I was working at a visual effects house many years ago when I observed offhand to a coworker that “almost every movie we work on ends with some kind of giant phallic object.”

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“Do they?” she replied, just as the lights went down in the screening room where we were sitting. We were there to watch the latest shots that had been completed for Iron Man, and the very first one that popped up on the screen was a giant glowing erection of energy that shoots climatically up into the sky.

"Huh," my coworker said.

It’s an inescapable trope, particularly in action films — somewhere along the hero’s journey, we’ll be treated to the sight of a young man discovering and then mastering a penis. I’m not necessarily opposed to these revelations, of course; I’m happy for (and frankly envious of) each of those heroes. But I wouldn't mind a little variety.

I’m happy to report that after peeking through various new comic books this week, I only found one instance of phallic discovery (in a new He-Man series), and it’s handled with such ludicrous glee that it is entirely welcome. Thanks as always to Phoenix Comics for helping to pick out the week’s top titles, guiding us all in our own individual quests to discover and master that which gives us joy.



God bless the absolute silliness of He-Man’s entire existence. Imagine! A toy commercial that had the audacity to spawn a franchise that is actually, at times, good. A companion to the upcoming Netflix series, this series connects various points on the Masters of the Universe timeline as deftly as it can, given how much cartoony nonsense there’s been over the last thirty-something years. King Randor has been poisoned and He-Man must travel back in time to recover some lost knowledge about Orlax of Primeria from the Cosmic Corridor of Grayskull, and along the way encounter lots of proper names with challenging arrangements of consonants. This is my favorite flavor of fantasy: That which is so far up its own fantasy-ass it hits the fantasy-prostate. Every moment of the book is a campy adventure, eliciting tingles of pleasure with every tentacled monster, brain-busting time paradox, and furry loincloth. Readers may find themselves a bit confused on a quantum level as we jump through history and encounter characters from across He-Man lore; newcomers to the franchise may be befuddled by just how many names are cited. But this is essential reading for anyone planning to enjoy the forthcoming animated series.
Rating: ⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️ (4/5)
Writers: Kevin Smith, Rob David, Tim Sheridan. Artist: Mindy Lee. Letterer: Deron Bennett. Colorist: Rico Renzi. Cover Artists: Stjepan Sejic, Mike Mignola.



I can’t remember the last comic I picked up in which eye contact played such a significant role. This intriguing new series introduces us to Haresden, a remote town where magic flits just out of sight. A young woman seeks a witch to cure her ailing mother, but discovers that the witch is gone and a granddaughter has taken her place. The characters are beautifully rendered, and the gorgeous forested environments and creaky old houses would steal the show if not for the amazing detail paid to the way that our heroines look at the world. There’s a Mona Lisa quality to their gazes — not that they’re making the same face, but on every page their expressions seem always to capture mysterious meaning. This first issue is relatively light on plot (and surprisingly light on magic, considering it’s a book about witches) but I didn’t mind. It’s a pleasure to get lost in these characters’ eyes.
Rating: 🐈🐈🐈🐈 (4/5)
Writer & artist: Sas Milledge.



All right, I’ll admit it — this book got me. I was ready to toss it on the “eh, read it if you’ve got nothing else to do” pile, right up until it pulled the rug out from under me in the final pages. It tricked me into thinking we were doing a by-the-numbers magical boy story; and while it certainly has elements of the “you’re the chosen one, lad” trope that we’re all tired of by now, it approaches that well-worn path from an interesting new direction and shows signs of preparing in wild directions. This issue zig-zags between ancient lore and modern times; via lore, we learn that in the distant past, gods representing various emotional states battled their subjects in brutal wars until a prison was constructed to contain the combatants. In modern times, we meet a restless young man buffeted by inexplicable sadness. Perhaps you are even now predicting that some great destiny awaits him? Yes, yes, that’s what I expected as well, but there’s more to everyone — and every place on Earth — than meets the eye in his world. I thought I saw the twist coming, but I didn’t. I’m looking forward to more.
Rating: 😇😇😇😇 (4/5)
Author: Kyle Higgens. Artist: Felipe Watanabe. Colorist: Frank William. Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles.