Short Cuts 20: Low Vol. 3 – Shore Of The Dying Light; Tokyo Ghost Volume Two – Come Join Us; Hit – 1957; Velvet Vol. 3 – The Man Who Stole the World; Black Science Vol. 4 – Godworld 

Low Vol. 3: Shore Of The Dying Light
Rick Remender, writer; Greg Tocchini, artist; Dave McCaig, colorist
Image Comics, 2016

Stel Caine finally achieves her dream: she rises to the surface of the Earth, the first human to do so in thousands of years. There she finds that life has continued to evolve, as if humanity had never existed. The surface is a harsh place, but it is not a wasteland. Her daughters are not far behind her, although they have picked up a new ally who may not be what she seems. I have seen comments saying that not enough happens in this collection, but it seems pretty action-packed to me. It ends with cliffhangers about the fate of Stel, her daughters, and the mission to find a new home for humanity. Very anxious to see how it all turns out in the next volume.

Tokyo Ghost Volume Two: Come Join Us
Rick Remender, writer; Sean Murphy, artist; Matt Hollingsworth, colors
Image Comics, 2016

I believe Tokyo Ghost was originally intended to be an ongoing series, but it was cut short by Sean Murphy’s exclusive contract with DC Comics. This trade collects issues #6-10 of what became a limited series. The first collection concluded with the destruction of the Garden Nation of Japan, a natural oasis in a polluted, technology-obsessed world. Constable Led Dent had been manipulated into causing the disaster, and now he has returned to the Isles of Los Angeles, haunted by memories. But a person calling themselves the Tokyo Ghost has arrived to rally resistance against the selfish, entitled super-rich. There are more lurid fight scenes, but the last one is really a doozy. It’s literally a battle to save the entire human race from mass suicide at the hands of Davey, the “body pirate” who can control everyone via their embedded nanotechnology. There’s an idyllic aftermath, but there may still be a remaining cybernetic snake in the garden… The creators have said they might return to this world, and they did leave a small doorway back in. But I have to say that this really looks like a grand conclusion.

Hit:1957
Bryce Carlson (Author); Vanesa R Del Rey (Illustrator)
BOOM! Studios, 2016

Hit: 1955 was a great crime noir miniseries about a hit squad operating within the Los Angeles Police Force. As the title says, this sequel takes place two years later. Detective Harvey Slater and his hit squad are still working on underworld infiltration of L.A.–one of the first scenes is a massacre at a nightclub. Femme fatale Bonnie Brae had escaped to the idyllic coastal city of San Clemente (I wonder if the writer was thinking about President Nixon’s “Western White House” which was later located there). But the gangster Domino kidnaps her and takes her to Las Vegas, so in time the squad travels there and hatches an elaborate rescue plan. Things do not go according to plan (wouldn’t be a proper noir if they did). This story did not appeal to me as much as the first miniseries, but it’s still good noir. The collection includes a short prose story that details what happened to the squad member who got shot during the rescue, which fills in a part of the story only implied in the comic. Mention should also be made of Del Rey’s creative layouts. Most of the pages use a strict panel layout (although it varies from page to page). But occasionally she breaks things up with pages that flow more freely, without panel lines.

Velvet Vol. 3: The Man Who Stole the World
Ed Brubaker, writer; Steve Epting, artist; Elizabeth Breitweiser, colors
Image Comics, 2016

The spy series comes to an explosive conclusion, but first there is plenty of deceit and double-crossing: business as usual, in other words. The trail has led Velvet Templeton back to the United States, to Washington D.C. She makes moves to shake up the mystery conspiracy enough to make them reveal themselves. There are still plenty of surprises, and a high body count. Smart as Velvet is, she still has to scramble when her plans go awry–and loses an ally in the process. In the end she does solve the mystery, and has her revenge. The ultimate solution probably came as more of a surprise than it should have; I realized that I hadn’t been paying close attention to the the time period and the setting. Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that the story ties in to significant historical political events, proposing a kind of alternate history.

Black Science Vol. 4: Godworld
Rick Remender, writer;  Matteo Scalera, artist; Moreno Dinisio, colors
Image Comics, 2016

This installment focuses almost entirely on Grant McKay, who has gone from being the leader of the inter-dimensional expedition to an isolated man with a tenuous grip on reality. Some part of him is still trying to understand, so he works through his tortured family history. It’s all a bit pat, but he sees his father’s infidelity mirrored in his own, as well as his basic inability to trust. It’s a fascinating side trip: five issues that barely advance the main action at all. Except Grant finally catches up with Rebecca, and pays her back for what she’s done. He’s a man of action at the end, which has interesting implications for the next volume.

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