New Comic Book Day: Comic Book Humble Bundle Alert!

IDW Publishing

IDW and Humble Bundle launched a Dungeons & Dragons comic bundle last week, and scanning the list of books already announced, it looks pretty awesome. We’ve raved about Jim Zub’s D&D work before, but if you crack $12, you’re getting a ton of good comics from the likes of R.A. Salvatore, Jan Duursema, Tim Seeley, and Rags Morales. Plus you’re giving money to help provide services for kids through the Hasbro Children’s Fund, so it’s not like you’re going to be that hurt if you end up not liking a couple of these comics. GO BUY THEM NOW!

This week in comics: young terrorists! Old Martians! Girl squirrels! Girl tanks! Immortal girl assassins! And a sobering look at the horrors of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937. But first: adolescent ninja reptiles!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures #1 (IDW Publishing)

Amazing Adventures is the book that ties into the show, drawn in the show’s blocky animation style with more of an all-ages vibe to the dialogue and story than the substantially darker main book. It’s a lot of fun – this issue is a quick little story about a villain gathering up avatars of all the chinese zodiac signs, and Shredder and Splinter teaming up to stop him. Chad Thomas’s art is on model and expressive, and Landry Quinn Walker’s script is light and fun, but does a good job of providing everyone with distinct voices. James Kochalka has a back-up strip in here, and as you’d expect from a story about cooking pizza on a volcanic vent in a sewer, it’s pretty damn funny. I’d be worried that my ‘za would taste like shit, but hey, I’m not an anthropomorphic martial arts-trained reptile.

You can pick up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Black Mask Studios

Young Terrorists #1 (Black Mask Studios)

Matt Pizzolo, the writer of Young Terrorists, describes this series as a revenge story against an entire corrupt system, and the first issue, ridiculously oversized (it’s, like, 80-something pages) does a good job of introducing everything.

Sera, the main character, is described as basically the daughter of the Smoking Man from The X-Files, and when her father gets killed as revenge for the awful shit he’s perpetrated on the world, she gets kidnapped and placed in an internment camp. She turns herself into an ass-whupping beast, leads a breakout, and then establishes a section of Detroit off the grid where she can take down the corrupt world around them.

Amancay Nahuelpan, whose work you may have seen on last week’s Boy-1 from IDW, does a great job of capturing the gore and brutality of the world Pizzolo sets up, and Jean-Paul Csuka’s colors are awesome. They shift from scene to scene effectively, and give each one their own particular vibe, but he’s also working in that bright neon/dark future zone that a lot of colorists (FCO Plascencia on Batman and the colorist on the next book in particular) are doing right now. Young Terrorists occasionally brushes up against validating the Infowars-style conspiracy theory paranoia when it uses an Alex Jones/Glenn Beck stand-in to rail against the Illuminati that Sera’s dad was presumably a part of, but that’s a minor complaint. Pizzolo, Nahuelpan and Csuka have built a really interesting world, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

You can pick up Young Terrorists #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

DC Comics

Martian Manhunter #3 (DC Comics)

Gabe Eltaeb’s colors on this book are terrific. I think it’s digital colors that have allowed this trend of matching bright colors with dark subject matter be so effective at setting that mood – matching plain, straightforward yellow/cyan/magenta/black to moody stories worked fine before, but what’s being done now on stuff like Young Terrorists, Batman and here on Martian Manhunter makes for a jarring reading experience that does a great job pairing with the story.

Post-Convergence, J’onn discovered that he wasn’t the only Martian left alive. He was, in fact, a weapon sent to Earth by the warlike Martians as a plan to take it over. Rob Williams is doing a good job of distinguishing J’onn from other similarly powered characters in the DCU, playing around with his abilities to make this more of a traditional monster book than a straight cape comic. Eddy Barrows’ pencils are good, but there’s what seems like an experiment for a couple of pages where he draws in colored pencils, and that’s awesome. I’m not sure if I’m fully on board with the change in his motivations – JJ was psychologically manipulated into believing the backstory we know for him, where his family died in the cataclysm on Mars, and it’s now been revealed that he never had a family – but part of me likes that they’re trying to differentiate him from the rest of the DCU by making him not a last son of something who misses his family like…probably a full third of the rest of all superheroes ever.

You can pick up Martian Manhunter #3 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Marvel Comics

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power (Marvel Comics)

We looked at the first issue back when it launched. Now the first arc of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is being collected, and knowing the audience here even better than I did when it first launched, I can pretty comfortably say every single one of you needs to buy this.

We’re all fans of the kind of matter-of-fact absurdity of Lumberjanes and witty puns, and North keeps sneaking in the best jokes to the “hover text” at the bottom of each page like he did on Adventure Time. And, as a side note, I never realized until a friend fan-cast a Squirrel Girl show on Twitter the other day that I’ve been reading Doreen’s dialogue in Ellie Kemper’s voice the whole time. Erica Henderson’s facial expressions have always been good enough to use as object lessons for a humor cartooning class, but her ability to pace out action sequences has been revelatory. Even though this collection is only the first four issues (and doesn’t cover last week’s issue with Loki as Cat Thor oh my god it was the funniest comic I’ve read in a year), it still has some of the most entertaining, laugh-out-loud moments I’ve ever read.

You can pick up Unbeatable Squirrel Girl volume 1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Dark Horse Comics

Nanjing: The Burning City (Dark Horse Comics)

Ethan Young’s story looking at the fall of Nanjing in 1937, in the Sino-Japanese War that would eventually end up as part of World War 2, is a stunning comic accomplishment.

I have a confession to make: until a few years ago, most of my knowledge of WW2 was limited to the Yankees-as-heroes, sanitized (cough cough plagiarized cough) Ambrose mythology about how America and the Brits saved the world. It wasn’t really until I read Antony Beevor’s The Second World War (on a recommendation from the backmatter to an early issue of Kieron Gillen’s Uber) that I started to grasp the colossal scope of just how fucked the world was or the scale of heroism around the world in fighting back against the Axis powers. Nanjing: The Burning City is a fictional story, but it takes place just after Nanjing collapsed before the oncoming Japanese army and makes no effort to sugarcoat or sanitize the horrors of what happened in the city.

Young’s story focuses on a captain and the last of his men trying to escape the city as it falls, showing them dealing with starving civilians and debating the right course of action as they try and get first outside the walls of Nanjing, then to the “safe zone” in the center of the city. His art is amazing: it’s slightly cartoony, almost Herge-esque, which only makes the savagery that he plainly shows more difficult to process. This comic was savage, brutal, sad and amazingly crafted, and I have a feeling it’s going to be included in school lessons about World War 2. It deserves to be.

You can pick up Nanjing: The Burning City at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

BOOM! Studios

Welcome Back #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Chris Sebela and Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s Welcome Back follows two assassins who are constantly reincarnated after killing each other in a millenia-spanning war that has long ago lost its point, and it’s a lot of fun.

This issue is a really well made introduction: almost immediately, Sebela lays out the conflict, giving Sawyer a chance to draw a splash page showing a handful of the thousands of times the two killers have whacked each other. That was easily my favorite sequence of the book, but Sawyer does great work through the rest of it. His art is kind of like if Sean Murphy was raised by a pack of wild manga artists. Sebela’s writing is its usual high quality: good dialogue, well paced, with an interesting premise and enough stuff going on in the background of the high concept to make it feel like a good comic rather than just a good idea.

You can pick up Welcome Back #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.

Titan Comics

This week, it’s 21st Century Tank Girl #3, and Jim Mahfood really needs to draw more comics. I love watching/reading/listening to stuff done by people obviously having a blast doing them, and you can really tell that Mahfood enjoyed himself immensely drawing the first story in this issue.

I know that Tank Girl was one of those seminal ’90s comics that set the comix hook in a ton of people, but it was a little bit before my time, and a lot bit before I had any awareness of non-cape books. I half-remember watching the movie, but that’s about it, so I’m coming to this fresh, and ultimately I don’t think it matters.

The Tank Girl relaunch is most similar, in my opinion, to Multiple Warheads, in that the tone and the humor are the point, not the plot. Don’t read this if you’re looking for an intricate, serious take on the role of women in a dystopian future. Do read it if you’re looking for a book that looks as much like amazing graffiti as it does comic art, one that wastes almost no time on plot unless it’s having fun at the expense of typical comic plot twists, and instead spends almost all of its time delighting in borderline juvenile sex and toilet jokes. Mahfood’s art is this issue only, and it’s amazing – so good I went back to my Ultimate Marvel Team-Up trade for the first time in years just to read through his Ultimate FF story again.

You can pick up 21st Century Tank Girl #3 at your friendly local comic shop or online via