Best New Comics February 2019 - Daredevil, Red Sonja, and Wonder Twins

By Zack Quaintance — One fun thing about comics from year-to-year is that we really don’t have an accurate idea of what the next 12 months will bring in early weeks. We can see as far out as the solicits allow (which is currently May), but anticipating what new books will come in the months that follow is at best a lightly informed guessing game. At this time last year we knew scant details about some of 2018’s defining releases, from Benids’ work on Superman to Marvel’s entire slate of new books: Captain America, Immortal Hulk, Venom, you name it.

That’s all to say that these new series that have launched in January and now in February, are just the tip of 2019’s forthcoming new comics. There are, without question, GIGANTIC releases that will shift and reshape the comics landscape yet to be unveiled. All that said, I’m still impressed with the number of quality releases we’ve gotten in 2019 so far. Marvel’s return to broader quality continues this month with Daredevil while DC’s Wonder Comics imprint continues to be a welcome new tone for the 80-some-year-old publisher.

It’s all very exciting, and so let’s not dilly dally any further. Onto the books!

Quick Hits

Let’s start with the most imaginative and welcoming new take on a long-standing property in year’s Michel Fiffe’s G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #1. This book makes setting capital I Important, with the titular Sierra Muerte area disrupting the old fight between Joes and Cobras. I for one love it.

Another book in which setting is vital (this time it being a dystopian future) is High Level #1 from writer Rob Sheridan and artist Barnaby Bagenda. This is the best of the Vertigo: Rebirth books so far, and with Second Coming off to another publisher, it seems poised to stay that way.

Meanwhile staying at DC, Female Furies #1 is a book I’m kind of surprised to not hear more folks talking about. It really extrapolates Darkseid’s all-consuming universal darkness in a way that’s relevant and specific to our times.

Speaking of relevant things to say about our current tumultuous times, Vindication #1 was a complex and realistic take on race-based injustices within law enforcement. This is a fair book setting out to take an unflinching look at how shades of gray can creep into these situations, or at least at how perception can alter behavior. This is a very smart comic. Read our Vindication #1 review!

The new book that left the greatest impression on me last month, though, was Girl in the Bay #1, a haunting tail of family and murder and the concerns of the young in a bygone era. There is a long tradition of horror-tinged innocence lost stories in American fiction that this book seems poised to fit right into.

One of the most consistent publishers in all of comics, Valiant, had a rare month in which it launched not one but two new books, those being Forgotten Queen #1 and Incursion #1, the former featuring a brand new character and the latter using established characters in the service of a new idea. Both debuts were strong and I’m excited to see where the larger stories go.

Last but certainly not least are a trio of the new X-Men miniseries, showrun by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, that I’m considering in my head to be Age of Apocolypse 2.0 (side note: there were four, but I wasn’t all that interested in the Nightcrawler one). The books I want to shout out here are: Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1, Age of X-Man: NextGen #1, Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1. Contributing writer Allison Senecal will have more on each next week in her monthly Age of X-Man Round-Up, but I’d like to praise these books for the thoughtfulness of the alternate world they inhabit as well as the variety in the way they’re examining a flawed utopia. They all bring something different and welcome to a fascinating overall picture of the world. Kudos to the creative teams.

Top 5 Best New Comics February 2019

Daredevil #1 (Read out full review of Daredevil #1!)
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The transition to a brand new Daredevil creative team (which is what we got this month) is a long-standing and noteworthy event in comics, be it from Frank Miller to Annie Nocenti, Kevin Smith to Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee to Charles Soule, and so on. There’s just something about Daredevil—the Catholic guilt? the simultaneous aversion to/embrace of violence? the background that saw him become a hero because he already was one?—that consistently gives creators the fertile ground they need to do career best work.

I’m expecting no less, quite frankly, from Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto, and I’m also happy to say that I was encouraged by this opening chapter. In it, there are few flashy gimmicks, just solid comicbook storytelling and writerly impulse to put the protagonist up against great possible odds, thereby showing we the audience what our guy is made of. It’s an understated and appropriate debut for an often-understated character, and I highly recommend it.  

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 (Read our review!)
David Barnett
Artist: Martin Simmonds w/flatting be Dee Cunniffe
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown

I was going to try and write this segment in a British accent filled with punk lingo...but I decided to save us all the indignity of that, banishing it instead to the deepest reaches of my mind where it will never be thought of again or uttered aloud. Anyway, Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is essentially the first issue of this book’s second season. It’s also my favorite issue of Punks Not Dead to date.

I loved the concept of this book from the time it launched last year—an angsty, lonely, and flailing kid gets linked to the ghost of Sid Vicious, annnnnd hi-jinx—but what I like about this new series is that the central duo now have a really well-built quest to go on. They are at once being chased by authorities while pursuing the true identity of the main character’s father. It’s such a solidly-written hero’s journey kind of deal. When paired with the book’s already-excellent premise, you get a really exciting new comic.   

Red Sonja #1.jpg

Red Sonja #1
Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite Comics

It’s a Mark Russell double whammy this week, with first Red Sonja #1 and later on Wonder Twins #1. Obviously, Russell is one of my favorite writers, but I think he did outstanding work on both of the new series he launched in February. I’ve never read a Red Sonja book, and, really, I’m not one to read comics simply because I love a character. In fact, at this point I’ve aggressively become one of those readers who reminds you that I never do that, preferring instead to follow the creative team.

So, what then did I find in this issue as someone brand new to Red Sonja but familiar with pretty much all of writer Mark Russell’s comicbook work? I found quite a bit to like. Russell, joined here by collaborators Mirko Colak and Dearbhla Kelly, does a great job orienting readers like myself to this world, before then applying his wry satirical storytelling sensibilities. It’s a smart and savage read, and I know Russell fans (and probably also Red Sonja fans) have a lot to look forward to here.

Stronghold #1 (Read our full review of Stronghold #1!)
Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: AfterShock Comics

Stronghold is a new book from one of my favorite indie publishers, AfterShock Comics, and it’s about a man who maybe has the power to break the universe but doesn’t have any inkling he’s significant. He’s an insurance salesman in St. Louis, for pete’s sake. Meanwhile, a secret society/cult (take your pick) is monitoring him daily to ensure he never finds out the truth of his existence. That’s the status quo we find upon entering the book. The plot begins when a young woman who interacts with him daily (and was raised in the secret society/cult) falls in love with him. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is a really well-formed comicbook produced by a talented and veteran creative team. It has a high level of ideas and themes one might expect to find in a full-blown novel rather than a graphic sequential story. Most importantly, though, I found the execution in this first issue to be absolutely flawless. Every scene is perfectly paced and enthralling. The POV is chosen well throughout, and it all adds up to a new comic series I’d recommend to pretty much any reader.

Wonder Twins #1
Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics - Wonder Comics
I don’t play favorites with this Best New Comics monthly piece, but—between you and me, shhh—this one was probably my favorite new book. It recasts the Wonder Twins from the old Super Friends show (and probably other things?) as alien new kids in a new earth high school, where they suffer the same bouts of hubris and insecurity I know I did. Humiliation and triumph and searching for ones place ensue, all set with a superheroic backdrop.

I’m not generally a fan of loquacious meta humor comics, your Deadpools and Harley Quinns, and while this is a funny book, it’s not really kin to any of that. It’s sensibility is smarter and quieter, more like Russell’s The Flintstones. It also has a big heart. So often, joke superhero comics fall back on making their heroes look dumb or madcap. This book is respectful and humanizing of the Wonder Twins, and it gives the creative team a much broader emotional canvas to work with. Well done, everyone involved.

Check out more of our many monthly lists here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Thirsty Thursdays February 2019: A Thirsty Valentine’s Day

By Allison Senecal — Welcome to a special and somewhat oversized Valentine’s edition of Thirsty Thursday! It’s not all smoochin’, but there sure is a lot of it. And now, without further adieu, let’s get to this month’s very special look at a certain intense type of comicbook art.


Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Federico Blee
Asgardians of the Galaxy #6:
Angela/Sera shippers have been waiting 84 years for this reunion and were rewarded with a kiss as soon as the two shared page-time again. Happy Valentine’s Day indeed!
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Forget about guarding the galaxy, who’s going to guard my heart?

Penciler: Carlos Villa
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Carlos Lopez
Flashback Art: Gerardo Sandoval
Shatterstar #5 –
What? You wouldn’t reach through time and space to rescue your sad, hot, stabby boyfriend? Very seriously going to miss the team of Villa, Sandoval, Vlasco, and Lopez on this, but hey they get to do some Uncanny this summer...
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Call me a romantic, but I think it’s sweet when one goes to the trouble to “reach out across the universe and find your unique signature.”

Artist: Marco Checchetto
Sunny Gho
Daredevil #1
– HOW DO YOU EVEN pick  a single panel from this %$#&ing comic? Matt gets to spend some quality time in bed with his three favorite things: Catholic guilt, batons, and a lot of blood. Elektra would approve.  
💔💦💔💦💔 out of 5
Read our review of Daredevil #1!

Is that your Catholic guilt, or are you just happy to see me?

Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Jesus Aburtov
Avengers: No Road Home #2 –
In peak Hawkeye fashion, Clint spent Valentine’s Day in a hospital bed, scruffy and sad. And crying! Hell, I’ll fight the Hulk myself.
💔💦💔💦💔 out of 5

Can someone get me the heart rate monitor next? I think Clint just stole mine.

Artist: Sana Takeda
Monstress #20 –
Liu and Takeda know how to summon me from the void. Arranged lesbian wedding? A bowl of sacramental blood? Now drink it and KISS!
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Once again, my favorite thing is Monstress.

Artist: Geoff Shaw
Marte Garcia
Guardians of the Galaxy #2 –
Come for the Thanos mystery, stay for the soft girlfriends content with Phyla and Heather. On a later page, they’re grumpy and wearing comfy PJs. It’s the best.
💦💦💦💦 out of 5
Also, check out our Guardians of the Galaxy #2 review!

And apparently there’s something going on with Thanos in this book too?

Artist: Mattia De Iulis
Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter #2 –
Back in October, I said Emma would automatically make this list every time she made an appearance, and in the spirit of journalistic integrity (and De Iulis’s Emma Frost being a stunner), voila! The Black King, darling.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5
Also, check out Jessica Jones, Comic of the Week!

And long may she reign.

Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Steve Buccelatto
Wild Storm #20 -
MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO ARE 100% BACK, BABY. And in such style. 💦💦💦💦 out of 5

I can’t remember the last time this lovely couple has looked so good.

Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Ulises Arreola
Forgotten Queen #1-
I love when my tastes are so specifically catered to, as they were here. A charmingly foul-mouthed millennia-old personification of conflict? Is this for me? I would die for Vexana, and I’m sure she’d let me.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Clearly, Valiant has not forgotten about my tastes.

Artist: Gang Hyuk Lim
West Coast Avengers #8 -
More kissin’! This time courtesy of America and Ramone! Love that Gang Hyuk Lim is coming onto this title for a few issues. Everyone (even tired slobbery Kate) comes across dynamic, hot, and incredibly fun.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Sure, this art is thirsty, but it’s a really fun kind of thirsty.

I also have to shout-out the Stephanie Hans cover for the 2nd printing of Die, which kept me awake several nights this month….

I am 100 percent going to die from lack of sleep due to this cover.

Hope you’re looking forward to March aka my birthday month aka the Month of Bêlit.

Check out The Thirstiest Comics of January.

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.

REVIEW: Daredevil #1 is a subdued, intriguing start for Zdarsky and Checchetto

Daredevil #1 is out 2/6/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Of all the major corporate superhero writers in comics, Chip Zdarsky—for my money—is the least predictable. Sure, all good stories have twists, and I’m not saying that I know every move that a Tom King or a Brian Michael Bendis or a Jason Aaron is going to make. Far from it. I do think, however, that I know the overall type of story that those and the other major Big 2 writers are generally interested in telling. I can’t really say the same for Zdarsky.

Zdarsky’s interests as a storyteller are varied and surprising, quite frankly. He’s the guy who took what was essentially a throwaway run on Howard the Duck (2015), one he was probably hired to write more than anything for his sense of humor, and turned out as poignant and heartrending of a story about parenthood as I’ve ever read (in the over-sized and in my opinion seminal, Howard the Duck #2). And sometimes just when you think you know what his books might be about—Oh hey, apparently this Marvel 2-in-One run is a buddy road trip through the multiverse—he swerves and throws you an annual that tells the best story in a decade (include everything Hickman did) about Doctor Doom.

This level of unpredictability is what made Zdarsky such an inspired choice for Daredevil, a franchise that has a long history of teasing out career-best work from some of the most celebrated and idiosyncratic writers and artists in all of comics. Everytime a celebrated Daredevil run ends—be it Bendis/Maleev, Waid/Samnee, Charles Soule and his many recent artistic collaborators—I find myself irrationally thinking, There’s no way the next team can do it this well.   

So, this new run brings two major and intriguing questions: how will this team put its on stamp on this character, and where will Zdarsky’s thematic interests take us as he scripts it? This intrigue was on full display in the first issue of the new run, a debut that didn’t feature standard launch trappings like the introduction of a new villain, a massive status quo change, or some other CBR headline-grabbing snap-flash element, the sort that has come to mark blow-out, new creative team, $5 first issues. Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho’s Daredevil #1 is instead a slow-burning affair built on a relatively simple premise: for a hero like Daredevil, is fatigue and an off-day more dangerous than things like assassins or undead ninjas, and are his own motivations his greatest enemy? This is all perhaps well-travelled ground, but so is most everything in superhero comics, and this creative team has earned full trust that they will bring something new to the ideas and character via their execution.

I should also note that this is the type of debut issue in which the creative team is not yet ready to tip its hand. It wasn’t massively decompressed (at least not relative to other comics these days), but it also didn’t seek to overfill its pages, instead dedicating ample space to flashbacks that telegraphed the role Daredevil’s ubiquitous Catholicism stands to play in whatever crisis is coming (a glimpse of which comes at the tail end of the issue), or his much ballyhooed (at least by the Netflix television show) willingness to thrash enemies severely but not kill them. It was an incredibly well-crafted comic, in everything from the art to the dialogue to the scenes it choose to feature, and with the promise of unpredictably looming so large, it’s one that has me excited.

Really, what is most impressive about this issue to me is the sheer variety of thematic spaces the story manages to traverse, any one of which will make for a rich focus in storylines, issues, or other tales to come.

Overall: A top-notch debut that does everything well while paving many thematic roads moving forward. Writer Chip Zdarsky is often unpredictable, and I’m excited to see the scope of his take. The one thing I can predict, however, is that damn fine comic book-making will be on display throughout. 9.0/10

Daredevil #1
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.