Modern Fantasy, Multiple Man, Wakanda Forever & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/27/2018

Comics Lists Required Reading
Modern Fantasy, Multiple Man, Wakanda Forever & More in Required Reading: Comics for 6/27/2018

The highly anticipated conclusion to the month of June is upon us, and it’s a big week for Dark Horse Comics and guys named Cullen Bunn. Dark Horse releases the latest installment in its Neil Gaiman library, the first issue of an enticing new series and the final issue of one of its premiere books…which is written by Bunn, who also launches a new series this week. Not to be outdone, Marvel revives the Sentry, resurrects Multiple Man and kicks off a series of Wakanda Forever one-shots starring Black Panther’s scene-stealing Dora Milaje. We’ve also got the original-graphic-novel conclusion to a beloved BOOM! Studios series, a new era for the Teen Titans and a kids book perfect for growing superhero fans.

NGASIE CVR 4x6 SOL.pngA Study in Emerald
Writers: Neil Gaiman & Rafael Scavone
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Since its first appearance in the mash-up anthology Shadows Over Baker Street and subsequent reprint in Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman’s short story “A Study in Emerald” has been a favorite of speculative-fiction fans, garnering both a Hugo Award and a Locus Award for its combination of Arthur Conan Doyle’s cunning detective Sherlock Holmes and H. P. Lovecraft’s existentially horrifying Cthulhu Mythos. Now, this tale of Great Old Ones and Baker Street murders comes to sequential-art life in an 80-page adaptation from Eisner Award-winning artist Rafael Albuquerque, writer Rafael Scavone and legendary colorist Dave Stewart. A Study in Emerald features a brilliant (unnamed) detective and his faithful partner as they attempt to solve a horrific murder of cosmic proportions. The complex investigation takes the Baker Street investigators from the murderous slums of Whitechapel all the way to the Queen’s Palace as Gaiman weaves together distinctly British intrigue with trademark Lovecraftian flourishes. As realized by Albuquerque and Stewart’s masterful hands, A Study in Emerald might just be the tentacled crown jewel in the crown of Dark Horse’s Neil Gaiman Library. Steve Foxe

STL081951.jpegGrow Up, Ant-Man!
Writer: Brandon T. Snider
Artist: Jessika Von Innerebner
Publisher: Marvel Press
While our Required Reading segment is exclusively about comics (sorry, press folk who email me about statues, novels and obscure indie bands), we do sometimes make an exception for particularly awesome projects aimed at getting young readers invested in superheroes. Grow Up, Ant-Man! playfully embraces the dynamic between Marvel’s Ant-Man and his daughter, Cassie, as the size-changing hero is repeatedly told to “grow up!” by his young daughter. It’s a fun twist on children always being told to act older than their age, as Ant-Man is both a bit immature and capable of literally growing up at will. Brandon T. Snider is a veteran of worthwhile tie-in properties (he wrote one of Marvel’s Infinity War junior novels), and artist Jessika Von Innerebner has a dynamic, animated spin on the classic Little Golden Book aesthetic. Bonus: Grow Up, Ant-Man! includes a size chart for little super heroes to chart their own growth—aww. Steve Foxe

STL084406.jpegHarrow County #32
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
All good things must come to an end—even good things full of skinless boys, many-eyed minotaurs and feuding witches. Harrow County #32 completes writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook’s saga of Emmy, a powerful, conflicted young woman at the center of generations-old supernatural conflict. The “haint”-filled Southern horror story immediately established itself within Dark Horse’s grand tradition of terror, and while Bunn’s genre output is prolific—check out Shadow Roads #1 a few entries down from this—and Crook just announced an upcoming project with comiXology Originals, will replace Harrow County in our wicked little hearts. Steve Foxe

STL084422.jpegModern Fantasy #1
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Kristen Gudsnuk is the mind behind the hilarious and surprisingly emotional Henchgirl, so seeing her name attached to a new monthly series from a large publisher is definitely exciting. Henchgirl took many tropes from traditional superhero comics and turned them neatly on their heads, and her sharp sense of humor kept things light until they needed to get heavy again. Working with writer Rafer Roberts feels like it could be a great fit, as his run on A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong proved to be just as resistant to stale tropes and enthusiastically embraced the kind of absurdity that suits Gudsnuk’s style. They’re teaming up for a book that feels particularly pertinent in an era where tabletop gaming, and especially Dungeons & Dragons-style RPGs are enjoying a podcast-fueled resurgence. Think Office Space meets The Adventure Zone: a young woman and her friends struggle through mundane day jobs and crippling student loan debt while wishing for high-fantasy adventures and swashbuckling. Caitlin Rosberg

STL083832.jpegMultiple Man #1
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Multiple Man may not be the most beloved of Marvel’s mutants, but he is one of the more underutilized characters in that sprawling stable. Writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Andy MacDonald are bringing him back from a death-induced hiatus for a five issue miniseries that sounds like it’s going to get very strange very quickly. Rosenberg made a name for himself with exactly that kind of comic over at Black Mask studios on titles like 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, but his Marvel title count has expanded considerably in recent month, including The Punisher and an upcoming Astonishing X-Men run. With Terminator and DC’s Future’s End under his belt, artist Andy MacDonald has a slew of experience with grim time travel, but Jamie Madrox poses a different set of challenges, namely drawing the same guy several dozen times a page. From the previews, it does sound like there are some paradoxes in play that pose a serious threat to both Jamie and the wider world, leaving readers with a generally good but rarely great man holding the fate of a lot of people in his many hands. This kind of short miniseries could go a long way to reinvigorating more interest in offshoot X-Men titles, and it’s always nice when mutants without Adamantium claws get the spotlight. Caitlin Rosberg

STL084332.jpegThe Sentry #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Aaron Kim Jacinto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Marvel’s “Golden Guardian” is one of mainstream comics’ more surprising returns in recent years; the character was first created as a publishing stunt before the days of internet dominance, when it was still possible to convince readers that Marvel might have published a Superman-like hero in the early days of its existence. Writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee used that premise to construct a dark meditation on mental illness and what it means to be forgotten…and then Brian Michael Bendis repurposed the character to become Violent Superman throughout his Avengers run. After a short stint as a Horseman of Death, the Sentry was flung off into space, seemingly to be forgotten. Now, after a shock return in the pages of Doctor Strange, the Sentry helms his own series once again. Artist Aaron Kim Jacinto is fresh off of Avengers: No Surrender, which hits shelves as a hefty trade paperback this week, and writer Jeff Lemire never really slows down. That can result in some middling superhero titles, but Lemire is typically at his best when using these primary-color crusaders to consider themes of mental health (see: Moon Knight, Bloodshot), which makes The Sentry and its conflict with the character’s dark mirror, the Void, an unlikely must-read in 2018. Steve Foxe

STL082508.jpegShadow Roads #1
Writers: Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
Artists: A.C. Zamudio & Carlos Zamudio
Publisher: Oni Press
Seeing creative teams stick together is always promising, not only because it lends a sense of coherence and consistency to the story but also because it means that they probably enjoyed creating together and it usually shows. Shadow Roads is that kind of comic, set in what remains of the world that Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree built in the series The Sixth Gun. The Crossroads acts as a world between worlds, and Bunn and Hurtt are returning to the supernatural Wild West with artists A.C. Zamudio and Carlos Zamudio. Some readers associate ambitious, multi-title worldbuilding exclusively with cape-and-cowl comics, but it can be a lot more interesting to see what creative teams do when they aren’t limited by someone else’s intellectual property. The biggest stumbling block here could be if Shadow Roads requires readers to check out the lengthy The Sixth Gun first in order to understand it, but Bunn has enough experience to hopefully avoid that trap. Caitlin Rosberg

STL084286.jpegTeen Titans Special #1
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Robson Rocha
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer Adam Glass has kept a low profile since launching Suicide Squad during the New 52 way back in 2011, working in television and on AfterShock’s Rough Riders series, so imagine our surprise when it was announced that he would helm a revamp of DC’s fan-favorite Teen Titans. Despite the popularity of kid-friendly iterations of the team in cartoons like Teen Titans Go! and Young Justice, DC keeps the comic version squarely aimed at its core adult fanbase, and an early look at this issue filled with cringe-worthy “hashtag” dialogue indicates that won’t be changing any time soon. Still, artist Robson Rocha is a fast-rising talent, eventual ongoing series artist Bernand Chang is a proven quantity and the mix of established teen heroes and brand-new faces—Lobo’s daughter!—makes this hashtag oversized kick-off hashtag worth a look. Steve Foxe

STL077916.jpegWild’s End Vol 3: Journey’s End
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
As the third and final installment of the Wild’s End series (and the first released straight to the graphic novel format), Journey’s End is appropriately named. A science fiction story of war and alien invasion, Wild’s End has been compared to H.G. Wells, and for good reason. It focuses on a small community struggling with the reality of what it means to live in a world controlled by extraterrestrial creatures. While the series does at time lean into familiar sci-fi tropes, the fact that the main characters are anthropomorphized animals adds interesting layers and unexpected elements to the story. Writer Dan Abnett is far from an unknown quantity in comics, with books at both Marvel and DC that feature the same imagination and emotion on display in Wild’s End. And given his work on Doctor Who and H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, a period piece with science fiction elements is a near-perfect fit for artist I.N.J. Culbard. Now would be a good time to pick up or revisit the first two volumes, as the story winds down and readers discover if Earth’s residents will be able to overthrow their alien overlords after all. Caitlin Rosberg

STL084492.jpegWakanda Forever: Amazing Spider-Man #1
Writer: Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Alberto Alburquerque
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A quarter of a year after Black Panther achieved cinematic dominance, Marvel Comics is spotlighting the true stars of the film—its warrior women—with an interconnected series of three one-shots. Okay, so it’s not as thrilling as a Dora Milaje ongoing series, or even a mini-series that doesn’t center the names of Marvel’s already established non-Wakandan heros, but it’s the content that counts. Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most impressive names in sci-fi and fantasy fiction today thanks to books like Binti and Who Fears Death, in development as an HBO series, and her previous Marvel contributions have displayed an easy transition to the comic format. Alberto Alburquerque is a capable superhero artist with a clean, readable style. Wakanda Forever: Amazing Spider-Man finds Okoye, Ayo and Aneka heading into Peter Parker’s turf to pursue a Wakandan threat. Future issues will push the Dora up against the X-Men and Marvel’s shiny new Avengers. Steve Foxe

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