Age of X-Man, Fight Club 3, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/30/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
Age of X-Man, Fight Club 3, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/30/2019

Every era must come to a close, whether we’re talking about the reign of humankind or your favorite story arc in a superhero comic. This week isn’t about endings, though, but beginnings. From Marvel’s new Age of X-Man mega-mutant crossover to Dynamite’s thrilling revival of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, a cult-tastic new Action Comics arc to the launch of Wyrd at Dark Horse, the final Wednesday of January is full of fresh starts. If you’re somehow averse to the new, we’ve also got a standalone anthology and a retrospective collection to keep you company. Send the first month of the year out with a bang: it’s time for Required Reading.

STL106073.jpegAction Comics #1007
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve Epting
Publisher: DC Comics
The most frequent criticism of Brian Michael Bendis’ Action Comics run yet far has been a supposed lack of focus. While we don’t agree—the series has been weaving multiple plot lines each issue in intricate and compelling fashion—doubters should be relieved to find that Action Comics #1007 kicks off “Leviathan Rising,” an arc building toward Bendis’ big 2019 plans for Superman. Action Comics has so far been visited by a dream rotation of artists: Patrick Gleason, Yannick Paquette, Adam Hughes and, perhaps most notably, Ryan Sook in top form. Former Captain America artist Steve Epting joins Bendis for “Leviathan Rising,” bringing a noir-ish bent to otherwise classic comic-book storytelling that evokes past Superman greats like Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway. Action Comics is a strong contender for the best monthly DC Comics series on stands, and #1007 proves that the creative team isn’t letting up any time soon. Steve Foxe

AgeofXManMostAnticipated.jpegAge of X-Man: Alpha #1
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Age of Apocalypse remains one of the most ambitious and impressive (if imperfect) events in comic history, replacing the then-most profitable line at Marvel with a whole fleet of reconfigured books for several months. The X-Men are less of a fundamental Marvel tentpole today than they were in the mid-‘90s, but that doesn’t make Age of X-Man any less bold. Spinning out of the weekly Uncanny X-Men series, Age of X-Man is a 30-plus-issue crossover comprised of an alpha issue, six miniseries and an omega issue, all of it guided by architects Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson and written and drawn by a slew of Marvel’s current rising talent, including Leah Williams, Vita Ayala and Seanan McGuire. We don’t expect most (if any) of these dramatic overhauls to stick, but we’re all-in at the prospect of an alternate-universe X-Men moment—and the promise of big, bold newness to follow. Age of X-Man: Alpha launches the whole shebang this week, introducing readers to the “Marvelous” new X-Men and planting seeds for each of the other stories while dropping hints that maybe the Age of X-Man isn’t as utopian as it seems. Steve Foxe

STL105731.jpegCaptain America #7
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Adam Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
We adored Ta-Nehisi Coates’ first arc on Marvel’s patriotic superhero—not because it was the standalone fresh start one might expect, but because it cast an unflinching eye right back at Captain America’s darkest moments. The 2015-2017 Nick Spencer-led Secret Empire mega-arc was controversial from the start, revealing that Captain America was (kinda sorta) a Hydra sleeper agent all along. While the series eventually introduced a contrivance that walked back some of the implications of “Hydra-Cap,” the damage was done: a man who looked and talked like Steve Rogers used America’s faith in the flag to install a Nazi-like regime. No one would have blamed Marvel for trying to pretend it never happened, but Coates and initial collaborator Leinil Francis Yu addressed Secret Empire head on, with Rogers reflecting on how he can possibly regain America’s trust even as his enemies seek to weaponize the fiasco against him. This week, Coates kicks off his second arc, joined by artist Adam Kubert. Kubert’s typically boisterous style seems reigned in here, which fits the somber mood as Rogers must decide between turning himself in or facing arrest for the murder of a high-ranking military officer whose back was broken…by a shield. Readers who’ve always struggled with Cap’s form of vigilante patriotism will want to get onboard now, as Coates clearly plans to address any contradictions head-on. Steve Foxe

STL106864.jpegCaptain Marvel: Monica Rambeau
Writers: Roger Stern, David Michelinie, Others
Artists: John Romita Jr, Sal Buscema, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Before Kelly Sue DeConnick and the Carol Corps arrived on the scene, there was another female Captain Marvel who’s been unjustly sidelined since the popular reboot of Carol Danvers’s character and identity. Monica Rambeau was for a long time the most powerful female character in the Marvel Universe, and in advance of the new Captain Marvel movie, she’s getting a big retrospective of her own. This hefty collection includes issues from Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers and both the 1989 and 1994 runs of Captain Marvel, plus other one-offs. There is a complication that this book will apparently be exclusively available at comic shops, which puts it in the awkward position of being an entry-level collection that won’t be available where most entry-level readers buy comics. Hopefully it can still act as a gateway to Monica’s time in Nextwave and to even more awesome content from the days before Carol took on the Captain Marvel mantle, not to mention the talents of a slew of classic creators like Sal Buscema and Roger Stern. Caitlin Rosberg

FightClub3MostAnticipated.jpegFight Club 3
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 30, 2019
Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is irrefutably enshrined in the annals of modern literature, even if its themes flew over the heads of much of its bro-ier readership. Fight Club 2, Palahniuk’s unexpected comic follow-up with artist Cameron Stewart, massively expanded on the original text, giving the unnamed protagonist a name (Balthazar!) and transforming Project Mayhem into Rize or Die. Now, as Fight Club 3 kicks off, Balthazar, Marla and their first child eke out an existence in a rundown motel. Marla is pregnant with her second child, only this time, Balthazar isn’t the father…Tyler Durden is. And with a new group of deviants planning to “fine-tune” mankind, Balthazar must form an unlikely alliance with Tyler to stand in their way. Whether you’ve been a fan since the ‘90s or were hooked by the jump to comics, you’ll want to see what comes next in this highly unpredictable saga. Steve Foxe

STL106635.jpegIce Cream Man #9
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Image Comics
Ice Cream Man is a restless title—and one of our favorites of the last year. Every time you think you work out what writer W. Maxwell Prince and the art team of Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran are doing with this uncanny, unsettling series, things shift yet again. For this third arc kickoff, Ice Cream Man pivots away from its experimental, seemingly unrelated anthology installments to explain the origins of the titular Ice Cream Man and his Western-themed opposite, a potentially benevolent force who has been playing an increasingly large role in recent stories. “Explain” is a relative term, though—Ice Cream Man isn’t a J.J. Abrams “puzzle-box” show hinging on underwhelming “reveals,” but a narrative submarine sinking to increasingly darker, stranger depths. With Prince’s knack for the unexpected and Morazzo’s laser-precise linework, we’ll follow Ice Cream Man as deep as it’ll take us. Steve Foxe

STL106276.jpegJourney into Unknown Worlds #1
Writers: Cullen Bunn, Clay Mcleod Chapman
Artists: Francesco Manna, Guillermo Sanna Bauza
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Journey into Unknown Worlds, like Marvel Presents and Crypt of Shadows, is part of a celebration of the publisher’s 80th anniversary this year, and is a one-off issue that contains multiple stories for True Believers (or True Believers in the making). Journey into Unknown Worlds has a clear science-fiction bent, but previews have been short on details. Cullen Bunn is the mastermind behind one of the stories, a veteran at Marvel and other big publishers, and Clay McLeod Chapman scripts the other. Chapman doesn’t have the same level of experience as Bunn when it comes to the Marvel backlog, but he’s worked on several Spider-Man-adjacent titles and has an even more extensive history with horror in novels, film and comics. Artist Guillermo Sanna worked with Chapman on Iron Fist: Phantom Limb, and Francesco Manna has experience with a slew of speculative-fiction titles like Dejah Thoris under his belt. Fans new and old should check out these one-shot collections for a peek into Marvel’s past and present. Caitlin Rosberg

MysteriesofLoveinSpaceCv1.jpgMysteries of Love in Space #1
Writers: Cecil Castellucci, Saladin Ahmed, Kyle Higgins, Jeff Loveness, Others
Artist: Max Dunbar, Elena Casagrande, Kyle Hotz, Tom Grummett, Others
Publisher: DC Comics
Another love-themed anthology from DC Comics hits shelves and digital retailers this week, this time reaching into the far reaches of space. Characters with extraterrestrial origins or adventures like Superman, Kilowog and Hawkgirl litter a book that includes eight stories of love and romance. Anthology titles can be something of a gamble, even at big publishers like DC, but the talent list attached to this issue is impressive: Shade the Changing Woman’s Cecil Castellucci; Jeff Loveness, who’s worked on everything from The Onion to the astonishing Judas for BOOM!; Saladin Ahmed, author of fantasy novels and some incredible work for Marvel; and Vigilante Southland’s Elena Casagrande, just to name a few. At $10, the book is two to three times as expensive as the average comic, but it’s also four times as long with 80 pages of love and rocketships. While individual tastes and varying quality can make anthologies a sometimes frustrating read, they’re also a great opportunity to check out new creators to follow, and Mysteries of Love in Space is full to bursting. For a closer look, check out our exclusive preview and interview with Loveness. Caitlin Rosberg

PeterCannonThunderbolt.pngPeter Cannon: Thunderbolt
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Caspar Wjingaard
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
In recent years, Kieron Gillen has been busy with work outside of the capes-and-tights genre on his creator-owned The Wicked + The Divine and his recently launched Die, as well as Marvel’s Star Wars. Artist Caspar Wjingaard, meanwhile, has put in work with Marvel on Ghost Rider and Doctor Aphra following his Image Comics debut Limbo. Gillen’s time away from superhero comics should help fuel a take on Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt that’s in direct response to the current superhero status quo. Thunderbolt himself is a bit of an odd character. He’s been around for 50 years, but is best known for his legacy: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons partially based their Watchmen character Ozymandias on Thunderbolt, while the rest of the cast took inspiration from Thunderbolt’s Charlton co-stars. Gillen and Wjingaard are ready to change that, creating a whole new supporting cast for Cannon. When the series was announced, Gillen said, “I wanted to do a state of the art, state of the superheroic nation, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt is it. High adventure, big ideals, epic destruction, heroism, despair and nine-panel grids.” Sign us up. Josh Hilgenberg

Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Paid police consultant Pitor Wyrd is an ageless, invincible detective called in when cases get a little too…strange. In Curt Pires and Antonio Fuso’s inaugural issue, Wyrd heads for Crimea, where an attempt at replication a certain U.S. super soldier unleashes a roaming monster and a pile of dead bodies. Pires is the author of experimental works including Pop, The Forevers, The Fiction and The Tomorrows, while Fuso most recently lent his jagged, Jock-like style to Black Mask’s Survival Fetish and AfterShock’s Clan Killers. If you’re a fan of books like Hellblazer, Injection and Global Frequency, Wyrd seems like your latest weird fix (and if you’re not sure, check out our exclusive preview of this issue). Steve Foxe

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