The War of the Realms, Rocko’s Modern Afterlife, Major X & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/3/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
The War of the Realms,  Rocko’s Modern Afterlife, Major X & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/3/2019

We typically post our Required Reading entries on Mondays, but we didn’t want anyone mistaking this week’s lineup for an April Fools prank. The first Wednesday in April officially kicks off the long-teased The War of the Realms at Marvel, following years of groundwork from writer Jason Aaron and a Norse pantheon of artistic talent. Also out from the House of Ideas is Major X, the latest project from fan-favorite Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld. If hammer-swinging epics and excess pouches aren’t your thing, AHOY Comics kicks off its second wave with ‘70s nostalgia, Top Shelf imports an award-winning Brazilian fantasy tale, Box Brown lights up First Second with a marijuana graphic novel and BOOM! Studios’ Archaia imprint returns to the world of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. All of these and more await you in this week’s Required Reading.

STL114415.jpegBronze Age Boogie #1
Writers: Stuart Moore, Tyrone Finch
Artists: Alberto Ponticelli, Alain Mauricet
Publisher: AHOY Comics
AHOY Comics splashed onto the comics scene last year with an unexpected conceit: their individual issues are formatted more like magazines, with comic serials joined by prose pieces, poems, illustrations and other oddities. AHOY recently grabbed headlines by acquiring Second Coming, the Mark Russell/Richard Pace comic once scheduled for publication under DC Comics’ Vertigo banner, and this week AHOY launches its second wave of magazine-format titles with Bronze Age Boogie. Primarily written by former Vertigo editor Stuart Moore and drawn by Hungry Ghosts contributor Alberto Ponticelli, Bronze Age Boogie mashes together all of the best exploitation tropes of ‘70s comics: barbarians, kung fu, bad trips and alien invasions. Protagonist Brita Constantina finds herself battling a Martian invasion in both 1975 AD and BC, and things only get zanier from there. Readers seeking a slightly different (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) experience may end up finding a lot to like about AHOY’s offerings. Steve Foxe

CannabisBoxBrownCover.jpgCannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America
Writer/Artist: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second
Box Brown’s new book from publisher First Second, Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America, could easily be pigeonholed as media for stoners, but it’s a lot more interesting and well-informed than that. If you’ve thought about legalization but never considered the complexities of why cannabis use is against the law in the first place, this is the read for you. Brown lays out the race-based fear that fueled the effort not only to make cannabis illegal in the United States, but around the world, with plenty of interesting anecdotes along the way. For more on the current state of reversing that illegalization, what made Brown interested in the topic and how junk science affects the conversation, read our recent interview with the creator himself. Hillary Brown

STL114641.jpegJim Henson’s The Storyteller: Sirens #1
Writer: Bartosz Sztybor
Artist: Jakub Rebelka
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
The revitalization of Jim Henson’s deeply imaginative and compelling stories through new comics has been one of the most enjoyable nostalgia-tinged revisits in recent years. With Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, Archaia and BOOM! Studios have organized a beautiful recurring anthology series, each one focusing on a different mythical theme. The comics evoke the same sense of wonder as the original TV show of the same name, and also serve as an excellent introduction to a wide variety of different comics creators since every individual issue has a different team behind it. Sirens launches with writer Sztybor Bartosz and artist Jakub Rebelka, both from Poland. Rebelka worked with Steve Orlando on Namesake, but may be best known for Judas, where his rich and imaginative style helped bring Jeff Loveness’ vision of the titular man to life. Most of Sztybor’s comic work wouldn’t be familiar to American readers, but it’s exciting to see a publisher like Archaia tap into new populations of creators. Each Storyteller series is just four issues, making it an ideal gateway or gift for a reluctant or inexperienced comic reader, easy to access and fun to read. Caitlin Rosberg

STL114249.jpegMajor X #1
Writer/Artist: Rob Liefeld
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Look, we’re not going to goof on Rob Liefeld. Despite any recurring criticisms of his art online, the man clearly commands a sizable audience, and at this point, you probably know if you’re part of that demographic or not. Major X is the latest example of Marvel letting a creator like Liefeld—whose fans are still legion, even if he doesn’t play well within modern continuity—run loose with their own concepts (see also: Jim Starlin’s modern work for the publisher). The titular mystery man is hopping through time to confront yet another world-ending mutant calamity, and finds himself clashing with Cable, Deadpool, X-Force and other major players from the Liefeld canon. If Major X isn’t for you, let its many readers have their fun—Twitter snark doesn’t help anyone. Steve Foxe

STL105629.jpegMarvel Action: Black Panther #1
Writers: Kyle Baker
Artists: Kyle Baker, Juan Samu
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW Publishing’s Marvel Action imprint is explicitly geared at crafting Marvel superhero stories for younger readers, but we can’t shake the feeling that they’re making Marvel Action: Black Panther just for us. Legendary Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn, Plastic Man) launches the series—a coup that Marvel itself would have been lucky to land. Baker’s first arc, with artist Juan Samu, involves unnatural weather and fauna threatening Wakanda, prompting T’Challa to turn to his sister Shuri and mother Ramonda for help. After Baker’s first arc, rising star Vita Ayala joins for a guest spot alongside artist Arianna Florean. Ayala is currently in the middle of a guest arc for Marvel’s Shuri series, which is a hopeful sign that Marvel and IDW’s Marvel Action will share some of their most promising talents between publishers. Also out this week and perfect for budding True Believers: the first issue of the new Marvel Team-Up from writer Eve L. Ewing and artist Joey Vasquez, which finds Ms. Marvel joining forces with Spider-Man. Steve Foxe

STL053944.jpegMirror #10
Creators: Emma Rios & Hwei Lim
Publisher: Image Comics
The long-awaited final issue of Mirror arrives this week—one last installment to weave together all the threads that creators Hwei Lim and Emma Rios left dangling when the previous issue came out well over a year ago. From the very beginning of Mirror, the art has been the biggest draw for this title; Rios and Lim are both very successful and skilled in their own right, and they’ve worked together to craft the series. The pages are drenched in color and texture, each creator’s style distinct but working together to make something remarkable and lush. Both rely on painterly skills that aren’t often seen in monthly titles, employing watercolors and sweeping landscapes contrasted with highly detailed technology just beyond what seems possible. The story revolves around people who left their home and traveled between the stars, settling in a place that didn’t really want them—and ultimately tried to kick them off or kill them. It’s a story of magic and consequences as much as it is about science and family. Though it’s sad to see the series end, it’s good to finally know the conclusion. This is a perfect time for new readers to jump in and catch up on the issues that have come before. Caitlin Rosberg

STL114636.jpegRocko’s Modern Afterlife #1
Writer: Anthony Burch
Artist: Mattia Di Meo
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
As the source of one of the most quotable lines about comic books ever uttered in a cartoon, it’s a joy to see any new Rocko’s Modern Life content in print form. This new book taps into both nostalgia for the classic show and the seemingly undying popularity of zombies that has boomed in the years since the show went off the air. Rocko’s Modern Afterlife is a four-issue miniseries that stars the titular wallaby Rocko as he struggles to stay safe and alive when O-Town is overrun by good citizens who have been turned into undead creatures. Writer Anthony Burch is probably best known for his writing on videogames, but he’s also been part of the Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack comic. There’s a specific humor and weirdness that’s required for a franchise like Rocko, and Burch feels like a good fit. Artist Mattia Di Meo, on the other hand, has experience on several comic adaptations of cartoons, like Adventure Time/Regular Show, which makes him a real asset to the title. Hopefully there will be an appearance from Filburt at Kind-of-A-Lot-O-Comics, if for nothing else than old times’ sake. Caitlin Rosberg

STL112717.jpegThe War of the Realms #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Marvel is kicking off its next big event this week with The War of the Realms from the same team that skillfully shepherded Jane Foster through her tenure as Thor. The powerhouse creative matchup of writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matt Wilson is hard to beat when it comes to wide-ranging high-fantasy stories with depth, breadth and emotional heft. The War of the Realms finds all of the ten realms under attack by the Dark Elf Malekith, with only a single holdout still resisting his assault. The humans of Midgard aren’t exactly unguarded, but the question may not be if Earth can resist Malekith, but for how long. Though the event spins off into numerous tie-ins and mini-series, The War of the Realms itself is set to be just six issues. With a cast that includes just about everyone notable in the Marvel Universe and some top-notch talent at the reins, this may be a great time to introduce a new reader to superhero comics—although Aaron has been laying the seeds for this event for years. For new fans or old, The War of the Realms is a must-read title for Aaron, Dauterman and Wilson at the top of their game—talented creators who elevate each other’s work by adding to it. Caitlin Rosberg

Writer/Artist: Guilherme Petreca
Publisher: Top Shelf
Only in the last couple of years have American comics readers really been exposed to the wealth of talent and content that are available outside of the United States. Some publishers, like Lion Forge, are going to France and other parts of Europe to tap into the preexisting market there, translating and bringing books cross the Atlantic. Ye from Top Shelf is a similar import, but this time from Brazil. Creator Guilherme Petreca has already won Brazil’s HQ Mix Award for Best Artist for this book, so it’s particularly exciting that American readers get to experience it now. The book has been compared to classic fantasy adventure stories from A Wrinkle in Time to Neil Gaiman’s work and even Hayao Miyazaki. That’s setting the bar very high, but Ye is imaginative and unique, with a perspective English readers haven’t often experienced. The story is about an adventurous and curious young man whose vocabulary consists entirely of his own name—the only sound he can make. His voice has been taken by the Colorless King, and now Ye is going on a journey to get it back. Ye sounds like a great addition to an already excellent fantasy-adventure graphic novel demographic, and hopefully we’ll see even more books from Brazil soon. Caitlin Rosberg

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