Savage Avengers, Batman/TMNT III, DC’s Year of the Villain & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/1/2019

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<i>Savage Avengers</i>, <i>Batman/TMNT III</i>, <i>DC&#8217;s Year of the Villain</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/1/2019

It’s good to be bad—or that’s what this week’s comics tell us, anyway. Marvel’s Savage Avengers assembles the publisher’s most murder-happy heroes (“heroes”) for a new squad centered around Conan the Barbarian, while DC’s Year of the Villain kicks off an entire villain-centric summer for the company, priced at just a single wicked quarter. Even former (future?) villains get the spotlight this week, with Catwoman’s debut DC Ink graphic novel hitting comic shelves. If you’re more of a goody-two-shoes, we’ve also got some supernatural canines, martial-arts reptiles, future cyborg samurai and a sensitive middle-grade graphic novel that may be more your speed. Oh, and we’ve got zombies too, because it just wouldn’t be a New Comic Book Day without some sort of zombie. Good, bad or Chaotic Neutral, enjoy your weekly Required Reading.


STL117980.jpeg Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Publishers: DC Comics/ IDW Publishing
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: DC Comics is friggin’ brilliant for its willingness to play well with others. While we’ll probably never again see a Marvel/DC Amalgam Universe or anything similar, DC’s bountiful crossovers with properties like Archie, Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles generate ample fan goodwill—and plenty of dough. Batman/ TMNT is probably at the top of the pack when it comes to sales revenue, but writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II are clearly dedicated to both source materials, channeling that reverence into crossovers that respect fans of both franchises. Batman/ TMNT III concludes the combo trilogy with a Krang-focused adventure, and is probably the most pure fun superhero readers can find on shelves this week. Steve Foxe


STL117466.jpeg Beasts of Burden: The Presence of Others #1
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Jill Thompson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics has long held a reputation as the foremost publisher of comics that go bump in the night, from rollicking demonic epics like Hellboy to sinister frights like House of Penance, but nothing in their library is quite like Beasts of Burden. Created by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, and later illustrated by Autumnlands co-creator Benjamin Dewey, Beasts of Burden follows the paranormally attuned dogs and cats of Burden Hill, a small town with a disproportionate amount of hauntings and afterlife goings-on. Scooby Doo this is not—the “Wise Dogs” and Wise Dogs-in-training of Beasts of Burden have met grisly ends occasionally throughout the series, but Dorkin’s impassioned scripting and Thompson and Dewey’s luscious, painterly artwork should endear Beasts of Burden even to those of us who still nurse Old Yeller trauma. Featuring art by both Dewey and original co-creator Thompson, Beasts of Burden: The Presence of Others is a two-issue miniseries that kicks off with a team of (human) paranormal investigators disturbing a grave and unintentionally making things very dangerous for the series’ animal protagonists. Steve Foxe


UnderTheMoonMostAnticipated.jpeg Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale
Writer: Lauren Myracle
Artist: Isaac Goodhart
Publisher: DC Ink/ DC Comics 
No pressure, Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart, but Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale is one of the first DC Ink titles to be made available to readers. Catwoman has been enjoying a resurgence in attention and popularity in the last few years thanks in part to two subsequent solo titles defined by Genevieve Valentine and Joëlle Jones, and her role as fiancée and foil in Tom King’s Batman. Under the Moon turns back the clock to Selina Kyle’s past, taking a look at the way a 14-year-old girl might grow into the woman she becomes. Writer Lauren Myracle has enjoyed prose success with, among other projects, the Internet Girls series, written in a format to mimic the texts and messages shared between three close friends. She has a handle on what it takes to write a compelling story about young women struggling to find and define themselves under external pressure, which is an exciting prospect for a Catwoman book in particular. Isaac Goodhart’s art has been featured in the DC New Talent Showcase and Top Cow’s Postal series, and it should be intriguing to see him work on something a little less gruesome and a little more teen-friendly. Caitlin Rosberg


STL117978.jpeg DCeased #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Trevor Hairsine & James Harren
Publisher: DC Comics 
Tom Taylor, the mind behind the wild and wicked Injustice comics that have presented a fascinating alternate take on DC’s best-known heroes, has returned for another terrifying story, this time bringing along artists Trevor Hairsine and James Harren (along with inker Stefano Gaudiano). Some of the best superhero comics in history have been about what happens when the good guys are forced to fight everyday people who are somehow manipulated into doing unthinkable things, and DCeased continues in this grand tradition. A techno-virus is unleashed, infecting hundreds of millions of people who suddenly become violent, devastating the world around them. There’s no way to prepare for an emergency of this magnitude, especially when the loved ones of DC’s heroes are put in serious danger by the infection, and no way to know how the heroes everyone knows and loves will handle a world they can’t save. Hairsine’s previous work on books like Valiant’s Divinity and Gaudiano’s on The Walking Dead make them a great fit for a book like this, where the caped crusader meets widespread panic; Harren is probably best known for Rumble, and his atmospheric, textured style will be sure to add some incredible visuals to the title as well. Caitlin Rosberg


STL117971.jpeg DC’s Year of the Villain #1
Writers: Bryan Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artist: Jim Cheung, Alex Maleev, Francis Manapul
Publisher: DC Comics 
DC’s Year of the Villain is the sort of anthology comic that’s a relative no-brainer for experienced and new readers alike. It’s a full issue of content from some fan-favorite creators for just $0.25, which is a great deal for any comic but particularly one with a lineup this good. Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and write three intertwined stories brought to life by superstar artists Jim Cheung, Alex Maleev and Francis Manapul. The collective strength of the rogues galleries that DC has to offer is impressive under any circumstances, and centering a story around them is smart; Snyder’s work on The Batman Who Laughs after the success of the Metal event last year is a great example of just how much fans love reading about the bad guys, too. DC’s Year of the Villain is set to kick off this summer’s event, and the fate of DC’s heroes and their whole universe lies in the balance. Even for those not planning to jump on the event, this is bound to be a fun read and the price is far from evil. Caitlin Rosberg


STL116056.jpeg Fallen World #1
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Adam Pollina
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Valiant may not have decades of combined continuity to play off of in the same manner as Marvel or DC Comics, but it does have the benefit of characters who span centuries. From the Eternal Warrior (his shtick is in his name) to the nanite-fueled Bloodshot, many of Valiant’s best-known faces aren’t confined to one window of time. Fallen World takes place in the far-off world of 4002, a time period first seen in Rai’s titular series, and that future cyborg samurai is back in the protagonist’s seat for this title. Writer Dan Abnett has spent a few years as a reliable DC Comics workhorse, but is perhaps still best known for helping to rejuvenate Marvel’s cosmic characters a decade ago. Artist Adam Pollina, on the other hand, has been largely absent from mainstream comics for almost twice as long, after ruling the ‘90s shelves thanks to books like X-Force. Abnett is at his best when let loose in his own little sci-fi corner, and Pollina’s return makes Fallen World a must-read even if you’re not a Valiant vanguard. Steve Foxe


Thumbnail image for houseoffear.jpg House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories
Writers: James Powell & Daxton Powell
Artists: Jethro Morales, Adrián Bago González & James Hislope
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Kids love to be scared. Whether it’s sneaking peeks at adult horror flicks or telling spooky stories around the campfire, many children can’t get enough of the controlled adrenaline rush that comes with fictionalized terror. House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories understands this perfectly, with five scary stories aimed at younger readers from the creative team of writer James Powell, artist Jethro Morales and others. House of Fear builds on the strong tradition of Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and, as you can see in our exclusive look at designs for the book’s terrifying Tooth Fairy, it doesn’t skimp on actually looking creepy. There’s nothing a junior horror-hound hates more than feeling coddled, House of Fear is bound to inspire some legitimate nightmares—maybe even from the book’s older readers. Steve Foxe


STL111553.jpeg Midas
Writer: Ryan North
Artists: Shelli Paroline & Brandon Lamb
Publisher: BOOM! Box/ BOOM! Studios
Between choose-your-own-adventure books, Squirrel Girl, Adventure Time and his long-running Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North’s name is a recognizable one to a lot of fans, especially readers who appreciate humor. In Midas, North reunited with his Adventure Time collaborators, artists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, to bring a new story to life. Set in space far from the familiar ancient Greek Midas, the book centers around a misfit crew that includes a scientist-dinosaur (which makes perfect sense in the context of North’s sense of humor). The crew is headed to Earth, which is covered in gold thanks to the titular king. Adventure ensues as they do their best to keep Midas’ touch from spreading to other planets and wreaking similar havoc as he did on Earth. It’s worth noting that Midas came out monthly and in two trade paperbacks as The Midas Flesh a few years ago, but now sports a new title for the complete collected edition. Caitlin Rosberg


STL116632.jpeg Savage Avengers #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
There’s a bittersweet tinge to Savage Avengers: after years of blockbuster storytelling, this is artist Mike Deodato Jr.’s final Marvel project before pursuing creator-owned work at Dark Horse Comics. While fans may have to anticipate an upcoming art change, at least the writing side of Savage Avengers is reliable. From Deadpool to Uncanny Avengers to Guardians of the Galaxy, Gerry Duggan is one of Marvel’s steadiest writers, and his work on the current Savage Sword of Conan serves as a direct bridge to this title, which finds Marvel’s grimmest anti-heroes teaming up with the publisher’s newly reacquired Cimmerian. Duggan has thankfully already clarified that the assemblage of Wolverine, Venom, Punisher, Elektra, Doctor Voodoo and Conan isn’t exactly a sanctioned Avengers squad—Steve Rogers needs to enact some standards, after all—but fans of ultra-violent protagonists should take to this one like blood on a barbarian’s blade. Steve Foxe


SincrerelyHarriet.jpg Sincerely, Harriet
Writer/Artist: Sarah Winifred Searle
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Sarah Winifred Searle’s middle-grade graphic novel Sincerely, Harriet fits comfortably next to some of the best-known titles for readers that age. It stars the titular Harriet, trapped in the awkward age that’s just on the cusp of adulthood, striving for independence but not quite equipped for it yet. When the book opens, Harriet is settling into her new home in Chicago with her parents, avoiding summer reading and her downstairs neighbor. As the story unfolds and the reader learns more about Harriet and the circumstances that led her family to move, it becomes clear that her relatable struggles aren’t just the average worries of a teenage girl in a new situation. Sincerely, Harriet is kind without sugarcoating challenges or offering up empty platitudes. It trusts the readers to understand that growing up can be hard, and that the things that make it even harder for you can be invisible to others. It’s the sort of book that can help young readers feel less alone as they face some of the same struggles, and doesn’t minimize the way kids feel. It’s also a graceful lesson in layering in multiple identities to create a character and a world that are rich and full of life so organically that it doesn’t feel like an afterschool special. As Harriet learns about her new city, her new neighbor and herself, the book offers affirmations and affection that both Harriet and the reader may need. It’s the perfect addition to a collection that includes the likes of Judy Blume and Raina Telgemeier. Caitlin Rosberg

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