BPRD The Devil You Know: Ragnarok by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Christopher Mitten and Laurence Campbell brings down the curtain on the Hellboyverse (though obviously there’s lots of retcons still to come). Rasputin returns to unleash the power of the Oghdru Hem. The world dies beneath an onslaught of monsters. The Osiris Club make their move. The BPRD wonder if they can beat the apocalypse one more time, and Hellboy, Abe and Liz all meet their destinies.
Action-packed but even though it fulfills something that’s been in the works for years, it doesn’t entirely satisfy. Part of my reservations are that while Hellboy’s actions here do save the world to come, the wrap-up is so rushed it doesn’t pay off like it should. I’ve already added it to the Hellboy Chronology.
JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA: Panic in the Microverse by Steve Orlando, Ivan Reis and Felipe Watanabe feels like the creators watched Ant-Man and the Wasp and decided to give DC it’s own quantum universe. However the JLA’s adventures to rescue Ray Palmer (who last time I saw him in the New 52 wasn’t the Atom) from a subatomic universe aren’t that different from countless previous exploits, just with more technobabble and psychedelic art. Reasonably enjoyable and it’s nice to see Ryan Choi become the Atom again, but nothing special.
MANEATERS by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk is, I think, meant to be a riff on rape culture and sexism (that may not have been the creators’ intentions): a virus causes girls to become werecats once they get their period, so going out with a girl can be a death sentence. The solution, rather than put the responsibility on boys to stay safe, is to go all out to protect them: birth-control hormones are in our drinking water so women and girls don’t menstruate, and boys get “safe spaces” where they can have fun without being threatened by cat women.
Trouble is, I don’t quite buy the premise — there’s no real evidence given boys are more at risk than anyone else (lots of girls who go were murder their entire families). And the execution is light and fluffy and humorous — not that I want it grimdark, but it felt too insubstantial (particularly when the fourth issue in this collection is just a collection of magazine tips on How To Survive Cats).
BATWOMAN: The Many Arms of Death by Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV and multiple artists is another readable-but-not-great one. After West Point dismissed Kate Kane for being lesbian (isn’t it awesome that’s going to have to be retconned in a few years?), she became an aimless drunk until she wound up on a Greek island and fell in love with its mistress, Sofiyah. It didn’t end well. Now someone’s making plans against the island, Kate’s on a hitlist and Batwoman (backed up by Alfred’s daughter) has a lot to do to keep things (and islands) from blowing up. I think part of my problem with this one is that it reminds me too much of Oliver Queen’s island years transforming him (even though events are totally different).
ESSENTIAL MAN-THING (by multiple writers and artists but most notably Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog) collects the first 30 or so stories of Marvel’s Swamp Thing counterpart, a scientist whose experimental super-soldier serum turns him into a mindless, empathic muck monster. As such (as my friend Ross once put it), Man-Thing is the world’s greatest guest-star, even in his own series: he doesn’t want anything or seek anything so it all depends on the people who stumble into his path. A dead clown who has to defend his life’s worth. A sorceress in training. A poor white living in the swamp, trying to save himself and his dog from malevolent sendings. The deranged Fool-Killer. Hard-luck loser Richard Rory. Not that it always works (with the wrong guest stars, the story just sucks) but overall, the collection is excellent, even though he’ll never replace Swamp Thing in my esteem.
#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Laurence Campbell, Mike Sekowsky and Mike Ploog, all rights remain with current holders.