Finding Point Nemo: Catch It June 8th, 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:
Astronaut Down #1 by James Patrick and Rubine, published by AfterShock Comics
I'm not familiar with the creative team, but the hook of the series is that Astronauts are preparing to take a trip to find resources that could help save humanity from a devastating crisis. But they're not traveling to outer space, they're traveling to alternate realities. And one can only assume that things go terrifyingly wrong. This totally hooks me. Notwithstanding the fact that I've already seen 2 different multiverse movies this year Everything Everywhere and Doctor Strange, I'm still excited for more multiverse stories, particularly I'm intrigued by the idea of multiversal horrors. So this looks like a fun read. 

Where Starships Go To Die #1 by Mark Sable and Alberto Locatelli, published by AfterShock Comics
Point Nemo is the place in the Pacific Ocean that is farthest from any land mass. And since the beginning of the space race, countries have sent their ships there to crash down. In Where Starships Go To Die, it's a bleak future and a company is sending a team down to Point Nemo to salvage a ship, and apparently there are horrors awaiting them! I don't know the creative team here, but AfterShock does fun horror comics, and I am excited to check out the story here. I just recently read Plunge from Joe Hill and Stuart Immonen, and I think undersea horror is a fun genre of comic stories. The preview art I've seen here looks promising, so I look forward to checking this out.

Aquaman: Andromeda 1 by Ram V and Christian Ward, published by DC Comics/Black Label
Point Nemo is the place in the Pacific Ocean that is farthest from any land mass. And since the beginning of the space race, countries have sent their ships there to crash down...wait a minute! That's the same setup as Where Starships Go To Die!? I'm sure that it's a complete coincidence, but there happen to be 2 completely different stories that are set in the same location, and are telling stories of something weird and terrible lurking at the bottom of the ocean in the middle of this spaceship graveyard. Here, I do know the creative team and am thrilled to be picking up this comic. Ram V is one of the best writers in comics right now and has written some of my favorite books of the last few years (Blue In Green, These Savage Shores, Swamp Thing), all of which have strong horror elements. And Christian Ward is one of my favorite comic artists. I feel like any time he draws something it is an event that's worth checking out. I'll never say no to reading something drawn by him. And this seems like a story that's tailor-made for his strengths, with scary undersea locations, weird creatures, and dark existential terror. This should be a great read. 

That Texas Blood #14 by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips, published by Image Comics
If you're not reading That Texas Blood then you're missing out on one of the very best comics being published. This is a fantastic ongoing series of murder mysteries set in a small Texas town. Each arc has been its own story, and the new arc is just beginning. The creative team here has a great handle on this small town and its laconic residents. The art from Jacob Phillips perfectly sets the sense of place in this remote, dusty location. You should definitely be picking this one up. 

Rob's Picks:

Code of Honor and Other Stories by John Severin and others, published by Fantagraphics (originally EC Comics)
John Severin is one of the biggest names of the period between the Gold and Silver Ages of comics, but I'm probably far more familiar with his wife Marie's work because he operated primarily in western and war comics, neither of which are strong suits for me. (I think I actually know romance comic better, come to think of it.) Still, I wanted to make sure that people were aware of this newest Fanta collection of old EC comics work, where Severin is periodically the artist but is primarily the editor of the selections within. Taken from "Two Fisted Tales," Severin goes all around the world, including what the editors report was EC's only Vietnam-related story, "Dien Bien Phu!" They also mention that Severin worked with some of the lesser-known EC creators, which is interesting to me because I love learning about creators who are new to me. I admit EC's horror/sci fi is my bread and butter here, and probably their best work, but if you want to expand your comics history lessons, this is a great place to look, with Fantagraphics' usual care and quality.

Golden Boy Beethoven's Youth by Mikael Ross, published by Fantagraphics
A double dose of Fanta for me this week, as the publisher also brings out this biography of the early years of one of my favorite classical composers (though not, famously, Charles Schultz's--he just thought the name was funny). Despite my love of the creator, I don't know a lot of Beethoven's early years beyond him having a total dick for a father who wanted to push him in directions the young prodigy didn't want to go. And while that meant his commercial success wasn't always there, Beethoven's legacy can be heard in the centuries that followed in ways that his more successful (at the time) peers can't match. His life was always tragic in many ways, and I'm really looking forward to reading more about what his young life was like. Ross started this as a smaller project, but access to documents and records led him down a longer road--and this book. A perfect example of the type of work that Fantagraphics is great at publishing.

Free Pass by Julian Hanshaw, published by Top Shelf/IDW
A couple highly engaged in the high tech world of internet impressions get tangled up in conflicting political beliefs, tech's involvement in elections, and an AI that can become anyone's sexual fantasy in this erotic cautionary tale. Hanshaw's characters start off joking about nearly everything, then when reality sets in, especially the implications of what they can do with their new sexual toy and what other ways this tech can be used, things gets increasingly serious--even as they use the sex to avoid their problems. The plotting is simply brilliant here, with the couple burying their heads literally in sexual organs instead of facing the reality of their situation and that of their wider world. By the time they realize it, things are too far gone. It's really great work, drawn in a slightly unrealistic way that's just unnerving enough to keep the reader off-balance. The backgrounds are atmospheric, with color being used to really set moods more than detailed lines, and the characters' placement in panels keeping it all visually interesting. Free Pass is about what happens when you stop talking in a relationship, but also so much more.