Catch It at the Comic Shop June 9th, 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...

Mike’s Picks:

Far Sector 12 by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, published by DC Comics

When this series first debuted, I envisioned writing a far different retrospective of the series. At that point, and for most of the series quite frankly, Far Sector seemed entirely self-contained, occupying a corner of the DC Universe that wouldn’t interact with the mainstream continuity at large. Hell, the book still bears a Young Animal imprint. (I think at some point it was marketed under Black Label, maybe?) But Far Sector’s protagonist, Sojourner Mullein, has debuted on the newly relaunched Green Lantern series, so she appears here to stay. Alas, I don’t have to spend my paragraphs here lamenting that one of the freshest takes on my favorite DC property is being put to rest. I don’t have to complain that a series that found a way to reinvent the idea of Green Lantern while handling its central and defining conceit - that of the space cop - better than any other recent iteration would be disappearing into the ether of bygone miniseries. N.K Jemisin crafted a beautiful narrative over these twelve issues, honing in on Jo’s growth while she balances the ideas of duty with reluctance. And Jamal Campbell. I swear. Naomi was one thing, but he brought everything to another level with Far Sector. It’s a far brighter series, and he seems to revel in the ability to explore a world previously unknown to DC readers.

Crash Site by Nathan Cowdry, published by Fantagraphics

A friend of mine once told me that the most dangerous form of satire is the kind that gets mistaken for being sincere. It’s the kind that lives on the razor’s edge between being self-indulgent and scathing. I think Crash Site is such a book. It isn’t for the faint of heart or for those easily offended. Though it’s by no means as soul-shredding as its fellow recent Fanta publication, Red Room, it is still incredibly deliberate in it’s use of gross-out humor and and over-the-top interpretation of verisimilitude that pokes at the reader until they are forced to confront its implications on Cowdry’s own terms.

Everything’s Archie 1 by Fred Van Lente and Dan Parent, published by Archie Comics

It’s impossible to argue with the quality of Archie books over roughly the past decade, stretching back at least to the fantastic and groundbreaking Life With Archie series, and including the superb Archie Horror line and the 2015 Mark Waid-helmed reboot that itself segued into a set of miniseries that provided an excellent exploration of Archie and Company’s history as pop culture icons. Now comes the celebration proper as Archie joins in the 80th anniversary fun previously reserved for the likes of Superman or Wonder Woman. This offering kicks off a series of 80th anniversary specials, and is helmed by modern Archie legend Dan Parent on art with Archie newcomer and veteran funny man Fred Van Lente providing the script. 80th anniversary or not, that’s a creative team that would always pique my interest.

Rob's Picks:

Bunny Mask #1 by Paul Tobin, Andrea Mutti, and Taylor Esposito, published by Aftershock Comics
Maybe the Holy Grail knights were onto something in that movie people quote incessantly. There's an ancient evil afoot that features a girl in a bunny mask and when an unlucky soul releases her after untold centuries, she's free to stalk the world once more. The darker impulses of Panel Pal Paul Tobin and a personal favorite artist in Andrea Mutti combine for a new series that Paul promises will put my worst nightmares to shame. Trust me, that's a pretty high bar. Colder is one of my favorite things Paul ever wrote, piling on increasingly creepy visuals thanks to his artistic collaborator Juan Ferrerya and I expect the same from Mutti, who starts this one with showing a girl having her teeth destroyed and in another scene keeps hinting at the Bunny Mask creature everywhere our pitiable protagonist goes. Aftershock has a strong track record of horror hits, and I expect this to be the next in a long line of great books from them so far in 2021.

Hellboy and the BPRD 1952-1954 HC by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Chris Roberson, Alex Maleev, Paolo Rivera, Brian Churilla, Ben Stenbeck, Dave Stewart, and many more, published by Dark Horse
Having taken Hellboy to the end of his life, Mignola, with some amazing collaborators, started working on doing stories about his early years with the BPRD, ranging from Brazil to England to Yetis. Collecting tales from mini-series and one-shots, this hardcover edition continues the tradition of giving readers a way to collect the Big Red Guy's adventures in a prestige format. I haven't personally read all of these but the ones I have, especially the 1952 adventure, were a lot of fun and while they had the darker edge of modern Hellboy, I felt like some of the joy we'd lost along the way came back again. Plus with co-writers like Roberson and collaborators including Rivera and Churilla, it's packed with great moments visually and verbally. If you've kind of fallen off the Hellboy train, this is a great way to get back into the world again.

Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1 by Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer, and Liz Trice Schweizer, published by Image Comics
Trigger Keaton's one of the most unlikable people in Hollywood, with yet another new sidekick, his 6th, on his latest show. Production's cut short when Keaton's found dead, apparently of suicide. But Miles, the last of the sidekicks, was trained on police procedures and is pretty sure Keaton was murdered. The chase quickly catches the other sidekicks in its web and we're off to the races in another romp of a comic involving Kyle Starks and his fast-paced, absurdist ideas, this time paired up with Chris Schweizer. The two make a great pair for this, as Schweizer's square-jawed look is perfect for Keaton and the rest of the cast. He's able to do a lot of tight panel work to keep the exposition moving without slowing down the pace, too, with great expressions that make up for the positioning being a little stiff even in action scenes. Starks' books are an odd duck, in a good way, and this one's shaping up to be another fun ride.

Rachel's Pick:

Tammy & Jinty Remixed (Rebellion imprint of 2000 AD), Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage
I had never read Tammy or Jinty before, as these series were published in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s. Living in Vermont in the ’90s, the comics that were marketed to me were Archie, Betty & Veronica, and Sabrina. Had comics like Tammy or Jinty been available to me, I would have loved them. What was especially good about this collection is that it includes several stories from the original series. The art styles in this anthology vary from the detailed, Victorian/Edwardian-style art by Yishan Li in “Boarding School” (script by Rachael Smith, colors by Pippa Bowland, lettering by Jim Campbell) to the looser, black-and-white panels with splashes of red of “The Enigma Variation” (script by Grainne McEntee, art by Dani, lettering by Jim Campbell), to the chillingly detailed light horror elements in the story “In the Cold Dark” (script by Matt Gibbs, art by V.V. Glass, lettering by Mike Stock). My favorite stories in the collection are “Cat Girl Returns” by Ramzee and Elkys Nova, “The Enigma Variation” by Grainne McEntee and Dani, and the classic story “Sally Was a Cat” that was originally published in Jinty in 1980.

Kelli's Pick:

IN. by Will McPhail, published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The press release for IN. promises a book that will “elevate the graphic novel genre”. That’s quite the statement. I might have been a little sceptical. However, it didn’t take many pages into Will McPhail’s IN. for me to realize, it wasn’t hyperbole. This is a beautiful and moving graphic novel, that tells its story in a novel and refreshing way. You can see in McPhail’s work an artist who really enjoys observing and rendering people. His characters are never static. Their emotions are conveyed through posture and small gestures, rather than words. Honestly, I don’t want to say too much about the story. Rather I encourage the reader to go in blind. Trust McPhail to take you on visual journey that speaks to connections made and lost, the importance of family and the value of really, truly listening. In an era of TikTok and Instagram, where every phone is a stage upon which we perform and every “like” is tenuous link to another, IN asks us to think about what true connection looks like, and how we can nurture it.

James' Picks:

Black Hammer Visions #5 by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse

I love pretty much everything from the Black Hammer universe, and the Black Hammer Visions series has been no exception. Each issue is an exploration of a different aspect of that universe. The current issue focuses on Skulldigger, the gritty vigilante who patrolled the streets of Spiral City during a dark time. What has me particularly excited about this issue is the creative team. This issue sees the reunion of Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire, who made real comic magic a few years ago in an amazing Hawkeye series. Romero is a tremendously talented artist in the Aja/Samnee/Shaner school, and while Skulldigger is a dark character, I'm expecting the creative team here to bring something really interesting to the table. Even a litle fun. Thompson is a fantastic writer, and has a great handle on giving people voices that feel authentic. Anyway, this should be an excellent read. 

The Good Asian #2 by Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi, and Lee Loughridge, published by Image Comics

The first issue of The Good Asian was a dense (in a good way), highly engaging debut issue packed with story, and character, and big issues and small moments. I'm thrilled to pick up issue #2. Writer Pornsak Pichetshote has given the characters in the story great, distinct voices, and I absolutely love the setting. I love a noir detective story, and 1930's San Francisco is not a setting with which I'm very familiar. Artist Alexandre Tefenkgi and colorist Lee Loughridge do remarkable work in bringing this world to life. Tefenkgi's clean lines and Loguhridge's flat colors perfectly bring this era to life. I'm excited to read more and see the world of this story expand further.  If you're looking for a murder mystery that's going to be much more than just a mystery story (it's also an exploration of our racist past and not very different present), then you absolutely ned to pick up The Good Asian.