Wonder Twins, Savage Sword of Conan, Kid Gloves & More in Required Reading: Comics for 2/13/2019

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<i>Wonder Twins</i>, <i>Savage Sword of Conan</i>, <i>Kid Gloves</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 2/13/2019

For anyone who grew up watching Super Friends (or Super Friends reruns), this is a truly momentous New Comic Book Day. If you don’t have any particular affection for purple-clad shape-shifting alien teens…it’s still a darn-good week. Beyond Wonder Twins, readers can nab a new Avengers maxi-series, Marvel’s second entry in their growing Conan world and a quartet of non-superhero graphic novels, including a tender queer coming-of-age and Lucy Knisley’s latest. All of that plus some alt-universe X-teens and some wizards await you below in Required Reading.


STL108612.jpeg Age of X-Man: NextGen #1
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Things are in a state of flux for the X-Men. The Age of X-Man has arrived, and with it new, unfamiliar titles, each tackling a different group of characters and a different tone, but all set in a world where a mutant utopia has finally been achieved (with some caveats), united under some of the most recognizable mutants in Marvel canon. NextGen is the story of four newer characters, sent to receive their mandatory education at the Summers Institute for Higher Learning. Glob, Armor, Anole and Rockslide may live in a mutant utopia, but with the guidance of writer Ed Brisson and artist Marcus To, they’ll discover good reason to rebel and fight against the status quo. Brisson has been steering several ships in the X-Men armada for a while now, Including Dead Man Logan and X-Force, and To is a veteran artist with a slew of credits to his name, most notably different iterations of Robins at DC Comics. The two of them will guide this five-issue miniseries focusing on the young, disillusioned characters who could very well do what the X-Men have done best for decades: identify and work to destroy the systems that have kept oppression and bigotry alive. Caitlin Rosberg


AvengersMostAnticipated.jpeg Avengers: No Road Home #1
Writers: Al Ewing, Mark Waid & Jim Zub
Artist: Paco Medina
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
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 squads 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
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. 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


STL103569.jpeg The Great Wiz and the Ruckus
Writer/Artist: Joey McCormick
Publisher: KaBOOM!/ BOOM! Studios
Though Joey McCormick’s name might not be familiar to a lot of readers, many of the shows and comics to which he has contributed will be. McCormick has worked as a background designer for Teen Titans Go to the Movies! and a cover artist for the Adventure Time comic, but The Great Wiz and the Ruckus is a wholly original book that McCormick has written and illustrated himself. In it, a young wizard named Red trys to save his world from a growing darkness called the Ruckus. During his journey, Red encounters a lot of other Wizs, as wizards are called, and none of them quite fit the bill. But he’s not going to give up on his goal of finding a way to bring the Great Wiz to life so that his world can survive. It’s an adventurous story about friendship and the unwavering faith that people can make a difference if they try, even when everything goes wrong. It’s exactly the kind of message that middle-grade readers (and older) can benefit from and enjoy at the same time. Caitlin Rosberg


STL107107.jpeg Kid Gloves
Writer/Artist: Lucy Knisley
Publisher: First Second
Lucy Knisley’s bibliography could read as an extended graphic journal, chronicling different points in her life through travel and food and major miletsones. Her most recent work documented her wedding, including the struggles that she and her now-husband went through in their attempt to craft a day that would satisfy both their tastes and external pressures that get brought down on couples getting married. Kid Gloves, her newest work, is all about motherhood: her desire to be a mom, the work to conceive and a difficult pregnancy that resulted in her beloved son. As with Something New, Knisley is telling not just a very personal story, but also putting her own life into larger context, providing information about natal medicine and midwifery. Her work is always funny, honest and intimate, and her art soft and emotionally evocative with expressive faces and moments of deep feeling. For readers who have followed her since the days of Relish and French Milk, this book will be a must-read. For anyone who has or wants kids, it will be a great introduction to her work. Caitlin Rosberg


STL107640.jpeg Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel
Writer: Rey Terciero
Artist: Bre Indigo
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Little Women is a book that has stood the test of time, giving girls and young women of several generations a family that they can identify with and see themselves reflected in. Though there have been some wonderful retellings and adaptations, few of the successful ones have modernized the story or changed the setting in any significant way. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy does exactly that, updating Louisa May Alcott’s book to contemporary times, just after the 150th anniversary in 2018. The titular sisters are now a blended family with a father in the military and a hardworking mother there to support them. There are the standard teenaged struggles like bullies and body image, but there’re also larger issues with money and illness. Comparison’s to Netflix’s One Day at a Time wouldn’t be unwarranted; both are maintaining the bones of the original while shifting focus and updating context for modern viewers and readers. This is a first book for both Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo, but there was for a short time some teaser content put up on the popular webcomic app Tapastic, which featured bright, gentle art that will feel familiar to fans of Raina Telgemeier. It’s hard to understate the popularity both of Little Women in perpetuity and of middle-grade graphic novels right now, so hopefully a combination of the two will be an win for a lot of readers. Caitlin Rosberg


STL108709.jpeg Savage Sword of Conan #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Marvel’s premiere Conan the Barbarian series, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mahmud Asrar, hadn’t even hit stands before Savage Sword of Conan and Age of Conan: Bêlit were announced, signaling that the House of Ideas is clearly hyped for their returned barbarian. Savage Sword of Conan launches this week from Infinity Wars and former Guardians of the Galaxy writer Gerry Duggan and outgoing Daredevil artist Ron Garney, providing a second dose of pulpy action for fans who just can’t get enough of the Cimmerian. While Aaron and Asrar’s series is building an overarching story via standalone tales throughout Conan’s long life, Savage Sword of Conan takes a more straightforward narrative approach, beginning with Conan stuck at sea on a slave ship. Duggan is one of Marvel’s most trusted names, thanks in part to his massive Deadpool run, while Garney’s recent pivot to a more expressionistic style makes him a brutally good fit for barbarian violence. Prepare your eyes for Alex Ross’ sword-slinging covers, too. Steve Foxe


STL105980.jpeg Stardust
Writer:   Neil Gaiman  
Artist: Charles Vess
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Neil Gaiman is hardly an unknown in comics—especially if we’re considering comics with a Vertigo logo on the cover—but it’s still exciting to see a re-release of Stardust, an adaptation of Gaiman’s novel of the same name, illustrated for comics by Charles Vess. Originally released by Vertigo as a miniseries in 1997, the story has been collected in a variety of different formats in the years since. Stardust may be best known, though, as a 2007 film starring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox and Michelle Pfeiffer, along with Robert De Niro in what might be the best (or at least most entertaining) role of his career as a pirate with a secret. Cox and Pfeiffer aren’t the only comics stars in the film, which was narrated by Ian McKellen and had a brief appearance by Henry Cavill. Even with a film that stuffed with talent, Vess’s art is tough to beat. He has a painterly style that evokes children’s books of mythology and fantasy, and will thrill readers who grew up glued to illustrations for The Hobbit and movies like The Last Unicorn. It’s a lovely tale and the art is lush and imaginative, making it an ideal family read for those of us trapped inside during bad weather this season. Caitlin Rosberg


WonderTwinsMostAnticipated.jpeg Wonder Twins #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Publisher: Wonder Comics/ DC Comics 
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

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