Comics We’re Excited About for 10/7/2015

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October is here, which means it’s time to get spooky.

We’ve already done our fair share: we’ve cracked open the first issue of Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen and Ryan Kelly’s Survivors’ Club, cued up Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key audio adaptation, and dug out our Danzig records. Which is to say, it’s a great month to be a comic reader: colder weather and earlier sunsets practically spell out a welcoming invite to those wonderful, spooky comic books.

But there’s more comics goodness for those who prefer to keep the scares down to a minimum. Marvel is set to relaunch several titles this week in its post-Secret Wars world, Grumpy Cat is getting dragged into the medium, and the un-missable Bitch Planet will get its first trade paperback.

Check out all of our favorites in the gallery above, and share your own in the comments section.



Batman and Robin Eternal #1

Writer: James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder
Artist: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics

After a much-needed break, DC Comics’ weekly Batman series returns—and this time, it has an additional character in its name. While Batman Eternal explored the place of Jim Gordon within the gritty Gotham underworld, Batman and Robin Eternal is set to dissect the relationships glued together by Batman himself. Here, Dick Grayson’s allegiance is on the line, and we’re set to see a tale of not-what-it-seems betrayal unfold over the course of six months. With a hopefully rested creative team paired with some fresh faces including Midnighter’s Steve Orlando, I’m excited to see where this story goes. Also, keep your eyes peeled for our full review. Tyler R. Kane



Bitch Planet TP #1

Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV
Publisher: Image

It’s hard to think of a comic series that’s had an impact as immediate as Bitch Planet’s. Early fans were eager to get Bitch Planet’s signature “NC” tattoos, igniting new and important conversations in the comics community. But the adoration proved that even if Bitch Planet was in its infancy, the frustrations behind its creation were ages old. The “NC,” of course, stands for “Non Compliant,” and the women who populate the prison planet within Bitch Planet’s pages are stamped with the same design. It’s not exactly a badge of honor within the storyline, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be in real life: the residents of the prison world within Bitch Planet’s pages stuck it to a patriarchal society. I expect Bitch Planet’s first trade paperback to only amplify its visibility—and if the non-compliant mark speaks to you, there’s no better time to hop on the shuttle to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro’s excellent Bitch Planet. Tyler R. Kane



Jughead #1

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Archie Comics

Chip Zdarsky is a funny guy. His Howard the Duck relaunch with artist Joe Quinones at Marvel turned one of the company’s biggest jokes into a joke people want to read every month. His brimptastic Sex Criminals art has helped catapult the XXX-rated title into unlikely bestseller status. Zdarsky’s mix of humor and cutting pathos is perfect for Archie’s perpetually underestimated BFF, Jughead, a character who has only become richer and deeper since the publisher rebooted its core Riverdale titles earlier this year. Brought to expressive life by breakout Squirrel Girl artist Erica Henderson, Jughead seems poised to be the next big thing. Plus Jughead is kind of sexy now, which should confuse readers in all the right ways. Steve Foxe



Invincible Iron Man #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It feels a little odd to celebrate the arrival of the “All-New, All-Different Marvel” when the publisher is still chest-deep in the late-shipping Secret Wars event and umpteen delayed crossovers and one-offs like Bendis’ own Uncanny X-Men finale…but here we are. Not since Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s previous Invincible Iron Man volume hit stands in accompaniment of 2008’s Marvel Cinematic Universe kickoff has the company so clearly positioned Tony Stark as its flagship solo lead, the role most often held by Spider-Man. Bendis’ Tony feels like he stepped right out of Robert Downey, Jr’s trailer, and artist David Marquez’s slick, open line work should be right at home depicting the angular robotics this series demands. Bendis is coming off of a long streak juggling large casts, but his dialogue has always been more at home in more focused titles. Look for Invincible Iron Man to be his return to form and a solid way to kick off Marvel’s latest era. Steve Foxe



Killing and Dying

Writer/Artist: Adrian Tomine
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

In Killing and Dying, cartoonist Adrian Tomine collects five tales from his landmark Optic Nerve anthology, as well as an entry from Kramers Ergot #7. Packed between sleek covers with a transparent jacket, this content offers the bookstore crowds a chance to indulge in Tomine’s brilliant characterization, if sporadic issues proved too high a barrier. Forcing blanket descriptions of Tomine’s work is an awkward prospect; the man studies the very real, touching, charming and sad lives of men and women trying to recover from previous failure or simple boredom. He simply writes about human beings trying to be better. At some subtle point, the word balloons fall away to reveal bittersweet facets of the human condition. “Amber Sweet” revolves around a girl’s struggles as she’s perpetually confused for a ubiquitous porn star. She finally confronts her doppelgänger in an unexpected surge of empathy and catharsis. The titular story, “Killing and Dying,” stands as a high point. Two parents watch as their teenage daughter attempts live stand up comedy. Defined in silent panels and domestic squabbles, the story telegraphs a sucker-punch twist examining the precious glue that holds families together. Tomine remains a master of characterization and mood, crafting absorbing glimpses into lives both familiar and deceptively exotic. Simply put, Killing and Dying showcases the depth and range of the comics medium in startling ways. Highly recommended. Sean Edgar



The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat and Pokey #1

Writers: Ben McCool, Ben Fisher, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano
Artists: Steve Uy, Michelle Nguyen, Ken Haeser
Publisher: Dynamite Comics

Ubiquitous Internet feline Grumpy Cat (real name: Tardar Sauce) was bound to make it to comics sooner or later, so it’s a relief that the result displays genuine affection for all-ages sequential art—and doesn’t try to shove meme-speak into every gag. Composed of four short comics, this oversized debut issue of Grumpy and her brother Pokey’s buddy-cat romp should bring smiles to the faces of Garfield fans familiar with the jaded/over-eager dynamic the big orange cat shares with a certain dopey dog. If you’re hesitant to feed into the Grumpy Machine, rest easy knowing this is a solid read for budding comic fans and cat people alike that doesn’t rely on the overly mean humor often associated with Grumpy on the web. Steve Foxe



Paper Girls #1

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: Image Comics

Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have kept Paper Girls details to a minimum, a luxury afforded to you when you’re among the best in the biz. What we know: “In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time.” What we needed to know: this is by the writer of Saga and the primary artist of Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. At $2.99 for a double-sized first issue, Paper Girls should be the first book on everyone’s pull list this week. Steve Foxe



Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories

Writer/Artist: Reza Farazmand
Publisher: Plume

In Poorly Drawn Lines, cartoonist Reza Farazmand projects such social buzzkills as self-loathing, passive aggression, sarcasm and awkwardness onto robots, aliens, children, animal and boxes. And it’s hilarious. Within these strips, birds are dicks, chameleons are repressed and green space bears named Ernesto are pretty boring. And every creature, no matter their genus or species, flips the bird—especially birds. Mixing Farazmand’s best web material with new entries and disarming essays, Poorly Drawn Lines is an exercise in condensed humor. The material will often set up a profound scenario, only to diffuse it with carefully-placed profanity or a non-sequitur. As Farazmand states, these works vacillate between the serious and the silly, and for fans of other digital humor pioneers like Kate Beaton and Lisa Hanawalt, these stylized descents into existential absurdity are a welcome respite from a reality where death isn’t a giant duck. Sean Edgar



Saints #1

Writer: Sean Lewis
Artist: Ben Mackey
Publisher: Image Comics

With big-name creative teams like Vaughan/Chiang, Snyder/Jock and Gillen/McKelvie producing books under the Image umbrella, it’s easy to forget that the publisher still cultivates new comic talent. Saints, a new ongoing series from playwright Sean Lewis and artist Ben Mackey, runs the risk of flying under the radar during a busy month, but the premise is an enticing mix of Preacher and WicDiv: what if the Patron Saints returned to Earth and their martyrdom became their superpower? Expect lots of Catholic guilt and tapestry-ready art. Steve Foxe



Survivors’ Club

Writer: Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: Vertigo

We’re huge fans of Lauren Beukes at Paste. Along with her previous Vertigo efforts, like Fairest, she’s written two of the finest horror novels in the last decade: the Detroit-based art nightmare Broken Monsters and a time-traveling slasher story called The Shining Girls. I haven’t disliked anything with her name on the cover, and the first issue of Vertigo’s Survivors’ Club seems to follow that trajectory. The action comes fast: the book follows a group of people who all survived traumatic events in 1987—though its unclear exactly what, for some victims. A medic, a too-perfect homemaker, a horror icon and a teacher named Chenzira Molenko round out the cast of this loosely-linked group. Issue one is packed with frightening imagery that’s rendered tonally perfect by Saucer Country artist Ryan Kelly, and fans of Beukes’ work will have a blast envisioning how all of these puzzle pieces will glue together. Go ahead and confidently throw this one on your pull-list. Tyler R. Kane