A Batman Bachelorette, Symbiote Spider-Man, Faithless, & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/10/2019

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A <i>Batman</i> Bachelorette, <i>Symbiote Spider-Man</i>, <i>Faithless</i>, & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/10/2019

April might not seem like a sexy month, but there’s no denying that this week’s comic selection is a bit on the risqué side. Faithless steams up the shower as BOOM! Studios’ first truly explicit title, while Batman #68 imagines the debauched “Catcherlorette” that Selina Kyle never had. One could even lump Symbiote Spider-Man into the mix—after all, Peter Parker and that alien are mighty close. If you’re looking for sequential-art experiences that don’t skirt the NC-17 line, fear not: we’ve also got the debut of fantasy procedural Fairlady, the first issue of the McElroy-tastic Journey Into Mystery, the second-arc kickoff of Infinite Dark and Emily Carroll’s delectable When I Arrived at the Castle. Actually, wait—that one looks sexy too. Oops!


STL115121.jpeg Batman #68
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Amanda Conner
Publisher: DC Comics 
This week, Tom King takes readers on a journey into Batman’s (very) recent past and gives everyone that chance to see the bachelorette party Catwoman never had. The Bat-Cat wedding, and what happened after Selina pulled a runner on Bruce, has stirred up a lot of strong emotions in readers, and heading back there will undoubtedly bring up even more. What really sets this issue apart, though, is that after 80 years, the main Batman title officially gets its third female artist, as Amanda Conner joins Becky Cloonan and Joëlle Jones on this very short list. Connor’s bubbly, sometimes cartoony art will be a departure from much of Batman’s history, and will likely be a great fit for this particular issue. It remains unclear how issue #69 is going to top the bold debauchery of Selina’s “Catchelorette” party, but Yanick Paquette and King are promising a “Dark Reunion,” so readers should definitely tune in now to catch up and prepare. Caitlin Rosberg


FaithlessCover1.jpg Faithless #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Maria Llovet
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Brian Azzarello is one of comics’ premiere provocateurs—just ask Batman’s bat-pole. His long-running work alongside Eduardo Risso on Vertigo’s 100 Bullets established Azzarello as a foundational voice in modern crime comics, and subsequent series like the New 52-era Wonder Woman and the Image Comics werewolf hit Moonshine prove that his range doesn’t begin and end with gritty noir. Barcelona-based artist Maria Llovet is a much newer name to American readers, although her bold, often explicit work on books like There’s Nothing There and Loud has made a fast impression on Western audiences. Beginning this week, Azzarello and Llovet team up for one of publisher BOOM! Studios’ riskiest, most incendiary titles to date: Faithless. This miniseries marks Azzarello’s debut work for BOOM! Studios, and one of the publisher’s first sexually explicit series. Mingling self-discovery, sex, love and occultism, Faithless follows Faith, a bored young woman who dabbles in black magic—and catches the attention of some very dangerous infernal forces. Don’t read this one on the subway, folks. Steve Foxe


STL114681.jpeg Fairlady #1
Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Claudia Balboni
Publisher: Image Comics 
Many stories about war leave to readers’ imagination what happens after the battles have concluded and people start to go home. Sometimes, the most fascinating stories are hiding there, when the most obvious conflict is already passed and people struggle to return to their “normal” lives, whatever that may mean. But writer Brian Schirmer and artist Claudia Balboni are tackling exactly that kind of tale, one about a woman who returns to her home after a war and becomes a licensed private investigator, only to confront adversity in her new field. Because she is the only female investigator, she winds up taking all of the cases that no one else wants. The book promises a police-procedural-meets-urban-fantasy vibe, but what really sets it apart is that each 30-page issue purports to be a complete one-and-done story, making the barrier for entry particularly low. Schrimer and Balboni worked together before on Black Jack Ketchum, which Schrimer created with Jeremy Saliba, and it’s usually a good sign when creators come together again on a new project. Caitlin Rosberg


STL114767.jpeg Infinite Dark #5
Writer: Ryan Cady
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Publisher: Top Cow/ Image Comics 
The term “hard sci-fi” gets used and abused across the World Wide Web, and who are we to say if Infinite Dark technically qualifies for the label? All we know for sure is that writer Ryan Cady and artist Andrea Mutti merge the lived-in worlds of movies like Alien and the original Blade Runner with a heaping helping of existential dread, as the crew of the void ship Orpheus survive the end of the universe—and then have to contend with an entity from beyond…and each other. Cady and Mutti’s first four issues wrapped up the initial arc aboard the Orpheus, but there are countless more stories to be told among the final remnants of creation, starting with this week’s fifth issue, which comes complete with a stunning cover image from Euthanauts artist Nick Robles. Steve Foxe


WaroftheRealmsJIM.jpg War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1
Writers: Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy & Clint McElroy
Artist: André Lima Araújo
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
What’s up, cool Thor baby? The McElroys celebrate a major Wednesday this week with War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1, their first work for Marvel Comics and their first foray into cape comics as a family (dad Clint already has a few Green Hornet credits under his belt). A throwback to Thor’s Journey Into Mystery roots with an ensemble cast is a great fit for the McElroys, who team up with artist André Lima Araújo for this five-issue miniseries. The McElroys and Araújo take us to an Earth at war (again), but this time with all manner of creatures from the Nine Realms. With Thor mysteriously absent (again), his baby sister may be the only one who can put an end to the war—and in true superhero fashion, it’s going to take a ragtag band of heroes to find her. The series features an interesting cast of characters—Miles Morales and Kate Bishop are joined by Sebastian Druid, Wonder Man, Thori the Hellhound, Balder the Brave and Deathlocket, last seen in the Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover series. Whether the McElroys’ humor will translate to a Marvel-directed series versus their Adventure Zone work is a journey into mystery itself, but either way this will be a wild ride. C.K. Stewart


STL113988.jpeg Orphan Age #1
Writer: Ted Anderson
Artist: Nuno Plati
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Post-apocalyptic stories aren’t exactly uncommon in comics. There’s something compelling about watching people try to keep themselves alive after most of the vestiges of modern life have fallen apart. There are enough of these stories around that there are subgenres with rules all their own: zombie stories, stories where an entire gender is wiped out, stories where animals have gained some level of sentience. Orphan Age taps into another trope: one where all adults died quickly, leaving children to fend for themselves and make a new society. This book may feel like an unknown quantity: writer Ted Anderson has worked with AfterShock before on Moth & Whisper but the majority of his comics experience comes from all-ages titles like My Little Pony, and artist Nuno Plati has worked on a couple of Marvel titles but nothing sustained. The book sounds more like The 100 than Lord of the Flies; AfterShock’s history publishing new and interesting titles bodes well for this one. Caitlin Rosberg


STL113934.jpeg She Could Fly: The Lost Pilot #1
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
After the success of the first four-issue arc, Christopher Cantwell and Martin Morazzo are back with a new chapter of She Could Fly. Cantwell is likely best known for co-creating AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, while Morazzo has garnered fans of his own on titles like Ice Cream Man. The first arc of She Could Fly earned a lot of kudos from readers, creators and critics alike, as part of a wave of comics that mix emotional heft with adventurous stories. It’s no surprise that editor Karen Berger found a winner for her imprint at Dark Horse, building on her history of identifying new and fascinating books to bring to readers. The Lost Pilot picks up with protagonist Luna figuratively coming back to earth after a full year in a psychiatric institution, but perhaps no more stable than she was before. She’s still trying to unravel the mystery of the Flying Woman, and new threats and secrets are bubbling to the surface every day. Caitlin Rosberg


STL114271.jpeg Star Wars: Age of Rebellion—Grand Moff Tarkin #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Marc Laming
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
There are a lot of very good villains in the Star Wars universe, but Grand Moff Tarkin deserves particular credit for instilling a fear that was far more subtle and insidious than the more obvious threat of Darth Vader. Portrayed by the brilliant Peter Cushing, Tarkin’s quiet command of the Death Star has now earned him a new back story written by Greg Pak with art by Marc Laming. With Pak at the helm, it’s sure to be a fascinating tale, not without sympathy but certainly not excusing the man’s actions. Pak has remarkable skill when it comes to crafting nuanced stories with multiple perspectives that do not diminish the bad actions and choices made by villains, but still show how they got to the point where they committed their worst crimes. This is one of two Star Wars: Age of Rebellion books out this week, both by Pak. The other is Princess Leia, and together the books would make a perfect read for any Star Wars fan. Caitlin Rosberg


STL114263.jpeg Symbiote Spider-Man #1
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Greg Land
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Writer Peter David has been a more-or-less constant presence in the Spider-office for years, writing books like Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man 2099 alongside Dan Slott’s era-defining Amazing Spider-Man mega-run. This week, David continues his arachnid streak with Symbiote Spider-Man, a series that eschews the current AMS status quo established by writer Nick Spencer and artists Ryan Ottley and Humberto Ramos for a look into Peter Parker’s black-suited past. Artist Greg Land, ever a controversial figure for his heavily photo-referenced style, joins David for this tale set in the earliest days of Spider-Man’s relationship to the gooey alien who would one day be known as Venom. This first arc finds Spidey going up against Mysterio, who—coincidence of all coincidences—is also the antagonist of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be hitting theaters right around the time this series wraps up its first arc. What are the odds? Steve Foxe


WhenIArrivedAtTheCastleMostAnticipated.jpg When I Arrived at the Castle
Writer/Artist: Emily Carroll
Publisher: Koyama Press
Emily Carroll has an ability to put things alongside one another that make your skin crawl, which is why she’s so successful in the horror genre. Something that seems traditional has weirdly modern, somewhat ugly lettering, and the way those things rub against one another creates a tectonic plate effect. Her full-bleed pages and limited palette, her incongruous close-ups, her weird shading and her unexpected teeth all surgically peel back your skin. It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for this sexy vampire story from Koyama. Hillary Brown

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