Comics We're Excited About for 2/17/2016

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Comics We're Excited About for 2/17/2016

American readers had a double whammy of romantic holidays this past weekend: the single person’s binge-eating celebration known as Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day, when we honor the unilaterally unattractive men (primo hunk Obama being the only exception) who’ve held the highest office on American soil. For comic fans, an extra day off meant more time to catch up on backlogged floppies and trades—or a chance to treat your sweetheart to a screening of Deadpool. Our own Sean Edgar reportedly called the film “this generation’s Citizen Kane,” whatever that means. If you’re not busy watching the Merc with a Mouth and sobbing tears of cinematic joy, this Wednesday brings a whole new batch of sequential goodness to consume.

American Vampire Vol. 8

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

Scott Snyder's modern horror opus began in the tinsel town glitz of 1925 and has evolved through the decades at a deceptively rapid pace. Even if ferocious antihero Skinner Sweet and valiant Pearl Jones receive the most dialogue, the winding history of the United States itself stands as the most dynamic character in American Vampire. In this volume, Snyder returns with the carved, moody linework of Rafael Albuquerque to usher his monster mash into the Cold War '60s. Volume Eight collects issues six to eleven of Second Cycle, and furthers the story of evolved vampires battling Lovecraftian terror looming under the earth's crust. Like a cross between Hellboy and James Bond's Moonraker (shoosh, Roger Moore wasn't that bad), this storyline mixes genres to reveal the most innovative horror epic in all comics. More valuable, its Grand Guignol adventure holds a fascinating mirror to a country discovering its own bloodlust and redemption. Sean Edgar

Avengers: Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Can it possibly be Marvel-Event-o'clock again already? The excellent (if much-delayed) Secret Wars just wrapped and we're already swimming in teasers for this summer's Civil War 2. Standoff risks getting lost in the mix (a fate that can befall even the best events—just ask Original Sin) but writer Nick Spencer has been on a roll with Superior Foes, Ant-Man and Sam Wilson, and odds are good this crossover is where we'll see Steve Rogers don his fancy new Cap duds for the first time. Artist Mark Bagley is the definition of a known quantity, pumping out work of the same caliber and style in speedy fashion since his mid-90s debut. Constant crossovers are the price of admission for following major superhero titles these days—best to just kick back, hope for the best and enjoy the spectacle. Steve Foxe

Batgirl Vol. 2

Writers: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr, Bengal
Publisher: DC Comics

Despite an abundance of solar-powered alien gods and light-spectrum militias, a charismatic hipster with crazy coding skills may be the most impressive character in the DC Universe. Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr introduced a Barbara Gordon tailor-made for millennials in 2014; she nests in a gentrified neighborhood, works at a tech-startup and battles against thin analogies for revenge porn pariahs. Add in an Action Bronson cameo and Barbara could easily grace a Vice cover. This second trade moves the character further into the DCU as she works alongside her father, Jim Gordon—who now plays substitute Batman in a giant mech suit—to combat established baddies like Livewire and new chic threats like Velvet Tiger. The collection also includes the third Batgirl annual with fluid art from Bengal (who covers the second story arc here), Dave Lafuente, Ming Doyle and Helen Chen. Though DC may be going back to a more basic superhero foundation with its looming revamp this summer, Batgirl remains an accessible and sassy gateway for new and younger readers. Sean Edgar

Bill & Ted Go To Hell #1

Writer: Brian Joines
Artists: Bachan, Jeremy Lawson
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Fact: 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the release of the Bill & Ted sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Fact: Some people (including, for example, this comics fan) actually prefer Bogus Journey to Excellent Adventure. With that in mind, I'm completely stoked for the release of Bill & Ted Go To Hell, featuring the return of the Grim Reaper, the dorkiest form of Death ever committed to page or screen. Bill & Ted, now dads, have to storm the inferno alongside their pals Billy the Kid and Joan of Arc to free their pale, board-game addicted, upright-bass player and friend. Writer Brian Joines and penciller Bachan are the team behind BOOM!'s earlier Imagine Agents, and the exceedingly radical colors come to us from We(l)come Back colorist Jeremy Lawson. History vs. Hell: Most excellent. Tini Howard

Bitch Planet #7

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Valentine DeLandro
Publisher: Image Comics

Bitch Planet has been rocking the comics world (and beyond, truthfully) since its first issue, following inmates Kamau Kogo, Penny Rolle, and Meiko Maki as they seek to escape their misogynistic incarceration. Bitch Planet #6 took a break from the main plot to explore the life of Meiko Maki, similar to the third issue's spotlight on fan-favorite Penny Rolle, but with this second arc kick-off, we find ourselves outside the walls of the prison. The world of Bitch Planet is a character study in and of itself, with each issue uncovering more of what has changed (and what has stayed disturbingly the same) in this chilling near-future, bolstered by Kelly Sue DeConnick's clever and nuanced justifications for the sci-fi twists to our reality. With original series artist Valentine DeLandro back to inaugurate President Bitch, this issue is the perfect place to hop on before election season ramps up. Tini Howard

The Eltingville Club HC

Evan Dorkin
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Evan Dorkin has seen a lot. The cartoonist and writer has been engaged in all manner of nerd culture since the '80s, whether through his flippant Milk & Cheese comic, scripting runs on Space Ghost Coast to Coast or work on the animal-adventure award magnet Beasts of Burden with Jill Thompson. After decades of comic conventions, message boards and Tweets, The Eltingville Club is the only natural response. A beautiful articulation of I-don't-give-a-fuck insider honesty, the comic follows four archetypical fanboys who seethe, argue and ruin genre culture in all of its forms. Though various publishers and press tout the need for more diversity in the field, Dorkin takes the opposite approach here, showing the toxic mindsets that keep the medium stagnant. The results are as depressing as they are hilarious, skewering back-issue hoarding, rampant misogyny and convention crowds that rival any Renaissance depiction of hell. This hardback collects both issues of The Eltingville Club as well as every appearance of this shitty quartet throughout House of Fun, Dork and other odds and ends. Sean Edgar

Midnighter Vol. 1

Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: ACO, Various
Publisher: DC Comics

The winner of several year-end Best New Series honors and a GLAAD Media Award nominee, DC cult favorite Midnighter is finally "Out" for the trade-waiting reader. Acclaimed by critics and fans for writer Steve Orlando's biting dialogue and primary artist ACO's absolutely insane page layouts, this volume collects issues one through six of a series that's just as much about getting over a breakup as it is about shattering skulls with a smile. Midnighter's superpower, for the uninitiated, is a computer in his brain that allows him to see the outcome of every fight before it happens. "But wait," you say, "this book's about a breakup? Does that power apply to relationship fights, too?" Worry not—as always, Midnighter is a few steps ahead. Tini Howard

Power Man and Iron Fist #1

Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene
Publisher: Marvel Comics

With love for Luke Cage back on the rise after Mike Colter brought him to brawny life in 2015's Netflix hit Jessica Jones, this ongoing series is long overdue. Danny "Iron Fist" Rand and Luke (apparently returning to the "Power Man" moniker after loaning it to teen hero Victor Alvarez) are back at it—if a little reluctantly, as their reunited adventure begins by picking up an old friend as she's released from jail. Hot off of too-hip-to-handle miniseries Secret Wars: Runaways, artist Sanford Greene brings his expressive, dynamic style to the Heroes for Hire duo. With rising star David F. Walker (Shaft, Cyborg) in charge of the script, it's gonna be a Sweet Christmas indeed. Take my money, honey. Tini Howard

Snowfall #1

Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Image Comics

Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo are no strangers to environmental science-fiction: their gonzo Great Pacific tackled sustainability, ocean conservation and recycling, among zanier plot lines. Their new series Snowfall is likely to feel even timelier given the mild, late-arriving winter experienced by the eastern coast of the United States this year. The year is 2045 and it no longer snows. The terrorist/activist known as the "White Wizard" wages a weather war against the system. Image has a crowded field of excellent titles these days, but Harris and Morazzo have proven they can hit this beat before, and Snowfall looks to be a chiller-thriller perfect for a frosty February launch. Steve Foxe

Mighty Thor #4

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Marvel recently pressed the relaunch button on its publishing line, introducing a host of new titles bolstered by esteemed creators and number one issues. A few upstarts aside (Karnak!?), Jason Aaron's pocket of ancient myth and ensemble drama still stands as the publishing slate's greatest achievement. Mighty Thor has long surpassed its twist—cancer-afflicted Jane Foster now wields a mythological hammer against the oppression of a patriarchal world—to immerse readers in an avalanche of refined character beats, violence and romance. In other words, it's a Jason Aaron superhero comic book. Penciller Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson usher Aaron's ambition into two glorious dimensions; hyper-detailed avatars of lore thrust in endless battle against LSD sunsets. In another era, Mighty Thor would have been an epic poem that eclipsed Beowulf and Njal's Saga. Luckily, it's a damn fine comic book today. Sean Edgar

Tomb Raider #1

Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Phillip Sevy
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Countless video game icons burn through their fifteen minutes of industry dominance before disappearing into the discount bins, but the grounded and brutal 2013 Tomb Raider reboot successfully rescued Lara Croft from such a miserable fate. Dark Horse has capitalized on the license with smart scripting choices—comics queen Gail Simone, game writer Rhianna Pratchett and sci-fi star Corinna Bechko—but perhaps none as surprising as Mariko Tamaki, best known as half of the creative team for the multiple award-winning teen coming-of-age graphic novel This One Summer. Rather than falling into an introspective pigeon hole, Tamaki has since scripted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini-series and will now send adventurer and survivalist Croft on a quest to find an immortality-granting fungus. Drawn with slick aplomb by Top Cow darling Phillip Sevy, this new volume of Tomb Raider stands to draw fans from outside the gaming realm to further bolster Lara's rollicking popularity. Steve Foxe