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The Best Comics in October Part 1: ...Then I Took an Arrow to the Tit

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

Rat Queens #2: If you ask me, there still has not been a comic that truly captures an MMORPG mind-set. Or at least there wasn't until Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch came along because holy hell, Rat Queens is amazing.

We have a band of female adventurers in various races and classes. They get into bar brawls, fight giant monsters, drink and pick up loot from their fallen enemies. All the good stuff you'd expect from a fine quest chain.

What really sets it apart is the side-splitting animosity among the members of the band. It's honestly like Kevin Smith had written dialogue for the Fellowship of the Ring. I thought I was going to pee my pants when one character's battle cry was, "You put an arrow through my favorite tit, fuckwit!" That stuff right there is comic comedy gold. Every recent bro-tastic attempt to revitalize the sword and sorcery pulp approach is done a hundred times better in Rat Queens.

Rating: 8 out of 10

See also: Best Comics in September Part 1: The Punisher on Trial and Sex Magic

The Shaolin Cowboy #1: A little while back, the Wachowskis started a comic book company that never really went anywhere because their Hollywood commitments left little time to pursue it. There was one bright spot, though, and that was the adventures of the Shaolin Cowboy by Geof Darrow. Six years after it was left to wither on the vine, Dark Horse is bringing the tale back to life, and it's messed up in all the right ways.

First of all, the comic contains almost no dialogue. A back story in ridiculously tiny print covers almost the entire first two pages, and is such a bizarre litany of puns, brilliant satire, beat poetry and just overall nuttiness that honestly it's worth the buy on its own. Then we see our kung fu cowboy hero dig his way out of a grave and fight off a wave of zombies that threaten to kill a carload of bros that slow down just long enough to tell him he's gay and should stick his dick in a beer can.

At times Shaolin Cowboy reaches beyond the pale and tries a little too hard to be "out there," but man, there is no denying that it is indeed out there in every possible sense of the phrase. It's not an easy comic to read, but if you're willing to invest in it a bit, you will find some terrible yet wonderful bits of daring.

Rating: 7 of 10

The Best Comics in October Part 1: ...Then I Took an Arrow to the Tit

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #2: Crossovers are always dicey. No one ever truly gets what he or she wants out of them, and watching He-Man and crew interact with the Justice League is definitely hammy at times. Prince Adam doesn't benefit well at all from having his look all Jim Lee-ed up, and Evil-Lin is even worse, but it does at least make them fit in better with the New 52.

Skeletor is able to more or less overcome the entire Justice League, minus Batman, who teleports away before his power takes hold. This leads to an army of super-powered minions that now threatens the entire Earth.

It comes down to a climactic battle between He-Man and Super-Man that while short is actually extremely entertaining. Supes rarely has someone of those means to square off against, and none as heroic and boy-scoutish as Prince Adam. That's not to say Adam pulls any punches, and the finale is something truly unexpected that I won't spoil.

This is not a great book, but it's a great idea that Keith Griffin does nice things with while at the same time holding off some of the sillier aspects of traditional crossovers. For He-Man fans, it's a must.

Rating: 6 of 10

Round-up continues on next page.  

Justice League #24: Speaking of alternate dimensions, Ultraman and his crew of evil supervillains from the completely backwards Earth 3 have returned to the new DC Universe, and things are getting metal very, very quickly. Superman is presumed dead, and there seems to be nothing in the world that can stop the Crime Syndicate.

Geoff Johns takes us deep into the twisted mind and past of Ultraman. His mother and father murdered their fellow Kryptonians to make it to the escape pod that would bear him to Earth. Their philosophy was a hardline version of Randian extremism, that the strong should rule the weak, and the birthing matrix that we're familiar with did nothing but instill hatred, self-loathing and an intense desire to rule that lashed out hard enough to make him murder his own adoptive parents at the age of seven.

This Ultraman is a tremendously nuanced and fascinating character, and another example of how strength can turn to cruelty and still seem totally legit in the mind of the damaged. The best bit is actually the only super-powered figure that comes to the aid of a Daily Planet under siege, Black Adam, of all people. We don't get the whole fight, but that moment is just amazing.

Rating: 7 of 10

The Best Comics in October Part 1: ...Then I Took an Arrow to the Tit

Skyward #1: In today's children's entry, we look at yet another quality title from Action Lab in Skyward. It's a pretty typical tale told by Jeremy Dale. The young son of a famous warrior who is trying to leave war behind finds himself on the run when his parents are murdered as the past catches up with his father. It's the template of a thousand stories throughout literary history, but none the worse for wear for having been used before.

It's an easy read, no doubt, and though there is cruelty and blood, kids shouldn't have any real trouble enjoying it on its basic adventure level. Our hero Quinn is as plucky as they come, and he even has a doggie sidekick to stand by his side. Dale's easy art style is as comfortable as an old pair of pajama pants, and you ease into the story seamlessly. It's not a groundbreaking yarn, but it's clearly going somewhere worth seeing.

Rating: 6 of 10

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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