Man of Steel, Lando, Where We Live & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/30/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Man of Steel, Lando, Where We Live & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/30/2018

Whoa—aren’t the fifth Wednesdays of the month supposed to be dead zones for new comics? No one got the memo this week, especially DC Comics, which unleashes a torrent of specials, conclusions, continuations and debuts that could take up every entry on this list if we let them. Not to be outdone, Marvel has the first issue of a new Star Wars comic waiting on shelves for fans of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Dark Horse builds out Evan Dorkin’s burgeoning supernatural brand with Blackwood, Valiant goes mega-crossover in Harbinger Wars 2, “Siege” pops up in not one but two titles and the J.H. Williams III-curated Where We Live anthology hits stands to raise funds for survivors of gun violence. All of this and more await you below in May 2018’s final Required Reading.

STL082418.jpegAquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1
Writers: Dan Abnett, Jeff Parker
Artists: Paul Pelletier, Scott Kolins
Publisher: DC Comics
Given the success of DC Comics and Hanna Barbera/Looney Tunes’ previous crossovers, the arrival of this summer’s new crop of titles with Hanna Barbera isn’t a huge surprise. Putting cartoon characters into superhero comics doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch, but some of the pairings caught readers off guard—who would have thought that Batman/Elmer Fudd could earn an Eisner nomination? Famed animation studio Hanna Barbera has a broad roster of characters to bring to comics, and putting a friendly, silly talking shark into an Aquaman comic feels like a natural fit. The main story in this issue features Dan Abnett, who’s writing the current Aquaman book, with pencils by Paul Pelletier and inks by Andrew Hennessy. Jabberjaw arrives just in time to help Aquaman combat the havoc that a new Ocean Master has been wreaking under the water’s surface—if the residents of Amnesty Island don’t go all Jaws on him first. There’s also a backup story where Captain Caveman meets the wizard Shazam (not to be confused with Billy Batson’s alter ego) by Jeff Parker and Scott Kolins. In addition to Aquaman/Jabberjaw and a title later on in our list, DC’s got Black Lightning/Hong Kong Phooey and Flash/Speed Buggy for all your crossover needs. Caitlin Rosberg

STL080795.jpegBlackwood #1
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Veronica Fish
Publisher: Dark Horse
Imagine The Craft meets Harry Potter and you might be close to what Blackwood has to offer. Writer Evan Dorkin’s work on Beasts of Burden with Jill Thompson has proven his grasp on the mythical and emotional, managing to make a book about talking animals feel not only realistic but weighty. There’s been something of a resurgence lately of spooky, character-driven teen stories, with titles like Mystik U, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Gotham Academy filing a niche that’s been empty for a long time. It’s especially exciting to see artist Veronica Fish’s name attached to this project, as her style helped to define the Archie revamp and her departure from the line was a real loss. Fish has a knack for character design and expressions that are particularly fitting for a book like Blackwood. Dorkin and Fish promise to lead the four teen protagonists into danger, overcoming obstacles both magical and hormonal in origin, and Blackwood looks to be a fun read for teen readers and adults. Caitlin Rosberg

STL080587.jpegHarbinger Wars 2 #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Valiant has routinely excelled at providing easy jumping-on points, like Matt Kindt’s relaunch of flagship series X-O Manowar, or the recent Andy Diggle-helmed Shadowman debut, but Harbinger Wars 2…might reward some existing knowledge of the universe. Psiots are essentially the Valiant equivalent of Marvel’s mutants, albeit with (supposedly) way fewer active powered individuals. Harbinger Wars 2 reveals that there are way more potential psiots than anyone knew, and various agencies are interested in activating, controlling and/or destroying them for their own purposes. Kindt continues his mastery of the Valiant Universe here, joined by his X-O Manowar collaborator Tomas Giorello. If you’re a Valiant diehard, Harbinger Wars 2 is likely a big deal for you. If you’re curious about a new shared universe, consider diving in the deep end and seeing if the publisher’s brand of sci-fi action comics works for you. Steve Foxe

STL081131.jpegJudge Dredd: Under Siege #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Max Dunbar
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Mark Russell has written some of the most surreally meta and emotionally evocative comics available in the past few years. Titles like The Flintstones and Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles aren’t for everyone, but the dark humor, nuanced character development and worldbuilding on franchises popular enough to be household names are remarkable. So seeing Russell’s name attached to a Judge Dredd book is a treat, as the property presents another well-worn path for him to wander off of in the aim of forging a new trail. In Under Siege, the entire Patrick Swayze Block is cut off from all contact, forcing Dredd and Judge Beeny to investigate. There’s a threat about to come down on Mega-City One, and once again Dredd’s mission is to protect it at all costs. Artist Max Dunbar is an IDW veteran, with credits on books like Micronauts and Dungeons & Dragons giving him plenty of experience with the massive scale and violence that a Judge Dredd title calls for. Caitlin Rosberg

STL083766.jpegThe Last Siege #1
Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Justin Greenwood
Publisher: Image Comics
Medieval settings are a frequent guest star in comics, but rarely the home of ongoing storytelling the way similar worlds flourish in prose and on television. Creators Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood aim to correct that by combining medieval trappings with Spaghetti Western storytelling in The Last Siege, their new ongoing series from Image Comics. The Last Siege introduces a mysterious stranger who arrives at a castle under siege. The rightful heir to the throne is an 11-year-old girl, and a gang of soldiers is intent on overthrowing her and seizing the kingdom themselves. Walker previously combined youthful characters with extreme violence in Danger Club, and Greenwood perfected the unexpected genre combination in The Fuse, his sci-fi/crime series with writer Antony Johnston. Steve Foxe

STL083572.jpegMan of Steel #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics
As we mentioned in the introduction, it’s a stacked week for DC Comics: in addition to another round of Hanna Barbera crossovers, this Wednesday sees the conclusion of Justice League: No Justice, the fifth issue of controversial crossover Doomsday Clock and Man of Steel #1, Brian Michael Bendis’ first cover-to-cover work for his new exclusive home. We were admittedly harsh on Bendis’ contribution to the publisher’s DC Nation #1, but any worries we had flew out the window and all the way to Krypton after reading Man of Steel #1. Bendis simply gets the Big Blue Boy Scout, both as a force for justice and as a humble hero. DC powerhouse Ivan Reis provides the art for the first issue of Bendis’ six-issue mini-series, and fans of the DC house style will be pleased with the classically superheroic results. This issue ends on a serious tease illustrated by Jason Fabok, and we won’t be the only ones holding our super breath in anticipation of Man of Steel #2. Steve Foxe

STL080029.jpegStar Wars: Lando—Double or Nothing #1
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Solo: A Star Wars Story may not have lit up the box office this long weekend, but fans of a galaxy far, far away are always eager for more tales of their favorite scoundrels. Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando Calrissian was among the highlights of Solo, as Glover ably balanced Calrissian’s charm and shiftiness. If anyone outshined Glover onscreen, it was his “woke” droid companion, L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who luckily appears here alongside Lando in an adventure set just prior to Solo. Rodney Barnes most recently scripted the underwhelming Falcon solo series, but artist Paolo Villanelli has contributed to prior Star Wars tales, and has a good handle on likenesses without relying too much on direct photo references. If Barnes and Villanelli can capture even a fraction of Glover and Waller-Bridge’s onscreen charm, Lando—Double or Nothing should prove to be another quality entry in Marvel’s Star Wars library. Steve Foxe

STL082423.jpegSuper Sons/Dynomutt Special #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin
Publisher: DC Comics
Fresh on the heels of the last issue of Super Sons and the news that the duo’s fun will continue in The Adventures of Super Sons this August, Peter J. Tomasi takes Jon and Damian on a new canine-focused jaunt that stars neither Ace nor Krypto. When Robin and Superboy find an injured Dynomutt, vulnerable and shaken by a betrayal from his own superhero companion Blue Falcon, it’s no surprise that the boys team up to help the dog; Damian is by all accounts an animal lover, with Goliath and Batcow under his care, among others. Tomasi is joined by penciller Fernando Pasarin, who worked with him on The Green Lantern Corps, and inker Oclair Albert, another DC veteran. With the start of the new series still several months away, this issue will have to tide fans over for a while. Tomasi’s funny and sweet take on Jon and Damian’s relationship is an ideal fit for a Hanna Barbera cartoon crossover book, especially one that confronts death in a manner appropriate for one of the few kid-friendly superhero titles that’s being published right now. Caitlin Rosberg

STL081543.jpegWe Are The Danger #1
Writer/Artist: Fabian Lelay
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Fabian Lelay is one of several talents being featured and fostered by Black Mask Studios. He was the artist for Jade Street Protection Services, and is now both writing and drawing the all-new series We Are The Danger. The focus of the book is teenage girls, just like with Jade Street Protection Services, but this time instead of actual battles being fought, it’s a battle of the bands. The setup is a classic one: the new girl at school meets a similarly minded musician and quickly forms a band together to strive for fame and recognition. It’s Josie & the Pussycats, but from the same publisher that gave the world Kim & Kim. Lelay is joined by Kim & Kim colorist Claudia Aguirre and letterer Taylor Esposito for this new venture, and if Lelay’s work in Jade Street and the anthologies Mine! and This Nightmare Kills Fascists are anything to go by, it’s going to be a wild ride. Caitlin Rosberg

STL080900.jpegWhere We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas
Writers: Neil Gaiman, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mike Mignola, Others
Artists: Mike Allred, Cliff Chiang, Geof Darrow, Others
Curating Editor: J.H. Williams III
Publisher: Image Comics
Almost immediately following the horrific mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas last October, artist J.H. Williams III announced his intention to curate a benefit anthology, and the result hits shelves this week. Top-flight creators ranging from Kieron Gillen, Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone and Mark Millar to Jamie McKelvie, Sean Phillips, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Allred have contributed short reflections on “gun violence, common sense gun control, value of a compassionate society, mental health stigmatization, aftermath of tragedy and how individuals and communities persevere.” In addition to the tribute aspect of Where We Live, 100% of the proceeds from the anthology will be donated to Route 91 Strong, a non-profit organization that advocates for and supports families affected by gun violence. Steve Foxe

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