The supernatural never really goes out of style. I mean, Charmed is still in syndication despite the reboot. Supernatural is on season “I don’t even know anymore,” The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell is wildly popular, and many of us are eagerly awaiting the American premiere of Siempre Bruja. I could go on but we’d all be here all day, so instead, I’m going to recommend a few new, magic and mystery infused paranormal comics to all of you demon hunters, witches, and busters of lingering spirits out there, all from Image (Dear, Image: I like this trend, please continue, thnx, Shiri).
Blackbird #1 by Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, Paul Reinwand, Nayoung WIlson, Jodi Wynn, and Dylan Todd (10/3)
Described by Humphries as Riverdale meet Harry Potter, Blackbird is full of ethereal monsters and goddesses with a rich, impossibly gorgeous color palette, Spanish, and bizarrely perfect nods to the hair metal aesthetic of the ’80s.
Nina is all of us witches and wizards condemned to life with the muggles. Worse yet, she’s seen the other world, touched and been touched by magic, and has since been banished to tending bar and shoveling garbage into dumpsters. And when finally, finally, it seems magic has come for her…it takes someone else.
Gods at the dive bar. A beloved cat (because there are conventions which must be observed in the sub-genre) thought long dead reappearing with a third eye. Glowing symbols on walls and skin. Beautiful monsters and an ugly world, fate and chance and faith. Blackbird has the ingredients for something remarkable and absolutely, positively, 100% lives up to its potential.
Exorsisters #1 by Ian Boothby and Giséle Lagacé (10/17)
If you’re someone who enjoys some cute with your creepy (think Archie meets Emily the Strange), Exorsisters is the book for you. Cate and Kate Harrow are on call to retrieve your fiancé from the clutches of Satan himself if need be and they’ll go through Hell to do it. Literally. They’ll open a tiny door, crawl through, and follow some sort of weird eye-ball critter on a grand tour, bearing witness to things no one should ever see (a lord of the underworld possessed by a six-year old girl for example) just for you.
The best thing about Exorsisters, aside from the visual aesthetic, is the humor: so often, books featuring interaction with the supernatural are serious and dramatic and angry. I enjoy those books. But sometimes—and with increasing frequency if I’m honest because the whole damn world is serious and dramatic and angry—I want a giggle with my denizens of the Pit, and I chortled my way through issue 1 even though I was at the library and people were staring at me. Boothby’s writing struck all the right notes and, along with an entirely enjoyable storyline, delivered a fantastic twist in the final panels. Lagacé’s art fits the sensibility perfectly, nodding to the classics while at the same time infusing Cate, Kate, their compatriots, and their nemeses with a thoroughly modern and innovative sensibility.
Bitter Root #1 by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (11/14)
I heard tell of Bitter Root what feels like ages ago (I want to say it was at ECCC 2017 or soon thereafter) and have been eagerly awaiting the first issue.
I hate waiting.
This book, however, is 150% worth it.
Think Ghostbusters meets Supernatural but the ghost/demon hunters wield voodoo instead of proton packs, set during the Harlem Renaissance in both New York and Mississippi. Throw in a Van Helsing who may or may not hunt supernatural baddies but most definitely hunts members of the Klan. With me? Good.
I don’t know how Walker and Brown combined such disparate elements to form a coherent narrative, but they have. Accompanied by Greene’s kinetic, remarkable style, Bitter Root is deep, exciting, compelling, and affecting.
It is also a family story. A cultural story. A historical one. It confronts racism and sexism. Hate that is abhorrent and violence that is justified.
I don’t want to rob you of the chance to experience Bitter Root #1 for yourself, so I’ll stop there, but do yourself a favor and add it to your pull list now.