Catch It at the Comic Shop April 21st, 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...

Rachel's Pick:

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1 by Ram V, Filipe Andrade, Inês Amaro and AndWorld Design, cover by Filipe Andrade, Death variant cover by David Mack, variant cover by Anand R.K., published by Boom! Studios

Ram V imagines a corporate structure of gods that occupy and luxurious office building high above the world of humans. He manages to give the reader enough information so as not to be confused, but not so much that we feel like we’re in a lecture. Death is summoned for an important meeting and told she’s being fired due to the department being restructured. And just like that, she’s out of a job. But she’s not about to give up that easily, and it’s this drive of hers that propels the story forward.  Filipe Andrade uses the first few pages to bring us into the bustling Mumbai where the sunsets paint the city’s skyscrapers in dreamy tones of pink and orange and where the roads are claustrophobically packed. The transitions between far-off shots of the city and closeups of character’s faces is seamless. I especially enjoy the way Andrade draws character’s hands. From the bored college student coolly holding a cigarette, to the anxious cab driver explaining why he’s speeding, to Death using her six hands to apply makeup, hold a file and a phone, and straighten her hair, Andrade is able to convey a lot about the people through their hands and gestures.I was really impressed at how quickly Ram V and Filipe Andrade establish the world of the comic. Often, the first issue of a new series feels like either an exposition dump or like something that is built on a preexisting property, like a child’s bicycle with the training wheels still on. And it’s wonderful to see a comic that is based in modern-day/slightly futuristic India. I’ve always loved media that showed me parts of the world I’m unfamiliar with, and since the pandemic started, I appreciate even more how books and comics can transport you mentally to places both real and imagined.

Sean’s Picks:

Haha #4 by W. Maxwell Prince, Patrick Horvath and Good Old Neon, published by Image

This clown series just keeps getting weirder and weirder. As most of us have heard by now, the writer of the acclaimed Ice Cream Man series has teamed up with some of the best up-and-coming (and creepy in their own right) illustrators of our time. Each issue features a vignette from the life of a man as they succumb to their own melancholy. Common thread here is that they are all clowns to a certain capacity. This latest issue is illustrated by the renowned watercolorist, Patrick Horvath, and just when I thought that medium could never be source of nightmares along comes Horvath. This issue is fairly nuanced but that should come to surprise of no one who’s fans of Maxwell’s work with Morazzo on the Ice Cream Man.

The Many Deaths of Laila Star #1 by Ram V, Filipe Andrade and Inêz Amaro, published by BOOM! Studios

Laila Star is the titular character of this highly ambitious new series from Ram V and Filipe Andrade, but then ..she isn’t. I’m a huge fan of Filipe’s art and Ram has been responsible for some of my favorite comics in recent years, so picking up this new debut was a no-brainer for me. After reading it, I’ve got to admit that this comic will be everything you think you want while giving you more than you thought to ever expect. Suppose Death were an entity, and that immortal being were suddenly fired from their job Death. And on that very same day a child is born who will empower humanity with immortality. What would Death do in order to cheat humanity from this stage in their biological evolution? That is the simple framework of how this story begins. This is where we enter the story. Where does Laila Star fit in? Trust me, pick up this issue and read for yourself. It is nothing short of brilliant.

Luna #3 by Maria Llovet and published by BOOM! Studios

Maria Llovett is doing some amazing work in her current BOOM! series, Luna. It’s a crafty and seductive story about a woman (Teresa), the Family of the Sun, and how their combined psychedelic existences interact and collide. The artistic style that Llovett always brings to her work is reason enough to experience her work. Luna is no exception, and frankly, is more than likely helping to set the bar for creative consistency in an industry that can sometimes struggle with consolidated purpose. This comic is more than just the story told, it is also (and in some cases, more so) page after page of gorgeous and modern fine art. 

Neil’s Pick:

Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #1 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, Luis Antonio Delgado and Nathan Widick Published by IDW

It's been nearly 5 years since we had a Godzilla comic released on IDW and it comes close on the heels of the blockbuster Godzilla Vs Kong movie, perfect timing you might say. I am somewhat surprised that the first title since the new publishing deal with Toho is a young adult/middle-grade title but that isn't a complaint. This is a great time to introduce new fans to comics of the big G, particularly the younger audience coming out of seeing the last two Legendary movies Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla Vs Kong. One of those being my 7 year-old son who has a growing Godzilla/Kaiju obsession no thanks to myself. So this Wednesday I'm sorry to say "move over Dog Man" there's a new father son joint read in the house and he doesn't have fur!

Mike's Picks:

The Many Deaths of Laila Star #1 by Ram V, Filipe Andrade and Inêz Amaro, published by BOOM! Studios

Over the past few years, Ram has certainly proven he can work in a number of different genres, but I'm definitely partial to his Vertigo-esque fantasy horror of These Savage Shores and Justice League Dark. Ram (along with the rest of White Noise) has proven himself as a worthy heir to those Vertigo glory days, and Laila Starr certainly exemplifies the type of smart genre comics by investigating and re-imagining mythology. We're familiar with the concept of Death as an agent of nature, but usually more as a necessary participant in the life cycle. Ram takes this idea and expands upon it, making Death, or Kali in this iteration, an active force bent on undoing the next stage in human evolution. I love the way that Ram brings Indian culture to the forefront of his stories. I'm incredibly excited to see how Ram develops his interpretation of Death. Comics has a great tradition of harnessing religion and mythology, and I think this could be the next great entry in that pantheon.

Young Shadow by Ben Sears, published by Fantagraphics

I love this book. Sears strikes an absolutely perfect balance for this middle grade superhero story. Brimming with heart and packed with action, Young Shadow is proof that an all-ages story can still meet all the demands of a superhero book. It hits the necessary elements of a superhero story without being self-serious. It's fun and thrilling without losing sight of its optimism. Sears spends almost the entire book on rising action, constantly ratcheting up the stakes of the story, all the while utilizing a drawing style that will feel both accessible and nostalgic. If you've got a young person in your household, Young Shadow is a book you should read alongside them. If you don't have a young person, but you yourself used to be a young person, you're in luck - Young Shadow will transport you in ways my feeble words can't quite describe.

Kirk’s Pick:

Black Widow Vol. 1: The Ties That Bind by Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande, published by Marvel

Every Marvel character Kelly Thompson touches in the last 5 years becomes my favorite version of that character. Elena Casagrande is on the precipice of becoming the comic industry's next must-get artist. Simply put, this is the best series at Marvel that no one is talking about.