Dream Daddy, Giant-Man, Last Stop on the Red Line & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/15/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
Dream Daddy, Giant-Man, Last Stop on the Red Line & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/15/2019

You know, sometimes we have to be honest: there aren’t that many notable new comics hitting stands this week. Sure, there are new installments of current favorites like The War of the Realms or Naomi, but how many of you are going to leap into a series midway through a massive crossover event, or on the final issue of a mini-series? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Never fear though—the lack of launches gives us an opportunity to highlight a slate of compelling collections, from the Dream Daddy tie-in comics to Image breakthrough Bitter Root to a handsome new hardcover of Mister Miracle. Heck, we even have an omnibus of a fan-favorite from way back in 2011. Whether your shopping list this week is full of shiny new singles or hefty hardcovers, scroll on down for Required Reading.

STL107292.jpegBitter Root Vol. 1: The Family Business
Writers: David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Publisher: Image Comics
For a lot of fans, seeing Sanford Greene’s art on the covers of Bitter Root was more than enough to get them to pick up the book—and a closer look and the names of writers David F. Walker and Chuck Brown probably enticed them even. Greene and Walker worked together on an exceptional and all too brief run of Power Man and Iron Fist, and Bitter Root has so far delivered the same level of action-packed pages crammed with delightful humor and an emotionally evocative story. This trade collects the first five issues of the series, centered around the Sangereye family and their legacy of monster hunting. All of their family history and knowledge are put to the test when a new breed of monster arrives on the scene in Harlem. This is the perfect book for fans of supernatural family dramas like Supernatural and Charmed, with the added benefit of ancillary lessons on the history of the United States and Harlem specifically. Caitlin Rosberg

STL110668.jpegDream Daddy: A Dad Dating Comic Book
Writers: Leighton Gray, Vernon Shaw, C. Spike Trotman, Others
Artists: Ryan Maniulit, D.J. Kirkland, Drew Green, Others
Publisher: Oni Press
Co-created by Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray and released by developer Game Grumps, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator invites players to the fictional locale Maple Bay, where you assume the role of a single Dad new to town, eager to romance other hot Dads. The resulting comic series, which Paste helped to surprise-announce last year, is structured as five standalone stories, each focused on different Maple Bay Dads, from the fitness fanatic to the…vampire? While the initial thrust (no pun intended) of Oni Press’s Dream Daddy publishing plan was digital distribution, this week readers can pick up a physical (or digital) trade collection the whole run, including work from indie-comics favorites like C. Spike Trotman, D.J. Kirkland and Drew Green. Steve Foxe

STL107454.jpegGender Queer: A Memoir
Writer/Artist: Maia Kobabe
Publisher: Lion Forge
This past year has brought readers some important new comics about gender, sex and orientation. Among them are A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns and A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, and now Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer. Kobabe has participated in several anthologies that will be familiar to independent publishing fans, like FTL, Y’all!, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and Mine! As any memoir would be, Gender Queer is deeply personal, but there’s something particularly important about tracing the journey of gender self-identity. Some things, like struggling through puberty and not knowing what to do about crushes, are nearly universal. But there are challenges and traumas specific to people assigned female at birth who do not feel at home in their own bodies, and Kobabe’s frank exploration of some of those experiences make this book all the more important both for readers and em (Kobabe uses e/em/eir pronouns). The book was originally intended to help explain eir gender identity and orientation to family members, which gives some insight into how intimate and tender the book will be. Gender Queer is a must read for family, friends and allies of queer folks, and particularly those who do not sit on the familiar ends of the gender binary. Buying Gender Queer now feels particularly important; with the recent announcement of the Oni Press and Lion Forge merger, it’s vital to remind publishers that there’s a market for books like this one. Caitlin Rosberg

STL116628.jpegGiant-Man #1
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Marco Castiello
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Leah Williams hasn’t been writing comics at Marvel for too long, but she’s making a big mark in the 616 universe. So far, most of the titles she’s contributed to have been X-Men series, from the excellent What If? Magik to the current Age of X-Man: X-Tremists. This week starts a new adventure for Williams, alongside artist Marco Castiello, who’s worked on several Star Wars books among other short contributions. With The War of the Realms underway, four men have been tasked by All-Mother Freyja to invade New Jotunheim by using their ability to grow to enormous or miniscule sizes. The catch is that they’re headed to the most dangerous corner of the frost giants’ newly acquired territory: Florida. Giant-Man is only a three-issue miniseries, and sounds relatively self contained from the rest of the War of the Realms event, which makes it an attractive, low-barrier entry point. What’s even more exciting is that it could act as a quick introduction to several characters who haven’t been seen in a long time. Along with the familiar Ant-Man Scott Lang, the cover features the titular Giant-Man (Raz Malhotra), frequent Thunderbolts member Atlas and legacy hero Goliath. Any opportunity to give readers insight into the long history of Marvel heroes and show them lesser-known characters is a good one. Caitlin Rosberg

Writer/Artist: Sarah Graley
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix
Sarah Graley’s work has spanned multiple genres and styles in just a few years, with comic adaptations of Rick and Morty and Invader Zim under her belt as well as the supernatural rom-com Kim Reaper, which she both wrote and illustrated. Graley has also gained an enthusiastic audience by posting her diary comics online, which have been published in several collections by Oni. Glitch sounds closer to Kim Reaper than anything else Graley has worked on before: the book revolves around two young people, one of whom has an unexpected and potentially dangerous secret. Izzy discovers that she can enter the world created in her new videogame, and meets a robot who tells her that she’s destined to save the virtual realm. But while she’s figuring that out, she still has to maintain relationships and responsibilities in the real world, including with her friend Eric who is increasingly frustrated with her distance and secrets. It sounds like all the best parts of Tron and Jumanji and Labyrinth rolled into one, as a fun young-reader-friendly escape from the real world and into Izzy’s. Caitlin Rosberg

LastStopOnTheRedLineCover.jpegLast Stop on the Red Line #1
Writer: Paul Maybury
Artist: Sam Lotfi
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Even if you ignore the oversized legacy of Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics has long been the home of horror comics, from imports like I Am a Hero to homegrown terrors Harrow County and House of Penance. Starting this week, a new supernatural series joins Dark Horse’s roster—and this one takes place in a city that rarely gets its sequential-art due. Boston-based writer Paul Maybury and artist Sam Lotfi, along with colorist John Rauch, aim to fix that with Last Stop on the Red Line, a four-issue mini-series that introduces a compassionate transit cop, a kind homeless man with deadly visions and a couple of (literal?) monsters. For more on the book, check out Maybury and Lotfi’s concept art and background info for Last Stop on the Red Line’s eclectic cast. Steve Foxe

STL120770.jpegMister Miracle HC
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Publisher: DC Comics
Mister Miracle #1, which came out in 2017, opened with a cult-favorite Jack Kirby Fourth World creation attempting suicide, and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed comics in recent memory, garnering praise throughout its run and a slate of Eisner nominations for this upcoming ceremony. Its balance of interpersonal family drama and cosmic war trauma is perhaps best summed up by an issue in which Mister Miracle and his wife Big Barda navigate a series of deathtraps while discussing how they’d like to remodel their condo. Last winter, after dominating the comics discourse for over a year, the curtains finally closed on Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ critical darling, with predictably divisive results. To this day, not everyone knows what to make of Mister Miracle, but its shadow loomed over superhero comics during its 12 issues, and DC is offering readers another opportunity to discover the melancholy tale for themselves this week with an impressive hardcover edition. For DC fans with cash to burn, another controversial DC series of note also gets the deluxe hardcover treatment this week: Sean Gordon Murphy’s Batman: White Knight. Steve Foxe

STL116637.jpegStar Wars: Age of Rebellion: Lando Calrissian #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Publisher: Marvel Comics
While we’re big fans of Marvel’s Star Wars publishing slate, we haven’t had the room to spotlight every single issue of their Age of Republic and Age of Rebellion one-shots. With Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker just over half a year away, though, now’s the perfect time to become reacquainted with Billy Dee Williams’ suave smuggler, Lando Calrissian. Written by Greg Pak, who’ll soon take over the main Star Wars comic series, and drawn by frequent Marvel contributor Matteo Buffagni, Age of Rebellion: Lando Calrissian finds the future Cloud City head honcho pulling just one more scam—aided by his trusty pal Lobot, of course. Star Wars fans will want to track down all of these one-shots, and Lando is as good a place as any to get started. Steve Foxe

StatesofMindCover.jpgStates of Mind
Writers: Emilie Guillon & Patrice Guillon
Artist: Sebastien Samson
Publisher: Life Drawn/ Humanoids
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and part of addressing mental health in fiction is acknowledging that there is no one “right” story to be told about conditions like bipolar disorder. States of Mind, out in comic shops this Wednesday from Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint, is frequently messy and raw—just as often harrowing and heartbreaking as it is triumphant and uplifting. Co-written by veteran French creator Patrice Guillon and his daughter, Emilie Guillon, States of Mind is partially inspired by Emilie’s own experience with mental illness, and features art from Sebastien Samson, who also wrote and drew My New York City Marathon under the Life Drawn banner. Steve Foxe

STL103650.jpegWonder Woman by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang Omnibus
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins, Others
Publisher: DC Comics
DC’s 2011 reboot initiative “The New 52” struggled immediately with fan frustration as DC threw canon out and started over piecemeal, keeping parts of continuity and starting fresh elsewhere. A handful of titles were strong enough to avoid the bulk of the criticisms, among them was Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. Though some fans had problems with Wonder Woman’s new origins as a daughter of Zeus, what made the book work was the combination of Azzarello’s brutal, character-driven storytelling and Chiang’s strong, sharp style, which went from great to exemplary thanks to Matt Wilson’s colors. In just 35 issues, Azzarello and Chiang (as well as guest artists like Tony Akins) dove deep into what makes Wonder Woman who she is, driven by justice and protecting those who she believes need it, flawed and overprotective but constantly striving to do her best. Specifically with the difficult implications of the new origins of the Amazons, which for the first time integrated men into one of the most famous female-only spaces, the book did an excellent job avoiding tropes that would have sidelined and marginalized Diana and her sisters. Instead, Azzarello and Chiang delivered a book that was full of nuanced female characters on every end of the moral spectrum, many of them fighting hard to protect themselves and what they believe in. Filled with family drama on a global scale, it’s modern mythology at its finest, and an excellent Wonder Woman story that continues to influence the character far beyond the pages collected in this hefty omnibus. Caitlin Rosberg

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