July 24, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 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:
Lazarus Risen #2 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Santi Arcas, published by Image Comics
Lazarus has been one of my favorite comics over the past 5 years (review here), though there was a time when it was coming out regularly and was arguably my very favorite comic. The release schedule has been a little more erratic recently, and the book switched to a quarterly release schedule, so it feels a little different for me now, but I'm still thrilled every time a new issue comes out. It's a very smart, intricately built story of the near future where there are no more nations and the world has been divided up among powerful families. It's a dark story but incredibly compelling one, thanks to intricate world-building, fantastic dialogue, great characters (none of this being a surprise from fantastic writer Greg Rucka) and spectacular art from Michael Lark. This is one where you'll really need to go back to the beginning to catch up, but I highly recommend it.

The History of the Marvel Universe #1 by Mark Waid, Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez, published by Marvel Comics
I don't even know exactly what this book is and I don't care, I'm just so excited about it.  What's got me excited? First off, this seems like a very cool project. A comprehensive history of the Marvel Universe?  It should be a very fun read, particularly since it's written by Mark Waid, someone who's written some wonderful, classic Marvel stories over the years, and has an encyclopedic grasp of comic knowledge. But what's got me most excited is the preview pages of art I've seen for this book, by Javier Rodriguez. This art looks like it is "melt your face off" good. It's incredibly intricate, detailed, and bursting with color and life. This should be a great read.

House of X #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz, published by Marvel Comics
Ok this is the big one for me. Anyone who knows my comics interests probably knows how much of a fan of Jonathan Hickman's work I am (see here, here and here). Both his independent and Marvel work are some of my favorite comics, ever - in particular, his extended run on Fantastic Four is my favorite run on any ongoing book ever, and as far as I'm concerned, his takes on the various FF characters should be considered the definitive take. Anyway, when he left Marvel after the conclusion of Secret Wars, I felt like Marvel hasn't been the same ever since. Thankfully, the Hickman drought is over, and Hickmania will once again commence at Marvel. He's left definitive takes on the FF and the Avengers, and now coming up, he's tackling the X-Men. I've had mixed feelings about the X-Men and their comics over the years as an adult fan of comics. I did love them as a kid in the 80's, but I've also found their comics to be pretty insular, and just that they have a lot of drama that doesn't really interest me. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed any X-Men-related books (I loved Tom Taylor's X-Men Red and All-New Wolverine), but I am incredibly excited to see what Hickman brings to the table both in this book, and Powers of X (out next week), and in the series that follow.

Valkyrie: Jane Foster #1 by Jason Aaron, Al Ewing and CAFU, published by Marvel Comics
If you've been following the news out of San Diego Comic Con, then you probably know that the next Thor movie will feature the character of Jane Foster taking up the mantle of Thor. This idea comes from the highly acclaimed run on Thor and The Mighty Thor from Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matt Wilson (it's a staggeringly good book, go read it now if you haven't). In that story, Thor Odinson is unworthy and Jane Foster takes up the mantle of Thor for a time (I don't want to say too much more, but go read it). So, Jane is no longer Thor, but as a result of the end of War of the Realms (a terrific event), Jane once again has super powers and can battle evil, help people, etc. Jason Aaron is co-writing this with Al Ewing (who's currently writing the fantastic Immortal Hulk), and the art here looks great. This should be a terrific read.

 
Marvels Epilogue #1 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, published by Marvel Comics
Marvels is a wonderful book that's just about 25 years old now. In it, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross take a look at pivotal events in Marvel history, through the eyes of a regular person, photographer Phil Sheldon. And the book follows him from covering the Invaders during World War II, to the FF and the arrival of mutants. It's a wonderful story, and the intricate, painted art from Alex Ross is absolutely masterful (I'm a huge Alex Ross fan).  So Busiek and Ross are revisiting Phil Sheldon and the world of Marvels, and I'm thrilled to see what they do.   

Neil's Pick:

William Gibson’s Alien 3 (Hardcover) by William Gibson, Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain, published by Dark Horse Comics
Ask most people what they thought of Alien 3 and you'll get a largely negative response. I personally enjoyed it and thought it hark back to the claustrophobic vibe that Alien gave. Hampered from the beginning with “studio interference”, shooting without a script, various directors and screenwriters. David Fincher in his directorial debut was unable to deliver the movie he wanted. But now, 27 years later thanks to Dark Horse Comics, we finally get to see writer William Gibson’s second draft script of Alien 3 in comic form. The script itself has been online for a few years but to have this illustrated is something all fans of the Alien franchise should be excited about. Having a direct sequel to Aliens that revolves around Ripley, Hicks, Bishop and Newt is somewhat of a personal dream come true. And thankfully for readers, the book is brought to life by the talented art team of artist Johnnie Christmas and colorist Tamra Bonvillain.

Mike's Picks:

Batman: Curse of the White Knight 1 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, published by DC Comics 
The first volume of Sean Murphy's alternate take on Batman was one of the best superhero comics to come out in the past few years. Poignant and timely, Murphy was able to find a great balance between topical subject matter and nostalgia for a bygone era of Batman storytelling. The White Knight universe is indebted to both the Frank Miller and Kelley Jones/Doug Moench Batman of the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s, as well as the first two Tim Burton films and the Animated Series. And, frankly, that's the core of what makes Murphy's Batman so intriguing. In the first volume, Murphy found a way to both pay homage to his influences while crafting a new mythos, free of continuity or tie-in restrictions. It's fundamentally Batman fan-fic by an Eisner winning creator, a love letter to the Batman of one's youth, and a prescription for continued relevance. In this new volume, Murphy tackles another 90s Bat icon, Azrael. I'm excited to see where Murphy takes the one time substitute Batman, and how he chooses to re-imagine his role in Batman's world.

Marvels Epilogue 1 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, published by Marvel Comics 
It's hard to overstate exactly how important a series Marvels was when it first arrived 25 years ago. I still remember being mesmerized by the first issue on the racks, the clear plastic cover over the painted photo-realist Human Torch running down a street. I hadn't seen anything like it before. And though it was probably a little over the head for my twelve-year-old sensibilities, I immediately put down whatever book was in my hand and picked it up instead. At this age, my trips to the comic store were just beginning to become a regular occurrence, and it was series like Marvels that helped turn me into something more than a casual spinner rack reader (though, to be honest, I completely missed issue 2 because I was at least two years away from understanding the concept of a pull list since my comics purchase power was based on whatever was in my pocket at the time). Marvels did more than just pique my particular interest, it helped to change the mode of storytelling, allowing writers to pursue the humanity of the characters without only focusing on mortality, and also providing an opportunity for creators to address the history of their characters. It's fitting that Busiek and Ross return to open the world of the X-Men, specifically the Dark Phoenix Saga, a storyline that, like the original incarnation of Marvels, would prove to be one of the most important arcs in comics history.

Self/Made TPB by Mat Groom, Eduardo Ferigato, and Marcello Costa, published by Image Comics 
Self/Made was one of my favorite series of the first half of the year. It is an original yet highly topical concept, one that explores the nature of creation in a digital world. Groom and company explore a seedy side of video-game development with nods to both Blade Runner and Ready Player One. The end result is a series that meditates on the growing reliance on technology and the consistent progress we make towards artificial intelligence. It raises moral questions about the nature of that creative process and attempts to offer a polemic against the inevitably of such progress. Along with books like Friendo, Crowded, and Thumbs, Self/Made is part of the growing post-cyberpunk sub-genre that's distant dystopic future isn't quite so distant.

 
Tonta by Jaime Hernandez, published by Fantagraphics 
Since Love and Rockets returned to its periodical magazine size publication, Los Bros. Hernandez have been on a roll, with Jaime's recent collection, "Is this How You See Me?", reminding us that he is a magnificent long form storyteller who manages to disguise himself via periodical publication. Tonta, though, is a standalone OGN, and it features the incredibly familiar Tonta confronting various and assorted aspects of her family. These are the kind of stories that allow Jaime to thrive - multilayered concepts that overlap both by design and seemingly in spite of themselves. Hernandez always excels when he weaves slice of life vignettes and short tales gradually into a larger, overarching design that allows the whole to exceed the sum of its parts.