Love and death make strange bedfellows, but their union is central to some of the best comics released this week. (Thanks as always to Phoenix for pointing them out, and remember to support your local comics shop!) Maybe that's because both leave us awkwardly vulnerable; we are exposed as foolish, helpless fleshy vessels buffeted by the whims of hormones and steady inevitable decay. As the saying goes, from cradle to tomb it isn't very long a stay; but knowing that a curtain call is the one great certainty for all life, we might as well take the reigns of life's most uncertain element, which is to say, falling in love.
Whew, that certainly was a lot of words to say that you should check out these books about relationships, death, and the ineffable mysteries of life.
THAT FULL MOON FEELING
Absolutely wonderful. I adore this story of a witch and a werewolf on an awkward date. It’s a very sweet modern love story with social media and monsters in equal measure, with adorable dialogue and art by Ashely Robin Franklin. (Also, why is this the first time I’ve ever seen a story with a lesbian werewolf? How is that not more of a thing???) Suzy and Jade are delightful characters, and it’s an absolute joy to see them discover — along with the reader — how much fun it is when they spend time at each other, whether going to a snooty restaurant or enjoying burritos by a monster-inhabited lake. The story is chipper and upbeat, and does a great job of capturing the feeling of a successful first date: Starting with the uncomfortable getting-to-know-you moments when your quirks sheepishly emerge; moving on to the elated discovery that your quirks are complimentary; and ending with the feeling of cozy companionship when it becomes clear somehow, against all odds in this fractured world, you have found a member of your clan.
And this one’s a real charmer, too. A team of teen ghost-hunters had descended on a haunted Town Hall to gather evidence of spooks, and while the experience is at first disillusioning they soon encounter peril beyond what they imagined — and also dramatic teen feelings, because of course they do. There are moments when this Issue #1 feels a bit like X-Files meets Buffy, with a Scooby-style gang of misfits creeping through environments that seem mundane unless you know where to look; and a conflict between true believers and ghost-skeptics causes a schism between the cast of characters to deepen. I found the art in this one particularly charming — Bowen McCurdy has done a great job of capturing an all-ages haunted house that’s a pleasure to let your eyes wander through. I’m looking forward to seeing where the spirits take this one, and also gifting it to the tween and teen readers in my life.
A rideshare driver picks up a fare that takes her on a mythical adventure in Chip Zdarsky’s latest. Janice recently gave up her stressful job in finance for a differently-stressful job behind the wheel of her car, which is how she winds up escorting dead souls to the afterlife while being chased by demons. I love the conceit here of a sensible-sedan car chase with demonic horse riders — there’s a Max Max quality to the adventure as Janice revs her engine and peels out across mythical wasteland, passengers’ souls politely buckled in the backseat like they’re just on their way to a meeting across town. Mixed in with the goofy fun are some surprising questions about the nature of life and death, amplified by the incompatibility of characters’ belief systems. (Janice is a Buddhist, and doesn’t believe in the afterlife.)
SO MUCH MORE
Oh my lord there’s a lot more good stuff to read this week. Definitely check out the translation of Even Though We’re Adults, a lesbian relationship investigation drama. Then there’s In Love & Pajamas, an extremely cute series of lightweight four-panels about what it’s like to be in love — this is a very pleasant little gift to commemorate a three or six month relationship anniversary, and did I mention it comes with stickers?
If you’ve been enjoying WandaVision so far (here’s my discussion with Brett White of The Decider about all the things that make it our favorite show right now) you might want to check out Scarlet Witch: The Complete Collection, which brings together a series of stories about Wanda fixing broken witchcraft from various mythologies. There’s more superhero fun to be had in Flash Facts, a delightful science book for young people with a nice introduction by Dr. Mayim Bialik. My last recommendation is for two slim issue-ones that present intriguing mysteries: Luna introduces us to a young woman caught up in the thrill of what seems to be a cult, and Maniac of New York is a decidedly serious slasher by Daily Show and MST3K writer Elliott Kalan.