Damage, Days of Hate, Ice Cream Man & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/17/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Damage, Days of Hate, Ice Cream Man & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/17/2018

Happy mid-January, Paste readers! Depending on how clued-in you may be to national politics, 2018 already feels about five years too long, but comics blessedly continue to provide an escapist outlet. DC finally kicks off its “New Age of DC Heroes” initiative this week with Damage #1, a gleefully raging tribute to ‘90s superhero action. If you prefer your monthly comics a bit more contemplative, Days of Hate and Ice Cream Man at Image Comics promise to challenge readers, and Days of Hate scribe Ales Kot plays double-duty this week with James Bond: The Body, which pauses to consider the physical ramifications of the super-spy lifestyle. If you prefer your contract killers quirkier, Assassinistas returns for a second issue this week, alongside handsome horror collected editions, a cartoon continuation and more in Required Reading.

STL069967.jpegAssassinistas #2
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: Black Crown/ IDW Publishing
Along with fellow Black Crown title Kid Lobotomy, Assassinistas marks former Vertigo editor Shelly Bond’s return to a curator role for an entire lineup, and her reign has been suitably weird and wonderful thus far. The first issue of Assassinistas set the stage, introducing three women who are mercenary in nearly every sense of the word. Now the story can focus on Dominic Prince, college-aged son of one of the titular “assassinistas,” who joins his mother in the family business. The last installment ended on a reveal that cemented Dominic’s mother Octavia as a funny, sharp character full of sympathy; it also managed to avoid turning Dominic and his same-sex significant other into a punch line, which lesser books may have done. One of the biggest draws here is Gilbert Hernandez’ iconic art, simple and crisp and sort of retro in all the right ways. Most comics fans will recognize his style from his contributions to Love and Rockets, which he worked on along with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Now that the premise has been established and the cast introduced, readers should strap in for the wild ride that Hernandez and writer Tini Howard plan to deliver, equal parts shoot-‘em-up action and student-loan drama. Caitlin Rosberg

STL066967.jpegDamage #1
Writer: Robert Vendetti
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics
Damage marks the launch of DC’s New Age of Heroes line-up, an “artist-driven” batch of new series from established talent like Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and, on this Hulk-like title, artist Tony S. Daniel and writer Robert Vendetti. “Hulk-like” is probably an understatement—Damage looks and moves just like a purple variation on Marvel’s jolly green giant—but this action-packed military-monster title should scratch the itch of readers who miss Banner’s unchecked rampages. Daniel is an accomplished practitioner of DC’s standard superhero style, and Vendetti steps back to allow Daniel to cut loose on the violet-hued carnage. While this “New Age” looks suspiciously like the radical ‘90s, there’s room in DC’s roster for this kind of big, dumb fun. Steve Foxe

STL070080.jpegDays of Hate #1
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Danijel Zezelj
Publisher: Image Comics
After a brief hiatus, Ales Kot has returned to comics, and he clearly has something to say to readers. The first chapter of Generation Gone wrapped in late 2017, and 2018 brings Days of Hate, another Image book with a timely message. Set in the not-so-distant future of 2022, the book portrays a world caught between a fascist government and those who continue to resist; there are hints of DMZ here, as well as Kot’s own Material. Kot has a tendency to write plot-driven books that are introspective and full of meta-commentary, related closely to current events, and with the success of titles like Black Mask’s Calexit, it’s clear that there’s a healthy appetite for that in the industry right now. As a European artist, Danijel Zezelj may not be familiar to many American readers beyond his Vertigo contributions, but his style is stark with black and rich with texture. After several of Kot’s previous series were cancelled without warning, and others struggled with long pauses between issues, it’s reassuring to see Days of Hate with a set number of planned issues right on the cover, an indication Kot and Zizelj will have the opportunity to tell their story in full. Caitlin Rosberg

STL062228.jpegGiant Days: Not on the Test Edition Vol. 2
Writer: John Allison
Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Long-time fans of John Allison’s Bad Machinery and Scary Go Round webcomics were probably the only ones who weren’t surprised by the success of Giant Days. Allison has a skill with characterization that’s hard to beat and relatively unmatched in most monthly titles, creating sprawling casts without ever losing individual personalities and quirks. Giant Days has been a consistent source of good humor and the kind of high drama that only comes in slice-of-life stories that focus on young people and students. The characters have been lovingly rendered by several artists over the title’s run, each of them with a knack for physical comedy and expressive faces that Allison wisely allows to carry much of the characterization. Before the last few years, there wasn’t much precedence for a successful monthly American slice-of-life comic in print, especially one focusing on young women, and Giant Days has been a huge part of laying the groundwork for more. Even for fans that already own the monthly issues or collected trades, it’s worth investing in the hardcover Not on the Test volumes, each one collecting two complete story arcs along with exclusive comics that haven’t been collected in any other edition. Caitlin Rosberg

STL070077.jpegIce Cream Man #1
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Image Comics
Anthologies are largely the territory of independent publishers, most of them crowd-funded books with a slew of different creators and stories all under a single cover. There are outliers like the Image+ magazine (which also includes interviews) and Legend of Red Sonja, but by and large the bigger publishers have abandoned the format. Ice Cream Man is the rare monthly comic comprised of a series of one-shot stories, but that isn’t the only thing that makes it an exciting addition to Image’s roster of books. Since they’ve previously teamed up for IDW’s The Electric Sublime, a mystery wrapped in psychedelic art meta-commentary, writer W. Maxwell Prince and artist Martin Morazzo have a well-established partnership that should serve them well in making a comic that’s as nontraditional as this one. Ice Cream Man promises loosely related stories typified by the Twilight Zone, with the same kind of unsettling and unnerving content. It’ll be tough to pin the book down to a specific genre or style, but that opens up a lot of opportunities for Prince and Morazzo to explore new ground in monthly comics. Caitlin Rosberg

STL069851.jpegJames Bond: The Body #1
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Luca Casalanguida
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Warren Ellis and Jason Masters’ Vargr and Eidolon arcs set a very high bar for what a James Bond comic should look and feel like, and it’s been hard for the subsequent arcs to live up to the way that Ellis both modernized and internalized what could easily be a campy espionage jaunt. Much in the same way that Daniel Craig’s tenure as the titular spy has been marked by a more serious kind of storytelling, Dynamite’s comics have attempted to rehabilitate the character a bit. This newest arc wears that intent on its sleeve, focused specifically on the impact that Bond’s life has had on his body. With Ales Kot writing Bond, readers will get something introspective and ambiguous, more about Bond and his decisions than the world that shaped him. Artist Luca Casalanguida has been doing a great job on other Bond stories and the continuity of style should help connect The Body to the rest of Dynamite’s 007 world. Caitlin Rosberg

STL06200822.jpegLegend of Korra: Turf Wars Vol. 2
Writer: Michael Dante Dimartino
Artist: Irene Koh
Publisher: Dark Horse
Dark Horse’s three-volume original graphic novel The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars officially continues the saga of Korra, Asami and the rest of the cast from the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series, with co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino scripting and fellow creator Bryan Konietzko taking on consulting duties. Drawn by fan-favorite artist Irene Koh with evocative covers by Heather Campbell, Turf Wars charts the increasingly tense divide between the spirit portal and the encroaching human world, while further developing the romance between Korra and Asami suggested in the cartoon’s groundbreaking finale. If you haven’t yet made the commitment to following Korra and crew into the sequential-art realm, be sure to check out Paste’s exclusive preview of this volume. Steve Foxe

STL068424.jpegPacific Rim: Aftermath #1
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Richard Elson
Publisher: Legendary Comics
With the imminent release of the second Pacific Rim movie in February, Legendary kicks off the prequel comic series this week, in much the same way Tales from Year Zero hit shelves just before the first movie. Aftermath helps to fill in the gaps between the two movies, as well as introduce John Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost. Boyega has been involved almost from the very beginning of Uprising’s production, and his clear adoration and enthusiasm for the film and the characters has helped to soothe worries over the lack of much of the original film’s crew. Fans of the films will want to check out Aftermath, as well as Tales from Year Zero and Tales from the Drift, as they add depth to both the characters and the world that Travis Beacham created. Aftermath is the first Pacific Rim story that Beacham hasn’t had a direct hand in, so writer Cavan Scott has some large shoes to fill, but he’s got a lot of experience adapting other people’s work for Titan’s Vikings and Doctor Who titles. Artist Richard Elson’s work on 2000 AD has proven he can handle both monsters and the apocalypse, so readers will have to check out Aftermath to see how he deals with post-post-apocalypse. Caitlin Rosberg

STL062006.jpegShadows on the Grave HC
Writer/Artist: Richard Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Horror/fantasy guru Richard Corben is one of a handful of comic creators for whom the title “living legend” may be an understatement. For decades, Corben had contributed his unmistakable gnarled, burly figures to tales of violence and fear in iconic publications like Creepy, Eerie and Heavy Metal, stunning adaptations of Poe and Lovecraft and some of the best Hellboy stories of all time. In 2016 and 2017, after completing Rat God and a Mexican Big Red jaunt with Mike Mignola, Corben returned to the anthology format for eight issues of his own short shockers. Shadows on the Grave is largely set in a bygone rural America not unlike Corben’s own formative years (or so he told Paste in advance of the series’ debut), with brief chillers in the vein of Tales from the Crypt. Fans of Corben’s more fantastical work shouldn’t despair: the only serial in the book features a Grecian hero who should feel familiar to the master storyteller’s most diehard readers. Horror hounds will want this one in hardcover. Steve Foxe

STL068728.jpegStar Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny: Hera #1
Writer: Devin Grayson
Artist: Eva Widermann
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW’s month-long Forces of Destiny one-shot series spotlights the powerful women of a galaxy far, far away, and this week’s issue hails from the ongoing adventures of Rebels. Hera, the crew’s Twi’lek pilot and most unflappable member, is one of the few Rebels characters confirmed by wider Disney canon to survive beyond A New Hope, and both her ship and droid make a cameo in Rogue One in a rare cartoon/film crossover Easter egg. Scripting Hera is Devin Grayson, a pioneering female comic scribe who was extremely prolific in the early 2000s. Joining her is concept and fantasy artist Eva Widermann, who appears to be new to sequential art but brings with her a wealth of imaginative illustration experience. With any luck, IDW—and fellow Star Wars publisher Marvel—will continue to spotlight non-film characters like Hera as the franchise expands. Steve Foxe

Share Tweet Submit Pin