Catch It at the Comic Shop May 19th, 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...

Rachel's Pick:

The Way of the Househusband, Vol. 5 by Kousuke Oono, published by Viz Media
I recently watched the first batch of episodes of the anime version of The Way of the Househusband on Netflix, and really enjoyed it even if the animation left something to be desired (the scene with Tatsu and the Roomba has to be one of the funniest things I’ve seen so far this year). I hadn’t previously read any of the manga, but because each story is pretty episodic, I had no trouble when reading volume 5. What I really like about this series is that it is silly and fun. In a lot of the chapters, nothing much happens, but we get to learn more about how Tatsu interacts with his wife Miku, friend/former coworker Masa, neighbors, in-laws, etc.

One thing that I like about Tatsu is how much pleasure he takes in cooking, cleaning, and taking care of his wife. He is proud to be a house husband and is constantly trying to learn how to become even better. He also has become someone whom his neighbors and in-laws can depend on. My favorite chapter is when Tatsu gets the flu and he visualizes his immune system fighting a gang war against the virus. The art is simple yet effective, and the action scenes are dynamic and easy to follow. The cooking class chapter made me hungry! I wonder if there is a rule that states that all manga artists must be able to draw food that looks delicious. Gin, the cat, is drawn adorably. The translator did a good job of depicting Tatsu’s informal way of speaking without making it hard to read his dialogue. Non-Japanese readers also learn a bit about Japanese food, culture, holiday traditions, and more. If you need a break from heavier manga, The Way of the Househusband is a light, humorous read.

Kirk's Picks:
Home Sick Pilots Vol. 1 by Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller, published by Image Comics
Watters and Wijngaard have both individually created their very own distinct, and exciting aesthetics in the comics medium. Watching these two work together (as they did previously in the terrific Image series Limbo*) has been, well, EXACTLY everything I wanted in a comic book that pitches itself as Power Rangers meets The Shining. With haunted houses that transform into fighting mechs helmed by a cast of punk rock teens, you'd think so many cool elements would bog down trying to tell a coherent story. I assure you that this is not the case as both Dan and Casper, fully in control of their individual talents come together perfectly in this book. It sticks with you and you will want more. Thankfully, this is just Volume 1 of the series collected.

*Editor's Note: Kirk was adamant that you know he knew that. :)
We Only Find Them When They Are Dead #6 by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo, published by Boom! Studios
Al Ewing writing epic space stories is a simple pleasure that we are fortunate to get from him on the regular. Throughout this series, I take the time to read each issue through twice. Once for the story and the second time to specifically relish Di Meo's art in every panel making this one of the prettiest books on the racks right now. A space epic in it's first 5 issues that moved at a breakneck speed with the help of flashback transitions that do more to move the story forward rather than work as a cheap narrative trick to fill in information for the reader. Issue 6 picks up 50 years after the first arc and that alone is worth seeing how they will pull off to pick up this next issue (first volume also is collected if you need to catch up. And you should!) This story could have easily been one of Ewing's Guardians of the Galaxy or epic Eternals tales over at Marvel, and I'm personally relieved that it's being told over at an indie without any restrictions or constraints to continuity. It's an elegantly unhinged beast of a tale.

James' Picks:

Invisible Kingdom vol. 3 by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward, published by Dark Horse

What if the Catholic Church and Amazon were each even more powerful than than they currently are. And what if they were outwardly opposed to one another but secretly in cahoots.  And what if there were spaceships and alien races and worlds with complex social structure and gender?  Well great news - this book already exists and its fantastic. It's called Invisible Kingdom and it's one of the smartest books out there. Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Christian Ward (that's a hell of a team!) are telling what feels like a big, thought-provoking story about the intersection between commerce and religion on new worlds world where the characters still feel very human. I've read the first two volumes and it's really just what I'd hoped it would be. Wilson is a very talented storyteller, as she's created compelling characters with believable interactions, and she's also created a whole other world with complex systems and social structure. That's a really remarkable skill, and she does it very well.  She also has done something else that I think has a high degree of difficulty, which is to make up a religion and have it make sense and feel realistic. What an amazing creative partner she has in Christian Ward. Ward has done some of the most out-there, mind-blowing art of the last 10 years (Infinite Vacation, Ody-C, Black Bolt, and more) - the art in Invisible Kingdom feels less psychedelic thus far, but I'm loving the look of the book. Ward isn't just a creator of wild- out-there pages, he's also an exceptionally gifted sequential storyteller. The third and final arc of the story is being released as a graphic novel (there were no individual isues published) and I'm thrilled to see how this team concludes a very strong story.  This book is a definite must-read.

La Mano Del Destino by J. Gonzo, published by Image Comics

I hadn't even heard of this book until recently, but my friends on a podcast (Two-Headed Nerd) were raving about it and so I decided to ceck it out. It looks so good! This is a tale of revenge set in the world of Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling in the 1960's. I've looked a little at the art and this book looks amazing. The art is big and bold and colorful and so dramatic. It's a different vibe, but J. Gonzo's art reminds me a little of both Alexis Ziritt (but with a cleaner line) and Tom Scioli. Both are artists whose work I love. So, I'm thrilled to pick this up. 

Fantastic Four Life Story #1 by Mark Russell and Sean Izaakse, published by Marvel Comics

Typically, superhero comics follow a sliding timescale. This means that the timeline keeps getting adjusted so that the characters in the stories are not aging in real time. Events will be adjusted (e.g., Iron Man first built his armor during the Vietnam war, and then this became the first Gulf War, and then it became another war) so that the stories make sense in the present day. Otherwise, if you let the characters age in real time, Spider-Man would be a very old man by now.  It's a terrific premise, and that's the basic pitch for Fantastic Four: Life Story, written by Mark Russell and drawn by Sean Izaakse. There was previously a Spider-Man: Life Story and I absolutely loved it. It was one of my favorite comics of 2019, so I'm thrilled to see the Fantastic Four get the same treatment. That story was fully of heartache and drama and frakly went to some pretty dark places. Russell is one of the funniest, best writers out there, and I'm excited to see what he brings to the story. I think this may bring out his darker side as the premise lends itself to more pathos.  

Sean's Picks:

Laila Star #2 by Ram V and Filipe Andrade and published by BOOM! Studios

The first issue of this story was just about as strong as debuts can get. I am sitting on pins and needles waiting to see where this story goes next. Ram has seemingly nailed his style in dialect and Filipe is literally at showing his past self up. With Filipe’s next-level ability to pace a story with his paneling layouts, Ram’s plot can just exist as it is meant to exist. We last left Laila as she became one of the mortals, and now knowing that she used to be Death herself we simply follow her along whatever journey this quest for finding this boy who will introduce immortality to mankind. I love this comic for its visuals, and I love this comic for its story. I’ll be reading it each month, guaranteed, and I do hope that you will also.

Red Room #1 by Ed Piskor and published by Fantagraphics

Ok, so I peeked. And who can blame me? Cyberpunk criminals who funnel cryptocurrency to (apparently) fund a scheme to livestream murder on the internet for (as the cover states) fun and profit? At minimum I am interested to see how Piskor presents this story to the reader and with what point he is trying to make. I do enjoy a good horror story, as well as classic body-gore when done right (case-in-point: Immortal Hulk), so I am willing to give this Fantagraphics first issue a chance by testing the boundaries of my tolerance within the genre.

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle and published by Drawn & Quarterly

Currently a reason for war, Jerusalem is never a stranger to controversy and misunderstood cultural relevance. While we have seen two regions at war over the city of Jerusalem, we can turn our eyes (again) toward the graphic novel travelogue masterpiece from 2012. Nine years ago Guy Delisle attempted (and surpassed many’s expectations) to understand and facilitate a fair and balanced representation of one of the most historically important pieces of land on the planet. By doing so with cartoons and a first-hand dialogue the reader is able to visit a city that most of us will never dream of visiting. Especially in times such as now. This week D&Q release a new printing of the 2012 timeless story and include in it a 16-page appendix where Delisle shares some intimate sketches and memories from his time while living the story. This is more than just another comic to put on the to-read stack, this is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the region of the world that houses the most sought after city in the world.

Mike's Picks

Red Room 1 by Ed Piskor, published by Fantagraphics
If you've read some of my reviews, you know I have a fraught history with horror comics. I usually tell myself I don't like them, then I read one, and I spend most of my time convincing myself said book wasn't truly horror for nebulous reasons. Most of the time I can convince myself, or I can at least tell myself, "well, that's the exception that proves the rule. But, I've spent the past year reading and loving books like Coffin BoundJustice League Dark, Immortal Hulk, and Lonely Receiver, and . . . ok, fine. What am I fighting against anyway? Cool. I'm down with horror, even on my own terms. Oh, what's this? Hip Hop Family Tree cartoonist Ed Piskor has a horror book, you say? The creator of X-Men: Grand Design is even putting out a Third Eye exclusive variant. Do tell! Hmm, perhaps I should take a peak, since I'm a horror fan now and all . . . SWEET JESUS I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS! In the words of the almighty Scott Cederlund, "Read Ed Piskor's Red Room and I feel like I'll never be clean again." But that's the point, isn't it? You aren't ready for this, but in some way [dramatic pause] you are. That's the genius of Piskor's style, albeit taken to the absolute extreme here. He channels originality through novelty. Nothing looks like what Piskor produces, but it all hints at things you hold dear. And you better hold things dear, because there is no chance for redemption after you've read this book.

Home Sick Pilots Volume 1: Teenage Haunts by Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller, published by Image Comics
In a manner totally different than the aforementioned Red Room, Home Sick Pilots finds ways to be both familiar and original. Watters leads us through a plot that continually expands its scope without feeling bloated. It truly is a feat of episodic storytelling. Throughout the first volume, Watters creates a world of punk rockers, haunted houses, and mecha warriors. He plays with the idea of possession and re-imagines the nature of an avatar, all the while hinting at the greater metaphorical examination of life as a disaffected teenager. We understand all of these things separately, but Watters smashes them together in a way that creates something entirely new for Wijngaard to paint onto pages. His art is *just* shiny enough to take a bit of the edge off the grittiness of the story. Wild scenes leap from the page like this is a 90s cartoon and your face is dangerously close to the television. As a result, Home Sicks Pilots is probably the best action series on the stands today. 

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr 2 by Ram V, Filipe Andrade, Ines Amaro, and Andworld, published by BOOM! Studios
The great coup of the first issue of this series is the way the strength of Ram's narrative is matched by the sheer beauty of Andrade's psychedelic art. Few writers capture myth in the way Ram does, and even fewer writers know how to write to the strengths of the artist the way he does. Catwoman, Blue in Green, These Savage Shores - each book feels fundamentally different and fully realized. Each works in concert between text and art. Laila Starr is no exception. Andrade's elastic style of thin lines and just-this-side-of-unnatural colors connects perfectly with the surreal nature of Ram's story. 

Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters by Alex Paknadel, Al Ewing, Juan Ferreyra, and more, published by Marvel Comics
One of the more intriguing elements of Ewing's Immortal Hulk run for someone like me who never picked up an issue of Hulk prior is the mythology he builds. I'm a bit of a history nerd, and I love exploring the chronology of things, even in fiction. Ewing has worked to manage the various Hulks that exist inside Bruce Banner, but it's been a while since he explored the history of the green door (or at least it has been for me, because I'm a few issues behind, and maybe he's gotten back to it, I don't know). I'm incredibly excited that Alex Paknadel is scripting the main story with Ewing. If you're curious about how Paknadel can explore a mythos, check out his Giga series. I'm completely ready for a issue rife with metaphysical analysis of an eternal rage monster who may or may not be the devil.