March 15, 2022

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Awesome Trade Paperback Winds from Aftershock, Dark Horse, and Others: Catch It for March 16th, 2022

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:

Bunny Mask Vol 1 TP by Paul Tobin, Andrea Mutti, and Taylor Esposito published by Aftershock
One of my favorite comics from 2021 gets the trade paperback treatment this week, with underrated for his horror work Paul Tobin collaborating with amazing artist Andrea Mutti and letterer Taylor Esposito on Bunny Mask, with its only fault really being that it's only gone four issues so far. (There's more coming, but I want it NOW!.) I'll quote myself here for those who haven't seen my previous comments: "A creature that wears a bunny mask haunts a man who got involved with a murder years ago and still carries some of the trauma from it. In fact, he might be romantically involved with her, assuming he's not just going completely insane. Mutti, really outdoes himself on this one, showing the disruptions the monster brings with some amazing visual scenes of psychological horror. But when the time comes to go full on violence and gore, he's just as ready in his depictions." A deeply disturbing book that has the rare honor of being one of the few horror books I refused to read right before bed! Check it out now, but be ready to look over your shoulder a lot afterwards...

Worst Dudes by Aubrey Sitterson, Tony Gregori, Lovern Kindzierski, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dark Horse
Apparently this is the week for collecting trades of books from my end of year lists! This couldn't be more different from Bunny Mask and honestly, the idea was a hard sell for me. I'm not really into the "raw" sub-genre at all. However, Sitterson, Gregori, Kindzierski, and Esposito really nailed this one, making a book that's crude not for crude's sake, but to tell a funny, over-the-top, sarcastic as all hell romp about people who really are the worst dudes you'll encounter. A group of men who range from scumbags to sleazeballs, one of whom is an obscene Snagglepuss, go around the grimy edges of the universe to try and make jealous gods happy. Hilarity--in the best laugh out loud sense--ensues, with Gregori and Kindzierski continually outdoing themselves to make things as awful as possible in vivid color and nod-and-wink illustrations, page by page. 

Hell Phone Vol 1 by Benji Nate, published by Silver Sprocket
Two friends find a flip phone (For you really young types, imagine a screen 1/3 of what you're used to, attached to keys too small to type on properly, attached by 2 thin lines of plastic that broke inevitably a the stress of being opened and closed multiple times a day, that you had no choice but to buy from one vendor.) that starts feeding them clues to an older murder case in Beni Nate's latest graphic novel, planned as the first in a trilogy. Nate's Catboy was a cute story about friendship and magic. This time, looks like we're getting a deadly story about friendship, magic, and murder. I'm down for that!

Out TP by Rob Williams, Will Conrad, and Marco Lesco, published by AWA
This was also a big hit for me in 2021, making my shortlist. I called it a "lovechild of Hellboy and 2000AD" which makes sense with Rob Williams as the writer. Desperate Nazis go all occult (as one does), attempting to take control of a vampire, with some unpredictable results because of an American POW who's a language expert that might just get to the root of what makes the creature tick. Or perhaps not. Conrad is solid on art, giving this moody weird war story a good, dark feel. An unexpected hit for me that should not be overlooked because of the fairly familiar premise.
 
2000Ad Regened Vol 3 by Various Creators, published by Rebellion/2000AD
For a few years now, Rebellion's been working on upping its all-ages arm, putting together comics designed to hook new readers on the ideas many of us have been reading for decades now. They get that the only way to find new Dredd fans is to give them a way to start learning about the characters. One of those outlets is the Regened series, complete with a chibli Jargo! Along with young Dredd and all-ages Judge Anderson work, there's also some older idea resurrected this time, like the Harlem Heroes, and of course no 2000AD would be complete without a Future Shocks entry, right? A great combination of solid storytelling that's perfect for new readers and familiar, open-minded fans alike.
 
James' Picks:
 
Superman Batman: World's Finest #1 by Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain, published by DC Comics
I'm very excited for this comic. And you should be too. Here's why. First, it's Dan Mora drawing superheroes (and Tamra Bonvillain coloring those heroes). Mora is really one of the best artists working today, and the same is true for Bonvillain (w/r/t color work). Their work on Once & Future is really stunning. It's so fun and clean and dynamic and incredibly engaging; they're a great team. And I know Mora's done some issues of Detective Comics, but more Mora is better. And I'm excited to see their take on Superman. AND...this is the return of Mark Waid to writing a Superman comic. I understand he wrote a Dark Nights: Metal comic previously, but this book feels like a proper return to me. Waid was a longtime DC writer and wrote some of the best superhero stories I've read at DC (maybe you've heard of Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright?) among other beloved comics such as The Flash. Anyway, I consider Waid to be among THE authoritative voices on Superman (he just fundamentally *gets* the character), and I'm thrilled that he is returning to write The Man of Tomorrow. Anyway, I think this should be a delight. 
 
What's the Furthest Place From Here #5 by Tyler Boss, Matthew Rosenberg, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Image Comics
This book has been a real delight. Boss & Rosenberg are an incredible duo. They won me over completely with 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank (a really special comic that you need to read right now if you haven't), and they continue to make great comics with What's the Furthest Place From Here.  This book has a ton of humor and wit and emotion, and is an amazing-looking book. Boss started great and has only gotten better. This book has a real punk-indie aesthetic, not in a try-hard way, but just an authentic spirit. It's got a love of youth, and friendship, and music, and community. It's a wonderful read.
 
Eternals: The Heretic by Kieron Gillen, Ryan Bodenheim, and Chris O'Halloran, published by Marvel Comics
Eternals from Kieron Gillen and (primarily) Esad Ribic and Matt Wilson. That's as A-list talent of a comic team as you'll see, and they have delivered. Eternals has been a must-read book full of intrigue, action, romance, humor, scheming, and more. This is a one-shot written by Gillen and drawn by the late Ryan Bodenheim, with colors from Chris O'Halloran. I rarely if ever say things like this, but I believe I was and am one of Bodenheim's biggest fans. He had a gritty, detailed, action-packed style that brought action and suspense and terror to life. His collaborations with Jonathan Hickman and colorist Michael Garland were (to me, at least) event comics (Red Mass for Mars, Secret, The Dying and the Dead), and Halcyon (wirtten by Marc Guggenheim and Tara Butters) is easily a top-10 all-time favorite comic for me. I recommend all of these comics, and anything else Ryan drew. My home and office have Ryan Bodenheim art on display, which gives me profoundly mixed feelings every time I see it (awe at the greatness he reached, and such sadness that he's gone, on a personal, professional, and artistic level). So it's with an air of melancholy that I recommend this comic. I'm sure it will be excellent, but I'm also aware that it is presumably one of the last things Ryan drew before his untimely passing late last year. You should pick this up.

Totally Not Rob
These two entries are totally not Rob breaking the rules to include two awesome-sounding reprints:

The EC Archives: Terror Illustrated by Various Creators, published by Dark Horse (originally EC Comics)
Dark Horse brings another volume of the short-lived EC comics project dubbed "Picto-Comics" to modern readers with a complete copy of Terror Illustrated, which, like its siblings relating to Crime, Confession, and Shock, never made it that far out of the starting gate. This one got 2 issues (with a third planned but unpublished, included here) before the money ran dry for Gaines and Feldstein. Cleverly writing under the name Alfred E Neuman (What me pretend to have multiple creators?), Feldstein tried his best and had amazing talents like Johnny Craig, George Evans, Joe Orlando, and Jack Davis working with him, but this post-Comics Code try was as doomed as its protagonists. Luckily, Dark Horse is here to help ensure these pieces of comics history are never lost forever.

Tops: The Complete Collection of Charles Biro's Visionary 1949 Comic Book Series by Charles Biro and Others, published by Fantagraphics 
If young Totally Not Rob had lived in the Golden Age of comics, Charles Biro, who brought us Crime Does Not Pay, might have been one of his favorite creators, as he's the pioneer of crime comics, both of the true and not-so-true variety, which is Not Rob's bread and butter. (Just check the Netflix viewing history!) The creator of the original Daredevil (that I think Stan Lee thought he was getting and whom Erik Larsen would integrate into Savage Dragon) once tried his hand at an indie comic aimed squarely at adults, Tops. It failed, just like the Picto-Fiction above years later, but it was ground breaking for 1949. Biro worked on it, of course, as did George Tuska and people like Reed Crandall, who would go on to do work for EC. A fascinating look at the underground mind of the time, perhaps most intriguing to me is a positive story about living under a socialist world government! (Again: 1949, folks!) I'm so excited for Fanta putting this back in print, apparently for the first-time ever. What an amazing piece of comics history!