The Best Comics in March Part 1: Garth Ennis Does Homeward Bound

Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review. Look for Part 2 tomorrow.

Veil #1: Whenever I see a Greg Rucka title I always feel like I'm in line for a roller coaster I am probably not tall enough to ride on safely. The man is a master of strange exhilarations, and Veil is already on its way to being one of his best.

The story follows a young woman who wakes up naked in the subway able to talk, but stuck speaking in compulsive rhymes and unable to identify herself. Walking out nude into the streets of New York gets her exactly the sort of attention you'd expect, but once a man named Dante realizes that the woman who calls herself Veil is actually confused and unable to care for herself he takes her home to help her. Unfortunately, his friends take offense at what they consider him denying them their rape, and it's in a bloody confrontation in a tenement hall that Veil reveals that she has a gruesome and deadly power.

It's storytelling at its finest, and you'll be hooked from the very first page. This promises to be that roller coaster ride I mentioned. Hold on tight.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Rover Red Charlie #4: Speaking of people who write comics that you had better be damned well prepared to get hurt while reading, Garth Ennis has taken the concept of post-apocalyptic fiction and made it infinitely more sad. How?

Red, Rover, and Charlie are three dogs who have survived the end of the world and the death of all the "feeders". They're making their way across the country Walking Dead-style, encountering the sad wreckage of the world they knew as they do so. One dog they find is Audi, an army German Shepherd who is the last member of his platoon and who insanely guards the site of their last battle in a pathetically stubborn version of duty to his former masters. Yet another dying dog they find curses the feeders of the world and causes the three good dogs to question the nature of evil.

It's basically Homeward Bound if there was no home to be bound for and everything that happened was soul-crushing. It's brutally brilliant, but prepare to bleed.

Rating: 8 of 10

This story continues on the next page. 

Evil Empire #1: The one and only Max Bemis is back and this time he's taking on politics in a very interesting way. It's hard to understand exactly what is going on in Evil Empire, but it's a hell of a glimpse at a grand epic. The question that consumes the book is, "How exactly does a civilization turn from benevolent into a dystopia?" All those science fiction futures we take for granted must have a transition period somewhere in them where regular people began to accept abhorrent things as normal.

Exploring that time is what Bemis does, leading us along with a political rapper and the white-bread Democratic politician who is one of her biggest fans. The two form an unlikely friendship just as a rival political candidate is suddenly embroiled in a violent killing within his family.

It seems like the worst periods of history require just the right set of circumstances to come about. Evil Empire homes in on those circumstances. We ignore them at our peril.

Rating: 7 of 10

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #9: There may be no more amusing book in all of Marvel than Superior Foes. I know that villain books are all the rage now, but I simply never get tired of watching the hilariously inept also-rans that plague the edges of Spider-Man and Daredevil's lives. It's just too fascinating to realize that a man with no real superpowers would make being Captain Boomerang a full time job.

In this issue Boomerang is out on a date when he finds himself being stalked by Bullseye, out for blood since Boomerang has been spending a little too much time telling everyone he meets how he is actually the better assassin. As always, everything goes to merry hell as every random, minor, crime-prone psychopath works out their impressive collection of mental issues on each other in failed schemes to get ahead.

We're closing in on the end of the Superior run as the new Spider-Man movie comes closer and with it brings us back to Peter Parker for the tie-in. Such a shame. These last couple of years have been the best Spidey I have ever read.

Rating: 8 of 10

Hawkeye #17: But bar none the best book in the Marvel brand is still good old "Hot Guy" and Matt Fraction's completely insane manner of storytelling. In this latest issue Clint Barton falls asleep in front of a Christmas special and winds up imagining himself as a part of a cartoon animal super team powered by the winter holidays.

These include, and I am not making any of this up, Menorable the Hanukah Cat and the Kwanzaagator. When the real heroes run into trouble it's up to poor unpowered Steve the Dog to save the Winter Friends from the living personification of the sun who threatens to ruin winter forever.

It sounds really silly, and it is, but as an allegory for our favorite neurotic archer hero's life amongst the gods it could not be more accurate or awesome. I haven't seen anything like it since Frank Miller was writing Daredevil. Let's hope Fraction doesn't go looney tunes and racist like Miller did.

Rating: 8 of 10

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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