Meet the Skrulls, Ronin Island, Black Hammer ‘45 & More in Required Reading: Comics for 3/6/2019

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<i>Meet the Skrulls</i>, <i>Ronin Island</i>, <i>Black Hammer &#8216;45</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 3/6/2019

March is upon us, and it is mad indeed. This Wednesday marks one of those weeks where there are way more notable comics than there are slots for us to cover notable comics, with entries like Green Arrow #50, Astro Hustle #1, Domino and the Hotshots #1, Ziggy Pig Silly Seal Comics #1, Polar: The Black Kaiser, Doomsday Clock #9 and more all pinging our rader but not quite making the final cut. Instead, you’ll find a mythic romance gone bad, a prison full of deviant mutants, a cyborg worth a pretty penny, a woman wrestling a bear, a family who aren’t what they look like and much, much more among the titles below. Kick off the new month right: with Required Reading.


STL111358.jpeg Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Every installment of Age of X-Man has hinted at or briefly depicted the dark consequences of X-Man’s mutant “utopia,” but Prisoner X is the first of the tie-in mini-series to dive headlong into maintaining the peace by any means necessary. The Danger Room in this reality is a maximum-security prison for mutants who go against the “natural” order, including Bishop, who readers of the event kickoff saw making romantic overtures at Jean Grey. As sex and romance are strictly forbidden in the Age of X-Man, Bishop has been thrown in the tank with Beast, X-23’s Gabby, Moonstar a very raddled Polaris and dozens of other prisoners under the supervision of Warden Forge. Writer Vita Ayala has mostly been tasked with one-shots and anthology shorts, but provides one of the strongest Age of X-Man launch issues yet as Bishop begins to see flashes of another life, ably depicted by German Peralta, who lent his art to an arc of Cable last year. If you’ve been enjoying Age of X-Man, Prisoner X is an essential building block to understanding the cost of compliance. Steve Foxe


BlackHammer45MostAnticipated.jpeg Black Hammer ‘45 #1
Writers:   Jeff Lemire  & Ray Fawkes
Artists: Matt & Sharlene Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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 week, 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 and an homage to the Enemy Ace. Steve Foxe


STL111361.jpeg Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #1
Writers: Paul Scheer & Nick Giovannetti
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Like Gwenpool before him, Cosmic Ghost Rider is one of those characters that Marvel seems intent on making “happen.” A future version of Punisher Frank Castle who has made a deal with the devil for Ghost Rider powers and a deal with Galactus for cosmic powers and behaves like Deadpool thanks to a mental break, Cosmic Ghost Rider first appeared in Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Thanos run and is now a featured player in their Guardians of the Galaxy series. Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History finds Cates and Shaw passing the reins to comedian Paul Scheer (if the name doesn’t ring a bell, Google his picture—yeah, that guy!), video-game writer Nick Giovannetti and Shatterstar artist Gerardo Sandoval for a time-travel romp as CGR bounces around Marvel continuity, causing havoc in the timeline. Also out from Marvel this week: Ziggy Pig Silly Seal Comics, an improbably named throwback funny-animal title and part of Marvel’s 80th-anniversary line. Steve Foxe


DarthVaderMostAnticipated.jpeg Darth Vader: Dark Visions #1
Writer: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
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 (with current series writer Kieron Gillen bowing out shortly), 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” Hallum 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, David Lopez and this issue’s Paolo Villanelli 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


STL111830.jpeg The Dreaming #7
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Abigail Larson
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Last year’s revival of the Sandman Universe was predicated on Daniel, now Dream of the Endless, absconding from his throne, leaving the realm of The Dreaming to fall prey to entities both malicious and confounding. The Dreaming #7 turns away from the symptoms to diagnose the cause, as writer Simon Spurrier and guest artist Abigail Lawson reveal what Daniel has been up to during his time among mortals. We won’t spoil the identity of the young woman cozying up with Daniel on Jae Lee’s tragically romantic cover, but newer readers may need to do some light Google-searching to refresh themselves on the wider Sandman mythos. And while regular artist Bilquis Evely is missed, Larson proves to be a perfect fit for the more intimate interstitial tale Spurrier is weaving. The Dreaming quickly emerged as the flagship title of The Sandman Universe, and with the first arc complete, Spurrier and co. show no signs of slacking. Steve Foxe


MeettheSkrullsMostAnticipated.jpeg Meet the Skrulls #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
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 conspiracy. 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). Henrichson’s current style has made him an underdog contender for one of Marvel’s finest current artists, which should help sway any reader not already convinced by “The Americans, but aliens.” Steve Foxe


MorninginAmericaMostAnticipated.jpeg Morning in America #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Publisher: Oni Press
Magdalene Visaggio is everywhere in comics these days, with more than one original series launching this month. 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 #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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


STL112238.jpeg The Six Million Dollar Man #1
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: David Hahn
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Publisher Dynamite Entertainment has been on a hot streak lately, with an excellent Long Ranger revival, a promising new Red Sonja launch and new critical darling Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. All of these series involve creators who’ve built careers at the Big Two of Marvel and DC Comics, and The Six Million Dollar Man is no different: writer and humorist Christopher Hastings helped give manic life to Marvel’s GwenPool, while artist David Hahn went retro for numerous Batman ‘66 series. The Six Million Dollar Man has its robotic tongue planted firmly in cheek as it presents “a story from a time when there wasn’t internet, but there WERE cyborgs,” per the solicit text. Enhanced former astronaut Steve Austin is off to Japan in this initial outing, where he finds his appraised value rapidly depreciating. Steve Foxe


ThisWoman'sWorkMostAnticipated.jpeg This Woman’s Work
Writer/Artist: Julie Delporte
Publisher: Drawn + Quarterly
Julie 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

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