September 1, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 2nd, 2020

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...

Beth's Picks:

Black Widow #1, by Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande and Adam Hughes, published by Marvel Comics
While we all wait for the Black Widow movie to come out….whenever, Marvel is gracing us with a new solo series starring Natasha Romanoff. The book comes with a strong pedigree, so I’ve got high expectations here. If you have any doubt Kelly Thompson could do a kick-ass job with this character, check out her runs on Jessica Jones and Captain Marvel. Likewise, Elena Casagrande’s beautiful recent work on Catwoman is a sign she’s a great choice for a femme fatale spy. The preview pages for this feature a spectacular fight scene we can only hope is matched in the movie.

Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious #1 by Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata and Lee Binding, published by Titan
The trickiest thing about writing a comic based on a licensed property is getting the voice of the character right. This is why I’m excited for Time Lord Victorious. In the recent run of Thirteenth Doctor adventures, writer Jody Houser absolutely nailed both David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker’s portrayals of the Doctors. (Check out Thirteen’s reaction when she finally realizes what a jerk Ten was to Martha Jones, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.) Roberta Ingranta’s art again seals the deal, as she perfectly captures every expression and arched eyebrow to bring the story to life. The two-part series kicks off a multi-platform adventure that stretches from September to December across comics, books, audio, live theater and even an escape room. It doesn’t quite make up for a year of no new Who on TV, but it looks like great fun. Now if I can only figure out how to hitch a ride on the TARDIS to get to U.K. to check out that escape room…

Neil's Pick:

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 by Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo & Mariasara Miotti, published by Boom! Studios
My first introduction to the writings of Al Ewing was in his Ultimates run back in 2015. Since then he has gone on to write the phenomenal Immortal Hulk and take over heading up The Guardians of the Galaxy. His Ultimates run was a fantastic cosmic adventure, one which makes me incredibly excited to see how he writes his own characters in We Only Find Them When They’re Dead. Captain Malik and his crew travel to the edge of space harvesting resources from giant corpses of alien gods to sustain the human race. Malik himself sees an opportunity for him and his crew to break away from all other crews and seek out a living god. From preview pages Mighty Morphin Power Rangers artist Simone Di Meo has brought some incredibly high-concept art, and Mariasara Miotti’s colours give this a huge space opera feel. Boom are on one hell of a roll and releasing great stories one after another. One hopes that this can be added to the ever-growing list of books I am picking up from them.

James' Picks:

Bang! #3 by Matt Kindt, Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse
Matt Kindt is one of my favorite comics storytellers, whether as an artist or writer. My favorite stories of his have been those involving espionage, the supernatural, and weird multiversal, meta-textual elements, where reality is not what you think it is.  Bang! fits that bill, as it is a stylish, fun series that begins as a classic James Bond style spy tale, but moves very quickly from genre fiction to metafiction, (including references to Kindt’s on prior work),What’s really fun about Bang! is that it seems like Kindt is returning to all of these various themes and ideas in a way that will tie many of his stories together. The story hinges upon a mysterious character named Philip K. Verve, a reclusive author who may be much more than he seems. Verve is a character that has shown up in a number of Kindt's stories, and the idea of a world where the creator of stories is able to interact with those characters and characters that are stories in one world are real and another, is one that I’ve enjoyed for a long time.

Bang! is brought to life by the fun, accessible, classic linework of artist Wilfredo Torres. Torres is a talented artist whose work falls in the general school of new classic artists such as Doc Shaner or Chris Samnee. However, Torres has very much his own style. It’s a very clean style, slightly less overtly realistic than the work of some of those other artists, but with terrifically dynamic lines. He's also a fantastic (and economical) sequential storyteller,  Torres' style is extremely well-suited for telling the story of a classic super spy in the vein of James Bond escaping from a group of villainous henchmen.  Bang! is a terrific, highly entertaining read. 

Spy Island #1 by Chelsea Cain, Lia Miternique, Elise McCall and Rachelle Rosenberg, published by Dark Horse
Speaking of fun, metatextual spy stories, Spy Island is a terrific, strong debut from writers Chelsea Cain and Lia Miternique, artist Elise McCall, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg. This is a really engaging debut. Spy Island is very funny, clever, and has an engaging plot that keeps moving (set on an island in te Bermuda Triangle, full of monsters and intrigue). It's not quite as metatextual as Bang!, but it's very knowing about the various trappings and tropes of the espionage genre. The art from Elisa McCall is really terrific and dynamic, and the book overall has a terrific design and presentation. I really enjoyed Cain's Man-Eaters, which was also a hilarious story full of humor and social commentary, and I'm enthusiastic to read more of this.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 by Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo & Mariasara Miotti, published by Boom! Studios
Al Ewing is an amazing writer that has been doing some next-level-good work at Marvel the past few years. I first became familiar with him when he wrote The Ultimates, which was an amazing, heady, sci-fi superhero comic that made the departure of Jonathan Hickman easier to take. Then, Ewing began telling the story of the Immortal Hulk, and this is a comic, that through 36 or so issues, has had more "HOLY $#%&" moments than I can count. It's brilliantly written, incredibly insightful about the dark corners of the human soul, and stunningly (and sometimes horrifyingly) brought to life by Joe Bennett and others. So when I found out that Ewing was going to be doing a creator-owned book at Boom!, I was immediately on board, sight unseen. And the fact that the title is We Only Find Them When They're Dead (WOFTWTD) sold me even more. That's a fantastic, badass title.

So I'm thrilled to say that WOFTWTD lives up to the hype and is a very strong debut issue. It's set in future where one of the most valuable resources in the galaxy is...the corpses of giant space gods (think Galactus). Harvesting the corpses is a tough business, and ship operators are being squeezed at every turn. No one has actually ever seen a live space god, but one captain has decided that he wants to be the first. This is engaging, sci-fi world building of the first order, and I loved the story and fantastic art from Simone Di Meo. The comic looked sort of like classic 80's cartoon animation, but in comic form, but cleaner and more polished (Di Meo has been drawing the well-regarded Power Rangers comics, so this makes sense). I'm not doing it justice. Anyway, TOFTWTD is a fantastic debut.

Sean's Picks:

Spy Island #1 by Chelsea Cain, Lia Miternique, Elise McCall, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramanga, & Stella Greenvoss, published by Dark Horse
Psychedelic splash pages and an assassin on the prowl on the coast of Bermuda? That pretty much sums up the basic premise of this debut issue of a four-part story. There’s a lot going on in this first issue with a whole lot more to look at. The colors of this book is in and of itself reason enough to pick up. There’s humor, there’s murder, there’s seduction and even some teases of underwater horror. Even though this issue is slightly all over the place and visually busy and loud, it definitely has my attention and I’m here for it.

Lost Soldiers 2 by AleŇ° Kot, Luca Casalanguida, Heather Moore, Aditya Bidikar, & Tom Muller, published by Image Comics
I can’t say that I know what war is like, or how it feels to lose a close friend to death, but what I can say is that Lost Soldiers #1 did an incredible job pulling me into this dense story of three soldiers in Vietnam told simultaneously alongside what appears as a reason for the story is being told. Issue 2 brings a little more clarity to as what is happening with our present day side of things, while the Vietnam backdrop continues to get increasingly grim. The art in this is gritty and, at times, bright; all visuals compliment the aesthetic of war and the brotherhood of three soldiers. If for no other reason than to flex your empathetic side of self, it’s worth giving this a read to practice experiencing pain through the loss of others.

Godzilla: the Half Century War by James Stokoe, Bobby Curnow, & Heather Breckel published by IDW
James Stokoe is an illustrator who has that unmistakable visual style not many artists can achieve. Many will aspire for that signature quality to their drawings, but only a few will have readers immediately recognize their work after the very first page. Godzilla is probably one of Stokoe finest achievements and if you have not had the chance to consume some then I urge you to gather up those wooden nickels grand-dad Warner you about and get on over to the comic shop, because the the fine collection of the fire-breathing monster is definitely going to become a new classic.

Rob's Picks:
Lonely Receiver #1 by Zac Thompson, Jen Hickman, and Simon Bowland, published by Aftershock
Can't find a real human to be your partner? How about a virtual being? Sounds great, until after a decade of being together, Catrin finds herself lost, alone, and losing her mind. Panel Pal Jen Hickman is great at drawing off-kilter futures (see Moth and Whisper, also from Aftershock) and adds a touch of erotic horror to the mix here. Jen does an awesome job of capturing the insanity that we're seeing from the main character, and adds some new light and shadow work to their art, if I'm noticing correctly. Combined with some awesome dialogue from Thompson that sets up the premise and the quick spiral downward and Simon Bowland as usual killing it on the lettering, this is shaping up to be the next great series from Aftershock, something I say a lot because it's true.

Ice Cream Man Vol 5 by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O'Halloran, and Good Old Neon, published by Image Comics
It's very tempting to let the promo text speak for itself, as its irreverent style really matches the series itself, so here's just a snippet: "See here a tetrad of atypical tales: a suppurating superhero satire; a lamentation of lost memory; a field guide for being a ghost; a rotten retelling of your favorite children's stories." If your first reaction (assuming you aren't already reading Ice Cream Man) is "Wow, this series sounds seriously screwed up," you're exactly right. And that means this is either going to work for you or not be your particular flavor. This one leads off with an amazingly twisted take on DC Comics' main characters, and for once this often-used analogy didn't leave me bored, as Prince and company make them creepier than even Ennis can manage, so that's saying something. And that's just the start. There's a loose overarching plot here, but really, these are just good horror stories--and that's a treat for me.

Mike's Picks:

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall by Tom Taylor and Darick Robertson, published by DC Black Label
Ok. I’m just going to lay this out here. Tom Taylor. Darick Robertson. John Constantine. I mean, I don’t know I can add anything more there. Just take my money now, please.

Heavy Metal 300 by a Collection of Writers and Artists
Celebrating its 300th issue this week, Heavy Metal deserves all the credit in the world for maintaining a consistent aesthetic and philosophy since its inception, providing a different perspective on comic art and storytelling. For years, the hallmark of high-minded fantasy and science fiction outside the realm of most mainstream publications, Heavy Metal is nothing if not original in its concept and impeccably precise in its execution.