Catch It at the Comic Shop June 19th, 2019

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:

Usagi Yojimbo #1 by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth, published by IDW
While taking in a stage play with unnaturally good puppetry, Usagi runs into an old friend, Sasuke, who reportedly hunts demons. It looks like sword-wielder will once again be dragged into a battle outside his comfort level as a brand new era of Stan Sakai's epic series begins. It's really not hard to recommend any Usagi story, but I wanted to highlight the move to IDW, partly because it's a new adventure for the character, but also because it's a new adventure for the series, which has been at Dark Horse for an extremely long time. The IDW move makes me think we'll be seeing more crossovers with his teenage friends, but for now, enjoy Sakai drawing demon fights and puppet shows in his distinctive style and drawing us further into a world I never tire of reading about.

Clue Candlestick #2 by Dash Shaw, published by IDW
There's been a murder in the Boddy Mansion, and it's not who you think! As the remaining guests and their intrepid host try to find the killer, we learn a lot about the mysterious Ms. Scarlet, but is the focus on her merely a red herring by Shaw? This series is really strange in all the best ways--Shaw varies his style, parodies the "they're in heaven now" cartoons we see in newspapers, makes all of the characters feel linked together in a way that doesn't feel forced, and of course, takes every opportunity to visually evoke the board game. He creates fake games "for the kids" and even claims the clues are all there for anyone who cares to find the culprit before the story ends. I love that IDW, in harmony with their licensing team, finds ways to make what could be boring cash-ins some of the best independent comics being written and drawn right now.

Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #3 by Adam Glass, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Hayden Sherman, and Sal Cipriano, published by Aftershock
These concepts either work for me or they don't, and after the first issue, I'm all-in for this one, though I admit at least 75% of that is because of Hayden Sherman, who knocked the first issue out of the park, leading with his Karloff likeness and ending with that scene in the lab. Now we're approaching issue three, and Mary's getting herself too deeply involved. We know this can't end well, and watching how Glass, Cuartero-Briggs, Sherman, and Cipriano (who gets props for making the lettering feel like an essay but keeping it legible) drag the historical figures into Shelley's own masterpiece is catnip for an old English Major/horror fan. As long as Sherman remains at the top of his hyper-angular game, keeping the panels jarring, I'll keep reading--and so should you.

Hexed Omnibus by Michael Alan Nelson, Emma Rios, Dan Mora, and others, published by Boom! Studios
A strange art dealer has many mystical dealings, and her top employee could very well be even more dangerous than the artifacts kept hidden away among the ordinary pieces in this (relatively) older series from Boom! that's getting an archive treatment. It's been a few years since I read these as they came out, but it's Emma Rios and Dan Mora on the art duties, and that means it's absolutely gorgeous. They both do an amazing job depicting the shift from the mundane to the magical, which is a really key piece of this series. The story itself has a few hitches here and there--it's not really groundbreaking in terms of magic having costs, losing yourself to power, a figure manipulated on all sides, etc.--but it's fun and the characters have distinctive voices. I'm hoping to re-read this now that it's all in one place, but those who enjoy urban fantasy comics who missed out originally really need to have a look at this one.

Sean's Picks:

Clue: Candlestick #2 by Dash Shaw, published by IDW
If there were a creator able to successfully adapt the board game Clue into comic format it would be Dash Shaw. There’s no question that pairing this title with this creator was anything short of intentional. This is a murder mystery based heavily on the game itself and tells the story in a way only Shaw can. His quirky artistic style and innovative approach to storytelling give readers a level of comic not seen nearly enough. Being that this is a story of mystery that depends on previous chapters to fully grasp the ongoing suspense you would benefit from having already read earlier installments of the title (though needn’t be the case to simply enjoy a bizarre exploration of Clue issue by issue). Read this comic and play along as we try to piece together the clues (pun? last weekend was Father’s Day — I’m allowed one dad joke here). Most likely readers will either love Shaw’s art style or hate it. I, for one, love what he has done in the past and am considering this latest of his near the top of my must-read stack each month. From Professor Plum to Miss Scarlet, we’re setting up the pieces (ok.. two bad dad puns) for a twisted version of the classic story of Clue.

Kirk's Picks:

Jodorowsky & Boucq’s Twisted Tales by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Francois Boucq, pubished by Humanoids
Jodorowsky is a mad man. A genius for sure. But also a mad man with wonderful ideas that can only be captured and done justice in graphic novel form that even his film career couldn’t contain. Here he’s teaming up with frequent collaborator French cartoonist, Francois Boucq. I really enjoyed their previous collaboration Bouncer, that had an original tone thanks to Boucq illustrating a dreary western world with his frenchsthetic comic style. Twisted Tales finds Jodorowsy feeding poetry and short story prose to be interpreted by Francois in what should be another wonderful product of their surreal imaginations.

Mike's Picks:

Usagi Yojimbo 1 by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth, published by IDW Publishing 
I’m a National League guy, so I don’t like the DH. You can probably infer that I’m a little skeptical about the addition of color to the world of Miyomato Usagi, one of my all-time favorite characters. I didn’t get into Usagi until Sakai had already moved the series to Dark Horse, and I only know the Fantagraphics connection from the reprints of the early volumes, but it doesn’t seem like the move will change the tone of the series at all. Sakai ended his Dark Horse run with a re-numbered mini-series entitled The Hidden, which itself was the culminating chapter of a series of great Inspector Ishida team-up stories. Sakai begins his new chapter of IDW tales in a new direction that helps to celebrate Japanese puppet theatre, and Sakai has always excelled at paying homage to the intricacies of Japanese culture.

Little Bird 4 by Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram, and Matt Hollingsworth, published by Image Comics
Little Bird is my favorite current series. It is a wonderfully original series, and last issue marked a sharp turn in the direction of the series that has me incredibly intrigued about how the series will wrap up over the next two installments. Bertram has a flowier, Chris Burnham-esque/2000 AD style with a dose of ultraviolence, and Matt Hollingsworth is an exceptional partner who always allows the line art to shine. I enjoy the contrasts Poelgeest has built in the series, namely Canadian sentimentality vs. American Imperialism and First Nation traditions vs. Christianity. There are hundreds of post-apocalyptic and/or theocratic polemics out there, but Little Bird rises above the pack due to its specific combination of concepts and the on-point execution therein.  

Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Volume 2 by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, and Frank Quitely, published by DC Comics
Morrison’s Batman run is one of my favorite superhero stories, and this second omnibus volume (I guess there are going to be three?) contains the remarkable Batman and Robin series, showcasing Dick and Damian as the new dynamic due as well as the off-the-wall prime Morrison Return of Bruce Wayne. While the ultimate heartbreaker of Morrison’s Bat-run is the roadblock the New 52 provided for Batman, Inc, you can forget that eventual letdown with this volume. Knowing where Morrison eventually takes the direction of the series, that Batman is indeed a mythos and both inevitable and eternal, makes reading these issues in the middle of the narrative a different experience than during their initial publication. Morrison’s run still continues to drive the direction of Batman, from Tynion’s Gotham Knights, to Snyder’s Metal, to Tomasi’s debut arc on Detective Comics. The stories in this collection are an important part of the Batman narrative, and they hold up out of series context perhaps more so than any other point in Morrison’s run

James' Picks:

Invisible Kingdom #4 by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward, published by Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books
I’m really enjoying this series so far. It’s a smart book set in an alien solar system, but the issues feel very realistic and present. There’s a giant corporation selling everything, and a powerful religious order, and people on the run from both of them are going to be figuring out some really big mystery. Come for the interesting story from Wilson, stay for the wonderful art from Christian Ward, who makes anything and everything more interesting.

Black Badge #1 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins, published by Boom! Studios
I’ve enjoyed this weird, dark, engaging story about a secret group of Boy Scouts carrying out some pretty unorthodox missions. Right now Kindt and Jenkins are building out the world, and Kindt is better than just about anyone at building out a weird, secretive and complex world. Jenkins’ slightly dreamlike art is a great fit for this sort of story where reality doesn’t seem quite real. 

Gideon Falls #14 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart, published by Image Comics
I love the fact that Gideon Falls keeps taking twists and turns and getting weirder and weirder. Sorrentino is going places I didn’t know he could go as an artist - some unusual more comic art, and other art that gets completely abstract and psychedelic. This started as what seemed like “just” a really interesting religious horror mystery story, but there’s a lot more weird cosmic stuff going on here as well. Lemire is telling a very cool story, and Sorrentino together with the incredible Dave Stewart on art is an amazing team.