Comics We're Excited About for 7/20/2016

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Comics We're Excited About for 7/20/2016

It’s heeeeeere: the biggest comic-culture clusterbang of the year officially kicks off this week as the fine city of San Diego is overrun with fans and purveyors of all fine nerd media. The SDCC news cycle is well underway already, with major comic publishers releasing the apparent bulk of their announcements ahead of the convention itself—likely in an effort to avoid the inevitable quagmire of movie and television news that’ll come out of this weekend’s programming. Before you’re fully sucked into whichever level of Dante’s Inferno best describes the restroom lines outside of Hall H, check out this week’s comic haul for a reminder of how this mega-media event got started in the first place. DC keeps the Rebirth train chugging with two hotly anticipated relaunches, indie contender NoBrow drops a double whammy of excellent OGNs and industry titans Adam Hughes, Jeff Lemire and Bryan Lee O’Malley all ignite fan-favorites in the making.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1


Writers: Shawna Benson & Julie Benson
Artist: Claire Roe
Publisher: DC Comics

With DC's Rebirth initiative returning so many beloved characters to the forefront, it only makes sense that the iconic Birds of Prey lineup would be back. Following critically acclaimed runs of Batgirl, Black Canary and Grayson (featuring the "return"/debut of Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress), this book is a smart choice. Up-and-coming artist Claire Roe (We(l)come Back) is a perfect fit for the adventures of smart girls who kick ass, and fans are curious about how Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, best known for their writing on popular (and occasionally controversial) TV show The 100 will handle the script for their favs. Tini Howard

Betty & Veronica #1


Writer/Artist: Adam Hughes
Publisher: Archie Comics

The Norman Rockwell of beautiful comic book women, Adam Hughes, is back both writing and drawing interiors on a comic. If anyone thought publisher Archie was losing momentum after an auspicious start with creators like Fiona Staples and Chip Zdarksky, let that sink in: meticulous Wonder Woman and Catwoman cover artist Hughes has assembled an entire 36-page funny book. The two points of the Archie's timeless love triangle, Betty and Veronica, look as great as would be expected, rendered organically and wholesomely with nostalgic, muted colors by Jose Villarrubia. Hughes embraces the all-ages '50s innocence of the property, with a sheep dog narrator escorting readers through the competition between girl-next-door Betty and socialite Veronica. The wait for issue two or three may be more than a month if Hughes' past work is any indication, but Betty & Veronica #1 will most likely be worth a reread. Sean Edgar

Black Hammer #1


Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Originally due for release Spring 2015 but delayed after artist Dean Ormston required time to heal from a cerebral injury, Black Hammer arrives this week following the illustrator's full recovery. Ormston's etched, wispy figures immaculately complement Jeff Lemire's tale of Golden Age heroes mysteriously trapped on a farm. Thematically, it's the perfect summation of the writer's interests: rural settings, dysfunctional families and characters who perpetually long for their previous lives. Also: a green brawler named Barbalien. This comic oozes character, an evocative amalgamation of art and emotion bound to add superhero nostalgia to publisher Dark Horse's standouts like Mind MGMT, Harrow County and even Hellboy. The creators simply nail it. Sean Edgar…except for that last joke…probably

The Experts


Writer/Artist: Sophie Franz
Publisher: Retrofit/Big Planet

As her online comics, notebooks and paintings have hinted, Sophie Franz should be making lots of print sequential art, and The Experts is an auspicious step forward. Published by Retrofit/Big Planet and available on their website, this ominous 24-page story recounts one maritime crew's descent into mindlessness while studying faceless, whiskered humanoids. Franz unspools the atmospheric horror of Charles Burns with a line that recalls Daniel Clowes at times. Don't expect visceral jump scares; The Experts disturbs via disorientation and ambiguity, with all the right questions left unanswered. Franz has the potential to follow in the footsteps of indie scare masters like Emily Carroll, and we'll welcome her every step of the way. Sean Edgar

Faith #1


Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Pere Pérez
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment

Who was Valiant kidding by launching Faith as a limited series? From the get-go, it was clear that the effervescent leading lady has the potential for more solo adventures, and now writer Jody Houser is back with new artist and Valiant mainstay Pere Pérez to deliver just that on an ongoing basis. While Faith is an important character in terms of representation for an audience rarely allowed the spotlight, she's also an irresistible, nuanced protagonist thanks to Houser's deft continuation of Joshua Dysart's work in Harbinger, complemented beautifully by Pérez' clean lines and expressive visual acting (not to mention a stunning Kevin Wada cover). Jump on now in advance of future (fingers crossed) President Hillary Clinton's guest-starring role later this year in issue #5. Steve Foxe

Fantasy Sports No. 2


Writer/Artist: Sam Bosma
Publisher: Nobrow Press

Sam Bosma's first oversized Fantasy Sports OGN was an absolute delight residing at the crossroads of Steven Universe, zany old SNES games and the most bizarre game of basketball this side of Space Jam. Sports comics, including hilariously oddball fantasy matches, are much more common in the Japanese manga market than they are here in America, despite this country's fervent love for professional ball-handling. Bosma taps into the gleeful zest of sports manga in his Nobrow series, and has turned his colorful cartooning to beach volleyball for this much-anticipated second installment. Fans of old-school JRPG humor and the volleyball scene from Top Gun should find much to like in this devastatingly pretty hardcover. Steve Foxe

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death


Writer/Artist: Alexis Deacon
Publisher: Nobrow Press

Alexis Deacon is unlikely to remain an unfamiliar name for long if the ethereal, otherworldly historical fantasy Geis is any indication. Launched by Nobrow as the first in a proposed trilogy of supernatural fantasy tales, Geis: A Matter of Life & Death involves a dying matriarch and a contest of souls. Deacon's work looks plucked from another era: delicate linework awash in a stunning breadth of color. Had he been a contemporary of Tolkien or Lewis, Deacon surely would have been tapped to provide spot illustrations. Breathtaking work beautifully packaged. Steve Foxe

The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1


Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Moritat
Publisher: DC Comics

After a TV series and New 52 comic attempt both failed to take hold, the most recent Constantine: The Hellblazer seemed to remember what fans loved about the character: he was bloody, filthy and—finally—unapologetically bisexual. Now, with his Rebirth series, the character is returned to a slightly more traditional team of creators. Artist Moritat has a long history at DC Comics illustrating its grittier characters like Jonah Hex, as does writer Simon Oliver, best known for his work on mature-readers books like The Exterminators and FBP. What we're hoping for: a blend of the classic Vertigo John Constantine with a modern, updated embrace of the character's worst, most charming traits. Tini Howard

The Hunt# 1


Writer: Colin Lorimer
Artist: Colin Lorimer & Joana Lafuente
Publisher: Image Comics

Sometimes all it takes to sink a book is a generic, unmemorable title, and The Hunt has that mark against it out of the gate. Title criticism aside, The Hunt promises a "supernatural horror tale that will give Irish mythology a distinctly modern twist," told by Colin Lorimer, a writer/artist who has contributed to BOOM! horror stand-outs Curse and Burning Fields. Releases from Image's Shadowline imprint sometimes fly under the radar, but Lorimer's spooky pedigree and the chance to play with a lesser-used mythological framework makes The Hunt worth tracking down. Steve Foxe

Snotgirl #1


Writer: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Publisher: Image Comics

Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley announcing his first book at big-time indie publisher Image Comics was enough to make just about everyone sit up and take notice. First of all, it's a monthly, and secondly, he's working with another artist, supremely talented newcomer Leslie Hung. Snotgirl seems to be classic O'Malley misfit-slice-of-life, blended with clever commentary on Instagram fashion-fame and the real people behind it. Lottie Person is, like so many of us, a true mess when she's not on, and utterly isolated from the people she poses beside. The best kind of gross is when you can't look away, right? Tini Howard