Catch It at the Comic Shop October 7th, 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:

Adventureman #4 by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics

Adventureman has been a true delight. Matt Fraction and the Dodson's have created something really fun and special. This is a pulpy adventure comic set in the modern day. It's a delight to see fantastical concepts make their way into our mundane world, and watch our main character learn more and more what she's capable of. Terry and Rachel Dodson really do stunning, detailed, vibrant work in bringing this book to life. The people are beautiful without feeling overly sexualized, and the decor is fun and intricate and this book just keeps getting better.

Decorum #5 by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston, published by Image Comics

Jonathan Hickman is at his most Hickman-y in Decorum, and I am totally loving it. This is big, weird, exciting science fiction. I don't totally understand what's going on. But that's fine, because what I've read has been so very cool, that I don't care. I'm along for the ride regardless. There is a part of the story with recognizable human characters. And then there are maybe AI characters? And some other ones that seem almost like abstractions? Well, regardless, it's intriguing, and the art from Mike Huddleston is absolutely virtuoso. Huddleston does incredibly work and seems to have at least 3 completely distinct styles in which he works. It's a stunning book, even if I sometimes have no idea what the hell is going on.

American Vampire 1976 #1 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig, published by DC Comics

I think it's been a long time since there were any American Vampire comics.  I understand this is the last arc of the series. I'm very curious to see how it wraps up. I've got mixed feelings on Scott Snyder, superhero comic writer. But Scott Snyder, horror comic writer? His work is unimpeachable. American Vampire is proof of that. It's a complex, sprawling, centuries-spanning tale of Vampires from around the world and the uniquely American ones that have come to prominence.  This was the comic that made me realize I could like Vampire stories. The art from Rafael Albuquerque is absolutely stunning. It's violent, action-packed, sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny, and always engaging. 

Champions #1 by Eve Ewing and Simone Di Meo, published by Marvel Comics

I'm recommending Champions for several reasons. First, Eve Ewing is a terrific writer (read Ironheart) and has a great grasp on young heroes. Secondly, I really enjoy the team members here, particularly Ms. Marvel.  Thirdly, Simone Di Meo is the artist here. And if you don't know Di Meo's art just yet, you will, I promise. I have a review going up tomorrow of We Only Find Them When They're Dead, a fantastic sci-fi series for which Di Meo is providing stunning art. So, I'm pretty much on board to check out anything Di Meo is doing.  Lastly, I love the concept. I this it makes for good storytelling if you've got the young heroes being cracked down on by the old people establishment. We need those young heroes - and I'm clearly not just talking about the Marvel universe. 2020 is all kinds of f$%#ed up, and we old people have clearly not been getting the job done, so I've been incredibly inspired to see the way young people have led protest movements in this country. So, I think this will be a timely and excellent read.

Sean's Picks:

Transformers Back to the Future 1 (of 4) by Cavan Scott, Juan Samu, David Garcia Cruz and Neil Uyetake, published by IDW

I’m a huge fan of the Back to the Future movies. I’ve seen the films hundreds of times dating back to real-life 1985 as a 5 year old sitting in front of the tv console in my parents living room. There really isn’t a trilogy of films that I’ve enjoyed more. Now, seeing the comic book having the Transformer crossover treatment thanks to IDW, it’s something I never thought I needed, but now that it’s here I’m certain I cannot live without. Starscream using Biff Tannen lines, Decepticons in Hill Valley, the DeLorean reimagined as a transformer, all of these crossover realities make my childhood Saturday morning dreams come true as I read this first issue in the latest chapter of the never-ending Transformer crossover saga. I have enjoyed nearly all of these mini-series in recent months, but this one hits me where the nostalgia is deep. My sentiment for hoverboards, the flux capacitor, life-preserver sleeveless jackets, and the one and only Optimus Prime make this one of my more enjoyable reads this year. Go get it!

Batman The Maxx: Arkham Dreams 4 (of 5) by Sam Keith, Ronda Pattison and Shawn Lee published by IDW

A couple weeks ago I recommended the compendium that caught us all up with the series we all forgot we loved from 2018. With only 60 percent of the series hanging by a thread without a conclusion for well over a year we finally get more to the story. This issue has The Maxx teetering back and forth between worlds once again trying to uncover the cause and effects. Who does he trust? Where is the ManBat? err.. Batman. If you know who Sam Keith is then you really don’t need the introductory premise to tease you into picking this one up. But if you don’t.. the cover may do the trick for you anyway. Keith’s rendition of the Batman is part throwback to 90s alt-comics and part exaggerated realism. I’m really enjoying going back to this story, and though I’m not sure Keith has a grasp on how to voice the character of Batman.. it doesn’t matter much because The Maxx makes up for it and once you settle in this version of Arkham then all of your preconceived discrepancies begin to melt away. Strap in. 

Spy Island 2 (of 4) by Chelsea Cain, Lia Miternique, Elise McCall, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramagna and Stella Greenvoss, published by Dark Horse 

Spy snark comedy meets exotic crime thriller come to life by the creative team who brought us Man-Eaters. This comic is gorgeous. The colors, the supplemental art splash pages, and the sequential storyboarding are what I have found to be the foundation to this incredibly strong series. The debut issue was packed with an assassination, a fundraiser event and a somewhat manipulate sex-drive. This issue promises to match the already quirky sequences as Chelsea does Chelsea as she gives her characters the charm and wit typically saved for those we love to hate. Oh.. and did I mention.. that the mermaids.. have.. fangs? Yea. The Bermuda Triangle has secrets and this is the story to tell them. Seriously, go get this book.

Mike's Picks:
Legend of the Swamp Thing: Halloween Special by Tom King, Vita Ayala, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Ram V., Cullen Bunn, Julian Lytle, John Timms, Emma Rios, Christian Ward, and Mike Perkins, published by DC Comics
Until the gods see fit to give us the Dan Waters/Ram V plotted Swamp Thing we so clearly deserve, we can take solace that DC loves to put Swampy front and center on its holiday specials. There are strong creators involved here, some who have worked on Swampy in the past, and other ones new to the mix. I’m especially anticipating reading what Vita Ayala has cooked up based off their Black Mask series, The Wilds. The art line up is equally intriguing. I’m excited to see how Christian Ward’s ethereal textures translate, and I’m stoked for Emma Rios to bring the haunting style of Pretty Deadly to the swamp.
Coffin Bound 7 by Dan Watters, Dani, Bran Simpson, Aditya Bidikar, and Emma Price, published by Image Comics.
Coffin Bound is my favorite book on the stands. The creative team is totally locked in, and this month they bring us a special oversized issue that heightens the already experimental style of the series. Watters continues to merge a kind of gothic horror and existential dread while Dani and Brad Simpson combine for some mesmerizing avant garde art. The way this team approaches the book is unlike most mainstream comics. There is an intricacy here, a kind of thoughtfulness that sews this book together. I know people don’t necessarily make comics while all gathered in one room, but when you read this issue, you’ll see what I mean about the organic unity between the multiple layers of this issue.
Stairway Anthology published by Top Cow/Image Comics
The words “hard science fiction anthology” ring like music in my ears. The intriguing thing about his anthology from Top Cow is that it’s a collection-sized showcase of new talent and complete stories. Anthologies always seem to have a hard time succeeding in the direct market, but I think Top Cow and Matt Hawkins have the correct approach here. One of the drawbacks to a typical anthology is the lack of a jumping on point, but offering a collection of fully-formed short stories works better to alleviate that gap. Moreover, such a concept isn’t out of step with science-fiction fans who are used to short story anthologies. While I’ve only had time to skim a few stories in the collection, it looks very well-executed. 
Penultiman 1 by Tom Peyer, Alan Robinson, Lee Loughridge, and Rob Steen published by Ahoy Comics
Tom Peyer cut his teeth as an editor during the heyday of superhero deconstruction, and he launched his new company, Ahoy, two years ago with an interesting permutation on the superhero mythos with Wrong Earth. In Penultiuman, Peyer plays with the dueling idea of a superhero’s burden versus responsibility, and he toys with the assumption of a superhero as a better version of ourselves. All the while, Robinson and Loghridge complement the script with a silver age art style that works well enough to throw the reader off guard compared to the existential dilemma conjured by the narrative.

Beth's Picks:

Legend of the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular #1, by Tom King, James Tynion IV, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Ram V., Vita Ayala, Mike Perkins, Christian Ward, Emma Rios, Dominike Stanton, published by DC Comics
As I’ve said here before, I go weak in the knees for DC giants. Another thing I love is holiday collections. Put them together and it’s like peanut butter and chocolate. This looks like a fun read, with six new stories featuring a character built for spooky goodness. Mike Perkins art in the lead story “At the Heart of Trees” is gorgeous and colorist Andy Troy kicks it up a notch with a palette that gives the bayou an moody glow.

Norse Mythology #1, by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, Jerry Ordway, Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski, Galen Showman, published by Dark Horse
Years ago, a friend was shocked that I had never read Sin City. I was similarly aghast he had never read Sandman, so we loaned each other trades to fill in our respective pop cultural lapses. A week later, we both had the same reaction: “If you like this sort of thing, I know this is a good one, but it’s not for me.” If, like me, you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, you’ll really enjoy this comic adaptation of Gaiman’s take on the Norse myths. Russell’s pencils, as always, are detailed and ethereal, with lavish, dreamy landscapes it would be amazing to escape to on a dragon. Of course, if the Marvel version is your preferred take Ragnarok, this this might not be your cup of mead. To each their own. 

Neil's Picks:

American Ronin #1 by Peter Milligan, ACO, Dean White and David Lorenzo, published by AWA Studios - Upshot
AWA Studios - Upshot has certainly grabbed my attention this year, what with Archangel 8 and The Resistance being two comics I thoroughly enjoyed. American Ronin has piqued my curiosity, solely down to how good the latter two comics were and with the word Ronin in the title, I’m certainly grabbing this one. I’m a sucker for anything I see with the words Samurai or Ronin within the title or story, even if it isn’t set in Edo Japan. There’s just something about a now masterless warrior seeking out some form revenge. Peter Milligan has written stories relating to these type of characters with his 5 issue mini-series “5 Ronin” on Marvel Comics, but American Ronin looks to be set in the not too distant future. Large corporations are now running the world but their number one weapon, trained since childhood has broken ties with the system and plans to bring it all crashing down. A very interesting modern-day Ronin concept indeed.

The Rise of Ultraman #2 by Mat Groom, Kyle Higgins, Francesco Manna, Michael Cho and Espen Grundetjern published by Marvel
I’ll hold my hand up and state I was surprised to hear Marvel was taking on an Ultraman story. Having dabbled with Godzilla in the late 70’s it would seem they wanted to try and approach another much loved Japanese character and to my surprise the first issue was exceptional. I may not have followed the Ultraman franchise as avidly as the Godzilla one but I know the origins and Kyle Higgins along with Mat Groom handled that perfectly and you can see that they genuinely love the character. New readers of Ultraman are gifted with an origin story that is engaging, action-packed and fun, everything that a Tokusatsu character portrayal should be. The character design and art by Manna and Cho along with the colourwork by Espen Grundetjern is bold and striking and looks like it is pulled straight out of the TV show. Maher also needs huge credit as the alien lettering spoke by Ultraman is a beautiful touch. The first issue may be full of exposition but that’s to help new readers of Ultraman but for me, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this story unfold.