Amazing Spider-Man, Relay, Ruinworld & More in Required Reading: Comics for 7/11/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Amazing Spider-Man, Relay, Ruinworld & More in Required Reading: Comics for 7/11/2018

Some weeks, the “Big Two” of Marvel and DC Comics absolutely dominate our Required Reading lists. While it’s hard to argue that Superman #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 aren’t, you know, pretty big deals, it’s heartening to feel the excitement bubbling up from the rest of this Wednesday’s releases. Nate Powell returns to crafting original stories, popular webcomic Ruinworld comes to BOOM! Studios, Rob Guillory breaks into the writer/artist groove with Farmhand and The Cloud team reunites for the visually resplendent Run Wild. We’ve also got sci-fi debuts from AfterShock and Skybound, a new launch from the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse and a claw-tastic fresh start for X-23. It’s a solid Required Reading spread, y’all.

STL086731.jpegAmazing Spider-Man #1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The freshest of fresh starts from Marvel Comics this summer, Amazing Spider-Man #1 kicks off the next major era of the wallcrawler following writer Dan Slott’s nearly decade-long run—and resets Peter Parker to a more familiar down-on-his-luck New York shmuck in the process. The announcement of Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley as the creative team split audiences; while Spencer is still beloved for his offbeat Superior Foes of Spider-Man series, his Captain America titles and the Secret Empire crossover met with much more mixed reception (if we’re being generous). No matter which Spencer shows up for this book, Ottley is the star attraction, unleashing himself fully on the Marvel Universe after years and years drawing Robert Kirkman’s creator-owned Invincible. It’s difficult to impart lasting change on an icon as popular as Spider-Man, but there’s also a reason Parker has endured for so many decades: we like to read about a good-hearted boy from Queens doing his best with great power foisted upon him. If Spencer and Ottley can stick to those fundamentals, Amazing Spider-Man should be in good hands. Steve Foxe

STL077728.jpegCome Again
Writer/Artist: Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf
It’s been a while since Nate Powell got to do his full thing (he’s been busy hanging out with civil rights legend John Lewis and such for the National Book Award-winning March series and its upcoming follow-up, Run), but this should be a prime example of just what comprises “Nate Powell’s full thing.” Powell’s work is never less than visually ravishing, with an amazing ability to wind text around images, and he does a great job unpacking the complexities of the South, as he should here. Hillary Brown

STL086688.jpegFarmhand #1
Writer/Artist: Rob Guillory
Publisher: Image Comics
Before Image Comics became the go-to destination for A-list comic creators looking to spread their creator-owned wings, John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew established itself as one of the publisher’s first post-The Walking Dead hits, filling a body-horror/humor niche that no one knew the industry was missing. This week, Guillory returns to the publisher as the writer and artist of Farmhand, which introduces three generations of a mixed-race family living south of the Mason-Dixon line. Protagonist Zeke has been estranged from his father Jed in the years before the series opens, and brings his wife, son and daughter to Jed’s farm to mend ties. Jed isn’t a typical green thumb, though—he’s the geneticist behind cutting-edge bioengineered stem cell plants that grow new limbs and organs as easily as lemon trees grow citrus. He’s also got a literal green thumb, as the first human recipient of one of his harvested body parts. For more on the series, peep Paste’s announcement interview with Guillory. Steve Foxe

OutpostZero01Cover.jpgOutpost Zero #1
Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Publisher: Skybound/ Image Comics
Written by Eisner Award-winner Sean Kelley McKeever (Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), drawn by Alexandre Tefenkgi and colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Skybound’s debut Young Adult series Outpost Zero follows protagonist Alea and her friends as they enter adulthood in the protected Outpost Zero, a small community on a frozen world inhospitable to human life. Alea’s life in Outpost Zero is complicated, though, when something in the snowy depths of “the Frost” begins to stir. Tefenkgi is best known for French-language work, but McKeever is something of a pioneer when it comes to teen-focused monthly comics, with numerous runs at Marvel, DC Comics and other publishers on books like Gravity, Young Inhumans and Teen Titans. Skybound is best known for the bloodier pages of The Walking Dead, Extremity and other mature-readers series, so Outpost Zero is, if nothing else, a curious opportunity to discover how the publisher might attempt to reach younger audiences. Steve Foxe

STL085656.jpegRelay #1
Writers: Zac Thompson w/ Donny Cates & Eric Bromberg
Artist: Andy Clarke
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
After launching this May on Free Comic Book Day with a #0 issue, Relay returns to shelves for a sci-fi story about identity and belief. Though Zac Thompson and Andy Clarke are the core of the creative team, Thompson was joined by Eric Bromberg and Marvel hotshot Donny Cates in conceiving Relay. The premise has echoes of everything from Blade Runner to The Wizard of Oz, with an exploration of the way that those in power use technology and corporate wealth to reinforce conformity and expand their power. This kind of storytelling can be complicated and massive in scope, which gives comics an advantage over other mediums. Budget limitations might easily make Relay difficult to realize as movie or TV show, but comics are only limited by page count, the imagination of their creators and the sweat and tears of their artists. With the names attached to this story, and the comparisons to beloved sci-fi touchstones like The Fifth Element, Relay is poised to be publisher AfterShock Comics’ next breakout hit. Caitlin Rosberg

STL085564.jpegRuinworld #1
Writer/Artist: Derek Laufman
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
There was a period of time a few years back when publisher BOOM! Studios seemed eager to repeat the success of its Adventure Time license in original properties. While books like Help Us, Great Warrior! and Brave Chef Brianna were fun, fanciful new properties, it helps to have an existing fanbase behind you. Cartoonist Derek Laufman contributed to BOOM!’s Adventure Time Comics and is also the creator of the popular Ruinworld digital comic series, which comes to new print life this week (and hopefully brings its online audience with it). Ruinworld is a rollicking, all-ages adventure series that touches on familiar fantasy touchstones with fox and pig protagonists. Laufman’s cartooning is bright, fluid and open, which should make this easy reading for younger fans and enjoyable for older fans of the broad modern Cartoon Network aesthetic or Skottie Young’s less violent work. Steve Foxe

STL077909.jpegRun Wild
Writer: K.I. Zachopoulos
Artist: Vincenzo Balzano
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
K.I. Zachopoulos and Vincenzo Balzano are the creators behind the gorgeous, lyrical The Cloud graphic novel, and Run Wild finds them perfecting their partnership in another impressionistic, gallery-ready outing. When all of human civilization begins turning into animals, young siblings Ava and Finn set out to find their parents and discover what defines their humanity in a world without other humans. Balzano’s stunning painting is the real draw here, and the opportunity to see him…run wild…with so many different animal subjects is worth the price of admission alone. Oh god, we are so sorry for that wordplay—just buy this book already. Steve Foxe

STL086988.jpegShe Could Fly #1
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
The latest book in Karen Berger’s eponymous imprint at Dark Horse Comics, She Could Fly brings together a talented creative team to tell a new twist on a familiar story. Writer Christopher Cantwell is the creator and showrunner of Halt and Catch Fire; while he’s not the first TV creator to delve into comics, this new direction is notable in that it doesn’t build on a show he’s already well known for. Martin Morazzo has contributed to an issue or two of a slew of different titles, but it’s his relationship with writer W. Maxwell Prince that’s proven most fruitful in recent years, from The Electric Sublime to Image cult favorite Ice Cream Man. She Could Fly focuses on a teen who becomes obsessed with figuring out what happened to a woman spotted flying over Chicago…before exploding mid-air. The chance to explore the senses of wonder and terror that come along with superpowers, combined with the level of adulation and obsession that only teen girls are capable of, is compelling enough to make this worth checking out. Knowing that it was chosen specifically by Berger to bear her name only makes the series more intriguing.Caitlin Rosberg

STL086350.jpegSuperman #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s not the first of Brian Michael Bendis’ books at DC—if anything, it’s Bendis’ fourth of five Super-kickoffs following Action Comics #1000, DC Nation #0 and Man of Steel—but Superman #1 does mark the beginning of something new for the character, and officially begins Bendis’ run as Clark Kent’s main shepherd. The book picks up right where the six-issue Man of Steel miniseries left off, but it’s not mandatory to have read that transitional series to dive in here. Ivan Reis and frequent collaborator Joe Prado, on pencils and inks respectively, come along with Bendis from an issue of Man of Steel. The team hits the ground running, launching into an arc that [mild spoiler] finds the planet Earth plunged into the Phantom Zone. Bendis is a big idea guy with a lot to say about the nature of being a hero, and Reis has a classic house style that lends itself to DC Comics’ iconic cape-and-cowl storytelling. This is a great place for lapsed fans to jump back on the Suoer-bandwagon, and is easily worth checking out for fans of Kent and Bendis both. The loss of books like Superwoman and especially Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man has considerably narrowed the Superman lineup, and Bendis has a lot of space to fill. Caitlin Rosberg

STL087165.jpegX-23 #1
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Juann Cabal
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Laura Kinney’s time as Wolverine has come to an end, but her story certainly hasn’t. With this new series, she returns to her original title of X-23, but without leaving everything from her days as Wolverine behind. Laura’s little sister Gabby, the newly minted Honey Badger, will join Laura in this new series, lending a sense of continuity even though the creative team is different. Artist Juann Cabal did contribute to six issues of All-New Wolverine, but Mariko Tamaki is taking over writing Laura’s story moving forward, leaving outgoing writer Tom Taylor to script the sisters in the pages of X-Men Red. Tamaki’s work on Hulk, Hunt for Wolverine: Claws of a Killer and the Caldecott Medal-winning This One Summer make it easier to swallow the potentially regressive change back to X-23. With Marvel walking back many of the tweaks that made their lineup feel fresh and exciting for the last few years, the announcement that a character like Laura would no longer wield the more famous title of Wolverine was tough to hear. But Tamaki’s deft skill when it comes to writing emotional and adventurous stories about complicated women definitely makes this return to X-23 less upsetting, and more of a must-read for Wolverine—or Laura—fans everywhere. Caitlin Rosberg

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