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Comics Wire: Exclusive - Heavy Metal's Juan Gimenez tribute; Marvel's Latinx anthology; Wonder Woman & more
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.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic claimed the life of one of the most vibrant sci-fi artists of the generation. Juan Giménez, best known for his work on books like Metabarons with Alejandro Jodorowsky, the legendary French anthology Metal Hurlant, and Heavy Metal magazine, passed away last April from the virus, leaving behind a massive legacy of deeply imaginative, detailed work.
Now, in tribute to the legendary artist, Heavy Metal is making one of his stories available to English language readers for the very first time.
SYFY WIRE can exclusively reveal that today's Heavy Metal #308 will feature a new translation of the first volume of Segments, a sci-fi story written by Richard Malka and drawn by Giménez. Originally published by Glénat in France a decade ago, this marks the first time the tale is printed in English, and the remaining volumes in the three-part saga will be released in Heavy Metal #309 and #310 in the coming months.
Set in a galaxy where humanity has ensured peace by organizing society into a "segmentation" that groups people onto planets based on personality traits, Segments follows two young people, Loth and Jezriel, who don't fit the basic conventions of segmentation culture. As they both rebel against their own segment assignments, the pair find themselves in the midst of a scandalous trial, and find that the only way to beat the segmentation system might be to escape the galaxy once and for all. In the exclusive preview below, you'll see how Malka and Giménez set all this up, and get a look at the astonishing detail work for which the cartoonist was well known. Just be on the lookout for a little NSFW language in the pages.
"It's an honor for us to introduce Segments in the English language for the first time," Heavy Metal Executive Editor Joseph Illidge said. "Juan Giménez's work and legacy are an intrinsic part of the origin of Heavy Metal, and with his unfortunate passing last year, we all recognized our responsibility to bring this piece of his legacy to the North American audience."
In addition to the new printing of Segments, Heavy Metal #308 will also serve as part of a larger tribute to Giménez. The issue is dedicated to his memory, and will also feature an interview with his widow, Sylvia Zeballos, conducted by Heavy Metal digital editor Joshua Sky, reflecting on the artist's life and legacy. Even apart from that tribute, though, Illidge emphasized that English language readers who've followed Giménez's other work over the years will come to see Segments as a major work from the late artist.
"It's right up there with The Metabarons with its exquisite art and stellar quality," Illidge said. "Faithful and new readers of Heavy Metal look at our magazine as the pinnacle of global art in the comic book form. Juan's legacy is our legacy, which is the celebration of the art form and introducing more people to stories that take us to the stars."
Heavy Metal #308, featuring the first volume of Segments, is on sale now, and readers can look forward to more major European genre works appearing in future issues, available in English for the first time. For now, though, savor the work of a master who was taken from us too soon.
Marvel's next anthology honors Latinx heroes
I've written before about how the inclusive anthology titles both Marvel and DC have put out recently can work if they're in the hands of the right creators. It's a showcase for diverse characters and creators, yes, but it's also a chance to show off the versatility of comics, and to use the shorter stories between the covers as a kind of proving ground for bigger ideas. It's no accident that Marvel used it's Marvel's Voices: Pride anthology to introduce a brand-new mutant character earlier this year. Now, with a new anthology highlighting Latinx characters and creators on the way, they'll hope to replicate that success.
Marvel announced Tuesday that the next installment in the Voices line will be Marvel's Voices: Comunidades, which will highlighting characters ranging from the publisher's first Latinx superhero, White Tiger, to current young stars like Miles Morales, Robbie Reyes, America Chavez and more.
The talent assembled for the book, which arrives this fall, is predictably stellar, and features a mixture of comics mainstays and rising stars including writers Daniel José Older, Karla Pacheco, Terry Blas (who will introduce a new superhero spinning out of his Reptil series), Juan Ponce, Leonardo Romero, Amparo Ortiz, Alex Segura, Nico Leon, Edgar Delgardo, and more. On the art side, we can expect work from Enid Balám, Vanesa Del Ray, Adriana Melo, Leonardo Romero, Nico Leon, Alitha E. Martinez, a cover from Marvel legend Joe Quesada, and more.
"Marvel Voices is such a unique project that I feel really drills down on the core Marvel tenet of reflecting the world outside your window--so when the opportunity came to help put together Marvel Voices: Comunidades and celebrate the Latinx community, I couldn't have been more excited,” Co-Editor Lauren Amaro said. “And that excitement only continues to grow as story pitches continue to roll in--trust me, you're not going to want to miss out on what this talented group of creators have got cooking up!"
Whether we're talking about Indigenous Voices or the recent Pride collection, the Marvel's Voices line has proved to be a spectacular showcase for not just a variety of talent, but a variety of storytelling styles, and I'm eager to see what this particular group of creators does for the line.
Marvel's Voices: Comunidades #1 arrives October 20. For more information, head over to Marvel's website.
More news: Wonder Woman's big 80th birthday, new series from AfterShock and Scout, and more!
- This year marks the 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman's first appearance, and we've known for some time that the occasion would include a number of major releases from DC Comics in celebration. Now, we have a better understanding of just how big the celebration will be. Last week, DC rolled out the news of a dozen different titles launching this fall to wish Wonder Woman a happy 80th, from new books for young readers to free "special edition" reprints to an anthology celebrating real-life Wonder Women and, of course, the patented DC 100-page Super Spectacular treatment. You can get the full rundown of DC's plans over at their website, but if you ask me two projects stand out.
The first is Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons, the long-awaited collaboration from writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Phil Jimenez that digs deep into the history of the Amazons, their roots in the Olympian pantheon of gods, and how Wonder Woman ultimately came to be. It's a project years in the making, and I'm exciting to see how DeConnick's knack for worldbuilding and legend-making (read Pretty Deadly and you'll see what I mean) plays out in this story. Plus, Jimenez's art (which you can glimpse above) is next-level, even by Phil Jimenez standards. The book debuts October 19, and big things lay ahead.
The other major project that immediately made my eyes pop is a new miniseries starring Wonder Woman's sister Nubia, a character who's had a resurgence in visibility over the past who'll get even more of a spotlight in Nubia and the Amazons. Written by Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala with art Alitha Martinez, the book follows what happens as Nubia inherits the throne of Themyscira in the Infinite Frontier era, only to find a host of challenges awaiting her, including some Amazons she didn't expect. I'm thrilled to see this exploration happening, and this creative team is one to watch. Nubia and the Amazons #1 is out October 5.
- This week the folks at AfterShock Comics announced yet another upcoming series with a genre hook I can't pass up. Written by Marko Stojanović and drawn by Siniša Banović, Cross To Bear will explore the idea that Jack the Ripper was never caught, in part, because everyone was looking in the wrong place. The legendary serial killer actually fled London for the American West, where a secret society composed of the descendants of Crusader knights will stop at nothing to take the Ripper down. I'm hooked already. Throw in an incredible part preview that evokes the Mignolaverse and I'm there with bells on. Cross To Bear arrives in October.
- Over at Scout Comics this week, legendary creator Karl Kesel announced his next project, a collaboration with artist David Hahn called Impossible Jones. The series follows a master thief who somehow winds up with superpowers, gets mistaken for a superhero, and just...sort of rolls with it. Without ever intending to give up her life of crime, of course. The vibe of the teaser art is fantastic, and I'm very ready for a gender-swapped Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with superpowers in my life. The book's out in September, and you can check out more details at Scout's website.
- And hey, speaking of intriguing new genre series announcements, the fantastic team-up of writer Si Spurrier and artist Nathan Gooden announced a new horror series at Vault Comics this week. The Rush (short for This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills), the series hopes to merge history and horror with a tale of the twilight of the Gold Rush, and something dark lurking behind all that lust for riches. I was sold even before I saw the art because of the creative team alone. To find out more, check out CBR's exclusive preview.
- And finally this week, the Harvey Awards were announced ahead of the ceremony later this fall, and they're packed with worthy contenders like The Magic Fish, Monsters, Friday, Adora and the Distance, and my forever fave, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. Check out the full list of nominees here.
New comics this week: Moon Knight, Superman and the Authority, and more!
Moon Knight #1: Moon Knight is one of those characters with a reputation for being A Lot, but if you know how to wield the strangeness of his backstory to your advantage, you can turn that into a tremendous asset. That's what happens in this new series launch from writer Jed MacKay and artist Alessandro Cappuccio, which starts with a new mission for Marc Spector and then pushes deeper into a battle of faith that seems poised to establish a new status quo for the character.
Though other Moon Knight runs have dispensed with the whole "brought back to life by an Eygptian Moon God" thing in favor of something focusing more on the character's mental instability, MacKay's script here blends the two elements, making Moon Knight a hero with a very clear mission in terms of action but also a man of faith with some very clear obstacles to overcome. What do you do when the god you're the avatar of has fallen from favor? How do you carry on a mission that's been forsaken by the being who gave it to you? These are big questions, and in MacKay's hands they both form the backdrop for an ambitious new meditation on Moon Knight's place in the Marvel Universe and take the form of a dynamic, exciting superhero story. Cappuccio's art, whether it's close-ups of the "Mr. Knight" white suit design or sweeping shots of Moon Knight soaring across the city, only adds to the sense of tightly focused grandeur. This is everything I wanted out of a new Moon Knight #1, and then some.
Superman and the Authority #1: In a career full of defining work, Grant Morrison has somehow managed to produce at least two major stories that have defined Superman for the 21st century: The masterpiece All-Star Superman and the still somehow underrated Action Comics run at the start of New 52 era. Now, at the beginning of what's been billed as their DC Comics curtain call, at least for now, Morrison is going to try one more time to give us a vision of the Man of Tomorrow that we'll remember for years to come.
It's perhaps too early to tell if Superman and the Authority will echo down through comics history in the same way that something like All-Star Superman has, but Morrison and artist Mikel Janin are certainly kicking things off with something memorable. In this story, billed as a piece of the puzzle that will help define Superman in the months and years to come, Morrison's Man of Steel is older, weaker, and perhaps a little more desperate than we're used to seeing him. The world he'd hoped to give us never materialized, at least not in the way he wanted it to, and so with a ticking clock and fading set of powers, he turns to Manchester Black to try and form a team that might turn things around.
Much of the first issue is an extended dialogue between this odd couple, but in true Morrison fashion it works as something dynamic, ambitious, and expansive, helped along by Janin's truly gorgeous design work on this version of Superman. There's something moving about seeing him in this state, not necessarily darker but at least a good deal more worn, still working for the Tomorrow that seems to dominate Morrison's vision of the character. By the time the first issue is over, you're rooting for this Superman again, and primed for yet another Grant Morrison classic.
M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1: M.O.M.: Mother of Madness generated a lot of pre-release hype thanks to its distinction as the comics debut of Game of Thrones (and Last Christmas, it's important for me to mention that one) star Emilia Clarke, and now that the first issue is out it's clear that the excitement was founded in more than Clarke's non-comics stardom. Co-written by Clarke and Marguerite Bennett with art by Leila Leiz, this book comes out of the gate swinging with a dynamic blend of humor, action, sci-fi unpredictability and genuine emotional complexity. And it only gets stranger from there.
The book follows Maya, a single mom and scientist who has some strange abilities thanks to an event in her youth that basically made every emotion she feels into an outsized physiological reaction. She has a superpower for every feeling, which is in and of itself a fantastic metaphor for the way women are often perceived as overly emotional people, but the book doesn't rest on that connection. Instead, Bennett and Clarke's script is packed with even more big ideas, ever intent on exploring more and more possibilities within Maya's frantic world, helped along by the character's own witty asides to the reader. It's a dizzying, and wonderful, blend of humor and depth. Leiz's art, rich in characterization and featuring some very clever visualizations of superpowers, hops deftly between Maya's many roles, delivering her past while also showing many facets of her present, until she emerges by the end of the first issue as a fully formed person we're ready to root for. This book is a wild ride from the first page, and it's poised to only get wilder from here.
Dark Blood #1: Some first issues get so wrapped up in laying out their world, their mythology, and their cast that they lose any sense of tone and vibe. There's a lot to be said for laying out your story in the span of 30 pages, but there's also a ton of value in wrapping your first issue in atmosphere to such a degree that it virtually guarantees people will want to know what happens next. Dark Blood, the new series from writer LaToya Morgan and artist Walt Barna, is a masterclass in atmosphere.
The book follows Avery, a World War II veteran just trying to live his life a decade after the war ended. Then a run-in on the street one night awakens something, something tied to Avery's past that might change not just his future, but everyone's future. There's a lot going on in these pages, from a peek into Avery's time in the war to the tension of the central encounter to the way Barna's art seamlessly weaves both into one terrifying experience, but through it all Morgan's script demonstrates a mastery of tone that never falters despite the time-hopping, the slow creep of dread, or the hints of worldbuilding that set the stage for what's to come. This is a taut, atmospheric, beautifully crafted first issue that builds a world you can get lost in, and I can't wait to go back and see what's next.
Bermuda #1: If a rollicking adventure book is what you're looking for, Bermuda is a one-stop shop this week. Written by the great John Layman and drawn by the great Nick Bradshaw, the limited series is set on a mysterious island where a teenage girl named Bermuda hangs out with a giant lizard and fights off scavenging fish people regularly. It's not an easy life, but it is an exciting one, as the people who just crash-landed there are about to learn. SYFY WIRE actually revealed the comic a few months ago.
Right away, Layman and Bradshaw's collaboration evokes a pulpy, thrill-a-minute, Saturday morning serial kind of story, from the setup to the stinger at the end of the first issue that sets up what's coming. The art is rich in detail, packed with great creature designs, and anchored by some amazing character work, and Layman's script proves he's still one of the best writers around when it comes to setting the stage for a wild new world and then plunging readers right into it. I had a blast with this comic, and I'm betting you will too.
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."