This collects a four-issue miniseries starring Colonel Weird, arguably the strangest and most interesting character in the Black Hammer universe. The Colonel begins the story unsure of where–or when–he is, and spends the entire time bouncing around in time. In the process we see him as a young boy (1946), as the adult Colonel embarking on the fateful space exploration mission (1955), as a ghostly visitor to his wife (1964), as a hippie cult leader in the Seventies (1976), and as the superhero we know from the Black Hammer stories. Early in the story all five versions of him meet and agree that his mission is to retrieve an important memory that they have all forgotten. He finally remembers the missing piece: the sentient robot Talky-Walky, who had been his partner in all of his space adventures. Reunited on their old space ship, Weird asks Talky to plot their course, for a change. As always, a fascinating look at Black Hammer history, as well as great story telling. Tyler Crook (Harrow County) makes a great addition to the Black Hammer artist roster.
Swiss writer/artist Jared Muralt began this apocalyptic story years before the Covid pandemic hit, but the deadly pandemic that drives the story creates an eerie echo of current events. Fortunately for us, Muralt’s imaginary pandemic is far deadlier, resulting in the creation of quarantine zones maintained by a corrupt militia. Inside these zones daily life quickly descends into chaos, with empty supermarket shelves and street fights between desperate, panicked civilians and the military. Liam is still grieving for his recently deceased wife, but finally decides to join his parents in the Alps, where things must surely be better. Instead they encounter villages that are intensely distrustful of outsiders and struggling to obtain resources, as well as defend them from others. When Liam becomes gravely injured it is up to his daughter Sophia to look out for the family, a huge responsibility which she quickly grows into. This volume collects the first six issues of the series, and ends with a violent cliffhanger. Visually it is very much a European-style comic, illustrated in a loose, realistic style with dark, subdued coloring. In the after matter Muralt confesses to the intense learning experience of making the comic, which is only his second. There is some choppiness in the story telling that can probably be attributed to this, and there are plenty of predictable apocalyptic tropes in the plot as well. Still pretty effective, and I will likely return for the second installment to see what develops.
This is a simple gag extended over an entire comic: somebody named Charles (it’s clear that it is not always the same person, despite having the name in common) meets an untimely end. Most of the stories happen in a single six-panel page. Usually it is violent, and the only dialog occurs in the final panel: “They Called Him Charles.” It’s a surreal tour de force, and only near the end does the narrative narrow its focus to a single (page length) panel . While it is a bit reminiscent of Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Vertigo series Daytripper, it has its own crazy logic, and Ciałowicz’s art has a distinctly European look, full of simple shapes and primary colors.
The second installment finds Abigail Adams and her vampire band pursuing a different strategy than the one directed by ex-President John Adams. Abigail has no interest in pure democracy and freedom for all; she means to harness the powerful forces (lobbyists, corporations and billionaires) that control what the common man thinks and consumes. To accomplish that the group embarks on a reign of terror, committing horrific acts of murder on public figures (including tearing a rap star apart on stage in front of an audience). Lots of interesting things happening in the background as well: more of the vampire’s history, and visits to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (quite a Hellblazer vibe in those parts of the story). In the end a major character returns from the dead and young detective Jimmy Sangster receives a vampire bit: big complications for the next arc. The collection also includes a black and white tie-in werewolf series called Elysium Gardens with connections to Philadelphia (and an inking assist from Bill Sienkiewicz, who gets a credit on the cover).