Black Widow, Invaders, Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/16/2019

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<i>Black Widow</i>, <i>Invaders</i>, <i>Avatar: Tsu&#8217;tey&#8217;s Path</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/16/2019

If you read our Most Anticipated Comics of 2019 lists—and you should, both of them you know Marvel Comics is hitting the beginning of the year hard. This week alone sees the release of new Black Widow and Invaders series, as well as a Marvel Comics Presents anthology revival and an oversized Star Wars special. Not to be outdone…well, actually, Marvel has every other publisher beat on sheer volume this week, but that’s not to say there aren’t other notable releases hitting stands. Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path expands the world of James Cameron’s mega-franchise, Shredder in Hell spotlights a TMNT baddie and a frequent TMNT artist who’s now stepping up to the writing plate as well and BOOM! Studios snags a splendid new writer for its Adventure Time comics. All of this and more await in this week’s Required Reading.


AdventureTimeMSMostAnticipated.jpeg Adventure Time: Marcy & Simon
Writer: Olivia Olson
Artist: Slimm Fabert
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: January 16, 2019
The Adventure Time cartoon may have concluded, but BOOM! Studios is keeping the groundbreaking series alive and well in the comics. Adventure Time Season 11 continues Finn and Jake’s story monthly, and is joined this week by a six-issue mini-series focusing on the reunited duo of Simon and Marceline as Simon seeks to make up for his time as the Ice King—by venturing into the Nightosphere! Former Adventure Time illustrator Slimm Fabert provides the art, joined by an exciting new writer: Olivia Olson, the voice actor of Marceline herself. Steve Foxe


STL106125.jpeg Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path #1
Writer: Sherri L. Smith
Artist: Jan Duursema
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
It’s mildly confusing that Dark Horse Comics is now home to both the Avatar cartoon tie-ins and the Avatar film tie-ins, but to be clear, this is the one about blue cat-people who have organic USB cords coming out of their heads. It’s almost too easy to dunk on James Cameron’s Avatar franchise, but everyone involved in the massive blockbuster is crying all the way to the bank, and the upcoming sequels—when and if they ever actually exist—will probably also rake in the cash. Astute pop-culture critics have pointed it out before, but one reason Avatar made a quintillion dollars and then faded from popular memory is that the groundbreaking CGI film had almost no related media to keep it alive in the hearts and minds of fans in the intervening years. That begins to change this week with Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path. This series explores the events of the film from perspective of the titular warrior, the betrothed of Zoe Saldana’s Neyteri until Jake Sully arrives and turns their planet and culture upside down. Avatar is written by accomplished Flygirl author Sherri L. Smith, and drawn by the criminally underrated Jan Duursema. For years, Duursema established the look of the Star Wars expanded universe, bringing a Galaxy Far, Far Away to life during a time when George Lucas’ efforts fell short. With Duursema and Smith on board, there’s a chance Avatar will correct its multimedia stumbling block and finally meaningfully expand this world. Steve Foxe


BlackWidowMostAnticipated.jpeg Black Widow
Writers: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Artist: Flaviano
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 16, 2019
The Soska Sisters have carved out a small niche in the horror scene, and starting this week, they’ll aim to carve a piece out of anyone in the Black Widow’s path. Former Russian agent and longtime Avenger Black Widow has rarely been guided by female creators, and while we loved Chris Samnee and Mark Waid’s go at the character, the Soska Sisters bring with them the promise of visceral, unflinching new paths for the Widow to walk. Joining the twin directing duo on art is Flaviano, whose past work with Marvel has often skewed more lighthearted than Russian blood vendettas. The Black Widow’s status in the Marvel U. since Secret Empire has been spotty: she was dead, then she was back, then she had an Infinity Stone, then she went undercover alongside Weapon H at Captain America’s behest. With any luck, Black Widow will recenter Natasha around what she does best: make bad men pay for their bad deeds. Steve Foxe


STL106564.jpeg Days of Hate #12
Writer: Aleš Kot
Artist: Danijel Žeželj
Publisher: Image Comics 
This week the final issue of Days of Hate comes out, wrapping up an evocative and interesting take on dystopian comics creation. Writer Aleš Kot and artist Danijel Žeželj didn’t create a vision of the end of the world that came from a sudden disaster, natural or otherwise. Instead, Days of Hate is a potential version of our own world in a short time, subject to a level of tyranny and fascism that feels frighteningly possible. The story so far has followed two women, both fighting against oppression in very different ways. Kot’s work has often been overtly political but Days of Hate has been one of Kot’s most directly confrontational yet, while still weaving in deeply emotional moments. The shared history between the women, who have taken very different paths to fight back against the lives they’ve been forced into, gives Days of Hate a sense of gothic romance, which Žeželj’s moody, painterly art only heightens. The conclusion to Days of Hate might not be explosive, but it is a satisfying wrap-up and a must-read for anyone who wants a peek into what our world is dangerously edging toward. Caitlin Rosberg


InvadersMostAnticipated.jpeg Invaders
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Carlos Magno & Butch Guice
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 16, 2019
Invaders, timed perfectly to Marvel’s 80th-anniversary celebrations, addresses the current dynamic between WWII allies Captain America, Winter Soldier and the original Human Torch—and their former ally Namor, who is currently in the midst of a standoff with any and all land-dwellers following dramatic actions in Avengers. Artist Carlos Magno’s name should ring familiar to readers of BOOM!’s Planet of the Apes and King Kong efforts, although he’ll now be applying his simian skills to the significantly less hirsute Sub-Mariner in the modern day, while former Captain America artist Butch Guice handles WWII flashbacks. Writer Chip Zdarsky is usually known for more comedic tales, but this first issues shows that he has a respectful grip on the subject matter and enticing secrets in store for these long-lasting characters. Steve Foxe


STL106639.jpeg Isola #6
Writers: Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl
Artists: Karl Kerschl & M.SASSY.K
Publisher: Image Comics 
The second arc of Isola begins this week along with a new publishing schedule. The story of a missing queen and a runaway captain of the royal guard continues as Olwyn comes back from the land of the dead, where readers last saw her in August. The first five issues have been collected into a trade that was released in October, so this is the perfect time for new readers to jump in. Isola is deeply imaginative and beautifully drawn, inventive and colorful in a way that evokes both Hayao Miyazaki and Jim Henson. There’s a fascinating world with mysterious magic and political intrigue that’s left Queen Olwyn and Captain Rook in extraordinary danger. Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher have proven before, with Gotham Academy and Batgirl, that they are a talented storytelling team that finds skilled collaborators to work with, and thanks to Kerschel and colorist M.SASSY.K, Isola has some truly stunning art to enjoy along with an intriguing story that’s only begun to unfold. Isola Prologue is also out this week, collecting a 16-page prologue story that was printed in the back of Motor Crush. Caitlin Rosberg


STL106270.jpeg Marvel Comics Presents #1
Writers: Ann Nocenti, Greg Pak, Charles Soule
Artists: Greg Land, Tomm Coker, Paulo Siqueira
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
To celebrate the publisher’s 80th anniversary, Marvel is bringing back the classic anthology series Marvel Comics Presents, with each issue advancing stories starring some of the most recognizable characters from Marvel canon. As fits the throwback nature of the title, the first initial arcs are stories from past decades of Marvel history. The first includes a tale of Captain America in World War II, which is expected, but it also has one for Namor, and another following Wolverine in the 1940s. The creative talent behind this issue is exciting, especially with Ann Nocenti, Greg Pak and Charles Soule contributing. Only the first three issues have been announced, but each could act as a great introduction to some of Marvel’s most popular characters and provide the historical context to folks who love the long legacies of Marvel Comics but aren’t sure where to jump in. Caitlin Rosberg


STL105820.jpeg Shredder in Hell #1
Writer/Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Despite the general impenetrability of mainstream superhero comics, it’s franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers that get portrayed as daunting to newcomers who haven’t been following the whole saga. Perhaps it’s because their ongoing storylines are more closely managed than the sprawling and frequently retconned Marvel and DC Comics universes, but whatever the reason, the result is criminally under-read books. TMNT diehards swear by IDW Publishing’s managing of the property over the last few years, and even a pizza-averse comic fan who can’t spot the difference between heroes in a half-shell and Franklin should be impressed by the caliber of artists working on the line, from Sophie Campbell to Mateus Santolouco. This week, Santolouco strikes out on his own for Shredder in Hell, a five-issue mini-series that follows the sharp-edged TMNT arch-fiend as he struggles to crawl his way out of the afterlife. IDW is already home to one excellent [Blank] in Hell series—Godzilla, in that case—and the prospect of former Dial H artist Santolouco devising his own infernal plot to draw should entice both regular TMNT readers and curious new hatchlings. Steve Foxe


STL106271.jpeg Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1
Writers: Jody Houser, Ethan Sacks, Marc Guggenheim
Artists: Carlos Goméz, Paolo Villanelli, Caspar Wijngaard
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The first third of Marvel’s ambitious 2019 Star Wars comic project hits its midpoint this week as the Age of Republic Special spotlights four characters from the Prequel Trilogy era who don’t quite warrant the full-issue treatment Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Jango Fett and Darth Maul got before them. While the other Age of Republic one-shots are all written by Jody Houser—who is also on deck for the upcoming Count Dooku, Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker and General Greivous issues—here she shares page space with fellow writers Ethan Sacks and Marc Guggenheim, who craft tales of Mace Windu and Captain Rex, respectively. Houser and artist Carlos Goméz personally handle the Asajj Ventress story, focusing on the Clone Wars character who became a fan-favorite despite never appearing in a full-length film. This issue is perhaps also notable for what’s not in it: the original solicit promised a Jar Jar Binks story written and illustrated by Invaders scribe Chip Zdarsky, but that match made in comedy heaven didn’t make it into the final product. Fear not, though, Gungan fans: Binks still appears in the Captain Rex short from Guggenheim and Caspar Wijngaard. Steve Foxe


STL105945.jpeg A Very DC Valentine’s Day
Writers: Steve Orlando, Mark Russell, Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Others
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino, Kelley Jones, Bryan Hitch, John Timms, Others
Publisher: DC Comics 
There’s not always a lot of space for romance in superhero comics, but A Very DC Valentine’s Day collects a slew of different love stories from all over the DC universe, from big names like Wonder Woman to lesser-knowns like Frankenstein. Anthology collections like this one can be fun diversions for frequent readers and easy introductions for new fans that want to learn more. Even better, they’re a quick way to get to know a wide variety of creators at once. Especially for folks who want to try out a couple of different storytelling and art styles who prefer one-shot stories that are entirely self-contained, bind-ups like A Very DC Valentine’s Day can be a cost-effective way to get new comics. This book collects The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special #1, last year’s Young Monsters in Love #1 and Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special #1. The stories range from sweet to bawdy with some of DC’s top talent at the wheel, and it’s coming out early enough to buy for or share with a special someone in February. Caitlin Rosberg

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