But if you do want something more current: There is also a new Dune side-story out this week, and a followup to the excellent Stray Dogs series. Also worth a look is a new Swamp Thing, if that’s your thing; and Marvel has a new series called Timeless that suggests a return to Alan Moore’s Miracle Man.
Thanks as always to Phoenix for bringing these to our attention! Now, let’s go catch some crooks.
THE REZ DETECTIVES
An absolutely charming kid-detective story with a hard-boiled Humphrey-Bogart twist. It’s a hot summer day on the Reservation and someone’s stolen the ice cream man’s wares, so it’s up to young gumshoes Tasembo and Nuseka to solve the mystery (along with their dog, who can talk — which is never explained, nor does it need to be). There are clues to pursue, wacky local eccentrics to question, and pipes (of the bubble-blowing variety) to clamp in the mouth while musing about the game being afoot. There are also, wonderfully, silly film-noir detective clichés to subvert, such as the voiceover that muses “I was just startin’ to cool down when she walked in…and made my palms sweat.” That line could have been ripped from The Maltese Falcon if it wasn’t being uttered by a grade school kid with a reputation for embarrassing mishaps involving art class paste. The Reservation setting and culture are an added bonus on top of a wonderful funny romp of an adventure.
Rating: 🍦🍦🍦🍦🍦 (5/5)
Writers: Steven Paul Judd, Tvli Jacob. Art: M. K. Perker.
I’ll be honest, with a title like that there was no way I was going to give this book a bad review unless it was about, like, NFTs or whatever; but I’m relieved that it is actually good. A secret hides in a cozy little town: A pack of werewolves, descended from generations of Romanian cryptids, blends in with the unsuspecting townspeople. But there’s unrest in the ranks, with the pack’s older alpha insisting that they all try to assimilate versus a brash youngster, furious over the killing of his father by the local police. When the alpha goes missing and the youngster takes over the pack, it’s up to a teen girl werewolf to figure out what happened. Complicating things is her anxiety about her standing in another pack, one of normal human high schoolers… and an inexplicable shift in the way the werewolf curse affects those who carry it. Great intrigue and mystery abound, with relatable teen social drama and an interesting metaphor for otherness — not unlike if Buffy was told from the vampires’ perspective rather than the slayer’s. A breezy page-turner with excellent sequel potential. I expect to see lots of fan art.
Rating: 🐺🐺🐺🐺🐺 (5/5)
Writer: Joelle Sellner. Art: Val Wise. Letterer: Ed Dukeshire. Editor: Steenz.
THE MORNING TRIBE
Essentially Fern Gully with less magic, The Morning Tribe is the tale of an encounter between Amazonian rainforest inhabitants and white exploiters. It is also, unfortunately, three times longer than necessary. We meet two teenage (?) villagers named Dawn and Dusk, whose magic powers are somewhat vague; both are troublemakers who deploy native animals to bedevil the on-the-nose-evil corporation that’s come to exploit the land. One of the evil corporate figures has a son of about their age (it’s never explained why he brought his kid to this clearly very hazardous project site), and when the white kid gets lost in the forest, the magic rainforest kids rescue him and they all form an unlikely friendship. Though targeted at 8 to 12 year olds, the dialogue is sometimes tediously lecturesome, and one senses the author’s hand far more than the speech of a teenager, much much less a teenager who has lived in an Amazonian village their entire life: “Rain forests take centuries to form and keep billions of tons of carbon out of the air every year … All you’re doing is accelerating climate change!” Of course I don’t take issue with the sentiment; but I’m having difficulty imagining a reader in the target age range whose mind doesn’t wander when confronted with these walls of text; and the white-savior trope is troubling. The illustrations are quite lovely, though at over a hundred pages, the simple green leafy backgrounds do become repetitive. Worthy intent, unexciting execution.
Rating: 🌱🌱🌱 (3/5)
Authors: Julian Lennon, Bart Davis. Illustrators: Alejandra “Ale” Green, Fanny Rodriguez.