Action Comics #1000, Runaways by Rainbow Rowell & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/18/2018

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<i>Action Comics</i> #1000, <i>Runaways</i> by Rainbow Rowell & More in Required Reading: Comics for 4/18/2018

It might seem counterintuitive, but we’re a fan of the weeks when we can’t cover everything worthwhile, because it means the comic scene is killing it. This Wednesday is one of those jam-packed new-release days, with titles like Survival Fetish, Antar, The City on the Other Side and trades for Underwinter, Phoenix: Resurrection and Punisher: Platoon all hitting shelves but falling just short of our recommended line-up below. As for what did make the cut, one book certainly stands out this week: Action Comics #1000 serves as a major milestone for both the Man of Steel and for DC Comics, which is currently riding a massive wave between the ongoing strength of Rebirth, the popularity of crossovers like Metal and Doomsday Clock and upcoming initiatives like the Sandman Universe and the Black Label line. If the return of red trunks doesn’t sway you, fear not. We’ve got new books from Vera Brosgol and Ho Che Anderson, the return of Black Hammer, a gravity-defying Image debut and more in this week’s Required Reading.

Action Comics #1000

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Louise Simonson, Others
Artists: Jim Lee, José Luis García-López, Curt Swan, John Cassaday, Others
Publisher: DC Comics
Despite decades of pop-culture mockery about wearing his “underwear” on the outside, Superman’s iconic costume just hasn’t felt complete since DC Comics ditched the Man of Steel’s red trunks during it’s 2011 “New 52” reboot, but as I can personally confirm, #TheTrunksAreBack. Beyond notable red unmentionables, the landmark Action Comics #1000 features a murderer’s row of talent, including the DC Comics debut of former Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis, who signed an exclusive contract with the company last fall in one of 2017’s biggest industry surprises. Illustrating Bendis’ 10-page tale is DC publisher Jim Lee, who designed the new, nostalgic Super-suit. The issue will also include stories from current Superman creative team Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason; Action Comics writer/artist Dan Jurgens; Superman movie director Richard Donner and Geoff Johns with art by Olivier Coipel; Paul Dini with José Luis García-López; Tom King with Clay Mann and Jordie Bellaire; Brad Meltzer with John Cassaday and Laura Martin; Louise Simonson with Jerry Ordway; Scott Snyder with Tim Sale and more. Perhaps most notable for diehard Superman fans, fan-favorite writer Marv Wolfman will script a story based on never-before-seen art from the legendary Curt Swan. DC Comics has a big year planned, and Action Comics #1000 is the explosive beginning. Steve Foxe

Be Prepared

Writer/Artist: Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second
For the past decade, something special has been happening on YA graphic novel shelves. A quick glance at Raina Telgemeier’s list of accolades and the number of weeks (and number of spots she occupied) on the New York Times Bestseller list proves it. There’s been a boom in books that target young readers, and young girls in particular, telling the kind of stories that have been missing from comics for too long, and Vera Brosgol has played an integral part of that. Her first book, Anya’s Ghost, came out in 2011 and went on to win Eisner, Cybils, and Harvey awards. Be Prepared skews just a bit younger than Anya’s Ghost as it tells the story of a young girl from Russia struggling to find her place in the American suburbs, only to be sent off to summer camp. It feels like an obvious fit for fans of Lumberjanes, but it’s also for readers who struggle with that title because they had less-than-ideal summer camp experiences themselves. Brosgol’s work always feels just a little autobiographical, deeply personal and nuanced in that there’s not generally a villain to root against, just the daily dramas and peccadilloes that come up when people interact. Brosgol is skilled at making books aimed at middle grade readers from around 10 to 14 years old, but always in ways funny and deep enough to hold the interest and emotions of older readers and parents, too. With summer break fast approaching, Be Prepared is essential preparation. Caitlin Rosberg

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
While the somber saga of Doctor Star has kept Black Hammer on shelves these last few months, the cliffhanger ending of Black Hammer #13 last year has had readers dying to learn more. Age of Doom #1 picks up right where that issue left off, but if you thought Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston were going to dive right into concrete answers, you clearly haven’t been following this book. Lucy Webber, now the new Black Hammer, quickly finds herself immersed in a side of the Black Hammer world we’ve barely glimpsed: its Vertigo analogue. While the main cast on the farm, and the stars of its spinoffs Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star, have drawn inspiration from DC Comics’ Golden and Silver Age heroes and villains, the new additions introduced in Age of Doom seem to owe a great debt to Karen Berger’s initial class of Vertigo madness. Artist Dean Ormston, a veteran of Vertigo books like Lucifer and Books of Magick, is at his best rendering the darker, more disturbing side of Lemire’s “Lemireverse” introduced in this issue, and Age of Doom looks to easily continue the high-water mark set by previous installments. For more on the series, check back later this week for a chat with the creators. Steve Foxe

The Black Monday Murders Vol. 2

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Publisher: Image Comics
The second collection of Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker’s eldritch-capitalism horror comic arrives this week, bringing with it four more issues of magic and mystery. This volume picks up where the first left off, with a shadowy group of people who manipulate the world’s economy using means that are both magical and terrifying. Image calls the book “crypto-noir,” and that’s certainly fitting. There’s a haggard detective who feels both ill-equipped to pick apart the layers of murder and ritual that protect the power at the center—and like he’s the only man for the job. Typical of Hickman’s work, the story has unfolded in spurts, using characterization and detail to slowly build the book toward sharp, big reveals that deliver just as many questions as answers. What really makes The Black Monday Murders work is Coker’s art. Hickman’s writing is good, but in the hands of a different artist the story could feel trite or tired; Coker’s use of shadow and stark black gives the book a moodiness that elevates it to something special. It’s the kind of book that Guillermo Del Toro fans should definitely check out: gothic and dramatic and rooted in truths taken to conclusions that are just this side of believable. Caitlin Rosberg


Writer/Artist: Ho Che Anderson
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Ho Che Anderson’s long-running relationship with Fantagraphics has been as fruitful as it is varied, lasting for decades and covering every topic from BDSM relationships to famous civil rights activists. Much of Anderson’s fiction work has revolved around sex and mortality, and from the sound of things, Godhead integrates both before expanding to take on even more. The book posits what would happen if a large corporation created a machine that can communicate with God, which goes far beyond what Anderson has kept at the center of his books in the past. Questions of morality, greed and belief are inevitable, and it will be interesting to see how he handles them. The book features both grayscale pages and full-color paintings, so there is a guarantee of both the stark black shadows and detailed faces that Anderson is known for. Readers looking for something broader, sharper and more difficult than your average graphic novel will likely find that in Godhead. Caitlin Rosberg

Her Infernal Descent #1

Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Kyle Charles
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson are already well-established in the horror realm, exploring the depths of cannibal depravity in The Dregs, charting new boundaries of the flesh in Come Into Me and now returning Marvel’s Cable to his techno-organic body-horror roots. Her Infernal Descent, their debut AfterShock series with Roche Limit artist Kyle Charles, colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer Ryan Ferrier, eschews their trademark grotesquerie for a much more relatable pain: grief. In the pages of this five-issue mini-series, middle-aged mother Lynn descends into Hell to search for her forsaken family, where she finds herself guided through damnation by celebrity lost souls and subjected to unusual torments. Her Infernal Descent displays a—dare we say it—kinder side to Nadler and Thompson, brought to afterlife by an art team working in perfect demonic harmony. Steve Foxe

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell Vol. 1

Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Finally. Just in time for the television adaptation last fall, The Runaways got another shot at comics, this time from massively celebrated YA author Rainbow Rowell and slick, stylish fan-favorite artist Kris Anka. The last volume (not counting an enjoyable but in-name-only Secret Wars tie-in mini-series) concluded before its time in 2009, with writer Kathryn Immomen and artist David LaFuente dropping a bit of a cliff-hanger that Rowell and Anka amazingly picked up a full eight years later. Anka’s eye for fashion and attitude is perfectly suited for Nico and the gang, and Rowell has ample experience navigating teens’ interior lives. Most promising about this series, though, was Marvel’s attempts to explain to Rowell’s existing prose fanbase how best to support the book, with explainers about comic shipping and distribution. While it didn’t seem to make much of an impact on monthly sales, there’s a good chance that Rowell’s readers were waiting for the trade, and the branding of “Runaways by Rainbow Rowell,” while a frustrating slight to Anka, should make it crystal-clear which volume new and casual fans will want to pick up. Steve Foxe

Skyward #1

Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Publisher: Image Comics
Set in a world with reduced gravity, Skyward is a coming-of-age tale about a young woman who might bring everything crashing down to Earth—literally. Writer Joe Henderson is currently the showrunner of the popular DC Comics TV show Lucifer, and his partner on Skyward, artist Lee Garbett, is fresh off a run on…Lucifer, albeit a very different take than the one that made it to television. Garbett has spent quite some time on tricksters and gods, coming off of Loki prior to the Morningstar, which makes the brighter, more sci-fi-tinged world of Skyward such a delightful surprise. For much, much more on this launch, check out Henderson’s exhaustive chat with his longtime friend Pornsak Pichetshote, writer of Image Comics sister series Infidel. Steve Foxe

Wasted Space #1

Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Publisher: Vault Comics
What if Preacher took place on an intergalactic scale, with a blue-skinned weapons-grade “Fuq Bot” riding shotgun for a jaded former prophet more interested in getting high than communicating messages from on high? Black Star Renegades author Michael Moreci, Cold War artist Hayden Sherman and God Country colorist Jason Wordie answer that question in Wasted Space, out this week from Vault Comics, with cynicism to spare—and some Kirby-esque space gods hovering at the edges of the plot. Paste debuted an exclusive first look at interior art of Billy Bane and the rest of the cast, which showed a more precise side of Sherman’s art than the impressionistic Cold War and The Few. Moreci, whose DC Comics bibliography has been rapidly expanding with guest spots on books like Nightwing, has described Wasted Space as one of his more personal, no-holds-barred projects, and we can’t wait to see how it expands Vault’s diverse comic offerings. Steve Foxe

X-Files Case Files: Florida Man #1

Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Marco Castiello
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Given the sheer number of headlines that start with the words “Florida Man,” it seems inevitable that a significant chunk of stories about the unexplained and unnatural would be set in the Sunshine State. It’s a particularly perfect place for an X-Files investigation, and thanks to the 25th anniversary of the show’s premiere, fans can explore an all-new adventure starring Scully and Mulder in comic form. IDW plans to release a series of micro-series, each one a different case study with a different mystery for the familiar FBI agents to discover and unwrap. Written by Delilah S. Dawson with art by Marco Castiello, the first of these case files revolves around a series of strange crimes in a small Florida town. Of course, that’s not all that the investigators uncover, and soon enough they find themselves in danger thanks to an alligator-worshipping cult, which sounds plausible enough that it wouldn’t need to be an X-File at all. Castiello did a good job of reproducing familiar actors in his work on several Dark Horse Star Wars titles, and Dawson’s work on Ladycastle proved she can balance a sharp sense of humor with adventure gracefully. Since there’s just a few issues per case file, the barrier of entry is low, and fans should check out the book to get even more of an X-Files fix than the renewed TV show can offer. Caitlin Rosberg

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