Comics We're Excited About for 5/18/2016

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Comics We're Excited About for 5/18/2016

While we wholeheartedly recommend the books in the gallery above, this isn’t a bad week to let new issues linger in your longbox and break out the classics: DC: The New Frontier, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter—even the recent paperback collection of Twilight Children. With the passing of prolific master cartoonist Darwyn Cooke, this Wednesday’s haul feels a bit more somber than it should. That isn’t to say that the week isn’t full of promising new releases—surf noir, ‘60s cartoon nostalgia, biblical innovation, pre-colonial shapeshifting, cyberpunk dystopia, all-ages axe-murdering and the latest patented mega-event all get their due—but that you’d be forgiven for turning a blind eye to the new and revisiting unassailable classics from one of the greats just this once.

Apocrypha Now

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Shannon Wheeler
Publisher: Top Shelf

Mark Russell (Prez) and New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler's spoofs on The Bible (God Is Disappointed In You) and their satellite, ejected gospels (Apocrypha Now) technically belong in the books section, but we're bending the rules to slip them into this list because of Wheeler's whimsical cartoons (and because we're rebels). To contradict ourselves, are these books even spoofs? If the King James Bible of 1611 can maintain the plot beats of Christianity, but translate the language for the relatively new and hip, why can't Russell inject some levity into the mouths of Eve, The Prophets and even the Almighty? And lines like, "God was so impressed with Enoch he said, 'Hey man, you don't even have to die, you can just walk into heaven right now,'" are far more readable than the thous and begots of Sunday school. Then again, a cartoon of Moses chasing kids sledding down a hill on the commandment slabs is pretty damn funny without any strict reference. The ensuing experience in Apocrypha Now isn't a fraction as disrespectful as it might appear, though much of the source material was deemed heretical when it was stricken from the Good Book hundreds of years ago. But it is completely enjoyable, accessible and educational. Bonus points for the gold leaf trim and cloth bookmark. Sean Edgar

Archangel #1

Writer: William Gibson
Artist: Butch Guice
Publisher: IDW Publishing

No luck for fans of winged blue trust-fund mutants: IDW's Archangel is the debut comic from cyberpunk auteur William Gibson, illustrated by industry veteran Butch Guice. Gibson is revisiting common themes here—a ruined world, technological salvation, a greater threat looming in the future—but the scary part is that Archangel's environmental apocalypse is set in the here and now, and isn't too far removed from problems facing America in 2016. IDW has a solid track record with bringing prose megastars into the sequential art world, and Guice's assured linework will guarantee an enticing first foray into comics for Gibson. The Tula Lotay covers don't hurt, either. Steve Foxe

Brutal Nature #1

Writer: Luciano Saracino
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Publisher: IDW Publishing

IDW doesn't have quite the same reputation for original/creator-owned work as its peers BOOM! and Image—although they do have licenses on lock—but this beastly book from artist Ariel Olivetti and writer Luciano Saracino should make it onto the radar of Olivetti's many fans. Set in a Colombia on the verge of Spanish colonization, Brutal Nature's native protagonist dons a series of masks to transform into amalgamated creatures capable of rendering the better-armed invaders into so much European meatloaf. Olivetti has increasingly relied on a unique digital hybrid style over the years, and his lush coloring skills and aptitude for the monstrous should serve this four-issue mini-series well. Steve Foxe

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artists: Robert Hack
Publisher: Archie Comics

With so many great horror comics on the shelf, who knew that one of the best would turn out to be an Archie book? While most of us are familiar with Sabrina from her mid-90s sitcom, this much-more-horrific outing is by far her best story yet, fusing elements of mid-century style with classic Satanic imagery. And if you ask me, Archie always needed a little Satan. The teen witch is back for her second arc with issue #5, and I couldn't be more ready—massive delays aside, this spooky tale is like nothing else on the shelf. Tini Howard

Chum #1

Writer: Ryan Lindsay
Artist: Sami Kivela
Publisher: ComixTribe

Crime comics are everywhere now, so it takes a really rad setting to make one stand out. Such is the case with artist Sami Kivela and writer Ryan Lindsay's Chum. Instead of the standard grizzled detective trope, chain-smoking in the shadows, protagonist Summer is a beachside bartender and divorcée. Seems like a perfect beach read (if you're not afraid of toothy aquatic predators), and, at a brisk three issues, this miniseries won't cut into your tanning time. Tini Howard

Civil War II #0

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics

You already know if you're buying into Marvel's latest mega-event. Despite the widespread critical and commercial success of Captain America: Civil War, this obviously timed crossover seems to have inspired fatigue in many True Believers. Still, Brian Michael Bendis has more experience than anyone at slamming all the toys in the Marvel sandbox together, and this prologue features art by the singular Olivier Coipel before the talented (and speedier) David Marquez steps in for the main event. If you're following any Marvel series at the moment, chances are that there's a CWII tie-in waiting in your future. Give in. Don't resist. Drink the Kool-Aid. Hope that your B-list favorites don't get fridged. Steve Foxe

Dept. H #2

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Matt Kindt & Sharlene Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Now that Matt and Sharlene Kindt have established the deep-sea murder mystery anchoring Dept. H, it's time to get weird. And for those readers who witnessed the psychedelic warfare of Kindt's previous saga, Mind MGMT, expect a similar aura of surrealism in this new venture. This sophomore issue takes protagonist Mia on an excursion throughout the liquid depths (ha), aesthetically defined in engulfing negative space and interrupted by strange and beautiful sea fauna. We'll even call the terrifying, leviathan-sized squid strange and beautiful, as it threatens to digest one of our favorite new characters in one of our favorite new series. Sean Edgar

Future Quest #1

Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Evan Shaner
Publisher: DC Comics

When it comes to properties that give us happy childhood feelings but desperately need a reboot, Jonny Quest is near the top of the list. No, no, not a gritty reboot, but a little touch of modernity to make Jonny and his crew something that all kids can enjoy. Rather than skewing dark or overly serious, Future Quest features Jonny and Hadji teaming up with Space Ghost and other Hanna-Barbera characters for some pure fun. Evan Shaner's bright, classic art is perfect for this animated world, and maintains the tone established in the promotional image from one of comics' recent lost greats: Darwyn Cooke. Tini Howard

Lumberjanes: Makin' the Ghost of It #1

Writers: Jen Wang, Kelly Thompson
Artists: Catherine Norrie, Savanna Ganucheau
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

One of the secrets to Lumberjanes' continued success is that it doesn't talk down to its tween/teen audience and isn't afraid to cross from spooky to downright scary, as in this new 40-page one-shot based around the camp-classic wandering-axe-murderer urban legend. Featuring writing from In Real Life artist Jen Wang and Jem & The Holograms scripter Kelly Thompson and art from Christine Norrie and Savanna Ganucehau, this oversized special is a scarily fun standalone addition to the ever-expanding Lumberjanes canon—and drops alongside the latest issue of the core series. Steve Foxe

Mae #1

Writer/Artist: Gene Ha
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Working at a comic shop, I often get excited when I look at a book and the perfect sales pitch instantly comes to mind. Here it is for Mae: like Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan's Birthright for all the kids not yet old enough to read Birthright. That's simplistic, sure, but it's such a great starting concept—kid disappears off to a fantasy world, fights monsters and returns, to the surprise of her family. The racks are desperately in need of more pure adventure stories for all ages, and Mae, from celebrated Top Ten artist Gene Ha, seems like the perfect fit. Tini Howard

Unfollow Vol. 1

Writer: Rob Williams
Artists: Mike Dowling, R.M. Guera
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

On a superficial level, Unfollow unites 140 strangers under the promise of millions of dollar, donated by a dying social media tycoon. If one of those 140 dies, their portion is divided among the surviving benefactors. And then people kill people for money, because...people. But that Hunger Games/Battle Royale similarity doesn't take into account the winding, intricate plot beats that writer Rob Williams hurls into this gorgeous pop-culture clusterfuck. If Twitter offers a shallow portal into the extremism of culture and anonymous communication, Williams and artists Mike Dowling and R.M. Guera are hellbent on dissecting the eccentricity behind the monitor. For example: militant religious fanatic Deacon (0 followers, 0 following) twists Red State stereotypes into a character far more interesting, vulnerable and heroic than anyone could anticipate as he hunts human traffickers and converses with the Mighty Father. The same goes for the rest of the cast. ABC has ordered a TV show based on the series, but this first trade shows something wholly unhinged that would likely be neutered on the prime time small screen. Sean Edgar