August 3, 2021

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Loving More Llovet, Clever Subclause here: Catch Its for Aug 4, 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...

Rob's Picks

Maria Llovet's Porcelain #1 by Maria Llovet and others, published by Ablaze.
I'm not sure if superstar in the making Llovet is Jack Kirby-level fast or just has a lot of work that's only now getting published for English audiences, but either way works for me. (It's clearly the latter, with this story dating from 2012, but that opening line was too fun not to keep!) Fresh off the heels of publishing Eros/Psyche, Ablaze is ready with another creepy horror story from Llovet's pen. This time, a haunted house is capturing children and turning them into dolls, with Beryl set to be its latest victim unless she can overcome her own fears. It's another great concept from Llovet, taking the idea of making kids doll-like and turning into a literal concept that sounds like something a manga horror master like Ito might come up with. From the visuals I've seen so far of Porcelain, it's definitely got that vibe to it as well, with one image she shared on Twitter involving a giant face with a forked tongue. Llovet's talent is extraordinary and it's great to see more of her work being shared with an English-language audience.

Mike's Picks

The Swamp Thing 6 by Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer, and Aditya Bidikar, published by DC Comics
I've talked at great lengths before about how Ram has found a way to honor both the mythology of Swamp Thing while ushering in a new component, specifically in the early issues of the series relating to the idea of torment and nightmares for poor Levi. And I've been saying since last year's Swamp Thing Halloween Special that Mike Perkins occupies the same space artistically, indebted to Bernie Wrightson, yet with a new approach all his own. And I've spent many paragraphs dissecting Aditya Bidikar's spectacular lettering across different books (there is an essay somewhere in my head about the aesthetic similarities between Swamp Thing and Blue in Green, and Bidikar's lettering is a major component of that connection). But today I'd like to talk about what Mike Spicer does for this book. I'm used to seeing Mike Spicer's colors over Daniel Warren Johnson's beautifully manic lines, so it's intriguing to see what he adds to Perkins, whose style leans more to depth and layer than Johnson's maximalist bombast. Spicer's colors seem to expose another layer of depth to Perkins' lines and panels. His palette gives the book a more textured, earthier feel. It isn't dark in the way a typical Swamp Thing book would be with the contrasts emerging mostly from shade. No, this is more of a washed effect. The pages feel older, almost worn, like we're pulling a bronze age Swamp Thing book from the long box. He did particularly great work with John McCrea last issue, especially in the wasteland scenes. So, if you haven't picked up this series yet, and nothing I said before hooked you, perhaps knowing that it is expertly colored will seal the deal.

Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jamie Hernandez 1980-2020, published by Fantagraphics

This is a clear circumstance where nothing I can write will be any more enticing than the title itself. If this book doesn't intrigue you, I don't know what to say. But I wish good fortune upon you and your loved ones, because clearly you've already been making bad choices 🤣. 


Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell, published by Abrams Comicarts

*Late Wednesday Morning Addition*
I somehow missed this book in the solicits, possibly a consequence of the change of publication date, but I intend to rectify that now. I've argued that the original March trilogy is a series of books that belongs in every American classroom. The ability for the team of the team to distill John Lewis' remarkable early history into a easily readable and accessible form is a testament not only to the universal relevance of John Lewis as an American icon, but also to an exceptional level of storytelling craft. Run marks the second phase of this narrative, one that tracks the transition of John Lewis the activist into John Lewis the trailblazing lawmaker. I'm currently working on a piece about Powell's recent memoir, Save it for Later, and I truly believe he is a cartoonist at the top of his game. He and writer Andrew Aydin both have a clear love for John Lewis as an individual, and it's that authentic relationship that makes the work they've created on the page so much more powerful than the average graphic biography.  Newcomer L. Fury (alternatively El Fury) is joining the team for this one, and while I'm not familiar with her work, a quick search shows she has a diverse style that will lend another dynamic to the book. 


James' Picks:

The Nice House on the Lake #3 by James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez Bueno, published by DC Comics/Black Label
This book is so good, and so terrifying, but not for the reasons you might think a book called "The Nice House on the Lake" is terrifying. You might picture some sort of Friday the 13th slasher-type story, and that could not be further from what this story is. I don't want to give away anything abut this story, except to say that it is fantastic, and James Tynion is firing on all cylinders right now with 3 different, excellent non-superhero books (this one, Something is Killing the Children, and Department of Truth) (links to my reviews here and here).  He's got an incredible read on the zeitgeist, as his books feel incredibly timely and topical and relevant for all sorts of depressing reasons. The art from Alvaro Martinez Bueno is absolutely stunning. I didn't know his work before but now I will absolutely want to seek it out.

Immortal Hulk #49 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics
I'm clearly not recommending you pick up issue 49 of a series that will end at issue 50. I am however imploring you, if you haven't read this book, to remedy that as soon as you can. You will not regret it. This has been Marvel's consistently best book the past few years. Which frankly sounds like too faint praise. It's really a special book. Ewing and Bennett and all of the other artistic contributors have built something remarkable. It's a story that's big and weird and scary and horrifying and imaginative. This comic is not for the faint of heart. But if you can live with some body horror, you'll be transfixed by a story that's going to stand as one of the all-time great Hulk runs (and one of my favorite overall Marvel runs). 

Not All Robots #1 by Mark Russell and Mike Deodato, published by AWA Studios
I've loved Mark Russell's work since Prez, but it really was The Flintstones that caused me to really become a devotee of his work (review here). Russell has the ability to deliver heart, humor, and brutal satire in one story, or a single page. In some of his more recent stories (like Billionaire Island) he's leaned more towards the wacky, broad satire. But Not All Robots is completely different. It's absolutely funny, but this is a profoundly dark, sad story that happens to be very funny.  It's the future and robots have taken over all jobs, in order to ostensibly make human lives easier, but really they're just the ones in charge now. It's not as explicit as that, but humans live in fear of upsetting the robots and causing an uprising. The relationship between humans and machines, and the consequences of technological dependence, are themes that Russell ably explores here, with sharp humor and wit. And I wouldn't necessarily imagined Mike Deodato as the artist on a story like this (I love his superhero work), but his presence really helps sell the dark, weird, futuristic nature of the story. And I love when a comic subverts expectations. This is a great read so far, and you'll think so too.