iZOMBIE #1-28 izombie1

Chris Robinson (W), Mike Allred (A)
Vertigo (Re-release)

Now is a perfect time to revisit the series since the CW just released a new series based (loosely) on the comic.  ComiXology has it for .99 cents as of this writing!  The comic is a little different. Gwen’s a grave digger, not a ME assistant, but the premise is close enough for horseshoes:  she has to eat braaaiiinnnns once every so often or degrade mentally and physically into the type of zombie we know and loathe.  She also gets the final thoughts (and sometimes final requests) of those whose brains she chows down on, which drives her to a sort of detective work.  Fair warning, though: the series is only loosely based on the comic, so don’t expect what you saw on TV.  And don’t let that stop you.  The story is good and populated by diverse characters plus a villain who isn’t just a moustache twirler!  Art by the incredible, inimitable Michael Allred.

— Jamie Kingston

My Little Pony Friends Forever #14My Little Pony

Jeremy Whitley (W), Agnes Garbowska (A)
March 11, 2015

This issue is a team-up between Spike and Princess Luna, and is a sequel-in-spirit to the “Dragon Quest” episode that gave me such fits when it aired because of its unintentional “your own kind are jerks, monsters and savages — you should be happy we found you and raised you” message.  Whitley sends Spike and Luna to Fillydelphia, where there’s a whole community of dragons living, and facing racism from the ponies, and suspicion due to mysterious fires.  Spike gets to learn more about his own kind and the message of all dragons being jerks is dissolved.

— Jamie Kingston

Akame ga Kill!Akame ga Kill! vol. 1 cover art; Tetsuya Tashiro (A), Takahiro (W); Yen Press; January, 2015

Takahiro (W), Tetsuya Tashiro (A)
Yen Press
January, 2015

Tatsumi is a hopeful hero from a small, incredibly poor village in the countryside. He’s certain that the only hope for his village is to use his incredible sword skills to make a name for himself in the capital–and thereby make a lot of money. Unfortunately, a wiley buxom babe plays to his ego in order to trick him, and walks off with his savings right off the bat. Not a great start for our honest, intrepid do-gooder. As Tatsumi is soon to discover, no one in the capital is as they seem; the city is rotten to the core. After a truly traumatic experience, Tatsumi falls in with Night Raid, a group of assassins (guess which buxom babe is a member?) who are determined to clean the filth from the capital, one hit at a time.

This is a harem manga, straight up. Tatsumi is the only straight male member of Night Raid; who will be his romantic interest? The busty cat-lady, the sexy boss with the eyepatch, the gay knight, the young sophisticate, or the cold-hearted schoolgirl? What follows is what you might expect from a harem assassination comic: beautiful people, cleavage and panty shots, artistic blood splatter, gratuitous nakedness, and impossibly awesome action sequences. The art is fine, but I don’t find it particularly compelling, as the action sequences tend to blur together more than in most shōnen manga. The dialogue is best enjoyed read aloud in a dramatic announcer-type voice.

— Amanda Vail

Red Sonja #15Red Sonja 15-Cov-A-Frison, Simone, Dynamite 2015

Gail Simone (W), Walter Geovani (A)
March 25, 2015

Holy hell this story arc is awesome, and as we get closer to the end of it, it just feels more and more old school swords and sorcery. This issue starts with a half-dead, mutilated Sonja at the front gate of the town that originally hired her to kill the sorcerer that was plaguing them. Her misguided but loyal follower Havan is still at Sonja’s side, and he’s the one who holds up Sonja’s bloody hands, the bones showing through, to the crowd and gains their entry. This page, with it’s cool tones contrasted with the reddish purple of Sonja’s wounds, reminds me of Tales From the Crypt and other old horror comics.

So far this arc has centered around the concept of forgiveness, and since Red Sonja is known for her lack of mercy, it’s been interesting to see how losing the ability to forgive affected her. She even admits that she had thought of it before as something weak, but being unable to forgive even the smallest slights has changed her, to the point where the legendary swordswoman tore the flesh from her hands rather than continue hurting innocents. Sonja even sacrifices herself for the town, heading outside when the sorcerer’s brother demands she come out or he’ll sic his creepy giant worms on them. This sacrifice breaks Sonja’s curse, and she’s able to forgive the townspeople before heading outside and kicking some wormy ass.

And then Red Sonja, she-devil of the Hyrkanians, lies.

Hyrkanians don’t lie, and the last few pages reveal that Sonja has changed enough to go against this basic fact, and that she’s accepted it. The relentless pursuer of vengeance has found a sort of peace, and she inspires Havan to find his own inner strength. She’s so much resigned to change, in fact, that the issue ends with Sonja greeting death. The next issue should have his answer.

— Sarah Richardson