An X-Cellent week of comics!! Catch It at the Comic Shop February 2nd, 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:

The X-Cellent #1 by Peter Milligan, Mike Allred and Laura Allred, published by Marvel Comics

Back in the day, there was a much-loved comic called X-Statix, which was funny and weird and singular among Marvel's comics. The great news for everyone is that the creative team is bringing this book back! With a slightly different name. I'm thrilled. I haven't actually read a ton of the original X-Statix comics, but what I've read I've really enjoyed. And I'm a huge admirer of the work of Mike and Laura Allred. If they are involved in a comic, it is basically a must-buy for me. Their big, gorgeous pop-art style is everything I want out of a comic. They do amazing, stunning, weird visuals, and convey an incredible sense of melodrama. As I once was happy to tell Mike Allred in person, the faces he draws have an incredible ability to convey both profound joy and tremendous sadness at the same time. Anyway, this looks like a blast, you should pick it up.

Echolands #6 by J.H. Williams, Haden Blackman, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein, published by Image Comics
To describe Echolands as an artistic tour de force would be an understatement. The art in this comic is just bonkers, with a level of intricate detail and care to the art and colors, that just feels mind-boggling. This is a fantasy story that pulls together characters from all sorts of different fantasy stories, whether those be old-timey cartoons about Crime, or robot stories, or barbarians, or vampires, or some sort of Kirby New Gods-esque story, or any number of other stories. What's incredible (among other things) about this story is that artist J.H. Williams, and color artist Dave Stewart, draw each character in a completely different animation style. It's a fun, engaging story, but you'll want to linger on every page. J.H. Williams is an incredible illustrator, who has some of the most creative and weird and interesting layouts I've seen in a comic. This whole book is a treat, including additional in-story back matter such as an interview with the main villain of the story. It's a great read. 

Primos #1 by Al Madrigal, Carlos Barberi, and Brian Reber, published by AWA Studios
I'm not really familiar with the creative team, but this comic sounds like a lot of fun. In Primos, hundreds of years ago, two technologically advanced Mayan brothers built a spaceship and traveled out into the cosmos. They've come back and it's centuries later, and their civilization and culture have been essentially destroyed. One of the brothers seeks revenge, and the other brother seeks to stop him, by somehow involving his distant descendants that live in the modern day. I'm not familiar with Al Madrigal, but Carlo Barberi has a really fun, appealing art style. And this seems like a great book to take a chance on. 

Dark Knights of Steel #4 by Tom Taylor and Jasmine Putri, published by DC Comics
I first picked up Dark Knights of Steel because friends of mine seemed excited about it, and I am a big fan of the work of Tom Taylor. The idea of "the DC heroes, but set in medieval times" seemed kind of gimmicky to me. Boy was I wrong! This comic is fantastic. It's one of the most fun, engaging stories on the stands. Taylor has found a way to weave various DC characters throughout the story in what feels like a very organic way. And he's set up a conflict that makes sense, some very interesting alliances and relationships, and really compelling characters. And Jasmine Putri's art is great! I wasn't familiar with her work previously, but it's fun and engaging and great at conveying action and emotion. I'd love to see her get all sorts of big opportunities. It's a really winning art style, and a tremendously enjoyable book generally. 

Rob's Picks:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The IDW Collection Volume 1 by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan, Ronda Pattison, Sean Lee, Erik Burnham, Sophie Campbell, and Others, published by IDW
Like most people my age, I knew the Turtles best from their days as a cartoon, not so much from the Frank Miller homage comics by Eastman and Laird. (In fact, I don't think I actually ready any of the comics until I was in my 20s.) I've enjoyed them since, but oddly enough, my first real exposure to the Turtles in comics form was IDW's reboot, and I was instantly hooked. The series is well over 100 issues now, with so many side series I really haven't been able to keep up. This idea of collecting them in a reading order is amazing, and I'm so glad they're doing it. In this first omni, we get the opening 12 issues as well as the one-shots (Leonardo's being the first I read in this series, actually). We get a different spin on the characters' origin, one that took a little getting used to for me, but the quality of the storytelling (primarily by Eastman outlines with Waltz, Duncan, and Pattison doing most of the creative work in partnership with others. The art is spectacular (and only gets better as the series goes on and really finds its look) and the story is engaging, echoing some familiar beats while not trying to clone them. If you like the Turtles (in either comic or TV form) and haven't given this series a go yet, now's your chance. I can't wait to dive in and re-read some old favorites.

Savage Spider-Man #1 by Joe Kelly, Gerardo Sandoval, Nick Bradshaw, and others, published by Marvel
I loved Non-Stop Spider-Man, and was sorry to see it go. This is the continuation of the story, with a different focus and different art team. Peter's in a bad way, and not like the issue in his main book. He's been literally transformed as a part of the  non-stop story, and while we all know he'll get back to normal (just like we know Pete's going to have the webs again), I trust Kelly to tell an interesting story along the way and do something a little different. Picking Nick Bradshaw to take the reigns of a more fantasy-based inclined book is a great idea, as he did an awesome job on Bermuda. I don't know how much of this was in the original non-stop plans, but I'm really curious to see where this goes. 

Sean’s Pick:

Chicken Devil #4 by Brian Buccellato, Hayden Sherman & Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou and published by Aftershock
This series is about as hilarious and wild and downright bonkers as a story can get. Think Ozark meets Breaking Bad, but with a vigilante dressed as a six foot chicken. Mitch, our said six foot chicken, has found himself in the middle of a drug dilemma with a local drug smuggler. Things quickly get dicey and Mitch goes from mild-mannered to revengeful vigilante in less pages than it takes Miles Morales to thwip-thwip from Queens to New Jersey. The art in this book by Hayden is further proof that they are at the top of their craft. Panel work and page layouts have never been at the level that Chicken Devil is at. The art alone is reason enough to pick this book up, but that is not where reasons stop. The dialogue and words by Brian have set up pacing that leaves each issue at a climactic ending alongside the best of them. Specific pacing of Chicken Devil reminds me of a little book by BKV called Paper Girls. The cherry on the top of the sundae that is this series is the lettering done by industry workhorse, Hassan. The lettering choices and collaborative placements made with Hayden’s layouts add to the already stellar comic. This week we will see issue 4 on the new release rack (brick & mortar) and tabs (digital devices). For those of you already reading this one, don’t skip this latest issue! And for the rest of you unfamiliar with Mitch and his hot chicken wings, what are you thinking?? Head straight for those back issues and get yourself caught up! Yea yea yea ..this is the final issue and the trade will be out soon, you say. My rebuttal: you need to read this series asap cuz stories this fun don’t happen every week.
Mike's Picks:

Laguardia Deluxe Edition Hardcover by Nnedi Okorafor, Tana For, and James Devlin, published by Dark Horse Comics

A compelling narrative that employs a science fiction premise to ask vital questions about who belongs in a society, Laguardia is also acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor’s first creator owned comic. Known primarily for Africanfuturism books, Laguardia is a bit different, and it captures a different voice with a different mission. Okorafor turns up the satire and leans more into the novelty of science fiction to make her point. It’s a wonderful experimentation coupled with Tana Ford’s wavy, exaggerated lines.

Monkey Prince 1 by Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang, published by DC Comics

Gene Yang, famous for his original graphic novels, deserves far more attention for his work for DC and Marvel. His last work with a new DC character - New Super-Man - was my favorite of the Rebirth era books. Yang finds a way to often accomplish with his Big 2 work the same feats he is able to accomplish with his original cartooning - namely, he is able to bring his culture to the forefront in a way that encompasses the vitality of representation. With Bernard Chang, who debuted the titular Monkey Prince along with Yang in last year’s Festival Superheroes, the duo taps into Chinese literature and mythology to bring a fresh character to DC audiences, one I hope stick around for a long time.
The Nib 10: Nature, edited by Matt Bors, published by Inkwell Publishing

If you aren’t already a NIb member, take advantage of the ability to pick this up at your local comic shop this week. I’m consistently impressed by what the collective known as The Nib is able to produce on a daily basis, and their three-times-a-year magazine is both a great supplement to what we regularly find on and and a demonstration of the fact that an alternative comics anthology should be a necessary part of our comic landscape.