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Well I hope you’re made of stern stuff, because this week’s new comics are all excellent and also very hard to read. Bummers, the whole bunch of them! But really gorgeous bummers, so sad and so beautiful. If you’re in a dour mood already, you might find them validating, or they might simply be too much. Personally, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and was surprised to feel strangely comforted by these explorations of grief, panic, and desperation.

But! Your emotional mileage may vary, and if you need a pick-me-up instead of a put-me-down today, I would recommend a gander at Ethan Aldridge’s Estranged books. They’re not new, but I’m just getting around to reading them now and they’re an absolute thrill — a tween fantasy story that’s a bit The Prince and the Pauper with magic. Great stuff, and not at all a bummer!

Thanks as always to Phoenix for bringing these gorgeously sad books to my attention. Now, go pet a dog to steel your mettle for the dark nights ahead.

MAZEBOOK ISSUE #1

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Bummer #1 this week is Mazebook, a compelling portrait of the crushing power of grief. A decade after the death of his 11-year-old daughter, a haggard building inspector is just going through the motions of life, dragging himself miserably from job to bed to job to bed, a husk of a human. And then — an unexpected phone call stirs the tangle of memories that had been suffocating him, prompting a seemingly impossible rethink of his grief. Our hero’s misery is conveyed with brutal honesty, both in the ragged dialogue and the terse art; his unresolved grief will be painfully familiar to anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced loss in their life, which is to say everyone. The issue-ending cliffhanger elicits goosebumps and makes the journey through these initial sad pages all worthwhile. But should you read this one, do so with someone nearby whom you can hug when you reach the final page.

Rating: 👚👚👚👚👚 (5/5)
Script and art: Jeff Lemire. Letters: Steve Wands. Covers: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino. Editor: Daniel Chabon. Design: Tom Muller. Digital Art Technicians: Josie Christensen, Cary Grazzini.

LAST FLIGHT OUT ISSUE #1

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Bummer #2 is Last Flight Out, which is also marvelous and also depressing. It is the near future, and the Earth is on the brink of collapse — the cause is not specified, but at this point we don’t really need to use our imaginations, do we? Humanity has crafted arks to airlift humans to colonies in space, and the final departure is just one day away. But the mastermind of the exodus is in a panic: His daughter is missing. With just hours until the last hope of escaping armageddon, he and a small rescue crew set out to the ruins of what was Chicago in the hopes of saving one young woman’s life and also salvaging a father/daughter relationship that he spent his whole life sabotaging. A fantastic premise with a fast-beating emotional heart, this one zooms from emotional gut-punch to action scenes with perfect pacing, which makes the hero’s sorrow so very palpable. Another story to read only if someone is available nearby to hug.

Rating: ⛵⛵⛵⛵⛵ (5/5)

Writer and co-creator: Marc Guggenheim. Artist and co-creator: Eduardo Ferigato. Colorist: Marcelo Costa. Letterer & designer: Diego Sanches. Editor: Kyle Higgins.

SEARCH FOR HU ISSUE #1

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Oh boy, did I need this book after those last two titles. Search for Hu isn’t exactly a laugh riot, but its fast, pulpy action is a solid adrenaline rush with relatively minimal heartache. A soldier returns from Afghanistan to a life of family calm, but that’s upended after a shocking drive-by execution attempt on his parents. Aaron is stunned to learn of his family’s previously-secret connections to cross-cultural crime syndicates, plunging him into the center of a generations-old fight between Jewish and Chinese families. Now he’s got a score to settle, and we’re thrown into globe-spanning gunfights and percussive bloody action. A fast-moving blast with a winsome hero, Search for Hu is a violent delight, and I’m looking forward to hearing reverberations in future issues of the words that open the book: “Don’t die out here for an idea… when you have something real to go home to.”
Rating: 🔫🔫🔫🔫🔫 (5/5)


Writers: Jon Tsuei, Steve Orlando. Artist: Rubine. Colorist: DC Alonso. Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual. Covers: Rubine, Dave Johnson, Andy Clarke, Jose Villarrubioa, David Mack. Logo design: Jared K. Fletcher. Editor: Mike Marts.

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ALSO GOOD: MEMOIRS UPON MEMOIRS, SPACE FAMILY, and AFRICAN HEROES

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If you like fractured realities, this is your lucky week: Night Bus is a dreamy journey through fantastic landscapes and personal loss, a gorgeous and impressively detailed meditation to fuel your deep dreams. Nod Away similarly drifts from reality to imagination in a sci-fi world of telepathy and inscrutable visions. Also consider The Bright Family, a fun kid-friendly sci-fi story of searching for family amidst the stars. And Malika - Warrior Queen Part One is a stunning story of African political maneuvering and combat.