Get Outdoors! Camp with Girls and Groo! Catch Its for September 1st, 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:

Groo Meets Tarzan #2 by Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Thomas Yeates, Tom Luth, and Stan Sakai, published by Dark Horse
Our hero must fight off lions and snakes and rhinos just to survive! But enough about Sergio. Groo finds his way into Tarzan's world in his own inimitable way, getting ready to bravely (if obliviously) face off against the slavers that vex the Lord of the Jungle as this preposterous but unambiguously awesome story kicks into high gear. As I wrote about the first issue, Mark and Sergio are doing an amazing job of finding a way to make this all work, wrapped around a silly set of circumstances for the two creators. (I'm not sure who has it worse--Sergio trapped in a bargain basement Tiger King nightmare or Mark having to sit on so many Comic-Con panels!) Jokes aside, Evanier's script for the Tarzan section is really good, its seriousness just as solid as the silly "reality" sections and of course, Groo's desire for cheese dip. Aragones' linework is its typical detailed self, as is Yeates, though in a completely different fashion. Watching the two artists interact on the same page, as we start to see here, is going to be a real treat. I especially love how Luth ensures that the coloring purposefully highlights the differences, too. With 2021 starting to look like a different variant of bad, a comic like this is a lifeline of escape.

LaidBack Camp Vol 10 by Afro, published by Yen Press
Laid Back Camp is an entirely different kind of escape from our current reality than Groo, but it's just as much fun and perfect for an hour or two of getting away by reading. With the subject being camping, it's especially true for people who aren't yet ready to go outside again. I admit I'm a little behind on this one, but the adorable main characters will grab you immediately and make you wish you were out with them on an adventure. This time out, the camping is closer to home, as rather than finding a new place in the outdoors, the gang looks to be headed to Ena's for an overnight stay. This is just a really wholesome series that honestly isn't typical brought to English readers. I'm really glad Yen is keeping it going, and if you haven't tried it yet, I think you'll enjoy.

The EC Archives: The Vault of Horror Volume 1 by Various, published by Dark Horse
The Vault of Horror is not what one of my favorite publishers calls the pitches they reject,* but rather one of the classic EC Comics titles that holds stories from some of the best creators that came out of the 1950s: Al Feldstein, Johnny Craig, Bill Gaines, Johnny Craig, Wally Wood, and Harvey Kurtzman, just to name a few who appear in these first six issues (which start with #12 because back then you just re-titled books for economic reasons that I can't remember offhand). These stories are often a little wordy (I recommend only reading the dialogue, you'll catch the drift) and can frequently be a bit problematic for a modern audience, but you can see with every panel the modern comic as we know it being formed. Especially for those of us with horror in our DNA. I'm glad to see Dark Horse starting to offer these in a more affordable trade paperback version. Definitely can't wait for more.

Crime Comics Confidential by Various, published by IDW
Speaking of amazing old comics, here's a treasure trove of pre-code comics that featured sensational tales of actual people like Al Capone and Pretty Boy Floyd, side by side (or, if you prefer, page by page) with gangsters only the fertile brains of people like Jack Cole, John Buscema(!), Gene Colan, Alex Toth, and a ton of others could come up with. While Dark Horse and Fantagraphics generally stick to more well known publications, IDW often digs deep into the weeds of some comics that can be really good, or, honestly, really bad. But with the creators involved here, there's definitely going to be more winners than losers. I also really enjoy the intros on these books, which offer some fascinating insights. Restored to the best of their ability--and again, with the same caveat regarding content as above, this is for people like me who are ultra classic comic geeks.

Dark Ages #1 by Tom Taylor, Iban Coello, and Others, published by Marvel Comics
It's pretty bad when the Watcher gets feeling like he might need to pack his bags on the Moon (or wherever he is these days; I admit I thought he was still dead, so maybe he decided Mars was easier to defend from random acts of Nick Fury and Marvel Writers) and pick a new place to observe, but Tom Taylor and Iban Coello promise to bring high stakes to this new series. I know next to nothing about it, but when you say Peter Parker (hopefully) will team up with his Fantastic Four Family, you catch my interest. Even in bad times, that's a bond that makes for great storytelling. Combine that with Taylor on the scripting duties and a promise of a new evil we haven't seen before (which is better than an endless reliance on older ones IMO), I'm in for an issue to see what's in store for the Marvel U.

*Maybe they do? I'll have to ask. I would call it that. Then again, that's why I'm not a publisher.