Honorable Mention Highlights: November 2021
The Dark Knights of Steel #1
Remember when you were a kid playing make-believe and you'd merge together very different IPs to the point where suddenly Optimus Prime is driving Mario to the next castle? This is kind of like that. Suddenly you're in a fantasy setting, but still watching the same DC characters you'd expect in a big crossover. I think is most surprising is how well it works - well done, team, I definitely care about the princes after all.
A Thing Called Truth #1
Relatable, fun characters embroiled in a tale of misogyny and betrayal. This book is delightfully developed and honestly is a story unlike a lot of what's out there. It's realistic and grounded while building to an exciting thrust.
What if Batman was a pervy jerk, got accidentally killed by a random loser, and then replaced by said random loser at the behest of "Alfred" (who absolutely hates Batman to begin with)? If that premise isn't enough to delight you, then just know that this book is incredibly clever and wonderfully cheeky. Sure, it's another "what if popular super hero but different" story, but it's got some fun twists and turns.
My Date with Monsters #1
What a fascinating concept for a book. Bad science leads to real nightmares, and the only way to avoid the apocalypse is for a very single mom to fall in love and build a stable family. Has it already built in some pretty predictable plot points? Yeah, but that doesn't take away from my investment in the very likeable characters. I'm excited to see how it all plays out.
Provenance of Secrets #1
Another day, another noir - but this time, our gumshoe is investigating a theater cult (that as a former theater kid, seems completely believable). Boldly black and white, with a swiftly unraveling mystery, this one has set up to be a very interesting read.
Good Boy #1
If you had told me I would one day read a comic book adaptation of John Wick where the dog lives and the person dies but it still turns into a bullet blasting blood bath, I would have told you to seek help. And yet, here we are. This book shines mainly for the novelty of the concept, but does have some fun art and tongue-in-cheek moments within to earn a mention.
Turkey Day One Shot
The perfect story for the holidays! It's got it all! Community. Family. History. Alien-possessed murder turkeys. If you like B-level horror movies, this book will be a fun ride for you. In the mix is also a nice bit of cheeky commentary on the problematic nature of the Thanksgiving story and the treatment of indigenous people in modern society. Oh, and also gore. Lots of gore.
Honorable Mention Highlights: October 2021
Soul Plumber #1
Goodness, this is an ugly book. If you are looking for a polite, clean, puritan reflection on the soul, run very, very far away. Soul Plumber is shockingly relatable beneath the layer of filth, and I'm rooting for the lead.
Chicken Devil #1
Oh my goodness, this book I just one big fiasco and I love. Hot chicken magnate gets involved in crimes because the world around him deems it. Why not? This is the least character driven book I've read, but I kind of love just watching this dude on a log flume of misery and guns. Also, they have a restaurant menu in the back and it looks damn tasty.
Marvel Legends: Black Panther #1
Not much more to say aside from this is a cool look at young Tchalla earning his stripes (do panthers have stripes?) and showing his mobility in the face of a unaccepting world. This book handles heavy topics like racism and capitalism in a delicate way but still delivers a solid message. A great book for young readers.
Batman: The Imposter #1
A prequel/sequel to the new Batman movie? Hard to tell really, as it feels fairly originy but also seems to also reference movie things? Weird flex releasing a sequel to a movie that does not yet exist, but hey, that's DC. They flex more than an insecure, pre-workout addled Chad on a busy day at muscle beach. Still, I like the angle that they are taking with this Batman and this left me kinda jazzed for the movie. Not really a super new story, but still a nice level of grit.
What do you do when the veil between two realities is lifting and demons are co-mingling with humans on a regular basis? You create a new police force, obvi. Our main character is pretty predictable, but the world building keeps me intrigued enough to want to read more in issue #2. And that's really all it takes, isn't it?
DC vs Vampires #1
Well, hot damn Tynion, you're aiming for a Cover B fan club name, aren't you? The cheesiest of names gives way into an excellent, thought provoking book that not only makes sense in the given DC universe, but made me gasp unexpectedly at twists. I am definitely looking forward to the next issue of this one.
Pop Star Assassin #1
When I saw the title, this was NOT the book I was expecting to read. An Elvis impersonator, a waitress, and a psychic vagrant escape from a bar - be sure to stop me if you've heard this one. Oh, you haven't? I'm not surprised. This book is bonkers, but has a lot of potential if you like fast-paced, off-the-wall chaos.
Cross to Bear #1
...Are they Templars? Are they Masons? Is it a brand new cult we've never heard of? What is their real mission? What are they protecting... or who? I love a good secret society, and I love even more when our supposed protag is more fallible than forgivable. Who doesn't love some character depth, amiright?
Winchester Mystery House #1
You've heard the legends. You've probably even seen the movie. But there's something so eerie about the Winchester House that I'm glad it's being given a chance in the comic format. The ability to come from different perspectives, show more intimate details of the house's machinations - there's a lot that can be done here, and I'm very excited to see it go down.
Honorable Mention Highlights: September 2021
What happens when everyone passes out and then immediately wakes up being able to read each other's thoughts? Sounds pretty awful, doesn't it? Well, Straczinsky has taken on exactly this concept. Not a ton happens in issue number one, mostly just covering the finer details of "why" and "how," but with there being nothing more personal than your own inner-most thoughts, I could definitely see this book getting into some nitty gritty of what it means to have personal space.
Dark Ages #1
Oh look, Marvel has some sort of event going on. Been a minute since they've had one of those...
That said, this event is actually kind of neat so far. It's an interesting concept: how would superheroes function in a world of no electricity. It really only works for Marvel too, seeing as how so much of the Marvel heroism is based in science and technology. In a word full of Marvel cash ins, I'm actually pretty stoked for this one.
Search for Hu #1
Kind of like Pearl from Bendis, but set it inside a martial arts movie. There's some clichés, some "why did you never tell me" moments, some special military behind-closed-doors knowledge to be had - not a bad time, but not an exceptionally special one, either. It has potential, though, especially if you love a good "chosen-one" story.
Nine Stones #1
I like the characters of this book. The premise isn't entirely new. The narrative plays out fairly predictably. But the writing of the characters is what really shines. They just feel cute and realistic, and I find myself wanting to see their love blossom. And in general it's nice to have an LGBTQ story that just feels natural and not forced.
I have high hopes for Maw, but dang did the first issue not deliver. I get the message it's trying to say, but it's handling of that message is done with heavy hands. Like, filled with lead hands. That said, I dig the creepy atmosphere built around the self-help group/ cult, and the promise of body horror will always get me hooked.
Man, you know I love a good steampunk story. This one has that distinct "Victorian-era but MACHINES" vibe, which can be done so well in comics. What's cool about this one is that the main focus is on fashion, which just makes so much sense in a steampunk environment. The characters are well developed, the story is very familiar and engaging (I see you, Beauty and the Beast) and the twist is just twisty-enough. I'm only sad it's a one-shot, because this title sucked me in for sure.
10 Years to Death (One Shot)
This is another of those big, beautiful one-shot titles from Aftershock that we've been talking about a lot. This one is a horror title, but less gruesome than some of the others, and reads a little more like a supernatural thriller. The tale is told from the perspective of a now-grown man, retelling an experience he had as a kid with his uncle. It's well paced, spooky, and feels just grounded in reality enough to keep you sucked in the whole way through. Definitely worth picking up.
Impossible Jones #1
She was a criminal, in it for herself and the score. Now, she finds herself with powers she didn't earn, and a nagging feeling of responsibility to be on the right side of the law. Sounds impossible? Nah, just Impossible Jones. Cute, colorful, creative use of some superhero tropes - I think this is going to be a super fun titles to follow moving forward.
I'm a sucker for a good "group of ragtag, brash yahoos out in space on some sort of dangerous mission for a corporation and/or to save the earth in a mundane way" kinda scifi story. If you feel the same, are a fan of the alien franchise, or just looking for some interesting sci-fi that is more of the "this spaceship runs on diesel" type, then this is a good choice. Unborn doesn't try too hard to break the mold, but instead chooses to tell a story about interpersonal relationships and coping with the past against a backdrop of clunky space mechanisms and regenerative alien bugs.
Turbo Kid: Apple's Lost Adventure #1
This is apparently a prequel to a movie. If the movie is anywhere as balls-out bonkers as this book, I need to watch it. Turbo Kid appears to be one part Mega Man, one part Tank Girl, and if I need to say more than that then you just don't understand joy.
Human Remains #1
So, the whole "emotions are bad" thing has been done before, but usually under the umbrella of government control. Here we have some sort of mysterious entities that teleport in and obliterate anyone feeling to strongly a certain way. Cool premise that I can't help but feel like is based on something. The entity attacks people playing outside, people at weddings, people congregating at church, people gathering for concerts and parties, people blowing off steam at a bar. Where we come in, everyone is pretty much forced inside and all the revelry of the social world is gone. Where have I seen that before?
I love a good superhero book with scruples. Frontiersman was not what I expected. After Image's recent tangles with the superhero being a bit lame (looking at you, Mr. Radiant Black), I expected this to be another run of the mill super story. What I got instead was a very natural feeling character in a slowly built world struggling with concepts like relevancy, climate change and the nature of social media martyrdom. It was a moderately paced, chill kinda read with some nice world building. I'm rooting for you, Frontiersman.
Honorable Mention Highlights: June 2021
Crush & Lobo #1
Crush is a fun character. Lobo is also a fun character. While this comic is steeped in a bit of recent history, it seems like it's gonna be a fun ride. Also, we might find out more about Crush along the way, which would be a cool edition to the DC mythos overall.
Out of Body #1
A weird and funky world of astral projection that follows one man's simultaneous journey of self discovery and a desperate fight for his life. This book had some shaky points, but overall is a very nifty concept with just enough magical elements to add some spice.
Freak Snow #1
What? What is happening? This book is absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-YES. We follow a crazy man in the snow. That's about it. We don't know why there is snow. We don't really know who he is. But he's crazy and there is snow. It's a trippy, cold world with splashes of color and I truly, truly love it.
Compass: The Cauldron of Eternal Life #1
A delightful bit of historical fiction that blends multiple cultures into a tale of treasure hunting and treachery. This book reads like a modern adventure book but feels like a old-school pulp serial. It's refreshingly straightforward in it's plot set up and ha a unique cast of characters.
Batman Reptilian #1
Garth Ennis's Batman is weirdly passive aggressive and incredibly meta. He understands that people know the "rules" of Batman and uses that to his advantage. This book is easily set up to be a new entry in the Batman Dark Works of Art Hall of Fame alongside titles like Arkham Asylum or Long Halloween. Liam Sharps painted pages are profoundly peculiar, overflowing with the dark and gruesome world of Gotham like it's rarely been seen.
I love Vinyl. Hands down. I love the Suicide Squad of weird serial killers that is being advertised. I love the cult shit. I love that it starts smack in the middle but fully includes the ready in events that happened elsewhere. I love Walter, so much. This book is gory good fun and should be on everyone's list (check out Plastic, too - another fun serial killer romp).
United States of Captain America #1
A bit of a clunky start to the premise, but a fun idea. Cap and Falcon suiting up on a meet-and-greet-and-protect-from-assassins road trip is a cool idea, and this will be a great book to introduce more characters that people can feel represent them - more than many other heroes can. If you like to spec, might be a book to look into to, as any of these characters have major TV or possibly even movie potential.
This book is going to make you feel some kind of way - maybe sad, maybe fascinated, maybe concerned - but you will definitely feel it. Taken from the author's real pain about a brother he lost to drugs, and put to page like street art in a cover, you definitely know it's the 80's and that things just aren't going to end well for anyone involved.
It's not at all what you're expecting, and that's what makes it fantastic. A drinking, debaucherous barbarian is cursed to only do good - which is a lot less fun than his original plan. Plus, when you have a bloodthirsty talking axe coming along for the ride, everything gets a lot more metal. It's a good time, for sure.
Look, sometimes we DO get rendered speechless...
What a strange week for comics, you guys. Some interesting new titles, but also some just... strange stuff. But hey, if you've been looking for a way to break into Firefly, that happened! So... good?
Honorable Mention Highlights: January 27, 2021
Dead End Kids #1
Get ready for some feels, fam. We're finally far enough away from 9/11 that we can start reading stories, not of the tragedy itself, but of the aftermath left behind. Following three teens all affected by the consequences of the awful event in very different ways, we see something fascinating... What happens when life keeps moving, and crazy stuff keeps going down entirely unrelated to this originally life-altering experience? I'm incredibly excited about this book because it really feels like a very new, very necessary story about people just trying to keep on going.
The Eighth Immortal #1
I want to like this book, I really truly do. It's got really cool somewhat manga-esque art and an interesting use of color. The premise is right in line with the types of stories I enjoy, being all about a race of immortals who are barred from ever reproducing because there can only ever be 7 of them. Lots of myth, lots of prophecy and the like. And yet, it's hard getting past the elephant in this book that is how ABSOLUTELY HORNY THIS BOOK IS. I am by no means a prude, but goddamn, there is sex on like every third page of this book. Wowsers.
"but Chris, you said you were sick of Vampires!" I know, okay, look.... This book was cool, it had interesting art and enough uniqueness in it's world building to stand apart. It was basically "what if Faith from Buffy became a Twitch streamer?" I liked it, okay. There. I liked a Vampire book.
So, now, I know it seems weird to have a mid-series book in here, but I think this is a GREAT jumping on point for folks who love Firefly and want more of it. We just finished the Serenity crew (and friends and associates) bailing on the fight and making a life for themselves in Haven... Except, years later, looks like all of THAT has gone sideways. New characters, the loss of old ones, and KayLee taking on the captain's mantle, I am MORE than excited to see what the sam-heck happened during that flash-forward we didn't get to see!
Cover B Podcast
Chris & Tee host this weekly comic-focused show, providing insight on new comics, entertainment news and more.