Hack/Slash: Resurrection, DC House of Horrors & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/25/17

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<i>Hack/Slash: Resurrection</i>, <i>DC House of Horrors</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/25/17

It’s the final Wednesday before Halloween, and the comic industry offers you scares on all ends of the spectrum: an impressionistic watercolor experiment in mood and atmosphere, furry burger-fiends, bad-ass women taking a bat to monsters, a creepy cavalcade of costumed creature-features and a memoir about an all-too-real brush with one of the most disturbed—and disturbing—killers in modern history. If you’re a Halloween holdout, fear not: we’ve also got an expansive sci-fi epic, a graphic bildungsroman, a psychic showdown, a cinematic precursor and the finale to one of Marvel’s most beloved cosmic series (grab a space-ready tissue for this one, folks).

Black Panther #166

Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Marvel’s Legacy one-shot interspersed one-page teasers for various ongoings throughout its main story, including a positively bonkers one for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ongoing Black Panther saga: a far-off planet of Wakanda, featuring technologically advanced panther-themed architecture and design among its alien inhabitants. It’s not clear if this Legacy kickoff arc will delve into that development quite yet, but we do know that it features the return of Klaw, one of Black Panther’s recurring foes and an antagonist in next year’s feature film. Joining Coates is artist Leonard Kirk, who offers a slick take on traditional superhero storytelling. If you’re still riding high off of trailer hype for the Ryan Coogler-directed film arriving in February, consider tiding yourself over with Coates’ regal take on the Wakandan hero and his vibrant supporting cast. Steve Foxe

Cartoon Clouds

Writer/Artist: Joseph Remnant
Publisher: Fantagraphics
This week’s Required Reading holds two indie luminaries from Ohio. Derf Backderf has already published a career-defining body of work, punctuated by My Friend Dahmer, while Joseph Remnant is in the midst of solidifying his own library. Best known for illustrating Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, Remnant returns with the bildungsroman Cartoon Clouds, his first original graphic novel. The book should ring tragically familiar for anyone who’s graduated in the last 10 years in arts or communications without rich parents. Remnant follows protagonist Seth Fallon as he trips out of art school and into adulthood, an anvil of student debt on his back. Though the book strikes a tense, melancholy tone, its existence is a happy ending; despite the gauntlet of obstacles artists face—including “social media gurus, fashion-conscious art snobs” and “trust-fund hipsters”—dedication and passion can sometimes result in gorgeous expressions, even if they only offer their makers another week of ramen. Remnant’s art expresses a tactile sense of movement and anatomy while avoiding photorealism, almost like watching marionettes interact. Whether these pages stress you out or offer a profound sense of familiarity, Cartoon Clouds stands as a treatise for dreamers constantly in fear of waking up. Sean Edgar

DC House of Horror 2017

Writers: Nick Cutter, Keith Giffen, Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Ronald Malfi, Others
Artists: Kyle Baker, Howard Chaykin, Dale Eaglesham, Bilquis Evely, Scott Kolins, Others
Publisher: DC Comics
Ma Kent got off easy when the felled aircraft on her farm introduced a nigh-invincible, benevolent baby. Most alien visitations in genre comics don’t end in adoptions, and the new DC House of Horror one-shot addresses that truth by pitting the maternal icon against a gnarly monster that crawls out of a flying saucer—rendered in steep angles by Howard Chaykin with a punchy script from Keith Giffen and Edward Lee. Eight other tales haunt this comic, all plotted by Giffen and finished by prose horror scribes, save frequent Giffen collaborator Brian Keene. Of note, Mary SanGiovanni and Bilquis Evely possess a young woman with a disgruntled spirit from Wonder Woman’s native island, Themyscira, resulting in a murder spree. The comic ably balances DC’s marquee stars with curdling turns into the macabre, and touts the talent to maintain that tightrope without betraying either aesthetic’s core. For example, Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn, Plastic Man) lends his exaggerated, striking line to a Harley Quinn tale alongside writer Bryan Smith, creating a cool take on the clown princess of crime that can thrive in off-continuity gems like this. Holiday one-shots tend to be hit or miss, but with the narrative cohesion provided by Giffen and turns by artists who lie far out of the DC “house style,” this witch’s brew has all the right ingredients for a captivating potion. Sean Edgar

Eternity #1

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Matt Kindt continues to push the borders of the Valiant comic universe with Eternity, a psychedelic space opera hellbent on expanding your mind. Working with frequent collaborator Trevor Hairsine, this new miniseries punctuates the pair’s Divinity trilogy, showing what happens when a Russian astronaut inherits god-like powers only to have his child shanghaied to an alternate reality. The big draw here will be to watch Hairsine channel the ‘70s LSD-surrealism of Moebius and Stanley Kubrick. These preview pages hint at a cornucopia of otherworldly, bat-shit creative vistas on every page, including fields of endless hands and the foreboding cover figure, his inverted-iron maiden physique just begging to be airbrushed onto the side of a van. With Kindt at the helm, expect a core of humanity to ground the third-eye delights in relatable struggles of love and loss. Projects like Eternity prove that Valiant is willing to venture into less traditional fictions, which bodes well for the publisher’s future. Sean Edgar

Hack/Slash: Resurrection #1

Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Celor
Publisher: Image Comics
Recent cinematic horror successes have veered away from busty co-eds running from (and tripping, and dying at the hands of) shambling slashers, but there’s an irresistible charm to the subgenre that brought us Jason and Michael Myers—especially when tropes are inverted to offer additional agency to the “final girl” archetype. Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash has long been a fan-favorite thanks to its bat-wielding protagonist Cassie Hack, and the now-DC-exclusive writer has tapped a new generation of creators to resurrect the series. Full disclosure: Tini Howard is a former Paste contributor, but her horror-lady-badass chops are certified thanks to titles like Magdalena. Artist Celor cut his teeth on Zombie Tramp, a title that is exactly what you think it is. If you’ve got fond memories of your summers at Camp Crystal Lake, Hack/Slash: Resurrection should put you in the perfect Samhain spirit. Steve Foxe

Jean Grey #8

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Victor Ibáñez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibáñez’ Jean Grey has quietly risen to the top of Marvel’s current X-offerings thanks to Hopeless’ deft handling of Marvel’s teen characters, high-quality art from Ibáñez and an intriguing mission to prepare for the devastatingly powerful Phoenix. It’s not yet clear how the now-announced return of Adult Jean will impact this series, but the quality of the first arc makes this one worth watching regardless of future importance. This new arc, which kicks off the title’s Legacy involvement, finds Jean searching out one final former Phoenix host for advice: Emma Frost, villain-turned-hero-turned-kinda-sorta-both. Frost, a staple of the franchise since 2001, let her grief get the best of her during last year’s woefully executed IvX crossover, and has yet to get a decent exploration of her seemingly villainous turn. Hopeless’ track record bodes well for the White Queen getting a bit of narrative justice once again. Steve Foxe

Jughead: The Hunger #1

Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy
Publisher: Archie Comics
It’s no secret that Archie’s renaissance owes a great debt to its horror bonafides, starting in the shadowy pages of Afterlife with Archie and continuing with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the fog-drenched Lynchian flavor of Riverdale. Jughead: The Hunger began as a one-shot evolving the titular character’s burger appetite from medium-rare to still-living, and now the story continues from original writer Frank Tieri and new artists Pat Kennedy and Tim Kennedy. The Kennedys are prolific contributors to Archie’s less-gory offerings, but have adopted a noir-ish, ever-so-slightly Mignola-esque style for this lycanthropic tale featuring Betty as a fierce hunter. Werewolves don’t always get the best deal when it comes to media representation, which gives Jughead: The Hunger’s pedigree a paw up over the competition. Steve Foxe

My Friend Dahmer

Writer/Artist: Derf Backderf
Publisher: Abrams
Cartoonist John “Derf” Backderf honed his personal tale of ambiguous evil over the course of decades, starting My Friend Dahmer in the ‘90s, releasing a 24-page iteration in 2002 and finally peaking with an expansive graphic novel in 2012. No matter its incarnation, this story is singular. Backderf attended junior high and high school with the titular serial killer throughout the mid-70s, witnessing the origins of a man who would rape, murder and cannibalize to become one of America’s biggest boogeymen. But this journey forms an exercise in empathy; Dahmer’s parents maintained a dysfunctional orbit around their son, absorbed in his mother’s theatrics, leaving Jeffrey in a vacuum of guidance that resulted in early alcoholism and peaked with animal cruelty during his youth. Backderf doesn’t pull any punches, nor does he indulge in two-dimensional exploitation. His art equally captures the monotony of the suburban Midwest as much as the shadow-engulfed moments that would precede Dahmer’s 17-person murder spree. The tale recently saw new life under director Marc Meyer’s film translation, but this new reprint is a harrowing, deep portrait of how real monsters are made. Sean Edgar

Silver Surfer #14

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Mike Allred
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer, cosmically colored by Allred’s longtime collaborator (and wife) Laura Allred, is a welcome anomaly within Marvel’s current catalogue. The Doctor Who-esque tale of metallic former herald Norrin Radd and his journey through the stars with Earth girl Dawn Greenwood has been allowed to take its time as Slott and the Allreds juggle other projects, resulting in occasional delays but a purity of creative vision without jarring fill-ins. The Silver Surfer has always worked best in moderation, so it makes melancholy sense that Slott and the Allreds would bring this story to its bittersweet conclusion before too long. Any fan of Kirby-infused interstellar vistas, boundless imagination and touching journeys atop surfboards should embrace this series coming to its planned goodbyes. Steve Foxe

Underwinter: A Field of Feathers #1

Writer/Artist: Ray Fawkes
Publisher: Image Comics
One of our favorite artists of the year so far, Ray Fawkes returns to his slow-burn horror epiphany Underwinter with a brand-new miniseries. The title’s first arc, Symphony, followed a troupe of blindfolded musicians who slowly realize they’re performing for an audience they wouldn’t want to see, even if their vision wasn’t forcibly restricted. Form follows function for Fawkes; even if transparency isn’t a plot point, his ethereal watercolors keep total clarity just out of the audience’s reach, weaving a dreadful ambiguity throughout his pages. A Field of Feathers bisects its first issue between a father road-tripping through the east with his two daughters and a woman relaying her history as a maid to an ominous figure at an investment office. The visual vocabulary doesn’t play with the horror genre’s standbys of shadow and fog, but with daylight reds, blues and magentas for a hallucinogenic, sunlight-bleached unease. When the murky horror emerges in slate-blues and grays, you can both watch and feel the temperature of the page drop. Fawkes has incubated one of the most fascinating corners of sequential-art horror in Underwinter, and this new storyline looks to amplify its dissonance with every panel. Sean Edgar

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