraftian cult behind her.

That may sound a little much and bizarre, but the way the story unfolds, with flashbacks to the 1950s mixed in with current events, really works.

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