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The Best Comics in April Part 2: Local Love and Nightmares

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Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review. Check out our Part 1.

Hulk #2: If you ask me it's always been very hard to make Hulk great in his own book. There are exceptions, of course, but as an ongoing series he's a tough sell. Well, I've got nothing but good things to say about Mark Waid's latest take.

Bruce Banner is a shell of his former self after suffering from a gunshot wound to the head and transforming into Hulk during surgery. Now he's under surveillance in a small town believing that he is a mentally handicapped janitor named Bobby. The truth is SHIELD is desperate to find out who was behind the assassination attempt because they're convinced they'll try again. Sure enough, the mysterious forces behind the kill revive and send in the Abomination.

What's great about the book, and most of the Marvel universe at large right now, is how critically they're dealing with how walking disasters such as Hulk really affect the lives of ordinary people. More and more we're seeing the terrible consequences of super powers. What was Spidey's line about responsibility? He didn't know how right he was.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Haunted #1: Got some local love this month with two new series from Red 5 Comics and Scott Chitwood. First up is Haunted, and it's another doomsday scenario. Albeit, it's a pretty damned good one.

Much as I bristle over the fact that Chitwood has the large hadron collider opening up a portal to hell, it's a good enough premise to unleash demons on the world. Our hero is Sarah, a brutal young woman who stumbles across two men who might have the answer to driving back the demons. It's part The Last of Us and part Beyond: Two Souls, and all very fantastic. Danny Luckert's art in particular is beyond striking in the way he creates horrors. Most excellent work.

Rating: 8 of 10

This story continues on the next page.

Batman vs. Bane #1: To be honest, I skipped the whole Forever Evil thing. Both Marvel and DC are way too into the massive crossover events lately, and it is seriously damaging how individual series are able to stand on their own. So I'm jumping back in on Batman after the whole big beatdown finished up.

Gotham is a mess similar to the No Man's Land arc, with Bane serving as the only real force of law able to keep the supervillains in check. Of course, he rules with brutal authority, slave once again to the drug venom and his twisted ideals of justice. Bane remains one of the best Batman characters, though inconsistent portrayal has always plagued his overall strength. Batman's confrontation with him is a fairly mundane battle all things told, but it is great to have the Dark Knight back on the streets doing what he does best. Now maybe if the world could be saved without Bruce Wayne having to do all the work and let him just concentrate on Gotham that would be nice.

Rating: 7 of 10

Dream Police #1:Easily the best book of April is J. Michael Staczynski's Dream Police. What starts out as just another weird urban fantasy detective story quickly becomes a mind-altering trip into madness that you won't be able to put down. Joe Thursday and his partner Frank are Dream Police. They live and work inside the Dreamscape making sure that nothing goes wrong with the world's sleepers as they come to fulfill their needs beyond the wall of sleep.

There are shapeshifters who refuse to fulfill their roles alleviating the guilt of dreamers, dragons that get out of hand after bedtime stories, and worst of all there are the lucid dreamers that threaten every thing around the, When that happens, the nightmares step in, and what they show you is truly terrible.

Staczynski's put together a new wrinkle in a tired genre, and if the shock ending of the first issue is any indication then there are plenty of twists to come.

Rating: 9 of 10

Bad Dreams #1 The final offering this week is another great all ages book from Red 5. Bad Dreams is sort of like what would happen if the people behind Axe Cop had come up with Little Nemo It follows a girl named Mary as she wanders lost in a nightmare realm, befriending strange nighttime creatures on a quest.

It's an interesting book in that it so perfectly captures the madness of dreams and the way nonsensical things manages to make sense when you're dreaming. The Gary Winnick's art is simply amazing, mixing elegant classical flourishes with a simplistic design that dances the line between a child's drawing and a cathedral's stained glass windows. It's inventive and strange and most of all fun.

Rating: 7 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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