Junji Ito’s Frankenstein, Shuri, Lucifer & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/17/2018

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Junji Ito&#8217;s <i>Frankenstein</i>, <i>Shuri</i>, <i>Lucifer</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/17/2018

Halloween sure is in the air (even if the local CVS is already stocking Christmas decorations): a full half of our list falls on the frightful side of life, with the shuffling undead, possessions, Satanic panic, ominous buildings and a man-made monster or two making their way to your local comic shop this week. Those of you opposed to tricks and treats may want to stick to Marvel’s newest leading ladies, Nadia Van Dyne and Shuri—or to Aquicorn Cove, the perfect title to read along with the kids in your life. Hey, Kiddo covers more mature material, but its National Book Award nomination for young people’s literature makes it a must for any teen readers eager for their next graphic novel read. If none of that does the trick, can we interest you in Superman’s connection (or lack thereof) to the Jewish faith? Whatever your desired topic this week, we’ve got you covered with Required Reading.


STL085143.jpeg Aquicorn Cove
Writer/Artist: Katie O’Neill
Publisher: Oni Press
The latest release from The Tea Dragon Society cartoonist Katie O’Neill hits stands this week, in sharp contrast from the ghoulish delights stacking up ahead of Halloween. Like Tea Dragon before it, Aquicorn Cove showcases O’Neill’s pleasantly gentle illustrations and knack for creating fictional creatures that inspire empathy and aww-ing in equal degrees. Protagonist Lana rescues an injured aquicorn with the help of her aunt, but slowly discovers that her favored relative may be hiding some secrets about her role in how the community interacts with the aquicorns and the ecosystem around them. With themes about coexisting with nature—something humanity is infamously, increasingly bad at—Aquicorn makes for sweet, poignant reading for kids and adults alike. Steve Foxe


STL097718.jpeg Exorsisters #1
Writer: Ian Boothby
Artist: Gisèle Lagacé
Publisher: Image Comics 
October is the perfect time to launch a spooky new comic, and judging by the title alone, Exorsisters fits that bill perfectly. Written by Ian Boothby and with art by Gisèle Lagacé, the book revolves around twin sisters who team up to rescue people from Hell and Faustian agreements, all while protecting their own secret. Boothby is probably best known for his work on titles like The Simpsons and MAD Magazine, so it won’t be a surprise if Exorsisters is just as funny as it is full of demons and bad times in the afterlife. Though a lot of Lagacé’s previous work is on French comics and her name is probably unfamiliar to many American readers, her art in Archie was clean and bright, with an inviting and character-focused style. This book seems like a great fit for fans of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Emily the Strange, with a story that sits where monster-of-the-week shows like Supernatural meet a goth version of Kim & Kim. Caitlin Rosberg


STL094524.jpeg Frankenstein
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: VIZ Media
Famed manga master Junji Ito’s work frequently tops lists of the scariest comics ever created, but he’s never been shy about his classic references, citing Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and, one must assume, Mary Shelley. His adaptation of Shelley’s foundational text is surprisingly faithful, with even the oft-discarded framing sequences left intact, and only minor changes (a decapitation subs in for a hanging) here and there to highlight the more body-horror-ish elements of Shelley’s tale. Ito’s man-made monsters are giants among men, making them even more unsettling and uncanny compared to the ambitious doctor and the other human characters, and a simple grin in Ito’s hands can inspire more terror than buckets of gore from lesser creators. Also included are a number of shorts connected by a house with strange properties—fans of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House take note—and a brief piece about Ito’s mother’s dog. Aww. Steve Foxe


GideonFalls7MainCover.jpg Gideon Falls #7
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Publisher: Image Comics 
Gideon Falls is one of 2018’s most ghoulish delights: a dual narrative set between the city and the countryside that explores the urban legend of the Black Barn, a structure that appears throughout history to foretell death and madness. Co-creators Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino tap into the mounting dread and heard-it-from-a-friend-of-a-friend compulsion of creepypasta stories, with the much more careful hand of experienced storytellers bringing it all to shadow-drenched life. Gideon Falls #6 wrapped up the first arc by actually inviting readers into the Black Barn—an experience that has to be read to be believed. This week, the series returns with the first part of “Original Sins,” a new story arc that delves deeper into the mysteries of the ominous structure and the protagonists drawn to it. Also available this week, in plenty of time for Halloween reading, is the first trade paperback, collecting issues #1 through #6. Steve Foxe


HeyKiddocover1.jpg Hey, Kiddo
Writer/Artist: Jarrett Krosoczka
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix
Jarrett Krosoczka is a New York Times bestselling cartoonist, best known for his Lunch Lady series of graphic novels, picture books like Punk Farm and the latest installments of the Star Wars Jedi Academy books first created by Jeffrey Brown. Like an estimated eight million children in the United States, Krosoczka is also the child of a parent who struggled with addiction, which claimed his mother’s life last summer. Krosoczka first spoke publicly about his mother’s addiction to heroin and his childhood growing up with his grandparents in a widely shared 2012 TED Talk. This week, Scholastic’s Graphix imprint publishes Hey, Kiddo, Krosoczka’s memoir about his childhood and teen years, a period of time in which art became a lifeline and a way to process his mother’s battles and the absence of his birth father. The book has already earned a National Book Award nomination and is sure to have a profound impact on those who pick it up. Steve Foxe


STL096799.jpeg Lucifer #1
Writer: Dan Watters
Artists: Sebastian Fiumara & Max Fiumara
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
With the revival of Vertigo comes the return of one of the most infamous parts of the imprint’s mythos: Satan himself has a starring role in another solo book. Though there was a short-lived Lucifer series in 2015 and a relatively popular television show based on the character, it has been a while since Lucifer got the kind of support and attention he was used to during Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s landmark series, but he’s back now and hunting down his missing son. Brothers Max and Sebastian Fiumara are on art, having proven their supernatural mettle on Abe Sapien together. Dan Watters is at the writing helm, and his work on both Limbo and The Shadow has shown he has a steady hand with dark humor and hardboiled noir storytelling, both of which should come in handy for a character like Lucifer. The relaunch of the Sandman Universe set expectations high, so the team has a lot to live up to, but hopefully their deal with this particular devil will hold up to reader scrutiny. Caitlin Rosberg


ZombieCoverMain.jpg Marvel Zombie #1
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Stefano Raffaele
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
While the plural Marvel Zombies and the singular Marvel Zombie, Simon Garth, both have long histories buried within their rotting flesh, this new Marvel Zombie (singular) one-shot requires no knowledge of those tales, as writer W. Maxwell Prince and artist Stefano Raffaele introduce readers to a new iteration of the undead apocalypse, where a handful of heroes including Misty Knight and Moon Girl serve as humanity’s final Defenders (wink) against the brain-hungry remnants of civilization. We here at Paste are big fans of Prince’s surreal, off-kilter work on the Image Comics series Ice Cream Man, so we’re thrilled to recommend his viscera-filled debut Marvel Comics work. Stefano Raffaele and Rachel Rosenberg’s decaying interior work certainly don’t hurt matters either—just wait until you see their Doc Ock. Also worth checking out from Marvel’s spooky spectrum this week is What If? Ghost Rider #1, in which former editor Sebastian Girner and artist Caspar Wijngaard give Robbie Reyes a black-metal makeover. Steve Foxe


STL097457.jpeg Shuri #1
Writer: Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Of all of the breakout stars from the Black Panther film, nothing quite matches the enthusiasm fans have for T’Challa’s younger sister and Wakanda’s resident tech genius, Shuri. Though she’s played a large part in the Black Panther comics in the past, particularly throughout Ta-Nehisi Coates’s tenure, it’s high time she got a spotlight of her own—and one that bridges the gap between her screen portrayal and her more mystical comics iteration. Written by novelist Nnedi Okorafor with art by Hawkeye and Captain America artist Leonardo Romero, Shuri stands poised to fill the hole left behind by the end of several female-led books on Marvel’s roster. Okorafor has a significant fanbase and success beyond comics, on top of well earned plaudits for her recent comics work. Along with Coates, Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey on Black Panther spinoffs and Eve Ewing on the forthcoming Riri Williams book, Okorafor continues a trend at Marvel hiring talented prose and poetry authors to spearhead books about Black characters, and Wakandans in particular. Okorafor’s imaginative, skilled and explicitly afrofuturistic work makes her a perfect fit for Shuri’s solo title, and an exciting addition to the comics industry at large. Caitlin Rosberg


SupermanIsntJewish.jpg Superman Isn’t Jewish…But I Am (Kinda)
Writer: Jimmy Bemon
Artist: Emilie Boudet
Publisher: Life Drawn/ Humanoids
Identity is a complex, often confusing reckoning, especially for a young person—or even for most capes-and-tights crusaders. In Jimmy Bemon and Emilie Boudet’s Superman Isn’t Jewish (But I Am…Kinda), protagonist Benjamin proudly proclaims, “I’m Jewish. Like Superman!” To Benjamin’s young mind, Judaism is like a super power and Hebrew is akin to the Kryptonian language. As he learns more about his religion and its traditions, Benjamin finds himself torn between his fear of disappointing his Jewish father and his desire to understand his Catholic mother. Partly autobiographical, Superman Isn’t Jewish (But I Am…Kinda) is the newest release from Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint, and serves as a humorous, poignant journey of acceptance and learning to love the hero within ourselves. Steve Foxe


STL097494.jpeg The Unstoppable Wasp #1
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Gurihuru
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
While they’ve rarely been the main focus of Marvel’s monthly comics initiatives, the last few years have seen the House of Ideas steadily carving out a space for young girls interested in superhero exploits. From the widely successful Ms. Marvel to the surprise hit Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to out-of-continuity tales like Marvel Rising, Marvel is waking up to the reality that the fandom is diverse and eager to see comics all along the tonal spectrum. The Nadia Van Dyne version of the Wasp has been buzzing around for a few years now, and her previous solo series made fast fans of its readers thanks to its female friendships and focus on science-based heroics. Now original writer Jeremy Whitley (Rainbow Brite) and popular artist Gurihuru are back for a second round, with the Agents of G.I.R.L. (Geniuses In action Research Labs) in tow. Books like this catch a lot of flak from certain regressive segments of “fans,” but if you don’t like them—don’t friggin’ buy them. New audiences are coming to Marvel from all sorts of formerly unexpected places, and it bodes well for the future of the industry that the publisher is eager to meet them on their own turf. Steve Foxe

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