Catch It at the Comic Shop September 25th, 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...

James' Picks:
 The Plot #1 by Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel and Joshua Hixson, published by Vault Comics
I don't like horror movies, but it turns out I actually really love a good horror comic. Haunted house? Creepy monsters?  Looming sense of existential dread? People going into a situation they're wholly unprepared for? I am here for all of that.  They're tropes of horror, but that's not a problem as long as they're done well. The good news is that The Plot is a very strong comic debut which features all of these ideas and a lot more, from the writing team of Michael Moreci (Wasted Space, one of my favorite books of the past few years) and Tim Daniel, with art by Joshua Hixson (Shanghai Red).  I don't want to say too much about the plot (ha!) of the story, but let's just say there's a man wholly unprepared to take care of kids thrust into that role. That's hard enough as is, but there's also something seriously wrong with the house. I am not doing it justice, but you'll just have to trust me. The story has loose echoes of something like Locke & Key, but this house doesn't seem nearly as fun or whimsical. The story from Moreci and Daniel is very strong (a lot of hints at a dark and weird family history), and the art from Hixson is just fantastic. Really creepy and unsettling (not surprising, given the incredible work he did on Shanghai Red, another fantastic comic). Anyway, if you like clever spins on the "something very wrong with the house" horror genre, I definitely recommend you check this out.

Mall #2 by Michael Moreci, Gary Dauberman and Zak Hartong, published by Vault Comics
This is a fun. post-apocalyptic comic. Now, before you go saying "oh man, another post-apocalyptic book?", let me tell you that the premise of this book is very clever. Society has collapsed, it's not safe outside, but the one place where people still live is...The Mall.  People had sought refuge from war, collapse, etc., inside a shopping mall, and have now been living there for a very long time. They've also divided themselves up into tribes based on which store they live in. A member of one tribe has been falsely accused of murder, and he has to make it through the Mall without being killed.  Think The Warriors, but set in a shopping mall. The first issue of this comic was quite fun, and I'm looking forward to more. You can count on Michael Moreci to write a strong story (see my earlier pick), with fun action, big ideas, and sharp dialogue. And I wasn't familiar previously with Gary Dauberman, but he's a strong storyteller and I'm very much enjoying his work so far.

Black Science #43 by Rick Remender, Mattero Scalera and Moreno Dinisio, published by Image Comics
This is the final issue of Black Science, and I have some thoughts and feelings about it. So it turns out that the very first review I wrote for Panel Patter was a review of Black Science #3. It's fascinating for me to go back and reread this, both to see how I have evolved as a writer about comics, but also to think about what I was anticipating from Black Science vs. what it delivered.  To quote myself, I ended my review of issue #3 by saying that "In order to keep readers engaged, the book will need to show the reader both compelling, fantastical worlds (which they have already done) and compelling characters about which we should care (which they’re working on)."  I think that in large part the story has succeeded in doing both, but Black Science ended up being a very different book than I was anticipating. I think that I was anticipating a much more episodic, Sliders-like story where the characters jumped from universe to universe almost every issue, and the story was all about "what new crazy universe are we visiting this week?" Don't get me wrong, there are lots of amazing, weird worlds that we as readers get to experience in this comic. In fact, the story gets even more bonkers than you might anticipate. But that's not what the story is actually about. It's really a story about a man named Grant McKay, and the book is a far more philosophical, introspective book than you might expect from a story involving giant turtles, witches, and horrifying monsters that look like adorable stuffed animals. This is really a story about Grant, and his reckoning with the choices he's made, his ambitions, his failures and successes, and the consequences of his actions for himself and all of the people around him. One thing that did not change during the course of the story is that this comic has consistently wonderful, imaginative, psychedelic art from the incredible Matteo Scalera. Scalera has only gotten better and better as a storyteller as the comic has gone along, which is pretty impressive since he was amazing to begin with (and it would be impossible to imagine Black Science drawn by anyone else). He's great at so many things - action, weird worlds, but also quieter, more emotional moments. Scalera was aided along the way by fantastic colorists, first Dean White (who brought a very Frazetta painted sensibility to the book) and then Moreno Dinisio (who has a very different but equally fun, exciting approach to colors).  It's an impressive book, and I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning and rereading Black Science as a whole series in order to truly appreciate Remender and Scalera's vision.

Deadly Class #40 by by Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd, published by Image Comics
Speaking of Rick Remender, this week marks the return of another of his highly engaging, popular comics - Deadly Class.  Another story of a rebellious soul, Deadly Class tells (primarily) the story of Marcus Lopez Arguello, an outsider who comes to the Kings' Dominion secret high school for assassins. He's had a pretty rough life, and it doesn't get any easier when he comes to the school. He makes friends, but also enemies. There are a TON of great, memorable characters throughout this story, and as the comic has moved along it's become clear that it's much less *just* Marcus' story. It's the story of a number of these students, the weird families that shaped them, and the bonds and alliances and loves that they share with their fellow students. And a lot of fighting and shooting and stabbing and insane action. Because, after all, it is a story about a school for assassins. Speaking of insane action - in the same way that it would be impossible to imagine Black Science without Matteo Scalera, it would be impossible to imagine the insane actions and bonkers, incredibly kinetic, weird storytelling of Deadly Class without artist Wes Craig. Craig is an incredible visual storyteller and has a unique, instantly recognizable style. There's so much fun and energy and personality and weirdness baked into his incredible visuals. And color is also a central part of the storytelling of this book. Atmospheric, bright, bold, weird colors, first from Lee Loughridge and now from the equally talented Jordan Boyd. This book is a must-read every time a new issue comes out. If you're not on board, definitely take a look.

Also, huge props for Remender for naming the new arc after a fantastic Pixie's song (Bone Machine).

Powers of X #5 by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia, published by Marvel Comics
If you're a Marvel Comics fan and you're not reading House of X/Powers of X, then I don't know what to tell you. It's some of the most exciting, engaging, intricate, detailed comic storytelling I've ever read. I love everything that Jonathan Hickman does, so consider this very high praise when I say that Hickman is bringing his absolute A-game to these comics. These books have felt big and weighty and important, like you have to keep up otherwise you'll be missing out on something exciting. And exciting these have been!  Each issue has been like it's own little event, with lots of speculation before and lots of discussion and dissection afterwards. these are really rich, jam-packed, fascinating books, and I'm going to miss these when they stop coming out each week.

Sean's Picks:

Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire, published by Gallery 13
In the words of a fellow panel patterer: “can this man even write a bad story?!” Frogcatchers is a beautiful story told with few words alongside imaginative visuals and paneling. I cannot say much about this book without revealing too much of what it is about. Knowing too much of it’s premise would likely ruin the beauty that unfolds as you read it. This is Lemire flexing his muscles at a point in his career where he is already at the top of his game. He is painfully good at doing what he does, and he is at his best when he tells concise stories like this in medium length original graphic novel format. I strongly urge everyone go get this book. It will stay with you long after you read it.

The Plot #1 by Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel and Joshua Hixson, published by Vault Comics
The Plot opens with the Proverb: “In order to receive... first you must give.” Where that phrase takes you in your mind is entirely up to you, but what is *not* up to you is the assumed expectancy you are to want but not have with this first issue of Vault’s new horror line. Moreci’s dialogue alongside a plot (pun not intended but probably expected by my peers at this point) paired with the mind of Tim Daniel and the illustrations of Hixson make for one haunting and scary-as-hell comic. Vault is securing themselves as the publisher to beat, or at least follow suit, because just about every one of their titles has reason to find a hill to die on as you tell everyone to go read or else they’ll forever cast themselves in hindsight regret. This is my hill. I talk a lot about Vault books on here, and there’s reason for that. But if you only read one.. make it Wasted Space (another Vault title by Moreci), and then track this one down. Cuz it is that damn good.

Resonant #3 by David Andry and Alejandro Aragon, published by Vault Comics
In the last issue we left Paxton at a rather unnerving place in time. Unfortunate events were played out as elsewhere his kids were beginning to be at odds with one another. My favorite part about this comic is it’s visual styling and the literal ability it has to mimic the tone of the story. Jagged and sketchy lines drive the terror and give the panels a near literal voice to scream at you with. Some books are a good read. Some books are nice to look at. Resonant is both. David Andry is a new creator of comics but you wouldn’t guess that while reading this if you hadn’t known it beforehand. Stunning work. A fantastic read. It comes with high recommendation from me, and probably will until it’s final issue.

Scratcher #1 by John Ward and Juan Romera, published by Antarctic Press
I know nothing of this creative team, but that doesn’t usually stop me from giving a debut issue a shot at grabbing me with what they have to say. John and Juan waste no time with this one. It’s a story about a a tattoo artist, Dee, as she begins to discover that her clients are somehow possessed by the tattoos she had given them. If this comic were in color it’d be exponentially more gruesome, but somehow the sheer terror and grotesque scenes pulled straight from a b-movie slasher film are anything but a swing and a miss. I’m curious to know where this story goes. This is first to a four part mini and judging by the pace of this one.. those who choose to read along are in for a wicked ride that will have you questioning that new tattoo you were maybe gonna get next weekend.

Relics of Youth #1 by Matt Nicholas, Chad Rebmann and Skylar Patridge, published by Vault Comics
RoY is a self-aware modern fantasy driven by a niche storytelling trope by way of a cast of vastly different, but often likable characters. Derek, Mia, Tristan, Garrett, and Blake all share a same vision and mark: a dream of an island and matching mysterious tattoos. They are brought together by Nat, our assumed leader of this group of mismatched misfits, for a mysterious adventure to the Bermuda Triangle. The book has peaked my interest enough to grab my attention for at least another issue. This debut, if for nothing else, has created a group of characters built with sole purpose to reel you in.

Neil's Picks:

Strikeforce #1 by Tini Howard, German Peralta and Jordie Bellaire published by Marvel Comics
Going out of my comfort zone for the second time in two weeks and picking a title on a whim. Strikeforce has grabbed my attention because of Blade, a character that I only know of through the movies. However, it also grabbed my attention as it looks to be a sort of X-Force meets the supernatural team and I am totally ready for that. Tini Howard is on writing duties and although I wasn’t a fan of her Thanos run, some of my fellow Panel Patter cohorts have praised her Black Crown comics. So with that, I am taking another plunge back into Marvel and hoping for something that surprises me.

Bloodshot #1 by Tim Seeley, Brett Booth published by Valiant Comics
Having only begun reading Valiant titles this year, Fallen World was my first introduction to the character of Bloodshot. Though not completely himself in that story, it left me wanting to know more about him. Lucky for me and anyone else not knowing much about Bloodshot, Tim Seeley’s story is a reintroduction, so thankfully no need to be confused as hell. Valiant titles have been somewhat of a refreshing read for me over the past few months. New heroes, new villains, a new shared universe, something far away from the superhero characters I grew up with.

The Plot #1 by Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, Joshua Hixson published by Vault Comics
It's been some time since I picked up a Vault comic. But on seeing Vault stalwarts Moreci and Daniel are back together on a horror title I couldn't say no. Burning Fields and Curse both released by Boom Studios are two of the most underrated horror comics around. One reinventing the werewolf genre and the other a military horror epic. Moreci and Daniel are writing duo that delivers when it comes to horror so I’m hoping for more of what I read 5 years ago. With Josh Hixson of Shanghai Red fame on art duties, this has the potential to be a terrifying read. 

John Carpenter's Tales for a Halloween Night Vol.5 by Various writers/Artists published by Storm King Productions
Being a huge fan of John Carpenter I had to pick this book. I’d have preferred it to be released closer to Halloween but Storm King seems to have missed a beat there. Carpenter may not have written any of the stories in this trade but he and wife Sandy King have brought together a stellar selection of storytellers. Personally I haven’t read any of the previous “Halloween Night” collections, though having read all of the John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction comics and finding them hauntingly dark and gruesome, this book has a lot going for it.