REVIEW: Eve Stranger #1 is our first perfect 10 of 2019

By Zack Quaintance — Welp, it finally happened. After four full months and a few very close calls, we have our first perfect 10 comic of 2019. It is (as one has likely already surmised by this headline) Eve Stranger #1, an absolutely perfect debut comic. There’s a powerful one-two punch on the surface of this comic that really makes it go go go from the first page…

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Comic of the Week: Dungeons and Dragons - A Darkened Wish #1, another excellent comic based on the RPG

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1 is out now.

By d. emerson eddy — For some time now IDW has been producing entertaining Dungeons & Dragons comics, with some of the most recent stories following an adventuring party made-up of many pre existing characters from the video games. These books have been largely written by Jim Zub, and the most recent was a hilarious and fitting crossover with Rick and Morty. This new mini-series promises new characters and a new beginning on the Sword Coast of Faern. I suppose it's fitting to set it within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, since there's a lot of world-building already accomplished, allowing the creators a lot of toys and rules to play with, including some new favorites like kenku, a race of crow-like avians that can mimic the sounds of others.

After starting in the middle of a chaotic battle, B. Dave Walters, Tess Fowler, Jay Fotos, and Tom B. Long flashback to introduce us to a group of adventurers through the point of view of a young wizard, Helene, and her friends as they leave their hometown for the promise of adventure with the White Sails mercenary company. We get some interesting characters in the twins, Karrin and Kerrin, the kenku, Solivigant, and the mysterious dragonborn, Rayonde. Through misadventure following a trip to a tavern, we definitely get the impression that Helene and her friends, new and old, are a bit out of their depth, but still capable at this early stage. Contrasting the formation of the party versus the battle in the present is compelling, hooking us well into trying to figure out what's going on and what happened to move the characters to this point. It's a great set-up for the story and characters, also giving that anticipation for what happens next that you often tend to feel when playing D&D.

What elevates the story even further is the gorgeous artwork from Tess Fowler and Jay Fotos. Fowler is a master of fantasy art, from her work on Rat Queens through to her artwork featuring the characters from Critical Role. She expertly captures and presents unique and captivating designs for human and non-human fantasy characters, giving an immense level of detail when it comes to populating and filling this fantasy world. Just the opening splash page alone gives us a breadth of different and unique attacking forces of Morayans and it only gets more fascinating from there as we're guided through our main cast and finally getting to Mintarn.

Jay Fotos enhances the line art with a rich colorful palette, well-fitting the fantasy setting, with some very nice effects when it comes to depicting magic. The action scenes, in particular, like the opening battle and an early fight with a pack of wolves, show a very nice variety to how Fowler and Fotos are working together to create some visually interesting sequences. Tom B. Long also nicely embellishes the story with some banner-like headers for sequence starts that adds to the feel of the fantasy world.

Overall, I've been impressed with this first issue from Walters, Fowler, Fotos, and Long. It has some richly developed characters and an intriguing hook to see what happens to the party, all with some beautiful artwork.

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1
B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

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.

REVIEW: Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 adds mystery to an already great concept

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1  is out 2/27/2019.

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is out 2/27/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — The IDW - Black Crown title Punks Not Dead launched early last year from writer David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds (with flatting by Dee Cunniffee). It was on the tail end of the first wave from the imprint, trailing behind Kid Lobotomy and Assassinistas, which both came with more experienced creators attached, specifically writer Peter Milligan for the former and artist Gilbert Hernandez for the latter. Punks Not Dead, however, emerged as arguably the most audacious and idiosyncratic of the bunch, which as Black Crown readers well know, is really saying something.

See, Punks Not Deads’ first arc (which ran for five issues) told the story of an angsty teen in England who via some supernatural imbroglio got attached to the ghost of Sid Vicious, bassist/vocalist for the seminal punk band, the Sex Pistols. Punks Not Dead—simply put—was a $@&ing blast. I especially enjoyed it, because growing up in the late ‘90s, I used comics and punk for my own escapism (think Marvel Knights, Vertigo, Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka runs at DC...while listening to bands like Pennywise and Bad Religion). As such, a comic about a teenager whose life is charged by the ghost of a punk rocker felt like it was made for me. I loved the characters, the tone, the voice, the concept, all of it.

This is all a long-winded way of saying I’m happy the book is back, and not only is it back but (cliche alert!), it’s back and better than ever. During the comic’s first arc, the creators spent much time establishing the book’s premise, working hard on the pages to introduce us to our protagonist, show us the home life he’s stuck with, and, perhaps most importantly, make it seem if not entirely believable, at least feasible that he’d become entangled with the ghost of Sid Vicious, and they pulled it all off wonderfully. Now, they’re back in the second arc with a solid foundation already built. Barnett and Simmonds use that foundation to launch readers into a suspenseful plot with the first issue of this new series.

Basically, the first arc setup the concept—balancing perfectly between punk and paranormal—and now the second arc is here with a firm call to action. In Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1, we get the same great concept from the earlier issues, just now with a new quest to give our action shape. Writer Barnett’s scripting also feels more confident, a bit more tongue-and-cheek, and Simmonds artwork is, as always, absolutely fantastic sequential storytelling. Add in a tinge of mystery (that I won’t spoil here), and what you get is a truly promising start to the second arc of a great comic.  

Overall: Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is this book’s best issue to date, taking the fantastic punk-paranormal premise and building a new suspenseful mystery on top of it. Few books on the market today are as confident and clever as this one, and we should all be excited for its return. Highly recommended. 9.3/10

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1
David Barnett
Artist: Martin Simmonds w/flatting be Dee Cunniffe
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99

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.

Best Comics of 2018: Batman’s Bookcase Contributor Picks

By Various — Without our crack team of contributing writers, this site would just be one guy pretending to be furniture while churning out semi-coherent musings about comics. Yes, our super talented group of contributing writers are the lifeblood of Batman’s Bookcase, and as such, they have some pretty great takes about the Best Comics of 2018. From Allison continuing to surprise herself by riding hard for all things Thor to Taylor’s analytical impressions of the revived Wild Storm, there’s a lot to take in on this list.

So please now join our contributors on a trip through some of their favorite comics of 2018!

Allison Senecal

Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: IDW Black Crown
What can I even say about this series that hasn’t already been said by people (Scott Snyder, for one) who are way cooler than me? We already know 2019 is going to be the year of writer Tini Howard, and it sure as #$&% better be the year of artist Nick Robles too (Best Layouts of 2018 Award, not a thing...but it should be). The protagonist of this comic, Thalia, is far and away my favorite original character of the year, and she is just rendered so lovingly. What a heartfelt, at times darkly funny, and just flat-out interesting comic. With its almost cheerfully morbid (not to forget the gut-punches) fixation on death, Euthanauts is in many ways the perfect comic for 2018, but it sure has a lot of great things to tell us about living too.

Mighty Thor/Thor
Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Mike del Mundo, Christian Ward, Jen Bartel, Various
Colorist: Matthew Wilson, Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
If you told me a decade ago that my favorite Big 2 comic would be Thor, I’d probably laugh nervously at you, but here we are, and it is. Aaron and whichever stellar artist he happens to be collaborating with month-to-month (Dauterman, Bartel, Del Mundo, Ward, Moore, to name but a handful) knock this book out of the park every single time. No hiccups, no filler, all heart and tons of action. I’ve cried with Jane Foster, I’ve wheezed with Odinson, and vice versa. I also like the prospects for this book in 2019, because buckle up, kiddos, the War of the Realms is coming, and if you haven’t caught up on this entire Aaron run, do that now before it arrives.

Read more of Allison’s thoughts about Euthanauts and Thor!

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

Jack Sharpe

The Unexpected
Steve Orlando
Artist: Various
Colorist: Various
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Publisher: DC Comics
DC’s New Age of Heroes line produced some great comics, even if it sadly did not have sales legs. The best comic of the line for me however was The Unexpected. This book features a very personal tale while also going all out on the cosmic side of the DCU. Writer Steve Orlando crafted an amazing tale and while it’s sad this book is ending in January, there is still more greatness to come from Orlando with Martian Manhunter, which launched in December.

Read more about The Unexpected on our reviews page!

Jack Sharpe is a huge fan of history and comics. When he's not in the trenches surrounded by history, he's reading and studying comic books. You can follow him on Twitter at @JackJacksharpe5  

Maya Kesh

Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Sami Kivela
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
The ‘70s are my personal golden age of comics. The decade is when I began my journey, with Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane as my gateway book. In 1972 I was 8 years old. I loved bell bottom jeans, the wider the better. I even used to buy flare jeans for my daughter until one day she told me that my loving them was no reason to force them upon her. So, when I read the solicitation for Abbott, I knew I had to add it to my pull list.

Abbott takes place at the end of 1972 and stars a black female reporter, Elena Abbott. Reading it this year, it felt as if somebody was writing a comic book just for me. I had high expectations throughout, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Writer Saladin Ahmed doesn’t flinch from including the racism and sexism of the time. Civil Rights had passed in 1964, just 8 years prior, and the Women’s Liberation (feminism) movement was starting to make waves. This is the context the story takes place within. Elena Abbott lives in a white man’s world and those around her don’t let her forget that. She’s also grieving her husband. There is a really touching flashback with Abbott listening to John Coltrane’s jazz masterpiece A Love Supreme, perfectly rendered by artist Sami Kivela.

The story mixes the supernatural with murders in Detroit, and Abbott is on the beat trying to figure out what is going on. Kivela’s art is a perfect fit, adding a texture and personality to the setting.

The supporting characters also feel alive, giving this story another important dimension. The highest compliment I can give this book, though, is that when Abbott ended, I was left wishing for more adventures with Elena as she climbed the professional ladder and began to rebuild her personal life. This was a clear highlight of 2018, and I really hope there is a second series.

Read more of Maya Kesh’s thoughts about Superman and Lois Lane!

Maya Kesh is a lifetime comic reader and a writer whose articles often focus on how women are portrayed in comics. You can follow her on Twitter at @mayak46

The Stewart Bros.

The Weather Man
Jody LeHeup
Artist: Nathan Fox
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics
The Weather Man by Jody Leheup and Nathan Fox combines sci-fi action with black comedy to spectacular effect. This book was one of the highlights of 2018. It also feels like it’s just warming up, and we can’t wait for what’s next.

Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Lettering: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
Fearscape by Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti from Vault Comics is the best comic book story about storytelling since Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Full stop. If you have ever embarked on a creative endeavor, this is a book that will speak to you.

Check out The Stewart Bros. Top 10 Comics of 2018!

Bo Stewart grinds for the Man by day so he can create comics by night. He is the lesser half of the Stewart Brothers writing team and can be found on Twitter and Instagram @stewart_bros

Taylor Pechter

Robert Venditti
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Andrew Currie
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft
Publisher: DC Comics
This is, simply put, the sleeper hit of the year. Written by Robert Venditii (Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps) and drawn by Bryan Hitch (The Authority), Hawkman explores the character of Carter Hall. It weaves a story about history and self-discovery that is intrinsic to his character. From its start back in June, this has been a must-read series. Not only is Venditti’s script immaculate in consolidating the convoluted nature of Carter’s origins, but Bryan Hitch is supplying the best artwork of his career. The art is big and cinematic, but it also contains a lot of emotion within it. I’ll be blunt: if you haven’t already, go read this series.

The Wild Storm
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics
A holdover from last year, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s gritty, stripped-down, espionage-fueled retelling of the WildStorm Universe continued to chug along in 2018, in all its greatness. Not only did we see the formation of the proto-WildCATs and John Lynch searching down his Thunderbook agents before IO could get to them, but Ellis, like always, was a master of character interactions. His injection of dark humor also added a great edge to this book. Davis-Hunt’s art work continued to be simple yet also dynamic, featuring some of the best rendering of action in the business. The end of 2018 brought us to the end of the third of four arcs for this series. With all the pieces set in place, the final arc is sure to be a doozy, and I am all here for it.

Check out Taylor Pechter’s Top 5 Comics of 2018!

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.

So there you have it. That concludes our contributor picks for 2018. Be sure to check back next week for more year-end lists, including Best Image Comics of 2018, Top Creators of 2018, and our official overall Best Comics of 2018!

Find more from our contributing writers on our comics analysis page, and check out our Best Comics of 2017 to see how those choices have aged!

The Batman’s Bookcase contributors are a super talented bunch, and we’re very lucky that they’ve chosen our site as a regular outlet for their thoughts and feelings about comics. Check back often in 2019 for more great pieces!

Comic of the Week: Go-Bots #1 is a great example of nostalgia done well

Go-Bots #1 is the Comic of the Week for 11/21.

By d. emerson eddy — Nostalgia sells. Memories of your youth, precious moments from your childhood. Especially among geeks. It's one of the reasons why you see so many reboots and remakes of favorite childhood properties like Transformers, She-Ra, and Ghostbusters. It's also often a cynical move on the part of intellectual property holders in order to play a safe bet, but that's a different argument for a different time. Right now, it's about nostalgia.

This week, IDW's Transformers mainline continuity came to an end with Optimus Prime #25. While it grew out of a nostalgia for Marvel Comics' Transformers title, especially with Simon Furman writing, it soared off on its own path, creating a brave new continuity. Although Optimus Prime was an end, IDW also launched a new beginning featuring other robots in disguise, this week’s Go-Bots #1.

The Go-Bots were like the Transformers, technically predating them, featuring robots that transformed into vehicles the same way, along with some that became rocks. Yes, robots that turned into rocks. I had a few of both the regular Go-Bots when I was a kid, as well as a couple Rock Lords, so you could kind of say that this new comics series is aimed at people like me and my feelings of nostalgia.

In more recent years, the Go-Bots became part of the Transformers franchise in various forms. Most in a type of mini-car vehicles utilizing the names but not their original designs, this series from writer/artist Tom Scioli takes us back to the originals.

Scioli is probably best known for his Kirby-esque art on Godland with Joe Casey, but he’s also garnered attention for the ‘80s cartoon inspired Transformers vs. GI Joe for IDW that featured a style similar to this. He gives this series an incredible attention to detail, making this feel like a dated product, from the art style to color reproduction, the faded yellows and browns making the pages feel old, and the little bits and pieces of ‘80s pop culture references that might not even be noticed if you weren't already familiar with them. It's a fun trip down memory lane.

Yet, beyond that, Scioli still makes this a highly entertaining story. If it were just nostalgia, it would likely be fairly empty, but there's a depth to the storytelling that works independently. He introduces us to the major players like Leader-1 working for the military, Turbo and Cy-Kill in the racing and illegal robot combat arena scenes, and every day bots like Scooter who are just fulfilling their function for their doting human companions. Scioli presents a dense tale of a world made better by the Go-Bots, and, in this first issue, a hint of what might happen should their morality chips malfunction.

Overall, this is a fun comic with great art that revels in some of the ridiculousness of the source material (the clever names like Cy-Kill or the new character T. Coriander Banks) while still being enjoyable and comprehensible for new readers.

Go-Bots #1
Writer, Artist, & Letterer:
Tom Scioli
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on twitter @93418.

Best New #1 Comics of October 2018

By Zack Quaintance — October saw the big two sort of stepping back with their superhero stuff and either lining up new books for the months to come (DC) or pushing forward with strong titles they’d launched this summer (Marvel). As a result, our list for the best new #1 comics of October 2018 is all indie stuff, which, in truth, is our favorite kind of list.

It’s also a really smart group of books this month, featuring another killer new series from Vault Comics, the latest addition to Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint, and a couple of very funny writers (Kyle Starks and Mark Russell) taking a pair of licensed properties and making top-tier comics.

Anyway, on to the books!

Quick Hits

Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero caught me by surprise, at once capturing the tone of the character from the movie and making a comic all its own. I also think there’s a vague reference to what’s really happening in the main BP title, which, intriguing...

Also in Marvel #1s, I liked Shatterstar #1 (of 5) by Tim Seeley, Carlos Villa, and Gerardo Sandoval. Great art, and a concept that is basically Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye, but with multiverse shenanigans...

Meanwhile, contributing writer Bo Stewart dug Dead Rabbit #1, and you can check out his Dead Rabbit #1 review here...

And I had a review of Blackbird #1, another notable debut this month, steeped in neon and Southern California...

Planet of the Apes: The Time of Man #1 was a nice surprise, too. I don’t usually pay attention to licensed property comics, but this one had an all-star lineup of writers (David F. Walker, Dan Abnett, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson) delivering vignettes. As it turns out, it was well worth my time...

Black Mask Studios is a publisher a like a great deal and maybe don’t talk about enough. I wrote about some of their books in our New Comics Discoveries October 2018, including last month’s Devil Within #1...

Infinite Dark #1 by Ryan Cady and Andrea Mutti was a somber adventure in deep space/melancholic tones...

While Dead Kings #1 was another entry in Steve Orlando’s growing canon of stories about revenge, with art by Matthew Dow Smith...

Meanwhile, the Marvel Zombie #1 one-shot was almost an anti-revenge story and very much a good time. Written by W. Maxwell Prince of Ice Cream Man and illustrated by Stefano Raffaele. A good book for Halloween but also just generally for fans of zombie fiction...

Last, here’s our **official** ranking of the X-Men: Black #1s from last month:
Mojo #1
Emma Frost #1
Juggernaut #1
Magneto #1
Mystique #1
On the whole, I liked X-Men: Black quite a bit and certainly more than I expected to, even if it was a little cash-grabby. I liked it in the larger context of the X-universe, because it sort of worked to rebuild the X-villains and position many of them with motives for combating the X-heroes soon, presumably in stories stemming from next week’s Uncanny X-Men #1 relaunch.

Top 5 Best New #1 Comics of October 2018

The Lodger #1
Writer: David and Maria Lapham
Artist: David Lapham
Publisher: IDW’s Black Crown Imprint
Price: $3.99
We’ve been big fans of nearly everything that veteran comic editor Shelly Bond has done with her IDW imprint Black Crown, which launched at this time last year (pre-dating our Best #1 Comics monthly series). As good as books like The Euthanuats and House Amok have been (appearing here during their own launch months), The Lodger feels like a complex and massive story all on its own. The book is the work of David and Maria Lapham, of Stray Bullets fame, and it certainly lives up to their legacy within the crime noir genre.

Simply put, The Lodger is intriguing. Previews for the title have promised a story about murder, shape shifting, transience, and travel blogging, almost as if someone pulled a set of disparate ideas out of a hat. The Laphams, however, weave it all together so well with sheer storytelling proficiency and flair, creating a world rich with mysterious characters and a forlorn tone to match the impermanence of their lives. We can’t recommend The Lodger highly enough, especially to readers who enjoy a more literary brand of comics.  

Lone Ranger #1
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Here we go, time to beat the Mark Russell is a genius at creating satire via seemingly taxed and maybe even corny old properties drum, again. Frankly, this could very well be the last time we point that all out, because what Mark Russell is doing with Lone Ranger has just become so commonplace for him. So then: what, you ask, is Russell doing with Lone Ranger?

Well, as hinted at above he’s using a seemingly-taxed and maybe even corny old property (this time, The Lone Ranger) to create a satire steeped in nuanced history and commentary on power structures, how the west was won, and oppressing others for the sake of your own gain. It’s similar thematic ground to Russell’s work on the phenomenal Flintstones series, and it’s as smartly-written and intensely character-driven as one of our favorite books of the year, Russell’s Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles. This, dear readers, is a smart and essential comic that you should be buying. Oh, and get ready to think about barbed wire more/differently than you ever have before.

Mars Attacks #1
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Colorist: Liz Trice Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Whoa, what is this? Two licensed properties on our best new books list in the same month? Plus also a shout out to Planet of the Apes in the quick hits section? Yes, it’s all happening, not because we’ve stopped being such severe buzzkills, but because publishers continue to put some of our absolute favorite creators on these kinds of titles. Now, we have the hilarious Kyle Starks teaming up with Chris Schweizer on a new Mars Attacks comic.

This book is great though, rich with the humor that has made Starks’ creator-owned work—including Rock Candy Mountain and Sex Castle—such an utter joy to read. Schweizer’s art is a great fit for both Starks’ sensibilities and the world of Mars Attacks, too, giving life to fearsome aliens as well as the scripts many gags. What impressed me most about this comic was how rooted in the main characters it felt, going out of its way to make us care about the old man and his son at the center of the first issue. This book is off to a great start.

Murder Falcon #1
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Murder Falcon #1 is the second-ever debut comic to earn our vaunted 10/10 review, joining last month’s Fearscape #1 from Vault Comics. This book is just a perfect storm of things we enjoy: the artwork of Daniel Warren Johnson, cornball jokes about rocking super hard, and a deeply personal emotive story about loss. It’s the last item that gives this book a surprising and powerful center that has us intrigued about where this story plans to go.

These Savage Shores #1
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Colorist: Vittoria Astone
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Last (alphabetically) but certainly not least is These Savage Shores. Earlier this year, Vault Comics announced new series from four U.K.-based writers. The first three books were all great, starting with Deep Roots, and then Fearscape and Friendo. These Savage Shores is the last of the bunch to launch...and it’s also one of the best new comics of the year.

This is a vampire story steeped in imperialistic entitled oppression, from the viewpoint of the oppressor...until it suddenly swerves and takes a different approach. We don’t want to spoil things—because we really do want all of you to check this one out—but let’s just say that right up until the final pages, These Savage Shores is not what you think it is.   

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. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.

Top Comics to Buy for October 24, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This is, admittedly, an odd week, because I’m writing this way sooner than I normally put this column together, due to leaving for Ireland tomorrow (which by the time you read this will be several days ago...which, ultimately, hurts my head). Anyway, this week’s group of books should be taken with the caveat that seismic shifts in the world could potentially occur between now and then, rending all these choices moot (but they probably won’t). Also, apologies to colorists and letterers this week, but those details are way too hard to find online before review copies make their way to me, so I don’t have those either. Gah, the pains of taking a vacation!

Anyway, this is a good week in that we get selections from two of the longest-running series at the Big 2: DC’s Action Comics and Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man. So, that’s always nice. It gives the week almost a classic feel. Meanwhile, we’re also getting some newness, too, coming in the form of Lodger #1, which seems the Laphams coming to Shelly Bond’s fantastic Black Crown imprint, and Mars Attacks #1, which sees the always-hilarious Kyle Starks writing that property. I know I’ll enjoy both, and I’m hoping that Lodger in particular finds a nice big audience and becomes a hit.

Now onward to the books!

Top Comics to Buy for October 24, 2018

Action Comics #1004
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Superman confronts Lois Lane and wants answers: Where is Jon Kent? What happened during Lois' trip into space with Jor-El? Why didn't she contact the Man of Steel when she returned? And most importantly, does she still love him? Or is the world-famous reporter looking to let Clark Kent down easy? Lois and Clark's relationship gets redefined in this issue illustrated by acclaimed artist Ryan Sook!
Why It’s Cool: I only vaguely understand the concept of shipping, but I guess I ship Clark Kent and Lois Lane? I don’t know, who knows, does anyone know? I just like romantic love as a nice little accent to my stories, and this issue seems poised to have a great take on one of the longest-tenured and most-romantic (if done well) relationships in all of fiction. Plus, Ryan Sook is a favorite artist of mine.

Amazing Spider-Man #8
Nick Spencer
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
The heist of the century is ON! Who are the Thieves Guild of New York? Spidey might dying trying to find out.
Why It’s Cool: This ongoing Amazing Spider-Man run is absolutely a delight, a blast of the humor and minor pathos and battles with guilt that made me first love the character. Nick Spencer does Spidey’s voice very well, which goes a long way. The recent villain-heavy issues have been the funniest yet of this young run. Highly recommend.

Lodger #1
David and Maria Lapham
David Lapham
Publisher: IDW’s Black Crown Imprint
Price: $3.99
A handsome drifter murders his way through the midwest while hiding in plain sight as a travel blogger, leaving families in shreds and body bags in his wake. Ricky Toledo was fifteen when she fell hard for "Dante"-until he killed her mother and got her father sent to prison for it. It's three years later, and Ricky will stop at nothing to get revenge. Lodger is a dark, grimy, psychological thriller-a game of cat and mouse between a broken young woman and a serial killer-and like all the best crime noir... a twisted love story.
Why It’s Cool: I was in the room at SDCC when veteran Black Crown editor Shelly Bond unveiled this title for the first time, and her excitement was evident. Bond knows comics, as do the Laphams, who have put together one of the most interesting crime noir stories of all time with Stray Bullets. It is going to really be something to see what they all have come up with here together. It’s also worth noting that Black Crown’s last two books - Euthanuats and House Amok - have been absolute gold.

Mars Attacks #1
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Price: $3.99
Spencer hasn't finished a dang thing in his life. So when he goes to visit his dad to see if maybe he can borrow some money, the last thing on his mind is global survival. Now Spencer and his father are on the run, trying to avoid being spaceray'd by a bunch of destruction happy Martians, heck bent on zapping them dead!
Why It’s Cool: Have you read Rock Candy Mountain or Sex Castle? Kyle Starks is one of the funniest original voices in comics. Mars Attacks also seems like a great fit for the work he does. Exciting to see what he and collaborator Chris Schweizer have come up with here.

Sentry #5
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Bob Reynolds and the Sentry are both it's time for something new to rise in their place!
Why It’s Cool: This book, initially announced as an ongoing, ended up being a mini-series that didn’t feature the same artist throughout, which is all kind of to really uncool, but a finale is a finale and we love Jeff Lemire, so we’re still excited to see how he ends things here.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Black Panther Vs. Deadpool #1

  • Books of Magic #1

  • Dead Kings #1

  • Judge Dredd Toxic #1

  • KISS Blood and Stardust #1

  • Old Lady Harley #1

  • What If? Thor #1

  • Whispering Dark #1

  • X-Men: Black - Juggernaut #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Batgirl #28

  • Babyteeth #13

  • Cold Spots #2

  • Die! Die! Die! #4

  • Justice League Odyssey #2

  • Olivia Twist #2

  • Punisher #3

  • Redneck #16

  • Terrifics #9

  • Titans #28

  • Usagi Yojimbo #7

  • Wonder Woman #57

  • X-Men: Red #9

  • X-O Manowar #20

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

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

REVIEW: House Amok #1 by Christopher Sebela, Shawn McManus, Lee Loughridge, & Aditya Bidikar

House Amok #1 is available Aug. 29, 2018.

By Zack Quaintance — Simply put, writer Christopher Sebela is on fire, rolling out some of the most compelling creator-owned books in all of comics with a nigh-unparalleled range of themes, concepts, and genres. His summer started with the historic high seas/frontier revenge story Shanghai Red, continued with the satirical late-model-capitalist nightmare Crowded, and culminates now with the morbid reality-bending familial murder story, House Amok.

House Amok pulls the difficult double duty of orienting the reader with traces of recognizable tropes while mercilessly pushing into original circumstances as its story demands. Our leads are the Sandifers, a dysfunctional family the exact likes of which I’ve never seen, not in any medium, made unique not by the macabre violence they’re perpetrating—horrifying as it is, it has been done—but rather their justifications. That’s what makes this story so urgent and vital. Not only do the Sandifer parents utterly believe in some contorted and bloody logic, they’ve made it a matter of survival for themselves, their oldest son, and their younger fraternal twin girls, our protagonists.

It’s this decision that makes House Amok so compelling on essentially two separate fronts: first as a story of depravity and survival, and second as a tale of precocious innocents trying to parse the truth of their parents' dysfunctions. While there is little universality in the horror elements within House Amok, it’s this feeling of having to forge a world view from within the imperfect lens provided by one's parents that most (if not all) readers will relate to, hard. I could even see the story broadening into a look at shared delirium among certain segments of society. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing where Sebela and team take this narrative potential. 

From a craft perspective, House Amok is impeccable, as have been all the books from IDW's Black Crown imprint. Shawn McManus is a confident and veteran artist, and it shows in his linework, which conveys deep terrors from within a mundane childhood framework, and Lee Loughridge contributes much with a standout set of muted palettes and fitting color tones.

House Amok’s greatest strength, however, is the voice of its narration, which guides readers through the madcap reality-skewing imagery of this story with an orienting calm, poetic and assuring in a way that made my brain tingle. The twist at House Amok’s end is fittingly subdued, yet the unexpected nature of it is such that it ranks as one of the most chilling cliffhangers I’ve read in a #1 issue all year. Closing though: Egad, did I love this comic.

Overall — House Amok is a comic so rich and immersive that its ending will ambush you, leaving you demanding the second issue. It’s a childhood horror story that raises questions about fears, realities, innocence, and shared delusions. It is, quite simply, yet another must-read title from IDW’s Black Crown. 9.5/10

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

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Best New #1 Comics of July 2018

The new comics fireworks started July 4th and just kept coming. Groan, I know. But anyway, the most impressive thing about this month’s new #1 was the wide variety of stories they told. So many boxes got checked by these books: New Orleans plus horror and drugs? CHECK. Encouraging new direction for Amazing Spider-Man? CHECK. Ethereal exploration of death that reads like literary magical realism in graphic format? Somehow also CHECK.

July’s variety of #1 comics speaks to a major change in the industry: a broader and expanding audience is fostering broader and expanding demand. You know what that means? That’s right—broader and expanding supply. Or, more and weirder comics. With this in mind, it’s easy to be bullish on comics right now, and the entries on our list today re-enforce why.

Let’s do it!

Quick Hits

The Long Con #1 came out the Wednesday after SDCC, telling a story about a never-ending apocalyptic con. Its timing was perfect and its concept sharp. Read our full review.

Cliche alert! Catwoman #1 was a (fancy?) feast for the eyes. The story and art—both by Joelle Jones—were phenomenal. Most importantly, though, Jones gets Selina...the aesthetic, narration, villain...nigh-perfect.

I saw Donny Cates at SDCC on a panel about Image Comics. Someone was Cates, obviously, put Pantera on his phone and growled into his mic, WELCOME TO IMAGE. This is also the aesthetic of his latest Marvel #1s: Cosmic Ghost Rider and Death of Inhumans, which are both madcap and grandiose.

Mariko Tamaki and Juan Cabal had to follow Tom Taylor’s excellent 3-year run on All New Wolverine. Tough challenge. In X-23 #1, however, the team meets it, preserving the best of Taylor’s work (the heart) while also heading in a horror-tinged new direction.

Everyone said read Bone Parish #1 by Cullen Bunn Jonas Sharf. They said it was excellent, frightening in a way I wouldn’t expect. Everyone was right. Bunn’s latest horror book (of an estimated 19) is frightening in a way you won’t expect, either. Now I’m the one urging you to read it.

Speaking of horror, check out Clankillers #1, a gritty story about gaelic mythology. Read our full review.

Ever think to yourself: I’d love to read Miami Vice meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Of course not, few probably have, but someone is writing it as a comic and it’s a winner. The Mall by Don Handfield, James Haick, and Rafael Loureiro is a solid debut, rich with ‘80s camp. Recommended.

James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez nailed Justice League Dark #1. In a summer of strong new directions for DC, this is one of the strongest, with stellar art and gleeful depictions of the publishers oft-underused bench.

Vault Comics (one of our favorites) has had a great year, and Submerged #1 is the latest book to become a part of it. Vita Ayala and Lisa Sterle craft a story with intriguing family dynamics, a natural disaster, and a potpourri of mythos. 

It’s tough to evaluate Brian Michael Bendis’ debuts via Superman #1 and Action Comics #1001. Bendis is a prolific and veteran writer, a student of superhero history who thinks in eras, not in single issues. So far, he’s established tones and started unveiling his the vanguard of his plans. The full scope of his aspirations, however, largely remain to be seen.

Top Five Best #1 Comics of July 2018

Unnatural #1 by Mirka Andolfo

This book lives in an intriguing world of dystopian reproductive laws, one that has enabled Italian comic auteur Mirka Andolfo to craft a story that is at once poignant, tantalizing, and horrific. This issue is the first of 12 parts, and I knew about halfway through reading it that I was onboard for the long haul.

To quote our Unnatural #1 Review: Andolfo clearly has strong thoughts about the intersection of sex and government, but she is also well-aware that those thoughts are best served by first and foremost telling an entertaining story. As a result, Unnatural #1 is not to be missed. And we very much stand by that.

Captain America #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Leinil Francis Yu

Early indications are strong for Ta-Nehisi Coates & Leinil Yu on Cap.

This debut fittingly dropped on July 4, and it’s the best single-issue Captain America story I’ve read since Ed Brubaker’s all-time great run ended. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer I first became aware of via his articles in The Atlantic, before then reading his non-fiction works, specifically Between the World and Me. When he came to comics in the spring of 2016 to write Black Panther, I enthusiastically added the comic to my pulllist.

And Black Panther has been decent enough, a little wordy and dull in parts as Coates struggled to reconcile the new medium with his writerly instincts. With Captain America #1, any and all growing pains are clearly behind him. Coates and collaborator Leinil Francis Yu have made a declarative statement with this book...this is going to be a dark and action-heavy take on Cap, one that will test Steve Rogers with problems that grow out of his past continuity as well as the modern state of the U.S. It won’t be heavy handed, no, on the contrary the book seems bent on making its thematic intent slow-burning and subtle. Come along if you dare. Read our full review.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Nick Spencer & Ryan Ottley

I think it was in one of those retailer columns on Bleeding Cool that I read about someone saying a back-to-basics well-done Amazing Spider-Man book could be the industry’s top seller. Well, we’re about to find out if that’s true. Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s debut on Marvel’s flagship title is almost indisputably those two things: well-done and back-to-basics.

We here at Batman’s Bookcase, however, have now written two full pieces about why we like it, so rather than trying to find a facet of the comic we haven’t explored, we’ll just wrap up quickly here by pointing you toward our Amazing Spider-Man #1 Review and our 5-Panel Amazing Spider-Man Explainer.

This is easily one of our favorite covers in recent memory.

Euthanauts #1 by Tini Howard & Nick Robles

Remember way back at the start of this piece when I mentioned an ethereal exploration of death that reads like literary magical realism in graphic format? Well, here we are. The Euthanauts #1 is a unique comic, as self-assured as any debut issue in recent memory. It does understated and deliberate work familiarizing you with a relatable character, one who is maybe even a bit on the mundane side, before fitfully plunging you into a world where life and death intermingle.

Someone on Twitter asked me recently if this comic was good, and I told them yes, very good, but pretty abstract and best consumed in a way where it just sort of washes over you—read twice for good measure. That’s how I read it, and it has been haunting me ever since. I can’t wait to see what this creative team has in store for this story. Oh, and I should also note that as mesmerizing as Tini Howard’s ideas are, this without question seems to be one of those ideal books wherein her and artist Nick Robles lift each other, both seemingly poised to do career best work. Read our full review.

Relay #1 by Zac Thompson, Eric Bromberg, Donny Cates, & Andy Clarke

While reading Relay #1, I got a feeling I’ve maybe only previously had while emerging from a classic sci-fi novel. Basically, this comic reads like layered and complex sci-fi being doled out by an engaging plot line, one with evident shades of the masters of its genre, namely Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin.

I really dug Relay #1, to the point when someone recently asked me what books I was reading (always a difficult question to answer on the spot), I stumbled around for a moment before just blurting out: Relay. For more on why I enjoyed the first issue of this book so much...that’s our full review here.

Thanks as always for reading, and make sure to come back this week for our Best Comics of July 2018, period.

Check out more of our monthly lists here.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.