New Series Launches | Graphic Novels

New graphic novel series include a fantastic space opera, an intriguing sci-fi adventure, and an occasionally shocking, sometimes nightmarish, completely unpredictable satire of modern masculinity.

Kirkman, Robert (text) & Lorenzo De Felici & Matheus Lopes (illus.). Void Rivals, Vol. 1. Image Comics. Feb. 2024. 136p. ISBN 9781534398184. pap. $16.99. SF
This initial offering in a new shared universe comprised of characters from Transformers and G.I. Joe, as well as original concepts, opens with a pair of pilots from opposing sides in a long-running intergalactic war engaging in a vicious dogfight, which ends with both crashing their starships on a desolate, seemingly uninhabited planet. Darak, the more easygoing of the two, is quick to point out that they stand no chance of surviving unless they work together. His fellow castaway, Solila, would much rather kill him and figure the rest out afterward. Luckily, the two eventually form an uneasy alliance and manage to cobble together a ship capable of getting them home. Unfortunately, that’s when their trouble begins. Branded traitors and sentenced to death for consorting with the enemy, Darak and Solila bounce between encounters with sleazy bounty hunters, ancient religious orders, freedom fighters, and the leaders of their prospective planets, who turn out to be heavily invested in keeping the war between their people raging until both civilizations are destroyed. VERDICT Kirkman (Firepower) and illustrators De Felici (Oblivion Song Compendium) and Lopes craft a fantastic space opera centered on a fascinatingly complex pair of protagonists.

Lee, Tony (text) & Yishan Li (illus.). Army of One, Vol. 1. Oni Pr. (Army of One). Mar. 2024. 128p. ISBN 9781549307980. pap. $17.99. SF
High school senior Carrie Taylor is living a typical suburban existence until her school is attacked by vampiric creatures determined to murder her. She’s rescued by a group of women who look a lot like her, because they are her, from an array of alternate Earths. A millennia ago, an epic battle between entities called Brother Havoc and Sister Fortune ended with Sister Fortune being split into 13 shards, which scattered across the omniverse before manifesting in alternate versions of the same woman. There’s a prophecy that says Carrie is the key to uniting the shards into a force capable of stopping Brother Havoc from conquering every reality. Before Carrie can wrap her head around that, she’s kidnapped by gun-toting knights who claim that she’s not a manifestation of Sister Fortune but a clone developed with the express purpose of stopping Sister Fortune’s shards from bringing about cosmic destruction. Not knowing who else to trust, Carrie recruits her girlfriend, Stacey, to join her on a quest to discover the truth. VERDICT Despite an overabundance of exposition and worldbuilding, this is an intriguing initial offering from Lee (Hope Falls) in an ongoing sci-fi adventure, starring a charismatic queer teenager.

Marra, Benjamin. What We Mean by Yesterday: Vol. 1. Fantagraphics. Aug. 2024. 380p. ISBN 9781683969730. pap. $24.99. F
Outwardly, middle-aged high school teacher Bruce Barnes appears to be an easygoing guy, totally content with his life so long as he gets to end each day sipping an ice-cold beer while listening to his favorite classic rock radio station. In reality, he’s a contemptuous cauldron of impotent rage consumed by fantasies of avenging himself against those who fail to show him the respect he believes he deserves. One day in the teacher’s lounge, a colleague tricks Bruce into ingesting a dose of amphetamines, unleashing the “rage snake” within and kickstarting a series of madcap misadventures that find him careening out of control through a long night—clashing against an off-duty cop, wreaking havoc in a convenience store, engaging in a vicious brawl against musclebound thugs, and being caught in the middle of a wealthy couple’s psychosexual mind games. This volume collects work that originally appeared on author and illustrator Marra’s (Disciples) Instagram account, which routinely draws more than 20,000 readers a day. VERDICT Marra employs a loose, somewhat sketchy cartooning style that’s perfectly matched to his fast-paced, seemingly intuitive plotting. An occasionally shocking, sometimes nightmarish, completely unpredictable satire of modern masculinity.

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