Short Cuts 40: Paper Girls Vol. 5; Black Hammer Volume 2 – The Event; The Hellblazer Vol. 4 – The Good Old Days; Mind MGMT Recruitment Book & Record

Paper Girls Vol. 5
Brian K. Vaughan, writer; Cliff Chiang, artist; Matthew Wilson, colors; Jared K. Fletcher, letters
Image Comics, 2018

As we saw at the end of the previous volume, the girls have arrived in a distant future. Turns out that they’re still in Cleveland, Ohio: but only a core part of the old downtown is still recognizable (and most of the residents speak a barely recognizable version of English). The group splits up to attempt two goals: to seek a cure for Mac’s leukemia, and find a way back to the year 2000.

Both groups make startling discoveries, which finally supply answers to longstanding questions. The main one is the connection between the girls’ time travelling and the situation in the future. It’s all connected, and the girls have been a pawn in a power struggle. Erin’s clone shows up in the end–saying that “you girls are no good together,” she sets off an electronic device that sends each of the paper girls into a different time. As usual the collection ends in a cliff-hanger.

Black Hammer Volume 2: The Event
Jeff Lemire, script; Dean Ormston, art; Dave Stewart, colors; David Rubín, art, colors & letters (Issue 9)
Dark Horse Comics, 2018

A lot of time has passed since I read Volume 1 of this series, and I was pleased to find that I had no trouble picking up the narrative thread.  The climactic event at the end of the first volume was the arrival of Lucy, the Black Hammer’s daughter. She can’t remember how she got there, but much of the action revolves around her investigation into the strange town of Rockwood the heroes live in. Since she is a fresh arrival she asks the questions a reader might ask. In the course of the arc we discover the Hammer’s origin story, as well as what happened to him after the heroes arrived in this new world (and a good deal of Golden Gale’s back story, too). Puzzling questions are raised by actions from Colonel Weird and Dragonfly: both seem to be complicit in the situation holding the group captive. And Lucy has another startling revelation to conclude the collection. The series continues to tell an involving story, regardless of how much the reader knows about the classic comics it references.

The Hellblazer Vol. 4: The Good Old Days
Tim Seeley, writer; Davide Fabbri, Christian Dalla Vecchia, artists; Carrie Strachan, colorist
DC Comics, 2018

The Hellblazer run on DC’s Rebirth line ends here. It’s nice to see a consistent creative team, so there are no distracting variations in the look and feel of the series. A wave of demonic possession is about to hit London, and its first victim is someone near and dear to John Constantine: Detective Chief Inspector Margaret Ames, whose recent involvement with him has left her vulnerable.

The situation is complicated by the participation of a priest who was part of a criminal family. His allegiances are mixed, and his family connections seem to override his clerical obligations. The Vatican has sent its own agent, Helena Bertinelli (a.k.a. the Huntress–and didn’t she die in the Batman “No Man’s Land” arc?), to nip this potential apocalypse in the bud—and she’s not overly concerned with avoiding casualties. So Hellblazer crosses over into the DCU, as is has at various times in the past. As usual I have mixed feelings about it: I’m not sure the Huntress really makes sense in this context, but then again I’m not the target audience for a crossover.

But the climax packs a punch. Can Constantine save Margaret Ames, the Huntress, and the whole world from a demonic incursion? As always, he finds a creative solution to the problem.

Mind MGMT Recruitment Book & Record
Self Published, 2018
Matt Kindt, writer & artist

Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT Recruitment Book & Record  was launched as a Kickstarter this year. The full package is a printed mini-comic accompanied by a read-along LP record (there were also lots of other physical objects available, like tiny sketches). I opted for the electronic version: a PDF and sound files (which still come in two parts, so you get the “flip the record” experience). Very cool idea, well realized. The audio expands on the comic as it goes, sometimes just reading the text, but often providing further context. By the end you realize why it is called a recruitment tool: a very Mind MGMT concept, which the reader actually experiences (theoretically). Highly recommended if you enjoyed the Mind MGMT series. I’m pretty sure it’s still available as of this writing.

 

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