Catch It at the Comic Shop September 9th, 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...

James' Picks:

Stargazer #1 by Anthony Cleveland, Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone & Justin Birch, published by Mad Cave Studios
Stargazer is a terrific debut issue, and (I believe) the first comic I've personally read from Mad Cave Studios. This is a science fiction/alien abduction story in the genre of "something terrible happened years ago and we all agreed not to talk about it, but now our past is catching up with us" stories.  I LOVE that kind of story. Die is another terrific recent example.  This is a very strong debut issue. It's genuinely creepy and unsettling, and the writing is strong depicting characters both as kids and adults. I really enjoyed the art from Antonio Fuso, with great colors from Stefano Smeone, which contributed to the excellent sense of fear and dread throughout the issue. If they're at this level, I look forward to reading a lot more comics from Mad Cave Studios.

Wasted Space vol. 3 by Michael Moreci, Hayden Sherman, Jason Wordie and Jim Campbell, published by Vault Comics
Wasted Space is an excellent, funny, raunchy, thought-provoking science fiction series. I look forward to catching up and seeing where the story is going. There's a failed Messiah, someone else who might be the actual Messiah, a sex robot (known as a FuqBot), a corrupt galactic president, and a whole lot of other weird stuff. I reviewed the first arc a few years ago and absolutely adored it. To quote myself:
This is a genuinely entertaining series with a real sense of personality, thanks to the fantastic team effort from Moreci, Sherman, Wordie and Campbell. The creative team has created what feels like an organic, lived-in world that’s messy and full of contradictions and complexity. This is a series that feels so smart that it’s not afraid to be dumb sometimes because the creative team knows that high and low art are arbitrary distinctions, and don’t need to be separate.
Sean's Picks:

Nobody Is In Control TPB by Patrick Kindlon, Paul Tucker and Wallace Ryan, published by Black Mask
Black Mask has a tendency to be consistently on par with maintaining better-than-average content combined with an inferior-than-most scheduling. Nobody Is In Control first debuted back in May 2019 and the fourth and final issue didn’t get published until March of this year. And this week we finally get to see the collected edition, which was initially supposed to be published late March after the fourth issue, but cuz Covid we aren’t seeing it until now.

With that all being said, this is one hell of a book! Patrick’s writing is among the best currently scripting comics. His witty dialogue and consistent pacing keep this graphic novel moving at a rapid pace. There’s enough charm in the read to have the best script-writer for Spider-Man be taking notes on how to keep the reader’s attention. Paul’s artwork and Wallace’s hand-lettering add to the depth that makes this book a must read. 

The basic premise of the story is a newly retired radio personality moves to the woods and one night he sees a strange man wandering his property. Seeing as he must be short of things to do he decides to help the strange man with whatever he is lost looking for. The illustrations and panel layouts take the reader down a series of visually impressive conspiracy theory filled tangents that blend reality with fiction. This is a hyper-imaginative comic that has a very unique way of telling its story. As a very strong contender for my own personal favorite comics of 2020, this comes with an enthusiastically high recommend.

Stargazer #1 by Anthony Cleveland, Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone & Justin Birch, published by Mad Cave Studios
This debut was one of several indie first issues that suffered from the blowback of the Diamond distributing debacle during the initial stages of Covid. Finally, here we are, ready and able to celebrate its release. Mad Cave Studios are known for their small, slice-of-life stories and this one in particular seems to have incredible potential. 

This is a story of a girl, Shae, and her brother, Kenny, along with two of her friends. These four encounter a traumatic and unexplainable event in the woods one late night as kids. This exact moment under the stars cause Kenny to have lingering and lasting effects continuing on into his adulthood. Now, 20 years later, with the mysterious disappearance of Kenny, Shae and her friends reconnect in attempt to understand the unexplainable. Here is a story that hits hard with the debut having every ingredient needed for readers wanting more. Check this one out. I’m certain that the buzz around it is worth the few bucks alone.

Rob's Picks:

Fly Me to the Moon Vol 1 by Kenjiro Hata, published by Viz
No, this is not yet another spin-off of Evangelion, despite the song title reference. Instead we have a young man named Nasa, who plans to go to space but before he can start training, a mysterious woman re-enters his life--and wants to get married! Oh, Japanese Comics and your awesome high concepts. This one's a shonen, not a shojo, so the relationship is played for comedy, rather than drama. It's 11 volumes strong in its native language, so there's a lot of story here if reader take to it and Viz can keep translating it. Given that we don't know much about the woman and how she plays into Nasa's ambitions for the stars, this should be an interesting manga to pick up and follow.

Heathen Volume 3 by Natasha Alterici, Ashley Woods, and Others, published by Vault
One of the series that put Vault on the map (and also in the adaptation radar), Heathen closes down with our heroine finally getting a shot at Odin, who isn't about to take this affront to his power lying down. There are a lot of comics about Norse Mythology. There are a lot of comics about defying those who would deny and condemn being gay. This is the only one I know of that does both, and does them extremely successfully. I'm sorry to see it wrap up, but it's well worth reading if you haven't jumped in yet.

Bill and Ted are Doomed #1 by Evan Dorkin, Ed Solomon, and Roger Langridge, published by Dark Horse
An official prequel to a movie wouldn't normally get my recommendation, but this is Dorkin and Langridge we're talking about here. Plus, it's Bill and Ted. The jokes are fast and furious, with wordplay in almost every panel, and they land, each and every time. I couldn't find a dud in the bunch. Then there's Langridge, whose ability to make his art feel animated while still remaining clearly drawn for comics. That's a perfect fit for both Dorkin's humor and the subjects at hand. This isn't bogus by any means--it's a great little hidden gem in this week's comics.

Mike's Picks:

Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 | Image Comics
Ice Cream Man Presents Quarantine Comix by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran, with special guests Declan Shalvey, Al Ewing, PJ Holden, Deniz Camp, Artyom Topilin, Aditya Bidikar, Christopher Cantwell, and Eoin Marron, published by Image Comics
This collection has everything - a reimagined candy inpsired Green Lantern, sonnets about phone addiction, a nine-panel grid break-up meets-psychotic break - all connected in their composition during the quarantine. While there were loads of comics that focused on quarantine life, most tended to highlight life’s mundanities, and were subsequently ill-inspired or wanting for new material. What makes this collection that much more engaging is the way it deals with the quarantine in a elevated way, focusing on metaphors to express feelings of isolation or confinement only with one’s own self, the futility of travel, the static noise of 24 hour news, etc. That is, if it focuses on the quarantine at all. There are a few that don’t, choosing to connect instead of the type of psychological horror Ice Cream Man is known for. Bottom line, this book is as entertaining as it is introspective.

SNEAK PEEK: Preview of Joker / Harley Criminal Sanity #5 - Comic Watch
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity 5 by Kami Garcia, Mico Suayan, Annette Kwok, and Jason Badower, published by DC Black Label
Kami Garcia and company return with the excellent forensics procedural, Criminal Sanity, and the stakes keep raising for this book’s version of Harley. Criminal Sanity has been one of the best treatments of Harley in recent memory, and Garcia plays with the basic assumption that Harley invariably ends up seduced by Joker’s charms, a victim of her own pathology and morbid curiosity. 

Essential Judge Dredd: America (1): Wagner, John, Ezquerra, Carlos:  9781781088609: Books
Essential Judge Dredd: America by John Wagner, Garth Ennis, Alan Grant, Colin Macneil, John Higgins, John Burns, and Jeff Anderson, published by Rebellion
I’ve written about his collection of stories this week, so I won’t belabor the point. What I will say is that the fine folks at Rebellion/2000 AD have been bending over backwards to provide accessible entry points into the Dredd universe, and this collection is certainly deserving of your hard-earned cash. As relevant as they are disconcerting, the stories found in America embody everything we should fear about the world’s continual right turn towards authoritarianism and Fascism, all crafted almost thirty years ago with the prescient foresight often reserved for fictional fortune tellers. This is a great compendium of stories with excellent examples of 2000 AD art style, one that is a welcomed shelf addition for newcomer and Dredd aficionados alike. 

Scott’s Picks:

Ultraman: The Rise of Ultraman by Kyle Higgins, Mat Groom, Francesco Manna and Michael Cho, published by Marvel Comics
I apologize for the neglect that all of my team mates have shown today by not acknowledging one of the greatest cultural imports from Japan: Ultraman.  Now, I don’t know what your childhoods were like and what kind of great television channels you may or may not have had growing up but in Chicago in the 1970s, we had channel 44 that showed the most fantastic television that Japan had to offer.  We had Speed Racer thanks to channel 44.  Later on, we would have Macross.  But in the mid-afternoon slot, there was Ultraman, the silver and red clad giant superhero who fought all kinds of great monsters.  Sure, you can laugh and chide Marvel for all kinds of weird licensing choices (Conan is an Avenger?) but here is the one new comic series that I’ve been looking forward to the most during this trying year.  Ultraman is here and he will save comics.

PS.  I’m not just saying this because my comic shop manager is a huge Ultraman fan and I fear that he’s holding all of my comics hostage unless this book is the best seller of the 2020s, not just the year but the whole decade.  Mike would never do that to me, would he?