Avengers, DC Nation, Death or Glory & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/2/2018

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<i>Avengers</i>, <i>DC Nation</i>, <i>Death or Glory</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/2/2018

What a week. What a week! Most comic fans—nay, most Americans with access to movie theaters—are either coming down from an Infinity War high or making plans to see the film before the moral embargo on spoilers is fully lifted. In just a few short days, Free Comic Book Day 2018 arrives to (hopefully) entice entirely new generations of readers into stores. And smack-dab in the middle of this week, both Big Two publishers kick off massive new directions: Marvel with Avengers #1 and their “Fresh Start,” and DC Comics with DC Nation #0 and its trio of preludes to major upcoming storylines. If big and flashy and corporately synergized isn’t your thing, we’ve also got new releases from nascent master of the weird Simon Spurrier, creator-owned mogul Rick Remender and fan-favorite artist Bengal, a pair of pulp favorites and YA mega-star Hope Larson. Unless you’re busy searching for Infinity Stones, scroll on through for the best of the best that this week’s comics have to offer.


STL076536.jpeg All Summer Long
Writer/Artist: Hope Larson
Publisher: First Second
Hope Larson keeps busy with separate writing (Batgirl, Goldie Vance, the Four Points series that began with Compass South) and drawing (her Wrinkle in Time adaptations, with original text by Madeleine L’Engle) duties, but she’s at her best when she gets to do both. All Summer Long seems at least tangentially related to her wonderful book Chiggers, from 2008, in that both feature young adolescent girls as their protagonists and both take place during summer vacation. Larson’s work in two colors is some of the best around, and she always focuses on relationships in an intelligent and sensitive way. Hillary Brown


STL078726.jpeg Animus
Writer/Artist: Antoine Revoy
Publisher: First Second
Children might not have a hardened tolerance for horror—little Susie doesn’t need to see Texas Chain Saw Massacre before her eighth birthday—but the average youngin’ often finds themselves drawn to the spooky, creepy or even downright terrifying, and publishers know it, whether that means keeping Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in print until the sun burns out or discovering projects like Animus, cartoonist Antoine Revoy’s new graphic novel from First Second. Set around a haunted Japanese playground, Animus is Revoy’s attempt to blend the influences of horror manga and the French bandes dessinées, or graphic novels, of his childhood. Good scary comics for young readers are rare—Emily Carroll’s 2014 Through the Woods might be the last truly great one—which makes Animus and its seemingly Junji Ito-inspired art a must-read for anyone invested in the next generation of horror hounds. Steve Foxe


STL079961.jpeg Avengers #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
In a rare move of corporate planning, Avengers #1 arrives this week on the heels of the latest Marvel movie starring the team of the same name. In the past, it was often all but impossible for the average moviegoer to know where to start if they wanted to dive into comics, but a brand-new first issue makes that transition much easier. Marvel’s “Fresh Start” has a long way to go yet (especially in terms of diverse representation on and behind the page), but a book starring Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Ed McGuinness, is an easier sell than most. Aaron has been doing remarkable work over on The Mighty Thor for several years, and knows how to tell a grand, sweeping story of heroics. McGuinness is an industry vet with a skill for big, bold action titles like Superman, Nova and Hulk. The challenge for this version of the Avengers likely won’t be in its creator bonafides, but instead how it presents a lineup that largely marks a return to the past in ways that some readers may feel is a regression from recent versions of the team. Caitlin Rosberg


STL079164.jpeg Coda #1
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Simon Spurrier has an established track record with the strange and unusual, from The Spire to Cry Havoc. In this week’s debut issue of Coda, Spurrier teams with Matías Bergara for another strange adventure, this time a high fantasy tale of the post-magic apocalypse—a glorious world of elves, bards and dragons laid to waste by a bizarre catastrophe. Spurrier and Bergara deliver a surreal mix of strange faces and places that blends the over-the-top fantasy aesthetics of Dungeons and Dragons with the ecological wastelands of Mad Max, complete with a surly hero whose intentions are often just as bad as his attitude, matching wits and swords with fantastical creatures. Bergara in particular does stunning color work; the world of Coda feels warm and vibrant and weirdly inviting despite the circumstances—the book has its gruesome moments, but it remains lively and engaging thanks in large part to Bergara’s skillful illustrations. Coda #1 hits stores this Wednesday with an oversized debut issue that includes 40 pages of immersive story and additional backmatter at the cost of a standard issue. C.K. Stewart


STL080872.jpeg DC Nation #0
Writers: Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis, Joshua Williamson, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder 
Artists: Clay Mann, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jorge Jimenez
Publisher: DC Comics 
DC Nation #0 is proof that the titular publisher is renewing focus on giving readers an easy way to jump in on what can be an intimidating amount of books—let alone eight-plus decades of canon. Available just ahead of Free Comic Book Day with a $0.25 cover price, this issue features three stories that won’t be reprinted until the series for which they act as preludes are published in collected editions. First, Tom King and Clay Mann bring readers a story about what happens when the Joker discovers that Catwoman intends on marrying Batman. Then new DC writer Brian Michael Bendis and the legendary Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez team up on a Superman story in what is otherwise a pretty Batman-heavy issue. The Clark Kent tale acts as an introduction to the six-issue mini-series that Bendis will helm with rotating artists, Man of Steel. Rounding out the issue is a prequel to Justice League: No Justice, which deals with the fallout from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Metal event. Snyder works with No Justice co-writers James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson, as well as upcoming Justice League ongoing artist Jorge Jimenez, to tease readers with the mysteries at the heart of the new series, and set new and returning readers up for DC’s bombastic summer. Caitlin Rosberg


STL080888.jpeg Death or Glory #1
Writer:   Rick Remender  
Artist: Bengal
Publisher: Image Comics 
Rick Remender kicks off a new original story at Image this week, set not in a school for assassins or underwater kingdom, but in the open stretch of highways that crisscross continental America. Death or Glory stars the eponymous Glory, a young woman who wants to raise enough money to save a sick loved one, and is desperate enough to resort to something truly dangerous to do it. This first issue is pricy at $4.99, but it’s also double-sized at 40 pages, packed to the gills with characters that live out in the open and off the grid by driving trucks across the country. Glory’s world is rendered by French artist Bengal, who has contributed a slew of covers to titles like Supergirl and All-New Wolverine, but more infrequently contributes interiors to American comics. Remender often writes stories about characters who appear to be fighting for freedoms that everyone else in their world has given up on, people who live on the fringes of what others might consider polite society, and operate under a different moral compass, and Death or Glory appears to be finding a new, rubber-burning way to explore those ideas. Caitlin Rosberg


STL080876.jpeg Harley Loves Joker #1
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Bret Blevins
Publisher: DC Comics 
Last year, Paul Dini returned to the character he helped create when he contributed a backup serial in the main Harley Quinn solo title. Harley Loves Joker is a two-issue mini-series that continues those backups for readers to enjoy independently of the original printing. Dini is joined here by artist Bret Blevins, a veteran artist who brings a detailed, somewhat retro vibe to a character who’s often colorful and cartoony. It can be easy to misstep with a complicated character like Harley, especially when dealing with the way she feels about the Joker; by focusing on her ingenuity and desire to protect her beloved Mistah J, Dini made sure the book focused on Harley and her intelligence, rather than slipping too far into the dangerous territory between her and her maniacal sometimes-love-interest. Caitlin Rosberg


STL080685.jpeg Red Sonja/Tarzan #1
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Gail Simone returns to the She-Devil of Dynamite’s pulp lineup in this all-new adventure with Red Sonja and Tarzan teaming up to combat evil. While Simone didn’t invent or even revive interest in pulp comics singlehandedly, her first Red Sonja run and the subsequent Legends of Red Sonja and Swords of Sorrow mini-series did quite a bit to elevate the perception of what was in some ways a slowly fading—or at least consistently struggling—genre. Like the Conan/Wonder Woman crossover Simone worked on, putting Red Sonja and Tarzan on a page together makes good sense, unleashing Simone’s sense of humor and eye for drama on two of the most well-known pulp characters around. She’s joined by artist Walter Geovani, who worked with Simone on previous Red Sonja adventures as well as the Vertigo horror comic Clean Room. Fans of Simone or pulp stories (or both) should definitely check out this series. Caitlin Rosberg


STL079596.jpeg Spider-Man #240
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Oscar Bazaldua, Sara Pichelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
This is it: after nearly two decades of changing the game at Marvel Comics, Brian Michael Bendis officially closes off that chapter of his career this week with Spider-Man #240, his farewell to Miles Morales, the Spider-Man he helped create and popularize. Bendis’ finale issues have shown him at his best—even though his first few steps into the DC Comics universe have been met with mixed receptions—and there’s no reason to expect anything less from Spider-Man #240. Even when Bendis faltered on books like Civil War II, Miles brought out the best of his rapid-fire dialogue and character-driven plotting. Joining Bendis for this farewell are Oscar Bazaldua, who’s been killing recent issues of the series, and Sara Pichelli, Miles’ original series artist. While no one expects Miles to disappear after this final issue—he’s simply proven too popular, and appears in too many non-comic projects—fans are eager for any hint as to where he’ll show up next, and whether or not Marvel will bestow upon him a new codename distinct from Peter Parker’s legacy. Nab Spider-Man #240 and hope that it answers all of our arachnid questions. Steve Foxe


STL080038.jpeg You Are Deadpool #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Salva Espin
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
“Choose Your Own Adventure” books may have fallen out of favor with today’s youths, but thankfully mainstream comics are aimed solely at the 40-year-old demographic these days, and those of us plus-or-minus a decade of that age range still have nostalgia for book series that allow readers to follow diverging choices by turning to different pages. Replicating that structure in a comic is likely to send the creators to the loony bin, which of course makes Deadpool the perfect topic for just such an experiment. Al Ewing has a knack of out-there concepts, so it’s gratifying to imagine him scripting You Are Deadpool with the help of post-it notes, twine and a giant corkboard. Salva Espin is a frequent contributor to Marvel’s massive Deadpool library, and his vibrant cartooning is a good match for Wade Wilson’s madcap violence. If you just can’t wait to see how your personalized adventure turns out, you’re in luck—this series releases weekly, allowing Marvel to rush more DP material ahead of his second cinematic outing this summer. Steve Foxe

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