Panel Patter...Reborn!: Catch It at the Comic Shop June 23rd, 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...

James' Picks:

Black Hammer Reborn #1 by Jeff Lemire, Caitlin Yarsky, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse

 I have loved pretty much everything in the Black Hammer universe. Jeff Lemire and a group of talented artists and writers have built a rich, weird, shared superhero universe that doesn't feel like a typical superhero universe. I think because this isn't just an attempt to tell lots of ongoing stories about a bunch of different characters. This is much more of an attempt to provide a glimpse into a universe, and provide snapshots of different corners of that universe. But the core story in that universe is a weird, creepy, horror-type tale, and that creepiness and unease pervades the entire universe. Anyway, all of this is to say that I love the Black Hammer universe, and I love the idea of the character who was the daughter of the original Black Hammer becoming a superhero, and hearing the stories of how that didn't exactly go like she'd hoped. So I'm thrilled to pick this up, since I love Jeff Lemire's storytelling in this world. I'm also thrilled to pick it up because it's the first appearance of Caitlin Yarsky, whose work I've enjoyed in Bliss and other works. I'm excited to see what she brings to the world of Black Hammer.  

The Blue Flame #2 by Christopher Cantwell, Adam Gorham, Kurt Michael Russell, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Vault Comics

I absolutely LOVED the first issue of The Blue Flame. It felt like a really special comic; something big and ambitious. Christopher Cantwell is killing it in comics these days, as I loved his Doctor Doom book and I am loving his Iron Man book. I also really dug Everything, and I'm thrilled that he's going to be the showrunner on the new Paper Girls series. He does "big and ambitious and weird" really well, which feels like what The Blue Flame is going to be. The artistic team on the book is also SO good. Adam Gorham is doing career-defining work here (IMO), and his work is completely enriched by the colors from Kurt Michael Russell. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is bringing his his cosmic, pulpy best to the lettering of this book. It's a terrific team, on what feels like will be a special book. 

Fantastic Four Life Story #2 by Mark Russell and Sean Izaakse, published by Marvel Comics

So the premise with the "Life Story" comics is that they tell the story of Marvel Comics characters beginning with their origin in the 1960's, and continuing in real time. The first miniseries was Spider-Man: Life Story, and I loved it. It was an amazing book. And this one, telling the story of Marvel's First Family, is already off to a great start and feels like it's going to be a similarly big, emotional, exciting series. I really loved the first issue which did a nice job in updating the personalities of the characters so that they would make a little more sense. Russell is one of my favorite writers of dialogue (and generally). And the art from Sean Izaakse was terrific, so I'm expecting to enjoy this issue as well.

Neil's Pick:

Guardians of the Galaxy #15 by Al Ewing, Juan Frigeri, Federico Blee, Cory Petit Published by Marvel Comics
Having jumped on from #13 I have no idea about some of the prior storylines (I believe it was Empyre) but Al Ewing is creating a new story arc that looks to be a full-on cosmic adventure. The final few pages of #14 were somewhat of a surprise but I have faith that Ewing can control a certain new person (not spoiling) becoming one of the team. There’s a modest feeling of dread when reading this story. Ewing isn’t seemingly giving much away but there is something not quite right and an uneasy feeling that a huge threat is imminent. Not too sure if this is going to lead into The Last Annihilation storyline that was announced in April but this story arc alone is leading into something truly epic. Frigeri’s pencils and Blee’s colours work wonders together and have given me a newfound love for the Guardian’s new costume design. I sincerely hope this Guardian’s run continues to be as entertaining and intriguing as it has been for the first 2 issues.

Rachel's Pick:

Aggretsuko Little Rei of Sunshine by Brenda Hickey, Crank!, Alice Ito, and Robert Meyers, published by Oni Press
I love how easily Brenda Hickey switches between a very detailed cute style (there's a heavy metal bass playing snowy owl and she has to be one of the cutest characters ever) and a rawer, simpler style that is often employed to depict powerful emotions, such as when Retsuko sings heavy metal songs. We most often see the rawer form used for the heavy metal karaoke scenes. Hickey does a great job building the world of comic by giving readers a lot of characters that weren't featured in the anime. And we get to see a bunch of adorable goth looks when Retsuko attends the reunion concert of her favorite band in high school. There I'm impressed with how realistically light effects like the setting sun, fluorescent overhead lights, very bright subway lights, dimly lit streets, etc. are all very well-rendered. Hickey nails the mother-daughter relationship between Retsuko and her mother. There are certain words and phrases that parents use to make their children feel guilty, ashamed, and in the case of Retsuko, unmarried. So despite the fact that Retsuko is a red panda living in Japan who has a knack for singing heavy metal, a lot of readers will be able to identify with her. And because this story really focuses on heavy metal, we get to to enjoy scenes of Gori the gorilla crowd surfing, get to see a trade show and a heavy metal concert being held at the same convention center, and get to witness a karaoke battle between Retsuko and the new lead singer of her favorite band.

Sean’s Picks:

Black Hammer Reborn #1 by Jeff Lemire, Caitlin Yarsky, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos, published by Dark Horse

If you know me at all then you know that I’m a Black Hammer fanatic. This series, since its inception, has been the comic book equivalent to a tall glass of ice cold lemonade on a hot summer afternoon while all the other indie books went scrambling to become the next big thing. As everyone else is off attempting to reinvent the wheel, Abraham Slam and his Crew by way of Black Hammer are basking in the glory of golden age comics. Jeff Lemire alongside Dean Ormsten have created a long lasting story that has branched off into various tangents so as to tell a complex story that is simply and literally a love letter to comics; the superhero genre specifically. This week the main cast return for a third arc of the main story. Picking up presumably where Age of Doom left off we get to see where newly added illustrator to the Black Hammer arsenal of creators with Caitlyn Yarsky wielding the ink. I’m excited for this new chapter of Black Hammer and I enthusiastically invite you to join me!

Wasted Space #21 by Michael Moreci, Hayden Sherman, Jason Wordie, and Jim Campbell, published by Vault

Ahh.. where would we be without a Wasted Space comic recommendation? It’s been some time since I’ve last been able to tell everyone to go grab this book and this week I finally have the justification to do so. This week the final arc begins with much mayhem and existential sex jokes aplenty to tide us over until the next issue. Admittedly I would be cautious to simply jump into this book at issue 21 but let this serve as a reminder for those who’ve been reading and forgot ..ahem! Wasted Space is back, man! And for everyone else.. check your couch for some coin and catch up from the beginning. Cuz trust me ..this is a modern comic masterpiece and I will stand here and die on that hill I just made for myself. If your thing is science fiction space dramas and questioning reality and religion and ethical interaction then for crying out loud ..go get yourself caught up!