Catch It at the Comic Shop February 17th, 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:

Chobits 20th Anniversary Edition Vol 1 by CLAMP, published by Kodansha
Sexy computer personal assistants in humanoid form dominate the landscape, but if you're a poor young man, it's unlikely for you to get one, let alone a mysterious model capable of anything. But hey, what's a certain style of manga without an unlikely schlub surrounded by hot women and humanoids? This was one of the first manga I remember reading and while I admit some of my picking this one is nostalgia, the story itself is still a classic of the comedic sex farce, if a bit creepy along the edges. The main draw, as always with this art studio, is the stunningly gorgeous art by the CLAMP collective. Their pages are almost all works of art suitable to put up on the wall, thin and achingly beautiful. I'm really happy to see that publishers like Kodansha and Viz are following their western cousins' tradition of keeping classics in print. 
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, published by First Second
Speaking of classics that should never be out of print, comics superstar Gene Luen Yang's breakout story is still just as good as when it was first published. If you haven't read this one yet, either, it's about a young man who is determined to reject his cultural heritage no matter the personal cost. The self-loathing is achingly hard to read at times, but Yang's amazingly ability to show a wide range of conflicting emotions that you can see in Boxers/Saints, New Superman, and other books really begins here. The art isn't as strong of course, but it backs the plot and often packs an emotional punch. See where things began for Yang or enjoy the comfort of an old favorite.

Young Hellboy The Hidden Land #1 by Mike Mignola, Thomas Sniegoski, Craig Rousseau, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robbins, published by Dark Horse
It's a road trip for the rambunctious red guy in his formative years, as he and his adopted father head for an archaeological expedition and get marooned when a religious fanatic tries to kill them. They wash up on an island, but it might be even more dangerous than trying to swim home among giant, killer crabs. This has a very Atomic Robo feel to it in terms of the premise and the dialogue, and I consider that a big complement. Hellboy as a combination of Bart and Lisa Simpson (impish and extremely smart) is a great way to show him as a younger character and after how dark a lot of the Hellboy Universe has gotten, I'm glad to have a breath of fresh air. Craig Rousseau's linework is of course very different from Mignola, but it works here because he keeps the blockiness while still being just a tad on the exaggerated side, and Dave Stewart shows he can do bright colors, too, when the time calls for it. This was just a joy to read, especially on a crappy weather weekend. Can't wait to see what's to come in what I hope will be some recurring series from this time period.

Bleed them Dry Vol 1 TP by Hiroshi Koizumi, Eliot Rahal, Dike Ruan, Miquel Muerto, and Andworld, published by Vault
This one's called a Ninja Vampire Tale, and really, you're either going to love that premise or scoff and move on to something more serious, because you are boring. Okay, that's not entirely fair. Not everyone enjoys the same things. Still, this is a high-concept, bloody-as-hell romp that provides just enough breather space to give the reader's eyes a rest between all the many action lines and short, choppy panels. In a future where vampires and humans co-exist, someone is trying to upset the apple cart, leaving a detective in the crosshairs of a fight for the future. Ruan's art gets a little muddy at times but overall works well here. I'd definitely read more in this world, if Vault and the creators are so inclined.

Sean’s Pick:

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 by Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, Andy Troy & Rob Steen, published by Ahoy

I really need to be honest here: I’m pretty sure this comic series was written with me specifically in mind. Russell & Co. join forces to tell the untold story of Christ alongside Sunstar in a world not too far removed of our own. The hilarious first season of the sacrilegious (is it though?) story originally rejected by a mainstream publisher has proven to have life beyond the controversy. Second Coming speaks to the hypocrisy of the modern religious, the blindly organized, and the corporate theological elite. While the first season spent most pages dissecting the eventual (?) second coming amid our current hyper religious tribalistic present, this second season focuses again on Christ’s predictable disappointment with human behaviors but also with God’s second go at divine offspring. This title is more than a story of Christ in a world similar to our own. It is instead criticism on a portion of society who deems themselves morally sovereign while everything about their existence proves otherwise. And all of this narrative comes from the creative team known for their satiric perspective. This one is no different. Followers of Christ who find this story offensive are either unwilling to self-reflect or were created in His image but lack the sense of humor He gave in abundance to those of us who know no limit for the rewatching of old episodes of The Office. Conversely, followers of Christ who find this series as a breath of fresh air... you and I are probably long lost bff’s and I look forward to better knowing you. Ahoy has a hit here, and I beg you all to read this series that has just begun.

Neil's Pick:

Bleed Them Dry TPB by Hiroshi Koizumi, Eliot Rahal, Dike Ruan and Miquel Muerto, published by Vault Comics
Having decided that this year is the year I go fully trade and collected stories only, it’s a pleasure to find something I was reading in single issues in 2020. I read the first 2 issues of Bleed Them Dry and found it to be an interesting read but felt it would be better in collected form. Set so far in the future, the year 3333, that surely no-one can compare the actual year 3333 as we did in 2019 with both Blade Runner and Akira. Vampires now live alongside human beings in a Japanese mega-city called Asylum but when vampires start being targeted by a lone killer, Detective Halloway and her vampire partner Atticus Black must stem a growing worry from the vampire population. Bleed Them Dry looks to be a very strong detective story and yes vampire stories have been done to death but adding that they can now live happily alongside humans is a great addition. Oh and did I mention there is a fantastic limited cover by Yoshitaka Amano, the illustrator behind the Vampire Hunter D series

James' Picks:
Snow Angels #1 by Jeff Lemire and Jock, published by ComiXology Originals
I've read this first issue and thought it was a very strong debut for this series. It's a story of a cold, lonely world. It seems like what is left of humanity just lives in an icy trench. You can never leave the trench, the trench is never-ending. So, all people living in this world ever see is the trench, in either direction. It's a grim story, and let's just say that bad stuff starts to happen in this debut issue. It's a very cool premise, and the execution is top notch so far. Jock is an amazing artist, and any new Jock artwork is always a treat. He draws desolation and existential loneliness better than just about anyone these days. Those themes are in plentiful supply here, as the trench can be read as a horror/sci-fi story, or an allegory for life right now, but definitely Jeff Lemire is an artist who knows how to tell great genre fiction and also plumb the emotional depths to do so. 

Immortal Hulk Flatline #1 by Declan Shalvey, published by Marvel Comics

There have been a few of these Immortal Hulk one-shots, and they've al been terrific.  There was one written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Mike Del Mundo that was excellent, and this new one is written and drawn by Declan Shalvey.  I've loved Shalvey's work since I first encountered it in Moon Knight (written by Warren Ellis). Since then, I've loved his work as an artist (Injection) and also really been interested to see his development as a writer (Bog Bodies). I think he's an excellent, detailed storyteller, and I'm excited to see what he brings to the already-amazing Immortal Hulk mythos.

Mike's Picks

The Picture of Everything Else 2 by Dan Watters, Kishore Mohan, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Vault Comics

Issue one of this story was all about the exposition, how to turn the idea of Wilde's Dorian Gray into a Victorian murder mystery, and I'm excited to see how Watters and Mohan build the story from that premise. Watters tends to jump directly into stories - not necessarily en media res, but he usually starts and cycles back for some of the necessary exposition as the plot unfolds. The Picture of Everything Else is different in that Watters is working with a kernel of an established story and building from there. But the first issue whetted my appetite enough, and Mohan's painterly style is perfectly suited for a Victorian scene.

Haha 2 by W. Maxwell Prince and Zoe Thorogood, publsiuhed by Image Comics

Prince's new anthology series uses the trope of clowns to explore mental health, and he has paired with the perfect artist for such an exploration in Zoe Thorogood. More than anything else, what sells this issue for me is the way Thorogood can draw eyes that betray the faces. In her superb debut, The Impending Blindness of Zoe Scott, there was a light in the eyes of her characters, a glimmer of optimism in the face of crippling reality. In Haha, though, Thorogood captures blankness. This issue is about a person's break with reality, and the reader gets to see that break in a way that is exactly as haunting as Prince intends it to be.