Ironheart, Dead Man Logan, Clueless: One Last Summer & More in Required Reading: Comics for 11/28/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Ironheart, Dead Man Logan, Clueless: One Last Summer & More in Required Reading: Comics for 11/28/2018

Thanksgiving is officially in the rearview mirror for our American readers, which means the real holiday season is upon us. As heralded by DC’s Nuclear Winter Special, the Christmas season is here, and things are getting a bit more festive. Old Saint Nick—err, Old Man Logan—is finally checking his list twice and discovering that he’s been marked “dead.” Quincredible is dashing across rooftops quick quick quick. Hellboy looks dashing in mistletoe red. Pandora (or her descendents) unwrap another cursed present. Eve Ewing takes over an Iron-family tradition. And more! Sure, some of those are a stretch—and it’s technically still November, after all—but we can’t help but celebrate each and every Required Reading as the most wonderful time of the…week.

STL081930.jpegAtomic Empire
Writer: Thierry Smolderen
Artist: Alexandre Clerisse
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Drenched in midcentury imagery and bright colors, Atomic Empire is firmly rooted in the forward-thinking science fiction of the 1950s and the bold visuals that heralded the start of the space age. The graphic novel stars a sci-fi writer named Paul who has some sort of telepathic connection with a man in the future. Since he was a child, Paul has been accompanied by Zarth Arn, the hero of the Galactic Empire and his secret friend—but now his secret may be out and the government is eager to find out what he knows. Thierry Smolderen and Alexandre Clerisse aren’t names that will be immediately recognizable to most American comic readers, the former being Belgian and the latter French, but Smolderen has plenty of experience with grim science fiction in the form of comics like Gipsy, which makes it interesting to see him team up with an artist like Clerisse, whose style is bright and graphic in a way that evokes nuclear-era PSAs and early Disney theme park designs. All of that combined with a story loosely based on a real-life psychological case promises to make Atomic Empire an interesting read. Caitlin Rosberg

STL091915.jpegClueless: One Last Summer
Writers: Amber Benson & Sarah Kuhn
Artist: Siobhan Keenan
Publisher: BOOM! Box/ BOOM! Studios
After Clueless: Senior Year captured the joyful and bright heart of the film, fans were rightly clamoring for more from the creative team. Writing duo Amber Benson and Sarah Kuhn along with artist Siobhan Keenan built on the world that the movie had created, giving Cher, Dionne and Tai even more depth and motivation that felt true to real teens their age—so it’s a great thing that the story is continuing into their final weeks together after graduating from high school. Clueless: One Last Summer sees the entire creative team reuniting for more affectionate and well-meaning scheming from Cher as a former classmate approaches her with a mystery to solve. If the previous book is anything to go on, there will be plenty of mid-90s fashion and bright, happy adventures centered on female friendship and the honest drive to make people happy, which is definitely something that comics could use more of. Caitlin Rosberg

DCNWSCv1lettered.jpgDC’s Nuclear Winter Special #1
Writers: Paul Dini, Steve Orlando, Phil Hester, Mark Russell, Mairghread Scott, Others
Artists: Cully Hamner, Phil Hester, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Yasmine Putri, Others
Publisher: DC Comics
As the solicit text acknowledges, living in 2018 can often feel like a post-apocalyptic existence (or at least a too-precarious pre-apocalyptic one), so why not ring in the holidays with some end-of-the-world cheer? DC Comics’ themed quarterly-ish anthologies are typically delightful, with new and established talent offering short themed tales starring the publisher’s biggest characters. This 80-Page Giant leans toward the familiar faces, with creators like Paul Dini, Steve Orlando, Phil Hester and Mark Russell getting in the spirit. The iconic nature of DC’s hero and villain roster is a perfect fit for one-and-dones with a simple Christmahanakwanzika moral message, even deeper cuts like Batman 666, the possible-future, semi-demonic Damien Wayne Dark Knight. If you’re looking for something to get you in the mood for December’s incoming festivities, DC’s Nuclear Winter Special #1 is the perfect early stocking stuffer. Steve Foxe

STL099723.jpegDead Man Logan #1
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Barring the time Logan sported bone claws and that whole Romulus misstep, there’s perhaps never been a more confusing status quo for Wolverine than right this moment. The original berserker X-Man’s return has been drawn out for over a year now, still with no clear explanation for how the hot claws Memento Logan of Charles Soules and Declan Shalvey’s current series eventually matches up with the assured cosmic power player in various Jason Aaron-scripted titles. Through it all, the dimension-displaced Old Man Logan has suffered the same largely forgotten fate as too many real-world senior citizens, despite quality work from writer Ed Brisson. It doesn’t help that Marvel is prolonging Old Man Logan’s send-off almost as badly as they’ve been stretching out the original’s return; Dead Man Logan is a 12-issue finale that follows on a 50-issue solo series, ostensibly to finally wrap up a character who also exists as a younger version, a female clone-daughter, a clone of that clone, a potentially undead semi-evil son and Hulkverine hybrid spin-off—and who comes from an alternate reality that’s currently spotlighted in Old Man Hawkeye and will soon return in Old Man Quill. Mike Henderson, who drew the Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan miniseries, joins Brisson for this long goodbye, which, despite being overdue, should hopefully be as entertaining a final chapter as Brisson’s own Extermination. Steve Foxe

STL099490.jpegHellboy & the B.P.R.D.: 1956 #1
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artists: Yishan Li, Mike Norton, Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Hellboy’s ‘50s-set throwback adventures started as a nostalgic, less grim alternative to the apocalyptic stakes of Hellboy’s contemporary arcs and the B.P.R.D.’s increasingly dire tone. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 eschews the standalone premise to touch on three long-running Hellboy plots involving Russian subterfuge, Mexico misadventures and a demonic little girl, each exploring the dominos that fell half a century before today’s storylines. Writer Chris Roberson continues his work in the Mignolaverse, and while he’s no John Arcudi or Christopher Golden, his contributions remain solid. Joining Roberson are artists Yishan Li, Mike Norton and Michael Avon Oeming, the latter two-thirds of whom have prior experience with Hellboy-related tales, despite styles that fall outside of the shadow-drenched, etched-from-stone aesthetic set by Mignola himself. While it’s too bad that the ‘50s-set stories can’t remain relatively standalone adventures for curious readers, the Mignolaverse has always excelled at connecting its dots, and 1956 looks to be no different. Steve Foxe

STL099726.jpegIronheart #1
Writer: Eve Ewing
Artist: Kevin Libranda
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Though her introduction to the Marvel 616 universe came on the heels of some major trauma, Riri Williams quickly became a bright star in the Iron Man mythos. With Tony and Rhodey both restored to their rightful places in the main Iron Man title, Riri is getting a book, suit and code name of her own. The first issue of this new series has her dealing with one of Spider-Man’s old enemies, as well as someone from her own past in Chicago. Kevin Libranda, whose work on Champions has shown he’s got a good handle on legacy characters and fun, bright stories, handles the line art., while Chicago native Eve Ewing makes her first foray into large-publisher comics as Ironheart’s writer. A long-time comics lover, poet and educator, Ewing is exactly the writer to tackle Riri and her expanding canon, placing her firmly in the context of her hometown and the fact that she’s a young black woman in a world dominated by older white guys. Riri joins Luna Lafayette and Shuri as the geniuses who define this new age of Marvel. Hopefully sometime soon readers will get a team-up adventure with all three. Caitlin Rosberg

STL098878.jpegJim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1
Writers: Michael Dialynas, Sina Grace, S.M. Vidaurri
Artists: Michael Dialynas, Boya Sun, Sarah Webb
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
Archaia has been continuing the adventures of several Jim Henson worlds, and one of the most successful so far has been the expansion of the universe he helped created in the David Bowie-starring Labyrinth. While this new book is on the expensive side, it’s twice the length of a normal comic and boasts a lot of talent telling its tales, including Iceman’s Sina Grace and The Woods artist Michael Dialynas, who writes and draws one of the tales. Particularly appealing to fans of the film is the chance to learn more about the small fox-faced knight Sir Didymus and his trusty sheepdog steed, and how they ended up guarding the bridge that stretches over the Bog of Eternal Stench. If possible, try to get the variant cover by Richey Beckett that features art from the poster sold exclusively by Mondo at SDCC last year; the art is beautiful and detailed enough to deserve a close-up inspection. Caitlin Rosberg

STL099035.jpegMarvel Action: Spider-Man #1
Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Fico Ossio
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Most of the superhero books made in the last three decades have been decidedly unsuitable for kids, targeted instead at teens and adults both in content and tone. The Big Two publishers of Marvel and DC Comics tend to outsource kid-friendly stories either to children’s books or other comic companies, and Marvel Action: Spider-Man is a perfect example of the latter: IDW Publishing has partnered with Marvel for a brand-new story about Peter Parker and the adventures he has with Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters next month, the timing couldn’t be better for a comic that parents can feel good about giving to their kids. Writer Delilah S. Dawson has found fans in prose of many genres, but it’s her work on comics like Adventure Time and Ladycastle that will serve her well here. She knows how to write for an all-ages title and how to work with existing intellectual property while still delivering a bright, fun story. Artist Fico Ossio doesn’t have a lot of experience with cape-and-cowl titles, but he’s an IDW veteran with credits on Transformers and G.I. Joe. This book fills a niche that’s been empty for far too long, so hopefully readers will be thrilled to discover it. Caitlin Rosberg

STL091928.jpegPandora’s Legacy
Writer: Kara Leopard
Artists: Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Publisher: KaBOOM!/ BOOM! Studios
The tragic figure of Pandora has been seen in a slew of different comics, often as a pretty young woman struggling with the responsibility of her actions. Pandora’s Legacy is a different kind of story, focusing on Pandora’s family and her distant descendents, each of them stuck in the same trap Pandora after they accidentally release monstrosities into the worlds. Targeted at readers on the younger end of middle grade, the book focuses on three young siblings who accidentally break a mysterious jar in the woods while on vacation at their grandparents’ house. No stranger to books about Greek mythology, Kara Leopard is taking a turn as writer; they were the artist on a modern take on Persephone and Hades written by Kel McDonald called [Super]Natural Attraction. It’s particularly exciting to see the Matthews siblings drawing a graphic novel. Their work on Toil & Trouble and Jim Henson’s Power of the Dark Crystal has shown great skill with character design and family dynamics as well as mystical settings, and their richly textured, soft style is a great fit for a young-reader book. Caitlin Rosberg

STL099766.jpegQuincredible #1
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Selina Espiritu
Publisher: Roar/ Lion Forge
Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime shared superhero universe debuted about a year and a half ago, and is just now starting to find its most fascinating footing. Series like Kino are shifting creative control to more experimental writers and artists, while Superb and this week’s Quincredible have moved under the Roar imprint for young adult readers. Fan-favorite Marvel and DC Comics writer Gail Simone is now overseeing the line as a superhero authority of sorts, and it seems like Lion Forge may be onto something with its inclusive lineup and compelling new takes on tried-and-true stories. Hitting stands Wednesday, Quincredible sounds like the anti-Kick-Ass: high-school sophomore Quinton has the power of invulnerability…and nothing else. His attempts to moonlight as a superhero are driven by bravado, but lacking in discipline, which prevents him from being the best hero he can be. Neighborhood watch member Maya takes Quinton under her wing, helping him understand his great responsibility—just in time for him to face off against Null, a young man with a much different perspective on the superpowered state of the Catalyst Prime universe. And with Quinton’s scientist father squarely in Null’s sights, all of Quinton’s training will be put to the ultimate test. Quincredible is written by Falcon scribe Rodney Barnes and drawn by Selina Espiritu, and presents an excellent opportunity to leap into the Catalyst Prime universe. Steve Foxe

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