The New World, Justice League Dark & More in Required Reading: Comics for 7/25/2018

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<i>The New World</i>, <i>Justice League Dark</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 7/25/2018

It’s the week after San Diego Comic-Con and most of the industry is experiencing a collective hangover induced by the sheer deluge of comic news—and gossip!—flowing out of the convention (not to mention the boozy after-parties). There’s no rest for the Wednesday warriors, though, and this week brings a brand-new batch of comic adventures to close out July. DC Comics dominates our list this week, with an anthology one-shot, a series launch and two big pivots for members of their Trinity. Chief competitor Marvel Comics steps into the ring with a honeymoon adventure and the second volume kickoff of Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design. (Infinity Wars Prime is also out this week, but we couldn’t jam it into the list below, even with assistance from the Space Gem.) If you’re not a Big Two reader, fear not: we’ve got a horror-fueled drug trip, the convention from Hell, a doomed sci-fi romance and some picture-book splendor to round out this week’s Required Reading.


STL086989.jpeg Action Comics #1001
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC Comics 
The other half of Brian Michael Bendis’ Super-centric storyline kicks off this week with the release of Action Comics #1001, certified at San Diego Comic-Con as the longest-running comic series in publication. Bendis tended to double up on related titles during his Marvel reign, from Avengers to X-Men to Iron Man, and often struggled to differentiate between the books or justify their concurrent existence. With both Superman and Action Comics focusing on Kal and Metropolis for the foreseeable future, it’ll be interesting to see how Bendis navigates this familiar hurdle under a new publisher banner. Joining Bendis for Action Comics is Patrick Gleason, fresh off of Superman proper. Keeping Gleason in Metropolis provides an extra sense of continuity from the prior era, and there’s no denying that his bold line and square jaws are a perfect fit for the Man of Steel. This initial issue revisits the arson story from Bendis’ six-issue Man of Steel mini-series, and should hopefully continue to flesh out the new denizens of Metropolis introduced therein. Steve Foxe


STL085553.jpeg Bone Parish #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
At first glance, Bone Parish sounds like what could be the overarching plot for a season of any variety of supernatural TV shows: a drug made of human ashes gives the people of New Orleans visions of the dead coming back to life, and various crime syndicates struggle for control of supply. What makes the story more appealing is the relatively unlimited budget that comics can work with, allowing for events on the page that might be prohibitively expensive to put on screens—and the fact that Cullen Bunn is at the helm. Bunn’s work on The Unsound proved that when he’s got a limited run to tell an ambitious and fractured horror story, he pulls out all the stops and sucks the reader in fast to a world that’s as unsettling as it is addictive. That series and Harrow County set the bar high for Bone Parish, so it’s good to see Bunn working with Jonas Scharf, a BOOM! veteran who worked on Warlords of Appalachia and War for the Planet of the Apes. If nothing else, Schraf’s got a good handle on violence. The intersection of supernatural horror and Southern gothic crime noir is a fascinating one, and can draw fans from a lot of different directions. Caitlin Rosberg


STL086359.jpeg DC Beach Blanket Bad Guys Special #1
Writer: Vita Ayala, Michael Moreci, Shea Fontana, Others
Artist: Gabriel Hardman, Francesco Mattina, Others
Publisher: DC Comics 
One-shot anthology issues offer a prime opportunity to bring new readers into the fold, and this summer DC is giving audiences fun and sun with a book dedicated to hot weather and villainous hijinks. For a buck a story at $9.99, the issue delivers 10 completely new mini-comics starring some of the most recognizable names in the DC villain roster. Ever wondered what Mr. Freeze does on the hottest day of the year in Gotham? Want to see what a Joker and Bizarro bromance would look like? This is absolutely the book for you. Paul Dini has been revisiting some of his most famous contributions to DC lore more frequently now, and it’s great to see his name along with Tim Seeley, Lee Bermejo Shea Fontana and other DC creators. If nothing else, hopefully this spells the return of ridiculousness on par with the Marvel Swimsuit Issues of the 1990s. Caitlin Rosberg


STL086355.jpeg Justice League Dark #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Eduardo Martinez Bueno
Publisher: DC Comics 
Backward-speaking magician Zatanna has been a Justice League member since before many current DC Comics readers were born, but the DCU’s magic side doesn’t always make for an easy fit with its superheroic icons—see the New 52 Justice League Dark series for how often the concept can fall flat. Luckily, this new volume finds Detective Comics collaborators James Tynion IV and Alvaro Eduardo Martinez Bueno acknowledging that friction in-story, as Wonder Woman tries—and initially fails—to recruit a magic-fluent team to deal with the mystic fallout of Justice League: No Justice. The DCU’s witchier side doesn’t trust Wonder Woman’s flashy brand of heroism, even as the stakes become more and more horrific. Tynion IV has toyed with horror concepts in and out of his cape comics, and Martinez Bueno rises to every body-twisting occasion provided in this inaugural issue. Tynion IV worked wonders with an eclectic cast in ‘Tec and looks poised to do so again, pulling from the publisher’s rich catalogue of magic characters—plus Man-Bat!—for a series that’s more Dark than Justice League, just as these characters deserve. Steve Foxe


STL084932.jpeg The Long Con #1
Writers: Dylan Meconis & Ben Coleman
Artist: EA Denich
Publisher: Oni Press
As the largest comics convention in the real world winds down, The Long Con stands poised to deliver what might very well be the best definition of Hell: a convention that never ends. The Long Con builds on the tradition of meta-commentary pop culture that is introspective about the very industry and fans who make it, with hilarious results. Five years after the world’s largest comic convention disappeared in a mysterious incident, the world learns that the convention center—not to mention the attendees inside—isn’t completely gone, and a journalist is sent to get back inside and see what’s happened. Victor Lai had been attending the convention just before it poofed, and The Long Con has continued on without him; what remains to be seen is what kind of people can survive five straight years of a con, and if Victor will get trapped there himself. The creative team behind the book has some serious nerd credentials. EA Denich and Eisner-nominated Dylan Meconis have worked on a slew of different comics available in print and online. Co-writer Ben Coleman has written for alt-weekly newspaper The Portland Mercury as well as The Doubleclicks. Con newbies and veterans alike should check out the book, if only to thank their lucky stars they haven’t been trapped in nerd heaven for five years themselves. Caitlin Rosberg


STL087160.jpeg Mr. & Mrs. X #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Oscar Bazaldua
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
When X-Men Gold #30 revealed that it wasn’t Kitty Pryde and Colossus who tied the knot, but instead Rogue and Gambit, there were a lot of questions about how exactly that had come about. Mr. & Mrs. X is set to answer those questions, fleshing out not only what led to the two deciding to finally get hitched, but also how their honeymoon and first adventures as a married couple unfold. Writer Kelly Thompson was also responsible for the five-issue Rogue & Gambit miniseries that premiered last December, and she picks up the story right as the infamously hot-and-cold duo makes it official. Oscar Bazaldua wasn’t Thompson’s partner in art for that previous series, but he’s got some experience on Spider-Man under his belt. His style leans towards pinups and cheesecake if unchecked, but Thompson’s got a solid reputation for creating and tailoring stories about strong women who aren’t hyper-sexualized needlessly. Only the first three issues have been solicited, but comic fans disappointed by the multiple failed weddings this summer should check Mr. & Mrs. X out for a successful example of matrimony. Caitlin Rosberg


STL086695.jpeg The New World #1
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Tradd Moore
Publisher: Image Comics 
It can be hard to describe some of Ales Kot’s work without falling back on pop culture references that will undoubtedly be less meaningful in a couple of years. Kot’s work often feels very of-the-moment: Material confronted secret prisons, encroaching technology and the ripple effects of long-term colonialism and western-driven wars while looking at deeply intimate interpersonal relationships. Generation Gone flipped “millennial” and superheroes over and looked at the squishy underbelly of both, delivering a story that was part Akira and part Howl, deeply rooted in time. It’s really exciting to see him tackle a story with artist Tradd Moore, who has knocked everything out of the park, from the Luther Strode series to his far-too-short run on All-New Ghost Rider. The New World says it’s Romeo and Juliet for a new era, where technology and television dictate the terms of so much of what we do. A romance, but one set in a world that looks closer to Mad Max meets Demolition Man than what we might recognize today. With Moore and Kot involved, it’s all but guaranteed to have a lot of violence and a lot of drama, but also a lot of commentary about who we are as a (pop) culture, and where we’re headed. Caitlin Rosberg


STL084682.jpeg Smiley’s Dream Book
Writer/Artist: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix
Listen, we didn’t expect Jeff Smith’s return to the world of Bone to come in picture-book format, but we’ll take what we can get. Smith’s comic epic is one of the medium’s truly monumental works of art, an all-ages saga that captivates with an original world that could only exist in the sequential-art realm—and what are picture books if not a form of sequential art? On a gorgeous sunny day, the happy-go-lucky Smiley strolls through the woods and counts some friendly birds. The birds sing and fly higher than Smiley can reach, leading to an amusing quest to keep up with his new feathered friends. It’s not the heavy stuff that Bone was made of, but it’s a full new tale from Smith, and a perfect entry point for young future Bone super-fans. Steve Foxe


STL086611.jpeg Wonder Woman #51
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Laura Braga
Publisher: DC Comics 
After an almost universally disliked run, Diana Prince is emerging with a promising new creative vision waiting in the wings. G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord will be taking over the title in November with Wonder Woman #58, but Steve Orlando and some talented guest artists will be acting as a transition team. Orlando has earned a solid reputation for nuanced stories and great characterization all over the DC roster and in his own creator-owned titles, and after the disappointing story arc that’s been dominating Wonder Woman since Greg Rucka left, he’s a breath of fresh air. This issue features art by Laura Braga, whose work on DC Comics Bombshells shows just how capable she is of keeping up with the needs of a Wonder Woman book. Jenny Frison’s stunning variant covers continue, and it’s definitely worth jumping back onto the Wonder Woman solo title as her new creative team, and crossover in the just-announced “Witching Hour” event with Justice League Dark, approach this fall. Caitlin Rosberg


STL087167.jpeg X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis
Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The first two-part installment of cartoonist Ed Piskor’s exhaustive X-Men Grand Design chronicled the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee early days of mutantkind through the Neal Adams-illustrated end of the title’s original volume—an era that even diehard X-Men fans often admittedly haven’t experienced firsthand. Second Genesis starts with the good stuff: Len Wein and Dave Cockrum’s Giant-Size X-Men #1, the franchise overhaul that laid the groundwork for writer Chris Claremont’s decades-long run with the X-Men. Piskor’s project is part history, part streamlining and fully a love letter to one of comics’ most enduring creations. As with his Hip Hop Family Tree, Piskor writes, draws, colors and letters Grand Design all by himself, resulting in a singular creation that justifies its existence far beyond its use as an encyclopedic resource. Steve Foxe

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