Catch It at the Comic Shop September 30th, 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...

Mike's Picks:

Killadelphia 8 by Rodney Barnes, Jason Shawn Alexander, and Luis NCT, published by Image Comics
Killadelphia is one of those books that finds a way to both execute its genre with fidelity while also raising important, thought-provoking questions. Such a trend in horror neither new nor necessarily novel right now (Lovecraft Country, right!), but what elevates Killadelphia is that Barnes, Alexander, and NCT use their horror and vampire mythos to peel back layers of American history to expose the power dynamics that defined the country while also crafting a tale of familial reconciliation and duty. If you're enjoying both the horror and the story behind a show like the aforementioned Lovecraft Country and you're not invested in Killadelphia, it's time to rectify that. 

Shang-Chi 1 by Gene Luen Yang, Duke Ruan, Philip Tan, and Sebastian Cheng, published by Marvel Comics
I'll be honest and admit that essentially all I know about Shang-Chi comes from Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run. Any lack of background knowledge or trepidation vanishes for me when Gene Yang gets his hands on a superhero book. Yang proved in his time at DC that he could write three different iterations of Superman -  a revamped New 52 version, a classic throwback to the Golden Age incarnation, and a entirely new Chinese variant. His work on Terrifics showed he can revitalize a series and breathe new life into languishing characters. Culture - both traditionally Chinese and that of the Chinese-American immigrant experience - have defined Yang's work, and I'm incredibly excited to see what he does with Shang-Chi. I'm especially jazzed to see how Yang and team re-imagine the fantastical elements of Kung Fu. Yang has shown a strong skillset in this arena through New Super-Man, American Born Chinese, and Boxers & Saints. I can't wait. 

Beth's Picks:

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #3, by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Alex Sinclair, published by DC Black Label
Between the bonkers “Harley Quinn” animated series (streaming on DC Universe and HBO Max) and the “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” movie, it’s been something of a banner year for the character. (I loved it, and it’s the best movie I saw in a theater in 2020. Okay, okay, it’s the ONLY movie I saw in a theater in 2020, but potato-potatoh). Like the film, this series isn’t the return of OG/Gail Simone-era Birds of Prey many of us might like to see, but it’s a really fun read. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s take on Harley is always a good time, and this Black Label book lets them take the raunchy humor to the extreme. Like their ongoing HQ series and David S. Pumpkins, the continuity here is its own thing, so if you’re not up to date on what’s currently happening in DC but enjoy the character, this series is still worth checking out. 

X-Ray Robot #2, by Michael Allred, Laura Allred and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse Comics
The bright, cartoony style of Mike and Laura Allred’s art always makes me smile. The best of their work always tends to make me feel like I’ve taken some really fun, powerful narcotic when I read it, even if all I’ve had is a cup of light roast on a Sunday morning. X-Ray Robot is one such comic. In this tale, Max is a family man whose life is torn apart when a robot claiming to be his 277-year-old self appears, of course with the ability to x-ray into multiple dimensions. Max ends on a road trip through time with the robot, to, naturally, save the universe. The story so far is a hoot, and the art and colors are a pure, trippy joy.

James' Picks:

Department of Truth by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
People have always been fascinated by conspiracies. The idea that there are shadowy elements out there, making the masses think one thing, when the reality is different. The real truth is hidden from the masses, but those who believe in the conspiracy get something out of it. They get a sense of superiority and that of belonging.  In recent years, conspiracy theories have proliferated and become more mainstream, not just being limited to the darkest corners of the internet. With a computer, it's easier and easier to manipulate truth.  So, with all of that in mind, here comes the Department of Truth.  The idea here is that every single absurd conspiracy theory you've ever heard is actually true. But there's a government agency dedicated to covering those things up and making sure not too many people believe in them. There are some amazing twists that I don't want to spoil, even in tis debut issue. This is very much a comic for 2020.  I think that pre-2016 election, I would have found this comic funnier and more harmless. But the fact is, it feels very timely, and even if it hits close to home as far as the prevalence of absurd theories and the deliberate obfuscation of truth, it's a very strong and very timely comic.  

Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place #1 by Jeff Lemire and Mike Del Mundo, published by Marvel Comics

I am absolutely loving The Immortal Hulk right now. It's consistently the best comic coming out from Marvel. In fact, this weekend I've been doing a reread of the whole series, and it's been great. I've seen ways in which writer Al Ewing has been seeding ideas since the very beginning of the story. I'm loving that The Immortal Hulk is a superhero book in the loosest sense, but it's really a deep, complex psychological study. It's also an intense horror story.  There's a lot to it. This specific issue is a one-shot written and drawn by a different creative team, but it's set in the same general storyline, and it looks to explore some of the same dark themes.  If anyone knows how to write a dark story involving terror and loneliness, it's Jeff Lemire (please go read Gideon Falls). So, I'm excited to see his take on the world of Hulk, ad on art is the fantastic Mike Del Mundo, who excels at drawing the weird and fantastical. This should be a terrific read.

Rob's Picks:

Blood on the Tracks Volume 2 by Shuzo Oshimi, published by Vertical
The term "that escalated quickly" is an internet joke that completely applies to this series, which in its first volume makes it clear something's not right in Seiichi's family, then ends with a cliffhanger that changes things from the slow-build you're expecting to a dramatic change. It's absolutely brilliant, and now in the second volume, poor Seiichi has to deal with the fallout of his mother's obsession with him. Things are creepy and unhealthy and will definitely make your skin crawl. Oshimi's linework is superb, and I love the way he sets up the panels to creep the reader out, especially the looks from mother to son. The translation into English is trying a bit too hard to be modern, but that's a minor quibble for a story that will haunt the edge of your thoughts between books.

Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (characters), Hikaru Miyoshi, and Ryosuke Takeuchi, published by Viz
Everyone's the hero in their own story, right? This series takes that premise and runs with it by featuring a younger, formative foe of Sherlock Holmes being upset by injustice and vowing to do something about it. But is that all there is to the story? Can you do the right thing the wrong way? Did we have the wrong hero all this time? I highly doubt it, but as a fan of almost all things Holmes, this series is going to be a lot of fun to follow, especially with the gorgeous art by Takeuchi. The linework shines even when dueling with lots of snappy, well-translated dialogue. Victorian England sure looks pretty and James looks primed for potential corruption as this new series from Viz gets started here.
Heartbeat by Maria Llovet, Andworld Design, and Andrea Rosenberg (translator), published by Boom! Studios
Maria Llovet's ability to draw erotic horror is breathtaking, with thin, graceful lines that extend from panel to panel makes her one of the best in the business today. This story of a young woman who gets involved with the ultimate in high-school bad boy, entangled into his world in the way was Llovet's artistry entangles the reader with a variety of panel choices, page construction, and more. It's simply gorgeous storytelling. If you're a fan of Faithless (or even if you're not), definitely check this one out. Llovet's easily one of my favorite "new to me" artists of the past two years.

Lon Chaney Speaks by Pat Dorian, published by Pantheon
The Man of a 1000 faces gets featured in a new graphic novel expanded from a mini-comic that was a big hit at MOCCA back when cons were a thing we all went to and talked about together. Taken from Chaney's own quotes, it's not a strict biography but more of a portrait of a man horror fans owe so much to. Dorian's style, which harkens back to an older illustrative time, is perfect for a book like this.

Sean’s Picks:

Gunning for Ramirez: Act 1 by Nicolas Petrimaux, published by Image Comics 
A mute vacuum repairman with a mustache to make us all weep in envy gets assumed as a once hit-man who did a Mexican drug cartel dirty. If that doesn’t pique your interest then check yourself into the looney bin because that’s about as bizarre and unlikely as comic book pitches come. This first act of the story of Jacques reads like a slow burn but feels like a blow to the head. Gunning for Ramirez was a European hit in 2018 winning numerous awards and now Image is giving it the translation treatment here State-side. Trust me when I say that this read is about as fun as they come. 

X-Ray Robot 2 by Mike and Laura Allred, Nate Piekos, Dave Rubin and Christian LeBlanc, published by Dark Horse Comics
This is Allred you guys, come on. X-Ray Robot is weird and psychedelic, traditionally science fiction and inventively nuanced. I’ve been sitting on literal pins and needles waiting for this follow up to arguably my favorite first issue of 2020. Our robot has come back to warm the crew of the impending doom. How must they act? What must they do? Mini vortex acid-trips through time and overly complicated explanations for the where-go’s and why’s are what I’ve managed to come up with to describe this romp of a book. Everything about this comic feels meant to exist for no other reason but to enhance the experience. Mike’s story and art combined with Laura’s colors complement each other in ways giving reason for why both are named Allred. (Okay, fine, you caught me. I didn’t sit on any pins or needles).

Department of Truth 1 by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds & Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
I hate the fact that this comic is timely. I hate the fact that some will get offended by this seriously satirical take on our collective obsession with misinformation. But.. I love the fact that Tynion and Simmonds are the creative duo behind it. Tynion has already proved his tenure in comics with titles such as The Woods, UFOlogy, Something is Killing the Children, and is reason for some of the best Batman stories in recent years. With Martin Simmonds having an equally impressive resume including Friendo, Punks Not Dead, and Titan’s Death Sentence, Department of Truth will most definitely be a sure hit.