Catch It at the Comic Shop November 18th, 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:

Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Volume 3  by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared Fletcher, published by Image Comics

Towards the end of the summer, I began a re-read of this series that I attempted to document issue-by-issue on Twitter. I didn't make it to the end, a consequence of the start of the school year, but I'm excited to complete the re-read with this hardcover collection. I consider this series to be an absolute masterpiece, one that manages to do more in it's thirty-issue run than other books do in twice that amount. Every creator on this book works in unison with each other. Everything in this book just feels right. I often have a hard time explaining why - but this book just clicks.

A Dark Interlude #1 by Ryan O'Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vlad Popov, and Andworld, published by Vault Comics
I had the chance to preview and advance copy of this title. I had high expectations given that I ranked the predecessor title, Fearscape, as my favorite series of 2018, and I was certainly curious about how a sequel would play out. But all my fears were assuaged a few pages into A Dark Interlude. O'Sullivan returns to the world he created, and it feels both fresh and urgent, perhaps even more topical than the original. Mutti and Popov combine for a painterly style that enhances the tone of the narrative, and Andworld Studios works in concert with O'Sullivan to create an clever lettering style that deliberately interferes with the story without ever feeling obtrusive. 

Barbalien 1 by Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Dark Horse Comics
In the ensemble cast of Black Hammer, Lemire has only truly nibbled at the edges of Barbalien. Prior to this release, the Black Hammer addenda miniseries explored characters who only had passing reference in the core series. Barbalien marks the first time Lemire explores a member of the main cast, joined by Tate Brombal. Together, they examine the metaphor behind Barbalien, twice an alien, forced out of his own skin, and relegated to the margins. We know who Barbalien is, but we're not sure who he was. 

Rob's Picks:

Maison Ikkoku Collector's Edition Vol 1 by Rumiko Takahashi, published by Viz
Before Inuyasha, before Ranma 1/2, heck even before Mermaid Saga, there was Maison Ikkoku, a series that really sets the tone for what Takahashi does best: awkward romantic comedy. In this case, it's a young man who desperately needs to study but a quirky cast of other residents (and a really cute new tenant) keep driving him to distraction. This is a seminal work that's been out of print for a criminally long time, and it's exciting for me to finally get to read it in order--and finish it. (Never could find all the old books, and I eventually gave up.) Takahashi's style is very distinctive, and seeing her characters even at this early stage run around like a sitcom is sheer joy. Grab this starting volume of a slice of manga history and you'll extend your stay, I guarantee it.
A Dark Interlude #1 by Ryan O'Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vlad Popov, and Andworld, published by Vault Comics
The old Muse is dead, recreated as a Fabio type with very little interest in its main job. The writer who is supposed to help beat back the evils of the world is a possibly insane, definitely narcissistic, definitely homicidal man who tries to make the reader take his side of things. Said evils are growing, and the only hope is for a past master to return. But can even a certain literary legend find a way out of this mess? It's a fine kettle of fish the world of Feearscape has gotten into since we last saw them, and O'Sullivan is able to find a way to up the stakes and potentially write everyone out of the corner--or perhaps into a darker one. Mutti/Popov's art is perfect for this series, feeling often like illustrations from a deluxe novel. This series seems to be love-hate for people. I'm in the love column.

Daredevil Epic Collection: Last Rites by Anne Nocenti, DG Chichester, Lee Weeks, Ron Garney, Al Williamson, and others, published by Marvel
When I first read some of the comics that make up this collection, I'd only really known Bronze Age, really happy Matt Murdock, so imagine my surprise at his darker turn and close ties to Spider-Man's world. It was...interesting. But these issues are pure gold. Giving Matt a chance to knock over Fisk (even though we all know that never lasts; it's like "killing" Doctor Doom or America's Funniest Home Videos), with amazing art, especially the underrated Lee Weeks portions. Daredevil is a book that seems to have to keep re-inventing itself periodically, and this is a time period not a lot of people re-read. That's a mistake, and you can rectify it by picking this one up.

Bang! Vol 1 by Matt Kindt, Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim, and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse Comics

A science fiction writer who totally isn't standing in for Philip K. Dick has literary power that appears to create some of the 20th century's most iconic archetypes into the real world in order to stop secret conspiracies from destroying reality, but just what *is* reality, really? Well, leave it to Matt Kindt, who is at the top of his game here, to find a way to make you doubt what you think you know while Torres draws the action in a way that really helps with the unreality of the narrative. This one I think got slept on because it started right around, well, YOU KNOW, and I'm hoping it gets a lot of attention in the trade.

Beth's Picks:

Spider-Woman #6, by Karla Pacheco, Pere Perez and Jung-Geun Yoon, published by Marvel Comics.
Family dynamics can be messy, and no one knows that better than Jessica Drew. Her latest series came out of the gate strong and has continued to be a good read as it delves into Spider-Woman’s complicated back story. She’s been dealing with a brother and niece she never knew existed, and the reappearance of her mother, who turned out to be not quite what Jessica expected. This issue takes her off into space with her BFF Captain Marvel to try and work through some of her questions. If you’re gearing up to have turkey on Zoom with relatives you’re relieved not to see in person this year, consider this your ticket to head off-planet for interstellar Friendsgiving.
Barbalien: Red Planet #1, by Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Hernández Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Aditya Bidikar, published by Dark Horse Comics.
I haven’t kept up with the world of Black Hammer, but was intrigued to read this issue, the first of a five-part origin story for Barbalien, an analogue for Martian Manhunter. We find Mark Markz at the height of the HIV-AIDS crisis, trying to reconcile his roles as both a police officer and a superhero with his own closeted sexuality. Gabriel Hernández Walta’s art brings the story of Markz’s conflicted nature on Mars and Earth to life with expressions and imagery that make you feel the characters’ pain and loneliness. If like me you haven’t stepped into this universe recently, this is shaping up to be a good reentry point.

BOWIE: A Michael Allred Coloring Book, by Michael Allred, published by Insight Comics.
This isn’t technically a comic, but I have to give it a shoutout because I am giddy at the thought of sitting down to color Allred’s amazing renditions of David Bowie. I am absolutely under no delusion that I will create anything anywhere near the mystical palette of Laura Allred, but boy howdy, is this going to be fun. And if you haven’t yet picked up “BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns and Moonage Daydreams,” the graphic novel from which these dazzling illustrations were plucked, treat yo’ self, because it is spectacular.
Neil's Pick:
The Devil’s Red Bride #2 by Sebastian Girner, John Biven, Iris Monahan and Jeff Powell Published by Vault Comics

Not much more I can say about The Devil’s Red Bride since my review of issue one back in October but I will continue to praise this book with every issue released. I have the pleasure of review copies but I am holding off till the official release date to pick this one up, so Wednesday cannot come soon enough. Been lapping up Bivens Instagram page since picking up issue one and looking forward to seeing how he continues to handle the art for Girner’s samurai revenge story, bloody and brutal that it is. Most certainly a favourite for number one comic of 2020.

James' Picks:

Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Volume 3  by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared Fletcher, published by Image Comics
It's not every week where two of my all-time top-10 favorite comics release a hardcover edition; first up is Paper Girls. Paper Girls has turned out to be so much more than I had originally anticipated (and I already knew from the beginning that I would love it, just based on the creative team). I knew from the get-go that the combination of Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang would make for something great, but it become such a special, beloved book for me. My love of this book started with the 80's setting (I'm the exact same age as the characters), but it's so much more than a nostalgia trip. This is an incredible science fiction story where it truly feels like anything can happen, and it pretty much does. Insane time travel, multiple versions of characters, wonderful bonds of friendship, young romance, it's all there. Every once in a while a comic comes along and feels like it really has the magic, and Paper Girls is one of those books. The art on this book is consistently stunning, courtesy of the virtuoso Cliff Chiang, whose gorgeous, heartfelt illustrations bring crazy ideas to life on a page where he's equally adept at capturing humor, sadness, and the full range of human emotion. Matt Wilson on colors is a rock star, giving this book it's wild, neon, atmospheric colors that are so memorable. And every issue looks and feels terrific thanks to the design work of Jared K. Fletcher. Given that Brian K. Vaughan is writing, this is probably not a surprise. He's the author of some of the most popular and deservedly beloved comics of the past 15 years. Runaways, Y: The Last Man and Saga had that magic, and so does Paper Girls. That amazing alchemy that comes from an incredible combination of writer and artists and creative team, where what they make feels like something with its own life to it. I absolutely adore this comic, and you will too. So, clearly I'm not recommending you just get the third hardcover. Read this whole series; you won't regret it.

East of West, The Apocalypse: Year Three HC by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin and Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics
East of West is the other of my all-time, top-10 favorite comics that is releasing a hardcover edition this week. If you haven't read East of West, it really is a special comic.  What makes East of West such a special book? Well, it has elements of alternate history, it's a futuristic western, there's religious and apocalyptic drama, it's a complex story of multiple nations and their intricate politics, it's a love story, and all of that is in the first few issues. It's at turns dramatic, funny, intense, action packed, cynical, optimistic, and always vast in scope. This is a huge world of many competing interests that Jonathan Hickman has crafted, but the biggest selling point in why to pick it up is that the art is out-of-this-world good every month, and has only gotten better over the course of years. Nick Dragotta is an absolute master of kinetic action, violence, physical humor, and drama, but also the quieter moments. He's got an incredible ability to control the pace of the book, speeding us up or slowing us down through the action. And the colors in this book have consistently exploded off of the page. The colorist is Frank Martin and he's really done special work in this book (some of my favorite color work). Color is such an important part of this book - each nation is associated with different colors, and colors have both thematic and also atmospheric elements to them. The "realism" of the colors is also often ratcheted up or down depending on the context. This book is an absolute gift and one you absolutely need to be reading. So, start from the beginning; you're in for an amazing ride.

A Dark Interlude #1 by Ryan O'Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vlad Popov, and Andworld, published by Vault Comics
If you're a fan of knowing, smart stories that are interesting and thoughtful explorations of the nature and power of fiction itself, AND you're a fan of protagonists that are completely terrible people, then I have the perfect book for you. A Dark Interlude is the follow-up to Fearscape, which I absolutely loved. That was a story about a terrible (or brilliant) writer named Henry Henry who goes to a places called the Fearscape to battle against man's greatest fear, and is inspired by the Muse. But...he's a total fraud and completely ridiculous and a very unreliable narrator. Fearscape was an absolute delight. And I'm excited to see more story in this world.

Bang! Vol 1 by Matt Kindt, Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim, and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse Comics
Continuing on the theme of meta-fiction from A Dark Interlude, If you're a fan of espionage stories, but you're also a fan of knowing stories that wink at the audience and play with genre and fiction itself, then you absolutely need to pick up Bang!  I loved the first issue of Bang!, and it has continued to be an absolute blast of a story.  There's an evil organization called Goldmaze, and they're being battled by a series of espionage/action heroes who are (maybe?) brought into existence by reclusive writer Philip K. Verve.  In one world these people's loves are real, but in another, they're novels, and they can read ahead to see what happens to them. It's all more than a little weird and cofusing, but SO much fun.

Sean's Picks:

Pirouette TPB by M.L. Miller, Carlos Granda & Jim Campbell, published by Black Mask Studios 
This is a tragic story told with a cinematic backdrop of a circus. This is a horror story about being trapped in one’s predetermined circumstance. This is a fairytale of those whom are overlooked simply because they feel that they do not belong. Pirouette is a clown, she is a fifteen year old clown seeking a dream of which her skin will not allow. Raised by clowns onboard a traveling circus, Pirouette has been forced to succumb to a life of laughs and looting. As time goes by she learns that her place within the circus was not organic and it was, in fact, manufactured by events in her past that lead her to believe that being destined a clown will not carry theme into the next chapters of her life. Or will it? Sometimes story’s do not have the happy ending you’d expect, instead they make do with the awful cards you were dealt and paint a smile on your face so that a happy ending exists even if a smile is painted over a frown.

Bang! Vol.1 by Matt Kindt, Wilfredo Torres, Bill Crabtree & Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse 
This is probably one of the more inventive and unique story concepts I’ve read in some time, and it is also from a storyteller who is currently firing on all cylinders. Matt Kindt is in top form here along with Torres & Co. as they put together a wildly imaginative comic for us readers. It is a story about an author named Philip K Verve (a not-so-subtle doppelgänger for the real-life Phillip K Dick if I’ve ever read one) who uses his books of fiction to depict a series of future events while also creating a strike force in order to take down the group known as Goldmaze. The twists that this comic takes and the surprises it manages to reveal are what makes reading monthly comics are created for. Each of these single issues read incredibly well on their own as they had a solitary reason of existence, but I look forward to having it all in one collection so as to immerse myself in the grandiose story that they are telling. This is a fantastic read and it comes as an enthusiastic recommend from me this week! 
The Recount 1 by Jonathan Hedrick, Gabriel Ibarra Nunez, Sunil Ghagre & Cristian Docolomansky, published by Scout Comics
If you can handle a fictional read that flirts closely with our non-fiction then I urge you to read this debut from Scout Comics. A couple weeks ago, before the election deepened the fissure in our nation, I wrote about this in some depth and explained why and how I found relevant entertainment in such a polarized and painful subject as this comic does. This is an essential and timely read, and to quote myself: “our non-fictional lives have become so enthralled in our own existence that if not careful we will ultimately find ourselves in a future version of ourselves that is not far off from the fictional story here..”. The intended audience for this book is very specific, so as a precautionary – if you still have a Trump 2020 flag hoisted somewhere in your possession then this comic is probably going to trigger you into a direction that I would rather not mentally explore. That said, I am a sucker for a good political thriller.. even if it does hit a little too close to home. I’m here for this one. At least for now.

A Dark Interlude 1 by Ryan O’Sullivan, Andrea Mutti & Vlad Popov, published by Vault Comics
This book is darkly hilarious and it knows it too. Henry Henry is back in the not-so sequel to last years Fearscape. And those close to me know how much I enjoyed the first rendition of HH so now it’s basically a given to assume that I’d be first in line for this one. Get on board this one. It’s a dense, dark, self-aware satire on itself (and maybe some real life elements too).

Scott's Pick:

Paul at Home by Michel Rabagliati, published by Drawn and Quarterly
Rabagliati is a fantastic artist who takes everyday life and turns it into great comics that make you see the extraordinary in our days.  His semi-autobiographical work (?) manages to run the gamut from heart warming to heart breaking.  Paul At Home sounds like it's going to be heartbreaking, as Paul deals with divorce after a 30 year marriage.  It's been a while since one of Rabagliati's books have come out in English and while I'm looking forward to catching up with him, I'm sad for the circumstances that are bringing us back together.  I want Rabagliati to make me feel good right now but completely understand that that's not the type of cartoonist he is.  He's been honest in his books before and I trust that he'll be honest with me now.