Comics We're Excited About for 9/28/2016

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Comics We're Excited About for 9/28/2016

What better way to recover from a collective debate hangover than to dive into a packed week of comic delights from across the spectrum? Feline-themed pop stars, Biblical erotica, frozen wastelands, teenage cupids and renegade surgeons all share shelf space this week, alongside fully painted Amazons and violent VHS fever dreams. Sure, America is on the precipice of electing Immortan Joe’s understudy, but at least we’ve got sequential escapism (until reading is outlawed in 2018).

American Blood

Writer/Artist: Benjamin Marra
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Ben Marra is a reclamation artist who spins the memories of big-box VHS exploitation into a menagerie of nudity, violence and neon vice. He's a one-man evolution of nostalgic schlock slingers like Menahem Golan (Enter the Ninja), Andy Sidaris (Hard Ticket to Hawaii) or Amir Shervan (Samurai Cop), but he repurposes that excess into something strangely artful. As American Blood's title alludes, and can be seen in his previous graphic novel, O.M.W.O.T., these extremes have been and still are fantasies of America. That observation is made all the more interesting as Marra was born in Nova Scotia.

This odds and ends collection reprints self-published gems like Gangsta Rap Posse, The Naked Heroes, Lincoln Washington, Ripper and The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd. Whether seen as pure post-modernism or a tongue-in-cheek homage, Marra's work is uniquely delicious. Sean Edgar

Cheap Novelties

Writer/Artist: Ben Katchor
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Ben Katchor easily skirts the most academic edges of the comic book medium, a fact complimented by both a Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Fellowship, aka the "Genius Grant" shared by other comic literati like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Gene Luen Yang. Cheap Novelties encompasses all of that interior intelligence, a collection of strips that revolve around real estate photographer Julius Knipl as he grapples with towering metal and stone constructs. Appropriately hard to describe, this reprinted collection delves into humanity's relationship with the streets it walks, filled with quiet epiphanies and subdued nostalgia. It's not only a map of place, but a map of how those places guide us, rendered in warm, sepia-tone shades. Sean Edgar

Deadly Class #22

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Publisher: Image Comics

Remember when the members of The Breakfast Club poisoned, shot and stabbed one another in an annual ritual instigated by Principal Vernon? No? Beloved director John Hughes may have vouched for more humanitarian resolutions to his character's conflicts, but Rick Remender and Wes Craig have funneled the confusion of adolescence into a neon-drenched descent of intensity and loss in Deadly Class. The last issue witnessed a massive turning point in the book, as the students at a school for assassins were tasked with murdering their peers from "unpure" family lines. The fatalities were merciless and unexpected, but not as unexpected as this issue, which takes place three months laster. A new freshman class, new power dynamics and bad decisions define a shifting status quo in Remender's portrait of semi-autobiographical, unraveling '80s youth. Sean Edgar

Dear Creature HC

Writer/Artist: Johnathan Case
Publisher: Dark Horse

Cartoonist Jonathan Case nabbed an Eisner Award for his work on Green River Killer and a nomination for last year's The New Deal, but Dear Creature may be his most heartbreakingly perfect work to date. Rereleased in a deluxe hardcover edition this week, this stunningly illustrated 2011 black-and-white sci-fi romance dives under the waves to introduce readers to Grue, a literate, lovesick amphibian with an insatiable appetite. A meditation on humanity as much as an ode to '50s b-movies, Dear Creature says more about the human heart's failings via a gill-man and his reluctant rampages than any rom-com's leading man can manage to articulate. Steve Foxe

Frostbite #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics

Years of Vertigo-esque creator-owned books at Image earned Joshua Williamson the right to step into the well-worn boots of the Scarlet Speedster, so it's little surprise that his recent DC exclusive contract would result in original series under the venerated mature readers imprint. Hauntingly depicted by Empty Zone creator Jason Shawn Alexander, Frostbite introduces a post-Apocalypse in which Frosty the Snowman could thrive: permanent winter, with the bonus of a plague that freezes victims from the inside out. Keaton, the hard-boiled woman on the cover, is tasked with shepherding a scientist, his daughter and a miracle cure from Mexico City to Alcatraz, where the formula can be put to use. Expect plenty of icicle-strewn carnage in this sci-fi/action miniseries, and nary a cameo from Olaf or Elsa. Steve Foxe

Garden of Flesh

Writer/Artist: Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: Fantagraphics

The past few years have witnessed a handful of comics designed to explore every inch of bizarre strata that may or may not be hiding in the Christian Bible. Mark Russell's God Is Disappointed You filtered the Good Book into digestible, playful chapters filled with hilarious cartoons and light heresy from Shannon Wheeler. Far more earnest and bizarre, Chester Brown's Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus reflected on the role of prostitution in The New Testament, bolstered by an impressive catalogue of end notes. In Garden of Flesh, Love and Rockets architect Gilbert "Beto" Hernandez frames the Bible from Adam and Eve to Noah's Ark through eroticism. We're not quite sure where and if pure scintillation will bleed into artful provocation, but as Hillary Brown stated, "the Old Testament's preoccupation with sex and violence seems to align nicely with Beto's own interests." Sean Edgar

Jonesy Vol. 1

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

This culture-savvy ode to teenage hormones and musical esoterica offers a nice follow-up to its cultural godfather, Scott Pilgrim, broadcasting big feelings through bright colors and stylized linework. Written by Sam Humphries and illustrated by Caitlin Rose Boyle, the titular character exercises the power to make any two people fall in love…albeit with unexpected consequences. Boyle's facial expressions are delightfully idiosyncratic and Humphries knows just how many millennial references to pump into these pages without appearing insincere. Under that sassy veneer, the insecurities and frustrations of teen romance ground the moxy in universally relatable emotion…not the least of which emerges when Jonesy discovers her dad wants to get a tattoo before she does. Sean Edgar

Josie & The Pussycats #1

Writer: Marguerite Bennett, Cameron DeOrdio
Artist: Audrey Mok
Publisher: Archie Comics

The most anticipated "getting the band back together" tale since The Muppets drops this week from fan-favorite scribe Marguerite Bennett, co-writer Cameron DeOrdio and vibrant artist Audrey Mok, and you'd better have your cat ears and leopard-print leotard ready. Archie has steadily rolled out a fleet of accessible, fun and fresh takes on their eternally youthful properties under the Riverdale reboot banner, and Josie, while not among the first announced, was all but inevitable given the pop-music-infused course of indie comics and the band's place in movie history (or is that infamy?). Mok's cartooning fits comfortably alongside her peers over in Archie, Jughead and the recently announced Reggie & Me, and Bennett's knack for nuanced and relatable characterization will ensure that everyone on stage has a moment in the spotlight. Steve Foxe

Surgeon X #1

Writer: Sara Kenney
Artist: John Watkiss
Publisher: Image Comics

Here's an odd one: not only is the editor of this comic credited on the cover—she's a primary selling point. Before departing DC Comics in 2013, Karen Berger established an irrefutable legacy for curating talent through her role in ushering in the "British invasion" of the late '80s and the founding of the mature readers imprint Vertigo in 1993. Surgeon X marks Berger's return to comics as the editor behind documentary filmmaker Sara Kenney and Sandman artist John Watkiss' "darkly comic medical thriller" set in a far-right British future undergoing an "antibiotic apocalypse." This is heady stuff, and neither Kenney nor Watkiss are household names for American audiences, but Berger, darkly humorous speculative fiction and British creators have certainly worked well together in the past. Steve Foxe

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson
Publisher: DC Comics

We're in something of a low-key Wonder Woman renaissance at the moment: Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp have returned the core series to glory; Renae De Liz' The Legend of Wonder Woman earned the creator a much-deserved Eisner nod; Gal Gadot emerged as the one universally praised part of BvS and even Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's bondage-themed Earth One spin was met with a generally warm reception. Scary Godmother creator Jill Thompson's original graphic novel Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is the latest accessible take on Diana's journey, presenting the young heroine at a crucial moment in her life as she must learn to balance public adoration with private tragedy and humility. Thompson's fully painted artwork is always a delight, whether rendering members of The Endless or paranormal-crime-solving pets, and over 120 pages of Amazonian magic is a dream come true for her many longtime fans—and fans-to-be. Steve Foxe