Comics We're Excited About for 2/10/2016

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Comics We're Excited About for 2/10/2016

Ah, Valentine’s Day: love is in the air and new comic books are on the shelves. Although Hallmark’s favorite holiday doesn’t greet us until this weekend, several books out tomorrow are set to bring readers off-kilter love stories. All the while, Marvel will wrap up the first arcs of two flagship titles, rural horror will continue to keep us up at night, and legendary Bone creator Jeff Smith gets back into the sequential art game after an injury benched his drawing hand for a few months. Whether you’re anticipating sustainably-grown roses and fair-trade vegan chocolates from your lover or a Valentine’s night spent alone with Netflix and ugly sobbing, this week’s comic haul is here for you.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #5

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar
Publisher: Marvel Comics

If Jonathan Hickman kicked off his epic Avengers run with the maxim "go bigger," it appears Mark Waid, Mahmud A. Asrar, and Adam Kubert ran headlong in the other direction to launch their All-New, All-Different take on the mega-franchise. With a compact squad split between team lifers and rough-around-the-edges teen heroes, this squad isn't the Avengers fans are used to following. Readers willing to accept a story focused on newbies and a cash-starved set of Earth's Mightiest Heroes will find that Waid has a predictably solid grasp on characterization and big action, ably brought to life by Asrar. Issue #5 wraps up the flagship title's first arc and promises to flip the script on a longstanding figure from Avengers history. Steve Foxe

The Dark & Bloody #1

Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

We here at Paste have had our eye on this Vertigo horror miniseries for a while, including it in our most-anticipated roundup and speaking to the creative team of Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski about moonshine, monsters, and military PTSD in advance of the first issue's launch this week. Vertigo as an imprint is frequently at its best when embracing fantasy-tinged terror, and this Kentucky-set backwoods chiller about difficult decisions following a veteran back home promises to tap deep into that vein. Tyler Crook, interior artist of the current rural horror book-to-beat, Harrow County, provides unsettling, pitch-perfect covers. Steve Foxe

Harrow County #9

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook's Harrow County has continually expanded an intoxicating fiction built around campfire lore, focused around relatable characters with surreal burdens. Hester Beck has stood front and center at the vortex of creeps, spooks and spells. The alleged reincarnation of a malevolent witch, this adolescent girl has not only faced the hostile violence of Christians (including her father), but needy townsfolk seeking miracle cures from the underworld. And the poor thing hasn't even fielded college applications yet.

This standalone issue with art from Carla Speed McNeil (Finder, No Mercy) shifts the candlelight to another denizen of Harrow County: the skinless boy, or haint. Till now, the past of this sympathetic—if deeply unsettling—youth has remained a mystery. Now, readers will discover the creature's bittersweet creation story, which includes an ominous stranger who eats pickled pigs' feet and plays bird corpses like pan flutes. Lyrical and haunting, Cullen Bunn isn't only getting under our skin, but also pulling back the exterior of these characters to show what really makes them tick. Sean Edgar

Jem and the Holograms Valentine's Day Special 2016 #1

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jen Bartel
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Surprise fan-favorite Jem and the Holograms hits all of the high notes but doesn't always nail a regular publication schedule, and breakout original series artist Sophie Campbell has stepped aside several times to allow for fill-ins. Thankfully, IDW's liberal sprinkling of holiday specials helps make up for the gaps. In this Cupid-kissed one-off, artist Jen Bartel joins writer Kelly Thompson for a classic Valentine's premise: an outside force (in this case, subliminal sounds buried in the Synergy program) turns enemies into more-than-friends. Bartel's a new face aside from some cover work, but her smooth textures and vivid, strobe colors fit the title perfectly, and Thompson has more than proven her adeptness with the source material. Steve Foxe

Jonesy #1

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Caitlin Rose Boyle
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Is there a better time of year than Valentine's Day for a book about a smartass little dork with love powers? While the premise—nerdy zine girl with a Tumblr gets the power to make people fall in love—could be a pretty solid horror pitch (can you imagine the reality of that situation?), Jonesy couldn't be any cuter. Newcomer Caitlin Rose Boyle's super bright style brings a freshness to veteran Sam Humphries' script. Each character comes equipped with the kind of fascinating details that will hook readers from the start. (Insufferable Susan wears healing crystals—what's up with that?) This first issue turns the whole premise on its head within the first few pages, revealing that despite Jonesy's magical gifts, she's no fan of Valentine's Day. Well, I already love her—and her green-haired abuela. Tini Howard

Karnak #2

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Gerardo Zeffino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In the aftermath of its excellent Secret Wars event, Marvel rebooted its universe under the "All-New, All-Different" moniker, creating a more accessible comic line in tune with its cinematic offerings. One component of that plan has been to scale back its X-Men and Fantastic Four properties—both are licensed to Fox for film usage, not Marvel/Disney—and prop up The Inhumans. This niche team descends from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's founding '60s Fantastic Four run, introducing a monarchy of moon-dwelling inhabitants that melded Cold War analogies with B-Movie cool. Today, The Inhumans have proven slightly more…unmarketable, rarely moving up the charts despite the work of talented creators like Charles Soule, James Asmus, Joe Madureira and Steve McNiven.

Writer Warren Ellis was slated to interrupt that malaise with a series focusing on Karnak, an intriguing side player in The Inhumans dynasty who sports the ability to find the "flaw in all things," physical or conceptual. The debut issue released in October and offered a brainy, subversive look into the new antihero, now a hyper-violent cult leader who charges steep fees to help the government find missing children. Four long months later, this second issue emerges, and will hopefully reignite some interest in Marvel's next big property. The previous chapter felt more like a missing component from Ellis' Wildstorm days, showing dark heroes with winding psychology. Whether Karnak lives up to Ellis' last starter-home project with Declan Shalvey—Moon Knight—is yet to be seen, but here's hoping the only flaw in this firecracker is a delayed shipping schedule. Sean Edgar

New Avengers #6

Writers: Al Ewing
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In the explosion of new "All New, All Different" Marvel titles, this under-the-radar team of oddballs has been a real standout. This issue looks to close up the team's first arc, largely formed around some of the best plot threads from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's Young Avengers run. Fan favorite Scarlet Witch offspring Wiccan has fully embraced his role as the Demiurge, even if it means going up against space-Cthulhu-wizard-king Moridun. Al Ewing's clever, sharp dialogue makes it easy to jump in and catch up, and Gerardo Sandoval's pencils under Dono Sanchez Almara's colors lend a video-game aesthetic to the super-powered space magic. And with a glimpse into the future that includes Captain America Danielle Cage, this book is speculative cosmic Marvel shenanigans at their best. Tini Howard

Spider-Man/Deadpool #2

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Superhero comics' court jester is currently enjoying an apex of popularity in what has already been a great decade for the character. This month alone will see Deadpool & Cable: Split Second #3, Deadpool: Massacre #7, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #1, and Spider-Man/Deadpool #2. That's four titles devoted to one character—one less than the X-Men family and around half of the Avengers books releasing that same month. And with a feature film releasing this Friday, the wisecracking mercenary certainly doesn't need this blurb to increase his awareness. But Wade Wilson provides a valuable service: he's the most successful comedic character for a publisher that can rarely sustain comedic characters, regardless of the pedigree creating them.

Former DP scribe Joe Kelly justifies that financial reality with the new Spider-Man/Deadpool ongoing, joined by collaborator Ed McGuinness who nails exaggerated humor and muscle-bound punch-outs with equal skill. After last month's debut offered a colorful setup of Deadpool attempting to recruit straight-man Spidey onto his team, this follow-up should raise the stakes as the character naively attempts to assassinate Spider-Man's alter ego, Peter Parker. With a creative team this hysterical, we'd buy this comic even if Adam X joined up. Sean Edgar

Tüki Save the Humans #4

Writer/Artist: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Cartoon Books

Tüki Save The Humans is an all-ages delight that melds the charm of golden-age cartoons with a deep, spiraling mythology. That description shouldn't come as much of a surprise; Tüki helmer Jeff Smith also created Bone, which can be described as thee all-ages delight with one foot in animated whimsy and the other in deep fantasy. The fourth issue of Tüki comes after an eight-month delay as Smith recuperated from carpal tunnel syndrome after an intense creative period. As with most of the lauded creator's work, good things come to those who wait; Bone ran 55 issues over 13 years and, for at least two of Paste's editors, is embraced as one of the finest comic series of all time.

This issue shows the fallout of Tüki's battle with an ape-like giant, as he gathers his troops of monkeys and missing links to help mankind escape from the cradle of civilization. Smith dives into less conventional fantasy tropes—the oral tradition of hunter/gatherer Africa—for a tale gorgeously realized and endlessly transportive. Sean Edgar

1602: Witch Hunter Angela TPB

Writers: Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans, Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics

With Marguerite Bennett's uniquely lush storytelling and Stephanie Hans's church-worthy art (plus contributions from writer Kieron Gillen and a host of guest artists), 1602: Witch Hunter Angela was one of the best things to come out of this summer's Secret Wars mega-event. I'll admit, it took me longer than it should have taken to understand why Angela belonged in the world of 1602 (for the uninitiated, both were created by prolific British scribe Neil Gaiman). Thankfully, one needn't follow the entire Secret Wars crossover to enjoy this tie-in. Angela and her loving honeybard Sera are the scourge of King James' England, hunting down those who make deals with dark forces in exchange for power. My favorite part of any 1602 story? New versions of unexpected faves from the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Winter Soldier. Tini Howard