BATMAN: False Faces is a collection of Batman and Wonder Woman stories by Brian Vaughan and various artists, from before he hit it big with “a story about a boy and his monkey” (otherwise known as Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man). The largest is a multi-parter in which Batman loses himself in his underworld identity of Matches Malone—I didn’t quite buy the premise, but it was enjoyable. The most fun was a story of Batman battling the Mad Hatter; a short piece introducing the mysterious Skeleton is an interesting oddity as Vaughan didn’t stick around enough to build on it (the villain is someone Bruce knows with a vendetta against it, and Vaughan has declined to say who he had in mind).
THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN by Danica Novgorodoff (cover by Novgorodoff, rights with current holder) is an odd but entertaining tale in which a young man is tasked by his parents to bring back a corpse bride for his recently murdered brother (this is apparently a thing in parts of China). His efforts to find a suitable corpse fall flat, but then he meets Lily Chen, a sharp-mouthed ambitious runaway and maybe while she’s asleep one night … Of course things don’t turn out that way. I liked it.
GIRL GENIUS: Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City by Phil and Kaja Folio was a bit disorienting as the first half of the book finishes Agatha’s current plot arc (securing control of Mechanicsburg) and then launches into a new one. That said, both plot arcs are good, so I’ll be happy to see where it goes from here (I’m not going into more detail because spoilers!). Agatha is always fun to read.
ABE SAPIENS: Sacred Places by Mike Mignola and Mike Fiumara has Abe going walkabout across the blasted American landscape, encountering multiple strangenesses, as he tries to figure out why he mutated into the creature he is now. Good stories, except for the first one, which was pretty stock. I should have it added to the Hellboy Chronology in the next day or so.
As a fan of Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy, I was greatly disappointed in THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS by Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan. The rambling story of a young girl who becomes a player in a revolt against a corporate tyranny never really explained what’s going on, probably because it’s a sequel to a couple of My Chemical Romance music videos. About as murky and incoherent as a bad music video.
BPRD HELL ON EARTH: Reign of the Black Flame by Mike Mignola and James Harren has Liz and Fenix back with the BPRD and joining an assault on Zinco Corporation’s New York base, along with most of the regular cast from this cycle. Action-packed, but it kind of fizzled out in the last issue (I suspect that it will make more sense as the arc progresses).