Blackguard #5: Science
Before I get started, a note for anybody reading this from an alternate universe: this volume was supposed to include a story from ____, but because this took Stratu (the editor) so long to put together, he completely forgot to include it. And no, I am not going to list the name of the creator whose story didn’t get published, as I don’t want to be the one to break it to him or her. Anyway, the point is that shit happens, and I’m sure this story will see the light of day one way or another. As is implied by the title, this issue is all about science, filled with stories by artists who (by their own admission) may or may not know much of anything about science. Still, that doesn’t stop a good chunk of the stories from being fascinating in various ways. As always, your favorites will vary, but the highlights to me were the haunting horror of that cover (I don’t often mention the covers, but that is just amazing), successfully introducing a drug that added growth to the penis by Michael Amaral, Chris Mikul’s tale of his early interest in science and his attempts at experiments, Shaun Craike’s piece on various science fiction series that may or may not ever mention actual science (and he should probably prepare for angry mail from Star Wars fans, even though he’s dead right on the issue), Neale Blanden’s story of early experiments on a baby who was unlucky enough to have a mother who worked in the lab, Ryan Vella’s bleakly realistic take on what would actually happen to four explorers who landed on a strange alien world teeming with life, Bize and his explanation for how gas tanks work, Giles Kilham and Brett Weekes and their conversation with a young lady who thinks that she doesn’t like science, and somebody called Julie (hard to get much more anonymous than that) with her story of cutting up sheep eyeballs for a science class as a kid and the absolutely horrific mistake that she made. No, I won’t ruin the surprise. There are also two text pieces and a solid 8 pages of comics reviews. I learned about a few comics that I should probably check out, which is always helpful, but I have to confess that I skipped the text pieces. There, I said it. They always drag me down when I’m in the middle of a comic book, and this time instead of slogging through it I just passed them right by. Seems vaguely wrong to review a comic while ignoring content like that, but I did it and you can’t stop me. Maybe you would love them! Hell, maybe I would love them if I just gave them a shot. Anyway, there’s quite a bit here to enjoy, and quite a bargain for $5. Check it out why don’t you! $5
The crime issue! If you’ve read past issues of this anthology and think that this is a subject that this crew could handle very well, you were absolutely correct. My only complaint is that almost the first half of the book is dedicated to a letters page and comics and zine reviews. Not that I hate such things, but sometimes it gets in the way of the actual comics, and I’m speaking from my own personal and cranky bias about getting zines and comics all jumbled up. As for the comics themselves, it’s hard not to find plenty to love. When things start off with a color strip about Nazi superzombie monkey sleeper agents (by Ryan Vella), you know you’ve reading a book with tons of potential. Well I do anyway, it’s entirely possible that such a thing would turn you off immediately, in which case I’d recommend leaving this review now. It’s OK, there are plenty of other comics to read about on this site and not a single one of them has a Nazi superzombie monkey sleeper agent to bother you. Strips include an actual serial killer and the Hamburglar discussing royalties (by “Glenno,” which may or may not refer to Glenn Smith), Adam Pasion (or his story stand-in) lighting an empty pool on fire as kids, Stratu with a brother killing his sister after a stupid argument, scribbling a penis on a “Walk” sign (by Bize), Chris Mikul with the profoundly strange story of Kenneth Neu, Shaun Craike with his crisis of conscience after his only attempted theft, Neale Blandon with the story of the property theft of Mickey Mouse, Anton Emdin with the angriest man on earth and Dexter Cockburn (with one of the few stories of his without visible sexual organs) with the story of the murder of a young girl and the enigmatic diary entry detailing the deed. There are also two text pieces by Damian McDonald and Henry L. Racicot, both of which are well worth reading. As I already gave away in the intro, this comic is well worth picking up. I only mentioned about half of the stories to leave you with a lot of surprises, and even if you think that comic and zine reviews are wasted space (and, even though I pointed them out, I did notice a few comics I should probably check out, making me a bit of a moron for even mentioning that in a negative light) there are still more than enough comics here to make this worth the $5.
When they say this is 18+, they are not fucking around. Just a warning to all you sensitive souls out there. This is a collection of stories about Dads, featuring that list of names on the cover (seriously, click on it to check it out if you want, I’m not going to type them all here). As you might expect, very few of these stories are positive, and most of them aren’t true, but they are funny stories.Â Highlights include Neal Blanden’s story about not being able to visit his mother for the last two months of her life because his Dad was seeing another woman, Dexter Cockburn (a hilariously fake name) and his story about a Dad helping out with an “adventure club” and his noticing how one of the girl members has blossomed, Glenn Smith and his litany of Dads throughout history, Julie Doye and her Dad’s new teeth, Anton Emdin with his “Deadbeat Dad” strips (which, if there were any justice in the world, would be in newspapers across the globe), Mike Diana playing with the concept of a Dad and his two-way mirror, Ryan Vella with the shortest “Tales From the Crypt” story ever, Chris Mikul with one of the few seemingly true stories in the book, and Lark with a brilliant bit of father/son bonding. There’s also an accurate table of contents (I bitch when it isn’t present, so I should praise when it is, right?), a series of reviews on other minis, and plenty of other fair to great stories in here that I haven’t mentioned to save you some surprises.Â No idea on the price of this thing, as the website doesn’t have a listing, but I’d have to say at least $7 for the fancy front and back cover and the sheer size of the thing. Contact the website, why don’t you, and you should also go there because the guy apparently spends a lot of time reviewing comics and such, which I clearly think is a good use of free time.