Required Reading: Comics for 10/5/2016

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Jessica Jones #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Marvel's done a poor job of syncing up comic releases with their cinematic universe, for the most part, and the lack of a Jessica Jones solo title is probably the most glaring example of the problem. After the popularity of the Netflix show released late last year, the only place to find Jessica was as a supporting character in other books. Finally correcting the problem, Jessica Jones #1 reunites Brian Michael Bendis (Jessica's creator in the comic Alias) with co-creating artist Michael Gaydos and colorist Matt Hollingsworth. Bendis hasn't been hitting it out of the park lately, and a lot has changed in the last 15 years, so it will be interesting to see if the team has something more to offer on a character who was, at the time, completely different from anything readers had seen before, particularly now that she's a mom and has other responsibilities. If not, check her out in Kate Leth and Brittney Williams' Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!. Caitlin Rosberg

Midnighter and Apollo #1

Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Publisher: DC Comics

Characters like Midnighter are easier to screw up than they are to pull off. He's nigh-indestructible and unbeatable, he's gay and isn't the remorseless killer he's been in previous incarnations, but these three things have nothing to do with one another. Midnighter recently returned to the DC universe with a very successful solo run, not to mention his flirtation with Dick Grayson and the asskicking he helped to deliver in Batman and Robin Eternal. Writer Steve Orlando is no small part of the character's newfound success and popularity, and it's great to see him at the helm of Midnighter & Apollo as the famous couple reunites for a six-issue miniseries. It was gratifying to see M hash things out on his own for a while, but it's rare to see a mostly happy and functional queer relationship in comics, and Orlando's already proven he can be trusted to deliver. Colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. returns, lending some consistency to new art from Fernando Blanco. Caitlin Rosberg

Moonshine #1

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: Image Comics

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso have certainly stumbled in the past—Spaceman and Batman: Broken City aren't without their flaws—but any reunion between the celebrated 100 Bullets pair is a welcome event, particularly when said reunion involves werewolves. Mixing lycanthropy with prohibition-era crime, Moonshine marks the first time the duo is collaborating under the Image banner, which presumably lets them off the leash with regard to fur-and-fangs violence in Risso's singularly masterful noir style. Azzarello and Juan Doe's American Monster at AfterShock is essentially a take on Frankenstein, so if Moonshine signals the next stage in a Universal Monsters phase for the scribe, we say bring it on. Steve Foxe

Oh Joy Sex Toy Vols. 1 & 2

Writer/Artist: Erika Moen
Publisher: Limerence Press

Stripped to its essence, Erika Moen's webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy is basically all the fun parts of Sex Ed that get left out in class. Moen has spent the last few years writing about anatomy, pleasure, consent and (of course) sex toys on her eponymous site, and is now releasing two printed volumes of her work out into the world thanks to a distribution deal with Oni and its Limerence Press imprint (and a third entry on its way). Her light-hearted, cartoony style strips much of the awkwardness out of the topic without removing the inherent eroticism, and it's worth noting her consistency in including people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities and people of every conceivable shape and size in her art. The books are just as much a celebration of people as they are an exploration of human sex and sexuality. The big thing to remember with all of Moen's work is that, as she admits, your mileage may vary. The terms and toys that she and her husband prefer may not be the ones that readers enjoy, but that particular journey of discovery is well worth the effort. Caitlin Rosberg

Shade, The Changing Girl #1

Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Publisher: DC Comics/Young Animal

Created by Steve Ditko in the late '70s and redefined by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo in the early '90s, psychedelic underdog Shade is receiving a new platform on Gerard Way's surrealist Young Animal imprint at DC. This revision arrives courtesy of Cecil Castelluccui, who's proved an expert in the shifting, grating growing pains of adolescence through her library of sharp YA novels (Rose Sees Red, Beige) as well as her previous comic, The Plane Janes. This new series follows the titular alien as she hijacks a madness coat and assumes the body of a high school bully while navigating tides of cosmic madness that fall outside AP Calculus and hormones.

Young Animal's debut title, Doom Patrol, ushered back the weirdness and cool of DC's post-modern Golden Age from 30 years ago, and expectations remain high for the other titles. Castellucci has tackled comics, prose and punk rock with sensitivity and flare in the past, and artist Marley Zarcone's fluid, Euro-tinged line work should make Shade an inspired trip down the sequential art rabbit hole. Sean Edgar

Shipwreck #1

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Phil Hester
Publisher: AfterShock Comics

Genre tycoon Warren Ellis has spent the last few years choreographing government agencies combatting epic adversaries—meta concepts come to life in Injection, monolithic alien superstructures in Trees—but his latest epic captures the fallout of what happens when state-sponsored adventures go horribly, horribly wrong. We know so little about Shipwreck, other than that it stars Dr. Jonathan Shipwright, the survivor of an interstellar experiment by the US Air Force, and is drawn with angular, shadow-drenched anxiety by Phil Hester. And that's certainly enough to warrant our interest

Publisher AfterShock has grown into the industry by letting genre storytellers embrace some of their more extreme and less conventional ideas—see InSEXts and Animosity by Marguerite Bennett, American Monster by Brian Azzarello. Though almost every one of Elli's projects has reveled in the writer's glorious obsessions of conspiracy and grandiose sci-fi, it'll still be interesting to see how Shipwreck's trajectory follows and deviates from the author's oeuvre. Sean Edgar