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August 29, 2013 Edition

The Manhattan Projects

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Nick Pitarra

Turning history on its head, Hickman and Pitarra introduce readers to the geniuses who worked on both the official and the unofficial versions of the Manhattan Projects. There’s Robert Oppenheimer, whose evil twin may or may not have taken over his life, and Albrecht Einstein, who has managed to open a portal to an alternate universe with devastating consequences to himself and perhaps the world. Meet Richard Feynman, starry-eyed and naďve (though he toughens up quickly), Dr. Daghlian (who appears as a skeleton in a hazard suit), and FDR’s holographic floating head.There are plots within plots, secrets within secrets, bloody backstories, and even an appearance by evil aliens, who may be the end of us all. Raucous, demented alternate history in full color.


Written by Shigeru Mizuki

Mizuki’s cartoons from the 50s form the foundation for today’s monster manga stories, and his best-known character, Kitaro, a half-human, half-monster boy, is as well-known and loved in Japan as Mickey Mouse is in the US. Here is the story of how it all began: as a child, Mizuki’s family befriended an old woman who liked to tell Mizuki and his brother stories of the yokai, or spirit monsters. This semi-autobiographical novel shows how Mizuki incorporates the stories Nonnonba tells him into his life, from the idea of the Hundred Thousand Worlds helping him through the death of a young friend, to the yokai who help him escape from a real-life bank robber. Lovely storytelling paired with great artwork makes this a must-read, especially for manga fans.


Written by Richard Sala

Creepy, creepy! Though Sala often works in some humor along with his dark drawings, there’s nothing humorous about the situation in which our unnamed young man finds himself. Having not heard from his beloved Delphine for months, he has set out to find her in the town in which her family lives. From the time he sets foot in town, he is misdirected, toyed with, beaten by witches, and offered aid that only takes him further from his goal. The town’s residents are a ghoulish lot in looks and personality, and there are some standard horror story tropes (“whatever happens, don’t go in the door at the end of the hall!”) that are given new life in this morbid graphic novel, and, of course, everything ends badly for our young man. This is a heady mix of fairy tales taken back to their grim and dark roots.


Written by Ethan Young

Another delightful, semi-autobiographical graphic novel, this stars Ethan, cat-enthusiast, animal shelter worker, and cartoonist. He’s just an ordinary guy trying to reconcile his dreams of becoming a comic book artist with his need to make money and be recognized for who he is. Ethan’s alter-ego takes refuge in his fantasies as a superhero of the city, especially when he’s angry or hurt, as he is in one memorable scene, by his newly-ex girlfriend. Strong black and white illustrations carry the stories of the painfully real world and the escapist fantasies alike.


Written by Zander Cannon

Meet Hector Hammarskjold, who used to be a star football player, and his assistant, Elliot, who used to be more human. Heck’s inherited a house with an entrance to Hell in the basement. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining: Heck’s silver lining is his business as an inheritance consultant – after all, it’s easy to clarify what’s in a will when you can just go downstairs and ask the deceased face to face. But things go strange when a past love pays a visit with a message for her recently deceased husband, and Heck and Elliot find themselves journeying deeper into the circles of Hell than they’ve ever been before, all in the name of righting a wrong. Along the way, Heck gets taught a lesson about the nature of humanity and the true depths of Hell. Cannon’s blocky black-and-white art has a lot of visual energy and style.

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