Catch It at the Comic Shop July 11, 2018

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...

James' Picks:

Transformers Unicron #1 by James Roberts and Alex Milne, published by IDW Publishing.
I have almost no experience reading IDW Transformers comics, other than Tom Scioli's and John Barber's insane Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.  However, I've always heard good things about them over the years. But when Unicron was presented as the ultimate big bad of the IDW Transformers universe, I had to check it out. When I was 10 I saw Transformers: The Movie in the theater and it totally blew my mind. It was a pretty milestone moment for me, not the least of which because of the death of Optimus Prime (I had lost a lot of older relatives in the time around then, and I think the death stuck with me more than it might have otherwise). And I've watched the movie in the last few years. There are some parts that don't hold up as well, but overall it's still great and I still love it. And Unicron is still the ultimate threat. So, anyway, I'm excited to read this.  

Hawkman #2 by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch, published by DC Comics.
I can't say I'd ever sought out a Hawkman comic before. Not a character I at all care about. I always thought he was weird and had a convoluted history. Turns out I'm far from the only people who felt that way. Robert Venditti clearly felt that way, and he found a clever way to make Hawkman's confusing, contradictory backstory work for storytelling purposes. It's pretty clever, actually. And the first issue was a fun read, with an engaging story, and really nice art from Bryan Hitch. So I'm happy to read more and see where it goes. 

The Dead Hand #4 by Kyle Higgins, Stephen Mooney and Jordie Bellaire, published by DC Comics.
This has been a really engaging comic so far. I'ts got great art from Stephen Mooney and Jordie Bellaire, and a fun plot that's equal parts War Games and The Experts (look it up, it's a terrible, awful, potentially so bad it's good movie). I don't know where it's going, but it's a neat story with a cool hook and interesting characters. I definitely want to know more. 

Isola #4 by Karl Kerschl, Brenden Fletcher and Msassyk, published by Image Comics.
I wasn't sure what to make of this series initially. I always thought it was a stunningly beautiful comic, as Karl Kerschl and Msassyk do amazing work bringing the characters to life. But the story didn't totally click with me.  The promotional materials keep referring to this comic as being great for fans of Miyazaki. But I've never seen anything from Miyazaki, so I felt like maybe I was missing something, like reading a book in a foreign language or a specific dialect.  But, I gave issues 1-3 another read recently, and I thought the story worked better when I read it all together and I saw the story threads come together in a nice way. I want to give the story another shot and see where it goes.

X-23 #1 by Mariko Tamaki and Juan Cabal, published by Marvel Comics.
I think Tom Taylor did a fantastic job in his run writing All-New Wolverine, where Laura Kinney took up the Wolverine mantle. In fact, I actually think she's a better Wolverine than the regular Wolverine.  So, I was a little disappointed to see Marvel go back to the X-23 title, I'm hoping there's a story reason for this. But I really like the character, and Mariko Tamaki is an interesting writer and so i'm curious to check this out.

Rob's Picks:

Made Men Volume 1 by Paul Tobin, Arjuna Susini, Gonzalo Duarte, and Saida Temofonte, published by Oni Press
One of my favorite comics of 2018 is collected for your reading pleasure, as Paul Tobin's vivid and violent imagination comes up with a world in which a cop with the knowledge of Frankenstein's secret science loses her squad and decides to put the band back together in a way that only she can! Lovely and gory illustrations from Susini and Duarte match Tobin beat for beat, as this comic requires over-the-top violence at every opportunity. It's rare when I can say, "This is a very different take on Shelley's concepts" but--this is a very different take on Shelley's concepts. If you haven't gotten to this yet, now is your chance, and I just about guarantee horror and 80's cop films will eat this up with a spoon. I really hope we get more with these characters when Paul and the other creators have a chance.

Orion by Walter Simonson Volume 1 by Walter Simonson and other Creators, published by DC Comics
I'm going to speak blasphemy here--I'm not a huge fan of Kirby's 4th World. (I will now accept my exile forever from comics.) It's not that I don't like it, but I prefer OMAC, for example. But Walt Simonson can take just about any character and make them stand out for me, and Orion is no exception. When he's not being written by Simonson, he comes off as arrogant and kind of cruel. Under Walt's prose and pencils, Orion is a figure of myth, worthy of Kirby's original ideas. I've read his solo series but not many of the spin-offs collected here, and currently my only question is whether I devour this or savor it. Either way, this is a classic and not to be missed.

Exiles 5 by Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez, and others, published by Marvel Comics
Oh crap, there's a Kang in the house! Better get out the time-travel bug spray! The first arc of this phenomenal series comes to an end, promising that Someone Dies! (And given this is Exiles, that's not an idle threat.) I love watching Saladin, clearly an honorary MMMS member, romp through the Marvel Multiverse, pulling out some of the zaniest things he can think of and ask Rodriguez to draw. I'm so happy this is getting a second arc after this one, and if you like comics that are fun (or, to quote Bully, Comics Should Be Good!) and love the corners of the Marvel U, make sure this is on your pull list so I can keep reading it.

It Came Out on a Wednesday #1 by Various Creators, published by Alterna Comics
I honestly thought this had already come out, but it's listed, so I'm going with it! I love anthologies in general, and the idea of an ongoing, sci fi/fantasy/horror comic for $1.99 an issue? Yeah, I'm gonna recommend that to both long-standing comics folks and new readers. Anthologies can be a mixed bag, but given this costs less than a single issue of anything else, even if a few stories aren't to your liking, it will still be a lot of fun to read, assuming you can find a shop that carries it. (I've yet to see an Alterna title on a rack at any of the shops I frequent, so I'm planning to sample at San Diego.)

Farmhand #1 by Rob Guillory, Taylor Wells, and Kody Chamberlain, published by Image Comics
Ezekiel Jenkins' dad is a very eccentric kind of farmer--he grows body parts for transplants, a life-changing discovery. It's creepy as hell, but despite efforts to sabotage his work, the farm is a force for good, right? Well, this is one of the Chew creators on art and script duties, so...probably not. I wasn't sure if I'd dig this one--Chew didn't work well for me--but once I got past Guillory's distinctive character work that somewhat smooshes people, I really dug the horror vibe. He nails making this creepy and builds the conspiracy extremely well. Definitely check it out.

Mike's Picks:

Metaphase 1 by Chip Reece, Kelly Williams, and Peter Simeti, published by Alterna Comics
Alterna publishes some very good all-ages comics, and they actually manage to produce them at a reasonable price point for kids. Metaphase is the story of a superhero boy with Downs Syndrome, written by a father of a boy with the same condition. It’s touching, earnest, and moving. If you missed the Metaphase graphic novel earlier this year, take the chance to pick up this issue.

Relay 1 by Zac Thomspson, Andy Clarke, and Dan Brown published by Aftershock Comics
Dude. Bro. Dude! I have been a big Andy Clarke fan since his run on R.E.B.E.L.S. (can we get a revival, DC?) a while back. This first issue jumps right into the middle of the action, and taps into the same thematic and tonal elements of Blade Runner, Neuromancer, or Magnus: The Robot Fighter. It’s a meditation on a possible future. We often see elements of “singularity” play out via AI or robot tech, and we frequently see alien cultures portrayed as monolithic science fiction literature. What the team does here is apply those tropes to human culture. Also, Donny Cates helped conceive it, so . . .

Uncle Scrooge 36 (440) by Carl Barks, Marco Rota, and Jonathan Gray, published by IDW Publishing
While IDW’s handling of the Disney properties has been a little shaky as of late, this issue will hopefully help to get them back on track. This long delayed issue features a reprint of a Carl Barks story currently unavailable in the Fantagraphics library. If you’ve never read a Carl Barks story and are skeptical about plunking down $30 for a hardcover edition, pick up this issue.

Brilliant Trash vol. 1 by Tim Seely Priscilla Petraites, and Mike Norton, published by Aftershock Comics
Ok. I’m a mark for Tim Seely. Also Mike Norton (who does alternate covers). And cyberpunk. Nonetheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed this series on its own. Seely, who conceived of the story with his brother, has set Brilliant Trash in an alternate version of our current times, so the series about bio-enhanced humans is topical and relevant. Petraites, who debuts in this series, has a animation style art quality that gives this story a more cinematic feel while also lightening the tone in an unexpected successful way.

Kirk's Picks:

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1  by David Avallone, Dave Acosta, Andrew Covalt, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dynamite
[Editor's Note: The rookie got his dates mixed up on this one. We'll allow it--once!]
I openly admit that I am an Elvira horror schlock shill. My admiration for all things Elvira is as timeless as Cassandra Peterson’s beauty itself. All bias aside, this book is just plain fun. All of the signature 4th wall breaking and double entendre sass is here for the long time fans, which conveniently, is also a tried-and-true formula to making a good comic for the newcomers. Elvira is whisked away into a coffin with a portal (just go with it) that drags her through literary history to meet famous authors and to battle their monster creations.  The real winner here is the color work by Andrew Covalt that is the linchpin that brings the story and art together seamlessly.

Ex Machina: The Complete Series Omnibus by Bryan K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and JD Mettler, published by DC Comics
This Eisner Award winning series is also the unsung gem of Bryan K. Vaughan’s creator-owned career. The entire 50 issue run is collected here and tells the story of Mitchell Hundred, a government city employee that gains the power to be able to speak to all forms of mechanical (and not strictly electrical) devices through an encounter with mysterious artifact from another dimension. He uses these new abilities to become America’s first super hero, The Great Machine.

But in the wake of the events of 9/11, Mitchell chooses to out himself and his identity to become elected the Mayor of New York.  Equal parts a serious take on The Greatest American Hero mixed with the West Wing, Mayor Hundred’s political storylines become just as riveting as the flashback to his days of trying to figure out how to be a costumed hero and emulate the characters he read in comics.

This series also starts to see BKV’s signature story telling cement itself as he uses his scripts to challenge popular opinions and real world issues that have no clear solutions in a very thoughtful and well-researched manner. It's all possible through Tony Harris’ photo-reference art that brings emotive facial expressions and subtle body language to one of my favorite supporting casts in comics.  The true beauty of this series is that as you enter the finale, there was a slow burning tension you never were aware of until it’s too late. Perfect if you are looking to get into his work. A Must for BKV fans.