November 7, 2018

, , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop November 7th, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...


Neil's Picks:



Marvel Knights 20th #1 by Donny Cates, Travel Foreman and others published by Marvel Comics.
It’s 20 years this year since the Marvel Knights imprint line first appeared. And with Marvel being Marvel, they’ve decided to revive the “more mature themed” line of comics. With Donny Cates at the helm, why wouldn’t you? This six-issue miniseries sees Cates pen the first issue and then the baton is handed on to Matthew Rosenberg heading up issue two. Nothing much is known about the series, due to it being shrouded in secrecy. But this first issue looks to have Matt Murdock as the lead protagonist. Having just completed the phenomenal season 3 of Daredevil on Netflix I’m hoping to see more of a grounded street-level hero story much like the show itself. Because personally, I believe that was the best material Marvel has EVER put to screen.


James' Picks:


Crowded #4 by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt and Triona Farrell, published by Image Comics.
Chris Sebela is on a real win streak this year. Crowded has been a funny, socially astute, action-packed, dramatic mystery of a story. It's a very clever look at the "gig economy" and social media and their absurd natural conclusion.


Fearscape #2 by Ryan O'Sullivan and Andrea Mutti, published by Vault Comics.
I read the first issue of Fearscape and really enjoyed it. This is a fun literary comic in the mold of Sandman or the Unwritten, and a hilarious read with a fantastic fraud of a main character. Excellent, dreamlike art from Andrea Mutti.


Border Town #3 by Eric Esquivel and Ramon Villalobos, published by Vertigo/DC Comics.
This is a really smart, incredibly timely comic that feels important for the current moment. It's also a highly entertaining story with terrific art. One of the strongest debuts of 2018.


Green Lantern #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, published by DC Comics.
I can't say I've read much Green Lantern in recent years. But, Green Lantern and the different color corps and the Sinestro Corps War was some of the first comics I read when I was first getting back into comics, so I have something of a soft spot for it. But it's really the creative team that's drawing me in here.  Any time Grant Morrison does any new mainstream comics, he has my attention. I'm thrilled to see what he and super-talented artist Liam Sharp have cooked up for Hal Jordan.


Immortal Hulk #8 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics.
This book has been wonderful. It' dark and creepy and Ewing and Bennett have really succeeded in bringing to life a whole new Hulk persona; a dark and cruel bringer of justice. This book feels like an old school horror or Twilight Zone story. I highly recommend it.

November 5, 2018

, , , , ,   |  

As Though Nothing Could Fall— thoughts on My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Brubaker & Phillips


In Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ comics, crime is the law. In a very Biblical sense, original sin runs wild in their comics as there is no such thing as a truly innocent person. In their Criminal series as well as everything since the victims are usually just people who aren’t nearly as bad or corrupt as the true villains of their comics. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, their latest collaboration, tells the story of Ellie, a girl basically trapped in a rehab facility who doesn’t believe that she actually has any problem worthy of rehab or any problems at all that she wants to be free of. But she isn’t even all that innocent as she plays temptress to one of her fellow rehab patients Skip, who shows a real desire to clean up his act. Skip may be the one good person in this world ruled by guns and desires. There’s no good versus evil in this story, at least not how we want to imagine it is as two opposite and warring sides of morality. Morality exists on a spectrum in Brubaker and Phillips’ comics, that skews heavily towards the darkness that seeps into every nook and cranny of humanity. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies tries to discover if there is any light that can escape that darkness’s gravity well.

As the latest installment in their Criminal series, this comic steps away from the gritty city and exists in a world of resort-like rehab clinics and off-season summer houses. These are places of hope and restoration but as Brubaker and Phillips turn their attention toward them, they become as run down as any seedy bar or two-bit motel room. The corruption of the city infests these places like a virus of evil. When they eventually run away from the clinic, Ellie and Skip play at being a real couple even as they spend most of their time stoned out of their minds on the drugs stolen from a small-town pharmacy. Ellie knows that she’s bad and can’t fight against her urges to bring Skip and everything around her down to her level. “.. I’m a bad influence. With no intention of being anything else,” she reveals to the audience.


The fight against that darkness is really just a fight for survival and, as we put together the puzzle pieces of who Ellie really is (a nice little prize for long-time Criminal readers,) that means fighting against becoming what the darkness desires her to be. Ellie believes that she can use the fear that comes with the evil without it changing her but that’s what everyone likes to believe. That’s the big lie present of most of Brubaker and Phillips’ work together, that the darkness of the human soul can be used against itself, but we’ve seen time and time again that it’s not possible. That evil, the result of some kind of long-borne sin of humanity, always wins. Even in Brubaker and Phillips’ books, when characters seemingly win the day, we have to ask what was the true cost of the victory?

Ellie’s story, a good girl in a bad situation and bringing Skip down with her, gets lost in a haze of drugs and the fantasy of some kind of perpetually stoned, domestic life. Looking at her mother, who she saw as angelic when she was doped out of her mind, and musicians like Graham Parsons and Billie Holiday who lost years and lives to drugs, Ellie sees something that a lot of people see in drugs. She sees an escape from this world. She sees an escape from her life, one that robbed a young girl of both a father and a mother, and put her in a position where she has no choice but to ruin Skip, someone who could take her out of her life and possibly into a better one. Drugs are an escape and while Ellie doesn’t seem to be one of the junkies that she idolizes according to the title of the book, you can see how in a world that promises only guns and death how drugs could appear to be a legitimate option out of that world.

"But the best crime stories never let us off that easy; they know we’re all guilty of something (even if it’s as innocuous as jaywalking) and judge us even as we’re feeling good that we’re not criminals like Ellie is."

So why do we keep reading these stories? Do we really think Ellie is better than she actually is even if everything tells us to not get involved with this woman? Part of it is that we probably do want to believe in “heroes” and “good guys” even if Brubaker and Phillips constantly remind us just how fallen people are. Maybe it’s that we see something of ourselves in their protagonists and that Brubaker and Phillips hold up a mirror that’s distorted just enough to make us think that we’re seeing ourselves in Ellie and Skip even if it’s not a clear or complete reflection. Ellie is a good girl in a bad situation, or that’s at least what we tell ourselves and it’s easy to relate that to our stories and some less than ideal situation in our lives. She’s just like us, just without the rehab, the drugs or the guns. Or maybe it’s that she’s exactly like us and if she can be saved, we can be saved. But the best crime stories never let us off that easy; they know we’re all guilty of something (even if it’s as innocuous as jaywalking) and judge us even as we’re feeling good that we’re not criminals like Ellie is.


Even the art, with its wide open lines, seems to be warning us about the face value of this story. Phillips moves away from the recent realism of their recent Kill Or Be Killed toward a more suggestive and expressionistic image. Combined with Jacob Phillips’ tonal coloring, there’s an innocence to this artwork that separates this from most of Brubaker and Phillips’ stories. The coloring, full of pastels and light hues in the day, takes on a more sinister emotion at night. Jacob’s color palette doesn’t change but he leans into more darker and ominous tones that help hide Ellie’s ulterior motives when Ellie coaxes Skip out of his room to sneak a smoke and a kiss. In these night scenes, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies starts to look more like a classic Criminal story in both images and words.

This isn’t a story of life and death, except that it is. It’s about two kids rebelling against the authority that is trying to shape them and their futures. They’re two kids who don’t want to be told what to do by their parents or guardians, even if their reflections of those parents. Both Skip and Ellie are living with the sins of their parents, stuck in a rehab center because of parents that they’re trying not to be even as they’re turning into them. In the darkness of their escape from the rehab center, they’re seeking a release from this world. Characters in the Criminal stories have always sought an understanding of their lives but Ellie seems to know all too well what her life is and how her actions reinforce her own concept of herself.

Some of the best crime stories explore the search for redemption in worlds without forgiveness or grace. Brubaker and Phillips’s stories are full of people who, to one degree or another, are guilty of something. So even our “heroes,” like Ellie, in any other kind of story would be the villain. Instead in My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, Ellie is our deeply flawed and damaged protagonist, someone who looks at junkies and sees a beautiful disconnection from the ugliness of the real world. Her heroes have always been junkies and Brubaker and Phillips turn that on us, making our hero in this book a junkie as well. Maybe she’s right and Ellie doesn’t need to be in rehab but she’s such a damaged character that maybe she does need some other type of rehabilitation that this world just cannot provide.

My Heroes have Always Been Junkies
Written by Ed Brubaker
Drawn by Sean Phillips
Colored by Jacob Phillips
Published by Image Comics

November 1, 2018

, , , , , , , ,   |  

Getting Lost in the Mind of Moon Knight by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire

Art by Greg Smallwood

Moon Knight opens with what looks to be a standard superhero device- a villain using the heroes’ dissociation from reality as a weapon against him— the writer and artist sneakily move the story out of New York City, Gotham, or Metropolis, and into the realm of the character’s own mind, where his greatest enemy turns out to be himself. Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s Moon Knight trips through the mind of a person with a mental disorder, in this case, multiple personalities. Letting go of the usual good guys versus bad guys dichotomy of superhero comics, Lemire and Smallwood explore what it means for someone who puts on a costume and takes on a different name to be considered healthy.

Moon Knight has never been the sanest character in comics, to begin with. He takes the whole concept of secret identities to some twisted and dark corners as his alter egos are the different personalities that exist within Marc Spector’s head. Spector, Moon Knight, Jake Lockley, and Steven Grant. Soldier of fortune, superhero, taxi driver, rich playboy. The thin line that that separated Moon Knight and Batman since Moon Knight first appeared in the 1970s is that Batman is supposedly sane, minus the occasional tale like Grant Morrison’s take on the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh that could easily be a Moon Knight story. Moon Knight stories that have tried to tackle his mental health have more often than not still focused on the superhero aspect of the character, treating his disorder as something that he needs to overcome to save the day. Moon Knight stories are nearly always framed as superhero stories where his illness is portrayed more as his kryptonite than a matter of health and wellness. Lemire and Smallwood, along with a host of other cartoonists, take that battle for dominance that’s always happening in Moon Knight’s mind and put it front and center in this story as Moon Knight really is trapped in his own mind in this book.

The experience of reading Moon Knight is most likely a poor analog for anyone suffering this mental disorder but it’s also may be one of the closest experiences to the feeling of not being in control of your own being that you can get in comics. Opening in a mental institution, Moon Knight has to question what’s real and what isn’t as he questions his own sanity as it appears that one of his archenemies has him trapped. It feels like any standard story that tries to define mental health as a struggle between reality and illusion but at some point, the question of “reality” gets tossed by the wayside as the book shifts its focus toward the struggle of sickness and health. You probably don’t even know where it happens— maybe at about the part where 3 different artists start drawing the different aspects of Moon Knight’s personalities— but when you do realize it, the point of this story shifts from being another Moon Knight story into being a story about completeness and health that uses superhero metaphors to illustrate the all-to-real battles that many people fight on a daily basis.

Art by Francesco Francavilla

It’s weird to think that there are no other characters in this book but Moon Knight and his multiple personalities. As drawn by Wilfredo Torres, Francesco Francavilla, and James Stokoe, the story aspects of Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, and Marc Spector provide action and excitement to the story even as those aspects struggle to define who the real person is. Their story portions are part of the symptoms of Moon Knight’s illness while Smallwood and Bellaire draw and color the difficult road to wellness that the character is trying to navigate. While Moon Knight’s supporting characters appear in the book, there’s no real Bushmaster, no real Frenchie, no real Gena, and more importantly no real Marlene in this story even if they are featured in Moon Knight’s experiences throughout the book. If you’re a longtime Moon Knight fan, those names may mean something to you from his third-tier Marvel mythology. But for Moon Knight, each of those people represents an aspect of his multiple personalities, memory fragments of the many people that he is. Projections of them appear throughout the book, guiding Moon Knight’s journey through a mish-mashed symbolical landscape but that’s all they are- projections of memories that have contributed to the life and adventures of Moon Knight.

Even with the other artists contributing art, Smallwood and colorist Jordie Bellaire chronicle this journey from sickness to health with a naturalism that makes Moon Knight’s struggles all the more relatable. Torres, Francavilla, and Stokoe are there to illustrate the fracturing of a mind and perception but Smallwood and Bellaire's art unifies these many personalities, bringing them together in the guise of Mr. Knight, the white-suited and simple masked version of Moon Knight. Even when Mr. Knight seemingly steps into the cosmos to interact with the Egyptian gods, Smallwood and Bellaire create a visual identity to the story that unifies the healing.
Art by Greg Smallwood

As the story itself has a number of personalities, they all come back to the vision of Smallwood and Bellaire who really define the conflicts in Moon Knight’s head. As Lemire is not writing a standard superhero story of good versus evil, Smallwood and Bellaire’s artwork is not limited by the standard props of superhero comics. And while parts of this book use the basic language of mainstream comics, most of the art tries to use that language to show the inner battle that Moon Knight is fighting. Sometimes it looks familiar and benign but at other times, the art becomes disorienting and difficult to contextualize within the boundaries of what we think clarity and health should be.

Reading Moon Knight is like being in a constantly shifting dream. Everything looks and feels like it could be real even as a small voice in the back of our minds screams that nothing is real. Everything becomes the machinations of a mind that is forming its own reality. Only for most of us, we wake up and reality does take over as the dream fades into memory. Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire show us that for some people, it’s not as easy as waking up to find some semblance of normal again.

Moon Knight
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Greg Smallwood
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Additional art by Wilfredo Torres & Michael Garland, 
Francesco Francavilla and James Stokoe
Lettered by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics

October 31, 2018

, , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic GHOST Shop October 31st, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:



Man-Eaters #2 by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk, published by Image Comics
Man-Eaters is funny, emotional, highly political, as subtle as a sledgehammer, and incredibly relevant in 2018.  This story takes place in a near future where a condition known as Toxoplasmosis X causes women to turn into savage large cats that kill a number of people. So, menstruation is banned, and all women are given hormones to prevent it.  The first issue was excellent, and I'm looking forward to more. 


Shanghai Red #5 by Christopher Sebela, Joshua Hixson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Image Comics
This is the final issue of an absolutely terrific miniseries. If you're looking for a historical revenge epic that's dramatic, intense and thoughtful, look no further than Shanghai Red.  Chris Sebela writes the hell out of this book, and Josh Hixson is a serious talent on art. One of my favorite books of 2018.

X-Men Grand Design Second Genesis TP by Ed Piskor, published by Marvel Comics
X-Men Grand Design is an ambitious concept. Creator Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree) has attempted to take years of X-Men chronology and make sense of it and present it in a unified history. And I think he's quite successful, with his gorgeous unique art style and great attention to detail. I loved the first oversized collection, and so I am looking forward to picking this up as well.

Neil's Picks:


Bone Parish #4 by Cullen Bunn, Jonas Scharf and Alex Guimaraes published by Boom! Studios

See I told you I had a thing for Bunn’s work (see last week's picks). That much so Bone Parish is slowly becoming one of my tops picks of 2018. I never expected it to be as good as it actually is but Bunn once again expertly handles a horror tale like no one else. Is there anyone else out there that can write so many different styles of horror? If so, then please let me know. The intensity of the series has grown with each issue, and with things becoming increasingly dangerous for the Winter family, I don’t see this one ending well. But for the time being am intrigued to see how Bunn handles the intricacies of said family. And let’s not forget Scharf’s art and Guimaraes' colours which adds to the sinister dark tone of this series.


Wytches Bad Egg Halloween Special #1 (One Shot) by Scott Snyder, Jock and Matt Hollingsworth published by Image Comics

Having not heard any news for when the next arc in the Wytches series will appear. I am incredibly excited to see that this one-shot serves as a standalone story and a prequel to the next arc in series. One that came as a complete surprise when I saw it on this weeks release list. Snyder has certainly been busy over at DC, and that’s good for fans of Batman and the Justice League. For me though it’s always been his work on The Wake and Wytches that have stood out. Bringing the original creative team back, with Jock on pencils and Hollingsworth on colours is also something to shout about. Wytches was one of the best horror comics of its day, and hopefully once again this creative have something planned for us.

October 24, 2018

, , , , , ,   |  

Halloween Horror: Saladin Ahmed's Abbott from Boom! Studios

Written by Saladin Ahmed
Line Art by Sami Kivela
Color Art by Jason Wordie
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios

Detroit in the early 70s isn't an easy place to be if you're a black woman. It's even worse if you're a black woman reporter who isn't afraid to run stories about police brutality. But vague racism and sexism is nothing compared to the demonic forces looking to destroy her in this amazing mini-series that's out now in collected form from Boom! Studios.

October 23, 2018

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 24th, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...


James’ Picks:

Isola vol. 1 by Karl Kerschl, Brenden Fletcher, MSassyk and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
Isola is a series that I think will appeal to fans of manga (the creators note that this will appeal to fans of Miyazaki movies - I haven't seen any so I can't speak to that), stories with not a lot of words, and stories with ridiculously beautiful art. It's a story of myth and magic and adventure through the forest. There is some seriously jaw-droppingly beautiful art in this book.  Karl Kerschl is that good of an artist, and Msassyk provides incredible colors. I think this is a story that will read very well collected.


Bloodstrike Brutalists by Michel Fiffe, published by Image Comics
This will appeal to fans of the 90's Image Bloodstrike comic, and will also appeal to fans of Michel Fiffe's art generally. He's got a remarkable style that feels like nothing else to me. I wasn't a reader of the old Bloodstrike comics but I still enjoyed this book. It's a gritty black-ops team, they have weird and violent missions. There, that's all you need to know. Anyway, it's a fun read and Fiffe does incredible work. 


Dead Kings #1 by Steve Orlando and Matthew Dow smith, published by Aftershock Comics
This sounds like a futuristic dystopian story, which I'm not normally drawn to, but it sounds weird enough to be really interesting. Smith is an excellent artist, and Orlando is a very talented storyteller, whether with his own individual projects like Undertow or his terrific DC work in books like Midnighter or Justice League of America. He tells edgy, interesting stories, and that makes this a book worth checking out.

The Amazing Spider-Man #8 by Nick Spencer and Humberto Ramos, published by Marvel Comics
I really can't say enough good things about this book since Nick Spencer has taken over as writer. Forget Hydra-Cap or anything else like that, and remember that Spencer is the writer of one of the funniest comics in years, Superior Foes of Spider-Man (drawn by the incomparable Steve Lieber). Amazing Spider-Man has been a fun, entertaining, back-to-basics Spidey story, with excellent art and fun characters. Spencer's voice for Peter is excellent, this is worth a look.

Neil's Picks:

Cold Spots #3 by Cullen Bunn and Mark Torres, published by Image Comics
No one writes horror comics quite like Bunn, the guy certainly has the gift of “creeping you the hell out”. Cold Spots is no different. If you love anything that has a supernatural mystery vibe then this is for you. Bunn once again creates a gripping plot with fleshed out characters that suck you in from the off. Add to that Mark Torres’s haunting artwork and you have a creepy modern-day ghost story of the highest order. With elements of The Wicker Man and Poltergeist, Bunn is once again out to make your skin crawl. You may think twice when the air around you suddenly goes cold in the future. You will see something quite regular when it comes to my weekly picks, Cullen Bunn features heavily. This series is a perfect example of why.

Aliens Essential Comics Vol 1 TPB by Mark Verheiden, Mark A. Nelson, Sam Kieth and more, published by Dark Horse Comics
After the likes of Amazing Spider-man and X-men, Aliens comics were the top of my list in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Being in my mid to late teens and experiencing Aliens for the first time on VHS, my appetite for more content of the lovable Xenomorph grew. When seeing Mark Verheiden’s Aliens: Outbreak on the shelves, my eyes almost exploded.
Set 10 years after Aliens, Outbreak follows Newt and Hicks (sorry no Ripley) as they struggle to come to terms with their experiences on LV-426. Everything is here, scientists wanting to use Xenomorphs as bio-weapons, facehuggers, Colonial Marines, Alien Queen you name it Verheiden covered it. Add to that love, loss, despair and you have a very human story. Nelson’s artwork on Outbreak in stunning. His Xenomorphs, human characters and ships are incredibly detailed. Adding to the fact that in my opinion, this book is the best Aliens story ever put into comic form (sorry Dead Orbit, but it is).
I won’t go into details on the other stories covered in this release. But if you have a huge love for the Aliens franchise and have never picked up these early stories, get this from your comic shop tomorrow!
(Sidenote: Due to these stories being canon for the franchise, Alien 3 sort of changed the way these books were republished. In later editions, Newt and Hicks names were changed to Billie and Wilks. Ridiculous I know but thought I best give you a heads up.)

Sean's Picks:


Isola vol. 1 by Karl Kerschl, Brenden Fletcher, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
A mythic place of the dead referred to as Isola is the impending destination for our cast of characters here as they lead us on a journey of fantasy told with visually stunning and decompressed art throughout. This is a story of courage. This is a story of fear. This is a story none such like so many others trying to over explain itself into existence. This first volume of Isola brings a visually stunning
masterpiece alongside a simple narrative that drives home a most compelling story of fantasy and the like. I binge read this on a sunny afternoon one day last week, and it was an exquisitely fun ride. I
enjoyed this one and I am excited to see where this creative team takes us with it.

Abbott Vol 1 by Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, Jason Wordie, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
This is a gem of a book. It's solid and it's drama. It's spellbinding and it's gripping. It's timely and it's transparent. It's classic so much that it's relevant. It is everything you could ask for in a story told in nearly any format. For this story in particular, it's the 1970's in Detroit and we follow the life of a badass black woman as she battles the occult and solves the unsolvable as a journalist for one of the top newspapers of its time. The beginning hits way harder than the middle and ending, but don't let that dissuade you from this book come Wednesday because the first several pages of this 5 issue
mini series is some of the best I've seen all year for a debut. With Halloween just nearing one week away I suggest everyone who reads this to then immediately head out and pick up this book.. but don't just take my word for it.. Rob's got a lengthy dive into the book upcoming. [This is why it's not on my list today!-Rob] So if it's not my heads-up that tips you off, be sure to stick around for Big Rob's exploration of it coming soon. [I...don't think anyone has ever called me that before, Sean. -Big R?]

Army of Darkness Halloween Special by Chad Bowers & Chris Sims, Edin Marron, Chris O’Halloran, Benito Cereno, Sam Lotfi, Dee Cunniffe, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dynamite Entertainment
Holy shit, Bruce Campbell. Ash Williams is back, folks, with a vengeance and a chainsaw. With this
dearly beloved one-shot we've got two shots of Ash in two raucously haunting stories that will disappoint no one with any amount of expectations for the premise. And for all you kiddos out there who only know Bruce Campbell as the snooty usher in Sam Raimi's adaptation of Spider-Man 2... well then..find out how to watch one of the two Evil Dead films (sorry parents!) and then come back and get this comic to extend the fun! I cannot stress this enough: if you are remotely familiar with The Evil Dead or Army of Darkness films then I swear to god you will not be disappointed and thank me immediately thereafter once you finish reading this one-shot Halloween special so graciously put together and distributed by Dynamite Entertainment.

Burnouts #2 by Dennis Culver, Geoffo, Lauren Perry, and Dave Dwonch, published by Image
The first issue of Burnouts created so much buzz (see what I did there?) about itself that it became one of my weekly recommends one week last month. This week the follow up to the debut comes out and advances the premise around a pasture of teenagers defying their parents and defeating alien invasions.. but the devil's in the details when they realize getting blasted is the only way to fight the
impending doom that is the alien invasion. Silly. Stupid. Fun. Awesome! This comic gets a high five from me (and another pun) and this one comes with a strong recommend to anyone looking to soften
there palate with so many hard-hitting heavy comics out there these days.

Shadowman #8 by Andy Diggle, Renato Guedes, and others, published by Valiant
Andy Diggle just ended the first story arc and is now beginning a new one with the eighth issue of Shadowman. With so many played out origin stories and overtold premises it's refreshing to see someone's bold take on a new supernatural someone with the abilities to tackle the unknown. I'll be following this story to it's end.. and finger's crossed that end doesn't come anytime soon. I've grown tired of caped and cowled comics lately. They all feel corporately contrived. I'm glad we have books like Black Hammer and Shadowman to show us how to look at these characters differently.

Rob's Picks:

Fante Bukowski 3 by Noah Van Sciver, published by Fantagraphics
One of the things Noah is best at is creating characters who don't understand how awful they are. Fante Bukowski is his crowning achievement in this regard--he's a "struggling, misunderstood genius" who is actually a hack trying to emulate his literary heroes--who probably aren't anyone you want to model yourself after in the first place. In the first two volumes, Noah's ability to skewer everyone you wish you didn't know in creative circles was flawless. I've no doubt he's got big plans for this final installment, drawn in his distinctive, tight paneling style. Get the other two if you can, and make sure you read this one, too. You'll laugh at Fante--and cringe because you know him at every single damned con.

FTL Y'all: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive, by Various Creators, published by Iron Circus
The premise is that space travel is really cheap.
The publisher is Spike.
The creators include Evan Dahm, Blue Delliquanti, Rachel Ordway (Jerry's daughter), and Panel Patter alumni Maia Kobabe.
How can you not be excited about that? Everyone who knows anything about anthology comics knows that Spike is one of the best in the business at making anthologies, and a sci-fi theme in her hands is not to be missed. The idea of space being available to all is such an uplifting one, and Spike's ability to bring together creators of all walks of life into the mix ensure the variety of stories will keep readers turning the page for how Evan, Blue, Rachel, Maia, and a ton of others approach the idea of anyone's jump into the space race.

Banana Sunday Full-Color Reprint by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, published by Oni Press
Banana Sunday was my first introduction to the amazing, Eisner-winning Bandette team of Coover and Tobin. Together and separately, they're two of the best in the business. And this was their start. It's the story of Kirby Steinberg, a young woman who's responsible for three talking primates. Didn't we all go through that phase? While Kirby dodges integrating her school life with keeping folks away from her simian friends, we watch Coover's art develop on the page and Paul's signature scripting wit shine through. These two have always been amazing creators. Now's your chance to see that first-hand--and in color, too. Don't miss it!

October 18, 2018

, ,   |  

MICE Preview 2018

One of my favorite things about the Fall is that it means that it's time for the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE).  MICE is going into its eighth year, and it's a wonderful (and completely free!) showcase of small press and self-published comics (think Small Press Expo, but smaller).



This year's special guests at MICE include the terrific lineup of Vera Brosgol, Jim Woodring, Tillie Walden, Tony Cliff, Keith Knight, Rosemary Mosco, Andrew MacLean and Charles Forsman. These creators make up only a small amount of the talented creators that will be at MICE (including other fantastic creators like Lucy Bellwood, Nate Powell, Ben Hatke and Panel Pal Ansis Purins) along with thought-provoking panel discussions and a number of events for kids.

I think this will be my sixth or seventh time attending MICE, and each time I go I pick up something new and interesting and unexpected (and a few years ago had the opportunity at MICE to participate in a panel discussion on writing about comics, which was a great experience). As I said, it's a completely free event, and a great chance to meet some wonderful comics creators. 

Details:

October 20-21

Saturday 10-6
Sunday 11-5

University Hall at Lesley University
1815 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA

October 17, 2018

, , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 17th, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Welcome to Neil Spiers, our newest contributor! He's a good friend of the site and has been chatting with us for awhile now on Twitter. You can find some of his great, longer review work at our Panel Pals, Do You Even Comic Book? Neil's got some picks for you and they're good ones!

Neil's Picks:

Evolution #11 by James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, Joshua Williamson and others, published by Image/Skybound Comics.
Four writers on one series, surely not possible? But the team behind Evolution are one cohesive bunch. Having read all 10 issues last week (including the first trade), Evolution jumped to the top of my pull list. Human evolution is taking on a massively horrific change and only a few people are taking notice.
Elements of Cronenberg horror, mixed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers makes for an incredibly intense and disturbing thrill ride of a story.

Venom Annual #1 by Donny Cates, David Michelinie, Ron Lim and others, published by Marvel Comics. 
Surprisingly, this is Venom’s first ever annual. But with everything that has come before it, especially Don Cates incredibly gripping Venom run. This could be one of the best annuals released in a long time.
Cates has taken Eddie Brock’s character, mentally and physically destroyed him and taken us along for the ride. Never have I read a Venom run that had such emotional pull. One that by the end of the first arc almost brought me to tears…. Yes, a Venom book did that!  With numerous writers, including Jeff Loveness, who’s Judas on Boom was engaging as hell, this annual could be a huge eye-opener.

Death or Glory Vol.1 by Rick Remenber and Bengal, published by Image Comics 
Rick Remender continues to pump out stunning book after stunning book and Death or Glory is no different.
The first arc of Death or Glory was a joy to read. Remender pushed the writing to 11 as it never once let up. A mix of No Country for Old Men and Mad Max see’s the main protagonist Glory pull off four daring cross-country heists within three days. All while being chased by crooked cops, mob bosses and Mexican cartel members.
Bengal’s artwork blew me away and was a feast for the eyes. Never have I seen car chases drawn with such intensity. This trade is a must for your collection.

James' Picks:

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 by Jeff Lemire and Rich Tommaso, published by Dark Horse Comics
Black Hammer has consistently been one of the best, most interesting comics of the past few years. Jeff Lemire is taking lots of interesting superhero tropes and mixing them together in a very cool, creative and creepy way. A reason to check out the new issue is that it's the first to be illustrated by the talented Rich Tommaso.  Tommaso is a creator who's done his own, fascinating creator owned work, and is a talented artist whose perspective I'm really curious to see brought to the world of Black Hammer. This new arc is meant to take place in a weird reality, and that's perfect for Tommaso's bright, weird, silver-age inspired pop-art.  

 
East of West #39 by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin and Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics
East of West one of my top 3 favorite comics being published now. Hickman and company have been building a complex, alternate history of America where the Civil War ended very differently, America was divided up into 7 nations, and beings of myth and religion walk around as the country moves closer to an apocalypse.  The book has consistently incredible art from the unparalleled Nick Dragotta, whose Manga-influenced style depicts aciton and motion better than just about anyone. The colors from Frank Martin are also amazing. This book is dense and complex and an incredibly rewarding read.
 
Black Badge #3 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins, published by Boom! Studios
If you're a fan of stories of secret agencies and government conspiracies and covert operations, and stories about Boy Scouts, well then have I got the perfect story for you. Black Badge is telling the story of a most secret branch of the Boy Scouts, that carries out clandestine missions all over the world. Who would suspect a bunch of kids, after all? It's a fantastic premise and I've really enjoyed the story so far. Tyler Jenkins has a great, dreamlike style that's nicely colored by Hilary Jenkins. And Kindt is better than just about anyone at telling stories about weird, secret things.

Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafor, Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire, published by Marvel Comics
After Black Panther, one of the best movies of the year, I'm very excited for more Shuri. Now grated, the Shuri of the comics is pretty different from the Shuri of the movies, but I'm really interested to see what this creative team does with this character, who is getting a bigger spotlight on her.  I wasn't familiar with Okorafor's work, but a best-selling author of Afro-Futurist stories? Telling stories about an important character in Wakanda? Sounds like something I want to read. And I am huge fan of Leonardo Romero's art - he's a great "neo-clacissist"/Toth disciple in the vein of Chris Samnee and Doc Shaner. He brings a lot of fun and personality to all of his work.



MCMLXXV #2 by Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan, published by Image Comics
She's a badass NYC taxi driver in 1975, wielding a magic tire iron that helps her defeat monsters. And she comes from a line of taxi drivers that protect the city from monsters. The first issue of MCMLXXV was so much fun. A wild, funny, exciting and sexy read.  So, I absolutely recommend picking up issue 1 and getting issue 2 as well, as this seems like it's gonna be something really fun and special.

Mike's Picks: 
[Welcome back, Mike!]

Simpsons Comics #245 by Nathan Kane, Rex Lindsey, and Jason Ho, published by Bongo Comics
This is a bit of a long time coming, I’d suppose. Bongo seemed to be sputtering to the finish line for a few years now, having canceled Futurama Comics and opting for increased digital first publications amidst a suspect digital distribution platform. Still, it’s a bit of a shock that one of the world’s biggest media entities could never seem to entirely wrap its head around the comics world. A few years ago, I began a quest to procure every issue of this series, and I’ll be especially saddened to read the final issue this Wednesday.

Exorsisters # 1 by Ian Boothby, Gisele Lagace, Pete Pantazis and Taylor Esposito, published by Image Comics
There are almost too many good releases from Image this week – so many that picking one or two is near impossible. Conventional wisdom would say that Gideon Falls, East of West, or The New World are the sure things this week. My own personal inclinations tell me to urge you toward Stellar, Skyward, or Proxima Centauri. However, if you’ve been reading any of those series, you already know they’re all strong, and you’re probably leaning towards purchasing them either in single issue or trade format. And if you haven’t . .  . well, I don’t particularly urge you to randomly pick up East of West 39 or Proxima Centauri 5 on a whim. Instead, I’ll urge you to drop your hard-earned $3.99 on Exorsisters from the creators Gisele Lagace and Ian Boothby (who, coincidentally, wrote more Simpsons comics than any other writer). Issue 1 was a romp. Boothby’s script is both goofy and wry, and Lagace and Pantazis put together crisp, bright panels that evoke and Archie-style vibe. On top of that, Esposito is one of my favorite letters working today.

What If? Ghost Rider #1 by Sebastian Girner, Caspar Wijngaard, and Aleksi Briclot, published by Marvel Comics
Maybe it’s the fourth wall shattering premise. Maybe it’s the promise of a completely awesome Heavy Metal premise. Maybe it’s the cover that evokes the best character from Mad Max: Fury Road. Whatever it is, I’m in for this What If Marvel Comics Went Metal offering. I’m by no means a metal head, but I love a good metal parody for the basic reason that metalheads fully embrace their music and lifestyle knowing exactly how absurd much of it is. We should all have that level of sincerity.

Mage: Volume 5 – Book 3: The Hero Denied by Matt and Brennan Wagner, published by Image Comics
Since I leaned towards new readers with Exorsisters, I’m going to take the opposite approach for an Image trade pick this week. While you definitely should pick up Gideon Falls, and while it’s going to be much more immediately accessible than Mage, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight this particular collection. Mage has played an incredibly vital role in my life, and this final series has been a stellar addition to the storyline.

Sean's Picks:

Gideon Falls 7 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, published by Image
Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino return this week with Father Fred, Sheriff Miller, and Norton in what is arguably the most anticipated return of 2018. After a brief hiatus when the first chapter came to an end in early June the creative team behind this ambitiously eerie story of obsession, faith and mental illness come back with a vengeance just in time for Halloween. Just when ghosts and goblin one-shot comics have begun saturating comic stands we will soon see horror shudder itself back down to a spine shivering WTF. If I had to decide right now, I’d most obviously name Gideon Falls as my favorite comic of 2018, and maybe even my favorite piece by Lemire ever. Time will be the judge on if the latter remains to be true. At this moment in the Gideon Falls story we have only been given a beginning. To say I am excited for what’s ahead with its middle and end would be a careless understatement. The trade comes out this week too.. so if you’re one of the few who hasn’t read this one yet.. you’ve got an easy no-excuse trip to the comic shop this Wednesday to help you catch up in one swoop.

Submerged 3 by Vita Ayala, Lisa Sterle, and others, published by Vault
Submerged is so fresh and so intense, and when I read issues one and two a few weeks ago it left me immediately imagining possible directions this story could go. And that right there, folks, is when you know something is special.. when it grabs you so intently that it has you personally invested in its plot development as you hash out the varied details of where a story might go. That is what makes comics fun. That is what we are here for. That is a good time. A good time is appreciated when you can become unintentionally motivated to invest the imagination in a story being told. Though this won’t necessarily win any awards for groundbreaking territory, it will most definitely have you roped in with the joy ride this creative team is telling. Vault is currently my favorite publisher and distributor of comics. Everything they are putting out right now is at least an eight out of ten in my opinion.

Cemetery Beach 2 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, published by Image
This comic is everything you’d expect from something coming from Mr Ellis: high octane, fast paced, smooth talking criminals. He’s got a way with words and a knack for action. The delivery is just as impactful with Howard’s menacing and shifty illustrations that draw you in so deep that you’ll forget to turn the page. The first issue was 95% action and 5% foundation and developmental plot. I am anxious to see where the all-important sophomore release takes us. I recently reread the first issue of Cemetery Beach and I was surprised at how riveting this story is even after a re-read weeks after my own review.

Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle 3 by Cavan Scott, Derek Cham, and Corin Howell, published by IDW 
This is a weekly release during the month of October in celebration of the impending festivities of Halloween, I am certain, and I have taken it upon myself to collect the mini series for my expanding collection of one-off’s and mini’s. The series hasn’t been anything too exciting, as it is marketed with the children’s banner of a star wars adventures spin off, but last week’s issue was exponentially better than the debut. Maybe it had something to do with it behind centered on more familiar characters to me? Who knows.. and at this point it will remain an unknown, but what I do know is that my favorite star wars characters are Han Solo and Chewbacca… and the issue coming out this week is featuring them. If you fancy yourself a conversation on how the space saga dynamic duo’s ghost story panned out… well, then find me on the twitter’s and ask me.. cause with everything else going on I’ll more than likely overlook going back to this series again. But believe me.. it’s a ghoulishly childlike good time.

Venom Annual #1 by Donny Cates, David Michelinie, Ron Lim and others, published by Marvel Comics. 
This is Venom’s first annual. Ever. And.. its written by one of comic’s hottest writers. (Rightly so, cause he is writing the character currently and that only makes sense, right?) Well.. but always. So I saw the movie over the weekend and just caught myself up with the current Cates run of Venom, and might I add.. good god damn! this series is GOOD! The movie coulda been avoided.. but the comic series: it’s nearly the best mainstream comic out there right now. There isn’t much needing to be said here by me to get sales translated over to its line in the spreadsheet come Wednesday, because it’s already smoking the competition. I try to steer clear of recommending the big 2 because, you know, they’re…Big. But Venom is that good.. and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a little scare. And may it come as no surprise to most of you, but after completing my list of 5 for this week’s Catch It at the Comic Shop I was pleasantly surprised that all 5 had at list a hint of horror to go with the theme of October.