Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Wars: Tie Fighter, Angel & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/17/2019

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<i>Xena: Warrior Princess</i>, <i>Star Wars: Tie Fighter</i>, <i>Angel</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/17/2019

Myths and legends abound in this week’s comics selections, from the return of Xena: Warrior Princess to the next chapter in Marvel’s The War of the Realms to the final volume of Dark Horse’s American Gods adaptation. You can’t throw an enchanted ax in a comic shop this Wednesday without hitting a deity or a destiny (or a shop employee, so maybe just leave the ax at home anyway). It was foretold in the stars that you’d find out more about this week’s Required Reading below, so listen to the Fates and keep on scrolling.


STL113932.jpeg American Gods: The Moment of the Storm #1
Writers:   Neil Gaiman  & P. Craig Russell
Artists: P. Craig Russell & Scott Hampton
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
For several years now, longtime Neil Gaiman collaborator P. Craig Russell and artist Scott Hampton have adapted Gaiman’s wildly popular Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy and Nebula Award-winning novel American Gods into comics, bringing Shadow’s story to life via sequential art. While the Starz TV adaptation still has a ways to go to complete its saga of gods new and old, Russell and Hampton are fast approaching the end of their version—American Gods: The Moment of the Storm #1, out this week, kicks off the final volume of Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation. The television adaptation may be Gaiman-approved, but the comic takes far fewer liberties with the source material. The Moment of the Storm launches into the novel’s god-war climax, paying off years of comics in one final volume, making this a must-read for fans of the novel. Steve Foxe


AngelToothFairy000MainPelcerPROMO.jpg Angel #0
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
It’s not easy to drop a surprise comic book—at least not physically. While digital files can be uploaded with little notice, physical books are preordered by retailers months in advance, preventing publishers from shocking readers too suddenly with new projects. Last week, BOOM! Studios pulled its own vampiric Beyoncé move by revealing a surprise Angel series just eight days ahead of its release in comic shops—and exclusively in comic shops, as there will be no immediate digital distribution for two weeks. Angel #0, written by American Carnage scribe Bryan Edward Hill and drawn by Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers artist Gleb Melnikov, launches an all-new ongoing series starring Joss Whedon’s vampire with a soul. Angel, still seeking redemption for his (after)life of bloodsucking sins, discovers a prophecy: the restoration of his humanity requires him to take one more life…that of Buffy Summers, Sunnydale’s new Slayer extraordinaire. While the series launches directly out of this week’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4, Hill promised Paste that Angel will stand on its own, giving fans of the character plenty to…sink their teeth into (sorry). For more on Angel, check out our recent interview. Steve Foxe


STL113906.jpeg B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1
Writers:   Mike Mignola  & Scott Allie
Artist: Laurence Campbell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
It’s a bittersweet week to be a Hellboy fan—not just because the latest film iteration is, by all accounts, a hellish flop—but because B.P.R.D. is finally reaching a conclusion 15 years in the making. While Mike Mignola’s core Hellboy series was an expertly crafted heroic saga, sister title B.P.R.D., sculpted by contributors like John Arcudi, Guy Davis, James Harren and many more, is what truly fleshed out the “Mignolaverse” into a living, breathing (and often dying) world. And while similarly colorful characters like Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman are among B.P.R.D.’s most famous faces, the series has always excelled at depicting the human cost of Arthurian destinies and Lovecraftian conflict. The Devil You Know #15 may be the end (for now), but it’s also a testament to long-form storytelling with few (if any) peers, and that’s worth celebrating even as we mourn. Steve Foxe


STL114758.jpeg Gideon Falls #12
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Publisher: Image Comics 
This week is a big one for Gideon Falls, with both the 12th issue and the second trade paperback hitting shelves. Issue #11 wrapped up the second arc and left readers wanting more from the team behind the acclaimed Old Man Logan series. Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino have delivered a deeply spooky and unsettling story of loss and terror, and fans have been rightly impatient to see what happens next. There’s a mysterious disappearing building, the threat of otherworldly forces and small-town drama to top it off. Comparisons to Twin Peaks aren’t far from the mark, but it has elements of comics like Clean Room and Lemire’s own work on Animal Man and Trillium, an upside-down and backwards story that subverts expectations to keep readers guessing. This is an ideal time to jump in, with the first two volumes collecting the first 11 issues readily available—and a recent announcement that the series has been picked up for TV. Caitlin Rosberg


STL113984.jpeg Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter #1
Writers: Adam Glass & Olivia Cuartero-Briggs
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
There’s admittedly an air of condescension to AfterShock’s solicit for this title: “For nearly two centuries, scholars have wondered how on earth Mary Shelley, a 19-year-old girl, was able to conjure one of the most frightening and enduring horror stories of all-time: Frankenstein.” In Adam Glass, Oliva Cuartero-Briggs and Hayden Sherman’s Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter, the young Ms. Shelley didn’t just dream up The Modern Prometheus—she lived it. Set in 1816, Monster Hunter finds Shelley and four friends wintering at the Frankenstein Estate, and coming face to face with horrors that will echo throughout sci-fi and horror as we know it. Glass has become one of AfterShock’s most prolific writers, and he’s brought along television writer Cuartero-Briggs to craft this particular outing. Joining the pair is rising star Hayden Sherman, a Paste favorite for his work on series like Wasted Space, The Few and AfterShock’s own Cold War. Even if we rankle a bit at casting doubt on Mary Shelley’s real-life accomplishments, the prospect of Sherman depicting reanimated carnage is too good to pass up. Steve Foxe


PiluoftheWoodsMostAnticipated.jpeg Pilu of the Woods
Writer/Artist: Mai K. Nguyen
Publisher: Oni Press
A few years ago, Oni Press opened their submissions portal to any and all aspiring creators. Webcomic creator Mai K. Nguyen submitted a pitch, and this week, Pilu of the Woods hits shelves. Pilu is a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way home, and decides to join up with Willow, a young girl who has just run away from home. Oni Press has a diverse publishing slate, from erotica to Rick & Morty comics to all-ages delights like The Tea Dragon Society, and Pilu of the Woods looks to fall decidedly into the last camp—a lovely, heartwarming release to be shared between readers young and old. Steve Foxe


STL114769.jpeg Rumble #11
Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher: Image Comics 
It’s unfortunately less than clear, based on Twitter chatter over the years, if writer John Arcudi parted ways with his former B.P.R.D. collaborators amicably. Arcudi was instrumental in shaping the early years of the Hellboy spinoff, and while we continued to love the title after his departure, something vital went with him. Fans eager to support Arcudi don’t have to look far, though: Rumble, now in its second volume, kicks off a new story arc this week involving the Four Scourge Knights of the Apocalypse. If you like mythical destinies and expertly rendered, exceedingly weird monsters—and you probably do if you’re a fan of Arcudi’s Mignolaverse work—then Rumble should be a natural fit. Original series artist James Harren’s work will always be missed, but second-volume artist David Rubin is just as singular and compelling, if much rounder than Harren’s hard-edged figures. This volume of Rumble also features variant covers from a series of African American artists. Steve Foxe


STL114368.jpeg Star Wars: Tie Fighter #1
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Roge Antonio & Michael Dowling
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
One of the best things about extending a popular franchise to a new medium is the opportunity to expand the world-building and tell even more stories about beloved characters and events. With the loss of the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, some fans were understandably disappointed, but Marvel has been taking advantage of the new Disney-approved canon to tell new stories, and some of the most interesting ones have been on the darker side of things. Jody Houser is an ideal fit for Star Wars: Tie Fighter, as she’s a skillful writer capable of writing range and depth along with nuance. This five-issue miniseries is set during the era of the Galactic Empire, following the pilots of the Shadow Wing TIE fighter unit who may not be as loyal to the cause as they seem. It’s not often that fans get a chance to learn more about the lives of the everyday folks that live in the Galactic Empire, far removed from the oversight and machinations of those in control. This comic could act as the perfect gateway for fans reluctant to start with the medium, as there will be a sister series of prose novels launching this summer with Star Wars: Alphabet Squad. Artists Roge Antonio’s and Michael Dowling’s work on X-Men Red and Unfollow, respectively, proved them capable when it comes to books with large casts, but the book’s biggest hook is probably it’s most interesting question: what exactly does life inside the Galactic Empire look like? Caitlin Rosberg


STL115095.jpeg The War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1
Writers: Jason Aaron, Chip Zdarsky, Josh Trujillo, Ram V
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino, Joe Quinones, Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz, CAFU
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The War of the Realms #2 hits shelves this week, alongside a miniseries that acts as a companion to the main title. Led by a short written by Jason Aaron, who’s helming the primary War of the Realms book, War Scrolls features the work of a fan-favorite creators including Paradiso’s Ram V, Dodge City’s Josh Trujillo and Gideon Falls’s Andrea Sorrentino. In one short, Matt Murdock has his sight back thanks to the Bifrost, and is forced to watch as Malekith invades Earth, leaving the hero who usually manages crime for a single neighborhood in New York with a lot more territory to cover. This issue also features a new Howard the Duck story from Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, and at just three issues total, War Scrolls has a low cost of entry compared to a lot of other event titles. Readers will get a decent amount of bang for their five bucks if they pick this up, and the second issue promises even more adventure with a Doctor Strange story written by Devin Grayson. Also out this week: the Star Wars: Age of the Rebellion Special #1. Caitlin Rosberg


STL115284.jpeg Xena: Warrior Princess #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Olympia Sweetman
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
With ‘90s nostalgia going strong, Xena is one of the properties that’s just been waiting for a good reboot or refresh, and thankfully Dynamite is here to deliver with a new comic series. Writer Vita Ayala is a perfect fit for this book, with credits on series like Shuri, Supergirl and Wonder Woman anthology shorts, proving that they can craft an involved, fantastical story for beloved characters. Ayala’s work really shines in their creator-owned The Wilds, where they have been given more room to build an in-depth and involved world, so it’s exciting to see them working on a book like Xena where they can build on long-term fandom and take the story in all-new directions. Olympia Sweetman’s name isn’t as familiar as Ayala’s, but preview images show that Sweetman has perfectly captured Xena’s signature smirk as well as the muscle she has to back it up. Variant covers by the likes of David Mack, Erica Henderson and Paulina Ganucheau mean there’s a cover out there for every fan, and some who might even want to collect them all. Caitlin Rosberg

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