John Constantine has been through a lot. From his introduction in 1985 to his 300 issue run from 1988 to 2013, the con man street sorcerer has had plenty of adventures. In 2013 when DC announced the end of his Vertigo imprint series and the re-launch of the character folded into the New 52 universe, there was a lot of concern and more than a little bit of rage. Having been a fan of the character for a long time I was, at first, reluctant to pick up the new series but now I’m glad I have. Though Lemire’s Constantine doesn’t quite live up to the gritty edge the character had in Hellblazer, he still carries the same punk sensibilities that made him a hit in the 80s and 90s. With beautiful artwork, threads that weave into the larger DC universe, and enough bad attitude and cigarette smoke to make you think you’re reading a Vertigo title the new Constantine definitely lives up to the old.
Okay, it’s not out yet–but it will be! The first volume in Ryan North, Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi’s squirrely title is being released in trade paperback on September 1st, 2015–and let me tell you, as a reader from day one, it is one of the most fun books out there. Doreen is a first year in college, full of first year enthusiasm (who happens to be able to talk to squirrels. And have Iron Man’s phone number). Henderson’s cartoonish style is a perfect marriage to North’s whimsical writing, and Renzi’s colors are (as always) the icing on the cake. Plus where else can you see a literal superhero made of squirrels punch a bad guy in the face? Or see space-suit Squirrel Girl have a conversation with Galactus without getting eaten? Nowhere. Five stars.
Usagi Yojimbo is one of longest-running independent comic books in the business and has never, ever not been one of the best. It is an extensively researched book that tells the story of a ronin samurai in 16th century feudal Japan. Who happens to be a rabbit. I cannot begin to describe how good this book is and Dark Horse has started collecting their run of this monumental story into what is now 4 phone book sized collections (with more still to come) so that you too can enjoy the pleasures of this tale. Over 30 years and 200 issues, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo has never, ever been anything less than phenomenal.
A gritty, greasy Southern crime yarn in the tradition of Seventies exploitation movies. An old veteran returns to his hometown to bury his father and takes on the high school football coach/vice lord. Violence ensues. Rough, tight, and with a subtle commentary on Southern culture.