Catch It at the Comic Shop March 10th, 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...

Kelli's Pick:

Saint Young Men Vol.5 [print release] by Hikaru Nakamura, Translated by: Alethea & Athena Nibley, Release date: March 9 2021, Published by Kodansha
Saint Young Men is the type of manga that I turn to at the end of a long frustrating day, usually right before bed. I find that it is just the right dose of quiet humour to wash away the detritus of the work day. Nakamura’s story of Buddha and Jesus taking an extended vacation on Earth is strangely relaxing. Collectively Buddha and Jesus have been working in the Heavens for over 2 millennia, so they kinda deserve the break. Broke and with only a tiny stipend from their respective orders, the two end up renting a one room flat in a suburb of Tokyo. While trying to keep their divine status under wraps, they attempt to fit into everyday Japanese society with varying degrees of success. Nakamura manages to make these two larger than life figures super relatable. Jesus might be the Son of God and Buddha the Enlightened one, but in Saint Young Men, they are just two sweet boys who are trying to make their way in the world’s most populous city. Buddha is a frugal, coupon cutting hausfrau, focused on making their allowance last to the end of the month. No small feat when there is the material temptation of Tezuka manga and his housemate keeps ordering stuff off Amazon. Jesus is an avid gamer and blogger, who’s stigmata open up whenever he gets stressed. Most of the laughs come from the ridiculous situations these two find themselves in. I mean, who won’t laugh at Jesus being mistaken for the young boss of a yakuza dynasty? He does have all those scars after all. Nakamura’s brand of humour is distinctly Japanese. Saint Young Men relies on a heavy dose of wordplay, as well as absurdist situations to elicit laughs. All of it is conveyed well in English due to the hard work of the translation team, and they work hard. Every chapter has its own set of detailed translation notes. I am super excited to see what kind of nonsense the duo get up to in volume 5. Post Plague Year, I am sorely in need of a spiritual cleanse.

James' Picks:

Proctor Valley Road #1 by Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, Tamra Bonvillain, and Jim Campbell,  published by Boom! Studios

I don't know a ton about this series going in. But here's what I do know: it's a period horror story (the 1960's-1970's) involving four teenagers who must slay monsters in a small town, and are trying to get to a rock concert. And it's co-written by Grant Morrison, with colors by Tamra Bonvillain.  I look forward to reading the story and learning about the other creators involved, but honestly, that's enough for me to go on. Grant Morrison (see All-Star Superman and a whole lot of other stuff) has written some of my favorite comics ever, and Tamra Bonvillain is a next-level-good colorist (go read Once & Future). Anyway, this sounds like a good scary time, and that sounds great to me.

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1 by Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo, published by Marvel Comics

It's a Spider-Man comic written by Joe Kelly nd drawn by Chris Bachalo. Honestly, that's really all I need to hear. It's apparently going to be NON STOP ACTION!!! Which sounds good to me. I'm not a current reader of the main Spider-Man book but I am always up for a fun, entertaining Spidey story. So I'm sure this will be one worth checking out.

American Vampire 1976 #6 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig, published by DC Comics/Black Label

This series is where I first encountered the work of writer Scott Snyder, and it's still my favorite work of his. Snyder's written a lot of fantastic (and some less fantastic) superhero comics over the years, mostly excellent ones. But when I read something like this story, it reminds me that his roots are in horror and horror is where he excels. Thankfully he continues to have an incredible partner in crime in the spectacular Rafael Albuquerque, who draws some of the freakiest $%^t you've ever seen. This story isn't necessarily a great starting point, so I would just strongly encourage you to dive into the world of American Vampire.

Rob's Picks:

Conan the Barbarian #19 by Jim Zub, Cory Smith, Roberto Poggi, Israel Silva, and Travis Lanham, published by Marvel Comics
No stranger to being caught in a bad situation, Conan usually knows how he got there. But after a battle with a cursed sword, he's stuck as a prisoner of a cruel army detachment, ironically belonging to the very people he'd hoped to seek out before the curse began. While life still breathes in Conan, though, he'll never give up, but that life is looking pretty short as this new arc of Zub's really cool run of the Robert E. Howard character kicks off with a new art team. I've written before about Jim's ability to be modern while still keeping the general atmosphere, topics, and feeling of the pulp era, which is no mean feat. When Conan growls about how he expresses his faith, it's pure Howard (and also Zub's spiritual predecessor, Roy Thomas). Cory Smith's art is big and bold, which fits the character well, and he's not afraid to show folks dying in the brutal manner of the text pieces. Smith also really nails the looks in Conan's eyes. When your main character isn't talkative, the art has to add the depth, and Smith does that well here. The coloring is still a little too modern for me, but that's a minor issue, when everything else down to Lanham's letters are pitch-perfect. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes, and wouldn't be shocked to find this series among my favorites list again. 

The Goon #13 by Eric Powell, published by Albatross Funnybooks
As if the Goon doesn't have enough trouble on his hands, his creator Eric Powell returns to write and draw this issue. Poor Goon! What did he ever do to deserve that? Powell isn't the only one returning. Dr. Alloy's maniacally mad mind is back to his old, destructive ways and of course that means our favorite tough guy is going to end up in the crosshairs. I admit I haven't kept close track of the Goon since things started back up again, but I've always enjoyed the world and its irreverent crassness, which is something I'm not normally on board for. Powell's art is spectacular, too, with a very distinctive style that's one part Kirby, one part Chuck Jones. This is a great place to sample and see what you think of the Goon. My bet (which I better win, or Goon'll take out my kneecaps) is that you'll be back for more.

Proctor Valley Road #1 by Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, Tamra Bonvillain, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
Four young women need to make money quick or they won't get to see Janis Joplin in concert. Scheme after scheme fails until they hit on something everyone pays for--getting scared shitless. There's just one problem--the fake horrors might just be real in this period horror piece. Being honest, I've been a bit burnt out on Grant Morrison stories, so I approached this one with trepidation. But this has his sense of the supernatural, great characters, and a solid air of fun that I've found lacking for quite some time. Maybe he's far enough away from Big Two work to be refreshed, or maybe it's co-scripter Alex Child, but I quickly grew attached to August, Rylee, Jennie, and Cora. They're oddballs who just want to go to a concert and quickly get over their heads, and we're just in issue one. Franquiz's art works well with the script, keeping the menacing stuff back until just the right moment. The overall style is very much in keeping with Boom's BoomBox! titles and while it doesn't stand out, Franquiz ensures we can tell how each character is feeling, especially with their expressions. (As you have noticed over the years, expressions are important to me as a reader.) And Tamra's use of subdued but varied coloring helps make this feel more like a period piece than just the clothing choices. I expect this to get really gory really fast, so I'll be biting my nails as these women try to stay alive--and that's the sign of a good story.

Luna #2 by Maria Llovett, published by Boom! Studios
Teresa's in over her head as the repercussions of her tryst with Lux mean she may have no choice but to stay in this false paradise that's already showing its cracks and potentially deadly flaws. As things break down, Theresa is increasingly drawn to a link between Lux and her dreams in this second issue that quickly ups the ante on the danger. One of the things I like about Llovett beyond her amazing artistic talents is that her stories don't drag. She could easily linger across dangling plots while framing panels in flowers and leaves and drawing in that not-quite-abstract style that gives a sense of dreaminess to each page. Instead, Llovett goes for the throat here (literally, as a matter of fact) in showing there's trouble in paradise on multiple fronts while moving the supernatural angle of the plot along with an amazing sequence where she apes early travelogue illustrations, complete with wonders not known to man or beast. It's a tour de force of creativity, as the tension, sexual and otherwise, ramp up and we leave on a cliffhanger that will find you counting down the days to issue three, even as you re-read the series so far to pick up on the little art flourishes and panel constructions that make her one of the best working in comics right now. Boom! is killing it right now with great horror books and I hope they keep it up all year.

Mike's Picks:

Proctor Valley Road #1 by Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, Tamra Bonvillain, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studio

This is one of those odd books in that I'm categorically inclined to all things Grant Morison, and I frequently sing the praises and admire the versatility of both Tamra Bonvillain and Jim Campbell, but I'm only a little bit familiar with Naomi Franquiz, and I'm entirely unfamiliar with Alex Child. This book is also notable in that it's launching a new imprint that partners BOOM! and NBC Universal, answering the perpetual question - when will another media company decide to mine comicdom for more IP. The thing is, even when major media comes calling, Morrison still has more than enough chops to make the content meaningful and deep. Rob talks about Morrison and Child's scripting above, so I'll dive more into Franquiz and Bonvillain's art. Tamra's colors land somewhere between the syrup of her work on Doom Patrol and the darker tones of Once and Future, expertly complementing Franquiz's lines that captures a throwback vibe to exemplify the 70s setting, while incorporating a cartoon-esque aesthetic that adds a little youth to the tone.

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1 by Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo, published by Marvel Comics

I don't know too much about what this actual series will entail, and I'm a little behind on the main Spidey series, but I'm a simple man who lives my life by basic rules, and one of those rules is that I will blindly purchase any Joe Kelly superhero book. Add Chris Bachalo, whose work has mesmerized me since my youth, point the duo at Spider-Man, and honestly I've kind of lost track of what I'm writing because I'm getting excited.

Home Sick Pilots 4 by Dan Watters, Casper Wijngaard, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller, published by Image Comics
Things have truly started to pick up for the Home Sick Pilots and their eponymous series. Last issue started to bring the threads together, as the mythology Watters established through the first three issues. But the exposition is giving way to the action in issue four. The Pilots reunite, but they've been through a series of changes, and Wijngaard perfectly captures the new status quo. This issue is some gnarly stuff.