Hellboy Goes Greek and Other Stories: Catch Its for May 25th, 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:

Hellboy and the BPRD Night of the Cyclops by Mike Mignola, Olivier Vatine, Clem Robins, and Dave Stewart, published by Dark Horse
It's low-hanging fruit to recommend Hellboy comics, I admit, but this one's especially intriguing. As often happens to him, Hellboy gets caught up in an adventure shortly after finishing his official work. It's a tried and true premise and works well for his personality. What makes this one stand out for me personally is that Mignola, Vatine and company are sending our favorite demon child right into the middle of Greek mythology, with Hellboy getting lured into the path of the Gods. And as we all know, Greek Gods are a petty, powerful, vengeful lot who aren't going to take well to his meddling! It's been a great year so far for Mike Mignola books, both within and without his "Mignolaverse" and I can't wait to sit down and read this one, where one of my favorite characters meets one of my favorite pantheons. 

Doctor. Who Empire of the Wolf TP by Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata, Warnia K. Sahadewa, and Richard Starkings, published by Titan
Rose Tyler finds herself back in the midst of time-traveling trouble when she encounters the Eighth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor, and a war-mongering version of herself that's bound and determined to bring peace and order to the Universe. Without causing a permanent time paradox, can Rose juggle two very different Doctors than the ones she knew and convince herself that trying to right wrongs by force isn't the best path forward (a lesson the Doctor probably should have listened to)? It's a lot of timey-wimey charm from long-time Who writer Houser. One of the perks of using Doctor Eight is that there's not a huge amount of backstory to worry about, though that's changed a lot over the past decade or so. Houser is able to give him a distinct voice that contrasts well with Doctor Eleven, though when the two harmonize on a potential solution, we get the typical Doctor feeding on Doctor energy that makes these crossovers so much fun to watch or read. Rose is a central player, too, guiding them both, while we see some of her anger express itself in the form of the alternative Rose. With some classic villains in the mix and a heartwarming message of hope, the story serves everyone well. Ingranata does fine with the likenesses, ensuring we don't fee like they're clipped from stills, which is always a danger for adaptation. However, the lines don't have as much life as I'd hope from a Doctor Who story. Characters feel like they freeze up to speak rather than move across the page. Overall, though, this is a great treat for long-time fans of the newer version of the series.

Spectro One Shot by Juan Doe, published by Aftershock
I'm not super familiar with Juan Doe's artwork, but anytime I hear the words "one person horror anthology" my ears perk up. Especially when it's being published by Aftershock, whose quality ratio is one of the best of the current smaller publishers, especially for horror. This is billed as "four terrifying stories rooted in a cosmic game of twisted karma and phantasmagoric terror" which sounds pretty cool to me. They all appear to have a sci-fi bent to the horror, too, including multiple stories involving the solar system, the ISS and more. I poked around for some previews and the coloring looks unworldly, which should be perfect for a book like this. Can't wait to see what "excommunicating a member of the 'nine' planets" is in reference too, which was the piece of the PR that really hooked me. I try hard to find "under the radar" books like this, which from all accounts looks right in my wheelhouse.

The EC Archives: The Vault of Horror Volume 2 TPB by Various Creators, published by Dark Horse (originally EC)
Dark Horse continues its run of reprinting these awesome old horror books in affordable paperbacks that are battling to take over my limited shelf space. This time around, we've got issues 18-23 of the Vault of Horror, featuring colors adapted from Marie Severin's originals. The creators are, as always, a murder's row from the time period: Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein, and even a few Ray Bradbury adaptations! These are comics free from expectations which makes them so much fun, warts, modern-day winces, and all. I still prefer to let the pictures and dialog tell the stories over the captions, but no matter how you slice it, these comics have striking visuals that we're very lucky have made it into the modern era in such great presentations.

Sean’s Pick:

Past the Last Mountain #3 by Paul Allor & Louie Joyce and published by Comics Experience Publishing
Past the Last Mountain is one of the more creative works of fiction from the last several years that begs the question: how hadn’t I already thought of that?! Story takes place in a world post-war; a war between human and creature. Now, all goblins, dragons, fauns, gnomes, fairies and griffins live in captivity under strict surveillance of the human victors. As we travel the hillside and wooded forests with three escapees, relationship between man and creature disentangle into a slightly more complex hierarchy than the humans forced upon the creatures after wars-end. Our escapees, a faun, a dragon and a troll boy, continue their journey to Dragon Lake away from their imprisonment. (Refer to issue #1 for how the prison break occurred).

But is Dragon Lake even a real place? Troll-boy says so.

This third issue will bring the main human antagonist to a new level of desperation seeking help from the goblin cage in order to find the three escapees. What I enjoy moat about this story is that it speaks volumes about today’s geopolitical landscape, our differences, and how we gravitate toward our instinctual nature to congregate in tribes. The main story, drawn and colored by Louie Joyce, is a science fiction fantasy I did not know I needed until now. The second half of every issue features a handful of short stories pulled from moments during the war and drawn by guest artists. Some of the more intimate and touching moments of this series occur during these war stories as part of the back matter, while the momentum of narrative in the main story do the heavy lifting to keep this book 2022-relevant. Since this week’s issue is it’s penultimate, I foresee lots happening here. Find this one somehow. I’m having a blast reading it and I’d be surprised if it did not end up on my year’s end favorites list.

Rachel's Pick:

The Wrong Earth: Purple by Stuart Moore, Fred Harper, and Rob Steen, published by Ahoy Comics
As I've doubtless stated before on Panel Patter, I'm not one for gruesome, post-apocalyptic, or gritty tales. But lately, aside from a few series and manga, it’s been tricky to find titles that are enjoyable, whimsical, or joyful. This is why The Wrong Earth has been such a fun series to me. Because each writer and artist team can pretty much do what they want, each story may be inspired by earlier genres and tropes, but it still feels fresh. For example, in The Wrong Earth: Purple, we get The Player, a musician who attacks his foes with aural-powered attacks and who looks like Wesley Snipes if he was cast to play Prince. Many of Fred Harper's panels present impressive views of Fortune City's ornate, filigreed skyline. With its fine details and muted color palette, I was reminded of two children's book illustrators: David Macaulay, the writer and artist of Mill and Cathedral, and Chris Van Allsburg, who wrote and illustrated Jumanji and The Polar Express. Later on, the art becomes psychedelic and the colors become saturated and almost acidic in their neon intensity. And there are neat things to spot in almost every panel, like the grim reaper statue perched atop a building, an oversized cell phone, and the Player's vast array of instrumental weapons. It's the perfect title to read on a hot, muggy summer day when you want a bit of escapism.

James' Picks:

Saga #59 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics
What can I say about Saga. It's still Saga, which means it is still telling a really compelling, funny, heartbreaking, and sometimes absurdly vulgar story, and still drawn by the best in the business, Fiona Staples. She continues to get better and better which is pretty remarkable since she set an incredibly high bar right in issue 1. Things have changed, characters have grown, some characters have been lost, but this remains the platonic ideal of a long running series. We are fortunate to still have Saga in our lives, definitely catch up if you're not already caught up.

The Department of Truth #18 by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
As I was saying just recently in response to the Eisner nominations, I don't think anyone has a better handle on the zeitgeist than James Tynion IV. Exhibit A of that is The Department of Truth, a series that keeps getting better and weirder as it goes along. This is a series about a government agency tasked with making sure that reality stays the way that they want it to. Reality is shaped by our thoughts, but not just in a general abstract sense, but in a literal sense. This is an amazing story about truth and media and perception and history and the fluid nature of reality. The last arc featured some truly wonderful guest artists, but I'm glad to see regular series artist Martin Simmonds return. He's doing some career defining work in this series; it's so incredibly weird and terrifying and sometimes almost elemental. This is an amazing read and you need to get on board.