Catch It at the Comic Shop July 22nd, 2020

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...

Neil's Pick:

The Resistance #3 by J Michael Straczynski, Mike Deodato Jnr, Lee Roughridge published by AWA Studios
The first issue of The Resistance was so terrifyingly close to the current global pandemic I didn't know if I wanted to continue reading. When a deadly new virus wipes out over half of the human race a new step in human evolution rises up against a radical incoming President. This Comic couldn't be more of an analogy for our present-day if it tried. Straczynski has a knack when it comes to building both plot and character, The Resistance is no different. Plot is dealt with perfectly in issue one, giving readers the full background on what has happened globally when it comes to the deadly virus. By issue two, main protagonists are defined to the point that I already strongly despise one of them. That's not a bad thing because that shows how invested in this story I already am after two issues. Deodato's photo-realistic style and Loughridge's colour work adds to the realism that a comic with this kind of narrative needs. This may be a comic that introduces a new shared universe and new superheroes over at AWA but I'd be happy with this being a completely solo story.

Mike's Picks:

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine, published by Drawn and Quarterly
It was fairly early in my return to comics just over a decade ago that I found my way to Adrian Tomine and Optic Nerve. Having slid away from comics around age 17, I had only scratched the surface of what was available outside mainstream works, and my return to the hobby was mostly, though not exclusively, through the lens of superhero books. It was a random weeknight, and I stopped by Third Eye Comics to talk to Steve about comics to pair with The Scarlet Letter to highlight themes of isolation and alienation. I left with a few Optic Nerve floppies, third or fourth prints if memory serves, and a new perspective on what I knew comics could be. In this new autobiographical work, Tomine reflects on his career and analyzes the inadvertent pains and necessary tradeoffs a life of creativity in the public eye. Tomine has an uncanny ability to use self-deprecation not to deflect, but to cut deeply and analyze the parts of our lives we try to push to the fringes.

The Last God 7 by Philip Kennedy Johnson, Ricardo Federici, Sunny Gho, Allen Passalaqua, Arif Prianto, and Kai Carpenter, published by DC Black Label
The Last God begins its second arc this week. In six issues, Johnson and Federici have built a massive sword and sorcery universe replete with its own role-playing game. To be fair, this subgenre of fantasy isn’t always in my wheelhouse. I bought the first issue because of PKJ’s involvement. He’s a big supporter of my local LCS, and I was stoked to see his name on a high-profile book. I was hooked, however, from issue one. Not only does this book look beautiful, it’s lack of connection to any major universe or property gives it the unrestrained feel and allows PKJ’s vision to thrive. It’s fundamentally good storytelling from a team that clearly loves the genre and the world they’ve created.

Billionaire Island 3 by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry, and Rob Steen, published by Ahoy Comics
Mark Russell has a special brand of satire. There is a certain joy behind it. His characters are more developed and complex than the average parody. There is a sense of early Richard Russo to his approach; there is bite, but also heart. Pugh’s art only serves to enhance this dynamic. He has such a wonderful knack for facial gestures and character emotion that Russell’s scripts come to life in a different way with his pencils and inks. But Billionaire Island is unique amongst Russell’s satiric output in that the world seems to be adapting to it, increasing the comic’s prescience while offering an even more personal look into the new normal.

Sean's Picks:

Bliss #1 by Sean Lewis & Caitlin Yarsky, published by Image Comics
The duo who brought us Coyotes is back for another mini series to blow the competition to the curb once again. Sean Lewis writes some of the most ambitious stories I’ve read in recent years and he has made it his practice to team up with the best up-and-coming illustrators to help tell them. Stylistically this is very similar to Coyotes; with a caricatured darkness and a muted color palette, the imagery immediately has a brooding presence with much to say. Yarsky has an obvious eye for panel work, and I am quite excited to see what she continues to be part of. As a first issue, Bliss 1 is very strong, setting stage for story and making the reader connect with characters at the onset of page one. Already I am rooting for the one you’re not supposed to. That’s how well-written stories are told, right? Don’t pass on this one. I have a feeling it will be one of Lewis’ greatest works so far.

Middlewest #18 by Skottie Young, Jorge Corona, Nate Piekos, & Jean-Francois Beaulieu, published by Image Comics
The final issue to a series that has been near and dear to me. I have found that the overarching premise to Middlewest as being modestly and figuratively biographical; a feat not difficult to assume if you self reflect enough while reading. Especially if what’s being read is relatable enough to make walking funnel clouds seem plausible. Able, his fox and all the crew are set to wrap things up and [hopefully] settle the on-again off-again quarrels that follows them. The embodiment of anger, funneled into destructively dark rain clouds, are about to see its final panels and I am sitting on my hands in anticipation for how it plays out.

Canto & the Clockwork Fairies One Shot by David Booher, Drew Zucker, Vittorio Astone, & Deron Bennett, published by IDW
Everyone’s favorite tin man is back, and, no, I don’t mean mister if-I-only-had-a-brain. This takes place nowhere near Oz but it does seem to set us up for another journey, much like the first arc. Canto was such a fan and critics favorite that Booher and company seemingly felt obliged to follow up the mini series with more story. Canto is about as lovable as they come. Rooting for the little guy who has limitless courage, and then some, is one of my favorite pastimes. This one shot intends to bridge the story onto the next chapter, which we will see sometime later this summer. Go grab this floppy and take a ride.

Daredevil #21 by Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto, published by Marvel Comics
If you aren’t reading Hulk or Daredevil then you are missing out on two of the best things to come out of a major comic book publisher in years. While Ewing is redefining The Hulk in the cosmos, Zdarsky is flipping Murdoch on his side. He is redefining a character that’s already been rewritten numerous times in the last two decades, let alone the last five or more. And he’s doing all that while resisting all the tired tropes once done before. Think Zdarsky is done? No. Absolutely not, because he’s also doing the same thing with Wilson Fisk. Watching these two characters fight with similar internal battles has been some of the best things in comics lately. And the art, oh god the art! Checchetto is killing it with these spreads. Drawing the layouts for a blind superhero has got to be one of the hardest to do when you’re wanting to remind the reader that the hero is... blind, but Checchetto is near the top at getting it done right. Go read this issue! It’s the one where Matt Murdoch finally comes clean with his past.

Bad Reception #5 by Juan Doe, published by Aftershock
The most consistent publisher putting out quality comics in short format as minis is arguably (and correctly) assumed as Aftershock, and Bad Reception is at the top of the list of reasons why. This is a well-intended critique on a modern addiction of forced voyeurism while being constantly connected to our internet addiction, and it is a brilliant premise; this makes me hope for more stories from Juan Doe. This be another final issue in my list of recommendations and, though I don’t suggest you read it if you haven't already read the previous four, I strongly suggest you either track this one and those previous four down — or wait to pick up the collected series when it arrives. I promise you, you’ll love this story of horror and obsession and lies.

James' Picks:

Decorum #3 by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston, published by Image Comics
Decorum has been an immediate must read for me since its debut.  It's a fun, genuinely weird science fiction series where a lot of the fun for me is that I have very little idea what's going on and I have no idea what's going to happen next.  I loved the first issue (as I love basically all comics written by Jonathan Hickman). That the story was great was unsurprising to me. But what was a revelation to me was the work of Mike Huddleston. He displays (over the course of the first few issues) a remarkable amount of range. As I note in my review, he's like 3 completely different artists all rolled into one, and the effect is mesmerizing and a little dizzying, in the best possible way. This series is vast and intimate in scope, going all the way from maps of galactic civilizations to intimate conversations. Trust me, you want to be along for the ride. 

Wicked Things #3 by John Allison, Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar, published by Boom! Studios
Speaking of comic creators I love and trust completely, The creative team of John Allison, Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar has my 100% trust and loyalty. Giant Days (their last series) wrapped up last year, and I can't even tell you how much I loved it (well, it did make my list of favorite books of the decade). I oved the humor and heart and the combination of the mundane and the absurd. Well, great news, all of that continues in Wicked Things. Lottie Grotte is a character that Allison has written in a number of different series (including appearances in Giant Days) (she's a part of the Bobbinsverse) and she's fantastic. She was a kid detective, and now she's an older teen detective - not quite as precocious as she once was, but brilliant. And somehow she finds herself framed for murder!  It's a great, funny, engaging read.