New comics received on March 10:
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #18 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, Ryan North, (A) Erica Henderson. Part two of the Melissa Morbeck story. Doreen realizes Melissa is evil (thanks to Nancy’s detective work), but it’s too late, because Melissa has the ability to control every non-squirrel animal in New York. Also, there’s an epilogue that continues the story of Alfredo and Chef Bear. This is a fun storyline, and Melissa is a much better villain than the dude who could split into smaller copies of himself.
MOTOR CRUSH #4 (Image, 2017) – untitled, (W/A) Babs Tarr, Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart. We don’t really learn anything new this issue, but it becomes clear that things are coming to a head, and that there is some deep dark secret in Domino’s past. One thing that strikes me about this issue is that Domino’s dad is acting really dumb, probably because he’s afraid of something. Instead of being open with his daughter, he tries to scare her away from finding out the truth about herself, thereby ensuring that she’ll try even harder. Also, I like how Domino herself is a deeply flawed and imperfect protagonist.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #27 (Image, 2017) – “Phased,” Kieron Gillen, (A) Jamie McKelvie. Lots of different things happen this issue, but it feels like this issue is just marking time until the next big event happens. Probably the highlight of the issue is the scene where Baphomet shows Persephone the ghosts of her family.
MY LITTLE PONY DEVIATIONS #1 (IDW, 2017) – untitled, Katie Cook, (A) Agnes Garbowska. Katie’s first pony story in about a year is part of a series of “what if” one-shots. This particular issue asks the question: What if Prince Blueblood became Princess Celestia’s apprentice instead of Twilight Sparkle? The whole issue is basically a series of jokes revolving around Prince Blueblood’s snobbish and entitled attitude. Unlike Jeremy Whitley in MLP: Friends Forever #26, Katie makes no effort to redeem Prince Blueblood, but depicts him as having no positive qualities, and it’s funnier that way. One highlight of the issue is the parody version of the theme song.
ASTRO CITY #42 (DC, 2017) – “The Deep Blue Sea,” Kurt Busiek, (A) Scott Clark. This is by far the worst-drawn issue of Astro City ever. Brent Anderson’s artwork on Astro City is usually unobtrusive and subservient to the art, but when I look at Scott Clark’s ugly poor-excuse-for-Jim-Lee art, I’m reminded of what a competent and professional artist Brent is. However, the story in this issue mostly redeems the art. “The Deep Blue Sea” resembles “Show ‘Em All” from v2 #10 because its protagonist is an old villain, but the focus of the story is very different. Mister Manta, an old enemy of Mermaid (a female version of Aquaman), has been living on a literal desert island for thirty years, planning his triumphant return to the world. But when he’s forced to interact with the outside world again, he realizes he’s totally out of touch with it, and he decides to return to his island for good. It’s a poignant story about old age and about how life happens while you’re making other plans, as John Lennon said.
GRASS KINGS #1 (Boom!, 2017) – “Welcome to the Grass Kingdom,” Matt Kindt, (A) Tyler Jenkins. This issue begins with a flashback scene that perhaps reinforces some unfortunate Native American stereotypes, but this scene is incidental to the main story. This comic is really about a separatist community somewhere in the American Midwest. I was not super-impressed by this debut issue, but it’s an interesting premise, and I plan on continuing to read this series.
GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #7 (DC, 2017) – “Second Semester, Part 6,” Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl, (A) Adam Archer & Michelle Sassyk. The most important issue of this series since #1. The first shocking reveal is that Olive’s roommate Amy is invisible to everyone except her. I should maybe have expected this – it’s like the shock ending of The Sixth Sense in reverse – but it caught me totally by surprise. I’m sure if I look back at the last six issues, I’ll see that Amy never interacted with anyone but Olive. But that’s not all. Pomeline finds the Book of Gotham and discovers that Olive is really an Arkham, and Amy is the spirit of her ancestor, Amity Arkham. And the issue ends with Olive deciding to let her powers loose and burn the school down. This issue was an amazing coup de theatre; it feels like the whole series has been leading up to these revelations.
ROGAN GOSH (DC, 1994) – “Rogan Gosh: Star of the East,” Peter Milligan, (A) Brendan McCarthy. This is probably Brendan McCarthy’s masterpiece. Like most Milligan-McCarthy collaborations, it’s a difficult work that makes little logical sense. It has multiple interlocking narratives each of which has different characters, though all the narratives revolve around an encounter between a young English man and a young Indian man. The story is deeply evocative and dense, but never goes anywhere in particular. But the artwork is stunning. McCarthy’s coloring, the most immediately appealing aspect of his work, is brilliant, but it’s combined with equally amazing draftsmanship and lettering, and he experiments with all sorts of different illustrative techniques. It feels like he really let himself loose on this comic, and delivered the absolute best work he was capable of. As the above summary indicates, the main theme of this comic is the encounter between England and India, and it’s guilty of a lot of Orientalism, though I do feel like the creators are not unaware of this. I do notice that the comic mentions the names of lots of Indian dishes, including the one the comic is named after, but they’re all the type of clichéd Indian dishes that you find in every generic Indian restaurant. And this is a symbol of how Peter Milligan’s depiction of India seems to be based on clichés rather than deep knowledge. But still, the art in this comic is so spectacular that it more than makes up for any possible flaws in the story.
WONDER WOMAN #18 (DC, 2017) – “Godwatch, Part 2,” Greg Rucka, (A) Bilquis Evely. This comic isn’t bad, but it feels more like “Veronica Cale Comics #18” than Wonder Woman #18. More than half of its pages feature Veronica and not Diana, and of the pages where Diana does appear, two of them are a two-page splash. And I’m not nearly as fascinated by Veronica Cale as Greg Rucka is.
DOCTOR FATE #18 (DC, 2017) – untitled, Paul Levitz, (A) Brendan McCarthy. Compared to Rogan Gosh, this is a minor Brendan McCarthy work. McCarthy’s coloring is the flashiest aspect of his work, but here his coloring is too obviously dependent on Photoshop, and the vividness of the coloring serves to disguise the boring, formulaic nature of the draftsmanship and storytelling. Also, the plot of this comic was of no interest to me.
SAVAGE DRAGON #142 (Image, 2017) – “Hunted,” (W/A) Erik Larsen. An okay issue. Previously, Savage Dragon killed a superhero named Solar Man in a clear case of justifiable homicide. This issue, Solar Man’s equally insane sidekick Mega Man tries to avenge his mentor’s death, but ends up electrocuting himself, much like Frank J. Grimes.
On March 12, I went to another local convention. The back issue selection wasn’t as good at this convention as at the one last August; also, I was exhausted because I had barely slept the night before, and I was worried about spending too much. I did buy a fair amount of stuff, though:
USAGI YOJIMBO COLOR SPECIAL #3 (Fantagraphics, 1992) – “Fox Fire,” (W/A) Stan Sakai. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a copy of this before. In this story, Usagi saves a fox from some hunters, then encounters a different fox who brainwashes him. Tomoe is the guest star. The theme of shapeshifting foxes was used again in the much later story “Kitsune Gari.” This issue also includes Nilson & Hermy and Space Usagi backup stories.
SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE #1 (DC, 1993) – “The Tarantula, Act One,” Matt Wagner, (A) Guy Davis. A very strong introduction to one of the better DC comics of the ‘90s. It’s nice to finally get to witness Wesley and Dian’s first meeting.
FEAR #18 (Marvel, 1973) – “A Question of Survival!”, Steve Gerber, (A) Val Mayerik. A powerful if somewhat heavy-handed story. Five people – a woman, a child and three men – survive a bus accident just outside the swamp. The three men include a hippie draft-dodger, a Vietnam vet, and a drunk business executive. The executive kills the other two, but is himself killed by the Man-Thing. This story is an excessively obvious allegory of the divisions in American society at the time. But at least Gerber writes the characters well enough that they seem like people as well as symbols.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #26 (Marvel, 1973) – “Betrayal!”, (W/A) Jim Starlin, Mike Friedrich. My copy of this issue is in unimpressive condition, but at least it was cheap. This is the only issue I was missing from Starlin’s first Thanos story, and it’s also Thanos’s second full appearance. Thanos spends most of the issue behind the scenes as he manipulates Captain Marvel and the Thing into fighting each other for convoluted reasons, but at the end of the issue he makes a dramatic on-panel debut, and we get to see his classic costume for the first time (rather than the uglier costume he wore in Iron Man #55). Back in 1973, Starlin’s artwork was still new and original rather than cliched.
BEWARE THE CREEPER #3 (DC, 1968) – “The Isle of Fear,” Denny O’Neil, (A) Steve Ditko. Oddly, Denny O’Neil is credited as “special consultant” while his pseudonym, Sergius O’Shaughnessy, is credited as “writer.” I wonder why. This issue has a forgettable plot involving a criminal called the Supreme One who runs a hideout for other criminals, but the artwork is spectacular. Ditko’s artwork was rarely as energetic or action-filled as in the late ‘60s.
THOR #168 (Marvel, 1969) – “Galactus Found!”, Stan Lee, (A) Jack Kirby. Thor seeks Galactus for some reason I don’t quite understand, while on Earth, the Warriors Three encounter a villain called the Thermal Man. The Galactus half of the issue is a bit underwhelming , although it appears to be intended as a setup for Galactus’s origin story in the next issue. The Warriors Three scenes are the highlight of the issue, especially the scene where Volstagg keeps breaking Donald Blake’s furniture.
SILVER SURFER #9 (Marvel, 2017) – “Shadows in the City of Light,” Dan Slott, (A) Mike Allred. This series has had some severe delays, though it’s worth the wait. This is the first issue since December. In this story, the Surfer and Dawn visit a planet where, as it turns out, almost all the people have exchanged their flesh for solid holograms. And a hologram version of Dawn is created and is forced to stay on the planet forever, which is kind of heartbreaking. I hope it’s not another three months before #10.
SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #76 (DC, 1964) – “Elastic Lad Jimmy and His Legion Romances,” Jerry Siegel, (A) John Forte. Saturn Girl, Light Lass and Triplicate Girl all go on dates with Jimmy in order to make Lucy Lane jealous. This is a very silly and inconsequential Legion story, but it’s funny. Of the two other stories in the issue, “The Death March!” is awful but “The Goose with the Golden Eggs!” is also funny. Jimmy discovers a goose that lays golden eggs, but he can’t figure out how to make her do it on command, and when he does figure it out, he realizes that he’s unknowingly eaten her for dinner.
JONESY #11 (Boom!, 2017) – “Hey, Babies!”, (W/A) Caitlin Rose Boyle, Sam Humphries. This is the next-to-last issue, which is a shame. This series was getting pretty good. This issue, we learn that Jonesy left Plymouth because she told everyone about her secret love powers, and now everyone there hates her.
GIANT DAYS #23 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, John Allison, (A) Max Sarin. The girls have a housewarming party, which leads to a series of awkward moments because most of their former love interests show up. Also, Susan gets sick and coughs on the old guy next door, which explains why she thought she killed him (see review of #24 above).
UNCLE $CROOGE ADVENTURES #18 (Gladstone, 1989) – “That’s No Fable!”, (W/A) Carl Barks. This is a late Barks story, from 1960, but it’s not bad. Scrooge and the nephews discover Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, but discover that it’s useless. (In order to lay claim to it, Scrooge would have to swim across a lagoon full of its water, at the risk of de-aging himself to death.) So this is an example of the genre of stories where Scrooge finds a fabulous treasure but can’t keep it. This story also has some funny gags, including one where a baby alligator bites Donald on the foot. I’m surprised it took Barks this long to get around to doing a Fountain of Youth story.
ANGEL AND THE APE #2 (DC, 1969) – “Most Fantastic Robbery in History!”, (W/A) Bob Oksner, Sergio Aragonés. Like Anthro and Bat Lash, Angel and the Ape was a late ’60s DC comic that was innovative, well-written and well-drawn, but lasted less than eight issues. This issue is well-drawn and full of funny sight gags, though the plot is kind of dumb. Like Mister Miracle #6 a few years later, this issue includes a villain who’s obviously based on Stan Lee – although the intent is very different in each case, since Kirby was personally associated with Stan Lee while Oksner and Sergio were not. One notable feature of this series is Angel, who was perhaps DC’s most attractive female character at the time, besides Nick Cardy’s Wonder Girl and Mera.
GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #4 (DC, 2016) – “The Carnival Midnight,” Brenden Fletcher, (A) Jon Lam. This is the issue I didn’t get to read because DCBS sent me a misprinted copy. I finally did get a refund for that comic, and then at the convention, I found a correctly printed copy of it for less than the DCBS price. Conveniently, “The Carnival Midnight” is a fill-in story that is not necessary to follow the “Second Semester” storyline. It’s about a carnival that’s run by an old friend of the school’s headmaster. At the end, it turns out the old friend has kept himself alive by magic, and he ages rapidly and dies.
THE BACKSTAGERS #7 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, James Tynion IV, (A) Rian Sygh. One of the missing boys from the ‘80s comes back and abducts one of the two prima donna actors, and the Backstagers have to team up to save the day. It’s a bit hard to care about this series when there’s just one issue left. I feel like it had a lot of potential, but never quite achieved its ambition of being the boy version of Lumberjanes.
IRON MAN #15 (Marvel, 1969) – “Said the Unicorn to the Ghost…!”, Archie Goodwin, (A) George Tuska. The title is probably a reference to the spider and the fly, not the joker and the thief. I have never collected this series heavily, and I probably should, because Archie Goodwin’s Iron Man was quite good. It’s full of exciting action and relationship drama. This issue is mostly a series of fights between Iron Man, the Unicorn and the Red Ghost, though it has a surprising shock ending in which we learn that the Red Ghost cruelly tricked the Unicorn into helping him. According to Wikipedia, the run of issues right after this one (#17-23) is considered the best Iron Man story of the Silver Age, at least by IGN and CBR, and Archie must have been the best Iron Man writer between Stan Lee and David Michelinie. In his artwork for this issue, George Tuska was clearly trying to imitate Gene Colan’s style of storytelling, but he couldn’t imitate Gene’s draftsmanship.
NO MERCY #13 (Image, 2017) – untitled, Alex de Campi, (A) Carla Speed McNeil. Travis finds himself at a beach party with a bunch of vacationing college students from Britain. These kids all seemed like awful people, and when they turned up dead, I was shocked, but not particularly saddened. Then at the end of the issue, Gina runs into Travis on a plane back to America and gives him a good whack, which is no less than he deserves.
ROYAL CITY #1 (Image, 2017) – untitled, (W/A) Jeff Lemire. It took me a while to get to this because it’s so long. This is Jeff Lemire’s latest major work. It takes place in a town – presumably in Canada though this is not stated – that’s trying to adjust to a changing economy, at the same time that its most prominent family works through a lot of drama. The shock ending to this comic was not a shock at all; I could see it coming from a mile off, once I realized that all the other family members perceived Richie as being a different age. Other than that, this was a well-done comic and it seems like a worthy successor to The Underwater Welder and Essex County.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #9 (Marvel, 1973) – “Terror Beneath the Earth!”, Gerry Conway, (A) Tom Sutton. This issue’s story is silly and unmemorable, but the art is excellent. Tom Sutton was one of the best horror cartoonists of his time. Len and Glynis Wein make a cameo appearance on page two of this issue.
DENNIS THE MENACE #39 (Fawcett, 1959) – multiple stories, Fred Toole, (A) Al Wiseman. This may be the oldest comic book I’ve reviewed since I started doing these reviews. I very rarely buy comics from earlier than the ‘60s. As usual with this series, this issue is funny, cute and beautifully drawn. The most notable story is the last one, which is the comic book debut of Dennis’s Italian-American friend Gina Gilotti. Gina is depicted as exotic and unusual by virtue of her Italian ancestry, which makes her a foil to the much more generic-seeming Margaret.
From March 17 to 19 I went to Portland for the Conference on College Composition and Communication. After the conference was over, I did a bit of comic book store tourism. First I went to Excalibur Comics, which had a really deep and well-organized back issue selection. It also seemed like an extremely well-run and welcoming store. Then I went to Cosmic Monkey Comics. That store also had a lot of back issues, but what really impressed me about it was its selection of trade paperbacks and graphic novels. I’m basically a professional comics fan, and I’ve rarely if ever seen a store with such an impressive selection of books, other than The Beguiling. I was worried about money at that point after having spent the whole weekend eating out, so I spent about $70 at the two stores combined, mostly on back issues and recent comics that I had missed when they came out. By the time I got home I had only managed to read one of the comics I bought:
SUPERMAN #11 (DC, 2016) – “In the Name of the Father: World’s Smallest, Part 2,” (W/A) Patrick Gleason, Peter J. Tomasi. I didn’t get this when it came out, probably because I didn’t notice that this comic was coming out twice a month. In the conclusion to the Super Sons storyline, Jon and Damien fight like cats and dogs and fail to solve any of the problems their fathers set for them. They redeem themselves by saving their fathers from a (fake) threat, but at the end of the issue they’re fighting again. Overall, this was a hilarious and adorable comic, and “In the Name of the Father” is the best new Superman story I’ve read in years.
New comics received on Monday, March 20, after I returned from Portland:
MS. MARVEL #16 (Marvel, 2017) – “Damage Per Second, Part 3,” G. Willow Wilson, (A) Takeshi Miyazawa. The Zoe/Nakia scenes are the emotional high point of the issue. “An evil sentient computer virus knows you’re gay and is going to send your secret love letters to Nakia to the entire school listserv!” is one of the best lines in the entire series. Zoe has become an unexpectedly complex character. People who only read the first trade paperback are going to get very inaccurate ideas about her. Also, I like the idea that Doc.X has learned evil behavior by observing how people act on the Internet.
SEX CRIMINALS #17 (Image, 2017) – “Part 2: Myrtle Spurge: Sexual Cop,” Matt Fraction, (A) Chip Zdarsky. This issue is a spotlight on Myrtle a.k.a. Kegelface. One interesting thing we learn about her is that she constantly keeps herself at the brink of orgasm, but never goes all the way. As I have said before, this series is all about how reactionary forces in society seek to contain the subversive potential of sexuality. Sexual pleasure is dangerous and must therefore be contained or harnessed for productive purposes. Myrtle’s perpetual state of unfulfilled desire is an example of that. She reminds me of a quotation from Adorno and Horkheimer’s culture industry essay: “The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetually promises. The promissory note which, with its plots and staging, it draws on pleasure is endlessly prolonged; the promise, which is actually all the spectacle consists of, is illusory: all it actually confirms is that the real point will never be reached, that the diner must be satisfied with the menu.” I kind of want to go further with this insight, but I don’t know enough psychoanalysis or queer theory. The other interesting thing about this issue is the new sex criminal. It was fun trying to figure out what his fetish was. Oh, and also this character’s origin story includes a classic example of a Freudian primal scene, and I think this is probably deliberate.
COADY AND THE CREEPIES #1 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, Liz Prince, (A) Amanda Kirk. This series was described as being about the Lumberjanes’ favorite band. It’s not quite at Lumberjanes’s level of quality yet, but it’s not bad. At first I had no idea where this comic was going, but the spoiler – that one of the protagonists is a ghost – was a nice surprise, and it makes me excited to see what happens next.
PATSY WALKER A.K.A. HELLCAT #16 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, Kate Leth, (A) Brittney Williams. Kate Leth said that she’s ending this series on her own terms, which I assume means that the series was cancelled for low sales, but her contract prevents her from saying so. At least Marvel let her finish her story. In this issue, Patsy finally makes up with Hedy and confronts her mental health problems. It seems like Patsy’s real issue is stress, which is not an unfamiliar complaint to me.
MANIFEST DESTINY #27 (Image, 2017) – untitled, Chris Dingess, (A) Matthew Roberts. All the protagonists, except Lewis and Miss Grenier, are driven insane by poisonous mist, causing them to perceive their allies as evil ghosts. This is an exciting issue, but it barely advances the plot.
THE MIGHTY THOR #17 (Marvel, 2017) – “The Asgard/Shi’ar War, Part Three: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears,” Jason Aaron, (A) Russell Dauterman. Note the Blake quotation in the title. While the Asgardians fight the Imperial Guard, Thor competes in a series of challenges against Sharra and K’ythri, who have an unfair advantage because they’re complete sociopaths who place no value on mortal lives. And then Sharra and K’ythri invoke the “ultimate judgment,” which, now that I look at the last panel again, is probably the Mangog.
SUPER SONS #2 (DC, 2017) – “When I Grow Up… Part Two: Lex and Friends,” Peter J. Tomasi, (A) Jorge Jimenez. I can think of at least five professional cartoonists named Jimenez or Gimenez. This issue, Damian and Jon invade Lexcorp Tower for unclear reasons, and this leads to a lot of cute moments, but Damian’s behavior seems very erratic and inexplicable. Later in the issue, Jon is traumatized by seeing some corpses. So this comic is a lot of fun, but also has a darker side. Also, it turns out the mysterious Reggie kid is Kid Amazo, a character I’m not familiar with.
CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #6 (DC, 2017) – “Plan B,” Jon Rivera & Gerard Way, (A) Michael Avon Oeming. This is the best Young Animal title now that Doom Patrol’s cancellation has just been announced. (It’s supposed to be a temporary cancellation but I expect it will be permanent.) This issue, the bad guys succeed in awakening some kind of Lovecraftian underground monster, and Cave is apparently killed.
ISLAND #12 (Image, 2016) – (W/A) various. I’m sorry this series was cancelled, but to be honest, it usually took me a few months to get around to reading each issue. And that’s partly because of long and tedious stories like Fil Barlow’s “Zooniverse, Chapter 2.” At this point, I can see why Fil Barlow was an influence on Brandon Graham – Zooniverse is full of weird aliens and incomprehensible plots, just like Brandon’s Prophet. But that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of Zooniverse; I think it’s worse-written and worse-drawn than Prophet. The next two stories in this issue are even worse. Lando’s “Island” suffers from unclear storytelling and poor production values, including bad lettering and one blatant typo (“Your just making trouble for us”). Alex Smith and Annie Mok’s “Avia” looks even less professional. The other two short pieces in the issue are only marginally better.
FUTURE QUEST #9 (DC, 2017) – “The Cavalry!”, Jeff Parker, (A) Ron Randall. I missed this issue when it came out, but bought it in Portland. The main event this issue is that the kids get the Frankenstein Jr robot to work, and there are lots of funny interactions between Jonny, Hadji and the other kids. Also, the Herculoids finally appear.
ODY-C #12 (Image, 2017) – “The Fall of the House of Atreus 2. Gamem, Part Two, or, Comedy Tonight,” Matt Fraction, (A) Christian Ward. This just came out, but I somehow failed to order it. This issue continues the retelling of the House of Atreus story, covering the events of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. Like issue 11, it suffers from a lack of innovation relative to the source text, but Christian Ward’s art is amazing as usual. Every page this issue is a splash page.
TITS & CLITS #5 (Last Gasp, 1979) – (W/A) Joyce Farmer and others. This is now the second most obscene-sounding comic in my collection, behind only Giant-Size Man-Thing. I got my copy at Excalibur Comics; it’s badly water-damaged, but only cost a dollar. I want to collect more of this series, and more underground comics in general. This particular issue includes a bunch of stories of widely varying quality, though most of them are at least interesting if not well-executed. The highlight of the issue is Joyce Farmer’s “Slice of Life,” a three-pager about a childhood encounter with homophobia.
I HATE FAIRYLAND #11 (Image, 2017) – untitled, (W/A) Skottie Young. This story reminds me a lot of All About Eve. At the annual Dungeon Festexpocon, Gertrude meets her idol, Gwag the Barbarian, and then encounters another younger fan, Maddie, who idolizes Gertrude as much as Gertrude idolizes Gwag. Not surprisingly, Gertrude kills Maddie in the end.
HEAD LOPPER #5 (Image, 2017) – “Head Lopper and the Crimson Tower, Part 1,” (W/A) Andrew MacLean. We continue with the theme of Image comics that have been on hiatus for a while. In the new storyline, Head Lopper and Agatha, along with a bunch of other heroes, enter the perilous Crimson Tower to compete for the right to replace the tower’s current master. The POV characters are Bik, a young boy from the plantlike People of the Fonga Leaf, and Zhannia Kota, a woman warrior. (In this series, POV characters are necessary because Head Lopper is so stoic and emotionless.) Like the previous Head Lopper epic, this is an excellent adventure story and I look forward to the next installment.