Required Reading: Comics for 1/25/2017

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The Kamandi Challenge #1

Writers: Dan Abnett, Dan Didio, Keith Giffen
Artists: Dale Eaglesham, Keith Giffen, Scott Koblish
Publisher: DC Comics

Jack Kirby's DC creations may as well be cursed, considering how rarely subsequent creators have succeeded in bringing them back for focus series. While Grant Morrison got some mileage out of Kamandi during Final Crisis, the boy hero hasn't had a series of his own since 1978 (excluding an excellent Wednesday Comic serial). That changes this week with the debut of Kamandi Challenge #1, a clever approach to honoring Kirby's creation. Each issue of the maxi-series pairs two creators without an established working relationship to tell one-off Kamandi tales, starting with Dan Abnett and Dale Eaglesham (with a prologue from Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish) and featuring future duos like Tom King/Kevin Eastman and Gail Simone/Ryan Sook. Any anthology is bound to be a little uneven, but Kamandi Challenge is an exciting and promising attempt to salute Kirby's corner of the DCU and show readers that the Rebirth era is still fertile ground for creative experimentation. Steve Foxe

Ladycastle #1

Writer: Delilah Dawson
Artist: Ashley A. Woods
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

"Knights, but women" seems to have been floating around the shared idea aether in recent years, producing a handful of (largely enjoyable) titles across multiple publishers, including Princeless. BOOM! enters the arena yet again with Ladycastle, a familiar premise boosted by its notable creative team. Writer Delilah Dawson will be a new name to many comic diehards, but her work in the prose world (under both her real name and her YA pseudonym Lila Bowen) has earned her a devoted following. Artist Ashley A. Wood, not to be confused with Ashley Wood, broke into the scene with Niobe: She is Life, the small-press series co-written by actor and activist Amandla Stenberg. Ladycastle may face plenty of conceptual competition, but the comic world is big enough for at least one more title about badass women with swords. Steve Foxe

Loose Ends #1

Writer: Jason Latour
Artists: Chris Brunner
Publisher: Image Comics

The last time Paste read Loose Ends, President Obama was midway into his first year in office and publisher 12-Gauge was running the ink on Jason Latour and Chris Brunner's cynical, violent crime yarn. Six years later, Latour writes Spider-Gwen for Marvel and illustrates another cynical, violent crime yarn—Southern Bastards—alongside Jason Aaron. And yet, this southern-fried noir seems more timely than ever. Racism, misogyny and terrible decisions lace the comic, now reprinted from Image Comics. The first issue follows one delivery boy's struggle to avoid the vacuum of crime, wrapped in neon decadence by current Spider-Gwen colorist Rico Renzi. This book is both a passion project for its creators and an interesting case study of how their approaches have evolved. It's also a badass, tight thriller perfect for any modern crime comics collection. Sean Edgar

Odyssey of the Amazons #1

Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Artist: Ryan Benjamin
Publisher: DC Comics

Wonder Woman is the focus of nearly every story about DC's Amazons. There may be momentary asides about her mother or the warriors who trained her, but no comic has dissected the island and the culture that gave birth to her—until now. Odyssey of the Amazons promises the tale of the Amazons before their famous princess showed up in a miniseries that mirrors Homer's same-named epic. Leaving Themyscira behind, Hessia and a group of her sisters go out into the world in search of others like them. The premise embraces the prequel-minded exploration Fox's Gotham Central, and the creators assembled to give the Amazons their due is pretty stellar. Writer Kevin Grevioux is best known for creating the Underworld franchise, and artist Ryan Benjamin has been doing incredible work of late, notably his beautiful run on Batman Beyond a few years ago. The cover for the first issue looks retro, more Princess of Mars than contemporary Wonder Woman, and sets the tone spectacularly. Caitlin Rosberg

Slayer: Repentless #1

Writer: Jon Schnepp
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Much like the controversial thrash band itself, Slayer: Repentless isn't for everyone. This comic extension of the band's music video cycle, written by Metalocalypse writer/director Jon Schnepp and drawn by Guiu Vilanova, is brutal, bloody and nasty right from the start, with sliced throats, Nazi headshots and family trauma laying out a clear picture of what to expect in future issues. Of course, none of that will repel Slayer fans, who are more than accustomed to the band's savage imagery. Schnepp leans into the rapid pace of the band's back catalogue, pushing the book's narrative into high speed, while Vilanova lends the series a grounded brutality, not unlike Darick Robertson or the late, great Steve Dillon. If you're a metalhead with a high threshold for violent imagery, you'll headbang along to Repentless with no problem. Steve Foxe