X-Men Gold Wedding Bells, Tony Stark: Iron Man, Shanghai Red & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/20/2018

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<i>X-Men Gold</i> Wedding Bells, <i>Tony Stark: Iron Man</i>, <i>Shanghai Red</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/20/2018

June is whizzing by faster than any of comics’ many speedster characters, and this week is no slouch in the summer reading department. Marvel launches their latest big number-one title with Tony Stark: Iron Man, the same week that writer Dan Slott bids adieu to Amazing Spider-Man and that longtime X-Men paramours Kitty Pryde and Colossus finally tie the knot. Mark Millar’s Hit-Girl passes hands to a new creative team; Image Comics sleeper hit Ice Cream Man receives its first trade; Titan Comics, AfterShock and Lion Forge all launch new series; and Cartoon Network favorite Regular Show leaps 25 years into the future at BOOM! Studios. Whether you’re packing reading material for the beach or hiding away in an air-conditioned alcove, there’s plenty to enjoy in this week’s Required Reading.


STL083869.jpeg Hit-Girl #5
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: Image Comics 
Mark Millar’s most recent volumes of Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass have indulged all of his worst impulses—juvenile violence, questionable approaches to writing characters of different races, shock factor for the sake of shock factor—and you likely know by now whether that works for you or not. Thankfully, Millar is opening up Hit-Girl to other creative teams, starting with prolific writer Jeff Lemire and 100 Bullets legend Eduardo Risso. Lemire is proud of his Canadian heritage, so it’s no surprise that his arc with Risso brings Millar’s 12-year-old murder-fiend to the great white north to unleash more preteen carnage. While it’s hard to imagine Lemire stooping to Millar’s baser levels, Hit-Girl may very well bring out a more puerile side of Lemire’s writing. Either way, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity for more Risso artwork, and his stark blacks and clean, angular lines should no doubt produce some stunning shots of blood-drenched snow and carved-up Canadians. Steve Foxe


STL074454.jpeg Ice Cream Man Vol. 1
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martín Morazzo
Publisher: Image Comics 
Image Comics publishes so many intriguing new series these days (way too many of them with easily confused one-word titles) that you never know which ones will catch on and which deserving concepts will sink into obscurity. Luckily, quality does occasionally floatwin out, as is the case with W. Maxwell Prince, Martín Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran’s Ice Cream Man, a disorienting, Twilight Zone-esque set of tales loosely connected by the titular frozen-dessert purveyor. As readers of the horrific arachnid-focused debut issue discovered, the Ice Cream Man himself may adhere to only the loosest definitions of “man,” and the sugary series covers hide some nasty surprises. Prince, Morazzo and O’Halloran shift focus, tone and even genre with every issue, but an underlying melancholy pervades the book, and somehow poisonous spiders and thrashing werewolves are the least terrifying dangers contained in the first four issues collected here. While each installment of Ice Cream Man is standalone, readers who somehow didn’t hear the truck’s jingle the first time around shouldn’t miss this opportunity to sample the flavors. Steve Foxe


STL081334.jpeg Justice League Vol 6: The People vs. The Justice League
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Pete Woods, Others
Publisher: DC Comics 
Collecting issues #34 to #39 of Justice League, The People vs. The Justice League features almost half of writer Christopher Priest’s run on the book. Priest, who is also working on the remarkable and highly readable Deathstroke title for DC, brings with him much more introspection than other JL writers might. Teams are often at their most explosive when they are confronting external threats, but they’re usually far more interesting when addressing their own shortcomings and failures. This story features serious missteps on the part of Batman, which isn’t unheard of, but it’s far more impactful when writers remember that, although he’s surrounded by super-powered colleagues, Batman has a lot of money and willpower but he’s still only human. Priest’s ability to humanize superheroes and bring them back down to earth makes the book well worth checking out, but Pete Woods’ classic comic-book style make it a must-read for fans of DC’s pantheon. Caitlin Rosberg


LostCityExplorers1.jpg Lost City Explorers #1
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Alvaro Sarraseca
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
At first glance, The Lost City Explorers sounds like the best mixture of The Goonies and Indiana Jones, an adventure rooted in friendship and youth that has real-world implications when teenagers discover a long-lost civilization right under New York City. There’re hints of the supernatural, a missing parent and the requisite coming-of-age elements that help stories about teenagers transcend from specific to universal. Writer Zach Kaplan’s Port of Earth series at Image has earned him some deserved attention lately, and it’s intriguing to see what he’ll do when he goes deeper into the Earth rather than asking what happens when we get visitors from beyond it. While artist Alvaro Sarraseca is a relative newcomer to the industry, his work on Dynamite’s Turok has been clean and kinetic. Crafting an entire underground city along with the maze of tunnels that crisscross under New York will be a big challenge, but Kaplan and Sarraseca seem up to the task. Caitlin Rosberg


STL084642.jpeg Mae Vol. 2 #1
Writer/Artist: Gene Ha
Publisher: Lion Forge
Gene Ha’s Mae has been on quite a journey in the last few years, almost as much as the titular character herself. After successfully fundraising on Kickstarter, the book was picked up by Dark Horse for the first volume, but the second volume is starting a new chapter at Lion Forge’s Roar imprint, which targets young adults and teens. The story fits perfectly with the likes of The Golden Compass and The Chronicles of Narnia, centering around two sisters who are bent on protecting each other and the people they care about. Mae’s sister Abbie has been living a life of exiled adventure, falling into danger in a strange land like her very own twisted Wonderland. After returning to her previous life in the real world, Abbie discovers that she’s brought that threat to Mae’s door as well, and the sisters dedicate themselves to protecting everyone from what followed Abbie. Lion Forge feels like a better fit for Mae, and Ha’s artwork has a painterly style here that wasn’t always possible in his previous superhero work, fitting the scope and scale of the grand, ambitious world he’s created. Caitlin Rosberg


STL082078.jpeg Regular Show: 25 Years Later #1
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: Anne Johnstone
Publisher: KaBOOM!/ BOOM! Studios
J. G. Quintel’s Regular Show was always an outlier among Cartoon Network’s boom in weird, oddly touching animation. While Adventure Time and Steven Universe never shy away from mature themes, Regular Show is pretty upfront about being an ‘80s/‘90s stoner comedy following 20-somethings with distinctly 20-something problems, full of references to video games, TV shows, movies and music that kid viewers have no way of understanding. Somehow that formula worked for over 260 episodes, and BOOM! Studios’ comic tie-ins have been just as delightful and offbeat. Regular Show: 25 Years Later picks up—you guessed it—a quarter-century after the show’s finale, to give fans a peek at what became of the park and its employees after the cartoon’s epic ending. Hint: beards and bald patches. Writer Christopher Hastings is a comedy king, equally adept at helming fellow Cartoon Network adaptation Adventure Time and scripting the surprisingly good Gwenpool over at Marvel. Artist Anne Johnstone makes her debut on this book, with a quirky cartooning style that perfectly matches the franchise. Steve Foxe


STL082537.jpeg Rivers of London: Water Weed #1
Writer: Andrew Cartmel
Artist: Lee Sullivan
Publisher: Titan Comics
Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London novels have been fan-favorites for a while now, portraying a London that’s full of magic and fascinating people just as diverse as the real London. Titan’s comic adaptation and expansion of Aaronovitch’s work has been a fun and invigorating as the novels, no surprise given the publisher’s history with adapting other long-running franchises like Doctor Who and Penny Dreadful into comics. Andrew Cartmel and Lee Sullivan have been the creative team for all of the previous Rivers of London miniseries, and have a great handle on the characters and the world that Aaronovitch has built in his novels. Sullivan has also worked in 2000 AD and on old-school titles like RoboCop and William Shatner’s TekWorld, but his style doesn’t feel stale or at all limited. It’s a welcoming book visually and in terms of storytelling, exactly the kind of thing that you’d hope might connect with a reluctant genre reader who hasn’t made the full leap to sequential art. Caitlin Rosberg


STL083776.jpeg Shanghai Red #1
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Joshua Hixson
Publisher: Image Comics 
The first of two new Image titles from writer Christopher Sebela, Shanghai Red looks back to a very real but not often discussed practice. All over the west coast especially, sailors or even just random passersby were “shanghaied”: forced to serve against their will on ships that sailed all over the world. Sebela has a distinct style all his own, imaginative, introspective and dark not just for the sake of darkness but because it’s a necessary part of the story he’s telling. This particular book focuses on a woman who’s been drugged, kidnapped and sold to a ship’s captain, and forced to serve for years. But her return to Portland is far from a happy occasion, as she focuses all her efforts on finding out who took her away from her life and exacting her revenge. It sounds like exactly the sort of thing that fans of Dead Letters and We(l)come Home should check out, and readers who discovered Sebela because of his weird and wonderful Blue Beetle and Harley Quinn stories run could jump to. Letterer extraordinaire Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou has worked with Sebela before on his Short Order Crooks series, and while a relative newcomer to the industry, artist Joshua Hixson has a stark, sketchy style that should suit this series very well. Caitlin Rosberg


STL084132.jpeg Tony Stark: Iron Man #1
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Despite being at the forefront of Marvel’s cinematic universe, Tony Stark hasn’t had a consistently strong solo title since…Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca? Marvel surely hopes to reverse that long uneven streak with Tony Stark: Iron Man from outgoing Amazing Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott and Guardians of the Galaxy artist Valerio Schiti. Under Slott’s pen, Peter Parker briefly became a suave, globetrotting super-inventor, so Stark shouldn’t be a massive leap for him, and Schiti can seemingly draw anything in the Marvel Universe with equal style and skill. The pitch for the book involves leaning into Stark’s futurism, which typically translates to “whatever Apple is doing, but more sci-fi.” Still, it’ll be good to have a starring vehicle for Tony that feels as big as his character should be. Also out this week: Amazing Spider-Man #801, Slott’s official farewell to the wallcrawler after nearly a decade writing Marvel’s premiere title. Steve Foxe


STL082974.jpeg X-Men Gold #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: David Marquez
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Marc Guggenheim’s tenure on X-Men Gold has had its share of ups and downs, including the rushed nature of Kitty Pryde and Colossus’ resumed relationship and impending nuptials. While X-Men Red has easily surpassed Gold as the forward-thinking flagship X-title, Gold does still scratch a certain nostalgic itch for the team’s ‘90s iteration, all absurd alien foes and high-drama interpersonal relationships. Guggenheim’s ongoing Kitty/Piotr will-they-won’t-they comes to a head this week as the two beloved X-Men tie the knot. Or do they! Given mutantkind’s penchant for surprise, we’ll believe this union when we see a signed marriage license. Gold has also suffered from inconsistent and occasionally lacking artists, but Marvel scheduled David Marquez for this special issue, and his clean line-work and expressive facial acting is a welcome addition to the title, even if only for an issue. Steve Foxe

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