May 15, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop May 15th, 2019

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...

Sean's Picks:

May 8, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop May 8th, 2019

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...

Sean's Picks:

May 6, 2019

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Waiting for Ape Sex- thoughts on Jaime Hernandez’s Is This How You See Me?

Over the past 15 years or so, Hopey married Sadaf and is raising their son.  Maggie settled down with Ray Dominguez and seemed to find something different than Hopey but hopefully just as meaningful.  We may be able to accept that these two have moved on but they still appear to be having trouble accepting how life has divided them.  Here they are, two lifelong friends and lovers trying to revisit the old hangouts of their youth. Nothing can go wrong there except that everything can go wrong, starting with Maggie making an awkwardly intimate pass at Hopey on their first night back at Hoppers (Jaime Hernandez’s standin for his own hometown of Oxnard, CA ).  It’s a move that would have worked 30 or 40 years ago but feels desperate and lonely now. For these two, everything has changed in their lives but could it be that nothing has changed in their feelings for each other? On this weekend away from their homes and their lives, could they be the kids that they once were, the punks that thumbed their noses at the adults that they grew up to be? That’s kind of the foolish hope that Maggie demonstrates as she clumsily attempts to goad Hopey into making a move on her.

May 1, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop May 1st, 2019

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...

Rob's Picks:
Gogor #1 by Ken Garing, published by Image Comics
In a world of closely linked islands that ring the sky, each plot of land has its own rules--until one group looks to unite them by force. In a time of great need, there's a legend of a creature who can help--Gogor--if only the right ritual is performed. In this debut issue, Garing keeps his characters--and the reader--moving quickly, showing glimpses of an extended fantasy world through an issue-length chase sequence. It's really cool looking, with human-like characters riding giant insects and a cool take on the golem concept. I'm not usually one for pure fantasy, but this has my interest, and should have yours, too.

April 24, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop, April 24th 2019

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:

Ascender #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics
I loved Descender, and am excited for more of this series. Descender was a robots vs. humans story, and general spoiler - the robots won. So, things aren't great for the humans, and in Ascender, apparently magic returns to the universe. Jeff Lemire is a great writer, and Dustin Nguyen has done stunning artwork. I really don't think it makes sense to read Ascender until you've read Descender. So...what are you waiting for? Go read Descender!

The Warning Vol. 1 TP by Edward LaRoche, published by Image Comics
I like The Warning but I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I certainly think it's an interesting read. It's a very jargon-heavy, boots-on-the-ground military-type story. It's something of a slow burn of a series, but it's got an interesting "you are there" approach to the nature of the military and combat interactions. And also some very cool art.

Action Comics #1010 by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Epting, published by DC Comics
Of the two ongoing Superman comics, I'm currently preferring Action Comics. It's got much more of a grounded, espionage story, as someone is taking out all of the various clandestine organizations in the DCU, one by one. It's got great partnership between Lois and Clark, and terrific artwork from Steve Epting(!).  so, it's a very fun read and I highly recommend it.

Thanos #1 by Tini Howard and Ariel Olivetti, published by Marvel Comics
Thanos is having a big week. He's got a movie out this week (you might have heard about it), and what looks like an excellent new comic that will explore the early relationship between The Mad Titan and a young Gamora. I'm very excited for this book - Tini Howard has been doing some excellent work over at IDW/Black Crown, and I'm excited to see her fun, edgy storytelling applied to the Marvel Universe. With the talented Ariel Olivetti on art, this should be a fun read.

Rob's Picks:

Wizard Beach #5 by Shaun Simon, Conor Nolan, George Schall, Chad Lewis, Meg Casey, and Mike Fiorentino, published by Boom! Studios
Our hero learns that sometimes the journey for knowledge changes you, as he tries to save both his old home and his Uncle in the conclusion to one of the cutest books I've read all year. The weird, quirky monsters and wizards drawn by Conor Nolan remind me fondly of all the mini-comics I've read for over a decade, and the resolution to the various plots wrap up nicely, with a happy ending that I wasn't sure we were going to get. This is a beautiful, fun, all ages book.

Punk Mambo #1 by Cullen Bunn, Adam Gorham, Jose Villarrubia, and Dave Sharpe, published by Valiant
Valiant's magical side is my favorite part of the line right now. I've been waiting for Cullen to step in since this was announced awhile back, as he has a good ear for horror and Punk Mambo is such a fun character, sharing some traits with a certain trenchcoated blond from DC Comics but being her own woman. Add in a famous ghostly guest star, a plot that takes her into the heart of Voodoo myth and lore, and great linework from Adam Gorham, and you have a series that I highly recommend.

Ghost Tree #1 by Bobby Curnow, Simon Gane, Ian Herring, Becka Kinzie, Chris Mowry, and Takuma Okada, published by IDW
It's always a good time when we have a new Simon Gane book to read. His distinctive linework is a little more muted here, but the layouts are phenomenal, and when you get to the ghostly payoff pages (hey, it's not a spoiler when it's in the title of the book!), you'll linger to look over all the designs and details. Curnow is dealing in ancient legends here, from a different culture than Bunn in Punk Mambo, so it's a quieter take--so far. The art is awesome and I love ghost stories, so I'm in, and you should be, too.

Exorsisters Vol 1 by Ian Boothby, Gisele Legace, Pete Pantazis, and Taylor Esposito, published by Image Comics
Kate and Cate Harrow will help you out of a demonic jam, but you might not like the results. As they wind their way through some comedic cases, a more serious plot lurks, but doesn't alter how many quips we get or fun panels from Gisele Legace. This one feels inspired by manga without using much of the usual OEL tropes, which made it stand out. That and the laugh-out-loud lines from Boothby. I'm hoping for more, and after reading this collection, you will, too.

Mike's Picks:

Fearscape 5 by Daniel O'Sullivan and Andrea Mutti, published by Vault Comics
Vault has a few good books coming out this week, and I certainly recommend picking up as many as your budget and time allow. But if you can only buy one book this week, Vault or otherwise, it needs to be Fearscape. I've gushed over this series before, so I won't go into a ton of detail about how I think it's one of the finer marriages of literature and sequential art we've seen, or how the concept itself works both as a functional linear narrative and a metaphor for the creative process. I won't praise Mutti and O'Sullivan for doing more in individual panels than most teams can complete on a page, and I certainly won't tell you that I'm stunned at the level of tension they've managed to build in four issues. No. I won't gush. That would cheapen all of this, wouldn't it?

Ascender 1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen published by Image Comics
In the increasingly dense field of high concept science fiction comics, it's hard to find new ideas. Lemire and Nguyen's Descender was not only a highly original concept, it was also a masterclass in execution. What these two prolific creators managed to create and wrap up in forty some odd issues is nothing short of astounding, and that's exactly what I expect from Ascender.

Avant-Guards #4 by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes, published by BOOM! Box
I didn't sleep on Avant-Guards inasmuch as I got sidetracked. But when I saw this issue on the docket for Wednesday, I went back and caught up. It's a great series that weaves slice of life with satire, much akin to its stablemate, Giant Days. If you've been sleeping on Avant-Guards or just got sidetracked like me, take this chance to jump back in, because the series is a real treat.

Full Bleed Comics & Culture Quarterly HC Vol 03, published by IDW Publishing
I am always of the opinion that all comic fans need exposure to the types of books they don't often gravitate towards, and anthologies are often the best way to increase that exposure. The Full Bleed series has been wonderful because it flexes genres and employs a diversity of creators that appeals to fans of different persuasions, be it mainstream superhero or experimental indie fare.

Goddess Mode by Zoe Quinn, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi, published by DC Vertigo
I'm not sure if there is a better looking book on the stands than Goddess Mode. If you've been pulled in by the visuals of War of the Realms or Wasted Space, Goddess Mode will be right up your alley. It's intense, high concept cyberpunk with video game action and a color palette that makes you wonder what Rico Renzi sees when his eyes close. But if Rodriguez and Renzi's eye-catching art is enough to pique your interest, Quinn's twisty-turny plot fully matches that sizzle.

Sean's Picks:

Fearscape #5 y Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti, published by Vault Comics
Oh man. I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile. It’s the finale of finales we’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for.. and that isn’t a cheap reference to a certain movie coming out later this week.  Fearscape has been a thrill ride of a comic taking us places you wouldn’t suspect as the reader takes side with the one person you love to hate. This series ending issue of Fearscape, I assume, will be cause of many discussions this weekend.. that is, of course, among those of us who haven’t gotten our Endgame tickets yet. So for the sake of conversation starters I highly recommend this comic to keep that conversation interesting.

Dark Red 2 by Tim Seeley and Corin Howell, published by Aftershock Comics
Vampires. Backwoods rural America. Hmm.. ok. I’ll bite. (Dad jokes are fun). So this comic just got off to a start last month and it’s riding the coattails of the vampire genre a tad late, but let me tell you something.. there’s nothing about this comic that resembles anyone’s coattail. The artwork compliments the story perfectly as it has carefully grounded itself in messy middle America. I’m so ready for this ride. It’s timely, even if the genre may seem a little overdue.

Queen of Bad Dreams #1 by Danny Lore and Jordi Perez, published by Vault Comics
I have kids so I have a modest amount of experience downplaying the relevance of dreams.. or, more specifically, nightmares. This is a story with a premise that gives me the creeps more than one would presumably expect. Figments of a dream running loose in our world only until a person of our kind tracks them down and makes a call:  reinsert it back to its origin, or grant them asylum in our world. This is a genius concept and one I’m not at all surprised at it being on the forefront of the next wave of Vault.

Metalshark Bro #1 by Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe and Walt Ostlie, published by Scout Comics
Apparently Scout comics has an imprint quite similar to the likes of TKO.. with one major difference. Where TKO releases a series in its entity all at once, Scout releases a first issue, or a “pilot”, and following it soon thereafter is the entire rest of the series. This approach of Scout seems a bit more market-safe and could bring us some incredibly daring comic book stories. Once such daring example is this one, Metalshark Bro. I cannot say that I am very familiar with the creative team here, and I am only mildly familiar with Scout.. but this comic fits up the alley to those who are coming down off the Murder Falcon high who may be in need of more metal on their pull list once MF comes to an end.

Ascender 1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics

This comic needs no explanation. This creative team needs little introduction. This story is everything I love about comics. The pictures are beautiful. The story is captivating. The characters are long-lasting. When Descender concluded late last year it was a hard page to turn. That final page of issue 32 was one of the more touching moments to comics. But.. it’s Lemire, so we’ve grown to expect nothing less. It is with my great pleasure to finally recommend the next chapter to this saga as we trade the robots in for wizards and magic. Lemire has not ever done a fantasy driven story and I see no one better suited to illustrate the exploration of narrative in Ascender then Dustin Nguyen. Go buy this book.

April 18, 2019

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Cretaceous by Tadd Galusha

Comics mostly come to me via recommendations from my online family of friends. But lately, another avenue has opened up to me, recommendations from podcasts.

Finding my daily journey to and from work becoming more and more tedious, podcasts have made that journey fun, enlightening and feeling less solitary (I drive alone). Most of these recommendations have single-handedly come from the wonderfully informative Off Panel podcast. Off Panel is one of, if not the best podcast for all things comics related. That being said I have to send a huge thanks to the host of Off Panel, David Harper because once again David's show brought me to yet another comic I would not have heard about. And that comic is Cretaceous.

Set during, yes you guessed it, the Cretaceous period, the principal plot of the book follows the plight of a tragedy-stricken Tyrannosaurus Rex family. The whole story doesn’t solely rest on the shoulders of the T-Rex family though. Galusha intertwines it with side plots from supplementary dinosaurs that all have their moments throughout the book. Some running alongside the main narrative. A banished Triceratops, an opportunistic group of Albertosaurus and numerous others that I’m not going to attempt to type out their names.

You may be waiting for me to say this an anthropomorphic comic but it’s not. This is a comic that is free of any dialogue. A silent comic you might say, with the only text being the sound effects or onomatopoeia (as the Greeks penned the term) being utilized. No easy task for any artist/writer, even a highly successful one. Galusha though handles it with ease. You’d be surprised how the subtle use of dinosaur calls makes for a truly gripping read.

Then we have Galusha's artwork. If Galusha doesn't get approached to draw dinosaur reference books in the future then I'll be dumbfounded. His attention to detail is astounding. His knowledge of dinosaurs and dinosaur anatomy surpasses anything I have seen in any other comic book featuring these enormous and beautiful animals. Not that I’m an expert myself but from what I do know he has honestly brought a period of time to life right before my eyes. Furthermore, it’s nice to finally see some dinosaurs donning feathers.

Cretaceous is definitely a book for all ages. Kids and adults alike would love it. A little gory but no more than any wildlife documentary or Jurassic Park movie. Make this book available in schools and libraries and kids of all ages would lap it up. Come on, who doesn’t love dinosaurs!? They have intrigued humans for hundreds of years and Galusha has created a book that only grows ones intrigue towards these mighty beasts.

April 17, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 17th, 2019

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...

We welcome back Sean to Catch It Picking!

Sean's Picks:

Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #1 by Adam Glass, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock Comics
Hayden Sherman's art is among the best in sci-fi comics right now, and I'm curious to see what we can do with the wide-open comic market of historical fiction. Sherman is currently illustrating Wasted Space and has also done some of my favorites over the last few years (Cold War & The Few). I honestly have no idea what to expect here other than a story of the person responsible for bringing us Frankenstein through visual capabilities of a rising indie star within the industry.

Little Bird #2 by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram, published by Image Comics
Few comics hit as hard as the first issue of Little Bird did last month when Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram unleashed a story so epic it will be a spectacle to see this story unfold to an ending in only five issues. This is a story of survival. A story of unintended loyalty. One of loss and of hope. I read the first issue two times in a row once it came out (a rarity to say the least) and again this last weekend leading up to the second issue. This is seriously a gem of a book, and if you read the liner notes like I do you will have noticed that this will not be collected in trade format once all said and done. Is that good? Bad? Time will tell, but that this is not a story to sleep on, especially if you like physical copies of your comics. I have no idea where this series will end up but if the issues keep packing a punch as hard as the first, then sign me up.

High Level #3 by Rob Sheridan, Romulo Fajardo, and Barnaby Bagenda, published by DC/Vertigo
The first two issues of this sci-fi story spent most of their time world building and laying a foundation for what’s to come. It’s a literal take on if Fifth Element were a compounded depiction of every Nine Inch Nails song played over the scenes of Bruce Willis taxiing Milla Jovovich’s character around, except there isn’t a Bruce Willis and Jovovich is a character reincarnated as one named This bears no relation to the film Fifth Element, but the inspiration of the movie's imagery is striking. It's a pure thrill ride of a comic. I’m excited to see where this story continues to go as I can imagine it only getting stranger and increasingly awesome. This will be in many year end lists and at the forefront of the revival of the cyberpunk movement we are seeing here in 2019. And that, friends, is a hell of a good thing.

The Blessed Machine #2 by Jesse Hamm and Mark Rodgers, published by Cave Pictures
Last month I was able to catch the first issue of The Blessed Machine and it was a clever concept with gorgeous art. The story, already determined as being a 5-part miniseries, has my interest peaked and I am along for the ride so far.

Planet of the Nerds #1 by Paul Constant, Randy Elliott, and Alan Robinson, published by Ahoy Comics
Jocks from the 1980s get frozen and are somehow revived in our current year 2019. To their surprise, the world is a superhero loving place and one in which is ruled by nerds. This basic premise sounds like loads of fun and I am eager to see where exactly this comic takes us. If it is anything like other Ahoy titles, then I am suspect that my disappointment will be minimal to none.

James' Picks:

East of West #42 by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin and Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics
East of West is one of my favorite stories of all-time, and it is in the home stretch now. Jonathan Hickman and Co. have been moving all of these pieces around for a long time and so many of the choices they've made are coming to fruition now. This is a complex, layered story and I wouldn't recommend you start anywhere other than the beginning. Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin (on colors) combine to make absolutely stunning art from the get go, that only gets better over time. Dragotta is a truly stunning illustrator and visual storyteller. Hickman is at his very best here, weaving plans upon plans. This comic is a masterpiece.

SHIELD: The Human Machine by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver, published by Marvel Comics
SPEAKING of Jonathan Hickman and complex stories, you should check out his SHIELD story with him and terrific artist Dustin Weaver. You might be thinking "hey, I vaguely remember that" and you would be right to do so, since they originally started telling this story back in 2009 or 2010, and only recently wrapped up the final volume. But the SHIELD story is one that I really love and highly recommend, about a secret organization protecting the world without its knowledge. I love "secret history" stuff and Hickman is at his best here, spinning a big, weird, complex story with wonderful, gorgeous art from Weaver. There are tons of historical figures here occupying various roles, and interacting with the building blocks of the Marvel universe. It's a great read.

Black Badge #9 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins, published by Boom! Studios
Speaking of secret societies, few people tell those sorts of stories better than Matt Kindt, and his and artist Tyler Jenkins' series Black Badge is a terific, engaging story. This is a story of a secret group of boy scouts who take on secretive reconnaissance missions. It's an out-there premise, but Kindt and Jenkins really sell it. Jenkins' melancholy watercolors are a perfect fit for the sometimes dark story. The last issue was heartbreaking, and I really want to read more.

Rob's Picks:

Moth & Whisper Volume 1 by Ted Anderson, Jen Hickman, and Marshall Dillon, published by Aftershock Comics
In a world where your identity and life are constantly exposed, two rival thieves, the Moth and the Whisper, competed to deal in secrets. But they had a secret of their own, a child who continues on after their disappearance, working to survive and find their parents, possibly getting some revenge in the process. Survival is all about avoiding mistakes and when they slip up, everything their parents built for them might crash down in this opening chapter of what I hope is a longer series. Anderson and Hickman build an awesome dystopia that could be our own if well-meaning, anti-privacy advocates have their way, which adds a chill even as you enjoy the ride. Hickman does a great job with visualizing this world, keeping Niki flowing through identities, and building the menace and threat with new images that show just how dangerous life is for Niki. One of my favorites of 2018, and likely headed to a future favorites list when new issues are out.

Ditko's Monsters: Konga vs Gorgo, by Steve Ditko with Joe Gill and others, published by IDW
Once upon a time, Steve Ditko worked on comics based on movie monsters. If I have to say anything else, I can't help you here. This is another collection from IDW of Ditko work, and that's always a good thing. Looking forward to digging into this collection of early stories from one of the all-time great creators.

April 11, 2019

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Cartooning from the Front— a look back at Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde

Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde, the story of the 3 year war that began 27 years ago, is almost 20 years old. It was a war that many of us didn’t even realize was happening as a genocide was happening half a world away. But Joe Sacco was there in 1995, spending time in the Muslim city of Goražde, living with those besieged people who were under constant gunfire and bombings by Bosnian Serbs. Before the war, the Serbs were the Muslims’ neighbors and friends. Sacco, through telling their stories in their words, shows people trying to make sense of the killing and destruction which was happening all around them and figuring out how to pick up the remaining pieces of their lives. Every life in Goražde was touched by the violence of this war. To go from neighbor to enemy left many of the Muslims confused, homeless or dead in a war where they were persecuted. It was only a three year war, 1992 to 1995, but the costs of it were devastating for the area. Sacco’s cartooning puts a spotlight on the cost of lives that happened during this war.

Comics books are full of war stories but Sacco is telling stories of war, paying careful attention to personal costs of this conflict. Going to Goražde during a break in fighting when the city was declared a safe area by the United Nations, Sacco got to know the people of this city in a time when the main fighting had been over but before any peace treaty was reached. The city was still surrounded by the Bosnian Serbs and they were anything but free. Homes had been destroyed, families torn apart, and even as corny as it sounds, innocence lost as a generation came of age during this war. Sacco spends a lot of time with the university-age students and young adults of the city who should have been in school or getting jobs but instead were huddled in houses or foxholes. He is able to tell us their stories, not as soldiers or statistics but of men and women who had their lives destroyed because of who they were.

In this story of Serbs versus Bosnians, while he acknowledges the cultural differences between the two, Sacco’s reporting doesn’t stop at just identifying people by their ethnicity. He doesn’t reduce people to simple labels like that. While Sacco doesn’t doesn’t focus on how their Muslim heritage may have been a factor in this war’s causes, it’s hard not to see that as part of the identity of the war then and of the world now. By telling these stories, Sacco erases any fear of the other that may exist in the reader. By telling the stories of the mostly Muslim Bosnians (who accounted for about 61% of the casualties in this war,) Sacco writes about them as men and women. They are you and me; they are our neighbors and friends who were under attack because Sacco crafts these honest and compelling portraits of them. They’re not some nameless and faceless person on the other side of the world that we’ll never meet and get to know. His stories show us the people that they are and gives them the voices that they needed and we need to listen to.

Through these stories, we become the Muslims of Goražde, living in bombed out houses and fearing getting shot at out in the streets but also trying to find moments of joy amid the death and destruction. Sacco develops real relationships with the people that gets broadcasted throughout the book. As he’s telling their stories, Sacco almost never becomes his own subject. This is not an autobiography where we get to know the cartoonist and his escapades in a warring country. In this book, he almost disappears into the narrative becoming a conduit to these people. Even as he shapes the comic by drawing the stories he heard from them, they are telling us their stories and Sacco is creating the connection between them and us. It’s a connection that is still there 20 years later. As we get more and more involved in Sacco’s accounts, the boundary between subject and audience vanishes and we get to share these horrific events with them.

Sacco’s drawings of people have weight and form to them. They wear their struggles physically on their tired faces and their worn down posturess. You can see just how worn down these people are. This is not a war they wanted and Sacco’s focus is on showing us the price that they paid for it. Influenced by underground comix, Sacco learned from Robert Crumb the art of exaggeration and caricature. He captures people’s personalities with only a few lines. As well as Crumb, think of the best Mad Magazine artists and their ability to capture both physical and personality likenesses of their subjects. Sacco brings that kind of personality-driven artwork to his work, telling you so much about these people just through how he draws them.

So does this book mean anything in 2019? This is a story of Muslim persecution so it means everything in 2019. This war was two and a half decades ago and while Bosnia may or may not be much better today, can we really say that this brutality couldn’t happen today? Maybe as a world we’re a little more “woke” to the idea of genocide but it still happens around the world. It’s happening today.Violence toward Muslims clearly hasn’t gone away. Sacco’s drawing erace any physical divide that may exist between the people of this city and the reader. Sacco isn’t white washing the culture of these people but he’s expressing the commonality of all people, highlighting our shared desires and fears, making us question “why?” Why did this war happen? Why is humanity still hardwired for violence and hatred instead of healing and love? While this is a story of Serbs and Muslims, Sacco seems less involved in delving into the political causes of the war and more driven to let the actions, fears, joys and sorrows of these people tell us who they are.

Safe Area Gorazde
Written and Drawn by Joe Sacco
Published by Fantagraphics

April 10, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 10th, 2019

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:

Low #21 by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, published by Image Comics
Low is on its final arc, and I'm glad it's back, and sorry it'll be ending (here's my review of vol. 1). It's been a really enjoyable, interesting science fiction series. It's a story that hits themes that seem to be close to Rick Remender's heart - the fight of the extraordinary person against the sink into oblivion.  It's a fun series with lots of weird twists. Most importantly, the art from Greg Tocchini is truly extraordinary. Tocchini has a soft, weird style with all sorts of amazing flourishes, that really brings to life the alien undersea world of the story.

The Batman Who Laughs #4 by Scott Snyder and Jock, published by DC Comics
This is the sort of comic that I want to dislike but I've really ended up enjoying a lot. Why did I want to dislike it? Because the combo Batman/Joker character feels gimmicky and ridiculous and looks over the top. But you know what? This is a fantastic comic. Probably my favorite Batman story at the moment.  Snyder really this scary character to life, and the art in this comic from Jock has (unsurprisingly) been absolutely stunning (which you would know from their prior collaborations on Detective Comics and Wytches).

Invaders #4 by Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno and Butch Guice, published by Marvel Comics
I love the whole concept of the Invaders, and that many of them are still around and they still have this bond, having fought through WWII together. I may also just be a sucker for WWII superhero stories. I'm also a sucker for "secret history" type stories where we learn about some heretofore unexamined part of the character's life.  We are apparently going to learn Namor's secret history. Is this a retcon? Sure, but I love a good retcon, and all comic storytelling is essentially one retcon after another. Anyway, this has been a fun series, and Chip Zdarsky has turned out to be a terrific comics writer in addition to being a wonderful artist.

Kirk's Picks:

Faithless #1 by Brian Azzarello and Maria Llovet, published by Boom! Studios
The Paul Pope cover is warning enough that you are wandering into sensual waters with Faithless. And it may not for everyone with it’s beautiful NSFW visuals (trust me on this. I tried reading our advance copy at the office on my break and I had to race to switch tabs on my computer in record time). The magic that the main character, Faith dabbles in draws the attention of someone who is deceptively more than she appears to be and the comic reads just as seductively as the stranger works. Azzarello showcases his talent for being keyed in to the societal zeitgeist of the time. His character’s dialogue is straight from the mouth of someone you know in your life right now and is a relief to read if you have been craving work from him outside of the Big 2.

Mike’s Picks:

The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol. 1 by Don Rosa, published by Fantagraphics 
I met Don Rosa at Baltimore Comicon this summer. As I waited in line, a boy ran up to the table and squealed, "Look mom, Ducktales." Rosa grunted and stared daggers at the boy. He repeated a similar declaration, and Rosa responded by loudly banging the obligatory and now famous "These aren't Ducktales . . ." placard loudly into the table as he grunted again. The mother and son recoiled in disgust, and lost was another potential fan of non-superhero comics. Later in line, he screamed at a woman who organized her prints on his table. But when people sat down with him, he was as gregarious and generous as one could be. When a fan sits in front of Rosa, there exists no other being. His attention is entirely undivided. He charges neither for autographs nor sketches (that he does on the spot), and borderline attempts to talk patrons out of buying a print as some sort of quid pro quo for his time and talents. When I sat in front of him, we talked for a few minutes, and I told him how I came to his comics when my mom briefly prohibited me from reading superhero books in the early 90s, restricting me to only Disney comics. He slammed my book down and told me "mouse comics" were Disney Comics, and what I held in my hand (despite his name adorned across the cover) was a Carl Barks' comic. He asked me if I wanted a sketch. I didn't. He closed the book and handed it back to me. I thanked him and left. Don Rosa is a complex genius, and The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is a masterpiece that should be regarded alongside the output of the best 20th century cartoonists.

Hot Lunch Special by Eliot Rahal and Jorge Fornes, published by Aftershock Comics
A recent phenomenon, possibly spearheaded by Fargo and brought to comics by Seeley and Norton's Revival is the "rural noir." Rahal and Fornes add more city aspects to their midwestern noir, but the result is still an haunting exploration of the fleeting promise of the American Dream and the dubious status of America's Heartland

Detective Comics 1001 by Peter Tomasi, Brad Walker, and Andrew Hennessy, published by DC Comics 
Most people I know think Tomasi produced the best story of Action Comics 1000, and those same people tend to think his Detective Comics 1000 offering was one of that issue's worst. It was a bizarre amalgamation of everything that made his Action 1000 story remarkable (splash page format with an 80 year history distilled into a few pages without sacrificing much) and all that plagued his Super-usurper Brian Michael Bendis' offering, namely the shoehorning of a new villain meant to drive the sales of future books into a book designed specifically to celebrate the 999 books previously published. Arkham Knight has a little more credibility than Rogol Zaar and represents a tradition of DC Comics introducing characters from other media (Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya, Jimmy Olsen) into comics with a strong success rate. Dectective was one of the hottest books following Tomasi and Mahnke's takeover coupled with the lead-up to 1000, but its profile seems to have receded slightly in only two weeks. Nonetheless, Tomasi has proven himself to be DC's most reliable writer, if not its flashiest, and I'm confident that he, Walker, and Hennessey can pull off this latest arc.

April 3, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 3rd, 2019

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...

Rob's Picks:

March 28, 2019

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Creating World of Emotional Layers in Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram & Matt Hollingsworth’s Little Bird #1

It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the images in Little Bird #1.  Working with writer Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram and Matt Hollingsworth create one image after another that are full of layers; layers of line, layers of color, layers of story, layers of meaning.  As their heroine, the Canadian native Little Bird, tries to find a bigger hero that will help her find justice and revenge, this comic relies on these layers to create its structural strength. A wild story, it contains shades of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa blended through the sensibility of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unique narrative structures to create a new series that defies simple comparisons.  It’s full of its own narrative ancestry even as the comics’ creators look to be defining their own thematic paths. This first issue throws a lot at the reader that could appear as a hodgepodge of concepts without any connective tissue. But the structure of the comic, on every creative level, crafts a unity in the issue that, even if we’re still not too sure what’s going on in the whole story, gives us a visceral emotional and physical experience reading it.

Bertram’s drawings, made up of layered fine lines that pull the images out of his canvas, provide the foundation for Little Bird. Using lines, stripling and crosshatching, where other artists would use solid blacks to depict shadows and light, Bertram builds each image, panel and page with a style that at first glance looks incredibly delicate.  We are used to solid shadows and simple shape in our comics; that’s the legacy of Jack Kirby, Neal Adams and Jim Lee that so many mainstream comics are built on. That’s what we think of in our comics but Bertram’s artwork, using small hash marks to create form and shadow, looks thin and fragile on the surface. Yet the way that these hash marks come together to create these detailed panels reveal that Bertram has far more control over his images and how we read them more than most artists can even dream of.  

The world of Little Bird is this fascinating mashup of fantasy, dystopian science fiction and even some superhero fun thrown in for flavoring.  After her old-world looking Canadian village is attacked by American forces, Bertram draws this trek through North America that includes supernatural forces and an incredibly amount of blood and guts after an ax battle.  Little Bird’s story about finding a hero or a savior gives Bertram room to cover a lot of different ground in this issue. That’s another set of layers in the comic as no two pages look alike, differing emotionally, spiritually and energetically from every other page.  Bertram really lets the moment dictate the structure of the page. Some pages are only a few big panels, focused on one or two main images for the reader to linger over. Other pages are these tightly constructed sequences, with many panels that break down each moment into its own beat, no less detailed but requiring more attention to be paid to the action than the detail or even emotional beat of the page.  

Adding to the complex delicacy of this issue are Matt Hollingsworth’s colors.  Employing an understated palette (similar but maybe even more subdued to his work with Rick Remender and Jerome Opena in Seven to Eternity,) his almost pastelish colors have a calming effect over Bertram’s often chaotic images.  Hollingsworth’s work, creating some really intriguing lighting for Van Poelgeest’s story. It’s another layer of the myth building in this story, using an under saturated approach in nearly every scene to emphasize the emotional state of the characters.  As much as they help to set the scene, Hollingsworth’s colors shape the emotional spectrum of the book, complementing Van Poelgeest and Bertram’s work to create a visceral, spiritual and emotional comic. The emotional impact of this story relies on Hollingsworth’s colors as his work functions on a more intuitive level than just trying to recreate the colors of reality.  His colors are charged with an energy that we almost instinctively understand. We can “read” his colors just as we read Van Polgeets’s words or Bertram’s artwork. The colors have a meaning that we understand on more than just a visual level.

The layers of this issue are even evident in the narrative itself.  Van Poelgeest writes the character Little Bird as a naturalistic, if maybe even primitive, character.  The clash at the heart of this issue, between this naturalistic character and a world that appears to believe in and value everything other than nature, gives room for Van Poelgeest to apply all different types of stories, conflicts and myths on top of one another.  Political intrigue, religious manipulation, superhero destruction and even coming-of-age stories are all contained in these pages. And rather than feeling crammed and short changed, Van Poelgeest and Bertram pace out the book so that these conflicts become part of this constant clash that’s happening perpetually in this world they’re shaping.  

Little Bird #1 is a comic about layers.  All of Bertram’s fine lines, overlapping and complementing each other, layer together to form each panel.  Each panel layers over the previous one to create sequences, which themselves layer together to build a story about these different layers of society and the world.  And while the layers of this world clash, the work of Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram, Matt Hollingsworth and Aditya Bidikar (who has quickly become one of the most versatile letters around) create layers of support and strength, making this first issue one of the strongest debuts in a long time.

Little Bird #1
Written by Darcy Van Poelgeest
Drawn by Ian Bertram
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Published by Image Comics

March 27, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 27th, 2019

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:

Mind MGMT Omnibus Vol. 1 TP by Matt Kindt, published by Dark Horse Comics
I love Mind MGMT so much and can't recommend it highly enough (full review here). It's a dense dive into a world of conspiracies, people with remarkable abilities, strange happenings like mass amnesia, and even weirder stuff. It's also the story of a woman finding herself and her strength. Matt Kindt's artwork and detail in this series are extraordinary. Now that the first 2 volumes are being collective into a paperback omnibus, this is another chance to pick this book up. 

Wasted Space #8 by Michael Moreci, Hayden Sherman, Jason Wordie and Jim Campbell, published by Vault Comics
Wasted Space is a fantastic book and one of my favorite reads of 2018 (review here), and it continues to be a great series.  It's a funny and sad and moving and incredibly insightful scifi story written by the terrific Michael Moreci and drawn with scratchy delight by the wonderful Hayden Sherman. This issue concerns the continued adventures of a ragtag group that's on the run from all sorts of weird forces, and among their missions are destroy evil and kill god. This is a really ambitious, cool series and I recommend you go back to the beginning.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9 by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart and Todd Klein, published by Dark Horse Comics
This book continues to be great. Jeff Lemire and a whole bunch of great artists are building up a whole new superhero universe - and this isn't even *really* a superhero story. This is a mystery, and a story of loss and regret. This is a dark, heartfelt, remarkable series of books. 

G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #2 by Michel Fiffe, published by IDW Entertainment
I loved G.I. Joe toys, cartoons and comics as a kid. I haven't thought much about it in recent years, except for the entertaining-but-terrible movies, and the wonderful Tom Scioli Transformers vs. G.I. Joe comic. But when Michel Fiffe is involved in a project, it's going to get my immediate attention. Fiffe came to prominence with the extraordinary Copra (review here) and he's bringing that skill to the world of G.I. Joe. The first issue was a blast, so i'm very excited for more. Fiffe really channels that classic 80's energy, with his own unique, engaging and weird art style. 

Go-Bots #5 by Tom Scioli, published by IDW Entertainment
Speaking of Tom Scioli and great comics, Scioli is about to wrap up another transforming robot mini-series, this time based on the Go-Bots. I've been enjoying this series, as Scioli is an incredible illustrator and visual storyteller. This is a darker story than his Transformers vs. GI Joe, tbut it still has plenty of humor and action and fun.   

Rob's Picks:

Glow 1 by Tini Howard, Hannah Templer, Rebecca Nalty, and Christa Miesner, published by 
Once upon a time, a group of women from various situations were part of a wrestling federation that might have been unorthodox, but embodied the fun side of wrestling (if a bit stereotyped in ways we'd be less likely to accept today). This is the story of the time their director got them stuck in a match against trained professional women wrestlers, and with wrestling mark Tini Howard at the writing helm, readers are in for a treat. Tini does a great job juggling the huge cast and giving them their moments to shine, with special focus on the women who stand out on the show, such as Sheila the She-Wolf and Carmen, who comes from a family of respectable wrestlers. Templer and Nalty's artwork captures the likenesses of the actresses well without being traced (thank you!) and feels free to run smack dab into OEL Manga territory here. The exaggerations are so much fun and I laughed out loud repeatedly at the panels. It's perfect for the comedic scripting of Howard and a 5-star match of an issue.

Bad Luck Chuck #1 by Lela Gwenn, Matthew Dow Smith, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Frank Cvetkovic, published by Dark Horse Comics 
(Disclosure on this one: I consider Lela and Matthew to be friends of mine.)
Imagine bad luck followed you wherever you went. What if you could monetize it? That's what Chuck does, but some insurance companies are catching wise, and are on her tail. Add in her befriending a young woman whose successor beneficiary wants dead (i.e. wants her dead so she can have her money), and you have a rolling series of explosions, quips, and cops that's a fun-as-hell romp from start to finish. It's a little weird seeing Matthew's line art in bright coloring, but Fitzpatrick really brings out the details with her choices. Smith's pacing, details, and character work are as good as ever, making even "chatting at the station" moments visually appealing. I'm very much a fan of this style of story, and, even with a nod to my creator bias here, strongly encourage lovers of fun comics to give this a try today!

G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #2 by Michel Fiffe, published by IDW Entertainment
The Joes and Cobra battle for control of a scientist's research, even while the terrorist organization has problems of its own in this second issue of a short mini-series featuring Michael Fiffe, who's ability to make any property his own is very well known. I love his take on the Cobra Commander, a preening, vain man who should never win anything. The complication of Destro working his own angle is fascinating, too, and of course, it's fun to see all the Joes get a few good lines and scenes in (though perhaps a few too many Joes are here to really give anyone space). Fiffe has a very recognizable style, as much his own as Tom Scioli or Steve Rude, and watching him play with my old toys (literally!) has been a blast, and should be on your pull list.