The Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, Part 1

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GIJoeSierraMuerteMostAnticipated.jpeg G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte
Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 6, 2019
A select few cartoonists have been able to will their childhood dream careers into existence: Ed Piskor is retelling the whole X-Men saga in X-Men: Grand Design, Tom Scioli pursues his own gonzo projects alongside action-figure mashups like Go-Bots and Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, and now Michel Fiffe lends his unmistakable art to G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte, a quintessential clash between America’s elite fighting force and the snake-themed terrorist organization Cobra. Fiffe is best known for Copra, which he writes, draws, colors and letters himself. The word “auteur” gets thrown around a bit too casually at times, but you’d be hard pressed to find a contemporary creator who has better earned the label than Fiffe, and anything he touches, from a Suicide Squad homage to a Bloodstrike revival to a toy tie-in is automatic reading in our eyes. Steve Foxe


STL063873.jpeg Long Road to Liquor City
Writer: Macon Blair
Artist: Joe Flood
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: February 6, 2019
There’s been a small resurgence of travelin’-hobo comics, from Kyle Starks’ Rock Candy Mountain to Cecil Castellucci and Jose Pimienta’s Soupy Leaves Home. Maybe it’s because so many of us would love to toss out our smartphones and live off the land these days (although we know we’d only last about six hours before the need to check Twitter did us in), but this February, we’ll be able to add one more title to the legacy: The Long Road to Liquor City from writer Macon Blair and artist Joe Flood. Blair is the filmmaker behind I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore and an actor in films including Green Room, The Florida Project and Logan Lucky, making his Oni Press debut alongside his Hellcity: The Whole Damn Thing collaborator Flood. Flood is also the writer and artist of Cellies from Lion Forge’s Roar imprint, as well as a contributor to the Science Comics series. Steve Foxe


OldManQuillMostAnticipated.jpeg Old Man Quill
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 6, 2019
If Old Man Hawkeye seemed like a bit of a stretch at 12 issues, Old Man Quill at least offers the promise of heretofore unseen corners of the Wastelands first introduced in Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original “Old Man Logan” arc of Wolverine. In this maxi-series from Old Man Hawkeye writer Ethan Sack and Valiant mainstay Robert Gill, an aged Star-Lord is summoned by what’s left of the Guardians of the Galaxy for one last heist. “Mad Max in space” might seem reductive, but we’ll take it. If the Old Man-iverse has to be a thing, here’s hoping the elderly Punisher who debuted in last year’s Old Man Logan annual is the next in line for the series treatment. Steve Foxe


RS1_AmandaConner.jpg Red Sonja
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Fueled by vengeance and an affinity for ale, Red Sonja is one of the strongest warriors alive in her eponymous fantasy comic. The new creative team—writer Mark Russell, artist Mirko Colak, colorist Dearbhla Kelly and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou—hope to craft an epic by building up the world around the character. Russell has made a claim to fame with his satirical hits at DC Comics, including Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles and The Flintstones, even garnering Eisner attention for the latter, while Colak comes fresh out of Dark Horse’s former Conan series and Kingsway West. With Conan finding new life at Marvel Comics, it’s the perfect time for this red-haired warrior to get a rejuvenation of her own. Josh Hilgenberg


ThisWoman'sWorkMostAnticipated.jpeg This Woman’s Work
Writer/Artist: Julie Delporte
Publisher: Drawn + Quarterly
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Delporte’s last book for D+Q, Everywhere Antennas (2014) was as frustrating as it was intense and beautiful. The story of a woman who is highly sensitive to the radiation emitted by electrical devices, it was hard to gauge just how we should feel about its protagonist. But maybe that’s not a negative. The cover of this autobiographical work features a woman fighting a bear, rendered in the radiant, soft colored pencils that are Delporte’s medium of choice. They feel difficult and so does she, but shouldn’t she be allowed to be just that? Hillary Brown


AvengersMostAnticipated.jpeg Avengers: No Road Home
Writers: Al Ewing, Mark Waid & Jim Zub
Artist: Paco Medina
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Jason Aaron’s core Avengers title admittedly took an arc to really feel like it was Aaron behind the wheel—but now the former Star Wars and current Conan scribe has his pedal to the metal and is building an impressive new era for Marvel’s premiere team. Before Aaron took over, a trio of writers and an alternating array of artists helped ease the transition with Avengers: No Surrender, a massively scoped crossover between various Avengers squad that brought big bads and jade giants back to life and even retconned a new hero into Avengers history. Now those writers—Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub—are back with artist Paco Medina for Avengers: No Road Home, a follow-up weekly series that follows a few of the Avengers outside of Aaron’s purview (plus a surly space Raccoon) as they tie up plot threads from No Surrender. It’s a testament to the creative team’s strength that a transitional event ended up demanding a sequel of its very own. Steve Foxe


BloomMostAnticipated.jpg Bloom
Writer: Kevin Panetta
Artist: Savanna Ganucheau
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Love is in the air—along with the homey scent of fresh bread. Co-created by writer Kevin Panetta and illustrator Savanna Ganucheau, Bloom follows recent high school graduate Ari as he scrambles to find a replacement for himself at his family’s bakery. In a quest to leave sticky dough and floury messes behind for good, Ari meets aspiring baker Hector, and finds himself forced to reconsider his urge to leave the bakery behind for good. Panetta has done stellar work with teen-centered comics in the past with Zodiac Starforce, and it’ll be exciting to see him take on a softer, sweeter romance instead of something more action packed—plus Ganucheau’s art is absolutely stunning. Her character designs are distinct and expressive, and the mellow blue and white palette gives Bloom a warm, romantic vibe perfect for a coming-of-age story like Ari’s. C.K. Stewart


MarvelActionBlackPantherMostAnticipated.jpeg Marvel Action: Black Panther
Writers: Kyle Baker, Vita Ayala
Artists: Kyle Baker, Juan Samu, Arianna Florean
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 13, 2019
IDW Publishing’s Marvel Action imprint is explicitly geared at crafting Marvel superhero stories for younger readers, but we can’t shake the feeling that they’re making Marvel Action: Black Panther just for us. Legendary Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn, Plastic Man) launches the series—a coup that Marvel itself would have been lucky to land. Baker’s first arc, with artist Juan Samu, involves unnatural weather and fauna threatening Wakanda, prompting T’Challa to turn to his sister Shuri and mother Ramonda for help. After Baker’s first arc, rising star Vita Ayala joins for a guest spot alongside artist Arianna Florean. Ayala is also announced to guest-write Marvel’s Shuri series, which is a hopeful sign that Marvel and IDW’s Marvel Action will share some of their most promising talents between the publishers. Steve Foxe


WonderTwinsMostAnticipated.jpeg Wonder Twins
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Publisher: Wonder Comics/ DC Comics 
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics imprint got off to a fantastic start with Young Justice #1, and now all eyes turn toward the rest of the slate, including this revamp of DC teens who predate Young Justice but perhaps command less nostalgia power. The Wonder Twins became pop-culture punch lines after their Super Powers heyday (mostly thanks to Zan’s seemingly limited ability to turn into…forms of water), and despite occasional attempts to integrate them into other iterations of the DC universe, they’ve never stuck. Enter devilishly clever writer Mark Russell, Mera: Tidebreaker artist Stephen Byrne and the Bendis stamp of approval. Russell and Byrne’s six-issue series finds Zan and Jayna attempting to fit in at South Metropolis High School—and as interns at the Hall of Justice. Will this be the series that finally ingrains the Wonder Twins into the DCU proper? Who knows—we’re just impressed at the attempt. Steve Foxe


HIGH LEVEL 1.jpg High Level
Writer: Rob Sheridan
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Release Date: February 20, 2019
DC Comics’ storied mature-reader imprint Vertigo began a massive rejuvenation project last year, announcing the return of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe alongside seven brand-new series (now six, with the more-than-justified cancellation of Border Town). Hex Wives, American Carnage and Goddess Mode are on shelves now from a mix of familiar comic names and exciting outside talents, and High Level is next up at bat. Writer Rob Sheridan worked with the band Nine Inch Nails on an alternate-reality game, and one assumes that experience helped him craft a post-dystopia in which human society rebuilds itself from scratch, including the titular mythical city from which no one ever returns. Artist Barnaby Bagenda helped Tom King realize complicated sci-fi territory in Omega Men, and it’s enticing to see what he’ll do when building a world from the ground up. Also on the horizon from Vertigo: SafeSex from sex-ed writer and podcaster Tina Horn and Unfollow artist Mike Dowling. Steve Foxe


HulkverinesMostAnticipated.jpeg Hulkverines
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ario Anindito
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 20, 2019
File Greg Pak, Cory Smith and Guiu Vilanova’s Weapon H under “concepts that definitely shouldn’t have worked yet somehow did.” The Weapon X/Totally Awesome Hulk crossover that spawned the ungodly hybrid of Wolverine and the Hulk seemed to drag on forever, but the resulting solo series starring the gamma-irradiated, Adamantium-laced ex-soldier has been leagues better than the ‘90s gimmick you’d expect it to be. Chock that up to Pak’s character skills, especially with Hulks. Weapon H has clashed with Roxxon, traveled to Weirdworld and picked up some unexpected allies along the way—including Black Widow. Now it seems that Marvel’s recent purge of redundant characters may be catching up with him as Hulkverines sees Weapon H’s genetic godfathers come calling. It’s too early to tell if this will end up being Weapon H’s swan song—how long can a Hulk/Wolverine hybrid realistically exist in the Marvel universe?—but it’s a sure bet that Pak and collaborator Ario Anindito will make this potential sendoff worth your while. Steve Foxe


IncursionCoverA.jpg Incursion
Writers: Alex Paknadel & Andy Diggle
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: February 20, 2019
One of Valiant’s smarter publishing strategies is its focus on shorter, relatively self-contained volumes and limited events, which offers frequent jumping-on points for new readers. You don’t need to have read prior Eternal Warrior tales to understand Incursion, it’ll merely deepen your appreciation for the complicated father/daughter-ish bond growing between the Eternal Warrior and Tama, the current (incredibly powerful) Geomancer. And since Imperatrix Virago, Incursion’s ruthless primary threat, is a brand-new creation, both new and returning readers have something to discover together. Valiant’s approach is also a boon to readers who prefer to follow creators, not characters, and Incursion offers up quite the roster behind the scenes: artist Doug Braithwaite, a mainstay of Valiant’s efforts; Andy Diggle, current mastermind of Shadowman; and Alex Paknadel, who makes his Valiant debut co-writing with Diggle. Paknadel is the whip-smart rising talent behind books like Friendo and the latest arc of Kino from Lion Forge. Also on the horizon from Valiant: four new limited series in their “Breakthrough” initiative. Steve Foxe


StrongholdMostAnticipated.jpeg Stronghold
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: February 20, 2019
While it’s true that some AfterShock Comics series struggle to break through the noise, the ones that do are remarkable works that benefit from the free reign the publisher offers. A Walk Through Hell was one of our favorite horror series of 2018, thanks to its absolutely unflinching content, and Stronghold seems poised to be an early standout this year. Written and illustrated by two criminally under-appreciated talents, Phil Hester and Ryan Kelly, Stronghold subverts the Superman myth by revealing that our planet is actually a prison for an amnesiac alien who possesses incalculable power. Living under the name Michael Grey, the alien works as a midwestern insurance underwriter and is kept in the dark about his true past by a shadowy society—until someone falls in love with him and considers risking the entire planet to bring that love to fruition. Also coming up from AfterShock: Dark Red, about vampires toiling away in MAGA country, and Oberon, a supernatural adventure about the titular king of faeries. Steve Foxe


DnDDarkenedWish_TessFowlerIDW_Cover.jpeg Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish
Writer: B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 27, 2019
Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish will bring readers back to the 1987 setting The Forgotten Realms. Its eponymous campaign is one of the most popular among D&D players, with adaptations across novels, previous comics and videogames. Tess Fowler will be taking up art duties alongside writer B. Dave Walters. Fowler’s most recent project is the creator-owned Kid Lobotomy. Walters is a motivational speaker as well as a writer, and co-host of the Ask Your Black Geek Friend. Their collaboration will follow a young wizard named Helene, along with her friends, in the war-torn Sea of Swords. Josh Hilgenberg


ForgottenQueen_Valiant_Cover.jpg The Forgotten Queen
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: February 27, 2019
Originally created by Matt Kindt and Pere Perez for the Unity event, War-Monger is a fan-favorite Valiant villain with a vengeance. According to the series’ first solicitations, she’s a witch who traveled along with the Mongol Empire. Her powers could turn any warrior into a berserker—a War-Monger. In The Forgotten Queen, readers will see where War-Monger came from, as well as where she stands in the Valiant universe today, courtesy of Euthanauts writer Tini Howard and Generation X artist Amilcar Pinna, making it a great jumping-on point for anyone interested in the character. Josh Hilgenberg


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