Thor, By Night, The Magic Order & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/13/2018

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<i>Thor</i>, <i>By Night</i>, <i>The Magic Order</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/13/2018

Hear that thunder rumbling in the distance? A New Comic Book Day approaches, and with it arrives Marvel’s mead-drinking, lightning-slinging Odinson, in an all-new Thor #1. The blond beefcake isn’t the only big release this week, though—the long-awaited Michel Fiffe Bloodstrike series debuts, John Allison kicks off a new original series at BOOM! Studios, Hawkman takes flight, Mark Millar’s Netflix comic partnership begins in earnest, Nancy Drew takes a new case, and Oni Press’ sex-education and erotica imprint teaches us all about they/them pronouns just in time for a more respectful Pride Month. Hop in a chariot pulled by two goats and get thee to your local comic shop for these titles and the rest of this week’s Required Reading.


STL083763.jpeg Bloodstrike: Brutalists #0
Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Image Comics 
If you had told us a few years ago that we’d be recommending a Bloodstrike comic in the year 2018, we’d have replied…“Oh, so Rob Liefeld finally let Michel Fiffe relaunch the book, eh?” Liefeld is a common punching bag for cooler-than-thou comic critics, thanks to his tenuous grasp on anatomy during the ‘90s, and his fondness for pouches and big-ass guns, but his impact on the industry is undeniable almost 30 years after his debut. Just look at the continued popularity—and cinematic success—of Deadpool for further proof. Liefeld’s massive ‘90s output was often bold, fun and utterly incoherent, which makes his willingness to turn over his intellectual property to newer talents deeply appreciated. Prophet and Glory became must-read sci-fi sagas thanks to the talents of cartoonists like Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis and Sophie Campbell, and now Copra auteur Michel Fiffe is taking the reigns on Bloodstrike, one of Liefeld’s best-loved team creations. Fiffe, beyond having an impeccable grasp on visual storytelling and a singular approach to coloring and lettering his own work, has a completely unironic respect for the excesses of ‘80s and ‘90s action cartooning, which makes Bloodstrike: Brutalists a match made in longbox heaven. Steve Foxe


STL082056.jpeg By Night #1
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Christine Larsen
Publisher: BOOM! Studios/ BOOM!Box
With years of webcomic work under his belt, John Allison wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity when Giant Days launched as a print comic in 2015. Online audiences and readers who prefer monthly issues aren’t necessarily the same however, and it wasn’t a guarantee that Allison would find an audience in a different market, but Giant Days has gone on to gain critical acclaim, awards and persistent fan affection thanks to a careful combination of emotional storytelling and spot-on comedic timing. So it makes sense that Allison and BOOM! are expanding their relationship to include a new story, one of the few that Allison is involved in that doesn’t revolve around his larger Tackleford universe. Allison’s skill and soft hand when it comes to writing female friendships and coming-of-age stories should serve him well in By Night, a fantasy adventure involving an aspiring documentarian and a portal to a world full of monsters. Artist Christine Larsen has contributed to several cartoon tie-in comics including The Regular Show and Samurai Jack. Much like with Giant Days’ art teams, Larsen has a fairly realistic style that can become fluid and imaginative with exaggerated features, and it works well with colors by Sarah Stern, whose past work includes the Giant Days Holiday Special. Caitlin Rosberg


STL084287.jpeg Hawkman #1
Writer: Robert Vendetti
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Publisher: DC Comics 
Dark Knights: Metal feels like it came out ages ago (thanks, abstraction of time during our current political climate!) but DC Comics is still very much responding to its multiverse-altering events. One of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s biggest Metal moves was the recentering of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The latter features prominently in Snyder’s new Justice League while the former gets his own adventurous series from frequent Green Lantern and Flash scribe Robert Vendetti and former League writer/artist Bryan Hitch. Hawkman in infamous for his confusing continuity, which Hawkman #1 addresses head-on by making that long history of reincarnation integral to Carter Hall’s quest for understanding. Hitch, the master of wide-screen action, is a perfect fit for Vendetti’s approach—think the video game Uncharted, but with wings. Hawkman has traditionally been a difficult sell, but with a Metal boost, a clear mission and two steady creative hands at the helm, Hawkman might finally be the book to get Carter Hall back in flight. Steve Foxe


STL077865.jpeg Hunters
Writers: Josh Tierney & Paul Maybury
Artists: Miguel Valderrama, Paul Maybury, Irene Koh, Afu Chan, Others
Publisher: Lion Forge
From French translations to all-ages graphic novels to its own shared superhero universe, Lion Forge has refused to box itself in. This week, the publisher’s Magnetic Collection imprint, in conjunction with Buño Books, takes an experimental next step with the release of Hunters, an epic fantasy anthology co-created by Paul Maybury and Josh Tierney, with main story art by Miguel Valderrama. More than just a collection of loosely related short stories, Hunters features a framing story from Tierney and Valderrama and a host of breakout tales that follow individual characters and small groups on side missions that flow back into the main quest. The core story introduces Azarias, a famed warrior who gathers a varied band of adventurers to collect the dust of a distant island god in order to save the life of their king. In addition to Maybury, Tierney and Miguel Valderrama, Hunters features the talents of Carlos Valderrama, Afu Chan, Devin Kraft, Niami Awad, Meg Gandy, Jared Morgan, Irene Koh, Kyla Vanderklugt, Benjamin Marra, Alexis Ziritt, Travel Foreman, Carlos Carrasco, Vlad Gusev and Ramon Sierra. Steve Foxe


STL083752.jpeg The Magic Order #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Oliver Coipel
Publisher: Image Comics 
The first of Netflix’s forays into an entirely new medium, The Magic Order feels like a fairly easy sell to many readers, particularly those who are already fans of Mark Millar and Oliver Coipel. Millar and Coipel have both contributed to celebrated and well-known superhero comics, and Millar has seen several of his creator-owned titles go on to become movies (with varying degrees of accuracy to the source material). Unlike Kick-Ass, Wanted and The Kingsmen, The Magic Order is less spycraft and beatings, more legacy and spells. The idea of secret magic workers protecting everyone else from the darkness that would overtake us isn’t a new one, with stories like Hellboy and The Books of Magic (and, you know, Harry Potter) all positing what that might look like. But Millar has created a world where there are just five families of magicians tasked with protecting everyone, facing a new enemy that’s wiping out these few guardians. Readers who enjoy modern magic stories and can enjoy Millar’s high-concept approach should definitely pick up this Netflix-approved debut issue. Caitlin Rosberg


STL081322.jpeg Milk Wars TPB
Writers: Gerard Way, Steve Orlando, Cecil Castellucci, Jonathan Rivera, Jody Hauser, Magdalene Visaggio
Artists: ACO, Dale Eaglesham, Ty Templeton, Mirka Andolfo, Langdon Foss, Sonny Liew, Nick Derington
Publisher: Young Animal/ DC Comics 
What else can we say about the five-part “Milk Wars” crossover connecting DC’s eclectic Young Animal imprint with its slightly more standard main universe? Each installment, from Gerard Way, Steve Orlando, ACO and Dale Eaglesham’s epically scoped, epically weird bookends to the specials from Shade, the Changing Girl, Cave Carson and Mother Panic’s regular writers, explored the fertile connective tissue between YA and DC, poking fun at DC’s capes-and-lassos icons without losing sight of what makes characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and even Swamp Thing so enduring. “Milk Wars” shook up the entire Young Animal landscape, serving as a conclusion to its three non-Doom Patrol ongoing series and a launch pad for those same concepts to return in freshly revamped form. It’s within this collection that Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew kicked off their existential Eternity Girl, which also sees a new issue out this week. With Young Animal’s current crop winding down and Doom Patrol on a bit of hiatus, it’s the perfect time to revisit a crossover that puts most of its more traditional brethren to shame. Steve Foxe


STL082897.jpeg Nancy Drew #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
With the as-yet unchecked growth of YA comics and a resurgence of interest in perennial teen comics like Archie, it’s no surprise that classic girl detective Nancy Drew would eventually maker her way to the medium. Though there was a darker noir story starring Drew and her compatriots the Hardy Boys last year, this new series from Kelly Thompson and Jenn St-Onge is something different, brighter and more focused on Nancy. Thompson has carved out a spot for herself in books focused on young, ambitious, smart women, working on the Eisner-nominated Kate Bishop-centric Hawkeye title as well as both Jem and The Misfits. St-Onge was Thompson’s partner in crime for The Misfits, and is fresh off the success of Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love, a book that was originally funded on Kickstarter, only to get picked up by Image Comics. This skilled creative team has more than proven their ability to tell smart, character-driven stories about young women who are unstoppable once they put their minds to something, and that’s exactly the kind of story that Nancy Drew deserves. Caitlin Rosberg


STL074513.jpeg A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
Writers: Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson
Artist: Archie Bongiovanni
Publisher: Limerence Press/ Oni Press
Using the right pronouns to address somebody’s gender identity is a baseline form of respect. It’s an issue that’s only going to inflate in importance, but fortunately, understanding its nuances can be an easy feat. Cartoonist Archie Bongiovanni and writer Tristan Jimerson have joined forces to shed some light on these intricacies with A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns. The comic, published courtesy Oni Press’s sex-education and erotica imprint Limerence Press, explains gender-neutral pronouns that can be applied to anyone, in a useful (but fun) guide for folks of any identity—perfectly timed for Pride Month. The guide also offers advice for folks who make a mistake and other situations that may pop up. Sean Edgar


STL081152.jpeg Skip to the End
Writer: Jeremy Holt
Artist: Alex Diotto
Publisher: Insight Comics
The collected edition of a story originally printed in Heavy Metal, Skip to the End is the rare comic that includes music as an integral part of the story. It can be difficult to convey genre and awkward to put lyrics directly on the page, and not many comics manage to capture the power that music has to evoke emotions and memories. The idea of a former rockstar who’s fallen from the heights he once occupied is a common trope, but writer Jeremy Holt and artist Alex Diotto deliver something that’s a little different: the protagonist here not only remembers his past when he plays the music that briefly made him famous, he actually revisits it. Music as literal time travel is a fresher spin, and it gives Skip to the End a lot more emotional heft than if it were simply a story about regret. Using music, Johnnie tries to undo the mistakes that cost him his friend and his career, but like many time-travel tales, things don’t go to plan. It’s a deeply intimate story with some universal themes, and there’s a gentle but firm honesty to the way the characters are drawn and written. It’s a slice-of-life comic, an adventure comic and a music comic all rolled into one, born out of a love for all three. Caitlin Rosberg


STL084120.jpeg Thor #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Mike Del Mundo & Christian Ward
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Who could have predicted that a new Thor #1 from Jason Aaron would be so bittersweet! While Aaron has established himself alongside Walt Simonson as one of the Thunder God’s all-time-best creators, seeing Thor Odinson back on the cover of a Thor comic comes at the expense of Jane Foster, whose run as Thor, while always finite, will be dearly missed. Thankfully, Aaron is joined by Mike Del Mundo and Christian Ward, two of Marvel’s finest artistic talents, and reasons enough to fight through the tears and pick up this launch issue. Del Mundo serves as the book’s regular artist, kicking off Thor’s search for Asgard’s scattered artifacts. Standing in his way: the production costs of hundreds of new hammers for a still-Unworthy Thor—and the Juggernaut! Ward contributes a back-up story focusing on the far-future King Thor, a welcome continuance of the different time periods Aaron introduced way back in 2012. Long may Aaron lift the hammer. Steve Foxe

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