Catch It at the Comic Shop April 28th, 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:

The Modern Frankenstein #1 by Paul Cornell, Emma Vieceli, Pippa Bowland, and Simon Bowland, published by Heavy Metal
She's a brilliant scientist. He's a brilliant, possibly unhinged scientist. What could go wrong? When Elizabeth gets attracted to Victor and starts listening to his ideas on pushing the boundaries of medicine, it's a recipe to reimagine a classic horror story. Paul Cornell teams up with write Emma Vieceli to plot a new, modern direction for Shelley's tale, with the Bowlands workinng on art and letters. I don't know much about this one, but given the creators involved and my love for all things related to Frankenstein, I expect this will hit all the rights notes in a modern gothic style.
Hack/Slash Deluxe Edition Hardcover Vol 1 by Tim Seeley, Stephano Caselli, and Others, published by Image
Before things like Money Shot and Sexy, Bi-friendly Dick Grayson, Tim Seeley's primary claim to fame was Hack/Slash--and for good reason. From the get-go, Seeley is able to balance the sexual aspects of slasher films with telling a good story and making sure the main protagonist isn't a victim. Hack/Salsh is both an homage to blood and boobs and a response to it. These early stories aren't quite as nuanced as later parts of the world (which is where I began reading), but they're a lot of fun and show Seeley's emerging talent as a writer that we see today. As with any series with multiple artists, how you feel about the panels are going to vary, but Caselli's work is extremely strong. Plus it's fun to see Cassie get involved with Chuckie, an icon of the genre. This is for very specific tastes, granted, but if you're a slasher movie fan and haven't read this yet, now's your chance.

Shadowman #1 by Cullen Bunn, Jon Davis-Hunt, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles, published by Valiant Comics
Life among the LOA means being ready to kill supernatural beings at the drop of a hat, even if it means giving up a chance to play the Blue Note. Jack Boniface, with his unlikely "ally" Baron Samedi, the LOA King of Death, starts gearing up for some of the hardest supernatural fights of his life, beginning with a well-to-do party hiding a killer secret. Things are only going to get worse as long-time favorite Cullen Bunn takes a turn at the wheel of this really intriguing part of Valiant's Universe. Bunn did an amazing job with Punk Mambo, so it's no surprise here that he's able to step in and make Jack's story his own, while acknowledging there's a lot that's come before (and, to be honest, not all of it very good.) Bunn treads a thin line between explanation and new material, and using the amazing battle backdrops of Jon Davis-Hunt to do it works really well. Davis's designs for the creatures are nice and horrific and his friendly-creepy depiction of the Baron will make you both smile and shudder at the same time. Jack's aware he's being played, but like a good hero, there's not much choice. Can't wait to see what awful things Bunn and co put him through and who else from the magical side of Valiant we get to see as this new series progresses.

Kirk's Picks:

Shadowman #1 by Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt, published by Valiant Comics
Admittedly, Valiant comics is a bit of a blind spot in my regular indie publisher reading usually relegated to only picking up titles that have creative teams with names that I recognize or on recommendation from friends. This being the case and on the heels of the announcement that he’s got a title coming from Vault, Bunn is collecting the proverbial infinity stones by producing quality stories at every publisher at this point. Add to that the fact that I am craving more of Davis-Hunt’s art since his stint on The Wild Storm series. I’m excited to say that Davis-Hunt’s work here complements Bunn’s usually creepy concepts really well. The 1st issue is an interesting concept for an established character I know nothing about, but from this new series debut, I’m on board to see where it goes.

Beta Ray Bill #2 (of 5) by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Marvel Comics
I don’t want to sound pretentious when I say that Daniel is an auteur comic creator, but his vision for every project that he helms exudes such a next level understanding of all the elements that go in to making a comic fit together like the cogs of a swiss watch. With groundbreaking art techniques that I’m starting to see other artists try to emulate to crafting stories about self-loathing and the type of feelings that if you let them fester, will eat you away. But more importantly, the journey to overcome these things and allow yourself to heal. Through it all, though what I describe might seem bleak, pure unadulterated fun exudes from every page. He’s taken these talents and applied them to a B-list (even C?) Marvel character that I love and the only complaint that I have about this series is that it’s only slated for 5 issues. I love this book.

James' Picks:

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillips, published by Image Comics

There aren't that many sure things in life, but one of the surest is that when Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips make a comic, it will be worth your time.  They had a really strong 2020, with the excellent "Cruel Summer" story in their ongoing Criminal series, with the amazing western/crime graphic novel "Pulp", and with the gritty 80's crime story "Reckless". Now I absolutely love everything that Brubaker and Phillips have done in the Criminal universe over the course of many years, but I also really enjoy it when they decide to venture outside of that world. "Pulp" was one of my favorite books of their in a while, and I also really enjoyed the first "Reckless" story. It was still set in a world of crime and intrigue, but it had a different vibe to it. The 80's west coast setting gave it a different feel. It read like a really fun B-movie. And I'm excited for more. 

Beta Ray Bill #2 by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Marvel Comics

Daniel Warren Johnson is doing amazing work right now. And he's one of the few artists now erhe it feels like anything he publishes is an "event". But it does feel that way; from his intricate, hyper-detailed storytelling with incredible energy, to his mind-blowing commissions, he's just one of THE creators in comics to watch right now. His Wonder woman book was amazing, as was Murder Falcon before that. Anyway, Beta Ray Bill is a very cool character in Marvel lore, and the first issue was a blast. It had a little bit of a King In Black tie-in, but don't let that scare you away. The issue tells you everything you need to know, and by the end of the first issue, Bill is off going to have adventures on his own, where it's clear that you don't need to have any additional prior knowledge. It's fantastic so far, and I definitely recommend you get on board.

Stargazer TP by Anthony Cleveland and Antonio Fuso, published by Mad Cave Studios

Stargazer is one of those books where I really enjoyed the first issue and just sort of lost track of, but I'm thrilled to be able to pick it up as a collected edition. This is a science fiction/alien abduction story in the genre of "something terrible happened years ago and we all agreed not to talk about it, but now our past is catching up with us" stories.  I LOVE that kind of story. Die is another terrific recent example.  The debut issue was very strong. It's genuinely creepy and unsettling, and the writing is strong depicting characters both as kids and adults. I really enjoyed the art from Antonio Fuso, with great colors from Stefano Simeone, which contributed to the excellent sense of fear and dread throughout the issue. If they're at this level, I look forward to reading a lot more comics from Mad Cave Studios, and I'm excited to read this story collected.

Deadly Class #45 by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, and Lee Loughridge, published by Image Comics

I love Deadly Class. And have loved it for a long time. I think it takes the raw anger and heartbreak and fear of the teenage years and keeps all of that very honest, while looking at that time from a violent, absurdist perspective. Plus it's just an amazing-looking comic. Wes Craig's art continues to blow my mind, as does the bold, bright, weird colors (whether it's Lee Loughridge or Jordan Boyd). I do wish the book came out a little more regularly. But, this is one of those independent books where I would never want any sort of substitute artist. Without Wes Craig, it's just not Deadly Class. Anyway, I'm super excited for a new arc. The story is moving up a few years to 1991 and the time of Grunge. So they are very much speaking my language. I'm thrilled to see where the story goes, and I will definitely bust out the flannel. 

Mike's Picks:

Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith, published by Fantagraphics
I've only had the chance to page through this massive undertaking, but I don't think I've had more anticipation for a book in a long time. Speaking of a long time, I'm fascinated by the length of construction for this book. Windsor-Smith worked on this project for thirty-five years, meaning he was already well into things when I was discovering his work on Wolverine and rummaging through back issue bins to track down the early Valiant Solar issues. One thing that jumped out at me when I was younger, before I even had a modicum of comic book vocabulary, was the way Windsor-Smith colored his comics. His books were always a battle between the raw and the refined, with his vibrant colors tempering his think inks. With Monsters, Windsor-Smith toes that line again, using a black and white style to offer a concise, deliberate rendering of a layered metaphysical tale. 

Trots and Bonnie by Shary Flenniken, published by New York Review Comics
Pulled from the archives of National Lampoon is a series of cartoons that recall the genre's early stylistic origin of newspaper funnies - both in technique and structure - but that embrace the impetus of underground comix. Much of the humor of Trots and Bonnie stems from this dichotomy. From it distance, it looks cute, if not quaint; but up close it cuts with the sharp edge you'd expect from National Lampoon. Trots and Bonnie revels in the absurd, turning a wry eye to the adult world, a perfect encapsulation of the late 70s/early 80s death of the hippie and rise of the yuppie.