Catch It at the Comic Shop January 20th, 2021

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...

Rob's Picks:

Abbott 1973 #1 by Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivela, Mattia Iacono, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
Change is in the air in Detroit, but not everyone got the memo, as Abbott finds herself threatened once again by the Umbra--as well as her new boss--in the eagerly awaited sequel to the first series. The art doesn't miss a beat here, with the strong, innovative linework of Kivela making every page visually interesting, aided and abetted by Iacono's coloring, which helps us see when Abbott is in danger--even if she can't. The series once again looks to be a clinic on storytelling and working with the writer to really make things pop. Ahmed's writing is as sharp as ever, and his depiction of what happens to Abbott--as well as her own fears about being bisexual--really shines here. No surprise this is shaping up to be one of the best horror series of 2021.

A Slight Case of Murder and Other Stories by George Evans (The Fantagraphics EC Library) by George Evans and others, published by Fantagraphics
One of the scariest stories I've ever seen adapted, "Blind Alleys," is in this collection, featuring a man whose cruelty to the blind is paid back in spades--or should I say, razorblades? It's a brilliant short horror, and that's just part of the "fun" in these EC stories, which include the usual reprints, in this case themed to Mr. Evans' artwork. Many reprint pre-code horror, but none do it as well as Fantagraphics. These are a rare item that I actually pick up in hardcover. This is a good chance for you to see why.

Black Magick Vol 3: Ascension 1 by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Chiara Arena, and Jodi Wynne, published by Image Comics
Rowan Black's cleverly placed walls between her work as a policewoman and a witch were already thin. Now they're breaking apart entirely, and her friends are the collateral damage as Rowan embraces her power in the latest volume of Rucka and Scott's detective series. The seeds planted in the first two arcs really take fruit here, which is no surprise given Rucka's plotting abilities. He's very good at this style of story, and unlike other creators who work within similar themes, Greg is able to make them feel different from each other and not rehashes of greatest hits. Nicola Scott's work here continues to shine, bringing the supernatural into the "real" work effortlessly. And now that we're getting more into the magical, horror side of things, Nicola's able to let loose and really show of. This continues to be a great series and I can't wait to see where it goes next.

Asadora Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa, published by Viz
A girl goes to get help for her pregnant mom and doesn't return. Then she meets a thief. They have adventures. I don't know much more than that, other than this is the latest work from one of the greatest creators of all time, Naoki Urasawa, and therefore, will be awesome and weird and drawn in a style that mixes Urasawa's manga background with some American comic influences. It looks like one of his patented normal for a bit, then gets weird fast stories, and I'm very much here for that. 

James' Picks: 
Crimson Flower #1 by Matt Kindt and Matt Lesniewski, published by Dark Horse
If you know me then you'll know I will pick up at least the first issue of anything Matt Kindt writes. Kindt is one of my favorite storytellers in all of comics. He's got huge, interesting, engaging ideas, and a boundless imagination. He's also incredibly adept at finding the humanity of his characters, even when they are in the most absurd circumstances. I'm not that familiar with Matt Lesniwski, but he's got a very fun, appealing style. And once I saw that the solicit referred to an evil government plot to "weaponize folks tales" I was like "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY".

Universe! HC by Albert Monteys, published by Image Comics

Universe! is one of those comics that's previously been released digitally on Panel Syndicate. so I've already read all of it and I can tell you that it is a complete delight. Universe! isn't a singular graphic novel, but instead is a collection of five different short stories. These stories are at turns hilarious, thought-provoking, weird, poignant, and sharp social critiques. Monteys is an incredibly skilled cartoonist whose work you might have seen on the fantastic Slaughterhouse-Five adaptation he did with Ryan North last year. I highly recommend this and anything else Monteys does. 


Mike's Picks:
Crimson Flower 1 by Matt Kindt, Matt Lesniewski, and Bill Crabtree, published by Dark Horse Comics
I've truly grown to be a big fan of Lesniewski's style, one that is both rooted in tradition but experimental and just weird enough to remind me what exactly comics can do. If there is anything that bores me anymore, it's typical house style, and I love to see genre tales like this that strike a perfect balance. I'll always give anything Kindt produces a shot, and he certainly knows how to put together complete stories regardless of the style.

We Live 4 by the Miranda Brothers, Eva de la Cruz, and Dave Sharpe, published by Aftershock Comics
I get it. I was already over most post-apocalyptic dystopias before the pandemic ever struck, but We Live is a notable exception. I originally dove into this series because of fellow Patterer Neil's description of it, and I'm glad I did. The nicest thing about this series is that it is easily the brightest version of a dystopia I have ever seen. Instead of miring things in the heavily muted colors typical of such a book, de la Cruz brings vibrancy to the page, a beautiful contrast with the depressing nature of the story line, but one that gives a sense of optimism too often ignored in this sub-genre of science-fiction.

Asadora Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, publsihed by Viz Media
I'm incredibly indebted to my fellow Patterers for introducing me to the world of master Naoki Urasawa. His ability to blend styles, genres, and motifs rivals any other storyteller, and I have been mesmerized by everything of his I've read. More than anything else, I'm stoked to be able to start with one of his series from its debut as a translated work. I'm still working my way through 20th Century Boys and Pluto, but I'm definitely going to make room for Asadora.