November 3, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 4th, 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...


James' Picks:

Undone by Blood: The Shadow of a Wanted Man vol. 1, by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Aftershock Comics

I reviewed and absolutely LOVED the first two issues of Undone by Blood, written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson.  To quote myself, "Undone by Blood is a really smart, intense revenge drama set in 1970’s Arizona that cleverly uses a “story within a story” to explore ideas of revenge and justice. Not to mention it’s got gorgeous, gritty and vivid art. It’s a highly entertaining read and I strongly recommend it for anyone looking for smart and ambitious comics."  This is a very fun read, and I strongly recommend picking it up now that it's in one collected volume. A young woman is out for revenge for the murder of her family, and there are smartly laid-out parallels between her story and the Old West novel she's reading. This is a great-looking book from the detailed art of Sami Kivela, to the dusty, era and genre-appropriate colors of Jason Wordie (you'll feel like you're in the desolate, pre-internet west), to the terrific, fun lettering and design from Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. I highly recommend it.

Dark Ark: After the Flood vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn, Juan Doe, and Jesus Hervas, published by Aftershock Comics 

This is another case of me strongly recommending a book I previously reviewed. I absolutely adored the story of Dark Ark; it's an extraordinary story set in the Biblical times, which explores themes of good and evil with a morally very complex protagonist, with stunning art from Juan Doe. This is a story of the "other ark", this one containing two of all of the creatures of the unnatural world.  This newest volume followed to continuation of the characters in the story, and I can tell you there are a ton of memorable characters. I'd recommend you first read the main Dark Ark series. It's really stunning horror/drama; Juan Doe is an amazing artist that doesn't get enough love. Some of the most sympathetic characters in this story are the monsters. It's a great, complex read.

Sweet Tooth: The Return #1 by Jeff Lemire with Jose Villarubia, published by DC Comics

So, this is the one that's most of a question mark for me. Sweet Tooth was an incredible series written and drawn by Jeff Lemire over the course of a number of years. It's a post-apocalyptic story (essentially) and a profoundly sad, dark read., with little bits of hope.  But...it was also a story that had a beginning, middle and end. So, I'm wondering what exactly this is going to be?  I can only guess - perhaps it's a look at old events from a new perspective? A look at some "lost years"?  I don't know.  But if Jeff Lemire is writing and drawing a book, I will always check it out.

Black Widow #3 by Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande, published by Marvel Comics

This has been a really wonderful read so far. Elena Casagrande is an extraordinary artist, I don't think I'd seen her work before. Well, it's wonderful, and combined with the amazing colors of Jordie Bellaire, this is a visual feast. And it's also a great story from Kelly Thompson, who is one of the most reliably excellent writers of superhero comics right now. She tells stories of fun and adventure and humor and compassion. This is a really interesting Black Widow story, that isn't just a "she's got a dark past and needs to atone" type story. Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier are here; it's an excellent read.

Bang #5 by Matt Kindt , Wilfredo Torres , Nate Piekos  and Young Kim, published by Dark Horse

Matt Kindt and the whole creative team are telling a fun, weird espionage story. But they're also telling a story about stories, and a story that knows it's a story. It sounds weird, but just go with it and you'll enjoy myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue (review here), and all the issues since. There are a number of different archetypal characters that are being brought together by...their creator?  Someone else? Hard to say.  What's not hard to say is that this is an absolute blast to read, and if you enjoy espionage stories, and stories that are fun and knowing, you'll want to check out Bang!

 Sean's Picks:

Undone by Blood: The Shadow of a Wanted Man vol. 1, by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Aftershock Comics

Undone by Blood was a late pick up that I had. It nearly slipped me by during the early stages of its releases, but now that it has been collected it provides a perfect time to reflect on it and recommend it after having enjoyed it when I did. This is a western narrative of revenge and identity as it is told alongside pages of the novel that our main character carries around. Within these dual narratives come handfuls of parallels between the story being told and the one that is inside of it. We are in an exciting period of the comic book storytelling medium with having creators willing to experiment with the format in such ways as done here. This may seem like a dense read to casual comic consumers, but the return on investment of your time is something to not overlook. This book is a strong contender on the many titles to be considered placement on my shortlist of the year. Go pick up a copy and see for yourself why.

Happy Hour 1, by Peter Milligan, Michael Montenat, Felipe Sobreiro, and Rob Steen, published by Ahoy Comics
Unflinching optimists bug the shit out of me, and if I were a character in this new series from Ahoy Comics then I'd definitely be institutionalized within the sunlit hours of the day. Peter Milligan always seems to have a new satirical trick up his sleeve and this one is no exception. Sadness and the like is outlawed and anyone found to not have perpetual happiness is medically induced so that the façade can continue. Look for my more detailed review coming later this week, but let me just end right here by saying that I knew months ago when I first saw this book's solicitation that it would be an instant hit from my perspective. My shop tends to go light on the Ahoy titles, so if yours is anything like mine it may be difficult to get one if not already on your subscription list. Workaround to this solvable problem is to have them order this debut while you're in getting the latest DC book, and while you're at it go ahead and put Happy Hour on your pull list too. Trust me, it'll all be worth it in the end.

The Burning Hotels a memoir, by Thomas Lampion, published by Birdcage Bottom Books
This here is a memoir and a debut from newcomer Thomas Lampion. The story narrative is said to center around present-day Covid and if that sets off alarm bells and triggers certain anxiety's I assure you that it's not exactly what you think. Well, at least I hope not. I haven't read this book and I am unfamiliar with the creator, but I am curious to see what a comic about Covid, during Covid, has to say.. about us during Covid. We are being taken on a visual journey to the hometown of Lampion as he uncovers truths and the bizarre pasts that come from it. I am more than a little intrigued by the premise and have enough curiosity to go check it out. I trust the judgement of Birdcage Bottom Books enough to make that leap, and I kinda think you should too.

On The Stump TPB, by Chuck Brown, Francesco Chiappara and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics

Coming to us from part of the creative team who brought us Bitter Root is the mini-series, also from Image, called On The Stump. This is a story of a future not too far away where politicians battle on the stump in a battle of fists and kicks rather than wits and words on the hill. It's a pretty intense story told by following an aging politician struggling to protect life on the stump. A multi-layered story told in a way that only Chuck Brown can, this comic reads very well in it's collected format. The artwork is fantastic and the narrative is entertaining yet deep-rooted in layers beneath our own societal subconscious. Just like Undone by Blood, On The Stump is another strong contender to be included on my short list this year. So again I say, go pick this one up and find out why.

Mike's Picks:

Coffin Bound 8 by Dan Watters, Dani, Brad Simpson, Aditya Bidikar, and Emma Price, published by Image Comics

Thus concludes the second arc of Coffin Bound, following up on last month's surrealist experiment. This entire series has pushed the envelope for what comics can portray. With issue eight, Watters and team, who have been descending the depths of existentialist detachment, confront what it means when such a detached person is forced to confront mourning and regret. 
X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. - No Time to Breathe by Kieron Gillen, Steven Sanders, and Jamie McKelvie, published by Marvel Comics

Boy, did I love this series, and boy was I incredibly disappointed when it was canceled far too early. I wasn't long into my return to the world of comics when I got into this series, and I think it was probably my introduction to Gillen and McElvie. I was impressed then, and it stands now, at how much the creative team was able to pack into only five issues. I'm looking forward to revisiting this series.