"Chasing Echoes" (Humanoids, $19.95): Will Eisner's "A Contract With God" and Art Spiegelman's "Maus" are significant milestones in the creation of the graphic novel, so there's something almost traditional about a GN involving the Holocaust and the search for identity by the Jewish survivors. In "Chasing Echoes," that search is literal. "Echoes" follows an extended family whose members travel to Poland in search of a flour mill where a family picture was taken, before most of the people in that photo were killed by the Nazis. But the book is by no means a gloomy dissertation on one of history's blackest moments. Instead, the book is almost joyful in the way it sets up its quirky characters. After all, the subtitle is "A Graphic Novel About Generations of Survivors Surviving Each Other."
"Swimming in Darkness" (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.99): Do you like your noir with fewer hard-bitten gumshoes, and more, how you say, je ne sais quoi? You're in luck, because this French import has all the earmarks of great film noir, only with a Continental spin. In "Darkness," Pierre, a former French architecture student — he dropped out after a breakdown — travels to Therme Vals, the famous hotel and spa complex in the Swiss Alps. Yes, it's a real place, but in this story, our hero finds that the walls and spaces don't add up right. And then there's that local myth about another kind of space — a "mouth of the mountain" that opens every 100 years to swallow a foreigner. A foreigner like Pierre. Or perhaps like the other visiting Frenchman, who is also obsessed in the spa's secrets. Or maybe Pierre's just going mad.
"Swimming in Darkness" is written by Lucas Harari, who also draws it in the pleasant, inoffensive Franco-Belgian style. Which can still be spooky, especially when the ordinary suddenly seems threatening.
"Blade Runner 2019" (Titan Comics, $16.99): I loved "Blade Runner," the original movie with Harrison Ford, so any effort to milk that IP had better be doggone good. In fact, it'd better pass the Voight-Kampff test. And doggone if "Blade Runner 2019 Vol. 1: Welcome to Los Angeles" isn't pretty perfect. Published by the UK's Titan Comics, this graphic novel collects the first four issues of a new series, and it really captures the spirit, the feel, even the look of the classic movie. And although few remember this detail, it takes place at the same time as the original movie: 2019. "BR 2019" stars Detective Ashina, who is on the hunt for a missing child that somehow involves replicants, for both personal and professional reasons. Yes, Ash has some secrets, too — because of course she does! It's detective noir!
One of the writers of "Blade Runner 2019" is Michael Green, who wrote the screenplay for "Blade Runner 2049." And the gorgeous art of Andres Guinaldo is properly cinematic — but never forgets that this is comics, not cinema, and never once did an artsy shot make me lose track of what was going on. "Blade Runner 2019" takes all the best bits of its inspiration, but heads off in a different direction, world-building as it goes. If this is the beginning of a long-term franchise, count me in.