June 1, 2021

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Catch It at the Comic Shop June 2nd, 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...

Kelli's Pick:

Spy x Family vol. 5 by Tatsuya Endo, Published by Viz Media
The fragile peace between Westalis and Ostania is in jeopardy. Factions are agitating for war, terrorism is breeding on university campuses and political leaders are colluding with assassins. Enter Twilight, a Westalian master spy, tasked with creating the ideal family as a deep cover for the mission Operation Strix. has a devil of a time finding the perfect wife and child, despite his reputation as a ladies man and the limitless resources of his agency. He eventually acquires both, but unbeknownst to Twilight, his “wife” is an assassin and his “daughter” is a telepath. Let the comedy ensue as three try to keep their identities secret from each other. 

The main objective of Operation Strix is for Twilight to get close to the Ostanian political leader Donovan Desmond. Desmond is a shady figure who is a threat to the peace between Westalis and Ostania. The entire operation hinges on Twilight’s “daughter” Anya. He is relying on her to reach the upper echelons of her prestigious elementary school and become friends with Desmond’s son. Thus forming a connection between their families. The only issue is Anya is academically challenged and Desmond’s son seems to despise her. Despite trying to use her telepathy to her advantage it all backfires hilariously. Meanwhile, Twilight’s “wife” Yor (aka The Thorn Princess) tries to keep up her job as a contract killer, while juggling her day job and acting as Twilight’s wife. Yor is a delightful trope. She is a complete airhead who is an efficient killer, a terrible cook and a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. She also has a little brother who is, shall we say a bit, enamoured with her. How does the narrator put it? Right, “The man was beyond reason when it came to his sister”. This leads to more hilarity when she neglects to tell him that she got married. Did I mention she’s an airhead? Her brother is also guarding a secret (other than his feelings for his sister), he is a member of the Ostanians secret police, and one of the agents on the trail of Twilight. Little does he know his sister is married to his target. Tatsuya Endo’s comedic timing is off the charts. Spy x Family is laugh out loud funny, even on subsequent readings. The facial expressions of the characters, especially Anya are so well rendered. No six year old should make the faces she makes. And her internal dialogue is just so bonkers. She’s the only one who kind of knows what’s going, because telepathy, but her logic or lack there of is what makes Spy x Family so much fun to read. I’m really looking forward to volume 5, it opens with Yor facing a challenge that could cost her her “family”. We might finally find out who she’s working for. If you want to check it out the series, chapters one through to three of the first volume are available as a free preview on viz.com

James' Picks:

Everfrost #1 by Ryan Lindsay, Sami Kivela, Lauren Affe, and Jim Campbell, published by Black Mask 

Everfrost looks like a fun, dramatic new sci-fi series. The premise (woman battlig to get off of icy planet, caought in the middle of a war, sci-fi and fantasy craziness) sounds excellent, but what really sells me here is the creative team. Ryan Lindsay is a really good writer (I particularly enjoyed Negative Space), I love Sami Kivela's work on Undone by Blood, Lauren Affe is a terrific colorist (I particularly loved her work on Five Ghosts), and Jim Campbell has done terrific lettering on a ton of books I've enjoyed. So all of that adds up to this being a definite pickup for me. 

Dead Dog's Bite #4 by Tyler Boss, published by Dark Horse

This has been a great slow burn of a mystery comic. I've loved Tyler Boss' work as an illustrator (I particularly love 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank) and I'm thrilled to also see him take on writing duties as well. Dead Dog's Bite has been a really good mystery story. A girl is missing in town, and only her best friend really seems to care. And what is the connection between the missing friend and the peppermint candy factory in town? There's a lot to enjoy in this series. It's got great dialogue, and Boss' visuals continue to be terrific. He sometimes repeats panels to great comedic effect. Anyway, you should read this.

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy TP by Jeff Lemire and Tonci Zonjic, published by Dark Horse

I've loved almost everything that has come out of the Black Hammer universe, so I am absolutely excited to check this series out now that it's been collected. The whole series is a remarkable exploration of superhero tropes and types of stories, and this one has a very Batman/Punisher feel to it. The gritty vigilante Skulldigger takes on an apprentice, a child whose parents were killed in the crime of Spiral City. That kid becomes Skeleton Boy. I don't know much else about the story but I don't need to. The cover alone and the premise alone would sell me. But I'm thrilled to read a comic illustrated by Tonci Zonjic. Zonjic is an incredibly skilled artist, equally adept at intense action and harrowing emotion. I am a HUGE fan of the comic series Zero (written by Ales Kot) in which each issue was drawn by a different artist. All of the issues were terrific, but I definitely remember issue #9 (drawn by Zonjic as being a particularly powerful, harrowing issue).  So, I'm looking forward to this.

Rob's Pick:

Cover Not Final (Crime Funnies) by Max Huffman, published by AdHouse Books
Comics and crime go together like cookies and cream, perhaps because of how many creators have had their work all but stolen by the publishers involved. Luckily, there's Chris and his AdHouse books to even the score and find weird little books like this one, where Max Huffman winds his way around several sordid tales of lunacy and larceny. The production values are as slick as ever from the long-time indie publisher and the art is extremely trippy, with a variety of style changes and great, flexible lines that sometimes remind one of art deco on acid. Looking forward to getting my hands on a copy and reading this one.

 Scott's Pick:

Wasteland #1-3 by Del Close, John Ostrander, David Lloyd, George Freeman, William Messner-Loebs, Donald Simpson, published by DC
Here’s one of those great 1980 series that was ahead of its time. Or maybe it’s time had passed but Del Close (yes, the great actor, comedian, and writer DEL CLOSE) and John Ostrander penned this great 18 issue series from 1987 that was the love child of EC and Warren, giving us 3 horror stories in each issue. So, dive into the back issue boxes this week and try to find some issues. But if back issues aren’t your thing, DC is finally releasing these comics digitally, starting this week with the first three issues via Comixology. Today, Ostrander is probably best known for his classic Suicide Squad run but he’s done so many great comics and Wasteland is one of those series that has been lost to time for decades now. With these digital releases, I hope that there’s an audience for these books because I would love a nice deluxe hardcover collection of this series. So buy it digitally and send a message to DC that these comics are more popular than they ever were in their time.

Mike’s Pick:

The Swamp Thing 4 by Ram V, Mike Perkins, and Mike Spicer, published by DC Comics
DC is at its best when it truly understands the power of its legacy heroes, and Swamp Thing is at its best when the creative team leans into and expands upon the character’s mythology. That’s exactly what this series is - it recognizes the power of Swamp Thing’s story through the decades while also deepening the understanding of the Green. Ram is slow-burning this one, and I’m impressed at the depth he achieves and the narrative restraint he commands. Mike Perkins’ work on this series has been pitch-perfect, and paired with Mike Spicer, who seems particularly adept at using color to enhance texture, they’re as strong a Swamp Thing art team as it gets. (Here is incontrovertible proof that Mikes do great work. If you ever need a third Mike for the series, you know, hit me up 😂).