Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Dark Nights: Metal & More in Required Reading: Comics for 3/28/2018

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<i>Mighty Morphin Power Rangers</i>, <i>Dark Nights: Metal</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 3/28/2018

The madness of March comes to a close this week, and we’re faced with a sequential-art bounty to wrap up the month. Saga hits its 50-issue milestone, Daredevil crosses the #600 mark and force-of-publishing-nature Raina Telgemeier gets the boxed-set treatment—and those are just a few of the books we didn’t cover below. This week’s Required Reading spans the gap between creator-owned launches (Breathless) to licensed projects both domestic (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and foreign (The Crow: Memento Mori). Throwback favorite Cyber Force gets another go at things, as does the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. DC Comics wraps up the monumental Metal event, Black Crown’s first series reaches a conclusion and Loa, technological dystopias and lost little boys finish up our round-up. Snatch these up now before you become an April Fool.


STL074848.jpeg Breathless #1
Writer: Patrick Shand
Artist: Renzo Rodriguez
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
From Black to 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank to Kim & Kim (which will return this year as an ongoing series), Black Mask Studios consistently delivers fresh and interesting comics that aren’t quite like anything else on the shelf. The publisher’s most recent wave of titles, including The Wilds and Come Into Me, are already making a splash with readers and critics alike. Breathless from Patrick Shand and Renzo Rodriguez is poised to follow in those footsteps: a supernatural horror comic that crosses genres and confronts all sorts of things that go bump in the night, including capitalism. The premise combines the best parts of monster-of-the-week shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the unrepentantly populist attitude of Leverage. When a cryptozoologist discovers the cure for a common chronic disease in a monster’s venom, she winds up in danger not only from the creatures she studies, but also the pharmaceutical giant that wants to bury her potentially industry-shattering find. Thankfully, she’s got her own motley crew of supporting characters to watch her back, but it remains to be seen if any of them can outrun a healthcare monopoly. Caitlin Rosberg


STL075897.jpeg The Crow: Memento Mori #1
Writers: Roberto Recchioni & Micol Beltramini
Artists: Werther Dell’Edera & Angelo Mennillo
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Although it’s still fairly uncommon, more and more American publishers are partnering with European houses to import books, or at least identifying talent from the other side of the Atlantic to bring to American shores. The return of James O’Barr’s most famous creation is one of the recent examples, as Italian publisher Edizioni BD developed The Crow: Memento Mori in collaboration with IDW Publishing. This newest iteration of the character takes place in Rome, as is only fitting from an Italian creative team. Having the ability to move from book to book with a new version of the central character, retaining the same basic drive and central plot allows for a wide variety of styles and a slew of different stories under the Crow umbrella. This four-issue mini-series, which includes a main story from Roberto Recchioni and Werther Dell-Edera with back-ups from Micol Beltramini and Angelo Mennillo, continues the revenge-driven mythos of The Crow in all-new settings, and may help readers discover an entirely new population of creators to follow. Caitlin Rosberg


STL075666.jpeg Cyber Force #1
Writers: Matt Hawkins & Bryan Edward Hill
Artist: Atilio Rojo
Publisher: Top Cow/ Image Comics 
A new approach to ‘90s mainstay Cyber Force is notable in and of itself, but this book got a big publicity boost last week when it was announced that frequent Top Cow contributor and Cyber Force co-writer Bryan Edward Hill was taking control of DC’s Detective Comics following James Tynion IV’s final arc. Hill has steadily built a resume at Marvel and DC with books like Michael Cray, but nothing quite puts someone on the map like writing the title that gave the world Batman. Joining the fast-rising Hill on Cyber Force is Top Cow publisher Matt Hawkins and artist Atilio Rojo, who has lent his clean, appealing style to most of the imprint’s major characters. Cyber Force, created by Image co-founder Marc Silvestri, who oversees this relaunch, always had a thread of post-humanism to it, and this latest volume looks to lean into the dividing line between man and machine, a theme Hawkins has approached in several of his books. Steve Foxe


STL074388.jpeg Damnation: Johnny Blaze—Ghost Rider #1
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Christopher Sebela is hands-down one of the most interesting writers in comics today, and if Marvel is smart, Damnation: Johnny Blaze—Ghost Rider is the first of many inroads for him at the House of Ideas. As much as we love the Robbie Reyes incarnation of Ghost Rider, his unique origin means there’s ample space for Reyes to co-exist with the original flaming skull, Johnny Blaze. Marvel’s current Damnation mini-event ties up some loose ends from the much-maligned Secret Empire, yes, but also celebrates the spookier corner of the Marvel U., and no journey into that particular darkness would be complete without Blaze’s motorcycle burning rubber around some demonic baddies. Sebela is joined here by Phil Noto, whose strength is typically in likenesses and subtle facial acting, but whose digital painting skills should render some truly spectacular devilish foes and flames, too. Reyes is destined for Avengers status under incoming writer Jason Aaron, which may free up the solo Ghost Rider title should Sebela and Noto want to keep the wheels spinning in an ongoing format. Steve Foxe


STL072741.jpeg Dark Nights: Metal #6
Writer:   Scott Snyder  
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics 
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal hit a few scheduling snags along the way, but who’s counting? The extra months earned us a one-shot featuring new Grant Morrison content and allowed Capullo, along with inker extraordinaire Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia, to complete the whole batshit main storyline themselves. Snyder used this event to rip through DC’s toy box and dust off anything that caught his eye, all the while creating new concepts that sound atrocious on paper—a Dark Multiverse! Evil Batmen! Starro Bro!—but translate to massive sales and fan enthusiasm in real life. We now know that Snyder and Capullo will reteam for a Black Label Batman series, and that Snyder will spin portions of Metal into his epic new take on Justice League, but before you get too excited about either of those, see how this well-oiled creative team ends yet another blockbuster outing. Also out this week, if you’re into that sort of thing: Doomsday Clock #4. Steve Foxe


STL075940.jpeg Kid Lobotomy #6
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Tess Fowler
Publisher: Black Crown/ IDW Publishing
The first of Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint titles comes to a close (at least for now) with Kid Lobotomy #6. Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler have taken readers on a wild ride for the last half-year in a story both absurdist and psychedelic in turns, like the lovechild of David Lynch, Franz Kafka and George Romero. Surgical prodigy Kid is trapped physically and mentally, probably going insane as he tries to figure out just how he ended up where he is, surrounded by a cast as varied and bonkers as he is. Fowler’s art allows for Kid to be delicate and destructive in turns, a heartbreaking kind of physical beauty that is usually the purview of rock stars who die young. Her work is only enhanced by Lee Loughridge’s colors, and the whole book is a weird and wonderful example of what a comic can do when it pushes at genres and the limits of the medium, filling each page with something new and evocative. It’s not clear if Kid will find any answers in the deepest parts of the book’s haunted, hellish hotel, but either way readers are in for a beautiful conclusion to this arc. Caitlin Rosberg


STL065096.jpeg The Lost Path
Writer/Artist: Amélie Fléchais
Publisher: Lion Forge
With new staff joining nearly every week and a renewed commitment to diversity both on and behind the pages they publish, Lion Forge occupies a unique place in the industry. The scope of their offerings is fairly wide and deep, particularly including Roar and CubHouse, their YA and kid imprints. Lost Path is the second book from Amélie Fléchais to be published under the CubHouse banner in English, and hopefully her third, Mountain Man, will be soon to follow. Like Little Red Wolf, The Lost Path straddles the line between illustrated children’s book and graphic novel, a lush and beautiful book with a sweet story that’s suitable for kids but engaging enough to keep adults interested. Fléchais has a painterly style full of texture and organic shapes, reminiscent of Cartoon Saloon animation, which produced both The Secret of the Kells and Song of the Sea. Where Little Red Wolf was a twist on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, The Lost Path is an original work with familiar elements, as three young boys become lost in woods full of magical creatures as they hunt for a treasure that may not exist. The Lost Path should make for a great addition to any comic collection, no matter the age of the reader. Caitlin Rosberg


STL075469.jpeg Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #1
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Publisher: Young Animal/ DC Comics 
With Doom Patrol #12 on seemingly indefinite hold, the arrival of Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #1 effectively completes the rebirth cycle for the Young Animal imprint following the “Milk Wars” crossover event. The strategy for Mother Panic, Shade and Cave Carson seems to have paid off, giving the creative teams a chance to build up a buffer and map out the next arc without pausing so long that readers get distracted or lose interest. “Milk Wars” gave all three titles a soft reboot, an opportunity to begin the next story with as much or as little of a change in direction as they needed. Like Gotham Central, Gotham by Midnight and Gotham Academy before it, Mother Panic has offered readers a look at Batman’s city from someone else’s perspective, removed both from Bruce Wayne and his Bat-Family enough to be a real shift without losing familiar context. The book has also helped to show the breadth of writer Jody Houser’s skill, deploying a completely different tone from Faith or Max Ride. The first arc of Mother Panic was the only Young Animal book to feature an artist change, which is never ideal, so hopefully Ibrahim Moustafa can stick around for awhile as Violet Paige’s story continues 10 years after it left off, in a Batman-less Gotham that’s become a technocratic city-state. Caitlin Rosberg


STL073700.jpeg Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25
Writers: Kyle Higgins & Ryan Ferrier
Artists: Daniele Di Nicuolo & Bachan
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
BOOM! Studios’ fan-favorite extension of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has spent months laying the foundation for “Shattered Grid,” the comic continuity’s first major crossover event. Lord Drakkon, a version of Green Ranger Tommy Oliver who never reformed his evil ways, has amassed an army to take down the Morphin Grid that grants Rangers across time and space the ability to transform into their heroic forms. To prevent Drakkon’s evil plot, the core crew of Rangers will need to recruit help from across the franchise’s vast web of different seasons and settings. Main writer Kyle Higgins continues to orchestrate his surprisingly epic take on the long-running TV show, joined here by Power Rangers: Pink artist Daniele Di Nicoulo, with back-up shorts by Ryan Ferrier and Bachan zeroing in on cult-favorite characters Blue Senturion and Ninjor. It shouldn’t be a shock that BOOM! Studios has produced another quality licensed comic, but the sheer scale and fun of their Power Rangers books provide an excellent sequential-art opportunity for fans of the franchise, whether they’re diehard comic readers or brand-new to the medium. Steve Foxe


ShadowmanDiggle.jpeg Shadowman #1
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Nineties fan-favorite Shadowman was the first Valiant hero to struggle during the publisher’s relaunch, and the first ongoing series to conclude. Something about Jack Boniface’s fraught relationship with the powers of the mystical Loa didn’t resonate with modern readers, but now Valiant is back in force with a brand-new Shadowman #1 from Green Arrow: Year One’s Andy Diggle and Valiant regular Stephen Segovia. In this latest iteration, Boniface returns from self-imposed exile to station himself at the forefront of the Valiant universe, facing off against the powerful demons looking to swarm across the divide into the human world. Diggle is at his best when throwing down high-octane action scripts, and Segovia’s superhero pedigree should be able to keep up with ease. Previous creators couldn’t make an urban-fantasy take on Shadowman stick, but our extended preview and chat with Diggle about his ambitious two-year plans have us hopeful. Steve Foxe

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