The Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, Part 1

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BlackHammer45MostAnticipated.jpeg Black Hammer ‘45
Writers:   Jeff Lemire  & Ray Fawkes
Artists: Matt & Sharlene Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Black Hammer had a hell of a 2018, with The Doom Age progressing the core mystery into wild new territory, Doctor Star illuminating a somber side story and The Quantum Age charting the far, far future of it all. This March, Black Hammer turns back the clock with Black Hammer ‘45, and co-creator Jeff Lemire is bringing along a few old friends. Underwinter writer/artist Ray Fawkes joins Lemire on scripting duties, with Dept. H creators Matt and Sharlene Kindt lending their signature artwork. Set during the Golden Age, Black Hammer ‘45 introduces the Black Hammer Squadron, seemingly an homage to DC Comics’ Blackhawks, as they face off against occult threats. Steve Foxe

DarthVaderMostAnticipated.jpeg Darth Vader: Dark Visions
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artists: Paolo Villanelli, Brian Level, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Marvel’s Star Wars comics are entering 2019 in a bit of a holding pattern: the main series seems to be reaching its breaking point in how much it can mine from the period between Episodes IV and V and the overarching one-shots of Age of the Republic/Rebellion/Resistance project are enjoyable but too brief to amount to anything substantial. It’s a shame, then, that this promising series comes with an awkward asterisk. Darth Vader: Dark Visions is pretty clearly the same project from which writer Chuck Wendig was fired, reportedly due to his social media conduct. Wendig’s already written issues seem to have been tossed, but new writer Dennis Hopeless has the same structure: five standalone Vader stories, each offering a different perspective on the Dark Lord of the Sith. With artists like Brian Level involved, we’ll try to ignore the Star Destroyer-sized elephant (bantha?) in the room, but consider this one a complicated, even controversial endorsement. Steve Foxe

MeettheSkrullsMostAnticipated.jpeg Meet the Skrulls
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
With Chelsea Cain and Aud Koch’s Vision sequel indefinitely shelved, Marvel has seemingly looked to the stars for its next twisted domestic drama. Spider-Man/Deadpool writer Robbie Thompson and Doctor Strange artist Niko Henrichson will invite readers to Meet the Skrulls in this five-issue series about a family of the green, wrinkly chinned shape-shifters trying to fit in undercover as a typical earth family…while secretly paving the way for an alien invasion. The Skrulls haven’t played a huge role at Marvel since Secret Invasion way back in 2008, and it’s actually pretty refreshing that this series seems to be standing on its own, not leading into or spinning out of any other storylines (although it’s probably not a coincidence that Meet the Skrulls will hit shelves just as Captain Marvel introduces Skrulls to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Steve Foxe

MorninginAmericaMostAnticipated.jpeg Morning in America
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Magdalene Visaggio is everywhere in comics these days—including elsewhere on this list. She’s built a loyal fandom through her quippy writing and skill with complex female characters, most notably on display in Kim & Kim with artist Claudia Aguirre. It’s pretty thrilling, then, to see Visaggio and Aguirre reteaming for Morning in America, an ‘80s-set small-town adventure about a mysterious new factory, a rash of disappearances and a plucky girl gang standing up against strange monsters. Aguirre’s slick cartooning has grown by leaps and bounds with each new project, and we’ll be eager to see what it looks like in the pages of this Paper Girls-esque new series. Steve Foxe

RoninIslandMostAnticipated.jpeg Ronin Island
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Greg Pak is one of the most reliable writers at the Big Two of Marvel and DC Comics, but as Mech Cadet Yu proves, some of his best work comes from cutting loose on original properties. Set in the 19th century after a mysterious attack wipes out major cities in Japan, China and Korea, Ronin Island follows the survivors from all three lands who congregate on a hidden island to create a new society. This tenuous peace is threatened when a new Shogun emerges and expects payment in return for repelling an army of mutated invaders. Beyond the excitement of Pak creating a new world tied to Asian culture, Ronin Island should land on readers’ radar thanks to artist Giannis Milonogiannis, a fan-favorite for his manga-inspired work on his own Old City Blues and his stunning contribution to last year’s Ghost in the Shell tribute anthology. Steve Foxe

SECOND COMING 1.jpg Second Coming
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Richard Pace
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Before he established himself as the king of unexpectedly inventive refreshes, Mark Russell wrote God is Disappointed in You, an irreverent yet not sacrilegious retelling of the Bible with all the filler hacked out. He’ll put that experience to good use alongside Imaginary Fiends artist Richard Pace in Second Coming, which finds Jesus sent to Earth to learn from the superhero Sun-Man, the “varsity quarterback son” God never had. Jesus is (rightly) appalled to see what we’ve done with his teachings, which will surely lead to some interesting back-and-forths with the archetypal superhero. One of Vertigo’s backbones is the imprint’s willingness to poke fun at and thoughtfully examine religion—Preacher and Lucifer call Vertigo home, after all—which situates Second Coming in good company. Steve Foxe

Update: This title has been cancelled by publisher DC Comics

ConanBelitMostAnticipated.jpeg Age of Conan: Bêlit
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar’s first issue of Conan the Barbarian marked a faithful new Marvel reign for Robert E. Howard’s classic character…but felt just a bit too familiar for many readers of Aaron’s defining run on Thor. Luckily, he’s not the only creator lining up to put a stamp on Conan’s world. Beginning in March, Euthanauts co-creator Tini Howard and Mockingbird artist Kate Niemczyk spin the tale of Bêlit, pirate queen of the Black Coast and one of the most (in)famous women in the Conan mythos. Howard (Tini, not Robert E.) has a talent for portraying complex, imperfect women, and it should be a bloody blast to see Niemczyk tackle the Hyperborean setting. Conan himself is all well and good, but it’ll be series like this that help flesh out his world and stake his modern claim at Marvel. Also arriving shortly: Savage Sword of Conan from Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney. Steve Foxe

AssassinationNationMostAnticipated.jpeg Assassin Nation
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Skybound/ Image Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Erica Henderson’s award-winning work on titles like Jughead and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl have earned her a passionate following, and it’s exciting to see her tackle a creator-owned story with her friend Kyle Starks. Starks is probably best known for Sexcastle, which he both drew and authored, and the two of them share an outsized and goofy sense of humor that promises good things for Assassin Nation. The plot revolves around 20 people hired to be bodyguards for the world’s best assassin, now retired. Obviously, all 20 new hires need to be incredible assassins in their own right if they’re going to protect their new client, which inevitably leads to all sorts of shenanigans. It sounds like an incredible read, especially fun since it will give Henderson a chance to dive into something gruesome and gory after years of working on more all-ages titles. Assassin Nation seems like a must-read for followers of Henderson and Starks, but also fans of humorous mayhem. Caitlin Rosberg

CALKAT 1 CVR 4X6 SOL.jpg Calamity Kate
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Corin Howell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Eisner and GLAAD Media Award-nominated writer Magdalene Visaggio is everywhere these days, from Eternity Girl and various anthologies at DC Comics to the ongoing saga of Kim & Kim and soon one of Humanoids debut shared-universe series—and starting this March, she can add Dark Horse Comics to that list when she joins artist Corin Howell for Calamity Kate, a modern-day monster-hunting misadventure. Calamity Kate follows the titular Kate Strand after she shakes off her destructive tendencies and hikes out to Los Angeles to fulfill her dream of becoming a gun-toting monster killer. With this signficant career change, Kate comes face to face with new challenges, unexpected relationships and plenty of competition, especially when it comes to the biggest monster bounty in the land: The Seven Fabled Beasts of Yore. Zombies, vampires, demons, goblins and plenty of California drama await readers. Steve Foxe

TheGoonPowell.jpg The Goon
Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Nearly two decades ago, cartoonist Eric Powell created The Goon, a whisky-drinking brawler who mixes it up with mobsters, skunk apes, zombies and other freaks that go bump in the night. The character became one of the most notable original creations of the modern era, standing alongside Mike Mignola’s Hellboy as a supernatural success. Powell’s seemingly final The Goon issue came out in 2015, but you can’t keep a good Goon down, and Powell announced earlier last year that the series will return in 2019 as part of a major 20th-anniversary push. For the first time, Powell won’t be alone: he also revealed that several as-yet-unannounced writers and artists will join him on the series as Goon & Franky return from strange adventures abroad to find a horde of unsavory characters have filled the void left in Lonely Street. Steve Foxe

LittleBirdMostAnticipated.jpeg Little Bird
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Image Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Darcy Van Poelgeest is an accomplished independent filmmaker, but let’s not mince words: Ian Bertram is the star attraction of Little Bird. First published in France as a single volume, Little Bird is arriving on our shores as a five-issue mini-series via Image Comics. Bertram came to the attention of many American fans via brief Batman contributions, but it was Dark Horse’s House of Penance that established him as a much-watch talent, especially when the subject matter is darkly fantastic. Little Bird follows a resistance fighter in an oppressive American Empire—sound too close to home?—but we’ll accept any excuse for more of Bertram’s more horror-tinged Frank Quitely-esque aesthetic. Steve Foxe

MAGNIFICENTMSMARVEL_CVR.jpg The Magnificent Ms. Marvel
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
For over 50 issues, current Wonder Woman writer G. Willow Wilson steadily guided Kamala Khan from the newest Inhuman on the block to a full-blown Avenger, Champion and cultural phenomenon. This year, Wilson passes the embiggening duties to Saladin Ahmed as she focuses on prose work and another title on this list, Invisible Kingdom. Ahmed has magnificently large shoes to fill, but this isn’t his first taste of pressure: he just launched Miles Morales: Spider-Man, the first solo series for the Into the Spider-Verse star not written by original co-creator Brian Michael Bendis. Joining Ahmed is DC Talent Development grad Minkyu Jung, whose bright, animated style should match the tone set by previous volumes perfectly. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone other than Wilson writing Kamala, but we can’t wait to see this series justify its new superlative. Steve Foxe

TransformersMostAnticipated.jpeg Transformers
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Angel Hernandez & Ron Joseph
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Transformers is one of the most fascinating comic properties around, as years of different series and continuities make it all but impenetrable to new readers, yet franchise devotees swear up and down that the comics are some of the most nuanced, thought-provoking sci-fi stories on shelves, regardless of the fact that the protagonists are robots who transform into vehicles. IDW Publishing’s new Transformers #1 aims to offer both a clean jumping-on point and an enticing new era for returning fans. Set on the planet Cybertron long before the Autobot/Decepticon war would tear it asunder, Transformers introduces a thriving planet, where Bumblebee and Windblade take a newly forged Cybertronian on his first journey through his home—and accidentally stumble on the first murder in living memory. If you’re a Transformers die-hard or just saw Bumblebee and are finally curious enough to check out the much-hyped comics, this #1 is all for you. Steve Foxe

InvisibleKingdomMostAnticipated.jpeg Invisible Kingdom
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Christian Ward
Publisher: Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 20, 2019
It’s almost cruel how early Berger Books and Dark Horse Comics announced Invisible Kingdom, leaving us to wait half a year or more for G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward’s original sci-fi series. Wilson is of course the writer behind years of Ms. Marvel tales, and is currently spinning an impressive run of Wonder Woman stories at DC Comics. She’s also a Hugo Award-winning prose author, with two original Vertigo series under her belt from back in the day. Ward blew readers away with his cosmic vistas on Black Bolt and Ody-C, which makes him the perfect artist to realize this story of a religious acolyte and a bitter freighter pilot who uncover a massive conspiracy between their system’s dominant religion and an oppressive mega-corporation—and must decide if revealing the truth is worth the anarchy it would create. Books like Invisible Kingdom are exactly what we hoped to see when Karen Berger launched her eponymous imprint at Dark Horse, and March can’t get here soon enough. Steve Foxe

BunAndTeaMostAnticipated.png BUN&TEA
Editor: Claire Napier
Publisher: Kickstarter/ Self-Published
Release Date: TBD Spring 2019
Former Women Write About Comics editor-in-chief Claire Napier is taking the plunge into monthly comics publishing this year with BUN&TEA, a comics magazine featuring serialized stories from nearly a dozen creators. Napier, who recently published her own work Dash Dearborne and the Unexpected Earthman, announced the
project in November of 2018 with plans to Kickstart the the magazine in early 2019. Napier has a distinctive style and a keen editorial eye, and it will be exciting to see what creators like Kumail Rizvi, Mark Stack and Priya Huq bring to the table. Napier’s got plenty of experience managing projects of this scope, and raising the funds to keep it going, and the idea of bringing that expertise to comics publishing in a comics landscape where crowdfunding projects are flourishing feels like a slam dunk. This is an exciting project to keep an eye on in 2019. C.K. Stewart

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