Required Reading: Comics for 11/9/2016

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Required Reading: Comics for 11/9/2016

After a contest that aged us decades and created more chaos than Heath Ledger’s and Jared Leto’s Jokers combined, Election Day has finally arrived. For many of us, the idea of anticipating anything after November 8th is still a tenuous hope at best—will the country even survive the night? But comic shipping schedules, like all things, march ever onward, and publishers have a wide array of sequential delights awaiting readers on the other side of this historic decision. Marvel launches its long-awaited Riri Williams solo title in Invincible Iron Man while DC’s Young Animal rolls out its own new heroine, the Gotham-based Mother Panic. BOOM! brings wrestling back to comics in spectacular fashion, vaunted authors Yona Harvey and Roxane Gay join Ta-Nehisi Coates in the World of Wakanda, ancient Egyptians walk again thanks to Titan Comics and Paste favorite Steve Orlando ventures back into creator-owned territory. All of this and more comprises our Required Reading this week…if we make it to Wednesday.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1


Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Aside from a few mediocre filler series, crossover event Secret Wars produced a surprising number of exciting, enticing alternate-reality minis…few of which ended up inspiring follow-up books in the All-New, All-Different Marvel U. It's been a while (and several additional events) since SW mini Renew Your Vows reunited Peter Parker with Mary Jane and their daughter, Annie, but the bittersweet Spider-family title is back in ongoing form with Marvel stalwart Gerry Conway and dynamic artist Ryan Stegman at the helm. For whatever reason, Spider-Man seems to be the one Big Two character capable of sustaining an ongoing alternate-reality title (just ask Mayday Parker), so expect to see the whole Parker family swinging across New York City for the foreseeable future, especially with backup stories from Kate Leth and other exciting talents on the way. Steve Foxe

Avengers #1.1


Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Barry Kitson
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Mark Waid has the Avengers brand on lock: his All-New, All-Different run begat The Champions for underage heroes, Avengers for the classic-meets-legacy squad and now Avengers #1.1, a flashback interstitial story that reveals new moments from the team's early days with a second line-up led by the defrosted Captain America. It's hard to imagine what revelations Waid could create to truly shake up Marvel's premiere team (and "secrets revealed!" is pretty played out in cape comics), but with Barry Kitson's clean, classic linework, this #WaybackWednesday should be a fun exercise in nostalgia nonetheless, especially at a time when so many Marvel heroes of old have passed on their mantles to new bearers. And hey, with the core Avengers title pitting its team against Kang, you never know what time-travel hijinks may be in store for Earth's Mightiest. Steve Foxe

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1


Writers: Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artists: Alitha Martinez, Afua Richardson
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It shouldn't be a tough sell to get people to pick up this Black Panther spin-off book: Ta-Nehisi Coates has done an incredible job setting up the context in the main tile, and Marvel has recruited two widely praised authors to helm a book that will focus more specifically on the lives of the people around the king of Wakanda. Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey already have earned critical and popular acclaim in other media, and adding their voices to artists Alitha Martinez and Afua Richardson is a smart move. The whole team is relatively new to comics, but Richardson's run on Genius and the combined portfolio of the group assures that the Dora Milaje are in the best hands. Caitlin Rosberg

The Gaze of Drifting Skies: A Treasury of Bird's-Eye View Cartoons


Artists: Various
Editor: Jonathan Barli
Publisher: Fantagraphics

The Gaze of Drifting Skies' solicitation offers scarce info on the early 20th-century artists featured within its pages, but its proposition is singular; the coffee table book collects comic illustrations framed from a heavenly perspective, capturing bustling, chaotic menageries of ink. Edited by Rosebud Archives art director Jonathan Barli, the tome celebrates the sheer depth of yesteryear's cartoonists, with textures and coloring that could never be replicated with digital tools. These artistic angles seem oddly lost in today's sequential art landscape—double-paged spreads in mainstream American comics either release on a schedule too arduous for this degree of detail or are more focused on select characters than a sense of place. But books like this show how storytelling and narrative have evolved for better or worse, and the format highlights the uncompromising talent within comics' earliest years. Sean Edgar

How to Survive in the North

Writer/Artist: Luke Healy
Publisher: Nobrow Press

Dublin cartoonist Luke Healy has been steadily gaining acclaim, snagging an Ignatz nomination for The Unofficial Cuckoo's Nest Study this year and a MoCCA Fest Award of Excellence in 2014 for Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales. His latest graphic novel, How to Survive in the North, combines Herge-esque art, pastel colors and a harrowing narrative between two covers. The graphic novel follows the historic trajectory of explorers Ada Blackjack and Robert Bartlett during their snowbound expeditions in 1912 and 1916. 100-year spoiler alert: don't expect a happy ending from what was one of the most ambitious scientific endeavors of the 20th century. Healy employs 12-panel grids with white gutters, creating a story rhythm where continuous action ploughs through the white expanse. Fluid and immersive, this is a book that'll make you jack up the heat even in the middle of summer. Sean Edgar

Invincible Iron Man #1


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Publisher: Marvel Comics

New armor-welder Riri Williams' debut has been marred by covers that portray the teen engineering genius as much older and more scantily clad than called for (although credit where credit is due, J. Scott Campbell's redo was cute and much more appropriate for the character). With her first starring issue as Ironheart hitting stands this week, we can finally see what the character herself, expertly rendered by interior artist Stefano Caselli, is all about. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is passionate about Riri's role in the Marvel Universe, but his past well-intentioned efforts toward inclusion have occasionally misfired. With Victor Von Doom piloting his own "infamous" iron-suit, it remains to be seen if fans will embrace the latest Marvel legacy inheritor. Steve Foxe

Klaus HC


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

As soon as October crept past our calendar, Christmas firmly began its green-and-red assault on our wallets and coffee cups. But post-modern comics messiah Grant Morrison and chiseled artist Dan Mora circumvent the holiday's commercial exterior to dive into its mystic underbelly in Klaus, a biography of Jolly Nick as a benevolent barbarian. Morrison isn't afraid to address the pagan, psychedelic underpinnings of the yuletide season, a stark contrast to the Christian sentiments that have eclipsed much of the narrative. That said, Klaus is one of the creator's more accessible works; the titular hero wrestles a petty politician who pries the gift-giving joy from an industrial town. But Dan Mora is the main draw of this 7-issue collection. The artist merges candle-light warmth with brutal heavy-metal van art, confirmed in hazy, heady palates of steely blue and vivid green. And did we mention a Krampus showdown? Sean Edgar

Mega Princess #1


Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Brianne Drouhard
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Princess Maxine expected more when she asked her Fairy Godmother for the combined powers of all fairy-tale princesses, but instead of Elsa's ice-throwing skills, she got the ability to sense peas through a stack of mattresses, and a way-too-sassy talking steed named Justine. But when Maxine's baby brother is captured, she must rely on her newfound royal abilities to rescue him. Kelly Thompson, A-Force author and Jem scribe, pairs with Disney artist Brianne Drouhard for BOOM!'s latest all-ages original series. Mega Princess looks ideal for fans of Princeless, Moon Girl and BOOM!'s own range of all-ages licensed fare. Steve Foxe

Mother Panic #1


Writers: Jody Houser, Jim Krueger
Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards, Phil Hester
Publisher: Young Animal/ DC Comics

Young female comic book characters with bad attitudes aren't exactly hard to come by. If you approach Mother Panic as the story of a young woman, bored and rich, who becomes a vigilante to get vengeance on the people she grew up with, the hook feels a little flimsy. Though fandom might scream that Gotham's newest crusader is just a "Mary Sue," Violet Paige sounds a lot like Batman, but younger and female—to criticize her motivations is to undermine his. More than that, writer Jody Houser has proven through Faith and Orphan Black that she knows how to write nuanced, interesting women who aren't as one-dimensional as potential readers might suspect or fear. Illustrated with hyper-realistic detail by Tommy Lee Edwards as the final launch in the Gerard Way-curated Young Animal line, Mother Panic promises weirdness and wonder, plus a Jim Krueger/Phil Hester backup story. If Violet is half as fully realized as Faith or funny as Deadpool breakout Negasonic Teenage Warhead, this should be a great ride. Caitlin Rosberg

The Mummy #1


Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Ronilson Freire
Publisher: Titan Comics

If you can't wait for the upcoming Universal Mummy reboot with a female bandage-bearer, Titan Comics has you covered through its new Hammer partnership. Hammer, the beloved and prolific horror studio that helped launch Christopher Lee to villainous stardom, has long built on the Universal Monster heritage with its own, often more gruesome, interpretations of iconic creatures, and we have every reason to believe its new sequential art extension will do the same with Vertigo veteran Peter Milligan at the helm of this launch title alongside artist Ronilson Freire. Every 30 years, the Sect of Anubis sacrifices a woman to extend their unnatural lives…but this year's victim isn't going willingly. Expect horror schlock of the highest caliber. Steve Foxe