Marilyn Manor, Canto, Spider-Ham & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/26/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
Marilyn Manor, Canto, Spider-Ham & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/26/2019

Readers, a bittersweet note before we move on to this week’s comics: this is actually the final weekly installment of Required Reading. It goes without saying that the online media world has its ups and downs, and unfortunately Paste Comics is going all the way down. You’ll still be able to peruse the full archive of our past writing, as well as find occasional comics coverage under the Books banner, but these are the final few days of Paste Comics. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to recommend worthy reading every week for the past few years, and we’re thrilled to go out with one last quality batch. Enjoy those selections below, and stay tuned the rest of the week for the last posts of the Comics section.

STL110891.jpegBTTM FDRS
Writer: Ezra Claytan Daniels
Artist: Ben Passmore
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Choosing the right setting for a horror story is important. Beyond just aesthetics, a lot of modern horror is directly linked to the social pressures and failings of specific place, the terror of the plot acting as a microcosm for much larger problems—so knowing that Ezra Claytan Daniels and Benn Passmore have made an Afro-futurist horror comic set in Chicago puts a lot of expectations on the book. Daniels and Passmore have both created remarkable comics in the past few years, with Daniels’ Upgrade Soul and Passmore’s Your Black Friend and Other Strangers at the top of many best-of lists. Comparisons are already being made to Get Out, and, thankfully, this creative team has already proven their skill and ability to confront horrific realities with humor and a brutal honesty that’s both refreshing and absolutely necessary. A horror-comedy set on the south side of Chicago about hip hop, gentrification and cultural appropriation is exactly the kind of book readers should expect from the two of them, and BTTM FDRS couldn’t arrive at a more relevant time. Daniels and Passmore excel at subverting and exceeding expectations, and readers should embrace that and prepare to be blown away. Caitlin Rosberg

CantoCover.jpgCanto #1
Writer: David M. Booher
Artist: Drew Zucker
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW Publishing may be best known for impressive licenses like Transformers, My Little Pony and the recent all-ages Marvel Action titles, but the publisher is also home to an array of compelling original properties, from Locke & Key to Road of Bones to Canto, which debuts this week. An all-ages fable inspired by Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz—and Dante’s InfernoCanto introduces the titular tin hero, whose people have been enslaved for generations, their beating hearts replaced by clocks. After a slaver damages one tin girl’s clock beyond repair, Canto sets out on a fantastic journey to recover her heart. Canto, a six-issue mini-series, comes courtesy of rising creators David M. Booher (Alien Bounty Hunter) and Drew Zucker (The House), along with colorist Vittorio Astone. Steve Foxe

STL113448.jpegCoda Vol. 2
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matias Bergara
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
The second, and middle, volume of Coda hits shelves this week. Set in a fantasy world with all of the magic and spectacle familiar from high fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Coda took the sort of approach you rarely see in stuffier fantasy tales. It’s sometimes grim and often filthy but only because it includes a more intimate, human drama than fantasy is often allowed to cover. Coda stars a man named Hum who is so fixated on helping his wife that he’s lost track of nearly everything else, including what she wants. Writer Simon Spurrier does an incredible job of flipping common fantasy tropes on their heads and approaching sometimes-familiar elements from a new angle—but it’s Matias Bergara’s art, painterly and vibrant, with detailed and unique character design, that really makes Coda shine. Nowhere else in comics will you find a man-eating pentacorn with a rage problem. The book has been compared to Mad Max, and not without reason: Hum lives in a world of scarcity where power is accumulated along with resources. But it also leans into the humor and self-awareness demonstrated by Tank Girl and the movie Willow. Pick up both existing volumes for the perfect summer read, and mark your calendar for the third and final collection later this year. Caitlin Rosberg

STL119107.jpegThe Crow/Hack/Slash #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Jim Terry
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Tim Seeley returns to Hack/Slash for a brand-new crossover event that’s sure to please fans of Cassie Hack and the world she lives in. Tini Howard was at the helm for the 12-issue run of Hack/Slask: Resurrection, which introduced Cassie to Vampirella, but now the hunter has a whole new guest star in James O’Barr’s The Crow. Cassie and her companion Vlad are on the hunt for the Crow Killer, operating on the assumption that he is one of the monsters she’s spent her life combating. Artist Jim Terry worked on The Crow: Skinning The Wolves, and in 2014, he and Seeley worked on Sundowners together at Dark Horse. The team is a great fit for this book, and the characters are a great fit for each other, promising an exciting and entirely new mystery for Cassie to unfold. Though super fights between powerful characters can be stale and boring, Seeley’s skill and understanding of Cassie in particular bodes very well for this confrontation. It’s the sort of book that could easily lead readers to other excellent series—the greatest outcome for any crossover event. Caitlin Rosberg

TanabeLovecraftCover.jpgH.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness Vol. 1
Writers: H.P. Lovecraft, Gou Tanabe
Artist: Gou Tanabe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
We named Gou Tanabe’s H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hounds and Other Stories one of our 100 favorite horror comics of all time, and while H.P. Lovecraft’s legacy has come under reconsideration in recent years as fans of sci-fi and horror finally begin to grapple with his rampant racism, xenophobia and other bigotries, his contributions to cosmic terror remain foundational and ripe for interpretation and reinvention. We’re thrilled, then, that Dark Horse Comics is importing more work from Tanabe. At the Mountains of Madness is frequently cited as one of Lovecraft’s best and most influential stories. The synopsis may sound familiar to fans of John Carpenter’s The Thing (although that film spun out of a different classic cosmic horror tale): a 1931 expedition team arrives at a deserted Antarctic campsite, only to find that the previous crew of men and sled dogs dead and disfigured. Some are hideously mangled while others have been dissected in a methodical manner. Even more disturbing, though, is the oddly shaped mound of snow nearby—and what lies beneath. If you’re a fan of Lovecraft, you know that exploring long-lost depths rarely results in sunshine and roses. The novel-length story will be published in two double-sized manga volumes of over 300 pages each, similar to Dark Horse’s I Am a Hero formatting. Steve Foxe

STL119549.jpegMajor X #6
Writer/Artist: Rob Liefeld
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Major X is at the intersection of several specific interests—a Venn diagram of tropes and characters that can all be summarized by the name of the book’s creator: Rob Liefeld. Major X, and Liefeld as a whole, appeals to readers on the basis of genuine affection and enjoyment, but there’s something deeply, enjoyably nostalgic about reading a Liefeld X-Men comic. The six-issue mini-series introduces a new-yet-familiar character into the X-Men mythos, and Liefield has crafted a whole new story, not only for him, but also for all the mutants that Major X has in his sights. It’s exactly the kind of book that readers should expect from Liefeld: an adventure shrouded in mystery thanks to time travel and layers of secrets between allies and enemies both. Though the middle issues were drawn by other artists, the first and this final sixth comic are all Liefeld himself. If that isn’t enough of a draw for fans, Major X’s full identity will finally be revealed as the series wraps, as Liefeld gets to tell a story he’s been thinking about for decades. Caitlin Rosberg

STL119155.jpegMarilyn Manor #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Between DC consolidating its all of its comics under a simplified trio of age groups and IDW Publishing opting to release this Shelly Bond-edited original series without the Black Crown label, it feels like open season on imprints. Still, we’d recommend a Magdalene Visaggio/Marley Zarcone collaboration even if it was printed on a Starbucks napkin, so who cares what the logo in the corner says? Visaggio is still riding high on successes like Eternity Girl and Kim & Kim, but that hasn’t stopped her from launching new books like Calamity Kate and now Marilyn Manor. Zarcone, meanwhile, established herself as one of the breakout stars of Gerard Way’s Young Animal imprint at DC Comics with her pop-art work on Shade, the Changing Girl/Woman. Together, Visaggio and Zarcone have hit the rewind button to land back in ’81, as the president’s daughter and her possibly possessed friend Abe fall headfirst into sex, drugs and time-bending magical romps. Pitched by Visaggio as “an apocalypse directed by John Hughes,” Marilyn Manor is a perfectly timed reminder that creative, challenging adult comics are alive and well. Steve Foxe

STL119607.jpegSpider-Man Annual #1
Writers: Jason Latour, Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Artists: Jason Latour, David LaFuente
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The success of last year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is undeniable, getting fans to flock to an animated movie that exists entirely outside the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film also did an incredible job of explaining how multi-verses work in comics. A whole new group of people were introduced to Miles Morales and the Spider-Gwen iteration of Gwen Stacy for the first time, and shown the magic that can come with dimension-spanning storytelling. The comics haven’t done much to capitalize on this success, until this week’s Spider-Man Annual #1. Written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the producers and writers of Spider-Verse, and Jason Latour, co-creator of Spider-Gwen, the book promises the best of what both the movie and comics have to offer. Latour also shares art duties with David LaFuente, who has memorably contributed to Ultimate Spider-Man and Runaways. Starring Spider-Ham, the issue will undoubtedly be full of the kind of visual gags, puns and enchanting humor that Spider-Man stories heavily feature when they’re at their best. Latour has been showing some sneak peaks online that make it clear the issue will be well worth the $5 cover price. What’s really special about this one-shot is that it promises to be appropriate for slightly younger fans, while most Spider-Man books Marvel puts out are decidedly more adult. Much of the all-ages Spider-content in the last few years has been from licensing partners, and Marvel definitely needs to step up their kid-focused game when it comes to in-continuity stories like this. Caitlin Rosberg

TeenTitansRavenMostAnticipated.jpgTeen Titans: Raven
Writer: Kami Garcia
Artist: Gabriel Picolo
Publisher: DC Ink/ DC Comics
A staple of many iterations of the Teen Titans and Titans, Raven is a character who can be difficult to get right. Her flat affect and initially standoffish nature can lead her to seem cold and unsympathetic, but she’s also exactly the kind of superhero that young women especially can relate to. Her difficult relationship with her father and her struggle to define herself are nearly universally understandable, even if your average teenager doesn’t have to deal with a demon dad. Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo are both uniquely suited to work on this book. Garcia co-created the Beautiful Creatures series along with Margaret Stohl, who wrote the YA Black Widow novels and a two volumes of the Captain Marvel comic, so Garcia has a close collaborator on hand to help her navigate the shift to comics. Picolo’s Teen Titans fan-art went viral several times in recent memory and he had a clear connection to these characters even before he was hired to work on this book. It’s hard to imagine a better character to attract new YA readers, or a better team to do it—even if DC just announced the dissolution of the DC Ink banner in favor of folding all 13+ content under the simpler DC heading. Caitlin Rosberg

STL119582.jpegThe War of the Realms #6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
For as sprawling as The War of the Realms has been, Marvel’s first big event of 2019 clipped along at a speedy pace. Writer Jason Aaron and his editorial support team did an excellent job of keeping the core story contained in WotR’s six issues, while spreading the crossover love across a few dozen issues that illuminated the conflict without ever feeling deceptively necessary. Even if the story had been a mess, each issue of WotR would still be appointment reading thanks to artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson, who work together to provide a near-definitive take on not just Thor’s supporting cast, but the entire Marvel Universe as it stands in 2019. Before the curtains close on this event, Aaron and Dauterman have tricks both Venom-ous and Valkyrie-esque up their Asgardian sleeves, which means readers should be dying to see how Aaron wraps up perhaps the last big chapter in his epic Thor saga. Steve Foxe

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