NewRetroWave Comic Podcast Ep. 2 — Usagi Yojimbo #7, Ruby Falls #3, X-Men #3, The Misplaced #1, Touching Evil #1
Here are the show notes for NRW's comic book podcast Episode 2. Listen to the show here: https://soundcloud.com/nrwcomics/ep-2-usagi-yojimbo-7-ruby-falls-3-x-men-3-the-misplaced-1-touching-evil-1 Usagi Yojimbo #7 Written, Drawn, and Lettered by Stan Sakai Colored by Tom Luth Full Disclosure. I knew pretty much nothing about Stan Sukai’s long running series of the bunny ronin aside from
Here are the show notes for NRW’s comic book podcast Episode 2.
Listen to the show here: https://soundcloud.com/nrwcomics/ep-2-usagi-yojimbo-7-ruby-falls-3-x-men-3-the-misplaced-1-touching-evil-1
Usagi Yojimbo #7
Written, Drawn, and Lettered by Stan Sakai
Colored by Tom Luth
Full Disclosure. I knew pretty much nothing about Stan Sukai’s long running series of the bunny ronin aside from the sometimes cute, sometimes adorably intense covers I would see of a rabbit swordsman fighting all manner of furry anthropomorphic opponents. While its stories might not always be the most intricate, and its art might not always be the most elegant, the weeks where I get a new book in my hands are some of my most enjoyable as a comics reader. This one works on two levels. The first is a gag of Usagi, the rhino Gen, and a dogman friend fighting off bandits to retrieve some stolen swords. A bandit that they let live each time ends up coming back with more men, only for them to be defeated and the lone bandit to be spared to run off and repeat the process. Sakai isn’t really interested in exploring notions of mercy here — because yikes if he was — but the bit works well enough as a gag even if it gets a little repetitive by the end. It turns out the swordsmen were conned by a character with an apparent history with Usagi named Kitsune. Despite this story feeling like a one shot, it’s nice to see it setting up the next issue.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Ruby Falls #3
Written by Ann Nocenti
Drawn by Flavia Biondi
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
While mini-series are undoubtedly my favorite kind of story that comics can tell — their clearly defined end points covering up a lot of the shortcomings that ongoing series fall into — there is always a midpoint that has a little bit of a slump. While Ruby Falls is still one of the best series on shelves today, the third issue represents something of a stalling point before what is likely to be a dramatic conclusion. Lana is still investigating the murder of a woman decades ago while her grandmother is also missing. This issue confronts the morality or usefulness of punishing the very old and near death for heinous actions of their youth. The man who murdered the woman being put away for life while he’s in his nineties means something very different than if he were punished in his thirties. The comic clearly eres on the side that he should receive punishment for his actions, but the fact that he hasn’t for so long, and that the complacency of the town and the deep rooted misogyny of everyone involved in the murder makes this tragic. Betty deserves justice for what happened to her, but the time since the crime makes both the investigation and potential punishment much more difficult than it would be before hand. That is all the obviously interesting stuff going on here, but it just is a little slow in the pacing.
Rating: 3 / 5
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Drawn by Leinil Francis Yu
Inks by Getty Alanguilan and Leinil Francis Yu
Colors by Sunny Gho and Rain Beredo
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. It is reasonable to assume that the flagship title, the most must-read issue of the X-Men relaunch is the most straightforwardly titled. Unfortunately, X-Men #3 was a slog to get through. And while the elderly eco-terrorists with a botanical focus — Hordeculture — are an interesting idea on paper, Hickman’s obsession with banter and general weakness in that department just makes it a chore to get through. His ideas and concepts are solid, and I was really excited for some sort of continuity from the previous issue, but nope. At least Leinil Francis Yu is still one of the best artists around.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
The Misplaced #1
Everything by Chris Callahan
The afterlife is something so abstracted that depictions of it in media always seem like nothing more than a wild guess — a depiction. The surreal bend on Callahan’s art, the ambiguity and gravitas in his story, and the intense light and shadowing work make this seem like a proper look at what life after death could possibly be. Our main character doesn’t know why his wife, whom died with him in a shipwreck, isn’t in the afterlife with him. Before dying, he saw an image of a house and her telling him to find her. The final pages reveal that she was captured in some sort of Victorian device. Turn of the century spiritualism is a really fun aesthetic, and combining it with one of the most original books I’ve read in a while has me unbelievably excited for this series.
And holy smokes, that cover is beautiful.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Touching Evil #1
Written, Drawn, and Lettered by Dan Dougherty
Inked by Wesley Wong and Dan Dougherty
Colored by Wesley Wong
Color Assists by Sheila Johnson
Touching Evil made me do a complete 180 by the end of the issue. It opens like a run-of-the-mill indie comic that feels like it’s trying to be prestige television in panel form, and then feels briefly like it might be a rip-off of The Green Mile. A successful lawyer goes to visit the first client that her father, a lawyer as well, unsuccessfully defended. Perspective switches to the prison we find out that there is an inmate that cannot die and can kill them simply by touching them. It starts to get interesting when we find out what happens to the inmates he touches. They exist in a broken plane inside his pupils. This inmate is the one that the protagonist goes to see. The inmate chooses her to pass along this curse to, and the comic ends with her surviving an attempted shooting. So yeah, that ending makes the story that seemed at first glance to be ordinary into something unique. I find myself excited for what comes next and happy to have taken a chance on this.
Rating: 3 / 5
Writer of the Episode: Chris Callahan (The Misplaced #1)
Artist of the Episode: Chris Callahan (The Misplaced #1)
Colorist of the Episode: Sunny Gho and Rain Beredo (X-Men #3)
Reminder that scores are obviously subjective. General guideline of what each score means below.
1 = Poor
2 = Okay
3 = Good
4 = Great
5 = Amazing