I don’t read many floppies these days. That’s due, in part, to the fact I’m not reading a ton of big three (Marvel, DC, Image) material at the moment. Why not? Because I looked at the growing stack of back issues I didn’t have much desire to page through and realized I was spending an awful lot of money on stories I didn’t find particularly engaging or meaningful or innovative, so—and I know this may seem extreme but bear with me—I stopped spending money on them. Even the smaller presses, with exceptions for certain books, aren’t doing much that floats my boat, and even if they were, I don’t love the way many of them are choosing to do business (looking at you, Lion Forge).
Putting all of that aside, I’ve been looking to stretch a bit in the comics I choose as I’ve been doing with novels, to go places I haven’t been before, to find new kinds of stories created by writers who are new, if not to comics, then to me. Many of these books come as collected volumes because really, what’s the point of doing the difficult work of translation on one issue of a comic at a time and though that sometimes means waiting longer for the next installment, it also means that next installment is an entire meal rather than a single bite.
A bunch of my favorites (and, from the responses I see on social media when I post about them, book/comics Twitter and IG’s as well) have new volumes coming out either this summer or in early fall. Heads up!
Fence: Rivals Vol. 4 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad (BOOM!Box, June 30)
The King’s Row fencing team is back and this time, they’re bringing their baggage! No, not their uniforms and epées, though they have those too. In their first exhibition match of the year, Harvard, Seiji, Nicholas, and the others must figure out how to defeat the ghosts of their pasts and function as a unit rather than as individuals if they’re going to win. Which means they have to stop bickering with one another, probably the tallest order of all. This volume is a little bit heavier on fencing rules and regulations than the first three, but the story is solid and the last few panels are an excellent pay off for the investment.
Saint Young Men, Vol. 3 by Hikaru Nakamura (Kodansha Comics, August 25)
I will never not be shouty about Saint Young Men. #SorryNotSorry. It’s partly the theologian in me, partly my tendency toward both giddy and dark humor, and a little sprinkling of knowing that so many people are missing out on this glorious, wonderful story because they don’t know how to take a Jesus joke. To clarify, Volume 3 here in the states is a hardcover that contains what was originally tankōban 5 and 6 in Japan (Vol. 1 was tankōban 1/2 and Vol. 2 tankōban 3/4) so we’re getting dinner and second dinner. I can’t find much in the way of details about the plots, but I am 100% sure they’ll be joyful, deep, hilarious, and touching.
The Way of the House Husband, Vol. 4 by Kousuke Oono (Viz Media, September 15)
When last we left The Immortal Dragon, the boss who had come to recruit him back into the life had decided the former Yakuza assassin was simply too satisfied in his role as house husband to disturb. Also too good at canine fashion and custom dog food creation. Plus, who would throw Tetsu’s birthday party when his well-meaning, much adored wife and best friend make a complete disaster of it?
In Volume 4, it’s the…cats who are out to get Tetsu. Apparently. Of course, even grocery shopping is dangerous when, despite your sworn retirement, half of the most dangerous crime-lords in Japan are still out to get you.
Good thing he’s an expert at getting blood-stains out of shirts.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (Webtoon, August 2)
I’m not sure how I, mythology obsessed as I am, managed to not read Lore Olympus until last week, but let me tell you that once fellow Rioter Jessica Avery clued me in, I hoovered the entire 115 episodes in approximately six hours. I am always a sucker for a Hades and Persephone retelling, especially those in which Persephone has agency and makes the choice to become queen of the underworld because she loves Hades, not because he steals her or because she’s a bargaining chip in a deal between elder gods.
I very much appreciate the way Smythe deals with difficult topics such as trauma and sexual assault (comics, they’re not just for superheroes) in her work and also that she takes the time to explore various types of recovery and PTSD. There’s a certain comfort in seeing beloved characters approach different methods with varying degrees of success, in their symbolic attempts validating the years of hard work we have to do here, in the real world.
My Hero Academia, Vol. 25 by Kohei Horikoshi (Viz, October 6)
My kids would never forgive me if I didn’t include this one. The manga is a little ahead of the anime (at least the anime as released in the states), so if you want to stay spoiler free for the TV version, best avoid the books. My 8 and 10 don’t really care, so I’ll have to make sure I order this one for release day delivery. To the rest. of you I’ll just say, “Big villain battle. One of these days, my hero kids will get through a week without getting crushed by a building or torn in half by a tentacle monster or…something.”
Let it never be said there’s nothing to read.