NOW THAT'S What We Call Great Comics: Catch Its for March 23rd, 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...

Rob's Picks:

NOW Anthology #11 by Various Creators including Josh Simmons, Tim Lane, Baptiste Virot, Stacy Gougoulis, Natalia Novia, and Ariel Lopez V, published by Fantagraphics 
Fantagraphics' signature anthology series enters 2022 with its 11th issue, and it's just as good as ever, as editor Eric Reynolds scours the world for amazing creators old and new to put together 128 pages of top-notch talent working in a short-form format. Anchored by Gougoulis' "Mandorla," in which colors and visual patterns play a dazzling, engrossing role (despite the restrained art style, the pages really give a strong sense of movement and the panel constructions are so cool!), this is one of the best issues yet, which is saying something. Other cool bits are Tim Lane's "Junkman" which has a real Charles Burns feel about it, the series of shorts from Virot, in which the color is eye-popping, and Novia/Lopez V's "Mission: E5" which feels like Box Brown did a jam comic with William Cardini. I love when creators explore like this, especially in an anthology. If you haven't tried this anthology yet, NOW's the time.

The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt Vol 2 TP by Various Creators, published by Dark Horse (originally EC comics)
Like Totally Not Rob, I love when Dark Horse or any other publisher pulls out classic comics and gives them a new home for long-time fans and a chance for a new generation to enjoy the unbridled id of the Golden Age of comics. (And yeah, some of that id is really awful, but it's good to see where we've come from to ensure we never go back again.) I'm especially appreciative of these affordable paperback versions, so that I can own these and not just get them from the local library. This edition covers issues 23-28, because comics numbering has always been weird. As usual, it's a murder's row of great artists, including: Al Feldstein, Wally Wood, Jack Kamen, Johnny Craig, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, and Jack Davis. These are some of the best artists of their (or any!) day, making life as horrible as possible for their protagonists. Enjoy!

Usagi Yojimbo Vol 03 Tengu War by Stan Sakai and Hi Fi Color, published by IDW
Collecting issues 15-21, the wandering rabbit ronin finds himself, as usual, embroiled in the affairs of others, with the highlight here being a team-up with a Yokai and his allies against a far worse force, with both Usagi and his supernatural superiors learning something about each other along the way. It's a perfect example of Sakai's use of Japanese culture, folklore, and history to tell an amazing story of courage, faith, and self-examination--all strong, long-running themes of Usagi Yojimbo. The other stories all relate to the idea of Usagi helping those he encounters, especially against those who would attempt to seize power or take advantage of others. While there's familiarity here--especially with some old characters continuing to resurface in this run--it's an old friend whose stories never grow old, while Sakai's seemingly ageless hands keep drawing Usagi's world. Any point is a jumping on one for this series, so don't be afraid if this is your first volume. You'll soon want to read the rest, trust me.
James' Picks:

Rogues #1 by Joshua Williamson, Leomacs, and Mat Lopes, oublished by DC Comics
In large part I've really enjoyed the DC Black Label comics. It's a chance for them to tell darker, continuity-lite stories, often sent in future timelines. I'm excited for Rogues which fits into this category. Joshua Williamson write The Flash for a long time and knows the character well, along with Flash's gallery of Rogues. This is a darker crime story which takes place ten years down the line, and it sounds like Captain Cold decides to get the guys together for one last big score. That's a hook that will always get me. ONE LAST BIG SCORE. That makes for great storytelling. Williamson is joined by a first rate art team, in Leomacs (which did absolutely great work on Basketful of Heads) and colorist Mat Lopes (who was recently causing people's minds to explode with his colors in the amazing Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow). That's a fantastic creative team, and I'm sure that this will be an excellent read.

Department of Truth #17 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Fornes, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
Department of Truth is a book that very much has its finger on the zeitgeist/pulse right now. It's a dark, weird, sometimes upsetting, but always incredibly insightful book. I've enjoyed it since its inception, and it's been among my favorite comics the past few years. The idea is that what people believe literally has the power to change reality. And given that fact, there is a war on for control of reality. This most recent arc of the story has been drawn by various talented guest artists. This issue is drawn by Jorge Fornes, who did amazing work in the recent Rorschach miniseries. I didn't always know what exactly was happening in that series, but it wasn't because of the art. Fornes is a fantastic artist, and I'm sure this will be grat.

Ghost Cage #1 by Nick Dragotta and Caleb Goellner, published by Image Comics
I previously write about Ghost Cage in our This Looks Cool series, and my enthusiasm for this book has not dimmed. I've read this first issue and it's a fun, action-packed issue, in which an unlikely team must face up against weird, terrifying terrorist invaders at an electrical power plant. Nick Dragotta does as stunning artwork as ever, and this story is (so far) a real showcase for his talents in big action, sci-fi-world building, and big emotion. I definitely recommend this one.