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You know what trope I’ll never tire of? Giant Hulking Brute Whose Best Friend is a Tiny Little Creature. I think my favorite example is how Sweetums, the big burly rag-dressed Muppet, is often seen palling around with Kermit’s little nephew Robin. But honestly it’s hard to go wrong with this kind of pairing, which is why I was so delighted to find that two new comic releases this week explore this idea in very different ways — one with a little girl teaming up with a giant suit of armor, and another with a young woman whose childhood stuffed friend is something far more powerful than she ever imagined.

As always, pop by your local comic shop to check out the new releases — Amazon’s new digital comic reader is an absolute catastrophe — and thanks to Phoenix for helping to sort through them all with us.

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STEP BY BLOODY STEP

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A girl wakes up with no memories, no language, no home, and no possessions. What she does have is a giant living suit of armor that wordlessly carries her through a snowy wasteland and protects her. There’s no dialogue — just a massive mech carrying a tiny child in the palm of its hand, walking with mysterious deliberateness across alien forests and fending off monsters. Who is the kid? Why is there a robot? Is this taking place in the future, the past, or neither? There are no answers, and those questions don’t matter — the lore isn’t important. At its heart, this is a story about a bond between two figures who are vulnerable, and also capable of protecting each other, in very different ways. A lovely gift to Ghibli fans, especially if you’ve always had a soft spot for the toxic jungles of Nausicaa and the mysterious robots of Castle in the Sky.

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 (5/5)

Writer: Si Spurrier. Artist: Matías Bergara. Colors: Matheus Lopes. Graphic Design: Emma Price.

THE KILLER: AFFAIRS OF THE STATE ISSUE #1

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There’s a few scraps of a story snoozing in this issue-one about an undercover spy who works an office job by day and performs surveillance at night. His life is half-tedious, half-intriguing, but unfortunately the focus of the book leans heavily on the tedium. There’s smalltalk about office work, quiet inner monologues about finances, vague pontification about city hall politics… who cares? The only moment of excitement is a brief chase sequence in the first pages that seems totally disconnected from the rest of the plot. The rest of the time is spent on the duller parts of a stakeout: Sitting, watching, doing nothing. Our hero keeps telling himself that his spy job is what gives him meaning, and that he’s not suited for the life of boring spreadsheet-work that comprises his day job. I dunno, though — so far, his boring personality seems to make him a perfect match.

Rating: 📝📝📝 (3/5)

Writer: Matz. Illustrator: Luc Jacamon. Translator: Edward Gauvin. Letterer: Andworld Design. Alt covers: Jonboy Meyers, Reiko Murakami, Francesco Francavilla, Junggeun Yoon, Felipe Kroll. Designer: Grace Park. Editors: Allyson Gronowitz, Kathleen Wisneski, Sierra Hahn.

EVE

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Humans have rendered the Earth barely-habitable in this (increasingly plausible) sci-fi story, but not before creating one last chance to save themselves — a young girl named Eve and a helpful robotic teddy bear, programmed to escort her to a seed vault that has the potential to restore the planet’s life. But not everything is as it seems in this post-apocalypse, and danger lurks everywhere. Some of those threats are physical, but there’s also a creeping dread and nihilism that threatens to undermine our heroes from within. “Look at the world … This is what we’ve inherited. It’s like being invited to a dinner party and all we get is the dirty dishes,” says one. Another observes that humans have had so many chances to undo their damage, it might be time to give up on the species altogether. At least you can shoot a slavering monster, but how do you attack the corrosion of the soul caused by crushing cynicism? Eve moves at a breakneck pace — sometimes startlingly fast, skipping over what seem like they could be stronger character-building scenes if given more room to breathe — but when you have to save yourself in order to save the planet, there’s no time to lose.

Rating: 🧸🧸🧸🧸🧸 (5/5)

Writer: Victor LaValle. Illustrator: Jo Mi-Gyeong. Colors: Brittany Peer. Letters: Andworld Design. Cover: Ario Anindito, Pierluigi Casolino.

ALSO: FIREFLY RETURNS!

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There’s a new Firefly story out this week, as well as issue-ones for Carnage and Ghost Rider. Also worth a look at two fun new books which, full disclosure, are by or about friends of mine and so I will not be reviewing them: Big Wig is a young-reader picture book about a colorful wig for kids, illustrated by local artist Levi Hastings; and Rockstar and Softboy is a tale of two odd-couple friends in LA.

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