Kid Lobotomy, Mr. Higgins Comes Home, Rugrats & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/18/17

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<i>Kid Lobotomy</i>, <i>Mr. Higgins Comes Home</i>, <i>Rugrats</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/18/17

It’s not always easy to draw connective tissue between any given week’s new comics. How do you connect a comic continuation of a beloved ‘90s Nickelodeon cartoon about talking babies to a collection of monster victims rendered in the moment before a beast pounces? What thread links a Mike Mignola and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell Hammer film homage to Steve Skroce’s creator-owned writer/artist debut, or a milestone issue of Mighty Thor? Even when we can’t editorialize a theme to unite a Wednesday bounty, we stand ready to suggest the best of the best hitting stands each week, from historical reprints to brand-new imprints and everything in between.


Behind You

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Writer/Artist: Brian Coldrick
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Behind You is a curious comics-adjacent release: a series of intentionally vague one-page illustrations of potential victims with someone—or something—looming behind them. Ranging from the quirkily amusing to the genuinely unsettling, Behind You’s sequence-free storytelling invites the reader to do the bulk of the narrative work, imagining the scenarios that lead to, and spring from, the ominous moments captured by cartoonist Brian Coldrick. Originally a web project that made clever use of GIFs, Behind You makes for a handsome coffee-table volume of campfire-meets-CreepyPasta scare fodder even in this static form, just in time for Halloween reading. Steve Foxe


Kid Lobotomy #1

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Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Tess Fowler
Publisher: Black Crown/IDW Publishing
DC’s mature-readers imprint, Vertigo, completely changed the face of comics nearly three decades ago, and the ripples of the imprint’s mighty legacy have never felt stronger than they do today: Gerard Way’s pop-up imprint Young Animal is keeping weird alive at DC, founding Vertigo editor Karen Berger will soon launch a curated line at Dark Horse and longtime editor Shelly Bond kicks off her own imprint, Black Crown, at IDW this week with Kid Lobotomy #1. Co-created by Vertigo old guard Peter Milligan and artist Tess Fowler, Kid Lobotomy focuses on the titular kook as he takes over his father’s off-kilter hotel, much to the chagrin of his rival sister. Milligan has a long history with the odd, from Shade, the Changing Man to the oft-forgotten, but totally bonkers, The Minx. Fowler is fiercely talented, but has yet to have the opportunity to make a sustained run her own. This first issue, which features an expectantly stunning variant cover from Frank Quitely, will also tease what’s next to come from Bond’s Black Crown experiment. Steve Foxe


Maestros #1

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Writer/Artist: Steve Skroce
Publisher: Image Comics
Steve Skroce’s impact as an artist outweighs the actual volume of his output, and Maestros sees the Matrix storyboard artist and We Stand On Guard co-creator cutting loose on his own original sci-fi/fantasy concept. The Image series, colored by Eisner-winner Dave Stewart, stars the jaded millennial son of a magical god-king who suddenly finds himself the sole inheritor of his kingdom’s vast powers—and his father’s many enemies. Faced with deity-level abilities, will this banished heir rise to the challenge or just party like it’s the end of the world? Either way, Skroce’s expert sequential storytelling and detailed style are a rare treat, and the opportunity to see him drawing exactly what he pleases is the kind of comics serendipity that only the creator-owned realm can offer. Steve Foxe


The Mighty Thor #700

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Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Walter Simonson, Olivier Coipel, Chris Burnham, James Harren
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Many of the Marvel Legacy kick-off arcs feel like the next storyline in the queue, not a game-changer or new-reader-friendly entry point. While The Mighty Thor #700 may not be the latter, it certainly promises the former, with longtime Thunder God scribe Jason Aaron reintroducing the terrible Mangog just as protagonist Jane Foster’s cancer takes a turn for the worse. Aaron’s run on Thor with artist Russell Dauterman has been one of Marvel’s strongest, most consistent titles, and no amount of narrative justification will make losing Foster to terminal illness—if that is where Aaron is headed—hurt less than a hammer blast to the face. Whatever fate has in store for the current wielder of Mjolnir, it all begins in this oversized issue with additional art from Thor luminary Walter Simonson and megastars Chris Burnham, James Harren and Olivier Coipel. Steve Foxe


Mr. Higgins Comes Home

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Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Mike Mignola returns to comics for the first time after wrapping Hellboy in Hell with a charming, British homage to Hammer horror films and sexy bloodsuckers. This slim graphic novel follows two vampire hunters who attempt to coax the title figure back to Castle Golga, a grand manor where untold horrors befell Higgins decades before. Mignola takes a lighter tone with moments of abrupt humor, including a community-theater-grade devil summoning. Artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell matches that buoyant tone with storybook illustrations of frivolous, ornate pomp. His castle is a cluttered museum of off-angle portraits, bizarre taxidermy and ancient weapons, and his character designs are delightful—body shapes range from anchor-heavy round torsos to looming telephone-poll counts. And whereas Hellboy relied on stark blacks and grays contrasted against bright red, these panels swim in whites and blues, purples and aquas, sea-greens and browns—a kaleidoscope of Gothic splendor. At 49 brisk pages, Mr. Higgins Comes Home could be longer, and certainly didn’t need the hardcover treatment, but it does offer a virile sample of shadow-steeped opulence rendered through ‘60s pop culture. Sean Edgar


Peppy in the Wild West

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Writer/Artist: Hergé
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Hergé’s colorful visions haven’t quite trickled into the American comics tradition as much as other ‘70s comics pioneers, which is a damn shame. (Check out Rich Tommaso’s Spy Seal at Image for the closest bet.) The man behind Tintin spun vibrant adventures that parallel the spirit of Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge opus, each offering grand, globe-spanning quests that could be absorbed by fiction lovers of any age. Fantagraphics has kept these legacies alive, with a reprint library devoted to Barks, and now a tome collecting Hergé’s Peppy in the Wild West. Less ubiquitous than Tintin, this comic follows a humanoid bear who flees his failing hat business to gallop into the Wild West alongside his wife, Virginny. This collection calls back to an era when comics were consumed by an audience of all ages and interests, and the finest innovators often produced for younger readers (we’re getting there). Think of it as a Wes Anderson project without the familial dysfunction or Jason Schwartzman cameo. Sean Edgar


Rugrats #1

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Writer: Box Brown
Artist: Lisa DuBois
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Another retro licensed comic isn’t notable within itself—if there’s a cartoon that millennials devoured 20 years ago, rest assured that property has a future home in sequential art. But Rugrats—a new ongoing featuring the infants of Nickelodeon’s popular nine-season series—has recruited Box Brown, a cartoonist who routinely transforms nostalgia porn into high art. His graphic novels Tetris: The Games People Play and Andre the Giant: Life and Legend are gorgeous time machines that transport readers into the ‘80s, deconstructing the era through Brown’s simple, cylindrical drawings and obsessive research into the decade’s biggest personalities. How those skills will translate to the barely bipedal adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil and Angelica is anyone’s guess, but should prove fascinating. The title also marks Lisa DuBois’ first major comics publisher work, but it looks like a fitting match. Her figures retain the excellent designs of the cartoon with a dose of added cute, not dissimilar from the pencils of Art Baltazar. Sean Edgar


Sherlock Frankenstein and The Legion of Evil #1

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Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
More than a year ago, I asked Jeff Lemire if he’d be open to the Lemireverse—a rotating hub of miniseries, events and additional content constructed around his Eisner-winning Black Hammer comic. He responded “All I can say at this time is that I love the world of Black Hammer and never want to leave so…STAY TUNED!” We stayed tuned, the final answer was an obvious “yes,” and the first fruit of those labors releases this week. The core series of Black Hammer features a handful of classic superhero archetypes inexplicably stranded in a sleepy rural town. Illustrated with melancholy and pathos by Dean Ormston, the project has functioned as a lab for Lemire to mix and match classic spinner-rack beats—a gay Martian Manhunter, an alcoholic Mary Marvel—with surgical characterization. Sherlock Frankenstein recruits artist David Rubin for a four-issue miniseries that sends Lucy Weber, daughter of the missing Black Hammer, on the trail of Sherlock, the most vile, dangerous villain in the fiction. Lemire also introduces Spiral Asylum, a creativity exercise to see how many disturbing baddies the cartoonist can introduce to his burgeoning world. We’re pretty excited for Cthu-Lou. Rubin was ranked as one of our favorite artists of the year, and that holds more than true today—his figures still poise with energy, but his worldbuilding has taken on more import throughout his career. Just look at the sea-monster architecture of the asylum or the grids of windows in his backgrounds. Colored with magenta and green casts by Dave Stewart, Sherlock Frankenstein is a gorgeous expansion on one of our favorite comic foundations. Sean Edgar


The Tea Dragon Society

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Writer/Artist: Katie O’Neill
Publisher: Oni Press
Last week we broke the news that Katie O’Neill’s gentle, lushly illustrated The Tea Dragon Society would receive its own card game from publisher Oni Press’ gaming imprint, and now readers can explore the world of tea dragons for themselves in the pages of O’Neill’s graphic novel. With art reminiscent of classic Little Golden Books, O’Neill introduces an enchanting fantasy society in peaceful coexistence with the titular tea dragons, little beasts that enrich the lives of those around them. Protagonist Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, discovers a lost tea dragon and learns about the art form of dragon care-taking from a kindly couple and their shy ward. We’ve been hyping up the horror of Halloween this month, but our hardened hearts beat just as fast for delightful all-ages tales like this. Steve Foxe


The Wild Storm Vol. 1

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Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Publisher: DC Comics
We’ve spilled a lot of ink on writer Warren Ellis’ return to the characters who helped revolutionize the superhero genre a quarter of a century ago. His former titles—The Authority, Stormwatch and even a few issues of WildCats and Gen 13—introduced the military/industrial complex to the sphere of capes and boyhood escapism, forever altering an entire fictional genus. The Wild Storm is Ellis’ remix of those same beats 20 later. The draw is no longer innovation; the stories and environments that launched these characters have been copied and integrated into Marvel, DC and the silver screen ad nauseam since. But figures like Jacob Marlowe, Grifter, Michael Cray and Angela Spica arguably haven’t been handled with Ellis’ deft talent since his departure, and witnessing them flourish with the author’s ricocheting dialogue and absurdist violence is a treat—especially when they’re rendered with corporate realism by Jon Davis-Hunt. This hardcover collects the first six issues and is a grand homecoming for your favorite prodigal, cynical superheroes. Sean Edgar

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