Best Comics in August Part 1: Hollywood Murders and Herobear

Once a month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best books to review. There were a fair few, so enjoy this and stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

Angel & Faith #25: I'd just about given up on Buffy comics after I started to get the nagging suspicion that Joss Whedon was using them to stage elaborate sex fantasies about his former cast. That and, well, they got kind of stupid.

I tuned back into Angel & Faith for the "What You Want, Not What You Need" storyline because it reintroduced the mysterious Whistler into the mythos. Whistler was an incredibly fascinating one shot character who was initially responsible for charging Angel with watching out for Buffy, and hinted that he was sent by higher powers. It was a character lots of people wanted a better look at, which never happened while the show was on the air.

I'm not sure how well they pulled him off in the comics. Whistler is basically portrayed as a magic junkie and the offspring of an angel and a demon who seeks to destroy about 2 billion people to restore balance. It's not great writing, even for this series, but it's odd how well it actually plays like one of the better Angel episodes. There's a nice look at the nature of what is right and what is fair, even if it is a little melodramatically overdone. It's a good place to drop back into the series if you haven't been following it.

Rating: 6 of 10

See also: Best Comics in July Part 1: Adam West Returns as Batman!

Satellite Sam #2: It's the golden age of television, and Satellite Sam is the hit space cadet show that is keeping a new network in business. That is, until its lead actor is found dead surrounded by the trappings of an orgy. Now the whole thing threatens to unravel as his alcoholic son seeks answers to his father's mysteries.

Big Doctor Who fan that I am, I love seeing what the early days of cheesy science fiction television was like, and Matt Fraction offers us that in spades. It's a gripping noir sort of work that both mocks the act of creation while also celebrating it. There is some really heavy stuff going on behind the scenes, but all the while is still a tremendous love of a silly show.

That light-hearted focus is needed to give extra depth to the petty callousness of overworked executives, pompous artists, and strange lusts. It's a dark, hard book, but an engaging one at that.

Rating: 7 of 10

Thanos Rising #5: On a cosmic scale, it's impossible to beat Thanos in the Marvel universe. Even Galactus pales before the mad titan in majesty and tragic evil. This exploration of his early life by Jason Aaron has been breathtaking.

Every step in his strange brutal life has been shown with incredible detail. First was a boy born different that sought love, but through careful manipulation by Death herself he was led act by act into increasing cruelty until he became genius of destruction. Yet never once has the inner power left him. He was always exceptional and magnificent, even as he poured fire down on his home world.

This issue watches Death's plan come to fruition, but with the haunting idea that maybe she doesn't exist at all. Maybe she is just a figment of Thanos' mind, and all he wrought has been him all along. Right up to the final pages, the full measure of his monstrous nature unfolds until he stands unique in all the pages of Marvel villainy. Fantastic book.

Rating: 8 of 10

See also: Best Comics in July Part 2: Fear of a Black Sherlock

Uncanny X-Men #1: D-bag though he be, Scott Summers is one of the more interesting people running around in the Marvel universe right now. The former moral center of the X-Men now stands known as a terrorist who runs a team considered far more dangerous than ever before. He's continuously out of control. Flailing around to find some kind of way to protect mutantkind and redeem their image.

Unfortunately, his actions have done little but attract greater and greater threats. This issue he faces off against a new type of sentinel designed to adapt to powers as they are used against it. Not Scott, not Magneto, not any of the newly recruited young mutants have any ability to stop the thing.

Cyclops remains broken by the things he's done in his quest to save mutants, and the resemblance between him and Magneto is becoming harder and harder to ignore. It's a slow descent to a bad place, but good reading on top of that.

Rating: 7 of 10

Herobear and the Kid #1: Today's kid selection comes from Mike Kunkel, who has reopened up a strangely small, yet epic world with the return of Herobear. A young boy named Tyler attends his beloved grandfather's funeral, and finds that he has left him a broken watch and a small stuffed polar bear. He barely has time to come to grips with a new life in a new town, let alone a strange inheritance, and spends the first day at his school getting thoroughly beaten up my a trio of goonish brothers.

Kunkel offers a style that is highly reminiscent of Bill Waterson, with just the right mixture of imaginative whimsy and concrete realism. This gives the books a comic strip flavor, but then he manages to pull of these moments that just jump off the page like they were a Don Bluth cartoon. When a beaten and crying Tyler witnesses his stuffed toy become the Herobear, you can hear the triumphant score in the back of your head and know it's going to be a wonderful adventure. This is already shaping up to be one of the best kids' comics of all time.

Rating: 9 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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