Required Reading: Comics for 3/1/2017

Comics Lists Required Reading
Required Reading: Comics for 3/1/2017

It’s hard to get hyped for anything this week quite as much as we are for America #1, the cosmic Latinx lesbian’s debut solo series. Demand was so vocal for America to get her own title that Marvel announced it months before naming a creative team—a promise to fans that it was on the docket. That once-mythical Wednesday release is finally here, but even if you’re not a True Believer, there are plenty of other exciting books on stands (although they’re less likely to kick a star-shaped hole through reality). Dynamite launches its next James Bond ongoing following Warren Ellis and Jason Masters’ praised run, longtime cult-favorite Daniel Warren Johnson makes his explosive Skybound debut, Paste favorite Jeff Lemire returns to writing and drawing rural tales, Archie Comics capitalizes on its TV success and a cadre of indie darlings including Benjamin Marra team up for…a shared-universe superhero outing? Come for the red, white and blue, stay for everything else.

468979._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpgAll Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1
Writer: Josh Bayer
Artists: Benjamin Marra, Herb Trimpe
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Like a punk musician running for political office, the most subversive move indie publisher Fantagraphics could make is embracing mainstream superheroes. The Seattle establishment has carved a history exploring the diversity of the medium through manga, erotica, euro and pulp reprints, avoiding the tights and capes that DC and Marvel made synonymous with American sequential art. The house that Gary Groth made has now come full circle, pouring the foundation for a new shared superhero cosmos called All Time Comics. The endeavor merges indie voices like Josh Bayer, Benjamin Marra and Noah Van Sciver with veteran pioneers Herb Trimpe and Al Milgrom. This oversized introduction resembles some Ben-Day-dot relic—bloody, fun and outdated to the point of being relevant again. That absurdist homage fits immaculately with the exaggerated machismo of Marra’s oeuvre (Terror Assaulter, American Blood), and there’s so shortage of curiosity to see the talent and storytelling formations this bizarre experiment will yield. Sean Edgar

STL037498.jpegAmerica #1
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Artist: Joe Quinones
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Finally. Fans have been clamoring for a Ms. America Chavez solo series since the moment Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie overhauled the lesbian Latinx badass in the pages of Young Avengers—and it took original character creators Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta announcing a thinly veiled Image analogue series for Marvel to get off their star-spangled butts and assemble a worthy creative team. America #1—and what a time for this book to call itself simply America—comes from writer Gabby Rivera, the queer Latina author of the critically acclaimed YA Juliet Takes a Breath, and fan-favorite artist Joe Quinones, fresh off of a run on Howard the Duck with Chip Zdarsky. America, along with the upcoming Iceman, are among Marvel’s first strides toward leading queer representation, and the intriguing, inclusive creative teams indicate that the House of Ideas isn’t half-assing it this time. Steve Foxe

STL036063.jpegAnimosity Vol. 1
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Rafael de Latorre
Publisher: AfterShock

Marguerite Bennett has been making a bid for the busiest person in comics, tackling new books and new genres at a remarkable pace. Though many of her comics are remarkably dissimilar, spanning multiple eras and subjects, their unifying factor is a sharp wit and skill that provides very real consequences and dangers. The premise of Animosity, a world where animals use heightened intelligence to take revenge on humans, feels like a throwback to the years when every new comic on the shelf dealt with humans fighting zombie hordes. The series features a young, female protagonist and her very good dog who try to escape from New York to California so they can find safety, resembling a hybrid of Y the Last Man meets Beasts of Burden and We3. This volume collects the first four issues, plus the special one-shot issue Animosity: The Rise with art from Juan Doe, who along with series artist Rafael de Latorre, takes an intriguing idea to new, visceral heights. Caitlin Rosberg

STL036302.jpegBrave Chef Brianna #1
Writer: Sam Sykes
Artist: Selina Espiritu
Publisher: KaBOOM!

You’ve probably retweeted fantasy author Sam Sykes on Twitter, and, thanks to savvy all-ages imprint KaBOOM!, now you can pick up his debut comic book, illustrated by Selina Espiritu. Brave Chef Brianna, about the daughter of a chef who wants to prove to her father that she can make it in the cutthroat restaurant business, fits KaBOOM!’s broader themes: a diverse cast, fantasy-tinged premise (the restaurant is located in Monster City) and art that should look familiar to fans of Cartoon Network’s critically acclaimed offerings. Give this to intrepid Lumberjanes readers who are ready for a bigger pull list. Steve Foxe

Cosmic Scoundrels #1
Writers: Andy Suriano & Matt Chapman
Artist: Andy Suriano
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Andy Suriano and Matt Chapman’s gloriously unrestrained webcomic finally comes to print this week with Cosmic Scoundrels #1. As anyone familiar with Suriano’s output might guess, Cosmic Scoundrels has its visual identity firmly rooted in the Jack Kirby school of design and action, filtered through a love of awesome ‘80s genre garbage (that logo!). Like Regular Show meets Kirby’s Fourth World, Cosmic Scoundrels tosses its mullet-rocking, rad-ass space bachelors against one zany threat after another. Fans of Tom Scioli’s similarly unhinged work—as well as viewers of Chapman and Suriano’s respective runs on the webtoon Homestar Runner and Samurai Jack—should feel right at home. Steve Foxe

extremitycover.jpegExtremity #1
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Publisher: Skybound/ Image Comics

Paste named Extremity one of its most anticipated comics of 2017, and for good reason: Space Mullet’s Daniel Warren Johnson has long been one of the comic industry’s best-kept secrets, an “artist’s artist” who hasn’t quite broken through to the wider readership. Extremity, his violent, bizarre Skybound debut, should finally rectify that travesty. Like an outer-space Fury Road, Extremity is a bloody, fast-paced tale of tribal warfare in a sci-fi world that never conquered class stratification. And like Fury Road’s George Miller, Johnson thrusts his readers right into protagonist Thea’s revenge-driven conflict at breakneck speed. Check back later this week for an in-depth interview with Johnson. Steve Foxe

James Bond: Black Box #1
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Rapha Lobosco
Publisher: Dynamite Comics

Warren Ellis is a tough act to follow, and Dynamite’s various Bond mini-series have struggled to capture the spirit of Ian Fleming’s superspy quite as well—or to net the same sales success. Green Arrow and Teen Titans writer Ben Percy is next up at bat, joined by artist Rapha Lobosco for Black Box, a new Bond ongoing that pits the suave secret agent against an assassin of assassins. Unlike previous artist Jason Masters, Lobosco has a fluid, more cartooned line that should appeal to fans left out in the cold by the latter’s stiffer, more posed artwork. Steve Foxe

STL036805.jpegRat Queens #1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Owen Gieni
Publisher: Image Comics

Rat Queens is the book that just won’t quit. Kurtis J. Wiebe debuted the instant-fan-favorite alongside artist Roc Upchurch, whose arrest for domestic abuse shook the book’s fan base and delayed its publishing schedule. Initial replacement Stjepan Sejic of Sunstone fame seemed like a perfect fit for the lady-driven swords and sorcery romp, but left after only a couple issues, to be followed by Tess Fowler…who also soon quit (or was fired?) amidst a flurry of he-said/she-said accusations. Now co-creator Wiebe is back with a new #1 and artist Owen Gieni along for the ride. Gieni is best known for illustrating Negative Space, Ryan K. Lindsay’s Dark Horse mini-series about depression via tentacled undersea horrors, and his mottled, Magic Card-ready artwork is a fitting follow-up to Fowler’s work on the book. Are there hordes of Rat Queens fans waiting patiently for Wiebe to sort out behind-the-scenes logistics and get the book back on track? We’ll find out once March sales numbers are released. Steve Foxe

Riverdale.jpgRiverdale One-Shot
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artists: Stephen Downer, Alitha Martinez
Publisher: Archie Comics

Archie may have started as a comic reflection of ’50 suburban purity—varsity jackets, combovers and improbable love triangles. But the reignited publisher has since smacked that perception with a branding jackhammer, pitting Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty against skin-flaying aliens (Archie Vs. Predator), airborne Great Whites (Archie Vs. Sharknado) and a gothic, flesh-munching horde of familiar faces (Afterlife with Archie). Crossing media hasn’t diminished that strive to grimly innovate; new CW drama Riverdale casts the crew in a Twin Peaks-style murder mystery with squirmy thriller undertones. This one-shot comic attempts to bridge those worlds with a story from Afterlife with Archie scribe and Riverdale producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The prequel takes place in the summer before the show’s narrative, capturing Archie’s summer job as a construction worker, Betty’s LA lover and Jughead before he witnesses the misfortune that leads to the show’s greatest mystery. Either as a complement to its well-reviewed episodes or a new addition for the Archie completionist, the Riverdale One-Shot offers a deeper fall down the rabbit hole for one of comics’ most experimental icons. Sean Edgar

STL039448.jpegRough Riders: Nation #1
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Various
Publisher: AfterShock

Transforming Theodore Roosevelt from a historical figure to a fictionalized hero isn’t particularly hard—the larger-than-life president is emblematic of a type of political figure long gone from our reality. In Rough Riders, Adam Glass created a team that’s half Men in Black and half League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: real people from history who protected America and the world long before their names entered text books. With this new series, Glass focuses not only on Teddy and his team, but the legacy of their work under the command of Roosevelt’s infamous daughter, Alice. As an executive producer on Supernatural, Glass has already shown a penchant for monster-of-the-week adventures and the crazy yarns often experienced on long roadtrips. Branching past the 1800s gives him plenty of fresh material and deified Americans from history to loop into the Rough Riders narrative. Caitlin Rosberg

STL036764.jpegRoyal City #1
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Image Comics

Jeff Lemire has written and drawn ongoing monthly series before, most notably his Vertigo breakout Sweet Tooth, but Royal City seems oddly out-of-place in the format: a quiet, hometown story seemingly devoid of genre twists, and most comparable to Lemire’s massive Essex County tome. Everything about Royal City screams “prestige original graphic novel,” so part of the appeal of following it month to month will be discovering why Lemire opted to do this one in installments, and how the story of a faded literary star with family drama fits into Image’s more bombastic publishing slate. Lemire has had a stacked creative plate for a while now, juggling Marvel projects like the excellent Moon Knight and underwhelming Extraordinary X-Men alongside his Image hit Descender with artist Dustin Nguyen. Royal City looks to return to what Lemire knows best, albeit in a format that reflects his Big Two conditioning. Steve Foxe

STL037077.jpegSavage Things #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

Secret agent stories rely on innovation, or at the very least new twists, to retain the interest of audiences that have been inundated with them since Bond first hit the big screen. With Luther Strode’s Justin Jordan behind the wheel, Savage Things promises unexpected adventures in a genre that can feel dated in the post-Cold War era. This isn’t the first book to center around government-trained agents hunted by the people who created them, but shifting the narrative to spooks who were kidnapped and trained as children changes the stakes. Coming from Jordan and Vertigo, Savage Things will be full of violence, but with commentary and introspection to take it beyond gratuitous gore. High Crimes artist Ibrahim Moustafa, who up to this point has primarily been featured on DC covers and as a Doctor Fate fill-in, is a fresh talent who’s got a great eye for shape and composition, further elevating this debut’s potential. Caitlin Rosberg

SimplySamuel.jpgSimply Samuel
Writer/Artist: Tommi Musturi
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Finnish artist Tommi Musturi follows up his major English debut, The Book of Hope, with another graphic novel rooted in black-light psychedelia and personal epiphanies. The titular character is a lonely, pale being who works through a “puzzle of short stories” without dialogue or caption. At its most vivid, the artist’s sequences contrast the slog of domesticity with the weird, Technicolor imagination awaiting release. A cover featuring a dude on a skull with a fishing pool may skip the mundane starting line for a full submersion into wonder. The books’ silent design may also signify a greater confidence for Masturi in his storytelling abilities, offering vibrant, surrealist tone poems set at a meditative pace. Like Book of Hope, this potential gem won’t lend itself easily to a Wikipedia summary, but it will offer an array of imagery, iconography and sensation designed to confuse and delight. Sean Edgar

STL034592.jpegZatanna by Paul Dini
Writer: Paul Dini, Others
Artist: Stephen Roux, Jamal Igle, Cliff Chiang, Chad Hardin, Others
Publisher: DC Comics

Fresh on the heels of his autobiographical Dark Night: A True Batman Story, Paul Dini’s work with DC’s most recognizable magician has arrived in collected form. Between Black Canary & Zatanna: Bloodspell and her role in both Justice League Dark and DC’s Bombshells, Zatanna’s contribution to the landscape at DC hasn’t decreased since her last solo title in 2010, which absolutely deserves a revisit. This new collection includes that series, as well as Zatanna: Everyday Magic #1, and both a Halloween and holiday special. Dini may be best most recognized for his animation output, including Batman: The Animated Series, but his affection for the entire DC universe hasn’t flagged and his talent has translated just as ably over the decades. With a wide range of artists represented, the book serves not only as a great introduction to Zatanna and Dini’s non-Batman work, but also a slew of talent to explore in other books, from Cliff Chiang (Paper Girls) to Chad Hardin (Harley Quinn). Caitlin Rosberg

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