Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion, Blackbird, These Savage Shores & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/3/2018

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<i>Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion</i>, <i>Blackbird</i>, <i>These Savage Shores</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 10/3/2018

This week is a doozy: in addition to New York Comic-Con’s imminent arrival, we have more comics than we can fit into the list! The 10 issues below captured our attention, but we can also wholeheartedly recommend checking out Death Orb #1, Lone Ranger #1, Rainbow Brite #1, Jook Joint #1, Dead Rabbit #1, a few Marvel one-shots that are namechecked in a later entry, the kickoff to The Witching Hour crossover between Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark, the collected edition of On a Sunbeam and the sure-to-provoke-discussion Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2. C’mon—that’s a lot of comics for one New Comic Book Day. Weep for your wallet, but rejoice for your reading pile. Now don’t waste any time: scroll on down to see what did make the cut.

Batman/The Maxx #1

Writer/Artist: Sam Keith
Publisher: IDW Publishing w/ DC Comics
Sam Kieth might best be known today as the co-creator of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman alongside Mike Dringenberg, but ‘90s comic readers know him as the mad mastermind behind The Maxx, his creator-owned original series about a seeming homeless man who becomes a hulking purple hero in an alternate world known as “The Outback.” The Maxx ran for 35 issues, received early script contribution from Alan Moore and William Messner-Loebs and even made the leap to MTV’s animation program. Kieth took a hiatus from comics in the latter half of that decade, before returning with projects like Arkham Asylum: Madness, an original graphic novel written and drawn by Kieth that hit the New York Times bestseller list. Earlier this year, Paste broke the news that Kieth is returning to two of his most popular ventures with Batman/The Maxx: Arkham Dreams, a five-issue mini-series kicking off this week from IDW Publishing and DC Comics, which finds Batman wrapped up in the case of Arkham’s newest patient: The Maxx! Steve Foxe

Blackbird #1

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Publisher: Image Comics
Between Harley Quinn and Goliath Girls, Sam Humphries has established a bright and female-focused corner of comics, and has filled it with characters who are sharp and nuanced and diverse in motivation. It’s exciting to see him tackle several creator-owned series after some time working on superhero IP, and particularly exciting because he’s teaming up with fan-favorite artist Jen Bartel, who has contributed covers to a slew of different titles. Bartel’s work is often neon and lush, rich with texture and beautiful women. Blackbird is billed as a noir-fantasy story set in L.A., with main character Nina Rodriguez digging into the secret magic that’s just out of view for most folks. Everyone around Nina is convinced she’s crazy, but her search has put her in very real danger. The creative team for Blackbird is stacked with skill, with Paul Reinwand and Nayoung Wilson joining Bartel on art assists. There’s an alternate cover by Fiona Staples that’s worth hunting down, and the whole book looks like a magical Lisa Frank true-crime fantasy mystery, which is bound to capture a lot of imaginations. Caitlin Rosberg

The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling

Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling.jpg
Writer: Aubrey Sitterson
Artist: Chris Moreno
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
The crossover between comic fans and wrestling aficionados should come as no surprise: spandex-clad fights, soap-opera drama and over-the-top characters abound in both realms. Writer Aubrey Sitterson has long sat at that nexus, with stints behind the scenes at Marvel, working for WWE, scripting G.I. Joe comics and hosting a popular wrestling podcast. This week, Sitterson’s passions collide in The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling with artist Chris Moreno. As the cover proudly proclaims, The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling is a “hardcore, high-flying, no-holds-barred history of the one true sport,” as rendered in Moreno’s chiseled cartooning. Sitterson and the powerhouse artistic team dove deep into ringside research to accurately inform readers about this oft-misunderstood pastime’s storied legacy, resulting in an evergreen volume that’s compelling and accessible whether you follow wrestling or not. Steve Foxe

Likely Stories

Writers: Neil Gaiman & Mark Buckingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
While it has the undeniable benefit of working with great source material, Dark Horse Comics’ Neil Gaiman Library can still boast of not yet producing a single dud. From Colleen Doran’s twisted-storybook take on Troll Bridge to Rafael Albuquerque’s expertly shadowy rendition of A Study in Emerald, every one of Dark Horse’s Gaiman adaptations has captured the indelible essence of its source material while adding whole new visual dimensions. Likely Stories, out this week, looks to continue that pedigree, as longtime Gaiman collaborator and Fables artist Mark Buckingham adapts a set of loosely connected short stories (previously made into a live-action streaming anthology) into an unsettling trip through Gaiman’s trademark darkly fantastical imagination. Gaiman fans—and Fables fans who miss Buckingham’s practiced storytelling—would do well to pick this up. Steve Foxe

Lollipop Kids #1

Writer: Aidan Glass
Artist: Diego Yapur
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Most kids have fantasies about where supernatural and magical creatures are hiding in the world, just out of plain sight: the haunted house on the corner, the weird part of the neighborhood where no one dares go. But what happens when kids find out that there are real monsters living in the woods of Central Park, threatening to break out and destroy New York City? Writer Adam Glass, who’s worked on Rough Riders and The Normals, and artist Diego Yapur are the minds behind Lollipop Kids, the story of a group of kids trying to save their city from these hidden beasts. Hundreds of years ago, newly arrived Europeans realized that they’d brought their monsters along with them across the Atlantic, and bound them in the woods of what was then New Amsterdam. In the present day, those same monsters have freed themselves and are now posing a threat to millions of people. It’s Fables meets The Goonies, magical and terrifying at once, and the latest accessible high concept from AfterShock. Caitlin Rosberg

Shatterstar #1

Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Carlos Villa & Gerardo Sandoval
Publisher: Marvel Comics
With the cancellations and lineup changes that have happened at Marvel over the past year, it’s exciting to see another canonical queer character getting a solo series. As half of one of Marvel’s most popular male/male couples, Shatterstar has been a tough character to nail down since X-Factor ended years ago. Writer Tim Seeley has demonstrated in the past his willingness to dig into tough emotional themes and still provide some relief with comedic beats; with Grayson in particular, he also didn’t hesitate to turn queer subtext into text and leaned into flirting as an ideal form of banter. Seeley’s past work is definitely a big part of why Shatterstar feels so exciting, though art from Carlos Villa and Gerardo Sandoval (on ‘90s-tastic flashbacks) certainly doesn’t hurt. Seeley has described this book as noir and hardboiled, exploring why Shatterstar walked away from his violent past—and if he’s actually escaped it at all. Since it’s been announced as a five-issue miniseries from the get-go, there’s little worry it will get cancelled before the story Seeley and co. want to tell is finished. Hopefully this signals the return of even more unique, ambitious X-Men stories. Also out from Marvel this week: X-Men Black: Magneto, Chris Claremont’s return to the merry mutants, and the first two installments of the latest What If? venture. Caitlin Rosberg

Sparrowhawk #1

Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Matias Basla
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
To readers who are excited by the phrases “period piece” and “urban fantasy,” Sparrowhawk is likely exactly the kind of book they’ve been waiting for in comics. Set in 1851 London, the book centers around a young woman of color, torn between her father’s mundane world and one filled with faeries and magic. Artemisia’s life is surrounded by the extreme wealth and privilege of upper class Londoners, and after a run-in with some supernatural elements, she’s thrust into the position of begrudging protector of people who have never really accepted her. It’s very much in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia, but what makes Sparrowhawk such an anticipated release is that it’s written by Delilah S. Dawson. Dawson is the mind behind Ladycastle and a slew of prose titles, with a reputation for inclusive stories and rich worldbuilding. Art by Matias Basla should sell any readers still tentative on picking up the title. Because it’s a five-issue miniseries, the barrier for entry is low, and hopefully even more fans of Dawson’s novels will find Sparrowhawk an enticing jumping on point for comics more generally. Caitlin Rosberg

Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle

Writer: Cavan Scott
Artists: Derek Charm & Chris Fenoglio
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW Publishing’s all-ages Star Wars comics have been a cute, kid-friendly alternative to Marvel’s continuity-heavy tales from a galaxy far, far away, but just in time for Halloween, IDW’s license is getting creepy. Tales From Vader’s Castle, releasing weekly throughout the month of October, teams Star Wars Adventures collaborators Cavan Scott and Derek Charm with a rotating roster of guest artists including Kelley Jones and Robert Hack for horror-influenced stories set in the shadow of Vader’s lava-filled abode. Stories take place throughout Star Wars chronology and will feature covers from Charm and fan-favorite Francesco Francavilla, making this one of the month’s must-reads for Halloween and SW fans—a.k.a. just about everyone. Steve Foxe

These Savage Shores #1

Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Earlier this year, Paste broke the news that the blokes of White Noise Studios—Ryan O’Sullivan, Dan Watters, Alex Paknadel and Ram V—had signed a deal with upstart publisher Vault Comics to release four new series. Deep Roots launched first, Fearscape and Friendo followed just this past week, and this week, These Savage Shores completes the quartet of White Noise and Vault’s debut partnership. Written by Ram V, drawn by Sumit Kumar, colored by Vittorio Astone and lettered by Aditya Bidikar, These Savage Shores transports elements of Dracula to the Silk Route of the 1700s, bringing that text’s themes of xenophobia into an entirely new light and melding it with far older legends of India. Kumar’s artwork joins Bilquis Evely’s work on The Dreaming as one of the most impressive fantasy realizations of 2018, with multiple genuinely jaw-dropping pages. Ram V’s wealth of knowledge and references serves to further set These Savage Shores up to be one of the year’s most impressive new series. Steve Foxe

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1

Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Finally. Finally. The comic we never thought would come out actually comes out: The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion kicks off this week, reuniting Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá to continue the story of the Hargreeves children. First announced for 2010, Hotel Oblivion now finds a much-changed Way, coming off of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys at Dark Horse, a massively popular run on DC Comics’ Doom Patrol, two waves of his curated Young Animal imprint and a Netflix development deal for Umbrella Academy itself. Hotel Oblivion picks up five years after the previous installment, with the main cast much changed, and the titular establishment—a way of housing the super-powered threats that arose to combat the Hargreeves children—coming back to haunt them all. Way’s name on any comic is a call to attention, but combined with Bá on the revival of Umbrella Academy, this issue is the very definition of Required Reading. Steve Foxe

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