Amala’s Blade #0 (Dark Horse) – Collected from the pages of Dark Horse Presents, Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas’ Amala’s Blade is slicing its way onto the shelves this week as a zero issue. For readers of the anthology, you will know that this the way in which Dark Horse graduates its DHP alumni to a full fledged series, so be on the lookout for that starting in April. For those of you who missed out on Amala’s anthology installments, the story is of a young swordfighter from the land of Naamaron who’s after the hefty bounty placed on the head of a pirate captain, and that means sneaking onto his colossal ship, the Behemoth. And by sneaking, I mean killing a lot of pirates. The story by itself is nothing grand or complicated, the real draw of the comic is the character and the world itself. The antagonists are pirates-meets-steam/cyberpunk and the protagonist is an overconfident and charmingly arrogant swordster, all rendered in the chaotically cartoonish style of artist Michael Dialynas. It’s a fun read, and while the zero issue does not offer a very big bite to chew on, it does open up an interesting new world and character to be explored in the upcoming series. Go ahead and pick it up for a swashbuckling adventure and get a start on DHP’s newest graduate.
Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 (IDW) – For any kid who grew up in the nineties, The Rocketeer should be a familiar classic comic strip thanks to Disney’s film adaptation. I’m sure if I did enough digging and dusting I could find my old Cliff Secord figure with his detachable rocket pack and helmet, which is why it’s good to see the gravity defying stunt pilot turned hero alive and well in any form, especially since creator Dave Steven’s death in 2008. The new mini-series coming out from IDW sees writer Rodger Langridge and artist J. Bone’s whimsically cartoony take on the Rocketeer as he and his voluptuous gal, Betty are thrown into a mystery of supernatural origins. It’s odd territory for the jet propelled pilot, but the goofy delivery of the comic makes you forget about it pretty quick. The mix of Popeye-esque comic strip humor and the obvious nod to the original’s pulp sensibilities makes for a pretty entertaining read, and while the Rocketeer and Lovecraftian horror might at first seem like an odd couple, it’s a good getaway-comic if you’re looking for something a little less serious. Plus they’ve got some great covers by comics legend Walt Simonson, so go ahead and check out the first issue for some high-flying action.
Five Weapons #1 (Image) – Ever wonder where world renowned assassins send their kids off for school? Well why not a specialized school of weaponry that trains the progeny in the lethal footsteps of their parents? That is exactly where the infamously deadly murderer for hire Mr. Shainline has sent his son Tyler to learn the ways of killing in Jimmie Robinson’s new series, Five Weapons. In the school, enrolled students choose from one of the five disciplines of assassinhood: knives, staves, arrows, guns, and exotic weapons. Tyler though, doesn’t plan on picking an area of expertise, he’s determined to master the masters with his sharpest tool, his brain. The synopsis of the story would easily lead one to assume that this is another super smart and annoying kid genius book, and indeed some of the character’s dialogue and actions do come dangerously close to that over-tried territory, but on the whole Five Weapons holds its own as an entertaining read. Fans of Robinson’s past work with his Bomb Queen series will enjoy his familiar style, with a colorful and interesting cast of characters and a healthy dose of deadpan humor that thankfully keeps the story from being taken too seriously. Without the humor, this would just be another bland kid-assassin book, but as it is, this is a good start to a new mini series that mixes the lightning deductions of Sherlock Holmes and the lethal extravaganza that you would expect from a school devoted to teaching kids how to kill people.
Vampirella: Nublood #1 (Dynamite) – In a small southern town, Vampirella has found a community of vampires and other ghouly things living in somewhat peaceful unity. She also finds the source of the bloodlessness in a new product being tested at the local bars: the synthetic blood substitute Nublood. It’s a good alternative, possibly even too good of one, so the iconic buxom blood-sucker decides to investigate. Like the rest of the Vampirella books that Dynamite has been publishing, this one-shot relies less on the fantastical take on the supernatural, but instead takes things with a grain of the real world. Much like the True Blood series (or Laurel K. Hamilton’s work, or any of the other 254 authors that keep writing the same books over and over again), this is a world that tries to look at the emergence of vampires and werewolves from a realistic sense, as far as their integration and interaction with the normal human population. Which is why this mystery drink is so interesting to the lead heroine, who has strived to keep the peace as best she can. For a one-shot, this is a pretty good read with a lot of meat to it for being a single issue affair, the conclusion isn’t one that you’d be surprised by but the mix of visceral action and vampire social commentary makes it a worthwhile book. As an added bonus, Dynamite has included a reprint of an older Vampirella short from the ‘99 series, courtesy of Ty Templeton and Bruce Timm.