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Despicable Deadpool #300, Justice League: No Justice, Venom & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/9/2018

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<i>Despicable Deadpool</i> #300, <i>Justice League: No Justice</i>, <i>Venom</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/9/2018

May marches onward this week, and neither Marvel nor DC Comics are letting up the throttle from last Wednesday’s big push. Marvel follows up Avengers #1 with its second “Fresh Start” title, Venom, soon-to-be star of the silver screen. DC, meanwhile, pursues its Metal trajectory with the launch of Justice League: No Justice, a mini-series that establishes a new JL status quo for the DCU. If capes and tights and symbiotes aren’t your thing, Angelic, The Battles of Bridget Lee and Nuclear Winter all provide teen-friendly genre outings that don’t speak down to young readers (or adult readers, for that matter). The Despicable Deadpool hits a milestone and bids farewell to longtime writer Gerry Duggan, Image mashes up two of its founding icons, a beloved Jim Henson property gets a revival and more in this week’s Required Reading.


STL070956.jpeg Angelic Vol. 1: Heirs & Graces
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Publisher: Image Comics 
“Think Wall-E by way of Watership Down,” the promo for Angelic implored, and who were we to question that ambitious angle? The Spire writer Simon Spurrier and Limbo artist Caspar Wijngaard broke through the static by force of sheer oddness with Angelic, as they tackle the weight of societal and gendered expectations via winged monkeys and techno-dolphins in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have ceded the planet to the animals we genetically modified for a war long forgotten. Spurrier has always shown a knack for the weird, as in his new series Coda and his surprise-favorite X-Men Legacy run that served as inspiration for the TV show Legion, and Wijngaard’s neon-noir worldbuilding in Limbo was proper training for this teen-friendly saga of mechanical animals. Angelic may not lend itself to an easy elevator pitch, but it’s one of Image’s best new series in recent memory, and this trade will get you up to speed before the next ambitious arc. Steve Foxe


STL074247.jpeg Battles of Bridget Lee Vol. 2: The Miracle Child
Writer/Artist: Ethan Young
Publisher: Dark Horse
It’s been an eventful spring for cartoonist Ethan Young, with the April arrival of Life Between Panels: The Complete Tails Omnibus and now the second installment in his original science fiction trilogy, The Battles of Bridget Lee. Young’s story of humans in a far-off outpost in outer space, trapped by the presence of hostile aliens, should feel familiar to fans of Aliens and Starship Troopers, but with content more appropriate for teen readers. Rather than focusing solely on the danger the cast faces, Young did a lot of heavy lifting in the first volume to establish a group of nuanced characters; it’s an important balancing act, providing enough detail about characters that readers are invested in what happens to them without cutting short on the action, and Young consistently nails it. In the time since the first volume hit shelves, a new crop of character-driven science fiction has hit TV, putting Bridget Lee in good company this time around. If you liked Netflix’s new Lost in Space, this is absolutely the book for you, and if you like Bridget Lee, you should check out Young’s (more mature) Eisner-nominated historical graphic novel Nanjing: The Burning City. He’s got a deep well of skill when it comes to nuanced stories about people trapped in impossible situations, and the artistic talent to match his storytelling ambition. Caitlin Rosberg


STL079929.jpeg The Despicable Deadpool #300
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Mike Hawthorne, Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
After five years, Gerry Duggan’s term as the mouthpiece for the Merc with the Mouth is coming to an end. The Despicable Deadpool #300 reunites Duggan with collaborators from the series’ past for an oversized 60-page issue. Wade Wilson has long been a character who comfortably occupies moral gray areas, and Duggan is swinging him to one end of the spectrum for this last adventure, as some of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes pursue Deadpool. The timing is either unfortunate or genius depending on your perspective, with the second Deadpool movie premiering just a week after this final issue of the run. Given the subtitle of “The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool,” there’s a guarantee that Wade will be taking a lot of damage in this issue, but given the nature of the character himself (and his upcoming relaunch from Skottie Young and Nic Klein), it’s unlikely the damage will last very long. Duggan has been shepherding this character for a long time, and his final issue promises to be a violent, funny and fitting end to his tenure. Caitlin Rosberg


STL079168.jpeg Fraggle Rock #1
Writer/Artist: Jared Cullum
Publisher: Archaia
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the show’s premiere, Fraggle Rock is getting an all-new four-issue miniseries from BOOM! Studios’ Archaia imprint. Jared Cullum, who has contributed to several of the Archaia Jim Henson books including The Storyteller and the Labyrinth 2017 Special, both writes and draws this run, which is printed in a non-standard square format. Cullum’s art style is soft, with watercolor textures defined by black ink and streaks of white, a good fit for the sense of wonder Henson’s puppet work was famous for. Preview art and covers show that Cullum’s got a good grasp on the bright, imaginative designs of Fraggle Rock, and his previous work on other Henson media proves he can handle the weight of expectations that come along with beloved characters. It’s especially gratifying that the first issue with revolve around Mokey Fraggle, who tends to be quieter and more sensitive than the other characters and doesn’t often get the attention she’s due. Caitlin Rosberg


STL081430.jpeg Justice League: No Justice #1
Writers:   Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshue Williamson
Artist: Francis Manapul
Publisher: DC Comics 
Justice League: No Justice combines a lot of comics-specific qualities that should set it up for success. It’s a four-issue miniseries, which means the barrier for entry is low, and while the story does take place in canon, it doesn’t directly impact core titles, mandating that you need a flowchart to follow the story. It’s also a team book that reconfigures the traditional Justice League lineup to face a specific problem, drawing in fans of underutilized and tent-pole characters alike. Scott Snyder is using the series to wrap up the threads of the story he told in the Dark Nights: Metal event, and set up his ongoing Justice League series. This book, along with The Immortal Men, shows the ripples where Metal impacted the DC Universe and began to cascade outwards, but no substantial familiarity with Metal is necessary for No Justice (although reading the $0.25 DC Nation #0 released last week is helpful). Snyder is joined by The Flash scribe Joshua Williamson and The Immortal Men writer James Tynion IV, along with artist Francis Manapul. Justice League: No Justice offers the ideal DC Comics experience: the publisher’s star creators working together on a self-contained story that promises some big revelations and new starts for all the characters involved. Caitlin Rosberg


STL080899.jpeg Medieval Spawn/Witchblade #1
Writers: Brian Holguin, Brian Haberlin
Artist: Brian Haberlin
Publisher: Image Comics 
Two of Image’s most famous—or infamous—early characters are teaming up for the first time in nearly two decades as Medieval Spawn and Witchblade share panels in this four-issue miniseries. It’s hard to imagine now, with Image offering so many different kinds of books for so many different readers, that the company grew up on titles like these, establishing long-term success on the backs of their creators’ popularity at Marvel Comics. Brian Holguin and Brian Haberlin are at the helm for this revival; Holguin has written dozens of Spawn issues while Haberlin has both written and illustrated a slew himself. Haberlin was also the writer behind two years of Witchblade stories, and the pair has worked together before on Spawn: Godslayer. With these eminently experienced hands on the wheel, and a short, contained run, Medieval Spawn/Witchblade is definitely worth checking out for both old-school fans and newcomers unfamiliar with the Image old guard. Hopefully this means last year’s rumors of a Witchblade TV reboot have a little truth to them, too. Caitlin Rosberg


STL073956.jpeg Nuclear Winter
Writer/Artist: Caroline Breault
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
As someone who recently visited Montreal for a bachelor party, I can attest that this French-speaking region of Cananda gets quite chilly during the winter months, but not as cold—or as radioactive—as the Montreal of Caroline Breault’s Nuclear Winter. Published by BOOM! Studios, who seem to be picking up their original graphic novel game to fit the changing marketplace, Nuclear Winter introduces Flavie Beaumont, a snowmobile-driving mail carrier navigating life as a young adult nine years after a nuclear meltdown plunged Montreal into eternal winter. BOOM! is positioning the book to fans of their breakout hit Giant Days, and with a tagline like, “It turns out surviving nuclear winter is hard…but surviving your twenties is even harder!” we’re not surprised. Readers of Scott Pilgrim should also find something to enjoy in this Canadian coming-of-age sci-fi/fantasy romp. Steve Foxe


STL074253.jpeg Sherlock Frankenstein and The Legion of Evil TPB
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: David Rubín
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The core series of Black Hammer, which recently returned as Black Hammer: The Doom Age, features a handful of classic superhero archetypes inexplicably stranded in a sleepy rural town. Illustrated with melancholy and pathos by Dean Ormston, the project has functioned as a lab for Jeff Lemire to mix and match classic spinner-rack beats—a gay Martian Manhunter, an alcoholic Mary Marvel—with surgical characterization. Sherlock Frankenstein was the first spin-off from the main book, and recruited artist David Rubín for a four-issue miniseries that sends Lucy Weber, daughter of the missing Black Hammer, on the trail of Sherlock, the most vile, dangerous villain in the fiction. Lemire and Rubín also used the book to introduce Spiral Asylum, a creativity exercise to see how many disturbing baddies the cartoonists can introduce to this burgeoning world (Cthu-Lou remains a standout). Rubín’s figures poise with energy, but his worldbuilding has taken on more import throughout his career. Just look at the sea-monster architecture of the asylum or the grids of windows in his backgrounds. Colored with magenta and green casts by Dave Stewart, Sherlock Frankenstein is a gorgeous expansion on one of our favorite comic foundations, and readers can pick up the collected edition this week. Sean Edgar & Steve Foxe


lastjediadaptation.jpeg Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation #1
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
We’ve been less than impressed with Marvel’s previous Star Wars direct adaptations—at little fault to the creators involved, the comic versions of The Force Awakens and Rogue One just didn’t add anything to the film iterations—but the involvement here of artist Michael Walsh makes The Last Jedi Adaptation required reading in our eyes. Walsh illustrated an excellent one-shot for Marvel’s Star Wars line last year, and has contributed his bold cartooning to titles like Secret Avengers, The Vision and Rocket Raccoon & Groot. Screenwriter Gary Whitta, who briefly worked on Rogue One before the picture was overhauled, gets a second shot at Star Wars here as he adapts Rian Johnson’s controversial eighth installment to the printed page. Perhaps The Last Jedi, as hotly debated as it has been since its December release, will benefit more than TFA or Rogue One from a different perspective, especially one as lovingly illustrated as Walsh’s. Steve Foxe


STL080186.jpeg Venom #1
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The upcoming Tom Hardy-starring Venom movie looks…like you’d expect a 2008 Venom movie to look, with better symbiote effects. But who cares about cinema when you’ve got comic books, especially hot-ticket launches like this week’s Venom #1 from Marvel’s rising star Donny Cates and popular arachnid artist Ryan Stegman. Stegman has most recently taken to writing and drawing Wallcrawler adventures in Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, and has been one of Marvel’s most celebrated Spider-cartoonists since the Superior Spider-Man era thanks to his angular, energetic style. Cates is riding high on two surprise hits—Doctor Strange and Thanos—which makes Venom perhaps an even more anticipated “Fresh Start” title than last week’s Avengers #1. This first issue promises a dark, ancient secret emerging from beneath the streets of New York, and a threat that might drive a wedge between the Venom symbiote and his longtime host, Eddie Brock. Steve Foxe

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