Every week, Paste takes a look at the most interesting releases due out Wednesday in comics, graphic novels and other goodies.
Writers: Tim Seeley, Kyle Higgins, Ray Fawkes, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder
Artist: Joseph Quinones Jr.
Scott Snyder’s devotion to sculpting the Batman legend into brazen, bolder directions has culminated in some spectacular storylines: a murderous country club of aristocrats, immortal acrobat bodyguards, the brilliant sociopath gangster who would be The Joker and a homicidal Justice League comprise some of the more bombastic twists the author’s punished the Dark Knight with. And then there’s Harper (Bluebird) Row — the flitting reminder of Batman’s humanity and mission, and its propensity to build a community around a man defined by isolation. Row may not fall in line with the author’s most dramatic statements, but she’s no less innovative for what she so subtly represents.
Popping up throughout Snyder’s run (she’s hiding in the first issue for the eagle-eyed), technoratti Row has injected the Batfamily with more hope, intelligence and style for the future of kevlar crime fighting than any Robin has in years. Batman Eternal #42 promises more Harper Row, and as much as this weekly series has endured its ups and downs, that’s a promise we’ll receive happily.
Writer & Artist: Michael DeForge
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
As First Year Healthy writer/artist Michael DeForge told Paste recently, “My stories are all pretty meandering. My own life chugs along without very much structure or order, full of odd detours and tangents, so I guess that ends up being reflected in the way I write.” This print version of DeForge’s webcomic follows a woman who relocates to a rural town for the holidays. Plot aside, this book houses gorgeous, psychedelic cartooning esoterica designed to wrap itself around your consciousness in a spiraling tone poem. DeForge could toss out any plot description and it would still lead us to wonderful and strange corners we’d have never expected in a thousand years.
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones
Publisher: Dark Horse
Comics like Groo simply don’t exist anymore. Sergio Aragone’s moronic warrior has remained an endearing parody for more than 30 years, wandering across generations and battlefields with his swords and faithful dog, Rufferto, to generate all manner of G-rated devastation. After Dark Horse’s Conan crossover, this new 12-part maxiseries distills the character to his most basest trait: lovable chaos. The debut issue features a ship owner who attempts to capitalize on Groo’s inclination for disaster, but discovers that this one-man army can even fumble the safest assumptions. Charming, lucid and fun, Groo: Friends and Foes also swims in gorgeous colors from Tom Luth and includes lettering from the legendary Stan Sakai.
Writers: Noelle Steveson, Shannon Watters
Artist: Carolyn Nowak
Publisher: BOOM! Box
In its tenth issue, the campers of Lumberjanes take a free day to earn outdated badges, embark on forested dates picnics and follow rustic bear women into outhouses of questionable dimensional properties. For all the exotic monster hunting and divine powers lurking on the campgrounds, this comic thrives on its characters and how easily they relate the confusion and fun of adolescence. With this in mind, this issue sports a pivotal conversation between Molly and Mal that’s sure to tie one of their hearts in a knot, even if there’s no badge awarded. There’s also more hilarious double entendres than you can shake a stick at.
Writers: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
Artist: Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf
From Hillary Brown’s Review: Not only do trilogies proliferate these days, but their narratives rarely merit their excessive length or achieve the gravitas they promise. March: Book Two, the second volume from Congressman John Lewis chronicling his work in the Cilvil Rights Movement, luckily falls outside this trend. The care given to every page of this moving and beautiful story is obvious, as Book Two escalates the drama of its predecessor considerably. Covering the beginning of 1961, when the Freedom Riders began their bus trips into the Deep South, to the Birmingham Church Bombing in September 1963, this graphic novel vibrates with emotion.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
The Wicked + The Divine has done a wonderful job of amplifying the misery and elation of teenagedom, showing what happens when a group of hormonal kids inherit the power and glory of obscure deities. Aside from giving the Tumblr generation a new reason to wiki a gaggle of anthropology footnotes, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s masterwork has remained undeniably cool in a way that few things are. This is a comic book with horribly authentic swagger and snark; it will inspire drunken rock operas and Halloween costumes that only adolescents with impeccable taste will recognize and affirm (and yes, we’re sure it already has). This issue showcases a fan convention for the gods (a fantheon, buh dum tish) that in no way, shape or form parodies a comic convention. Also: the 11th god stands revealed on a rave flyer, because #kids.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: Marvel Icon
There’s a benevolent irony that the man who wrote the book on comic book projects stranded in Hollywood development hell is finally witnessing one of his finest creator-owned works translate to the small screen. From a more romantic perspective, Brian Michael Bendis has produced countless pages of work across myriad genres while retaining a singular voice: if anybody deserves some cross-media love, it’s BMB. Powers, a police procedural rooted in superhero dramatics, will debut via Playstation on March 10th. Though its publishing schedule has been erratic throughout the years, the comic’s twists, turns and tone have consistently remained excellent, merging early noir output like Goldfish and Fire with the spandex of Bendis’ later work. Now the author and artist Michael Von Oeming press the restart button with a brand new first issue. We have no clue what to expect, but if this relaunch presents an ounce of the intrigue and atmosphere of inaugural arc “Who Killed Retro Girl?” we’ll return happily to the glitz and decay of Bendis’ noir-tinged Chicago.