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SYFY WIRE Comics Wire

Comics Wire: Exclusive - Mike Mignola's Golem Walks Among Us; Superman '78; Fantastic Four's 60th & more!

By Matthew Jackson

Welcome to Comics Wire, SYFY WIRE's weekly comics column that gets at the pulse of what's going on in comics right now. We've got what you need to know about huge crossovers, real-life issues facing the industry, cool first looks, the week's hot new comics, and everything in-between.

Earlier this year, the "Outerverse" continuity of supernatural stories that began with Baltimore and Joe Golem: Occult Detective got a much-anticipated expansion with the announcement of three new Tales from the Outerverse stories from writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, artist Peter Bergting, and colorist Michelle Madsen. It began in the spring with Cojacaru the Skinner, continued into the summer with Imogen of the Wyrding Way, and now it reaches yet another milestone with the story of a beloved Outerverse character before he became an occult detective. This week, The Golem Walks Among Us!

Like Cojacaru before it, the new tale is a two-issue series that expands on the Outerverse continuity with a tale of Joe Golem back when he was Josef the Golem, awakened and brought to a small European village where a cult is primed to sacrifice newborn children to a group of fearsome witches. In the gallery below, you can get an exclusive taste of The Golem Walks Among Us! #1, and what awaits our hero in this tale from his past.

For Golden, who's crafted many tales alongside Mignola at this point, the book is yet another part of an ever-expanding web of storytelling that started somewhat accidentally.

"Mike Mignola and I originally created the Outerverse sort of by accident. We’d been doing Baltimore and Joe Golem: Occult Detective comics and started to realize that they existed in the same universe, that we even knew the exact moment that the ending of Baltimore altered the world in a cataclysmic way to become the world of Joe Golem," Golden told SYFY WIRE. "Many readers guessed, but most never realized it. We realized we had all of these characters and concepts that we loved, this mythology we’d built, but no way to really give them the space they needed to keep growing. With the official launch of the Outerverse, we’ve built a playing field where we can explore it all at once, where all of these characters can interact and we can go deeper and further in building out our mythology."

Like the other Tales from the Outerverse so far, The Golem Walks Among Us! features the wonderfully spooky style of Bergting and Madsen as they craft another dark corner of this supernatural world, and as readers get to know this version of the Golem they may be reminded more than a little of Hellboy. Like Big Red, this Golem is a determined, no-nonsense warrior with no time for games, but as the book goes on, there will also be many questions surrounding his fighting style. Why is he so determined? Does he want to kill witches more than he wants to help people? And, of course, how does this Golem become the occult detective of later stories?

"This is Josef the Golem before he became human, before he became the occult detective from Joe Golem," Golden said. "And when you get to the opening scene of issue #1 and you see a dark magic cult on the Mediterranean Sea stealing a baby, and the Golem dropping out of an airplane from thousands of feet up (with no parachute) to save that baby…it’s just the beginning. I think this issue is the best work Peter Bergting’s done with us so far, and that’s saying something!"

The Golem Walks Among Us! #1 is in stores today.

Superman '78 is Up in the Sky again

This month, DC Comics and some all-star creative teams will take us back to two beloved eras of superhero storytelling with series centered around the worlds of Batman '89 and Superman '78. The Batman '89 comic, by original screenwriter Sam Hamm and artist Joe Quinones, dropped a big peek at its first issue in the middle of July ahead of its release next week. Just a few days ago, it was Superman '78's turn, and in anticipation of both of these comics, I think it's worth a look at what that book's first issue, from writer Robert Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres, has to offer. Check it out in the gallery below.

As you can tell from the pages, this is the story that will finally introduce Brainiac into the Superman world first envisioned by director Richard Donner more than four decades ago. While that's certainly enticing, though, what excites me most about this preview is the dynamic between Clark and Lois on the streets of Metropolis. I can hear Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in these word balloons, and that's pure joy.

Superman '78 is still a few weeks away, but thanks to the fine folks at DC Comics, I've already had the chance to read Batman '89 #1, and after that peek I can also say that one of the most exciting aspects of these comics is how much they feel like ambitious sequels in their own right. These aren't just tributes to particular pieces of pop culture, though they definitely also function that way. These have the potential to say something new about these interpretations of classic heroes, and I can't wait to see how the larger arcs of these stories play out.

Batman '89 #1 is in stores August 10. Superman '78 #1 arrives August 24.

More news: Fantastic Four's 60th, Jim Lee's fundraising, and more!

- This year marks the 60th birthday of one of the most important comic books in the history of superheroes: Fantastic Four #1. In 1961, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee released the very first tale of the quartet who would become Marvel's First Family, and the results were revolutionary. Over the course of a 100-issue run on the title, Stan and Jack built the Marvel Universe, launching numerous other titles along the way and giving us one of the most monumental pop culture institutions of the 20th century.

Now, to celebrate 60 years since that landmark story, Marvel Comics is honoring the birth of the Fantastic Four with an intriguing project. Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 will, in the same way that Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein and Cockrum offered an homage to a legendary X-story, feature dozens of top tier artists retelling the original story page-by-page. Stan and Jack's legendary first adventure, and the landmark wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Fantastic Four Annual #3, will be re-imagined through stunning work by everyone from John Romita Jr. to Elsa Charretier to Walt Simonson. To see the full, frankly jaw-dropping lineup of artists, head over to Marvel's website, and be sure to check out both Steve McNiven's Fantastic Four #1 cover homage and Jim Cheung's Fantastic Four Annual #3 cover homage in the gallery above. The book arrives in November.

- Cullen Bunn, the genre storytelling powerhouse who just can't stop churning out intriguing new comics idea, is about to launch another new project over at AfterShock Comics. The publisher announced this week that Bunn, co-writer Heath Amodio, and artist Sami Kivelä (Everfrost, Abbott) are launching The Heathens, a new supernatural comic with a hell of a hook. Much like current AfterShock series Seven Swords, which follows a band of adventurers from across fiction teaming up, The Heathens will feature an unlikely team forming across time to stop a supernatural threat. In this case, though, we're talking about a group of legendary criminals, including pirate queen Ching Shih, gangster Lucky Luciano, Western outlaw Billy the Kid, and more. Their mission? Hunt down some of the worst souls to ever be condemned to Hell after they break out and start wreaking havoc. I'm ready to read this right now. The Heathens launches November 3, and you can check out a preview over at AfterShock's website.

- Last year, as the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic drove comic book shops to close to foot traffic across the country and the world, DC Comics Publisher Jim Lee set out to help in his own way with what seemed at the time like a very straightforward, relatively short project. Lee's goal was to do 60 character sketches in 60 days, auction each piece off on eBay, and donate the proceeds to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC), which offers emergency funds to book and comics retailers. Last month, many more than 60 days after he started the endeavor, Lee finally completed his 60th sketch. It took longer than he intended, but in the process, Newsarama reports that Lee's efforts raised more than $800,000 for BINC, and that's a superheroic feat worth celebrating.

- And finally this week, just when you think the world might not need yet another Batman comic, DC Comics announces something you can't help but get excited about. The publisher revealed last week that Jock, the artist behind recent Batman hits like The Batman Who Laughs and The Black Mirror, will strike out in a solo effort later this year with Batman: One Dark Knight. The three-issue DC Black Label series, written and drawn by Jock, will follow Batman's efforts to navigate Gotham City in the midst of a summer blackout, and arrives December 7.

New comics this week: The Me You Love in the DarkX-MenSuicide Squad, and more!

The Me You Love in the Dark

That's the news. Now let's talk about some of the comics I got excited about this week.

The Me You Love in the Dark #1: Some creative teams can do so much with a relatively simple setup that you're happily lost in the world just a few pages in, and that's exactly what Skottie Young and Jorge Corona achieve with the first issue of The Me You Love in the Dark, a beautifully haunting new comic that will leave you longing for more of its elegantly realized little world.

The setup is quite direct: An artist named Ro, tired of life in the city, rents an old house in the middle of nowhere, and is all the more excited to move in when the realtor warns her that it might be haunted. As she struggles to get back into her work, confronting the blank canvas day after day, she begins to realize that the realtor may have been right.

Young and Corona bring all the magic they created together in Middlewest to bear on this tale, and it's clear that their collaboration hasn't lost a step. Young know exactly when to embellish and when to pull back and let the art do the work, while Corona's designs create both a sense of haunting isolation and unexpected warmth in the panels, as Ro's lonely existence begins to evolve into something else. What starts as the lead-in to a haunted house story gains visual, emotional, and thematic momentum with each page, becoming by the end not just an intriguing tale of ghosts, but a metaphor for the solitude of creation, and the chaos that often arrives when we try to conjure meaning out of thin air. I am absolutely hooked on this spellbinding new book, and can't wait to keep reading.

Suicide Squad: Get Joker #1: Though a lot of people would point to the central "supervillains as disposable operatives" premise as the defining characteristic of a good Suicide Squad story, for me it's something else. It's not just that we're talking about morally questionable people doing morally questionable things with these stories, but the sense of absolute unpredictability that drives the very best ones. No matter the roster of characters, or the subgenre, or the mission at hand, the best Squad stories are always the ones that make me feel like I truly can't tell what's coming next, and that's a feeling that goes beyond who lives and who dies.

Suicide Squad: Get Joker, the new DC Black Label miniseries from writer Brian Azzarello and artist Alex Maleev, is packed to the brim with that kind of seat-of-your-parents, character-driven wildness, and that makes it a must-read entry in the Squad's long-running career of mayhem. As the title suggests, this is a book about the Squad trying to take down the Clown Prince of Crime, and for added emotional emphasis there, Azzarello script drafts Jason Todd, aka the vigilante known as Red Hood, to lead the team in exchange for a shorter prison sentence. Azzarello's script, full of swagger while also leaning into some of the quirkier aspects of this particular Squad lineup, milks this dynamic for everything it's worth, adding a layer of tension to the already tense action sequences. Maleev's art, rich with the kind of detail and expressiveness that's made him an icon, builds on that script until your mind absolutely demands to know what happens next. By the time it's done, this comic just might end up on the list of essential Suicide Squad runs.

X-Men #2: One of the goals laid out in the promotional materials for Marvel's new X-Men series from writer Gerry Duggan and artist Pepe Larraz was not just the formation of a new X-Men team, but a return to the team's original missions as protectors of Earth and humanity. In the first issue of the new ongoing, Duggan and Larraz laid out this mission statement with style and scope, giving us everything from a new treehouse headquarters in New York City to what turned out to essentially be an X-Men Megazord. Now, as the series settles in for the rest of its run, things are only getting better.

Larraz has been one of the standout artists not just in the X-books, but in all of Marvel Comics over the course of the last couple of years, so of course he's crushing this book, but what's more impressive than his usual standard of quality is the way he's already illustrating the team dynamic here. Whether we're talking about Rogue and Gambit arguing or Jean Grey and Synch learning from each other, there's a real sense of community and teambuilding happening here, something only accentuated by Duggan's scripting. All that time writing Marauders has honed his ability to give us an immediate, clear, and entertaining picture of what life in this super-team is like, and that means he can devote more energy to the book's larger ambitions. After all, if the X-Men are back in place as Earth's protectors, who's going to take that as a challenge and send new threats after them? This issue digs into that question, and delivers a classic superhero story with a larger worldbuilding twist. If you haven't jumped onboard this new X-Men era yet, don't wait.

Not All Robots #1: Mark Russell, the current reigning champion of comics that pack biting commentary into wild sci-fi concepts, is at it again with Not All Robots, a new collaboration with artist Mike Deodato Jr. that imagines a reality where robots haven't quite taken over completely, but they have taken things in a wild new direction.

In the future of Not All Robots, robots are basically the entire workforce, and humans depend on them to such an extent that every family has one to act as a provider. Of course, with that status also comes the reinforcement of certain toxic values that were once reserved for angry men. Now, as the world debates the relative usefulness of humanity itself, a few radicalized robots might be leading humankind to extinction before they know it.

Russell's script lays out this concept and the various wrinkles contained within it rather beautifully, which is something we've come to expect from his work in recent years. What's perhaps more striking, helped along by Deodato's delightfully precise art, is the way in which the comic explores its world in smaller ways. From little worldbuilding details to perfectly crafted throwaway lines of dialogue, the premise is not just laid out in this first issue, but laid out with an attention to craft that makes it one of the wildest sci-fi debuts of the year. It's another must-read from Mark Russell.

We Don't Kill Spiders #1: If you love dark fantasy, historical mystery, folk horror, or just the TV show Vikings, you should be seeking out We Don't Kill Spiders this week. Written and drawn by Joseph Schmalke, the series deftly blends styles to create something akin to Viking noir, telling the story of a noteworthy berserker who heads to a village to investigate a series of grisly deaths, only to find his past catching up to him in the form of a local witch. Is she behind the murders, or is she just part of a larger web of mysteries and magic that our Viking hero, and his lack of faith in anything he can't see with his own two eyes, will have to contend with?

From the coloring to the character design to the ways in which magic creeps into the narrative over the course of the first issue, this is a beautifully realized comic. Schmalke's mastery of the tone he's aiming for is clear from the very first page, and every page after that just keeps adding more intrigue, more mystery, and more promise for what lies ahead. This is exactly my kind of comic, and I'm eager to read the rest of the series.

And that's it for Comics Wire this week. Until next time, remember what John Custer told his son Jesse in the pages of Preacher:

"You gotta be one of the good guys, son: 'Cause there's way too many of the bad."