Fantagraphics Books gets possibly the most-deserved “pick of the week” recognition since I started writing this column for Tales of Wonder. The publisher earns it for The Complete Peanuts: Comics & Stories Volume 26 [$29.99], the culmination of one of the all-time greatest comic-strip reprint projects.

With the launching of Peanuts in 1950, Charles M. Schulz redefined the American comic strip as only a handful of cartoonists have done in the history of that popular art and entertainment form. He and his work were and remain an inspiration to cartoonists all over the world, just as the characters he created – Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest – are loved all over the world. That his cartoon legacy has been preserved in 25 beautifully-made hardcover collections is a blessing to comicdom.

“Wait a minute, Tony! You just wrote that Peanuts was collected in 25 volumes, but you’re reviewing a 26th volume. We know math isn’t your strong point, but what the heck?”

Relax, my Peanuts-loving posse. I can explain.

Besides Schulz’s 50-year-run creating the daily and Sunday Peanuts strips, he produced a figurative ton of other drawings and related items for comic books, storybooks, single-panel gags, advertising campaigns, book illustrations and more. This 344-page finale to The Complete Peanuts presents a great deal of that rare material along with historical information to put it into context.

There are gag cartoons from The Saturday Evening Post, seventeen in all, created and sold before Peanuts hit the newspapers. There are seven Peanuts comic-book stories Schulz did in the 1950s and 1960s. His collaborator Jim Sasseville handled most of the art for these Dell comic books.

The book has advertising art and strips, and even a drawing and a recipe Schulz did for the cover of a 1983 cookbook by the Women’s Sports Foundation. He was on the organization’s Board of Trustees.   There are special Christmas stories that appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day. There are Peanuts storybooks, such as Snoopy and the Red Baron.

There are drawings Schulz did about golf and tennis, two passions of his. There are dozens of other spot drawings.

Most moving of all is a remembrance of Schulz written by his wife Jean. “Sparky” brings the great and humble man to life in a manner that made me wish I had met him…and which explains why his work will always be part of me.

This final volume and this entire series should be in every school and public library. I’m deliriously happy that these books are part of my personal library as well. Thank you, Fantagraphics, and, of course, thank you, Charles Schulz.

ISBN 978-1069699-975-8



It amazes me to say this. Until I read Shaft: A Complicated Man by David F. Walker and artist Bilquis Evely [Dynamite; $19.99], I had no experience with this iconic hero. I had never read one of Ernest Tidyman’s seven Shaft novels. I never saw the four Shaft movies, or any of the made-for-TV movies featuring the character. This despite Tidyman being a legend in my native Cleveland before he created the character. This despite my creations of Black Lightning and Misty Knight and my work on other African-American comics heroes like the Falcon and Luke Cage. This despite my long-held interest in adding more diverse characters to comics. Go figure.

Walker and Evely’s six-issue “origin of Shaft,” collected in this trade paperback, has sparked my interest in Tidyman’s famous hero. It shows how his life and his times shaped the man John Shaft would become. It brings those times to life in all their beautiful hope and ugly bigotry while reminding today’s readers that hope remains a precious commodity and bigotry is always just one racist politico away. It’s a solid thriller involving murderous crime bosses, the corrupt politicians in bed with them, their willing accomplices and the innocents caught up in their violence. It’s a well-written tale with guys and solid visuals. I liked it a lot.

The story collected in this volume won the 2015 Glyph Comics Award for Story of the Year. The book also features samples of the story scripts, concept art, variant covers and more. It gives the reader a solid bang for his twenty bucks. It made this reader start trying to figure out he can make time to read all those novels, including a new one by Walker, and watch all those movies. Can we please have an extra month or two this year?

ISBN 978-1-60690-757-3



John Shaft lives in a often-violent world. The Punisher, especially in the comics written by Garth Ennis, is the very personification of violence. That’s my takeaway from Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 [Marvel; $34.99] by Ennis with Darick Robertson, Lewis LaRosa, Tom Palmer and Leandro Fernandez.

This massive 424-page trade paperback reprints Born #1-4 (2003) and Punisher #1-12 (2004) and also includes an introduction by Ennis and dozens of pages of behind-the-scenes bonus material. These are not comic books for delicate sensibility.

Born by Ennis and Robertson with inker Palmer could be considered the “secret origin” of the Punisher before Frank Castle officially took on that identity. It follows Castle through his final tour of duty in Vietnam. Yet even there, he has taken on the attributes of judge, jury and executioner. He is becoming a monster and, though there is an indication, he is the willing host of some never-seen demon, he is as much monster as he is human.

When I say Frank Castle is violence, it’s because that is the one constant in his post-Vietnam world. “In the Beginning” by Ennis and LaRosa with Palmer casts him as a monster in a world of monsters. There are few innocents in this world and, more often than not, he cannot save them. This six-issue arc shows him at war with the mob responsible for the deaths of his wife and children, with those who would use him for his own ends and with a former ally who he will judge harshly. He is violence unrelenting.

Castle’s character is only slightly tempered in “Kitchen Irish” by Ennis and Fernandez, and that only because he allies himself with an old friend. The monsters he faces in this six-issue arc are the heirs of a vicious Irish gangster who hated his family as much as they hated him.

Readers who know of my preference for “white hat heroes” – heroes who hold themselves to a higher ideal and who sacrifice their own happiness to protect others – may be surprised by my praise for the Ennis Punisher. But these are not remotely super-hero stories in intent or execution. They are crime stories and maybe even horror stories. They are apart from the Marvel Universe that is simply not a good fit for Frank Castle. They are their own thing, a brilliant exploration of unending war in a world of monsters.

Frank Castle isn’t a hero, but is a most fascinating protagonist. These stories are intense and honestly told with visuals that suit them exceedingly well. They are not for every comics reader, but I recommend them to adults who enjoy taking a walk on the dark side from time to time.

ISBN 978-1-302-90015-1

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


I probably sound like a broken record to veteran readers of “Tony’s Tips” and my other writings about comics, but nothing gets me more excited than the amazing variety of material available to today’s comics readers. Today’s “Tips” is a shining example of this as we look at a super-hero series by an award-winning novelist, a comics adventure based on a Disneyland roller coaster and a different take on a classic Japanese manga.

First up is Angel Catbird Volume 1 by Margaret Atwood with artist Johnnie Christmas and colorist Tamra Bonvillain [Dark Horse Books; $14.99]. Atwood is best known for her 1995 novel The Handmaid’s Tale and other works. She’s also a poet, literary critic, essayist, environmental activist and inventor/developer. Christmas created and illustrated several acclaimed comics. They’re a formidable team and this graphic novel is further enhanced by Bonvillain’s colors. Bonvillain has worked with Greg Hildebrandt and also for many/most of the top comics publishers.

Angel Catbird is a super-hero comic book. Atwood clearly revels in the genre and the proof is in this 72-page debut of her character. Though she plays with familiar comics tropes – a scientist whose gene-splicing experiments turn him into a creature he never could have imagined; an evil man-rat corporate villain; a hidden race of cat people – she tells her story with such delight and skill that none of that impaired my enjoyment of this book. When I got to the end of this first hardcover book, I immediately wanted to read the second volume in the series. Fortunately, that volume is scheduled to appear in just a few weeks.

The book’s good guys are heroic and likeable, especially the odd-but-wonderful Count Catula. The bad guy is clever and dangerous. Feel free to hiss at him. The writing, the art, the storytelling, the coloring, are all wonderful. Yeah, this is a super-hero comic book, one fine super-hero comic book.

Angel Catbird is my pick of the week. The comics material is top-notch. The book is further enhanced by lots of bonus material and solid facts and tips about our animal neighbors on this planet. By my standards, it’s suitable for all ages. It’d make a terrific gift for any animal-loving comics reader.

ISBN 978-1-50670-063-2


Big Thunder

Having seen Disney Parks attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror turned into movies – some more successfully than others – it didn’t surprise me that Disney and Marvel Comics could also turn such park attractions into comic books. I wasn’t sold on this idea initially. I kept passing on the comic books and the collections thereof.

Haunted Mansion by Joshua Williamson and Jorge Coelho [Marvel; $24.95] changed my mind. I read the first issue in a free Halloween ComicFest edition and liked it will enough to request a copy of the collection from my local library system. The tale of young Danny, lonely since the death of his globetrotting grandfather, entering the Mansion, interacting with some of the 999 spooks living there and becoming their hero was great fun. After reading this graphic novel, I requested other titles from the Disney Kingdoms and Marvel line. My personal jury is still out on Figment and Seekers of the Weird, but another book scored big with me.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad by Dennis Hopeless with artists Tigh Walker, Felix Ruiz and others [Marvel; $24.99] is a action-packed supernatural western with a haunted mine, a greedy mine owner, the mine owner’s rebellious daughter, a masked outlaw and a town posed on the brink of derstruction. Abigail Bullion is a feisty and not particularly proper young woman who rides a horse better than any man she knows and who has a keen sense of right and wrong.

The characters are finely tuned components of the story. Even with their allies, they can be prickly. The tale moves both smoothly and swiftly with very good writing and storytelling. The real villain of the piece is heinous, indeed. The threat from beyond our world is formidable. There’s even redemption for one character. We know how much Tony loves a good redemption story.

These aren’t classic comics stories, but they are entertaining and well worth reading. If you have a Disney parks fan in your life, I think they would enjoy them even more than I did.

Haunted Mansion:

ISBN 978-1-3029-0076-2

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:

ISBN 978-0-7851-9701-0



My initial impression of Unfollow: 140 Characters by Rob Williams, Mike Dowling and R.M. Guera [Vertigo: $14.99] was that is was not unlike Battle Royale, the Japanese manga series by Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi, based on the former’s novel. In the book and the manga, junior high school students are kidnapped to an island and forced to fight each other until only one remains alive. It is one of the most unsettling comics I have ever read.

In Unfollow, a dying social media billionaire is going to leave his entire fortune to 140 people (characters). The catch is that, when one of them dies, the shares of the others are increased. If you’re thinking folks are going to start dying, you’re thinking correctly.

Comparing Unfollow to Battle Royale is fair game, but I would not want you think I’m not intrigued by the first six issues that have been collected in this volume. Unfollow is much more high tech and the stakes are bigger. Along with the usual Vertigo weirdness – one of the characters cut off his own legs and wears a wedding dress to the island gathering of the 140 – there are some sympathetic people who, though flawed, are people I can root for. Additionally, the story isn’t confined to the island. Almost the entire cast leaves after the billionaire dies and one of the 140 is murdered by party or parties unknown.

ABC is said to have Unfollow in development for televison. Bringing us closer to the day when comic books completely control all of the TV networks and cable channels. I will cheer when Sister Wives and Duck Dynasty are pushed off the air by DC Bombshells and Howard the Duck. Comic books are much more real to me than so-called reality shows featuring deplorable blights on mankind.

I enjoyed Unfollow: 140 Characters. I look forward to Unfollow: God Is Watching, which should be out right now. A third volume is due in July. If you’re a fan of Vertigo, I think you’ll like this series.

Unfollow: 140 Characters

ISBN 978-1-4012-6274-7

Unfollow: God Is Watching

ISBN 978-1-4012-6723-0

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


Graphic novels and history are a natural match. The comics page can bring important events to life with a clarity and conciseness that often eludes the day-to-day coverage in newspapers and on TV. The history is there, framed by a panel, and without the denial of bias found in most newspapers and from the talking heads of television. If bias there be, the graphic novel creators reveal it and so give readers information necessary to their appraisal of these graphic works. For example:

March, the graphic novel trilogy by U.S. Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell, is informed by Lewis’ years in the Civil Rights Movement. He thinks it’s a good thing and I’m of the mind that anyone who doesn’t think the Movement was and is a good thing has a hole in their souls. But that bias isn’t hidden, unlike the bias some politicians and pundits try to disguise with the most convoluted acrobatics in logic or outright denial of what they are on the record as saying.

March has won several well-deserved awards along the way. The most recent, last year, was when March: Book Three won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. It was the first graphic novel to ever receive a National Book Award.

On to this week’s reviews…

History that’s still unfolding is the subject of Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq by Sarah Glidden [Drawn & Quarterly; $24.95]. In this 304-page hardcover, Glidden uses comics to document her weeks-long trip to the Middle East with journalist friends. In a neat little sidebar, Glidden was able to pay for this trip because of a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The independent journalists, accompanied by Glidden and a childhood friend who served in the Army in the Middle East, seek stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the region and, especially, on the tens of thousands of refugees created by the War. They visit areas that seem peaceful and prosperous. They visit places where people are afraid to talk to the reporters without getting “guidance” from government. They confront their own doubts while trying to decide what journalism is. The former soldier, who does not really regret his service in the area, keeps part of his experience and feelings closed off from the others.

There is no true ending to this graphic novel. The regions visited by the group are still in flux with more refugees arriving each and every day. Some stories are told and others, less “sexy” are not. Cartoonist and journalist alike are left with the question they ask themselves: Do the stories we tell bring new knowledge to those who read them? As one journalist frames it, “Our politicians and their polices are only as smart as we are.”

Rolling Blackouts is riveting. The Iraqi War has been with us for decades and will likely remain with us for decades longer. Glidden brings insight and personal experience to the region and those who live there. It’s one of those works that every serious student of comics should read and which should be available in every public, private and school library.

ISBN 978-1-77046-255-7



Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan [Drawn & Quarterly; $24.95] is the first book in Shigeru Mizuki’s four-book series on his nation through 1989. Mizuki has been reviewed in this column before; I’ve praises his manga featuring Kitaro, a heroic monster boy who does battle with evil yokai. Indeed, it was my love of the Kitaro tales that led me to this book.

The 560-page softcover is imposing, but covers both Japan’s history and Mizuki’s life smoothly. The narrative can be appreciated even without the additional details provided by the notes in the back of the book. The reader gets a feel for Japan and this era in Japan’s history. As the publisher proclaims:

This volume deals with the period leading up to World War II, a time of high unemployment and other economic hardships caused by the Great Depression. Mizuki’s photo-realist style effortlessly brings to life the Japan of the 1920s and 1930s, depicting bustling city streets and abandoned graveyards with equal ease.

Beautiful art. Flowing storytelling. Historical figures juxtaposed with Mizuki and his family members. Heart, hardship, history, even humor. You’ll find them all in this graphic novel, first published in the United States in 2013.

I read this volume through my local library system, but I’m going to buy my own copy of this and the subsequent volumes. They’re that good and that important.

ISBN 978-1-77046-135-2


Amazing True Story

My pick of the week is a graphic autobiography I first reviewed in 1998. The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom by Katherine Arnoldi [Graymalkin Media; $12.99] has been reissued in paperback with the addition of more reproductive rights information.

Arnoldi had a dream: to go to college. Fueling that dream was the author’s courage, strength and stamina and, above all else, a deep and abiding love for her child and her determination to make their life better. Her story is at points horrifying and soul-crushing. But, ultimately, it is wondrously triumphant. It was included in my award-deserving book 1000 Comic Books You Must Read:

“Arnoldi’s courageous real-life story of her life as a poor teenage mom trying to build a future for herself and her daughter. I picked this as the best graphic novel of the year and have recommended it to friends ever since.”

The book was nominated for an Will Eisner Award and was listed as one of the top ten books of the year by Entertainment Weekly. My admiration for Arnoldi has grown. In this new edition of her book, she writes:

“I made this book to copy myself and take to GED (high school equivalency) programs. My purpose was to help single moms feel worthy to pursue their rights to an equal access to education and provide them with the information to do so, since young moms often miss out on high school guidance counseling.”

Also from the book:

“Katherine Arnoldi, PhD, was a Fulbright Fellow (2208-2009) and has been awarded two New York Foundation of the Arts awards (Fiction and Drawing), a Newhouse Award, The Henfield Transatlantic Fiction Award and the Dejur Award. A Pro-Choice advocate for equal rights to education for single moms, she lives in New York City and teaches at City University of New York.”

When she sent me the book, Arnoldi thanked me for my earlier review and for all I do for comics. I want to thank her for giving me yet another confirmation of the power of both the comics art form and the human spirit.

ISBN 978-1-63168-034-2

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


While I remain pretty much clueless as to what’s going on with DC Universe Rebirth and what caused these changes to said universe, I am certain that I’m enjoying the heck out of these kind of sort of reboots and/or revamps of the New 52 status quos. Without apology, I embrace both my ignorance and my bliss.

Action Comics is a good “case in point” of my bliss. I usually read ongoing titles in batches. The twice-monthly publishing frequency of Action Comics means I have a bigger piece of the pie whenever I read the title. As for what’s inside these comic books, there is so much cool stuff that I don’t mind not knowing the cause of it all. Not even if it involves Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic and rightly legendary Watchmen. I’ll circle on back to that discussion in a bit.

Action Comics #963-968 [$2.99 each] has a Superman from some other plane of existence who is married to the Lois Lane from his reality and who, with her, is raising a young super-powered son. After the death of this world’s previous Superman, Lex Luthor put on a super-suit and declared himself Superman. There’s a Superwoman or two in the mix, as well as a Clark Kent who isn’t Superman and who doesn’t seem to be anything other than a Earth-born human being. Throw in a mysterious corporation other than Lexcorp and some beings trying to change the future by killing Hitler, excuse me, killing Luthor before he becomes the Darkseid of our world, and I’m really hooked. What does this all mean? Where is this all going? When can I read the next issue?

Dan Jurgens, who was one of the Superman creators during the epic “Death of Superman/Funeral for a Friend/New Supermen” era for the Man of Steel, is the writer. Jurgens understands the family dynamic of this Superman, Lois, and Jon. Their scenes seem very real to me. He does an equally good job with the mistrust between Superman and Luthor, and the mystery of the human Clark Kent.

Artists for the issues include Patrick Zircher (#963-964), Stephen Segovia with inker Art Thibert (#965-966), and Tyler Kirkham (#976-977). Zircher’s work is my favorite of this artistic gathering, but all of the issues look great with the characters looking the same no matter who’s drawing them. I prefer ongoing characters to be “on model” in ongoing comic books.

Where is DC Universe Rebirth taking us? I’m hopeful it’s taking us to a consistent, fun and interesting universe. If that destination involves Watchmen, I’m fine with that. Like movies made from books, Moore and Gibbons’ original work will always be there for us. It’s not diminished by further use of the characters, especially if that use is respectful. My personal recent experience with DC Comics is that the company is more respectful of older creators than it has been in, literally, decades. I’m choosing to trust DC Comics this time around.



If you want to read the 1990s ten-issue Foolkiller series by Steve Gerber with artist Joe Brozowski (as J.J. Birch), you’ll have to track down the original comic books. Because, in a shocking lapse, Marvel Comics has never collected this series.

Ross G. Everbest, the first Foolkiller – there have been four – was a religious fanatic. Greg Salinger, the next one, based his kills on people who he considered guilty of materialism and mediocrity, or of lacking “a poetic nature.” In the 1990s series, Kurt Gerhardt goes after violent criminals with the encouragement and inspiration of the incarcerated Salinger and the assistance of some underground supporters of Salinger. As shown in the 1990s series, Gerhardt’s definition of what constitutes a violent criminal expands to insane proportions. But it’s a fascinating crime/horror story with a often sympathetic killer. I’d rate it among the best comics of the 1990s.

I mention Foolkiller for two reasons. The first is that it really should be collected. The second is that, somewhat updated, it would make a terrific movie. Not a big-budget Marvel movie of the sort we have become accustomed to, but a smaller “B” movie that would fit nicely into the “slasher movie” genre. Even with all the use both Marvel and DC are getting out of their vast libraries of heroes and villains, some characters are better suited to the smaller films.

Foolkiller has all the elements necessary for a horror movie. You have a killer who seems unstoppable. You have a great many victims and the potential to kill them in interesting ways. As a direct-to-video movie with a modest (but not absurd) budget, I think it would be worth watching and turn a decent profit for Marvel.


Getting back to comic books, there was a fourth Foolkiller who was in two “Marvel MAX” mini-series. I don’t know anything about him, but I’ve ordered complete sets of the two mini-series and may well write about them in the future. In the meantime, Salinger is back in a new series that made its debut in November.

Foolkiller #1-2 [$3.99} finds Salinger working for S.H.I.E.L.D. as a psychotherapist whose patients are murderous vigilantes. His job is to determine if the killers could be of use to the organization. I sigh in sadness as I recall when S.H.I.E.L.D. was made up of good guys. Thankfully, that’s kind of sort of the case in the current TV series. Bless you, Phil Coulson.

Salinger has a job and a girlfriend. But the old urges remain and, at one point, he kills a patient he believes can not be re-purposed for S.H.I.E.L.D. work. His immediate superior thinks about this and decides Greg’s job description should be expanded to include such removals. Yes, I am still sighing.

Thus far, I’m not a fan of this new series. Writer Max Bemis isn’t doing a bad job, but he’s not engaging me anywhere near the way I was engaged by Gerber’s series. The art and storytelling by Dalibor Talajic with inker Jose Marzan Jr. and colorist Miroslav Mrva has its moments, but isn’t knocking my socks off. I’ll still with the series for a few more issues, but it hasn’t yet won me over. Your mileage may vary, so consider my comments neither a recommendation or a warning to avoid the title.

I’ll be back next week with more reviews. In the meantime, for the latest Isabella writings and other hopefully cool stuff, check out “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing” [], follow me on Facebook [], or follow me on Twitter [@thetonyisabella].

© 2017 Tony Isabella


Welcome to 2017, which will certainly be the most challenging year of my lifetime and for many, if not most of us. We who make comics and would stand against bigotry, dishonesty, sexism, xenophobia, zealotry and the lawlessness of the rich and the powerful in their unending pursuit of even greater wealth and power, we can and must do what artists have always done. We can use our art to challenge the rich and powerful, and to give comfort and support to those who are victimized by them. In the words of the sainted Harvey Pekar, “You can do anything with comics.”

Comics creators have the great power to reveal the human condition at its best and at its worst, and, in doing so be a force of change for the better. In this scary new year, more than ever, “with great power, there must also come great responsibility!”

I think I read that in a comic book.

On to this week’s reviews…

3 Devils by Bo Hampton with colorist Jeremy Mohler [IDW; $19.99] is a “supernatural western.” It reprints the first four issues of what I hope is an ongoing series. Its title heroes sound like the start of a joke: “a young Romani woman, a zombie and a werewolf walk into a bar…”

Tara, the Romani woman, is a child when she witnesses her father, brother and mother slaughtered by a vampire and his human henchmen. Marcus is a zombie with free will who is perhaps immortal. Though he says he has no soul, something about Tara speaks to something within him. Oliver is a sideshow freak who happens to be an actual werewolf. He joins the now-grown-into-young-womanhood Tara on her quest to find the vampire and avenge her family.

Sidebar. Set in the Old West as this story is, Tara is called and refers to herself as a “gypsy.” I take no exception with that; it’s historically accurate. However, writing these words today, I will use the word “Romani” throughout this and future reviews.

Hampton is a one-time collaborator of mine and a friend. He drew a Moon Knight story of mine back in 1983 or thereabouts. I’ve been a fan of his work – writing and drawing – ever since. This collection of 3 Devils #1-4 is solid on all fronts. A cracking good story and art that adapts to the needs of the action, the human drama and the supernatural spookiness. Mohler’s color work is every bit as good. If you like a good dose of scary with your western action, this is the trade paperback for you. I loved it and recommend it to all of you. Check it out.

ISBN 978-1631406980



Gail Simone’s Clean Room is unnerving and a half. I read an issue, think I’ve got it figured out, then the next issue hits me with a scary surprise I didn’t see coming. I read the first six issues as they came out and then reread them in Clean Room Vol. 1: Immaculate Conception [$14.99]. I think the series works best when read in big chunks. But I digress.

In this opening volume by Simone and artist Jon Davis-Hunt, we’re introduced to the two strong women. Astrid Mueller is the founder of the Honest World Foundation, which feels more than a little like a cult and will make you shiver. Chloe Pierce is a reporter whose fiancé was a devoted Mueller follower until he blew his brains out. Sudden and shocking death turns out to be something fairly common around the Foundation. What these two women have in common is that they see things most other people can’t see. That awful knowledge is what drives their conflict and uneasy alliance.

Simone has created lots of interesting supporting characters with some of them being so likeable the reader worries about what will happen to them. Davis-Hunt, who also colors Clean Room with Quinton Winter, draws distinctive characters. His storytelling is spot on, as is ability to portray both the most human and the most horrific moments.

Clean Room is one of the best new comics of the decade. The second volume of the collected series, reprinting issues #7-12, should be available at fine comic-book shops and bookstores everywhere. You should embrace this series, shivers and all.

Clean Room Vol. 1: Immaculate Conception

ISBN 978-1-4012-6275-4

Clean Room Vol. 2: Exile

ISBN 978-1-4012-6740-7



Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Cook [Dark Horse; $14.99] is described as a “southern gothic fairy tale” in its back-cover blurb. Collecting the first four issues of the ongoing comic-book series, this first volume introduces us to young Emmy, who is more than she initially appears to be, and takes us to the back-woods Harrow County. The location is a key character in the story, every bit as disturbing as any of the creatures Emmy and the reader will meet. It’s a place where things have just not been right for a long time.

Because so much of the fun of reading this book comes from making discoveries alongside Emmy, I’m going to refrain from telling you anything else about the story. I will say Bunn’s writing is smooth, filled with emotion and suspense. Crook’s art suits both the human drama and…the other stuff.

I was introduced to Harrow County via a free Halloween ComicFest comic book, which, of course, the point of free special event comic books. There are three more Harrow County collections at this time and I plan to read all of them.

Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints

ISBN 978-1-61655-780-5

Harrow County Volume 2: Twice Told

ISBN 978-1-61655-900-7

Harrow County Volume 3: Snake Doctor

ISBN 978-1-50670-071-7

Harrow County Volume 4: Family Tree (due in February)

ISBN 978-1-50670-141-7

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2016 Tony Isabella