A Crowded week of comics! Catch It at the Comic Shop February 16th, 2022

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:

Crowded TP vol. 3 by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell, published by Image Comics

Crowded is a really fun comic, set in a ridiculous world (basically our own) that I wrote about previously. This is a fantastic comic and I'm excited to pick up the next (and final?) arc. It's got hilarious dialogue and great characterization, and gorgeous, hilarious, action-packed art from the always great art team of Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, and colorist Triona Farrell. Here's what I said previously about the world of Crowded:

The government allows Reapr (a crowdfunding assassination app) to exist. It started when some cabinet members were assassinated and it was traced back to a crowdfunding campaign. The government couldn’t stop it, it became popular. They tried everything but couldn’t shut it down. Anyone can start a campaign on anyone, and if you get a second person to fund it you’re in business. Anyone can collect on a campaign by killing the target. But after the campaign is over, you can’t start another one against the person. Law enforcement couldn’t stop it so now they just allow it and penalize it with red tape. In Crowded, everyone is trying to kill Charlotte Ellison (Charlie). Someone has started a Reapr campaign against her and the total is quickly over a million dollars. Charlie finds Vita on Dfend to hire her as a bodyguard. Charlie lives entirely in the gig economy. She drives for Muver and Drift. She rents out her car to people on Wheelsy. She rented an old dress out to someone on Kloset. She walks dogs on Dogstroll. She babysits on Citysitter and loans money on Moneyfriender. She tutors calculus. She spends time with folks on Palrent. And everyone wants to kill her. All sorts of craziness ensues.

Primordial #6 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart, published by Image Comics

Primordial is the latest miniseries from the creative team that brought you Gideon Falls. That's great news, because I loved Gideon Falls. It was an amazing, weird, sci-fi-horror meta-story, with tons of twists and turns. Primordial is a period piece, but it sets up a different 1960's than we remember. There's no space race. Something has scared America and Russia away from going out into space. We don't know what yet exactly, but whenever it is, it prompted both nations to switch to using animals in test flights rather than human beings, and to eventually stop running test flights altogether. As the story moves along, we do see some of what has happened to these animals, and I don’t wanna say too much, but this comic is fun and weird and absolutely worth a read. Artist Andrea Sorrentino is doing some of his best work yet, with weird, innovative, mind blowing layouts and splash pages. The work definitely has a Frank Quietly vibe to it, which goes along with the weird nature of the story that feels a little bit like a Grant Morrison story. These are among the highest compliment so I can give about a comic. Dave Stewart does wonderful work in coloring the drama scenes that take place on earth, and the vivid and weird scenes that take place… Elsewhere. This is a must read for sci-fi fans.

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #8 by Tom King, Bilquis Evely, and Mat Lopes, published by DC Comics

The final issue! I'm so sad to see this book go; it's been a long time since I was this sad to see a comic series end. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow was my favorite superhero comic of 2021. It's a truly special book, and takes the reader on an incredible physical and emotional journey with Supergirl, and Ruthye (your new favorite character). The art from Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes (on colors) is just astounding. Evely's detail and emotion on every page is just remarkable, and Lopes does some of the most beautiful, breathtaking colors you'll ever see. My recommendation is not "start at issue 8", it's "go back and read this amazing story from the beginning". My in-depth review of the first 4 issues is here

The Lion & the Eagle #1 by Garth Ennis, P.J. Holden, and Tim Bradstreet, published by Aftershock Comics

I love a good Garth Ennis war comic. And that's great news, because all of his war comics are great. This one sounds like a doozy. 

1944: Imperial Japan still commands most of Asia. Determined to regain their hold on Burma, the British send a special forces unit - the Chindits - deep behind Japanese lines. Their mission is to attack the enemy wherever they find him. What awaits them is a nightmare equal to anything the Second World War can deliver.

Colonel Keith Crosby and Doctor Alistair Whitamore have old scores to settle, being veterans of the long retreat through Burma two years before. But neither the jungle nor the foe have gotten any less savage, and when the shooting starts and the Japanese descend on the smaller British force in their midst, every man will be tested to his limit.

I'm not familiar with P.J. Holden's work, but on a quick search, given all of his work for 2000AD, it looks like his gritty, detailed style will work perfectly for the story that he and Ennis are telling.

Until my Knuckles Bleed #1 by Victor Santos, published by Behemoth Comics

I've really enjoyed Victor Santos' work in comics such as Violent Love and Black Market, and I'm excited to pick up this new comic. This story concerns a former superhero who is now acting as a mob enforcer. That sounds like an excellent premise, and Santos has (with writer Frank Barbiere) previously gone into the world of crime in a world full of superheroes with Black Market. Santos has an incredibly appealing exaggerated style in the tradition of Darwyn Cooke, Bruce Timm, and more recent artists such as Elsa Charretier. It's really fun work, and I'm excited to pick this comic up.

Rob's Picks:
Moon Knight Volume 1 by Jed Mackay, Alessandro Cappuccio, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC's Cory Petit, published by Marvel
I'm not even sure what to call Moon Knight as an alter ego these days, given he's not so sure himself. These days, he's offering protection to a neighborhood via the Midnight Mission, helping those who must be out in the dangerous night. Except that just being associated with Marc(?) can be deadly in and of itself, with foes near and far out to end his newest crusade--even if they loosely share his values! I'm almost caught up on this arc (I read via Marvel Unlimited) and I was immediately impressed by what Mackay was doing here. Moon Knight is a fractured character who lurches from status quo to status quo because his original origins don't register as strongly with readers as they did in the early 80s. Taking advantage of that Mackay pits "Mr. Knight" against his own thoughts while trying to protect his charges. Cappuccio's linework on this is top notch, with really strong action scenes. I'm a huge fan of Rosenberg as a colorist, and her work contrasting the black and white primaries with normal colors (especially blood) is amazing here.  So far, it's a Marvel comic you can read without having to read 10 other books, too. This was a hidden gem for me in 2021 and I'm still along for the beat 'em up + psychology ride that Marvel does better than any other cape-driven line.
GI Joe Saturday Morning Adventures #1 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, Luis Antonio Delgado, and Neil Uyetake , published by IDW
And knowing it's a crass attempt to sell toys is half the battle! This a loving tribute/nose tweak to the cartoons, right down to the "knowing is half the battle" PSAs that looked stupid even to my child-eyes. (I've never been much for pandering.) In this series, the Cobra Commander has a new obsession--Aladdin's Lamp! Once he gets his claws on it and Destro helps with understanding the rules (in a great bit that shows off their character types from the old show perfectly), we're off to the races as GI Joe tries to figure out how COBRA got their big--and I do mean BIG--plans together in this first issue. Burnham and Schoening did amazing work with Ghostbusters, of all things, and they're nailing it here. This could easily be both the plot of a real episode and and Cartoon Network parody of it. That's a very hard balance to manage but he's got it covered. The dialogue hits just right to keep a foot in both camps. Meanwhile, Schoening's art here is so good, I had to do a double-take to ensure it wasn't stills from the original show. The characters look exactly like they used to on TV, but move freely and aren't just referenced. With big bold animated color, this is just a total delight and and early front-runner for my favorites list. GO NOSTAGLIA!
Elvira Mistress of the Dark Classic Years Omnibus Vol 1 by Various Creators, published by Dynamite (originally Claypool)
Despite my love of all things horror--especially B-movie style horror--my personal attachment to Elvira is pretty slim. Frankly, the best thing associated with her in my opinion are two kick-ass pinball tables. So I'm not picking this because of enjoying her as a character so much as I am the creators involved. This lineup is insane for a comic like this: Paul Dini, James Fry, Jo Duffy, Kurt Busiek(!), Neil Vokes, Fred Hembeck (writing, not drawing, sadly), Jim Mooney(!), and Dave Cockrum(!!). I mean, good grief, that's a murder's row of quality writers and artists working on comedic parodies. Even if you aren't big on the character, it's hard to pass up a chance to read some obscure and off-beat work from people like Cockrum. This is going to have limited appeal, and the stories might not have aged well, but with talent like this, comics fans looking for hidden gems have quite a bit to mine here.