This week, we find out what Spike has been up to back at Canterlot while most everypony was in the Changeling Kingdom trying to escape the wrath of Queen Chrysalis in the latest issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a book I only buy for my niece and no other reason.

Plus, Digital Dark Knight stories from some of the best independent comic creators are collected and a look at the masterless samurai of Stan Sakai and Mike Richardson’s 47 Ronin.   

47 RONIN #3 (OF 5)
WRITER: Mike Richardson
ARTIST: Stan Sakai
Publication Date: March 6, 2013
Price: $3.99
Publisher: Dark Horse
UPC: 76156815949300311

Dark Horse Comics publisher Mike Richardson has been fascinated by the story of 47 ronin since the inception of his comic book company.

The national ‘story of Japan’ is one of honor, sacrifice and loyalty in feudal Japan at the start of the 18th century.

Masterful artist of Usagi Yojimbo fame, Stan Sakai, was chosen as the perfect artist for the story by Richardson. 

Along with help from legendary manga writer Kazuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub), Richardson has the resources he needs to make an authentic and beautiful five issue portrayal of the legend in comic book form, no doubt to have this passion project collected into a beautiful hard bound edition eventually.

Both Sakai and Richardson have made research trips to Japan to study location, wood prints, and visit the gravesite of the 47 ronin. Sakai has been quoted as basing his artwork on these woodblock prints to further carry on the visual tradition of telling this story. While most famous for drawing a cartoon rabbit samurai, Stan has used these woodcuts as basis for the expressive mouths and character design of the humans in the story in tribute to the more traditional versions of the story.

Issue #3 deals with the collection and scheming of the ronin who wish to avenge the wrongful seppuku death of their master Lord Asano. Many say goodbye to their family as they wait nearly a year to attack the shogun Kira who is responsible for Kiro’s death.

Tensions are high at the end of this issue and the attack is coming soon. As I’m not familiar with the story of the 47 ronin, I hope to read this and do more personal research on the subject myself to compare and contrast with more traditional storytelling of the legend. From two accomplished comic book samurai, I’ll take this version as more than just an introduction to the story of Japan. I’ll take this as the ultimate interpretation in my favorite art form, much as I do for Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha volumes.

WRITER/ARTIST: Various (Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman, Guillem March, Michael Avon Oeming)
Publication Date: March 6, 2013
Price: $3.99
Publisher: DC Comics
UPC: 76194130749700611

There was a lot of Batnews or not-so-Batnews last week with the death of another Robin and the finale of Snyder’sDeath of the Family arc.

This week we go way off the reservation, far away from The New 52 to the digital zone.

No one’s sure of the numerical designation for the universe that exists inside of your iPad or Kindle Fire, but I can tell you the Batman that lives there is not messing around. 

The long running, sometime solo Batbook on the shelves, launched in 1989 ran until 2007, showcasing various creative teams that didn’t get a chance to prove themselves in Batman or Detective Comics. 

2012 saw the relaunch of LOTDK as a digital first series, publishing on a weekly schedule similar to DC Comics Smallville Season 11. Both series are collected in print comics after the fact. 

This week’s issue is chock full of Gotham’s best short stories in years. I don’t know what funny stuff Joker put in these creator’s waterjugs but are we excited about these three short stories. All of the short stories are self-contained 8 page numbers.

Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas) teams up with Planet of the Apes’ Gabriel Hardman for a quick Batman chases badguy into the arms of G.C.P.D. story. The colors by Marvel mad lady Elizabeth Breitweiser drench the pages with a grim tone to set the mood.

Drop on down to the subbasement sewers of Gotham for Michael Avon Oeming’s (The Mice Templar, Powers) cartoony confrontation with Killer Croc and guest ‘starring’ a captured Hugo Strange that is being forced to create a companion for King Croc.

Rob Williams (Robocop, Avenging Spider-Man) and Juan Jose Ryp (Punisher MAX, Black Summer) deliver the last story in the book and introduce a new mysterious and creepy villain known as Mr. Smith, who reminds us of a tangible Gentleman Ghost. This no name man with an Model T Van is silent and scary with his speechlessness. 

All three short stories make this worth checking out, and a series to keep your eye on in the digital book stores or on the shelf of your LCS.

WRITER:    Katie Cook
ARTIST:    Andy Price / Katie Cook (Backup)
COVER:    Stephanie Buscema
Pub. Date:    March 06, 2013
Your Price:    $3.99
Publisher:    IDW Publishing
UPC:    82771400398700411

I’m almost running out of jokes at the store. “It’s not for me…Can I have a brown paper bag, please…No, I don’t want the MLP plastic bag, who would want that?”

Truth is, my niece—whom I have turned on to the comic book via Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures and Peanuts—denies any interest in My Little Pony orAdventure Time comics.

My fascination with these made for all ages properties far outweighs hers and it’s getting to be a bit bothersome to me.
Far be it for me to judge the taste of an 11 year old girl, and I guess it’s fine or whatever that she’s more into clothes and dancing and her real friends than learning valuable friendship lessons from My Little Pony, but Uncle Clay is getting sadder each month as Katie Cook’s book hits the shelves and makes it to my place and stays there.

It could be more that the little lady is growing up and I want to cherish the excitement she has when I hand her a stack of comics every couple of months. If my plan works, that excitement will never go away, the comics will just get to be more appropriate for her to check out. I’m just wishing we could connect this one last time on a great book that may skew a little young for her tastes but lines up with my appreciation for a great comic story no matter who the intended audience is.

No sir, I’m not a full card carrying Brony, but having had an encounter with Discord himself, John DeLancie, at the 2012 Rhode Island ComicCon, I’ve become a fan of the show and support the culture. I mean if Bronies get bullied or spat upon and I don’t stand up, how can I defend my right to walk around in my the perfect Babylon 5 Vorlon costume? (Someday…someday).

On to the issue at hand! A final battle occurs between Twilight and Queen Chrysalis in the Changeling Kingdom and the fillies get to return home. Their dragon friend Spike has been back at Canterlot sending the message to Princess Celestia that the girls are in trouble. Katie Cook writes and draws the backup Spike story “In the Interim…” at the end of the issue.

Rating: Cute, funny, awesome, sparkly, action-packed. What more could any pony ask for?




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