Heroes & Villains Puts the Spotlight on Oni Press With Cretaceous and The Ballad of Sang

I’m sure the bulk of the comic book chatter out there today is going to be about Detective Comics #1,000 and rightfully so. It’s a monumental achievement about a mythic comic book hero who murders people. Just straight up murders them. (Editor’s Note: Thanks a lot, Zack Snyder).

Luckily, I’ve got plenty of non-murder-y comic books to read. Well, that may not be the case…I’ve got plenty of comics about characters who have not danced the Batusi on national television. By the by, if you’re an independent comic book creator and you’d like to have your work featured here in Heroes & Villains, drop me a line in the comments below! I’d love to see what you’re working on.

The Ballad of Sang
Ed Brisson (W)
Alessandro Micelli (A)
Oni Press

Billed as a “homage to Takashi Miike films” I am legitimately surprised they didn’t run out of red ink when printing this book. So much blood…so much.  And it’s great! 

If you’re down for the tale of a child assassin (an assassin who is a child, not an assassin of children…too dark) out for bloody revenge against the gang that murdered his master, this very well may be the book for you. The titular Sang is a pint-sized hitman with a blade who accidentally goes over the line and brings the full weight of the mob (and the rest of the gangs in the city) down upon himself.

The book clocks in at 120 pages and there is not a single wasted page or idea in there. Micelli’s work is fun and kinetic with special attention paid to character designs. Brisson’s script is bursting with ideas and barely lets up until the final page.

The gangs featured in the book reminded me of an updated take on the gangs from The Warriors, and I loved it. Each gang was worthy of their own miniseries and it’s a shame that they only got individual chapters dedicated to them.

This books was a lot of gory fun, it’s definitely worth a read AND I sincerely hope that this isn’t the last we see of Sang.

Tadd Galusha (W/A)
Oni Press

I was going to start this with “as a child of the 80’s I had an unquenchable thirst for all things dinosaur-related.” But then it struck me that there hasn’t been a child in recorded history since we discovered dinosaurs that wasn’t completely enraptured with them. However, I did have a sweatshirt circa 1987 that my mother cross-stitched dinosaurs onto. Your move, Millennials and Gen Z.

Charting the journey of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has been separated from its family, this book pulls no punches in the day to day brutality of the Cretaceous period. Told only through the artwork (and occasional sound effects), the book reads very much like a great nature documentary. The amount of research Galusha put into the book is very much on display here.

Now, this is no Land Before Time (which I found out while reaching this had an astonishing fourteen installments AND a TV show), and the dinosaurs depicted here don’t necessarily get along.  In point of fact, a lot of page real estate is dedicated to them eating one another…because that’s how it was back then. It was eat or be eaten, the Cretaceous period was mad wild, y’all.

This is billed as an all ages book and it’s one I would have gone positively bonkers over as a kid between the ages of 6 and 39. But as I’ve outlined above, the book features A LOT of graphic dinos-eating-other-dinos action. So if you don’t think your kid can hang with that, you may want to give it a read first. Chances are you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

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