Catch It at the Comic Shop June 5th, 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:

Stronghold #4 by Phil Hester, Ryan Kelly, Dee Cunniffee, and Simon Bowland, published by Aftershock
Despite the best efforts of the Stronghold, Michael Grey, an infinitely powerful man, is fully aware of his powers. Now the fight begins in earnest, as the war he ignited on other worlds moves full force to Earth. Now under radical management with radical techniques, can the newest version of the Stronghold keep the fragile peace? It's no surprise that this series, with Phil Hester and Ryan Kelly at the helm, has excellent plotting and amazing visuals. (Ryan's work looks as good as ever, with his extremely detailed and varied character design, amazing work with panel placement, and ability to show gore in a way that's unflinching without being lurid.) It's a tad wordy at times, using the style of an old EC horror comic, with a lot of "you" dialogue boxes, but each issue so far has ended on a a great climax, daring the reader to guess what's next. Don't sleep on this one, folks. Aftershock has a lot of great books going for it right now, and this is one of the best I've read.

Section Zero #3 by Karl Kesel, Tom Grummett, Ben Dimagmaliw, Grace Allison, and Richard Starkings, published by Image
If the Section Zero team isn't careful, they'll end up being a part of it--New York's garbage, that is--forever, as the search for Tina takes Sam into a dark corner of the Big Apple, featuring a real life rat king and extraordinarily unpleasant choices. This series is unapologetically 90s retro in style and feel, but the good, Dan Jurgens/Mark Bagley 90s, not the EXTREME stuff. Karl's characters talk a lot, but it's good banter, and Tom makes so many small urban legends look really menacing here, and the scenes with the witch(?) have a strong George Perez vibe to them. One of the cool parts of this series is that we aren't shown everything that ever happened, leaving those stories for another day and keeping the reader guessing. The official tag line is "there is no Section Zero" but I am glad it actually exists.

Marvel Action Avengers #5 by Matthew K. Manning, Jon Sommariva, Sean Parsons, Jimmy Reyes, Protobunker, and Christa Miesner, published by IDW
Been awhile since I've tossed an unpopular opinion on the site, so here we go: Marvel and DC comics are better when they're all-ages geared. Characters who can't age or die can't do serious stories very well, and the constant attempts to one-up the few who stick the landing leads to things like the Joker's bodycount looking like a pinball table score every time he shows up. Which is a long way of saying that, in my opinion, Marvel's best Avengers book continues to be published by another company. A few flashbacks fill in details of Count Nefaria's plan, and hoo boy, does it look back for the heroes. The stakes are extremely high, and with three of the heavy hitters in the clutches of the villain, we aren't dealing with small-time crime. The only difference is that people aren't dying left and right, cursing, or hating each other. In other words, there's an actual story going on! This may be aimed at kids, but I think there's a lot here for the adults, too, though Sommariva's style might not be quite to everyone's taste.

James' Picks:

Cemetery Beach TP by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, published by Image Comics
Cemetery Beach is kind of a weird book and not necessarily an unambiguous recommendation.  This is the story of a person from Earth who makes his way to a colony founded by humans 100 years ago whose technology is a weird mix of antiquated and advanced, and there have been a number of weird changes to the nature of their humanity as well.  He needs to escape and get to his ship, and is being chaed by people who don't want him reporting about them back to "Oldhome" (i.e., Earth).  I enjoyed this book while I was coming because it's got breakneck action, but I felt that it was a little thin on plot. I suspect that it will read better as they collected edition.  Ellis is a strong storyteller, and the comic essentially reads like an extended cheese sequence, so it is fortunate that a talented artist like Jason Howard is providing the art here. Howard provides effectively genetic art that can be is the high anxiety, high stress nature of the chase here. This is definitely a high energy book that doesn’t really stop to take too much stock of what is going on, you’ll probably want to read it a few times just to figure out exactly what’s going on. I think it’s a fun read, and would recommend it for fans of Warren Ellis’ work.
Thumbs #1 by Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman, published by Image Comics 
This is a comic that comes to us from the creators of the few, which was one of my favorite miniseries from a few years ago. Written by Sean Lewis and with art from Hayden Sherman, thumbs is a story that takes place in a relatively near future where a charismatic technology innovator uses his influence in the power of his products to sway young people to revolt against the United States government.  I have read this first issue and I definitely enjoyed it. There’s a lot going on in this issue, and it’s an oversized first issue so you get plenty of bang for your buck. The story concerns to kids that have become part of a revolution against the United States government, and the story chronicles their lives at several different ages. The story is somewhat bleak, but then it seems appropriate for the times that we live in. Sherman is an extremely talented artist and I have to say I don’t know that I’ve seen better work from him. This is a cleaner, more detailed style than he used in the few and the style that he uses in wasted space. I love both of those comics a ton, but I’m very interested to see how his style evolves here to a more detailed, slightly less stylized look, that still the feels very much like his unique style. This is a strong debut, and I definitely suggest you check it out.

Sean's Picks:

Thumbs #1 by Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman, published by Image Comics
So there’s a lot riding on this one. I’ve been waiting for this re-team up since the last issue of The Few awhile back. This time it’s a story of gamers hired to rebel against the government by means of tech in style of virtual reality. It’s a future where parenting is mostly replaced by nanny “mom-bots”, not by choice but by financial necessity as well as daily sustenance. Sean & Hayden know how to piece together a gripping dystopian tale that grabs your attention at the first page and cements your attention by that last page of the first chapter. This is a story told by way of mostly blacks and whites and grays with the only color being displaced as images of pink representing the technology in spaces around. This will be a fun ride. I suggest, and strongly recommend you read along and see what this creative duo are capable of putting together as we see their sophomore effort in storytelling unfold in real time. I’m already on board.

Neil's Picks:

Fallen World #2 by Dan Abnett, Adam Pollina, Ulises Arreola and Jeff Powell published by Valiant Comics 
You ever wanted to start reading the Valiant Universe but had no clue where to start? Then welcome to my world. Thankfully Fallen World is a great launching point for anyone wishing to take the plunge. Issue 1 gave new readers (like myself) enough world-building to grasp the narrative, as well as some strong character introductions. Visceral action sequences, a future Earth, a society struggling to come to terms with their new home, AI possession and DINOSAURS. I think that ticks all the relevant boxes. With Dan Abnett, the legend behind the best runs of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy on writing duties, we have one incredibly intelligent dystopian-future comic.

Mike's Picks:

Giant Days 51, by John Allison and Max Sarin, published by BOOM! Studios
As Giant Days is running down to its finale, I find each issue to be a must read. I’ve said before than it’s a remarkable feat for a slice of life comic about British university students to achieve over fifty issues, but it’s no surprise given the quality of the series. Last month’s cricket romp ended on a down note as McGraw needs to confront the loss of his father, signaling that the insulation our crew has received from the real world pressures is set to thin out very soon.

 Section Zero 3, by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett, published by Image Comics/Shadowline
The neutral to negative critiques I read about Section Zero are that the book feels outdated, tied inexorably to its 90s routes in storytelling and art techniques. I either don’t seem to mind or relish the bit of nostalgia the series provides. Section Zero is in many ways an X-Files meets Johnny Quest pastiche, and issue two ramped up the action as Kesel and Grummet continue to drop little hints to the bigger mystery behind Section Zero.

Maxwell’s Demons TPB, by Deniz Camp, Vittorio Astone, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Vault Comics
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire Maxwell’s Demons series, and after re-reading the entire series after combined two issue finale that recently hit stands, I think it’s a great idea to read the series in collected format. Camp and Astone both channel their love for Jack Kirby in this sprawling, big science epic. Astone’s colors are perhaps the biggest selling point of the series – bright and cosmic to compliment Camp’s grand narrative.

Kirk's Pick: 

Thumbs #1 by Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman, published by Image Comics
A little bit Ready Player One and a whole lot of The Last Starfighter in concept. A tech giant has been secretly training a generation of latchkey kids as a private army through the guise of video games donated to low income families. I've read Sean's previous work in Saint. A book that was captivating in concept and just absurdist enough for my tastes. The biggest draw with Thumbs for me is the excellent use of a 3 color scheme throughout the comic that gives it just enough cyber-punk flavor as well as creating tension in an a story that teeters between nostalgic and cautionary.