Comics We’re Excited About for 8/5/2015

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It’s Tuesday, which means we’ve practically made it: one sleep away, and new comic day will be here. This week, we’re excited about some trusty classics. 8house: Arclight, Midnighter and Brian K. Vaughan’s We Stand on Guard are all titles we’ve craved more of, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to discover. Paul Cornell’s trippy, satanic This Damned Band makes its debut on Dark Horse, as well as the first issue of Cullen Bunn’s take on The Shadow. Check them out below, and share your own favorites in the comment section.


8house: Arclight #2

Writer: Brandon Graham
Artist: Marian Churchland
Publisher: Image Comics

“Two knights hunt an alien creature using blood magic.” That’s the full solicit text for this issue, but based on the debut chapter of this rotating anthology series, a single sparse sentence likely covers everything that actually happens between Arclight’s gorgeous covers. The draw here is how artist Marian Churchland and writer Brandon Graham execute this fantasy tale full of androgynous knights and bizarre creatures, not necessarily the story itself. Graham is in full Prophet worldbuilding mode, refusing to ever hold the reader’s hand, and Churchland’s gorgeous colors and lithe lines earn the overused “otherworldly” descriptor. 8house shifts focus next month, but with any luck, this won’t be the end of Arclight’s strange journey. Steve Foxe



Groot #3

Writer: Jeff Loveness
Artist: Brian Kesinger
Publisher: Marvel

I shouldn’t still love Groot. As we’ve been quick to point out, the series focuses on a Guardians side-character who has a three-word vocabulary. He pretty much depends on his supporting cast to bring any meaning to the words uttered. But thanks to the whimsically expressive work of cover artist Declan Shalvey and interior penciler Brian Kesinger, a lot of the images do the talking for Groot, and in issue #3, they’ll have to step up in a big way. After a kidnapping, Groot is separated from lifelong buddy Rocket Raccoon, and it’ll be up to Groot to stop a world-ending storm (with some help from the Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood). Whether they’re versed in Groot-speak, who knows—but this endearing character transcends the language barrier. Tyler R. Kane



Hip Hop Family Tree Book 3: 1983-1984

Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Note: this graphic novel releases on August 8, 2015

Hip Hop Family Tree can keep the beat going just about anywhere: in the webcomics first found on, the collected graphic novels from Fantagraphics and, soon, monthly issues. Before writer/artist Ed Piskor segues to pamphlet comics, Hip Hop Family Tree Book 3: 1983-1984 offers another oversized (9” x 13” for those counting) slice of history into the MCs and producers who built one of American’s most progressive music genres. Whereas the previous volumes covered, respectively, an entire decade and a two-year stint, this entry dissects a year integral to the development of hip hop. Series mainstay Run DMC finally breaks through to the masses while The Beastie Boy shed their punk leanings for their now immortal acerbic rhyming. There’s a reason Piskor took home an Eisner this year for “Best Reality-Based Work,” and this meticulously-researched work injects an astounding amount of personality and detail (the discolored pages, the dialogue) into a field that’s already undergone its fair share of analysis. Sean Edgar



The Humans #7

Writer: Keenan Marshall Keller
Artist: Tom Neely 
Publisher: Image

The best ‘70s exploitation drive-in gem that never was, The Humans hits a devastating climax this month. In this anthropomorphic ape crime epic, Vietnam Vet Johnny has finally gained stability after returning from the crimson jungles, only to find a new battlefield in the desert highways of Southern California. Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely have never hesitated to graphically show a subculture drowning in drugs, violence and sex; all three collide as the titular biker gang faces a strategic attack that will have huge ramifications on the title going forward. The grit, personality and sheer fearlessness on display cement The Humans as an obsessive study of a bygone era. Even if the Hell’s Angels are more into white collar money laundering these days, these ‘mates aren’t afraid to show the filthy, bloody decadence of outlaw motorists at their finest. Sean Edgar


The Lion of Rora

Writers: Christos Gage, Ruth Fletcher Gage
Artist: Jackie Lewis
Publisher: Oni

With political hyperbole already boiling up for November’s presidential election, just remember as we begin to sling mud at our prospective future leaders: our ancestors had it so much worse. Take Ruth Fletcher Gage, a writer on the Netflix Daredevil series, whose 17th century Italian forefather Joshua Janavel fought a  Catholic Duke devoted to terrorizing his unorthodox Christian sect, the Waldensians. (If only The Duke of Savoy could see the shenanigans we’re up to today.) Ruth joins husband Christos Gage (also Daredevil, comics Avengers Academy and Amazing Spider-Man) for an original graphic novel of righteous indignation and sword-and-sovereignty drama. Artist Jackie Lewis orchestrates epic wartime feats in textured black and white, showing how seven men stood against a 600-strong calvary with clarity and emotion. The Lion of Rora is the most fun you’ll have while studying the Protestant Reformation. Sean Edgar



Midnighter #3

Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: ACO
Publisher: DC Comics

Original series artist ACO returns this issue for a balls-to-the-wall clash between our leather-clad hero and self-replicating goon Multiplex, the perpetual c-lister in the neon gimp mask. Out of all of the unexpected #DCYou launches, Midnighter seems to have struck a chord with the largest audience, largely due to writer Steve Orlando’s fully realized portrayal of its gay leading man. Audiences are clearly eager to see LGBTQ+ characters kicking ass and getting some on par with their heterosexual peers, and between this, Constantine: Hellblazer, and more, DC seems ready to please. Case in point: next issue ups the beefcake with an appearance from Dick Grayson. Steve Foxe



Ms. Marvel #17

Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Her world may be ending, but who cares—Ms. Marvel is finally teaming up with her hero, Captain Marvel! Ms. Marvel is creeping toward its first volume finale with fanfare intact—not to mention three Eisner noms (four if you count letterer Joe Caramagna, also nominated for Daredevil) and the pretty-much-confirmed honor of being Marvel’s bestselling title in digital. It’s difficult to remember how much cynicism and controversy greeted this title upon announcement, but it’s a fair bet to say G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and editor Sana Amanat’s consistently excellent vision for Kamala Khan helped lay the groundwork for Spider-Gwen, the Batgirl relaunch and a handful of other titles actively targeting readers traditionally overlooked by major superhero publishers. It’s also really darn good—good enough to justify bumping its teen hero to the front of the core Avengers squad this fall. Before things get all-new and all-different, though, this issue is guaranteed to feature some serious geeking out (and likely an epic team-up, too). Steve Foxe



The Shadow #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Much like The Spirit (who got his own Dynamite relaunch last month), The Shadow is frequently referenced and imitated yet rarely read by modern readers. Perhaps another black-clad vigilante has usurped The Shadow’s place in the hearts of comic readers, but Dynamite has ample experience with bringing pulp-era heroes onto contemporary shelves. Writer Cullen Bunn (one of the busiest guys in comics, with ongoing work scattered across at least four major companies) and artist Giovanni Timpano are digging deep into supernatural mayhem in this introductory arc, pitting the noirish gunslinger against a cabal of magicians. With a first issue priced at just $1.00, this is a good chance to discover the appeal of a the character that has survived 80+ years and an Alec Baldwin feature film. Steve Foxe



This Damned Band #1

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Tony Parker
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

This Damned Band is the comic Tipper Gore was trying to warn us about back in ’85: what if the band singing about worshipping Satan really was—accidentally—worshipping Satan? It’s difficult to do right by music in a silent medium, but writer Paul Cornell, artist Tony Parker and colorist Lovern Kindzierski seem to have tongues firmly in cheeks, nailing the big-haired ‘70s excess vibe without leaning too heavily on parodies of existing bands. Cornell has produced mixed results at the Big Two, but This Damned Band sounds weird and British—prime territory for the writer who gave us Captain Britain and MI13. Steve Foxe



The Wicked + The Divine #13

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Tula Lotay
Publisher: Image Comics

Fucking Tara. WicDiv is a book full of mysteries (par for the course when dealing with trickster gods Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie) and Tara’s personality/purpose/place in the Pantheon is one of the book’s most long-simmering. She graced a cover without actually gracing the page, and all we really know about her is that she once wore a dress made out of meat. Haunting, ethereal artist Tula Lotay, taking a break from Warren Ellis scripts between Supreme: Blue Rose and the forthcoming horror title Heartless, joins the crew this week to finally put this least-seen goddess in the spotlight. Lotay is one of those rare talents who seem to arrive on the scene fully formed, making you question if she’s really new or a veteran you’ve somehow passed over the last decade. If you’re not yet familiar with her work, don’t make the mistake of waiting any longer to become a fan. Steve Foxe



We Stand on Guard #2

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Steve Skroce
Publisher: Image

Though my initial reaction to We Stand on Guard was filled with lukewarm optimism, a few returns to the book has left me with a new opinion: Last month’s debut issue was pretty bad-ass! But, of course it is: Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga is still maybe the best ongoing series out there, and this premise of a U.S./Canada conflict goes from a little funny to deadly serious in issue #1. Plus, it’s just a treat got get another physical title from Vaughan every month—and the heavy-duty mech warfare of WSOG is like an excuse to re-experience some of Empire Strikes Back’s best scenes. Bring on more issues, please. Tyler R. Kane