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Comics Wire: Marvel's Pride special, Batman goes global, Star Wars, X-Men, indie spotlight & 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.
Pride Month is upon us, which means LGBTQ+ characters across the comics publishing world are getting a renewed, well-deserved spotlight. The month of celebration includes numerous publishing initiatives, including Pride special issues at both DC and Marvel Comics. We got a somewhat closer look at DC's Pride special just a couple of weeks ago, and with Pride Month here, it's Marvel's turn.
Late last week, the House of Ideas dropped an in-depth look at Marvel's Voices: Pride, a celebration of its LGBTQ+ characters and creators dropping later this month, featuring a dozen stories that feature beloved heroes, acclaimed writers and artists, and more than a few welcome reunions.
Among the major names attached to the book are Young Avengers creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung returning for a new Wiccan and Hulkling story, later Young Avengers writer Kieron Gillen teaming up with artist Jen Hickman for a Speed/Prodigy tale, artist Kris Anka returning to the Runaways for a Nico Minoru/Karolina Dean tale, and of course writer Steve Orlando and artist Carlos Aguirre teaming up to introduce the new hero Somnus in a story alongside Daken.
"Marvel's Voices: Pride is here! And with it, a chapter of Daken's early life we've never seen before," Orlando explained. "And why not? He's kept that one night with Somnus a secret since it went down! But the Krakoan Era makes him rethink that night, and Daken realizes there's little point in utopia if we can't pay it forward. This is that story, a bow to the past and an eye to the future. A grateful acknowledgment of just how far we've come as a community, as well as the fact that we've got more work to do. With Daken and Somnus at our side, let's explore a story that celebrates our strides, and tackles the challenges to come."
Check out a preview of the art for this collection, along with a listing of the creators and their characters, below.
- Starring Prodigy and Speed by Kieron Gillen, Jen Hickman, and Brittany Peer.
- Starring Karma by Vita Ayala, Joanna Estep, Brittney Williams, and Brittany Peer.
- Starring Iceman by Anthony Oliveira, Javier Garron, and David Curiel.
- Starring Daken and Somnus by Steve Orlando, Claudia Aguirre, and Luciano Vecchio.
- Starring Mystique and Destiny by Tini Howard, Samantha Dodge, and Brittany Peer.
- Starring Black Cat and Jessie Drake by Leah Williams, Jan Bazaldua, and Erick Arciniega.
- Starring Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean by Mariko Tamaki, Kris Anka, and Tamra Bonvillain.
- Starring Anole by Terry Blas, Paulina Ganucheau, and Kendall Goode,
- Starring Northstar by JJ Kirby.
- Starring Elektra and Dr. Charlene McGowan by Lilah Sturges, Derek Charm, and Brittany Peer.
- Starring Titania and She-Hulk by Crystal Frasier, Jethro Morales, and Rachelle Rosenberg.
- Starring Wiccan and Hulking by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung.
It's always great to see a publisher put together a spotlight anthology like this for Pride Month, and I can't wait to read the stories these creators have lined up. As always, though, it's worth noting that this is a spotlight that need not diminish throughout the year. Marvel's Voices: Pride is in stores June 23. For more on the issue, including quotes from many of the creators involved, head over to Marvel's website.
Batman around the world
Batman is one of the most popular characters in comics in part because he's among the most versatile. His resources grant him the ability to go anywhere and do anything, his reputation as the World's Greatest Detective means there's no place he can't adapt to, and his gallery of allies and enemies is so rich that it allows him to go from the farthest reaches of space to the darkest expanse of Gotham City sewers with ease. That versatility also means that, with the right creators, he can fit in around the world.
That's the idea behind Batman: The World a 184-page hardcover collection announced by DC Comics last week that promises to take the Caped Crusader through more than a dozen countries around the world, where a different creative team for each nation will tell a Batman story set in their homeland. Leading off with a Gotham City framestory from writer Brian Azzarrello and artist Lee Bermejo, the anthology will then transport the Dark Knight around the world, offering some of the best international comics minds working today the chance to translate a Batman story to their home country and culture. Here's the list of creators contributing, and the countries they represent:
- Mathieu Gabella (writer)/Thierry Martin (artist) – France
- Paco Roca (writer/artist) – Spain
- Alessandro Bilotta (writer)/Nicola Mari (artist) – Italy
- Benjamin von Eckartsberg (writer)/Thomas von Kummant (artist) – Germany
- Stepan Kopriva (writer)/Michal Suchánek (artist) – Czech Republic
- Tomasz Kolodziejczak (writer)/Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson (artists) – Poland
- Ertan Ergil (writer)/Ethem Onur Bilgiç (artist) – Turkey
- Alberto Chimal (writer)/Rulo Valdés (artist) – Mexico
- Carlos Estefan (writer)/Pedro Mauro (Artist) – Brazil
- Inpyo Jeon (writer)/Jae-kwang Park, Kim Jung Gi (artists) – Korea)
- Xu Xiaodong, Lu Xiaotong (writers)/Qiu Kun, Yi Nan (artists) – China
- Kirill Kutuzov, Egor Prutov (writers)/Natalia Zaidova (artist) – Russia
- Okadaya Yuichi (writer/artist) - Japan
Batman: The World will arrive this September, hopefully proving in the process that there's really no limit to where Batman can go if you keep giving new creative minds the chance to breathe life into him. For more information, head over to DC's website.
More news: A mystery X-book, Barbaric, The Disconauts, and more!
- For weeks now, Marvel Comics has been teasing a mystery new X-Men series from writer Jonathan Hickman now that the mastermind of the Krakoan era is stepping down from the main X-Men title. Last week, the secret finally came out...well, part of it, anyway. As teased in X-Men #20 and in the preview art above, Hickman's next major X-writing project is titled Inferno, a possible reference to the old X-event in which Madelyne Pryor became the Goblin Queen. So, who's going to make the X-Men burn this time? As Polygon's Susana Polo points out, there's a good chance Mystique is headed in that direction. Inferno starts in September, and the arrival of the Hellfire Gala event this month will also likely provide some intriguing clues.
- Looking for a fun Kickstarter to back this week? I was lucky enough to get an early look at the first issue of The Disconauts, a new book from writer Jonathan Stevenson and artist Luke Balmer-Kemp about a very funky band of space travelers who groove their way around the galaxy, doing good, battling dinosaurs, and dropping some truly delightful puns. It all reads to me like Guardians of the Galaxy meets Futurama, with a little bit of Dolemite and Saturday Night Fever thrown in for extra flair. The campaign launched earlier this week, and you can pick up a digital copy of the first issue for about five bucks. I had fun with it, and there's a good chance you will too.
- The fine folks at AfterShock Comics announced the latest in their prestige "One-Shock" comics line this week, and it's rather intriguingly billed The Shawshank Redemption meets The Sixth Sense. 10 Years To Death, written by Aaron Douglas (who you might best know from his time on Battlestar Galactica) and drawn by Cliff Richards, the book is inspired by a true story Douglas overheard his uncle tell his father when he was a boy, and follows a new prison guard sharing a cell block with a mass murderer, and the unlikely death that unites them. I probably would've been in based on the creepy crime drama premise alone, but then I saw Richards' art, and now I'm definitely all-in on reading this. 10 Years To Death is out September 29, and you can see a preview over at AfterShock's site right now.
- Pride Month is a great time to celebrate LGBTQ+ creators at major publishers, of course, but it's also a great time to lift up indie voices as well. Wondering where to start? Let me just point you in the direction of the second issue of Decoded Pride, the anthology of genre stories that offers a new story from an LGBTQ+ creator every day this month. Edited by S.E. Fleenor, Friend of the Column (that's a thing now) Sara Century, and Monika Estrella Negra, the anthology promises you something new from a great lineup of rising star creators every day in June, and while it's not 100 percent comics, I can promise you based on last year's issue that it's 100 percent worth you time. You can pick up a subscription over at their website right now.
- In Comics Coming Soon You Should Definitely Get Excited About news, this week Vault Comics dropped an extended preview of the first issue of Barbaric, a new sword and sorcery comedy from writer Michael Moreci and artist Nathan Gooden about a barbarian who's cursed to only do good, and is kept in check by his talking, often drunk, battle axe. I was lucky enough to read the first issue of this already and yes, it's absolutely as wild as it sounds. Barbaric #1 is out June 30. Read the preview at Vault's website, and get ready to have your face melted by the whole issue.
Comics this week: The Nice House on the Lake, Everfrost, and more!
That's the news. Now let's talk about some of the comics I got excited about this week.
The Nice House on the Lake #1: James Tynion IV has proven that he's not only a gifted horror comics writer, but a gifted writer of horror first issues in particular. Go back and read Something Is Killing the Children #1 or The Woods #1 or The Department of Truth #1 and you'll see this finely honed sense of pacing when it comes to launching a terrifying new concept that I'm not sure you can touch. It feels instinctive, almost like magic. Even among those other great series launches, though, The Nice House on the Lake #1 feels like something particularly special. In a career full of great first issues, this might be Tynion's best.
The book opens as several people are invited to vacation at the titular house, a secluded oasis in a horrifying world where a single man has gathered various friends, acquaintances, and other people he's deemed important to...well, no one's really sure. It seems like a time just for catching up and reconnecting, but why are the people so disparate? Why are some of them people from the distant past and some of them from more recent encounters? And why now, in this house?
That's the setup that Tynion and artist and co-creator Alvaro Martinez Bueno begin building from, and I'm hesitant to say anymore than that, because what hits you by the end of this issue is best experienced blind. But this isn't about some last-page twist, or some clever reveal that the rest of the book is merely obfuscating until the time. Through a combination of carefully orchestrated scripting, beautifully emotive art, and pitch-perfect pacing, this becomes an issue of comics that flawlessly recreates the "something doesn't feel right" anxiety of just about everything that's happened to all of us in the last year, then couches that anxiety in a thrilling horror plot that allows us to escape that feeling even as it's creeping up our necks. This is the start of something ambitious, terrifying, and wholly entertaining, and I can't wait to read more.
Basilisk #1: I really enjoy a comic where you can feel the overarching mythology lurking beneath the surface of every page even though you don't necessarily know what that mythology is yet. After all, the world in which a story takes place might contain an interesting premise, but the story itself is something else, and it's often best to reveal those things simultaneously. Basilisk #1, the new series debut from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jonas Scharf, is a beautiful example of how to do this, and I was immediately wrapped up in both the story and the world surrounding it.
Basilisk is set in a world where a mysterious group of gifted people have become semi-legendary monsters thanks to their deadly abilities and the havoc they've wreaked on small towns they visit. Though we get glimpses of this havoc, the story proper actually picks up with a woman who fell victim to this group in the past confronts one rogue member, a woman named Regan who must shield her eyes lest she blind everyone in sight.
It's this confrontation that makes up the real meat of Basilisk's first issue, and Bunn and Scharf squeeze a great deal of very effective tension out of it, establishing right away the strange, dark stakes of this world. Bunn, an extremely practiced hand when it comes to horror, is clearly relishing the atmosphere he's built here, and that's helped along by Scharf's wonderfully understated design work when it comes to the strange superpowered villains of this world. It's an intriguing setup that gets its hooks in you and makes you crave what's next.
War of the Bounty Hunters #1: The best comics to emerge from Marvel's Star Wars line over the past six years have been the ones that are able to carefully dance between the raindrops of the films while still imbuing the most widely seen parts of the universe with deeper, more complex meaning. Charles Soule knows this very well, because he's already been behind some of the best Star Wars comics of the Disney era. Now, Soule and artist Steve McNiven turn that same approach to a very specific question, and in the process kick open the door to a whole new corner of the original trilogy timeline.
The setup of War of the Bounty Hunters is rather simple: What happened to Boba Fett after he picked up Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back? The gap between that film and Return of the Jedi leaves Soule and McNiven plenty of room to run, and in that room they begin by setting up a scenario where Fett's delivery to Jabba the Hutt is... well, let's just say waylaid by some other interested parties.
I'm hesitant to say more than that, because Soule's pacing in this issue evokes perfectly that Saturday matinee feel that we love in Star Wars, with an added dose of John Wick on the run to give a crime drama flavor to the space opera. McNiven, clearly relishing his time in a galaxy far, far away, only adds to this feel, delivering the scope of starships zipping through hyperspace and the gritty tension of Boba Fett battling his fellow hunters with equal fervor. The result is a new essential Star Wars story that picks up some intriguing loose ends from the films and runs with them for a blast of a first issue.
Everfrost #1: Everfrost, the new sci-fi/fantasy epic from writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Sami Kivela, is the story of a scientist trying to find a way to escape her world, a story about a collapsing civilization at war with itself, and a story about coming to grips with loss even as the universe seems determined to never stop reminding you. Yes, all of that fits into one dynamic, sweeping first issue, and it all works to form a deeply imagined new world.
I've written before about how much I love stories with the confidence to press forward without handholding the audience too much, and Lindsay's script is packed with that kind of swagger. We meet Van, a scientist living in a strange snowswept wilderness with a primate-like creature named Eight, as she tries to figure out a way to get off her dying planet. But we also meet to warring factions and get to know the strife between them, get tastes of other new characters both menacing and fascinating, and even take a look at the darkness in her past that pushed Van to plot her escape, all in a world where dead behemoths still tick away with some semblance of life beneath the surface, where monsters roam the snow and fly the skies, and where everyone's just trying to survive a little longer. It's Anne McCaffrey and Frank Herbert by way of Moebius and Hoth from Star Wars, and somehow Lindsay and Kivela make it all work. Everfrost is a staggeringly ambitious new genre comic, one you'll want to read more than once to really take in all its detailed corners and promising story seeds.
The Worst Dudes #1: Hey, do you like Guardians of the Galaxy and that feeling of a band of misfits hanging out together, getting up to mischief and going on space adventures? Do you ever wish it were a little...naughtier? Maybe a little more like The Fifth Element by way of The Nice Guys? Then The Worst Dudes, the new sci-fi series from writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Tony Gregori, just might be the wild ride you're after.
The story of a space cop and an immortal prince who set out to track down an intergalactic pop star who might also be a demigod? (long story), The Worst Dudes follows a merry band of foul-mouthed, brash antiheroes as they embark on a case that will take them to some of the nastiest places the galaxy has to offer...but you know, in a fun way. Fun is the operative word for this first issue, not just because Sitterson and Gregori are enjoying the hell out of their mature readers rating, but because every aspect of the craft in this book just radiates joy. Yes, the characters are crude and rude and not afraid to get a little nasty, but the creators behind them are packing this book with bright colors, gleefully strange alien designs, puns, and all manner of other little storytelling sleights of hand that combine to make some magic. I had to read The Worst Dudes #1 twice just to make sure I caught all the jokes, and the jokes are just the tip of the wild cosmic iceberg. This comic is a blast.
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."