Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, Bingo Love, Cold War & More in Required Reading: Comics for 2/14/2018

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<i>Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt</i>, <i>Bingo Love</i>, <i>Cold War</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 2/14/2018

Happy Valentine’s Day, intrepid readers—or Galentine’s Day, or “Just Another Wednesday, I’d Really Rather Not Think About It, Thank You,” or whatever else you happen to celebrate. Around these parts, any Valentine’s that falls on a Wednesday is New Comic Book Day first, Cupid’s playground second. And what a perfectly themed playground he’s got: boundary-smashing Bingo Love gets its wide release this week, alongside Secret Loves of Geeks (and Death of Love, which just missed the list). If romance isn’t on your mind, may we suggest the predictably violent stylings of a new Kick-Ass launch, or the space brutality of Admiral Thrawn in comic form? How about a futuristic new Cold War, a non-American Justice League, a Spider-meets-Nightcrawler DC Comics creation or a Wild Hunt? Keep on scrollin’ for a swoon-worthy lineup.

BingoLoveRR.jpg Bingo Love
Writer: Tee Franklin
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Publisher: Image Comics 
Bingo Love is actually already available to many readers—but only those who backed writer/creator Tee Franklin’s massively successful Kickstarter, or purchased it directly at a convention. This week, on Valentine’s Day no less, Image Comics opens wider audiences to the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, queer women of color who meet in 1963 but are kept apart by family and society until decades later. Franklin has worked her ass off to carve a niche for herself in the all-too-often closed-off comics industry, and Jenn St-Onge’s cartooning perfectly captures the longing and love at the center of the book. Bingo Love, like Moonstruck before it, suggests that Image Comics can compete with BOOM! Studios and independent publishing when it comes to inclusive queer representation. Be sure to check back later this week for a very special feature with Franklin and another boundary-breaking creator. Steve Foxe

STL072011.jpeg Cold War #1
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
We named Hayden Sherman one of our favorite artists of 2017, and with good reason: the recent college graduate (he was still in school when he began work on last year’s The Few) recalls peak Frank Miller with his bold strokes and angular figures. Combined with his own electric colors, Sherman’s work on Cold War is breathtaking, and the perfect realization of Christopher Sebela’s disorienting script. Panacea Cryonics offered to freeze wealthy customers until a time when they could be revived into healthier bodies. Unfortunately, Panacea patients wake up equipped with battle armor and a futuristic rifle, thrust directly into battle against unknown foes for unclear reasons. Sebela has a knack for gut-punch storytelling, and Sherman is clearly just getting started on what will surely prove to be an impressive career. Steve Foxe

STL069376.jpeg Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1
Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Grant Morrison 
Artist: Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics 
Grant Morrison makes his triumphant return to DC Comics! …in a tie-in to Metal, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Bat-focused events about evil Batmen and evil Bat-gods. While it’s not exactly Multiversity Too, it’s hard to turn down any Morrison, especially when eclectic DC characters like Detective Chimp and the Metal Men are involved. Joining Morrison is event lead Snyder, Flash writer Joshua Williamson, Detective Comics writer James Tynion IV and a killer trio of artists: Doug Mahnke, Jorge Jimenez and Morrison’s JLA partner, Howard Porter. If you haven’t been following along with Metal, Wild Hunt might be a bit confusing—but a bit of confusion never held down Morrison before.

STL072974.jpeg Kick-Ass #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita, Jr.
Publisher: Image Comics 
Do we need to explain this one? If you don’t know what you’re getting from a Kick-Ass comic in 2018, then you haven’t been paying attention. Mark Millar has a peerless ability to tap into big, mean, flashy comic books, while giving A-list artists room to do their thing with impunity. The original Kick-Ass team reunites sans their original protagonist Dave Lizewski, introducing instead a Black single mother and army veteran who dons a familiar green tracksuit to dole out violence and provide for her family. The original Kick-Ass had a very…questionable…approach to race, so fingers crossed that Millar has discovered a bit more nuance in the intervening years. But if Romita Jr.’s work on DC’s Silencer left you wanting more (graphic) violence from the industry veteran, Kick-Ass has you covered. Steve Foxe

STL073257.jpeg Mister Miracle #1 Director’s Cut
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads, Mike Norton
Publisher: DC Comics 
Continuing a tradition recently demonstrated by the multiple different formats in which readers can buy Vision, the first issue of Mister Miracle is being re-released this week, this time with behind-the-scenes information and an entirely new eight-page story. The book is in many ways the perfect example of what might be the Tom King effect: a lesser known and underutilized character experiences a boom in popularity after being revived by the skilled writer and his partnership with an equally skilled artist. Looking back on it now, Omega Men feels like a clear sign of what was to come for both Vision and Mister Miracle, and there’s clear demand for the extra formats of the latter two. King has a remarkable ability to successfully craft stories that are both deeply intimate and massive in scope and scale, so having a peek into his process is a delight for readers. The extra draw of this Director’s Cut edition of Mister Miracle #1 is a new Scott Free origin story by King and Mike Norton, the Battlepug and Lil’ Donnie creator who’s currently working on the art for DC’s Mystik U. If this doesn’t fulfill your King craving, now is also a great time for Mister Miracle fans to go back and check out Omega Men and Sheriff of Babylon, King and Gerads’ critically lauded Vertigo title. Caitlin Rosberg

STL072686.jpeg New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Brent Peeples
Publisher: DC Comics 
The New Super-Man book has been one of the unsung heroes of DC’s Rebirth era. By reframing the Superman story in China, Gene Luen Yang replicated some of the best parts of beloved alternate-universe tale Superman: Red Son without the risk of a Red Scare. The tension between Clark Kent’s corn-fed, all-American origin story and his immense power is part of what gives the Superman story such longevity, and Yang has forged exciting new territory by establishing China’s own set of superheroes. The last 19 issues have focused on protagonist Kong Kenan’s growth into his mantle, and the title change for issue #20 and beyond shows a shift in focus. Kenan and his teammates now must contend with a military-backed Lantern Corps, the upheaval that has come in the wake of superheroes emerging in China and potential international incidents with North Korea. It’s a topical and timely lesson in the region’s social and political pressures from a master creator, and this issue acts as the perfect jumping-on point to new readers. Caitlin Rosberg

STL067084.jpeg The Secret Loves of Geeks
Writers/Artists: Gerard Way, Margaret Atwood, Gabby Rivera, Hope Larson, Michael Walsh, Marley Zarcone, Others
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Editor Hope Nicholson has earned a well-deserved reputation for finding fascinating and diverse voices to fill anthologies, and although it’s being published in partnership with Dark Horse, The Secret Loves of Geeks is pure Bedside Press, the Canadian imprint she oversees. Writers and cartoonists of all sorts contributed to the title, which follows the success of The Secret Loves of Geek Girls to explore the many fandoms that excite and comfort people in trying times. Margaret Atwood, who contributed to the first book, returns along with musician and Young Animal curator Gerard Way, Bitch Planet’s Valentine del Landro, Dejah Thoris’ Amy Chu, Batgirl’s Hope Larson and Shade the Changing Girl’s Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone, just to name a few. The uniting factor for geeks of all stripes is the level of enthusiasm that they bring to the things they love, and Nicholson has amassed some great talents to write about love, heartbreak and sex in the geek sphere. If it’s anything like The Secret Loves of Geek Girls (or any good anthology), readers may not love every part of the book, but there should be something for everyone. Caitlin Rosberg

STL073258.jpeg Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Publisher: Young Animal/ DC Comics 
The Milk Wars event continues as DC’s trinity meets Young Animal’s cadre of characters, this week with Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1. Like Doom Patrol and Mother Panic before her, Shade has to confront this strange new mind-controlled version of one of DC’s most powerful heroes and find a way to save them both from the forces manipulating the Amazonian princess. And as with the other books in the Milk Wars arc, this one is written by Shade the Changing Girl’s writer, but with a guest artist. The continuity of tone and voice in having Cecil Castellucci pen this issue is helpful, and it’s fortunate that Mirka Andolfo worked on backup art for Shade in the past. The event, a weird and wonderful story that’s fairly contained, is earning acclaim from fans and critics alike; Lately, DC has wisely limited the number of tie-in issues required to follow events like this, which can, when left unchecked, annoy readers whose pull lists are interrupted by crossovers and frustrate those who don’t want to hunt down extra issues to understand the core plot. This issue is marks the Milk Wars mid-point, and also includes part three of the Eternity Girl backup story by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew. Caitlin Rosberg

STL069846.jpeg Sideways #1
Writers: Justin Jordan & Dan DiDio
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics 
Sideways is one of several titles launching as part of the “New Age of DC Superheroes” initiative. The creator line-up isn’t all that surprising, with a lot of DC veterans and very little in the way of diversity, but the titles so far have been individually fun and at least mildly interesting, which is a decent place for an initiative to land. Sideways, written by Justin Jordan and Dan DiDio with art by Kenneth Rocafort, seems like DC’s answer to both Nightcrawler and Spider-Man, with the former’s powers and the latter’s attitude and aesthetic. The character himself is the result of Scott Snyder and co.’s Dark Nights: Metal event, which is slowly winding down as the impact of the story begins to reverberate through the rest of the DC lineup. Jordan has a penchant for writing introspective action comics full of meta-commentary, which feels like a good fit, and DiDio has a documented love for DC deep cuts (O.M.A.C., Metal Men), so the real test of this book will be keeping it light and fun and in line with the protagonist’s high-school environment. Like John Romita Jr. on Silencer, Rocafort has a tendency to break both the laws of physics and the guidelines of decency when it comes to drawing women, which we’d rather not see with teenage characters. Caitlin Rosberg

STL072067.jpeg Star Wars: Thrawn #1
Writer: Jody Hauser
Artist: Luke Ross
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
We’ve yet to be too impressed by Marvel’s direct adaptations of Star Wars films—neither The Force Awakens nor Rogue One gained anything in the transition from screen to page—but bringing a novel into sequential-art format is a different Gundark entirely. Jody Hauser, who worked on the Rogue One adaptation, joins Darth Maul artist Luke Ross this week for Thrawn, a comic retelling of Timothy Zahn’s latest take on the blue-skinned tactical genius. Thrawn is one of the most fascinating Star Wars characters in and out of canon: first introduced in Zahn’s beloved Heir to the Empire novel, Thrawn served as a chief antagonist for a trilogy of novels that were, until the Disney acquisition, unofficially considered Episodes VII through IX by many fans. Unlike peer Mara Jade, Disney just couldn’t quit Thrawn, and introduced the Chiss Imperial to official canon in Rebels, recruiting Zahn for a brand-new trilogy of novels that don’t contradict Disney’s plans for Rey, Finn and the rest of the gang. Here’s hoping Hauser and Ross do right by the fan-favorite foil. Steve Foxe