Avengers: No Surrender, Dejah Thoris & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/10/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Avengers: No Surrender, Dejah Thoris & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/10/2018

Whether you’re recovering from the bomb cyclone or enjoying milder weather far from the coasts, January continues on its chilly way this week, bringing with it a brand-new batch of weekly releases. Modern Marvel landmark Vision gets a handsome hardcover collection, fan-favorite Image series The Wicked + The Divine releases its next trade collection, Black Lightning: Year One gets an accessible new edition and two generations of Battlestar Galactica collide at Dynamite. We’ve also got a fresh launch for pulp sci-fi heroine Dejah Thoris, an unexpected maxi-series return to the world of Old Man Logan, a major Avengers crossover and more, in this week’s Required Reading.

STL067167.jpegAvengers #675
Writers: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The initial Legacy relaunches for the Avengers family of titles—Avengers, U.S.Avengers and Uncanny Avengers—seemed oddly understated for such major series during a flagship relaunch, and now we know why: beginning with issue #675, the core Avengers book goes weekly and the cast and writers of Uncanny Avengers and U.S.Avengers fold in for the ride. Mark Waid’s tenure on Avengers proper hasn’t been the sales juggernaut Marvel might have hoped for, but he, Jim Zub and Al Ewing all bring ample skill sets to the table, and the “No Surrender” crossover should instill an epic sense of scale in the franchise that’s been missing since Jonathan Hickman’s run ended in early 2016. Artist Pepe Larraz kicks things off this week, and all we know so far is that the Earth has been stolen (no big deal, right?) and a mysterious white-haired woman is suddenly an Avengers co-founder from back in the day. Avengers should be among the biggest, most thrilling titles in Marvel’s stable—fingers crossed “No Surrender” makes good on that potential. Steve Foxe

205767_1175061_1.jpgBattlestar Galactica vs. Battlestar Galactica #1
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Johnny Desjardins
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
The best science fiction often falls into one of two categories: it’s either something deeply political, full of meta-commentary and social consciousness as well as fantastic adventures, or it’s completely over the top and ridiculous. The contrast between the two different versions of Battlestar Galactica is one of the best demonstrations of these strands of sci-fi, and starting this week Dynamite is colliding them into one shared universe. Peter David is no stranger to writing interesting sci-fi, with credits on Babylon 5 as well as both the novel and comic book versions of Star Trek. He’s a logical fit for a book that can go in either direction, pitting the crews against each other and one final Cylon. With David at the helm, BSG vs. BSG is likely to have a good mixture of both camp and weighty real-world issues, giving readers the best of both possibilities. In much of his previous work, artist Johnny Desjardins employs a classic superhero art style, with bulging muscles and bendy women that might not be a great fit for this book, but that will ultimately depend on the tone that David sets. Either way, more fun sci-fi is definitely welcome, as is further exploration of the worlds that were created for both versions of the fan-favorite show. Caitlin Rosberg

STL067219.jpegBlack Lightning: Year One New Edition
Writer: Jen Van Meter
Artist: Cully Hamner
Publisher: DC Comics
Black Lightning is a historically important DC character, among the first mainstream black superheroes, but his visibility at the publisher over the last half-decade has been limited. With a live-action iteration on the way, DC is re-releasing one of Black Lightning’s best standalone tales, complete with a photographic cover to assure television fans that this is the entry point for them. Hopeless Savages creator Jen Van Meter flirts with Marvel and DC every few years to great effect, and artist Cully Hamner, who just launched Batman and the Signal last week, has a perfect twist on classic superhero art fit for Year One’s street-level focus on Black Lightning’s early days. For fans interested in the television series—or any comic reader hungry for a good one-and-done story featuring the hero—Year One is a welcome re-release. Steve Foxe

STL069834.jpegDejah Thoris #0
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Pasquale Qualano
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
One of the least understood of all of the characters that Edgar Rice Burroughs created for his novel A Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris has long been sidelined in favor of John Carter, and her trademark scanty costume doesn’t help her reputation with many readers. Seeing Amy Chu’s name attached to a book about the character is exciting; although Dynamite made an effort to hire more female writers and artists for titles like Vampirella several years ago, and Gail Simone worked to recruit dozens of female creators to contribute to her titles at the publisher, it’s still common for the female-starring pulp comics to be far too focused how sexy and raunchy the characters can be. Chu’s Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death was sharp and smart but hobbled by ill-fitting art from Clay Mann, including an up-skirt shot of a teenage girl, and frankly the covers for Dejah Thoris #0 don’t instill a lot of confidence that this title won’t have the same exact problems. Interior artist Pasquale Qualano’s style leans heavily on the same kind of pin-up art that has defined pulp comics for so long, and it would be interesting to see Chu working with an artist who focused more on action and less on outsized anatomy. That said, #0 carries an introductory price of a quarter, the perfect price point to jump on and try something new without spending the $3.99 or $4.99 standard of most issues. That might be the smartest decision Dynamite made about the title, besides hiring Chu. Caitlin Rosberg

STL061974.jpegI Am a Hero Omnibus Vol. 5
Writer/Artist: Kengo Hanazawa
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero has quietly shambled on as one of the best manga—and best horror comics—hitting shelves. The last volume saw the book’s small band of “survivors” (calling one mysteriously infected character a survivor might be a stretch) break free from a shopping-center compound dominated by opportunistic assholes, leaving them safe from one human-based threat but without a semi-defensible home base. Hanazawa has teased out the ways in which the “ZQN” creatures, the series’ name for the undead, have been evolving, including a notably horrifying pole-vaulter last volume, and every attack is drawn out in his gaunt, heavily detailed style for maximum effect. Each Dark Horse release collects two of the original Japanese volumes, which helps make the wait between releases tolerable, and this fifth omnibus continues to follow our protagonists as the ZQN infection crosses the sea to nearby Taiwan. Steve Foxe

STL067761.jpegMech Cadet Yu #5
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Much in the same way as Netflix’s new Voltron series, Mech Cadet Yu taps into the nostalgia that readers have for team-focused robot stories starring a diverse group of likable characters that have to work hard to get along. It’s the kind of positive grand adventure that attracts adult readers even though it’s firmly an all-ages book, balancing real danger with happy lessons about teamwork and overcoming obstacles. With Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa on the title, it’s no surprise that the book has been a critical and fan success so far, and this week marks not only a new arc starting with issue #5, but also an early trade that collects issues #1-#4. The trade is available exclusively at comic shops, marked as the “Discover Now Edition” of the book to help new readers jump on for the second arc. It’s an interesting experiment for BOOM! to offer a trade almost immediately after the issues have come out (BOOM! is traditionally one of the slowest direct-market publishers to offer trades), and hopefully one that will pay off. Pak’s success with his own creative work on titles like this and Kingsway West has shown that his skill and vision branches far beyond what he is able to do with corporate IP, and it’s worth taking advantage of this chance to catch up and jump in on a sweet, fun and robot-packed book like Mech Cadet Yu. Caitlin Rosberg

STL069123.jpegOld Man Hawkeye #1
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s not a huge shock that Marvel would want to wring a bit more life out of the popular Old Man Logan post-apocalypse created by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, but it is a bit of a surprise that the nearly blind future Hawkeye is the publisher’s chosen protagonist for this new maxi-series. Written by former journalist Ethan Sacks and illustrated by frequent Star Wars artist Marco Checchetto, Old Man Hawkeye is set five years before our first visit as the once-purple archer realizes he is losing his vision and has a limited window of time in which to seek vengeance for his fallen friends. Sacks is still a largely unproven talent, but Checchetto is an inspired choice, with a clean approach that should make better use of the setting than previous Old Man Logan artist Andrea Sorrentino’s murkier style. If you’ve been itching for another year of stories set in a wasteland on incestuous Hulks and Venomized T-Rexes, Old Man Hawkeye is your 2018 gift. Steve Foxe

STL070113.jpegParadiso #2
Writer: Ram V.
Artist: Dev Pramanik
Publisher: Image Comics
The first issue of Ram V. and Dev Pramanik’s Paradiso was a disorienting introduction to a new sci-fi dystopia in the grand tradition of AKIRA and Blade Runner, rendered in Pramanik’s stunning visual splendor. This second issue starts to fill in the blanks, although much of Paradiso is still shrouded in mystery. A man with a powerful object is trying to find a way into a potentially sentient city, and wicked forces are standing in his way. Ram V. has a flair for spinning myths, fleshing out just enough about the titular Paradiso to prevent reader confusion but not enough to puncture the hallucinatory effect of characters like a goliath and a little girl who seem to share one mind. Pramanik is the star though, falling somewhere on the spectrum between Sean Gordon Murphy’s more legible work and Nic Klein’s painterly world-building. Paradiso is doling out its answers deliberately, but patient readers will likely find it to be one of Image’s most promising recent releases. Steve Foxe

STL065992.jpegThe Vision HC
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Michael Walsh
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Most dedicated comic fans have heard of Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s celebrated run on Vision, a 12-issue series that was included in all sorts of best-of lists and nominated for a slew of awards in the past two years. King’s already growing reputation for introspective, serious books like Sheriff of Babylon and The Omega Men all but exploded after Vision hit shelves. With Mike Del Mundo’s extraordinary covers, Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s incredible interiors and Jordie Bellaire’s skillful color work, Vision is surreal and exploratory in all the right ways. This hardcover volume is the fourth time that Marvel has published or republished Vision, including the monthly issues, two trades and six “director’s cut” books that included new behind-the-scenes backmatter. This collected edition is a great gift for readers that might not have picked up the book in other formats (a shame since it’s arriving after the holiday season), and a great gateway drug for folks that embrace the weird and wonderful but haven’t yet made the jump into cape and cowl books. Vision was almost predestined to become a classic, and the handsome hardback is a great addition for any fans of King’s. Caitlin Rosberg

STL059487.jpegThe Wicked + The Divine Vol. 6: Imperial Phase Part II
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Publisher: Image Comics
Co-creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie bill this collection of The Wicked + The Divine as the “most dramatic arc yet,” and they’re not far off. With the shackles of supervision cast off, Gillen and McKelvie’s cast (brought to electric, neon life by colorist Matt Wilson) are at the peak of their powers and in control of their own destinies—for what little time they have left, anyway. The most recent WicDiv single-issue release was the steamy Christmas special, set before the events of the entire series, which throws Imperial Phase Part II into even sharper contrast. The shoe-drop nature of a premise with a time limit—once ascended, these teen gods have two years to live—looms more ominously than ever over these pages, and Gillen and McKelvie delight in teasing readers about the emotional plummets yet to come. Steve Foxe

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