Catch It at the Comic Shop January 27th, 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...

James' Picks:

We Only Find Them When They're Dead #5 by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo, published by Boom! Studios

We Only Find Them When They're Dead (WOFTWTD, for short) has a recipe for comics that I can't resist - heady, thought-provoking ideas, a compelling plot, interesting characters, and absolutely astounding, gorgeous artwork. Like some of the very best science fiction stories set in the distant future or on a far-off world, it's got imaginative and original ideas that also serve as perfect allegory for the world we're living in right now. So, come for the intriguing ideas and stunning visuals, and stay for the trenchant critique of late-stage capitalism. WOFTWTD is many things, but it is first and foremost a stunning work of art thanks to the gorgeous work of Simone Di Meo. This is the final issue of the first arc, and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. 

Future State Dark Detective #2 by Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and more, published by DC Comics

I really enjoyed the first issue of this Future State book. Overall, I think the DC Future State books have been very good, and this is one of the best ones. Mariko Tamaki writing the story of a gritty future Bruce Wayne, brought to life by the amazing Dan Mora? Sign me up. This team is going to be working on Detective Comics together after the Future State event is done, and I'm very excited to see what they bring to the current status quo, and also curious if any of their future ideas will be reflected there.

The Other History of the DC Universe #2 by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and Jose Villarrubia, published by DC Comics

The first isue of this comic was a really great read. It's not exactly a traditional comic; it's more of a prose story with comic illustration. Whatever it is, it's great. I loved the first issue of The Other History of the DC Universe. A really great idea, to take a look at these heroes and this world from another, different, underrepresented perspective. Ridley has a great voice for comic storytelling, and I am excited to read more. The art from Camuncoli and Cucchi has been absolutely steller, and I am sure that will continue.

Department of Truth #5 by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar, Dylan Todd, and Steve Foxe, published by Image Comics

Department of Truth is a comic that I wish didn’t exist.  Well, that’s not quite right. Department of Truth is a fantastic comic that I very much enjoyed and highly recommend to anyone looking for a dark, smart commentary on our current times. What I mean to say is, I wish that the current circumstances in our country/world were such that a book like Department of Truth didn’t need to exist.  The central premise of Department of Truth is based around the idea that belief itself shapes reality. Not just in an abstract, philosophical sense of "your perception shapes your reality" but in an actual "what people collectively believe can change and warp reality itself" sense.  This is a comic of shadowy figures and dark rooms, fitting when this is a story about the ways in which rumors and conspiracies can actually change reality.  Martin Simmonds' work in this comic is perfectly suited to those ideas, and is an absolute revelation.  Simmonds' absolutely staggering work is one of the fundamental elements in creating the absurd, conspiratorial feel of the story. This issue is the conclusion of the first arc. I think we will get a broader sense of where the larger story is going. It's been an amazing ride so far, one of my favorite comics of last year. I expect the unsettling excellence to continue.

Rob's Picks:

Edgar Alan Poe's Snifter of Blood #4 by Ryan Kelly, Sandy Jarrell, James Finn Garner, Tyrone Finch, Hunt Emerson, and Others, published by Ahoy
The series that keeps on making my favorites list just keeps on being amazing. In this issue, two of my favorite creators, Sandy Jarrell and Ryan Kelly, both have contributions. The former helps murder a version of The Tell-Tale Heart with writer James Finn Garner while Kelly works on an original script from Tyrone Finch. Plus the usual Hunt Emerson silliness and other oddities. This irreverent, yet always loving, skewering of Poe and the horror comic genre is really and truly one of the best books out there and I'm delighted enough people agree to keep it on the shelves for yet another volume, hopefully with many more to come.

Batman Black and White #2, by Gabriel Hardman, Corrina Bechko, Sophie Campbell, David Aja, Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and others, published by DC Comics
This is practically like DC decided to publish an issue of Batman short stories just for me. Panel Pals Campbell, Bechko, and Hardman would be awesome enough, but then Aja gets mixed in with his first written/drawn DC story, and we even see Tom King stop by for a story with one of his best artistic partners. The black and white horror work of Hardman/Bechko is amazing, with Gabriel's lines worth lingering on every panel. And Sophie doing a Bat/Cat sequence in her distinctive style and sense of voice should be the start of a nice, long run if she decides to leave the Turtles. Seriously, there is absolutely no way this comic won't be absolutely amazing. I love the Batman Black and White series, and I'm always happy to see it return. In this case, it's even practically personalized!

Mike's Picks:
Gamayun Tales II by Alexander Utkin, published by Nobrow Press

Oh, I was incredibly fortunate to be strolling through my school's library one day to accidentally discover the first volume of this series on display. I probably had important work to do, but I spent the time after school paging through it before eventually sitting down and reading through it in entirety. Utkin's pages come alive with his vibrant artwork and beautifully shaded characters that seem to jump off the page. With rich stories that feel both familiar and original, Utkin introduced me to the wonderful world of Slavic fairy tales, and his iterations conjure the same feelings as the books and stories I grew up reading.

Department of Truth 5 by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
It's series like this that remind me why I love serialized comics. Tynion, Simmons, and Bidikar work in unison to let the story drip out in increments, building suspense and intrigue each step of the way without resorting to simple plot twists or big reveals. It's the incrementalism of this book that I love the most, the way Tynion weaves together both conspiracies historical and contemporary while Simmonds and Bidikar create an immersive visual world fraught with confusion and paranoia. I hesitate to say more if you aren't reading this book already, not so much to avoid specific plot spoilers, but to avoid hinting at the way the narrative unravels.