A couple of recent releases caught my eye, Dark Horse Comics' Blacksad: Collected Stories and Vault Comics' Vampire: The Masquerade #1. I thought I'd give them a look.
Blacksad: Collected Stories
Sometimes, there's not much to say about a comic except that it's particularly good and deserves the praise it gets. Blacksad is that comic, and Dark Horse wisely collected the three Blacksad books they already printed (plus extras they didn't) into one book this year.
If you haven't already read the detective comic starring anthropomorphic characters, now's the time. Blacksad: Collected Stories collects as much as presumably exists, and significantly cheaper than buying all three (Blacksad, Blacksad: A Silent Hell, Blacksad: Amarillo) separately.
What makes Blacksad great? The combination of writer Juan Díaz Canales' expert wielding of detective novel tropes and Juanjo Guarnido's precise watercolor art and dexterous storytelling. Blacksad feels authentic, even though it's made:
a) decades after detective stories became du jour
b) in a completely different medium.
There's no Eisner for "Best Recollection of Obviously Great Previously Released Material", but if there was, Blacksad: Collected Stories is a shoo-in for the shortlist.
Vampire: The Masquerade #1
Vault Comics published what I imagine was supposed to be a tie-in comic to upcoming video game Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2, except Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 is now delayed until 2021. This, sadly, leaves Vault with a problem: How do they promote this comic series in the absence of the thing it was supposed to tie in with?
Vault held up their end of the bargain: the first issue of Vampire: The Masquerade's pretty good. Theo Dwyer reviewed it for us here, if you're interested in reading their take. What struck me about Vampire: The Masquerade #1 was the little things, like Cecily, a vampire enforcer hailing a ride share service after an assassination. Vampires are supposed to be powerful, and they are, but when the story's set in Minneapolis, not every vampire's got a chauffeur.
Vampire: The Masquerade, as a setting, lends itself well to comics. There's plenty of opportunities for monstrous action, and because of the palace intrigue that goes along with warring vampire clans, plenty of opportunities for twists. Played correctly, Vampire: The Masquerade could be a consistent seller for Vault, especially if they can keep penciller Devmalya Pramanik on the comic. I imagine a little bit of Emma Ríos in Pramanik's work, or they're influenced by some of the same artists.
The team also includes some basic rules for the live-action role-play experience in the back of the issue, if you're ever so inclined. Vault's been generous with us at Bleeding Cool, and truth be told, I bounced off of most of their material, but not this first issue. Vampire: The Masquerade #1 has its fangs in me, and I eagerly await issue two.