Welcome to the Age of X-Man Round-Up: Your Guide to Age of X-Man

By Allison Senecal — So! The 10-part weekly series X-Men: Disassembled came, brought Legion and X-Man back to us, and then went, seemingly leaving an X-Men-less Earth-616 in its wake. Regardless of whether you think all ten issues were necessary (I’m on the fence, myself), they certainly succeeded in setting up a comparably more enticing, new era of X-Men comics.

I’m talking specifically about the Age of X-Man event, which started last week and runs through this summer, and Matthew Rosenberg’s new run on the flagship Uncanny X-Men title! AOXM, which consists of six five-part mini-series happening in the same alternate reality, includes a fantastic and diverse slate of rising creators, such as Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who are showrunning the whole thing. AOXM looks to be a weird, wild riff on Age of Apocalypse, with its own unique aesthetic and premise. As for Uncanny, I’m largely into it because THE NEW MUTANT LADIES (and Havok, I guess) were announced for the main team, but even if you don’t love them as much as I do, I think there will be a lot to love in these comics. I’m hoping even fans disappointed by Disassembled will give one or both a go.

These round-ups, which will be running once a month, will serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god round-ups! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.

Oh yeah. Cyclops and Wolverine are back, or something! Let’s get the gang back together, eh?

Previously on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1
Writers:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 1/30/2019
Imagine a pastel-tinged perfect world populated only by mutants, where the X-Men are revered, the religion is Hope Summers, and every mutant child is cultivated from an early age to value themselves and their powers. Too good to be true, right? Yep. Thompson and Nadler ace plopping us right into this mutant Utopia and following up the warm fuzzies with an immediate sense of unease. Sculpture of the Original Six X-Men? Check, and you heard that right! Six! What? Did you also forget Nate Grey was a founding member of the team? To top this off, the art team perfectly nails the cozy yet sterile Mid-Century Modern vibe, which always makes me at least think of repressed sexuality and TV dinners. Color palette: perfection.

Besides the opening, where we see the new Marvelous X-Men team in action, this is a delightfully quiet world-building issue, which fits the setting and adds to the general atmosphere of cultivated peace, punctuated only by a (purposely) jarring Bishop arrest scene. This is where things get truly gnarly. Jean is re-educated as a result of her and Bishop’s forbidden romance, and X-23 is brought into the team as his replacement. Sense of cultivated peace successfully shattered. Let the Age of X-Man truly commence.

Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Jean Grey, Storm, X-23, Magneto, Nate Grey, Nature Girl, Colossus, Nightcrawler

Much like Alpha, Marvelous opens on several scenes of serenity, this time domestic and not out in the larger world. Magneto cooking, Nate meditating, Jean reading. Blissful. Even the emergency alerts are tightly managed and seemingly non-taxing for our Marvelous X-Men. There are a few cracks in the facade, though. Nate again appears where he most definitely should not (since when was he a member of Multiple Man’s X-Factor team?) Colossus is painting, but it seems to be Lockheed. Noodle on that heartbreaker. The lowkey best part for me is the palette stays consistent from Alpha to this, and I hope that continues into all the minis. Really lends a cohesive and beautifully muted aesthetic to everything.

Of course, things begin unraveling on what appears to be an otherwise routine mission. Looped throughout the entire sequence is a PA system’s litany of “being alone is harmony“ (and other Nate Grey-isms) and slowly Jean begins to hear a psychic undercurrent of “it’s okay to love “ woven in. Once again, there’s a jarring scene that completely breaks the illusion, but this time it’s X-23 confronting Nate about her mission-interrupting memory of…a sister? After some bonding, Nate admits this is true and they had to be separated, and Laura attempts to attack him before being mind-wiped. During the next day’s leisure activities, Jean again hears the voice from the earlier mission, which turns out to be a psychic resistance rallying call sent by Apocalypse. *Jaws music*

Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer:
Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Salvador Larroca (main), John McCrea (“Wolverine Returns”), Juanan Ramirez (“The Last Blindfold Story”)
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg (main and “The Last Blindfold Story”), Mike Spicer (“Wolverine Returns”)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Cyclops, Wolverine, Blindfold, Multiple Man, Layla Miller, Callisto, Chamber, Velocidad

“This is forever.”

This is, simply put, a haunting opening issue. I don’t use that word willy-nilly, but I was in bed for a good half hour thinking about this last night. I tend to dislike the device of telling the same story via different points-of-view, especially back-to-back, but they do it in this issue and it creates a feeling of ever-tightening tension and isolation. All three linked stories are fantastic,  building on each other. I will advise that anyone with suicide triggers should be careful. I feel Rosenberg didn’t make his decisions lightly (though one death was a bit of a throwaway), and I’ve had a couple ugly cries over it, but my two cents are it’s not my business to tell people how to feel when characters die, especially two who are likely favorites to some.

Cyclops is back! And he’s searching for other mutants to join his cause (finding the missing X-Men and fixing everything, because of course), because a world without X-Men is pretty dank. Blindfold eventually finds him and gives a warning. “This is forever.” It echoes through the rest of the issue like a pipe drip you can’t quite pinpoint. Scott hits up other known mutants, including a Chamber-led group in the sewers, and is found by Multiple Man. Jamie warns him about bothering Blindfold, who Scott then finds dead in her home, with the words “this is forever” scrawled next to her. A death-wish leads Scott to an anti-mutant rally and scuffle with Cap, after which he calls attention to himself on national TV and sends a message to other mutants to meet him “where this all began”. Of course he’s ambushed, and saved by Wolverine, leading to a little chills-inducing greeting.

In the next story, events then start from the beginning, this time with Wolverine watching everything from the shadows, and Kid Cable telling him to keep an eye on Scott. Layla Miller tells Logan to find Blindfold if he wants help so he heads down to the sewers where he comes across a rapidly aged Velocidad who tells him Blindfold doesn’t want to be found, of course right before she tracks Logan down and hits him with some ominous conversation. We see the altercation at the end from Logan’s perspective, and his decision to intervene and reveal himself to Scott.

The last story loop belongs to Ruth/Blindfold. We find out she’s won the lottery, getting her out of the sewers, but her powers have been shorting out since the events of Disassembled and she keeps having violent visions. She seems to no longer have a clear concept of past, present, or future. After the previously mentioned exchange with Logan, she draws herself a bath and kills herself, stating she sees she no longer has a future.

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 provided some STELLAR hooks for the six AOXM miniseries so let’s take a look at what might be next…..

Next Time on Age of X-Man

NextGen.jpg

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Release Date: 2/13/2019
What is up with that slow zoom-in on Glob’s very haunted gaze? What happens when a bunch of teens and young adults find out not everything is as it seems?

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Release Date: 2/20/2019
NATURALLY, the handsomest (even without his beard) X-man is a famous actor in this perfect reality. The Cuckoos are his agents. Magma is his stunt coordinator. What could go wrong?

Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Leah Williams
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Release Date: 2/27/2019
Hey, what’s a utopia without a secret police force? *ominous music* Just how much policing do they need to do? Who exactly is Moneta, this new mutant? Why is Bobby wearing suspenders?

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Release Date: 3/6/2019
So where did Bishop go? Here, apparently! What are his fellow inmates in for? What’s up with Dani Moonstar, who is almost definitely in two places at once (here and Uncanny later this month)?

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Tim Seeley
Artist: Salva Espin
Release Date: 3/13/2019
Apocalypse?! A GOOD GUY? Basically seems that way….and working with Kitty Pryde? I guess….what the #$%& is going on? Why is he sending subversive psychic messages to everyone?

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

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This week could maybe be looked at as DC Strikes Back, or something...if it weren’t for Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #1, which in spite of its $7.99 price tag is still likely to sell more copies than any other title this week. Still, the slate of new DC and indie books is strong, with the former launching Electric Warriors, concluding Mister Miracle, and re-orienting Wonder Woman with a new creative team of G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Cary Nord (The Unexpected).

The real highlight of the week, meanwhile, comes from David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene, as the team launches their long-awaited familial Harlem Renaissance monster-hunting book, Bitter Root. This was on our Most Anticipated Comics of 2018 list waaaaay back last January, and now it’s finally here. Obviously, Bitter Root lands as our featured books for the Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018. Oh, and look for a review later this week, but for now….

Let’s get to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

PICK OF THE WEEK
Bitter Root #1
Writers:
David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorists: Rico Renzi & Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing, and only the Sangerye Family can save New York-and the world-from the supernatural forces threatening to destroy humanity. But the once-great family of monster hunters has been torn apart by tragedies and conflicting moral codes. The Sangerye Family must heal the wounds of the past and move beyond their differences... or sit back and watch a force of unimaginable evil ravage the human race.
Why It’s Cool: David F. Walker and Sanford Greene have teamed up before, specifically on a brief Power Man and Iron Fist run that if there was any justice in the corporate comics world would have run for 50+ issues. And now they’re back together! Transferring the creative alchemy they found at Marvel to the creator-owned vision described above. Simply put, this has the potential to be a MAJOR comic.

Electric Warriors #1
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Years after the Great Disaster, the Earth has started to rebuild and rejoin the universal coalition. In order to prevent a galactic war, different worlds throughout the known cosmos have created a new system of competitive combat to give each participating planet their own voice in the intergalactic struggle. Each world has one diplomatic gladiator, chosen to possess the Electric Seed and fight for their homeland as the Electric Warrior! Each fighter forsakes their personal life in the name of peace. So what happens when Earth can't choose a single combatant and sends two instead? The bruiser War Cry represents the humans of Earth, while Deep Dweller, a shape-shifter from the Octopus Tribe, represents the animal kingdom. Can they maintain one common goal, or will they tear Earth's tenuous coexistence to shreds and destroy the rest of the universe with it? Oh, and War Cry also has a powerful relic from Earth's past: Superman's cape!
Why It’s Cool: This book features one of the wildest and most original visions we’ve seen from either of the Big 2 in sometime, especially as it pertains to Travel Foreman’s artwork. Paired with Hi-Fi’s colors, the wispy shades of neon in this book really differentiate it from any other superhero universe fare on the market. Meanwhile, writer Steve Orlando is perhaps DC’s foremost continuity explorer, fearlessly drawing from his own deep knowledge of the publisher’s history. He’s right at home here crafting a compelling narrative within Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster Era.  

Lone Ranger #2
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Tonto and the Lone Ranger go to Austin to foil a plan to cover the Texas panhandle in barbed wire. They are discovered and have to fight their way out of the city. Tonto devises a new strategy based on trick plays he learned from playing football at the Carlisle Indian School and Silver knocks a man unconscious with a wooden post.
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been heaping all kinds of praise on this book, most recently in our Best New #1 Comics of October 2017, and we’re not going to stop any time soon. This book is as smart as it is well done, and if you like great comics, you should be reading it, even if you care as little about the Lone Ranger character as I did coming into this.

Mister Miracle #12
Writer:
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It'll be a miracle if you can get through this mind-bending conclusion with your sanity intact! After his epic battle with Darkseid, Scott Free sees life a whole new way: he's the new Highfather of New Genesis, and he's madly in love with his wife and child. But what if it's all a lie? Did Mister Miracle really escape death way back in issue #1? No one really knows but Tom King and Mitch Gerads!
Why It’s Cool: Mister Miracle is one of the smartest and most poignant comics that DC has published in many, many years, and this issue marks its conclusion. This is, simply put, the sort of finale that not only sticks the landing but does so in a way that validates all of the creative choices that came before it, making the already-strong previous acts of this story even stronger. This was one hell of a comic.

Uncanny X-Men #1
Writers:
Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, & Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Mahmud A. Asrar, Mark Bagley, & Mirko Colak
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $7.99
THE CHILDREN OF THE ATOM ARE BACK! New ongoing series kicking off with a 10-part weekly epic, the flagship X-Men series that started it all is back and better than ever! Starting with a mysterious and tragic disappearance, the X-Men are drawn into what might be...their final adventure?! X-Fan favorite writers Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION), Matthew Rosenberg (PHOENIX RESURRECTION) and Kelly Thompson (MR. & MRS. X) and all-star artists Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN RED), R.B. Silva (X-MEN BLUE), Yildiray Cinar (WEAPON X) and Pere Pérez (ROGUE AND GAMBIT) join forces to bring you...X-MEN DISASSEMBLED?!
Why It’s Cool: In one sense, Marvel is back on its old cash grabbing bull*#$@, relaunching one of its most-popular titles of all time with a $7.99 first issue. Not only that, but this is the start of a 10-part weekly series. Marvel, simply put, knows readers will get this comic regardless, and so they’re going to take them for every last penny. Capitalism! That said, in between the cash grabbing Marvel has been providing really strong stories, and—carping about the cost aside—there’s no reason to believe this one will be any different. The X-world has been on the rise as of late (now that Marvel has its film rights back...ahem) led by a group of young writers who clearly grew up fans of the comics. Brisson, Thompson, and Rosenberg are chief among them, and we can’t wait to see what they do with this series. But also, did we mention it costs $7.99??!

Wonder Woman #58
Writer:
G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Mick Gray
Artist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Far below Themyscira, Ares, the God of War, has been imprisoned for generations, repenting his past sins. But his new cellmate Grail may have an unexpected effect on him...and the plan they've come up with will change Themyscira-and the world- forever! When Wonder Woman rushes to Eastern Europe to rescue Steve Trevor from a mission gone wrong, she'll find herself face-to-face with a very new, very different God of War!
Why It’s Cool: G. Willow Wilson is a big get for Wonder Woman, a smart and thoughtful writer, Wilson has built the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel character into one of the most exciting teen concepts in comics. This is a whole other challenge altogether—building on decades of continuity within a much-loved and venerable franchise. We very much think that Wilson and her artistic collaborator Cary Nord are up for it.  

Top New #1 Comics

  • Black Order #1

  • Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #1

  • Comics Comics Quarterly #1

  • Firefly #1

  • Infinity Wars: Infinity Wraps #1

  • Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against The Devils in Suits One Shot

  • William Gibson’s Alien 3 #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Amazing Spider-Man #9

  • Avengers #10 (#700)

  • Cemetery Beach #3

  • Captain America #9

  • Cosmic Ghost Rider #5

  • Euthanauts #4

  • Fantastic Four #3

  • Friendo #2

  • Gideon Falls #8

  • Hawkman #6

  • Infinite Dark #2

  • Ms. Marvel #36

  • Murder Falcon #2

  • Oblivion Song #9

  • Proxima Centauri #6

  • Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #4

  • Thor #7

  • Skyward #8

  • Supergirl #24

  • Superman #5

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

Thirsty Thursdays: October’s Hottest Comics Art

By Allison Senecal — Superhero comic art has evolved at a really impressive rate in recent years...so much so that sometimes it can be a lot to handle. First there’s excitement, obviously, but then that excitement turns into something else...which is why each month we’re running our Thirsty Thursday rankings, a new and different way to look at our favorite comic art. Welcome to a sporadic examination of (as the kids say) the month’s thirstiest comics.

Enjoy!

The Thirstiest Comics of October 2018

Daredevil #609 & #610 — Elektra is back in Matt’s life, and back in her classic costume!! Phil Noto draws the most beautiful Elektra since Mike Del Mundo. I guess Matt was in his own series this month, but I don’t even remember.  
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Ummm, Matt Who? (Art by Phil Noto.)

Domino #7 — I don’t know which is better…art nouveau Dom or cranky early morning pug-slippers wearing Dom. (DID SHE SEND TO ONE OF THOSE COMPANIES THAT WILL MAKE STUFF THAT LOOK LIKE YOUR PETS? BECAUSE… CUTE.)
💦💦💦💦 out of 5

A-DORABLE! (Art by David Baldeon.)

Fine, but don’t make me pick which Dom is thirstiest.

Justice League Odyssey #2 — This was a very Starfire-centric issue, which is a glorious thing since it’s also Stjepan Sejic’s last interior work on this series. Kory’s compassion is what I love most about her, and it shines in the last few pages, really softening her face and creating some truly lovely panels. I’m really going to miss Sejic drawing her hair.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Starfire is also fluent in the language of IMPOSSIBLY LUSCIOUS hair. (Art by Stjepan Sejic.)

Extermination #4 — Mutant dudes just don’t wear shirts during X-crises, and that’s valid.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5 (One sweat droplet for every shirtless man.)

Clearly, mankind has evolved past its need for t-shirts. (Art by Pepe Larraz.)

Euthanauts #3 — Off the top of my head, I absolutely can not think of anyone, barring maybe Coipel, who draws the human figure (in ALL of its figures) better than Nick Robles. It’s just so marvelous to open this comic every month and see a full range of the human aesthetic. And this was a very sexy issue.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

This book may be about death, but, WARNING, it’s going to do things to your pulse. (Art by Nick Robles.)

Wonder Woman #57 (The Witching Hour, part 4) —  This entire event has benefitted from some great artists, but this was probably my favorite chapter. Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy’s Constantine and Zatanna are hottttttttttttttttttt (and cute, dear Lord, this issue was sad). You don’t need dialogue to see the chemistry, which I love.
💦💦💦💦 out of 5

The end of the world has never looked so thirsty. (Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy.)

X-Men Black: Emma Frost — EMMA FROST IS BACK. IN BLACK. I screamed. I love her. She deserves this. When Miss Frost is in a comic, expect that comic to be in this feature that month. 👑 💦💦💦💦💦 👑 out of ….. what? Emma Frost is the ratings system.

Hell-ooo, indeed. (Art by Chris Bachalo.)

Bonus: Have you SEEN this Jeff Dekal Variant for Uncanny X-Men #1????? Have you had it lasered into the backs of your eyelids or transmogrified into sound and pumped into your ears? HAVE YOU?? Now thank Laura Kinney for giving us all the time of day.

Sorry in advance for November.

Check out The Thirstiest Comics of September.

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

Top Modern Superhero Artists: The Sultans of Style at Marvel and DC

By Taylor Pechter — In comics, there’s always debate over what is more important: writing or art. These discussions can go either way, but they almost always conclude that both are equally important in different ways. Writers give characters their personalities, desires, and struggles, while the artists give motion and create a flow to the story. Artists also give characters different body types, faces, and ticks that writers can’t show with words alone. They are, simply put, storytellers in their own right.

Through the many decades of comics history individual artists have helped inform the style of the time. From legends like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby in the Golden and Silver Ages, to the sleek photorealism of Neal Adams in the Bronze Age, to the incomparable detail of George Perez that helped usher in the Modern Age of comic art. However, in the past 20 years, a handful of artists have helped push the medium forward, while defining the company they belong to. This has been dubbed house style.

Exactly what is considered house style has changed during the past few years, but, even so, what I’d like to look at today are the artists who who have helped define their respective superhero universes.

DC

1. Jim Lee — Arguably the most popular artist of the 1990s, Jim Lee rose to fame drawing the X-Men for Marvel in the early years of the decade before breaking away to form Image and his company, WildStorm Productions. In the late 90s, he sold his company to DC, bringing his signature style over to the brand. Lee’s style contains heavy linework, chiseled jawlines, extreme detail, and dynamic action. This style has helped define the look of the modern DCU by making it grander and more epic in scale. Currently, Lee serves as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment.

Notable Works:

  • Batman: Hush

  • All-Star Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder

  • Justice League: Origin

  • Superman: Unchained

2. Ivan Reis — Coming to American comics all the way from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ivan Reis has quickly become the go to event artist for DC of the past decade. Combining the sleekness of Neal Adams, the cinematic flair of Bryan Hitch, and the sheer scale of George Perez, Reis is a defining artist of the current generation. He’s also a notable collaborator with modern DC architect Geoff Johns, and his delicate-yet-cinematic style has helped bring new prominence to characters like Green Lantern and the Teen Titans. He’s currently drawing Superman, which is written by Brian Michael Bendis.

  • Infinite Crisis (With Phil Jimenez, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway)

  • Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

  • Blackest Night

  • Teen Titans: Titans of Tomorrow

3. Gary Frank — English superstar Gary Frank is a roughly 23-year veteran of the business. Frank got his start at DC helping co-create the Birds of Prey team with legendary Bat-scribe Chuck Dixon. He later honed his craft at Marvel, drawing the Incredible Hulk and also collaborating with J. Michael Straczynski, but he eventually returned to DC to become one of, if not the defining Superman artists. With his keen eye for detail, simple-but-effective panel layouts, deep shadows, and expressive faces, Frank has become a favorite of mine and of many others.

Notable Works:

  • Superman: Brainiac

  • Superman: Secret Origin

  • Batman: Earth One

  • Doomsday Clock (currently ongoing)

4. Alex Ross — Arguably the most recognizable artist of this bunch, Chicago-based painter Alex Ross combines the photorealism of Norman Rockwell with the grandeur of the DCU. Ross depicts superheroes the way they were always meant to be seen: standing taller than life in the face of adversity. Using vast landscapes, strong postures, and smiles galore, Ross has become a multimedia sensation, not only drawing comics but also creating posters for film and video games.

  • Kingdom Come

  • The World’s Greatest Super Heroes

  • Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come

5. Jason Fabok — The newest artist on the DC block, Canadian Jason Fabok rose to prominence during DC’s New 52. While starting on smaller stories in Detective Comics, he later became popular via the mega Bat-event Batman Eternal followed by a run on Justice League with Geoff Johns. With his blend of realism, glossy texture, cinematic layouts, and brutal action, Fabok has fast-become one of the most acclaimed DC artists of the decade.

  • Batman Eternal

  • Justice League Darkseid War

  • Batman/Flash: The Button

  • Three Jokers (upcoming)

Marvel

1. Joe Quesada —  Coming from New York City, Joe Quesada, much like his contemporary at DC Jim Lee, had a hand in crafting Marvel’s signature style coming out of the 90’. With inker Jimmy Palmiotti, Quesada redefined what street-level Marvel meant, fueling the creation of Marvel Knights. Quesada’s use of overly exaggerated proportions, dense and heavy shadows, and cartoony-yet-expressive faces is part of the blueprint for Marvel to this day. He now acts as Chief Creative Officer for Marvel Entertainment.

  • Daredevil: Guardian Devil

  • Spider-Man: One More Day

2. David Finch —  Another comics superstar hailing from the Great White North, David Finch started drawing in the late 1990s for Marc Silvestri’s company Top Cow before moving to the House of Ideas in the 2000s. An early collaborator with a young Brian Michael Bendis, Finch’s heavy shadows, musclebound heroes, and cinematic action helped Marvel craft a denser and darker universe. He now works as a freelance artist and is husband to writer Meredith Finch. Most recently he has drawn issues of Tom King’s ongoing run on DC’s Batman.

  • Avengers Disassembled

  • New Avengers: Breakout

  • Moon Knight: The Bottom

  • Ultimatum

3. Steve McNiven — This is the last Canadian artist on this list, I promise. McNiven has been a Marvel mainstay since the early 2000s, when he did many covers for the publisher. His big break, however, came in 2006, when he was tapped for Marvel’s biggest event of the decade, Civil War. After that, McNiven started a partnership with Mark Millar. He is a king of rendering, using different styles of fabric and metal to do so. He adds many layers of texture that help lend to his somewhat stylized photorealism. His explosive panel layouts and eye for epic moments have led him to become one of Marvel’s blockbuster exclusive artists.

  • Civil War

  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan

  • Death of Wolverine

  • New Avengers: The Sentry

4. Olivier Coipel —  Magical, mythical, grandiose...these are all words that have been used to describe French artist Olivier Coipel’s work. Rising to prominence as a frequent collaborator of Brian Bendis, Coipel helped tear down and rebuild the Marvel Universe many times over. With his delicate linework, his characters move with a certain grace along with detailed architecture and lush landscapes that help create truly stunning comics.

  • House of M

  • Thor (2007)

  • Siege

  • Unworthy Thor

5. Leinil Francis Yu —  Last but not least we come to Filipino artist Leinil Francis Yu, who got his start his start in the late 90’s, his claim to fame being a major stint on Wolverine and other X-Men titles. His style is much looser than the others on this list. Yu uses many different lines to add intricacies. During Marvel’s big resurgence in the 2000’s, he became, much like Coipel and McNiven, a go to artist for the blockbuster events and headlining books. His action is frenetic and that helps greatly set the pace for the books that he draws.

  • Wolverine

  • Secret Invasion

  • Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk

  • Captain America (currently ongoing)

In the end, these artists have all been mainstays of certain universes with styles that while influenced by many great artists before them, are still uniquely their own. They have all played significant roles in creating the house styles that differentiate the two superhero universes, with DC having a more detailed, almost photorealistic look, while Marvel features a more exaggerated, cartoony, and fantastical aesthetic. These artists have helped redefine their universes; they are true sultans of superhero style.

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

Best New #1 Comics of August 2018

By Zack Quaintance — I love any month wherein indie publishers sweep our top five best new #1 comics list, and this is (obviously) one of those months. I’m not sure how often this happens, but it’s always a treat. This month, simply put, brought one of the best crops of new creator-owned debut issues I’ve ever seen...two of which were even by the same writer!

What’s also great is the diversity of publisher among our top 5 best new #1 comics of August 2018, with books coming from usual suspects like Dark Horse and Image, and from other sources too, including AfterShock Comics, Scout Comics, and IDW’s Black Crown imprint. Yes, not only do we have a top 5 consisting entirely of indie books, we also have a list that features five different indie comics publishers!

The state of comics is strong, friends, strong indeed. We are truly lucky to be fans of this storytelling medium in such exciting times. Now then, let’s get to the list!

Quick Hits

It's been a while since I've enjoyed a big Marvel event as much as the first two issues of Infinity Wars, both of which came out this month. I attribute this to killer Deodato art and an increasingly strong overall state of affairs within the Marvel Universe.

The DC/Looney Toons specials were a delight, yet again. The Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Special #1 and the Catwoman, Tweety, & Sylvester Special #1 don’t hit Batman/Elmer Fudd levels of greatness, but they’re both quite good.

In my Extermination #1 review, I wrote about liking it because it seemed like minor cleanup of X-continuity in preparation for November’s relaunch of Uncanny X-Men. If that’s what this series ends up being, count me in for all five issues.

After what he did with Mike Allred in Silver Surfer, Dan Slott has 100 percent of my trust when it comes to nailing the family dynamic at the heart of the Fantastic Four. The first issue did nothing to change that.

I’m currently working my way through the original Sandman for the first time (I know, I know), one issue per night, and the reason why is because I found the Sandman Universe #1 teaser issue so intriguing.  

I loved Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ recently-concluded series Grass Kings. They’re back now, with a completely new book, Black Badge, and I’m all in. Read my review of Black Badge #1.

I have a new rotating gig writing the DC Round-Up for my favorite comics website, The Beat, and I got Pearl #1 with my first crop of books...and I loved it! Read my first DC Round-Up, in which I discuss Pearl.

Cold Spots #1 was appropriately chilling, promising more horror to come and living up to its title.

Leviathan #1 is one of those new books that brings together a creative union so perfect it seems like it's been going on for years.

West Coast Avengers #1 is a perfect use of every character in it, and a natural evolution of this franchise. I’m glad it exists.

Top 5 Best #1 Comics of August 2018

Crowded #1 by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell, & Cardinal Rae

As someone currently working a full-time job, plus three other work-for-hire writing side gigs that involve logging keyboard time fairly regularly at all hours (nights, weekends, etc.)...this late capitalist horror story about a young woman targeted by a crowd-sourced assassination app who subsequently contracts a defender via another separate app...well, it hit close to home for me.

My own economic and professional perspectives aside, Crowded #1 is simply a well-done comic. The pacing spares no tension, giving us just the right amount of info before throwing us into rapid action, and the bits Sebela and team reveal about their two lead characters are equal parts relatable and fascinating. What this book excels at most, however, is emphasizing the absurdity of what it’s like to work in 2018, extending the gig economy to a logical-yet-horrific extreme that should make every reader afraid, or at least introspective the next time they call an Uber.

Hot Lunch Special #1 by Eliot Rahal, Jorge Fornes, & Taylor Esposito

Hot Lunch Special, as I’ve said on Twitter, blends a generational American immigrant story with Midwestern crime noir evocative of Fargo. The result is a comic unlike any other on the stands today. Essentially, you come to this book for the mafioso murder/extortion plot line, and you stay for the touches of sincere graphic memoir—or maybe vice versa.

Even with severed appendages inside sandwiches appearing pretty near the story’s start, it’s to Hot Lunch Special’s credit it feels understated, as a good Midwestern story should. This is due in large part to the impressive work Rahal and Fornes do building character, particularly with the younger members of the family. An organized crime story is just so much more compelling when you start to tangle up those who are born into it, who maybe don’t realize the extent of the dirt and certainly didn’t ask for it. Rahal and Fornes know this well, and it makes for a great comic.

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

Annnnnd here we have another entry from writer Christopher Sebela, this time via IDW’s en fuego Black Crown imprint, which landed a book in last month’s Best New #1 Comics with another favorite of ours, The Euthanauts. The hits will likely keep coming for Black Crown too, what with the Laphams rolling out a crime noir book this fall about a nefarious shape-shifting travel blogger (I know, right?! sounds amazing). But I digress.

House Amok is visually rich with the work of veteran artist Shawn McManus, colored so effectively here by Lee Loughridge, one of the industry’s best at using different tones to establish flashbacks and mood. In addition to the stellar art, Sebela deploys a precocious narrative voice, a child writing about her literally crazed family in an innocent diary, trying to parse her own little healthy reality amid the violence the older relatives she’s supposed to trust continue to justify are perpetrate. Lyrical and dark, I’m all in on this comic.

Long Lost Book 2 #1 by Matthew Erman & Lisa Sterle

Speaking of lyrical and dark, our next new #1 is more of a continuation than a pure debut, but we like it so much we had to include it. And, hey, isn’t more of a continuation than a pure debut an accurate summation for nearly every new superhero #1 of the past two or three decades? Anyway, Long Lost is everything that’s healthy about indie comics right now rolled into one brilliant sequential graphic story.

In this book, readers find experimentation with form, effective-yet-subtle visuals that convey mood, patient characterization, and ideas that are mysterious and haunting. By design, much of the nature of this book is still to be revealed, yet the ride we’ve been on now through seven total issues has been thoroughly engrossing, incorporating ideas about the past, moving on, and sisterhood. Do yourself a favor: find and binge every issue of this comic. And do it while spending a long and quiet weekend somewhere, nostalgic and alone.

Seeds #1 by Ann Nocenti & David Aja

Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s Seeds #1 is the type of comic that will bug your eyes, expanding your consciousness and giving you occasion to slow down and run your hand over its pages and pages of stunning and provocative visuals. This book is probably best classified as near-future science fiction, a genre thriving in comics right now. Something about Seeds, however, feels different; as if these creators were given an actual glimpse of a future, complete with logical societal changes that are as of now impossible to predict.

Maybe that’s what makes Seeds feel so obviously brilliant—its world feels realistic, yet very much the product of the creators’ minds, sharp and visionary as they are. This is a four-part series, and after one issue I’m unequivocally on board for all of it. Nocenti and Aja are both towering talents who’ve contributed seminal works to mainstream superhero comic books, and now they’ve gone off-map. Be excited and afraid.

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.

Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — Ah, the weird fifth Wednesday, where indie titles are free to shine, DC rolls out its annuals and specials, and delayed comics from throughout the month finally find a home. It’s also the month where Wednesday Warriors (who are presumably the only folks who would be reading this) get a slight break for their wallets.

I say slight because there are, of course, still new comics to be had, for nothing can entirely stop the juggernaut that is comics commerce, rolling forward each week via its direct market of thousands of small business spread throughout the country, in what these days has likely become the oddest and most-antiquated media distribution system that still has a large and fairly entrenched following (of, to be fair, mostly middle-aged guys).  

Annnnyway, the point is there are comics coming out this week, so with that in mind let’s look now to our Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018!

Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018

Batgirl #26 / Batgirl Annual #2
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artists: Paul Pelletier (#26) & Elena Casagrande (Annual #2)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 (#26) & $4.99 (Annual #2)
#26 — "Art of the Crime" part one. During a high-speed chase with murderous art thief Grotesque, the villain K.O.'s Batgirl with a souped-up stun gun that temporarily fries the device implanted in her spine. (That thing that helps her, you know, walk and be Batgirl?) Babs finds herself in for a whole new world of hurt now that old wounds have been opened up-and so does Grotesque.  
Annual #2 —  Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning in this one-shot story that tracks Batgirl's hunt for a serial killer whose M.O. strikes a familiar chord. Namely, a disturbing similarity to her brother, current convict James Gordon Jr. Family bonds are restored during a visit to his maximum- security surroundings, but Babs' doubts linger. Is James Jr. helping to solve this case... or pulling her strings in a diabolical power play?

Why It’s Cool: I’m on record as having loved Batgirl #25, which gave us our first glimpse at the forthcoming run on the character by the new creative team of Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier/Elena Casagrande. Scott seems bent on drawing from the character’s history to tell stories that speak to her core values as well as her place within the Bat-family...plus, both of these artists are very exciting.

Harbinger Wars 2 #4 (of 4)
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99
THE FINAL BATTLE! LIVEWIRE VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE! We called it the biggest, most impactful, most ambitious Valiant event ever attempted - and we meant it! From across the Valiant Universe, the paths of all of the world's most formidable heroes - X-O Manowar, the Harbinger Renegades, Bloodshot, Ninjak, the Secret Weapons, H.A.R.D. Corps, and dozens of newly activated psiots - have finally converged, drawn together by their old ally Livewire's last-ditch effort to protect the powerless. Now, the long-brewing battle between Valiant's greatest icons will finally reach the stratosphere - literally - and, out of the ashes, a new order for the Valiant Universe will be hewn.
Why It’s Cool: What an event Harbinger Wars 2 has been, clocking in at spry four issues, maintaining the same creative team throughout its duration, and pairing up characters in fresh ways that only a younger superhero universe can do. This is the finale, sort of...there’s an aftermath issue coming out soon. Either way, big things seem to be afoot here and we’re definitely there for it.

Lex Luthor Porky Pig Special #1
Writers:
Mark Russell, Jim Fanning
Artists: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, John Loter
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor's most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?
Why It’s Cool: Nobody in comics is better at taking pop culture icons (a group in which we’d include Porky Pig) and turning them into modern satires than Mark Russell, who has done the same with The Flintstones and Snagglepuss, and will soon get another chance to do so with The Lone Ranger. Based on the preview text, this comic seems to be an incredibly timely look at white collar crime—we have this pegged as an early contender for book of the week.

Submerged #2 (of 4)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
As the worst storm in New York City's history crashes over its streets, Ellie Puente's desperate search for her brother, Angel, takes her into the terrifying depths of the subway system. There she finds a lost, helpless child, and is confronted with the stuff of her nightmares.
Why It’s Cool: This year could be remembered for being the one in which the industry saw the rise of Vault Comics, and books like Submerged are a big part of the reason why. This book combines a potpourri of different mythos with family drama and a terrifying experience writer Vita Ayala (who has also spent 2018 on the rise) had in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Like all Vault books, we have no idea where this one is going, but we’re certain it will be both rewarding and complex.

X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis #2 (of 2)
Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $5.99
SPACE INVADERS! The Shi'ar! The Brood! The Starjammers! Watch as Marvel's merry mutants take to the stars for the very first time all over again. See the inaugural X-Men adventures of Kitty Pryde and Carol Danvers. Marvel at the conclusion of the now-classic DARK PHOENIX SAGA.   A great entry point for new and lapsed X-Men fans alike!
Why It’s Cool: It just is. Writer/artist Ed Piskor’s X-Mythos remix Grand Design is one of the coolest things happening in comics today, with everything from the artwork to the structure to the tactile enhancements made by the book’s special paper ranking as pretty freaking cool. We may end up waiting for the over-sized compiled addition that’s coming down the road, but we still want to stress this as a book that is not to be missed—regardless of your preferred format.

Recommended New #1 Comics for August 29, 2018

  • Beyonders #1

  • Catwoman Tweety & Sylvester Special #1

  • Daredevil Annual #1

  • House Amok #1

  • Hunt for Wolverine Dead Ends #1

  • Nightwing Annual #1 (drawn by Otto Schmidt!)

  • Scarlet #1

  • Silencer Annual #1

  • Web of Venom: VeNam #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #4

  • Beatles Yellow Submarine Hardcover

  • Bone Parish #2

  • Euthanuats #2

  • Exiles #7

  • Isola #5

  • Marvel 2-in-1 #9

  • Ms. Marvel #33

  • New Mutants: Dead Souls #6

  • New World #2 (of 5)

  • Paradise Court #2 (of 5)

  • Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2

  • X-23 #3

See our other top comics to buy here.

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

REVIEW: Extermination #1 by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, Marte Garcia, & VC’s Joe Sabino

By Zack Quaintance — I was at Marvel’s SDCC X-Men panel, during which Matthew Rosenberg insinuated major X-happenings would come in Extermination, a five-part mini-series with a tagline of EXTERMINATE THE PAST. ELIMINATE THE FUTURE. The smart money was on this being the book that would settle the fate of the original 5  X-Men, who basically all of X-fandom agreed had run their course like two years ago.

Through one issue, that suspicion is all but guaranteed, especially given the new Uncanny X-Men #1 teaser art with hardly a young X-person in site. Another thing Rosenberg insinuated at the panel was everyone would think they knew what Extermination was about, but that, in fact, they would be wrong (a pretty standard teaser in superhero comics). Rosenberg was, of course, vague, as to not accidentally step on the upcoming project of a fellow X-writer.

All of that is my way of saying Extermination #1 is maybe not entirely what it seems to be. Through one part (or 20 percent) of the story, I feel like I have a decent grasp on what’s at stake: one part of it is definitely sending the time-displaced X-pups away, another part is doing something interesting with an older X-character whose identity I won’t reveal because, you know, spoilers. If that’s all this story is about, it’ll be interesting enough.

Really, this first issue is incredibly well-paced, doling out consequential action at a clip the vast majority of event comics (is this an event?) don’t. It’s in a unique position to do this given the current X-status quo. Marvel’s mutant stories have gotten pretty messy of late, with little sense of cohesion. This, in fact, has been my central complaint with X-titles (Blue and Gold, etc.), and I’ve largely limited myself to X-Books that have RED in their titles, or are written by writers named Thompson (Kelly and Zac) or Rosenberg.

This is significant here, because the unwieldy state of the X-titles gives Brisson disposable pieces to take off the board, pieces he uses expertly, giving needed jolts to the ends of the first and third acts of this comic. I enjoyed the tight plotting, but, more than that, Brisson’s willingness to make big moves is also an encouraging sign for the upcoming 10-part weekly re-launch of Uncanny X-Men. There sure seem to be quite a few X-Men on that promotional poster. I know it’s morbid, but wouldn’t it be thrilling if there weren’t as many left when that 10 weeks is over?

Extermination likely marks the start of a cleanup before the franchise’s flagship title returns in full, and an encouraging one at that. I suppose it remains to be scene which of Brisson, Rosenberg, or Thompson will ultimately write Uncanny full-time, but I’m glad they’re doing it together at the start, potentially portending that sense of cohesion I’ve craved.

Overall: An exciting and fast-paced first issue, posting a couple quick surprises. If this book is the start of an X-cleanup before the fall’s Uncanny X-Men re-launch, the Brisson-Rosenberg-Thompson era is off to a very nice start. 8.5/10

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 late...so 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 right...read 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.

SDCC 2018’s 10 Coolest Comic Announcements

By Zack Quaintance — Yes, San Diego Comic Con is more about movies and TV than it is about comics, but! That doesn’t mean there aren’t still some pretty cool comic announcements happening the week of/during the con (some of which I got to be in the room for!). These are, of course, announcements about real printed comics, dozens of which are somehow written and drawn and shipped to small businesses across the country each week (which is all pretty crazy if you think about 2018 and the media landscape long enough).

With that in mind, we’d like to take a quick look today at 10 (plus one extra) of the coolest comic announcements to come out of this year’s con, ranked below in a fairly random order...let’s do it!

10 Coolest Comic Announcements

Electric Warriors Mini Series by Steve Orlando and Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 2018
More Info: Diplomacy and Death via the Electric Warriors
Why It’s Cool: DC has essentially given Steve Orlando—one of its best writers when it comes to capturing the beauty to be found in obscure bits of continuity—and Travel Foreman—a visionary comic artist if ever there was one—a fairly-open canvas to do with what they will. This canvas—Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster future—is inherently Kirby-esque (seeing as he created it) and now we’ll get what is likely to be complex and surprising take on it spread through six issues. Sign me up.  

A potentially Dune-esque high-concept sci-fi story heavy with 2018 sensibilities by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward.

Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics and Berger Books
Release Date: March 2019
More Info: G. Willow Wilson to Write for Berger Books
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of visionary science fiction, have you seen the cover for G. Willow Wilson’s forthcoming Berger Books comic, Invisible Kingdom? Phew. The art is something, and the solicit evokes Dune-esque ideas of exploring the intersection of religion and commerce (presumably without all the stuff about how “spices” can expand one’s mind). Wilson is a thoughtful and attentive writer, and a take like this edited by former-Vertigo heyday editor Karen Berger is very cool indeed.

X-Men Black
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: News from Marvel's X-Men Panel
Why It’s Cool: The X-Offices have tapped a super eclectic bunch of writers to do X-Men Black, a weekly series this October in which each issue centers on a different villain. It’s a pretty cool move to have Chris Claremont writing about Magneto one week, noted Maggott aficionado Leah Williams doing Emma Frost the next, and Scott Aukerman (Hot Soccermom) of Comedy Bang Bang on Mojo the next. Pretty cool indeed, especially as it seems to be leading a revival of Uncanny X-Men in November…

Gail Simone Overseeing Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime
Publisher: Lion Forge
Release Date: Simone seems to be hard at work on this already
More Info: Gail Simone Discusses Being Named Architect of Catalyst Prime
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of cool oversight gigs, how about Gail Simone becoming the architect of Lion Forge’s still-nascent Catalyst Prime Universe? Cards on the table, I’d been contemplating jumping off this line after the former architect, Joseph Illidge, left for Valiant earlier this year, but now with Simone at the wheel I’ve scratched those plans and re-upped my excitement for this concept.

Donny Cates ‘Showrunning’ a Marvel Knights Commemoration
Publisher:
Marvel
Release Date: November
More Info: Donny Cates and Team to Commemorate Marvel Knights’ 20th Anniversary
Why It’s Cool: Speaking yet again (last time, I promise) about cool oversight gigs, Marvel announced that big ideas/bigger personality writer Donny Cates would be “showrunning” an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its classic (for my generation, anyway) line of Marvel Knights properties, which back in the day told prestige TV-esque stories about characters like Daredevil, Moon Knight, and Black Panther. Joined in this effort will be an exciting new guard of Marvel writers that includes Matthew Rosenberg, Tini Howard, and Vita Ayala. Cool!

The Laphams doing ‘The Lodger’ for IDW’s Black Crown
Publisher: Black Crown via IDW
Release Date: October
More Info: Shelly Bond Announces Laphams Book on Black Crown
Why It’s Cool: From its inception, Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint at IDW (which has an aesthetic I describe as slightly drunk at a DIY punk rock show) has seemed to promise edgy and interesting comics, and the first batch was, indeed, strong. The second batch, however, is shaping up to fully capture Bond’s vision, starting with Euthanuats and continuing now with The Lodger, which is from the Laphams, a husband and wife duo behind the modern noir classic comic Stray Bullets.

Rush album cover artists are burning with jealousy.

Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp to Take Over Green Lantern
Why It’s Cool: It’s Grant Morrison writing a cosmic book in the DC Universe, which alone would be cool enough to make this list, but, hey, it’s also Liam Sharpe on art! And his early work looks like an insane prog rock album cover. This, friends, is going to be epic.

Aquaman by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: TBD (I think? Info seemed scarce on when…)
More Info: DeConnick and Rocha Take Over Aquaman
Why It’s Cool: I couldn't find a release date, but Kelly Sue DeConnick writing Aquaman in time for the character's spotlight via a new movie is super cool. DeConnick is an exciting and polished comic writer, perfect for pushing Arthur in new directions after Dan Abnett’s safe and slow-moving take on the character.

Vision by Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: November
More Info: Marvel’s Mic Drop Moment at SDCC
Why It’s Cool: Chelsea Cain is coming back to Marvel, in spite of a harassment campaign that resulted from a character wearing a pro-feminism t-shirt in a book about a strong female secret agent. Groan. But it’s good to see Cain back! Her last book for Marvel, Mockingbird, was a complex puzzle box of a story about Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, one that incorporated interesting character and relationship developments for its lead. Tom King’s Vision is an impossible act to follow, but it will be cool to see Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch tell their own story with everyone’s favorite Marvel android.

Here's hoping we enjoy this book as much as the Shazam family is enjoying this roller coaster.

Shazam! by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November
More Info: Shazam Comic Announced by Geoff Johns
Why It’s Cool: Geoff Johns’ take on Shazam in the New 52 might have been a bit polarizing (I liked it well enough), but circumstances now seem right for him to tell a very cool Shazam story. He’s returning to writing as a main focus and is presumably fired up to do so. Plus, holy cow of all the new art dropped at SDCC, I think Dale Eaglesham’s Shazam piece is my favorite.

Plus One More

Mars Attacks! by Kyle Starks & Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite
Release Date: October 2018
More Info: Dynamite Relaunches Mars Attacks
Why It’s Cool: Kyle Starks, whose Rock Candy Mountain is quite possibly the funniest comic ever, is now collaborating with Chris Schweizer on a Mars Attacks story. Yes, please.

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

Rogue and Gambit in Love: A Look at the Iconic Couple's First Appearance

By Theron Couch — A bad drink is often saved by the right chaser. In fiction, happy endings make great chasers, able to cleanse and forgive any unpleasantness in the story that came before. Rogue and Gambit, after years of will-they-won’t-they tension, took a major step forward in their relationship in the recent Rogue and Gambit mini-series, before finally hitting real pay dirt with their spontaneous wedding in X-Men Gold #30.

As if all that wasn’t enough, though, now they’re headlining a brand new series that starts Wednesday, Mr. and Mrs. X by Kelly Thompson and Oscar Bazaldua. This happy ending is one hell of a chaser, one that forgives a series of past missteps related to how these two have been depicted, including villainy, underdeveloped characterization, and an arguably disturbing first meeting between them. It’s that first meeting—as well as the first appearances of each character—that I'd like to discuss today.

Rogue’s First Appearance

Note how the cover teases a shocking mystery guest!

Rogue’s first appearance was Avengers Annual #10, and there was very little in that book to indicate she would spend decades as one of the most popular X-Men. Rogue shows up as part of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in an issue that starts with Carol Danvers being found unconscious, thereby kicking off a mystery that culminates in a confrontation between the Avengers and Mystique’s aforementioned Brotherhood.

Before the main event battle, though, Rogue assaults the Avengers’ heavy hitters all on her own, using her powers without the restraint commonly seen in her X-Men years. Rogue single-handedly eliminates Captain America, Iron Man, Vision, and Thor. But for all that power, her place in the story is essentially just as muscle for Mystique’s team, with no real character development aside from use of her powers. As she flees at the end, there’s no suggestion of redemption in her future; Rogue’s first impression is that of a powerful enemy to be seen on a recurring basis.

Gambit’s First Appearance

It would have been hard to predict at the time that the mutant called Gambit! would both enter and stay.

Gambit, on the other hand, first appears as a hero. Sort of. Uncanny X-Men #266 opens with Storm in the custody of the Shadow King and his Hounds. Gambit is engaged in thievery at the mansion where Storm is being kept—a perfect setup for him to help her attempt an escape. This Gambit, however, is a man of few words, lacking the flirtatiousness that later becomes a hallmark of his depictions.

When Gambit chooses to help Storm, it’s not because she’s an X-Man or a mutant, but rather because he suspects that she is Ororo Munroe, herself a famous thief. In this issue Gambit is little more than a cipher. The reader is given no special reason to care about this new character—except, perhaps, that he’s an active thief; Storm could have been rescued by anyone. Mutants come and go in X-Men, and there is nothing in Uncanny X-Men #266 to suggest Gambit would stick around.

Rogue and Gambit in Love

Mr. and Mrs. X (out July 25) looks to be a sweet chaser to one of the most famous-yet-tumultuous romances in the X-Men world.

Over time—and despite mutually rough beginnings—both Rogue and Gambit find a home on the X-Men, and eventually their characters are fleshed out. Being on the same team, it’s only a matter of time before the two start appearing together. Their first interaction takes place in the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee X-Men #1 and their romance begins in X-Men #4, several years after Rogue’s first appearance and roughly one after Gambit’s. To have a romance start so quickly, one can only assume it was love at first sight.

Well, it was something at first sight, if not exactly love.

In the recent Rogue and Gambit mini-series, it is revealed the couple actually first became entwined during the Muir Island Saga—which pays off machinations at work in Gambit’s first appearance. The entire X-Men team is on Muir Island during Uncanny X-Men #278 - 280, and the Shadow King has taken control of all of them. To avoid spreading himself too thin, those in the Shadow King’s thrall are free to act on their own when he isn’t in direct control. Their personalities, however, are dark and violent reflections of their normal selves.

These are the conditions under which Rogue and Gambit first meet, according to Rogue and Gambit #2—first meet and, it’s suggested, first make love. On the surface, the encounter can be see as one of simple lust and little more—but not to Gambit, who points out that even under mind control the two were drawn together. And maybe he's right, because they did start their little dance soon after.

Ultimately, Rogue and Gambit have experienced almost every permutation possible both as individuals and as a couple. Their fictional history began in a much different (and darker) place than where we find the couple now. In some ways, this makes their wedding the best happy ending of all. Rogue and Gambit have never quite forgiven themselves for what they’ve done. Perhaps they never can. But if a marriage is a leap of faith, maybe the message is that they each forgive the other, even if they can’t forgive themselves. Anyone who’s followed their histories knows that Rogue and Gambit have often been a rough drink. In that regard, Mr. and Mrs. X looks to be one hell of a chaser.

Theron Couch is a writer, blogger, and comic book reviewer. His first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter at @theroncouch.