Eight Billion Great Ideas from Soule and Brown: Catch Its for May 11th, 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:

Eight Billion Genies #1 by Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, and Chris Crank, published by Image Comics
Everyone gets one wish, and I do mean everyone in this new series by Soule and Browne, in which genies suddenly show up, but only give you one shot at your deepest desire. Naturally, this goes about as well as you'd expect when billions of people make knee-jerk reactions to their unexpected gifts. A small band in a dive bat are our protagonists, given some great not-quite-cartoony looks by Browne, who really shines in the design of the genies, who do little thing like high-fives with each other while the humans talk. There's a ton of potential in this premise and Soule's sharp dialogue works well in setting up the people we'll be following along with. I think my favorite part outside the genies, though, was the few glimpses we get of the chaos going on, from superheroes to giant monsters, in little pastiches and splash pages. Great work all around and my pick of the week.

Tales from Harrow County: Lost Ones by Cullen Bunn, Emily Schnall, and Tyler Crook, published by Dark Horse
Harrow County is one of the best gothic horror comics I've read in some time, and it's great to see Bunn return to Emmy a decade later, with Crook helping on letters and Emily Schnall's art, which really complements Crook's original linework. Emmy's left Harrow County behind, or so she thinks, working in a diner in a big city. But as we all know, the supernatural never, ever leaves anyone alone for long, and as (really cool and creepily drawn) monsters start showing up out of the sewers, Emmy's not going to have a choice but to find out what's going as this new mini-series gets off to a promising start. Schnall's linework and colors are warm so far, which contrasts against the impending darkness to come, and her depiction of the quirky, painting-filled mansion really sets the stage for issue two. This is looking like another great story from Bunn, who remains one of my favorite writers working today.

Grimm #1 by Stephanie Phillips, Flaviano, Rico Renzi, and Tom Napolitano, published by Boom! Studios
Jessica Harrow, no relation to the above, is a Reaper, helping dead people make it to the waiting room of the afterlife. When a reluctant charge swipes her scythe, all the rules change for her in a stunningly visual book. Phillips is one of my favorite newer writers, and this series is a great example why. The premise is a familiar one, but she's imbued her main character with a sharp tongue and a big mystery about her. We immediately like her and want her to succeed--but when she apparently does, it only makes matters worse. That's when Flaviano provides a creepy boss that's going to haunt me for awhile, setting up the danger for Harrow. It's a great climax after pages of really striking scenes of a death river, damned souls, and afterlife that's truly scary if you've ever had to wait at the DMV. Renzi's colors really make the linework sing, too, with contrasting reds and yellows. If you thought about passing on this because "I've seen this before" --I can tell you that's not true at all. See for yourself when you pick this one up on Wednesday.

It's a Dog's Life Charlie Brown by Charles Schulz, republished by Titan
Sometimes, you just have to recommend a classic. This was the 13th paperback from the original run, with comics from 1960 to 1962, 128 in all. I am pretty sure I had this in its original form once upon a time, too, because these books were always cheap at the used book stores I frequented as a tag-along to my mom back in the 1980s. The biggest deal with this grouping is that it's the first set of comics to feature a major character--Sally! The sister of Charlie Brown and presumptive (to her) future wife of Linus, she had a major impact on the series from the beginning. Also new here is Freida, of the naturally curly hair. While the Fanta versions will always be my favorite reprints, these iconic looks from Titan are cool as well, and well worth grabbing if you want a sample of Schulz, not the complete run.

Lawless: Ashes to Ashes by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade, published by 2000AD/Rebellion
There's a lot of room to play in the world of Judge Dredd, and some of the best stories I've read in the world don't feature the man who never takes off his helmet. The Lawless series is a perfect example of this, taking the concept of the Judges and applying it to a western-style story. It's one thing to know "I am the Law" and it's another when the people who back up that claim are pretty damned far away from you as the person doing the law-giving. That's what Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson faces as a corporation wants to end its association with her town of Badrock. The creative team really shines here in making a sci-fi Western that hews to its roots and source material while being something new. This isn't the best starting point, but I also jumped in the middle and really dug it. This scratches a ton of genre itches for me, and I'm glad to see another collection of Metta Lawson's attempts to bring order to corrupt, willful chaos.

Rachel’s pick:

Cat+ Gamer by Watau Nadatani, published by Dark Horse
I'm not sure that I've come across a solicit that was so perfectly aimed at me before. I love cats, I love video games, I love relaxing at home in comfy clothes.  What's wonderful is that the first volume measures up to my expectations. Multiple times in the first few pages, I exclaimed out loud, "It's so cute!" Riko, the main character, is somewhat of a rarity in manga as she seems perfectly content with her single life and with being a huge gaming nerd. It's clear from looking at the art that Nadatani referred to a real cat when drawing Musubi (who is named after a rice ball) as they perfectly capture both the grace and silliness of house cats. At the end of the book, Nadatani explains that they got a black and white tuxedo cat and used that cat as their model. Sometimes titles that focus on adorable characters skimp on worldbuilding or showing backgrounds. That's not the case here. The backgrounds have a nice amount of detail, and the reader always knows where a scene is taking place. Nadatani also uses multiple art styles to show us "reality," the main character's fantasy MMORPG, and also the game's mobile shop and Riko's social media accounts. Truly this is one of the most relaxing, sweet, and winsome books that I've read in a long time, and I will not hesitate to pick up the next volume.