Comics We’re Excited About for 4/8/2015

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Every week, Paste takes a look at the most interesting releases due out Wednesday in comics, graphic novels and other goodies. This week sees new releases from Grant Morrison, Brian Wood and Brian K. Vaughan. Danger Club also reaches its long-awaited conclusion while Descender from Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen continues to show why it may be the best new comic of 2015.
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All-New Hawkeye #2
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Ramon Perez
Publisher: Marvel

Matt Fraction’s departure on his critically adored Hawkeye run was devastating for comic fans. Somehow, the Sex Criminals and Casanova scribe had taken Clint Barton, the least-sexy Avenger, and turned his pages into the most engaging narratives Marvel had to offer. But over at DC, one writer was doing the same thing with the often-ignored Animal Man—the positive-thinking vegetarian Buddy Baker, who took his power from the animals that surrounded him. Jeff Lemire breathed new life into Baker, weighing heavy consequences between family responsibility and Baker’s own God-given powers. Passing the Hawkeye torch to Lemire felt like a natural fit. No surprise here, last month’s All-New Hawkeye #1 was a great start. Issue #2 promises to further explore the time-split storyline, just with more arrows, more action and more Kate Bishop. Who can say no to that? Tyler Kane

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Big Man Plans #2
Writers: Eric Powell, Tim Wiesch
Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Image
Big Man Plans’ debut last month lit a fuse that’s traveled along a blood-drenched trajectory of violence. In each issue we’ll watch as the Big Man seeks catharsis with a very large hammer until we, the reader, discover the reason behind his vengeful raid through his childhood Tennessee hometown. This second issue doesn’t quite pack the grit and despair of its predecessor, but it does maintain an oppressive, hung-over atmosphere and more backstory for the title character, an unnamed little person who’s suffered a traumatic youth. Thankfully, this comic offers more dimensions than cruelty and dismemberment. The antihero’s relationship with his deceased father—a good man who plaintively describes the inhumane treatment his unique son will face as he grows up—stands as an emotional core against the bloodshed. This backbone delivers a moral tension, hinting that Big Man can one day transcend his brutal zero sum game for inner peace. We’re not holding our breaths, though. Sean Edgar
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Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Jan Duursema
Publisher: DC Comics 

The tough thing about DC’s spring event, Convergence, is that it invites an all-or-nothing commitment. Each and every tie-in mini-series is set in a beloved previous continuity, yet involves some sort of multiversal knuckledusting. Case in point: Nightwing and Oracle’s Twitter-baiting romantic reunion under fan-favorite Babs scribe Gail Simone is interrupted by the Flashpoint versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Personally, this seems like having your cake and covering it in pickles, too, but if you’re following the primary Convergence story or can tolerate an intruding plot line or two, this is definitely one of the highlights of the event. Artist Jan Duursema is a vastly underappreciated talent who needs a more consistent home now that Dark Horse’s Star Wars license has run out; let’s hope this and her recent Earth 2: World’s End gig is the sign of more to come for her at DC. Steve Foxe

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Copra Round Two Trade
Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Bergen Street Press

This may have actually come out last week, but in the modern age of Amazon and Comixology and eight billion other ways to get your comic fix, Copra is still a treasure worth hunting down. Believe the hype: Michel Fiffe’s homage to the ‘80s Ostrander/Yale/McDonnell Suicide Squad run is next-level comic storytelling in every possible way, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just jealous you were able to find a copy. Fiffe writes, draws, colors, letters and self-publishes the monthly issues (which instantly sell out) via his Etsy shop. Bergen Street is collecting the series into attractive, hard-to-find paperback collections for those of us without our eyes glued to Etsy. DC’s own attempts at reviving the Suicide Squad have never come half as close to capturing the original series’ spark as Fiffe does here. No knowledge of Rick Flag’s crew is needed to enjoy Copra though—just good taste and a willingness to have your mind blown. Steve Foxe

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Danger Club #8
Writer: Landry Quinn Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Publisher: Image Comics 

This series got a raw deal. Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones, otherwise best known for an (excellent) all-ages Supergirl comic, debuted the first issue waaaaay back in March 2012. That’s less than a year into the New 52, half a year away from Marvel NOW!, and when Image first released Saga and Nonplayer only had one issue apiece on stands (okay, so one of these things is still true). Image was ascending to what we now expect from the publisher, and Danger Club’s unique superhero sendup, an unraveling mystery uncovered by the sidekicks left behind after a cataclysm claims the lives of the primary do-gooders, had serious sleeper-hit potential. Unfortunately, private circumstances forced the creative team into massive delays and the final issue finally hits shelves this week. While the trade will inevitably be easier to track down than straggling single issues, Danger Club is the rare Captain Ersatz book with something legitimate to say about superhero comics. Steve Foxe

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Descender #2
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Image
Dammit, Jeff Lemire: if there were a social worker for fictional children, you’d have been reported to the proper authorities years ago. Between Gus from Sweet Tooth, the Baker kids in Animal Man and, now, Tim-21 from Descender, Lemire has put his juvenile heroes through a lot. Descender #2 presents a seesaw of happiness and tragedy as the narrative shifts back and forth between boy robot Tim’s memories of his beloved, deceased family and his present as he’s pursued by a group of vicious bounty hunters. Without revealing too much, you have to give Lemire credit for making you care enough about a character before he rips him or her away. Dustin Nguyen’s art continues to contrast soothing water colors against the stark emptiness of deep space; and the sepia-toned flashbacks assume a brittle, aged texture, resembling the printed comic books discussed. Within two issues, Descender has shown why it deserves to not only be Sony’s next big film franchise, but a monthly comic necessity. Sean Edgar

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Kaijumax #1
Writer/Artist: Zander Cannon
Publisher: Oni Press

Sometimes a concept is so good that it doesn’t matter who’s writing or drawing it—you just have to check it out. “Prison for giant monsters” is one of those ideas. Lucky for us, it’s written and drawn by Zander Cannon, Eisner nominee for Heck and Eisner winner for his work alongside Gene Ha and Alan Moore on Top Ten. Kaijumax is Cannon’s most approachable solo work to date, and Oni, who’ll soon be allowing open submissions, is clearly ready to make a bigger—dare we say monster-sized?—footprint in the monthly market. But even if none of this were true: Giant. Monster. Prison. Drama. Steve Foxe

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The Legacy of Luther Strode #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Tradd Moore
Publisher: Image Comics 

Luther Strode’s story begins its sure-to-be-bloody finale in this double-sized issue from Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore. Set five years after the preceding volume, Legacy continues the Kick-Ass meets Flex Mentallo by way of Tarantino trilogy that made Jordan and Moore bankable names in the comic scene. This book is capital-V Violent, but Moore’s uniquely distorted figures and bold, hyperkinetic lines are worth the price of admission even if you’re not a fan of imaginative ways to destroy the human body. Bust out your back issues or snap up the first two trades and get ready for a brutal finish. Steve Foxe
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Nameless #3
Writer:   Grant Morrison  
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: Image
In its first two chapters, Nameless hinted at something infinitely weirder around its periphery of interstellar insanity. Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham may have started this odd postmodern space opera with a standard adventure formula, but at some point the metaphysical doors are going to fly off their hinges, revealing a Clive Barker/H.P. Lovecraft psychedelic dystopia where the enemy is an invading reality. Issue three starts that slow descent into madness as Nameless, a charming supernatural adventurer, journeys farther into space with a crew to dislodge a meteor from its path to earth. Things go…poorly. Burnham’s visceral array of melted cosmic demons takes H.R. Giger’s Alien models into terrifying new degrees of entropy, while Morrison goes horrific in vibrant, disillusioning ways. This deranged sci-fi bedtime story is only getting more disturbing, breaking into more shocking, bizarre directions with each chapter. Sean Edgar

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Saga #27
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples 
Publisher: Image Comics 

Over its 26 previous issues, Saga’s transformed from a straightforward Good vs. Bad space opera to something completely different. Families have been torn apart by drugs, violence, death and even TV-headed royalty. And though there have been single-issue lulls in recent memory, I still jump at the chance to spend time with the world Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have created—especially with Alana, Marko and Hazel, the family we were first introduced to in Saga’s cold childbirth opening. And with last issue’s up-in-the-air ending, #27 promises to follow a devastated Marko. Maybe it’ll be heavy, but Saga’s proven these twists and turns come soaked in rich character development. Tyler Kane

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Rebels #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Publisher: Dark Horse
Brian Wood has shown a disciplined, researched approach to both history and politics within his comics, spinning engaging narratives from Norse history, New York City’s infrastructure and beyond. With Rebels, Wood travels back to the inception of the Revolutionary War, as Ethan Allen transforms a group of farmer into the Green Mountain Boys, America’s first militia. Within this collage of facts and events lies the beating heart of Seth Abbott, a kid learning the cost of resistance at a shockingly young age. Andrea Mutti delivers gorgeous, natural interior pencils while Tula Lotay’s lush line work graces the covers of this ten-issue miniseries. Check out our exclusive preview of the second issue this Friday. Sean Edgar
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Reanimator #1
Writer: Keith Davidsen
Artist: Randy Valiente
Publisher: Dynamite

I’m a sucker for a good, pulpy horror comic. So when I learned the H.P. Lovecraft Re-Animator story would return to Dynamite as a mini-series, the title moseyed over to my pull-list. The mad scientist Herbert West—who many know from Lovecraft’s tale or Stewart Gordon’s 1985 cult film—is now in New Orleans with a new sidekick, new work and new rivals. Like the Army of Darkness adaptations, these things have the potential to be rough around the edges and a bit fantastical at the next-page reveal. But after a long day at work, I can’t think of a better way to unwind. Tyler Kane

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Teen Dog #8
Writer/Artist: Jake Lawrence
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

With this final issue just around the corner, it’s tempting to just write “READ THIS BOOK” over and over like that scene in The Shining until everyone catches on and bumps this one up the charts. Cartoonist Jake Lawrence’s BOOM! Box mini-series is all of the happy parts of ‘80s teen movies (check that cover) mixed with Peanuts and a healthy dose of relentlessly positive, vaguely existential Internet humor. It’s also incredibly sweet and genuine, with none of the sarcasm or cynicism you might expect from a book about a teenaged skateboarding dog. The story is told in a collection of short, page-long strips, making this an excellent first print comic for someone only accustomed to web or newspaper reading. While Teen Dog isn’t a deceptively emotional Cartoon Network show like Steven Universe (yet), Lawrence’s art and dialogue will feel familiar to fans of the current cartoon renaissance. READ THIS BOOK. READ THIS BOOK. And then go chill and get some pizza, man. Steve Foxe

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