January 12, 2021

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Catch It at the Comic Shop January 13th, 2021

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:

That Texas Blood vol. 1 by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips, published by Image Comics

That Texas Blood is a very engaging, murder mystery that unfolds over the course of the series. The plot gets more involved, as new folks come to this very small town in Texas.  The comic looks fantastic - artist Jacob Phillips is following the family business of drawing excellent crime comics. Jacob's style reminds me of Sean's a little, but it's clear he's got his own line and own approach to storytelling. This is a very fun story and if you like crime stories in dusty, small town settings, you'll love That Texas Blood.

Ascencia #1 by John Dolmayan and Tony Parker, published by Wake Entertainment
I knew almost nothing about this comic up until recently, but what I learned really grabbed my attention. This is a future-set science fiction comic where some people live in technological wonder and approach the concept of immortality, while others live in squalor. So...it's a comic about right now, and the whole of human civilization. The art looks very cool, and I only learned yesterday that this comic written by the drummer from System of a Down! And it started as a Kickstarter! Well, I didn't know any of those things, but the cover and the concept hooked me, and I'm curious to learn more. 

S.W.O.R.D. #2 by Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti, published by Marvel Comics

Al Ewing is on a roll right now. He's been doing incredible work the last few years in The Immortal Hulk, and he wrote the fun and successful crossover event Empyre. It was a fun event that I enjoyed, and it was drawn by the very talented Valerio Schiti. The same team is working together on the new series S.W.O.R.D. The first issue was an absolute blast; this story ties into the larger X-Men story, but it seems like it'll be its own thing. Al Ewing is fantastic at big, heady, sci-fi stories (like The Ultimates and his current Boom! series, We Only Find Them When They're Dead).  He's setting up a big, exciting, space/sci-fi adventure in this book, and I'm excited to come along for the ride.

Rob's Picks:

HAHA #1 by W. Maxwell Prince, Vanessa Del Rey, Chris O'Halloran, and Good Old Neon, published by Image Comics

If you thought Ice Cream Man was weird, well, you haven't seen anything yet. This series, which appears to be clown-focused, is about as messed up as anything I've read in quite awhile. Bartleby is a man who lives his life as a clown, much to the displeasure of his wife. When the amusement park he's working for is about to go under, Bartleby's life snaps, and while others might choose to lie down and take it, Bartleby prefers not to. Vanessa Del Rey keeps the reader off-balance by really never giving us a straight-on view, angling things to go in and out of Bartleby's perspective, including perhaps the best use of a brain in a repeating panel. This comic is really #$%#$ up, and that's a good thing.
 

American Mythology Monsters #1 by Michael Gordon, Glenn Moane, and others, published by American Mythology Productions

A new horror anthology, you say? With classic movie horror monsters, tweaked a bit and given a chance to do their own thing in a black and white format? Go ahead, twist my arm some more. I have no idea if this is going to be good, bad, or indifferent, but I'm always up for trying a new horror series. I'm not familiar with these creators, either, so it's really going on faith in the concept here, but that's never stopped me before. Not sure how easy this one is going to be to find, but if your taste is anything like mine, you'll be intrigued, too, and ready to see if this is going to be a fun romp or a sub-AIP movie level snore.

The Creeps #29 by Don Glut and others, published by Warrant Publishing Company

I wasn't planning on going all-horror, but hey, 2021 is looking like a bad sequel to 2020, so why not? I first discovered this mag randomly, and while it's not going to scratch everyone's itch, it really is a modern remix of the Warren Publishing formula, complete with some of the creators who did work for the now-defunct company. For good or ill, it's definitely a bit more in tune with the original than the Dark Horse revamps (though I loved those, too), with the script and art styles looking very much like they stepped out of a 1970s time portal. That will either work for you or it won't, and the quality is definitely as uneven as its spiritual predecessors. Not sure how this gets past a Copyright check, but that's not my problem. I just like sarcastic narrators killing people, and The Creeps has that in spades--which you can then use to bury the dead! 

Sean's Picks:

Haha #1 by W. Maxwell Prince, Vanesa Del Rey, Chris O’Halloran & Good Old Neon, published by Image Comics

Haha is the exact comic you’d expect from the mastermind who brought us the Ice Cream Man. This is not to say that Haha suffers from unoriginality, but instead it is complimentary for when a creator knows what is working. W. Maxwell Prince has been doing the anthology format with comics since his Ice Cream Man series started 3 years ago this month. When something is working you may as well not only run with it, but sprint. Haha seems to take on some seriously similar tropes as ICM, but it will also serve as it’s own thing too. If this debut is any indicator for how bizarre this title will be, then I assure you that we are in for some very weird stories. One stark difference here will be that Prince is choosing to have a different artist tackle each issue, so prepare yourself for some manic visuals to accompany the depressive narrative. Vanesa Del Rey takes the series debut by storm and really lets loose with where we should expect it to go. The final few pages alone are enough to shock you, to shake you, and to keep you thinking about it days later. I have very high expectations for this title and look forward to reading each one! 

Serial #1 by Terry Moore and published by Abstract Studios

I am new to Abstract Studios comics and have no background to Terry Moore’s previous work, but this series got my attention. Apparently this will be the debut issue to a fan-favorite character that has been featured in his previous titles, and this 10-issue series aims to give regular readers what they want more of—for Zoe to kick some ass. Zoe is a ten-year old girl who had previously been possessed by a demon and, now free of said demon in Serial, she is determined to hone her deadly skills as a serial killer and put an end to a very specific reign of terror. This is a bit specific in genre as it pertains to taste in story choice, but I find it interesting to explore what might drive an ex-transport of evil incarnate to such things all while being obscured behind the innocent façade of a young girl. My interest is definitely piqued.

Red Mother #12 by Jeremy Haun, Danny Luckert & Ed Dukeshire, published by BOOM! Studios

Here we are. It is the final issue of the series that solidified my preference for horror comics. This title has been a consistent and one hell of a setup for some night terrors. Obviously, I do not expect people to rush out and grab this if they haven’t already been reading it, but let it be a reminder that the story is now complete and well worth the effort to track down in its entirety. Daisy, the Smiling Man, and the Red Mother herself; if horror is in your veins then this comic should be on your shopping list if it hasn’t already. It’ll have you seeing red!

Mike's Picks:

Lonely Receiver 5 by Zack Thompson, Jen Hickman, and Simon Boland, published by Aftershock Comics

It's kind of shabby to recommend the last issue of a miniseries, I'll admit. It's even shabbier considering I haven't picked any of the previous four offerings either. But this is my attempt at penance. I didn't sleep on Lonely Receiver inasmuch as I just got a little too busy and put it to the side knowing that I would get back to it at some point. I read the rest of the series in the interim between Christmas and New Year's, as the last of the year end lists were pouring in, with Lonely Receiver a recurring entry. At one point, I decided I would spotlight a few series that didn't make my own year end list, with Lonely Receiver front and center. But ways got on to ways, and now I'm here trying to salvage my credibility my imploring you to give this series your attention, be it by catching up now or making a note to yourself to pick up the collected edition. I'm always here for some Jen Hickman art, and she nails it, capturing the futuristic noir vibe while harnessing the active despair of the narrative. Zack Thompson is always a clever writer, adept at these character-driven genre blends. This is a love story for the Blade Runner crowd. It's a meditation on relationships, every bit a polemic as a romance. So much cyberpunk focuses on the tech side of things, of the loss of humanity. Lonely Reciever is very much about the humanity that never left. Parts of this remind me of Familiar Face, other parts, Her. All of it, though, feels very real, very confrontational. Thompson and Hickman harness the worst element of a breakup - the lack of answers - and chronicle the ensuing spiral.

Home Sick Pilots 2 by Dan Watters, Casper Wijngaard, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics

I meant what I said about feeling something special in this series. Issue one was as strong a debut as I've read in recent years because it kept things tight, revealing just enough about the bandmates who compromise the namesake of the series and utilizing urban legend to build suspense and background. Issue two makes good on the episodic nature of the series, as Watters narratives unfolds with about as many questions as there are answers. Is this a story of possession or revenge? Perhaps some mixture of both? 

X-Ray Robot by Mike and Laura Allred, & Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse Comics

I'm certainly a fan of recent Allred's Big 2 series - Silver Surfer and Bug - but this is vintage Mike Allred, and it feels refreshing. A mid-century pop art science adventure, this story is is the kind of quirky weird story that made me fall in love with Madman when I was in middle school. Laura pulls back just every so slightly on the color sheen for this one, dialing back some of the glimmer that was there for Silver Surfer, and letting this series feel a little more raw, like a campy B-movie way better than it has any right to be.