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SYFY WIRE The Pull List

The Pull List: Publishers prepare to roll out new comics, creators launch new projects, and more

By Matthew Jackson
Ludocrats Hero

Welcome to The Pull List, SYFY WIRE's weekly comics column that gets at the pulse of what's going on in comics right now. Everything from huge crossovers to real-life issues facing the industry, a cool first look, the week's hot new comics, and everything in between. Basically, we're here to help you with your pull list.

It's been more than a month now since Diamond Comics Distributors hit the pause button on shipping new product to local comics retailers and, in effect, put the entire comics industry on pause. Now, at last, there are signs that some version of a normal New Comic Book Day could be upon us once again, in just a couple of weeks.

Last last week, Marvel Comics announced plans to resume releasing new product on May 27 in a somewhat slimmed-down, streamlined way, alternating new single issues and new collections week by week to create a staggered schedule. It's not business as usual, but it will allow the publisher to finally launch stories fans have been waiting for and, by June, resume the preliminary issues of the much-anticipated Empyre event. Marvel's news came just days after DC Comics began publishing its first new single issues in several weeks through an alternative distributor model set up through Midtown Comics and DCBS, and was followed on Tuesday by even bigger news for the wider comics industry. 

After floating a tentative plan to resume operations in mid-to-late May last month, a report arrived Tuesday that Diamond is still on track to do just that, and begin shipping new products from numerous comics publishers by Wednesday, May 20. The list of titles for that week, as reported by Newsarama, is rather impressive given the circumstances, and includes a long list of products from DC Comics, Image Comics (including the much-anticipated The Ludocrats, pictured above), IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, BOOM! Studios, and numerous smaller publishers. Marvel is still planning to hold out one more week, until May 27, but unless things change (and it's important to remember that, given the state of the world right now, they still could) Diamond is preparing to resume shipping in just a couple of weeks.

UPDATE: Marvel announced late Wednesday that, while print distribution for their comics will not resume until May 27, they will be releasing a small number of titles digitally beginning next week, on May 13. These books will be released as digital-only single issues and will be released physically as part of trade collections later in the year. The May 13 releases will include Ant-Man #4, Avengers of the Wastelands #4, Ghost-Spider #9, and Ravencroft #4.

What remains to be seen is how this will impact the new alternative distribution models DC briefly embraced in Diamond's absence. Diamond and DC are picking up where they left off with this announcement, but Newsarama also reported earlier this week that Lunar, one of the distributors that sprang up in Diamond's absence, has had discussions with other "smaller" publishers about a possible new distribution model. It's unclear whether those discussions will continue, but it's certainly possible that the pandemic has given publishers and retailers alike time to consider options.

In the meantime, new comics are coming, and it's still very important to patronize local shops when safely possible. Remember to consult things like the 28 Pages Later database of shops offering curbside, delivery, and shipping services to see if you can help a shop while also enjoying the new stories. 

Exciting publishing projects

Cosmic Hero Cover

So, we've now got concrete news that more new comics will very likely be heading our way later this month, but it's also important to note that the comics world hasn't just been on hold while the distribution channels were on pause. No, some of the top creators and publishers in the industry have been hard at work cooking up exciting new projects and, in one case, a new way of highlighting a somewhat older project. As we look toward the future, it's definitely worth highlighting those.

Regular SYFY WIRE readers will already know that earlier this week had an exclusive preview of the new sci-fi noir comic Cosmic Detective from the superstar team of Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and David Rubin. That book, which explores what happens in the aftermath of a God's murder and the hardened detective who has to get to the boottom of it, launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this week, and the talent alone makes it worth paying attention to. 

While Lemire, Kindt, and Rubin are busy launching a years-in-the-making crowdfunding project, the Venom creative team of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman are off doing their own, somewhat more off-the-cuff comics experiment. Last week, Stegman and Cates announced via webcast that they're creating a new superhero universe titled "Bad Kids," and they're doing it in full view of their fans so comics lovers everywhere can get an insight into the creative process. At the moment, it's not clear how far this project will go or what will happen when they get deeper into it, but for the moment it's definitely a fascinating and entertaining experiment in allowing fans to watch creators dream things up in real time. Check out the video below to watch the creation of a villain happen before your very ideas, technical difficulties notwithstanding.

And finally, though it's not technically a new comic, there's exciting news this week for The Walking Dead completists. Image Comics announced via press release Tuesday that it's releasing a hardcover edition of The Walking Dead: The Alien, the special one-shot story set in the Walking Dead universe from the amazing creative team of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin. The story, originally released in 2016 via the pay-what-you-want comics site Panel Syndicate, was released in print as part of a limited run for a Local Comic Shop Day event, but hasn't been available in physical form since. Now, Image is putting out a brand-new edition of the Spain-set Walking Dead story, complete with sketches, layouts, and other rare supplemental material. 

The Walking Dead: The Alien hardcover arrives July 29. If you're one of those Walking Dead superfans who's somehow never read it and want to add it to your shelf of collections, get excited.

New (and new to you) comics to read this week

We're not back to full New Comic Book Day strength yet, but that doesn't there aren't fun things worth reading this week. Here are a few titles we'd recommend.

Doctor Aphra #1 cover

Doctor Aphra #1: Doctor Aphra, the rogue space archaeologist who somehow managed to play the odds with Darth Vader and escape with her life, is one of the most impactful new Star Wars creations of the Disney era. Other titles in Marvel's Star Wars line have already transitioned into the Empire Strikes Back era, and now it's her turn courtesy of writer Alyssa Wong and artist Marika Cresta. Doctor Aphra #1 wasn't supposed to come out until later this year, and won't come out physically for a few weeks, but thanks to Star Wars Day on Monday Marvel has already put the issue up for sale digitally.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4: DC Comics' Black Label line of mature readers books is a great place for creators to get a little edgier with their superhero material, but it's also proved to be very fertile ground for creators who'd like to really think outside the traditional DC Universe sandbox. Criminal Sanity, from writer Kami Garcia and artists Jason Badower and Mico Suayan, is a great mix of both. This week, the series that takes the mad love of Harley and Joker and transforms it into a gripping, true crime-inspired tale of obsession, is back with its fourth issue. 

Lumberjanes: Campfire SongsIn times like these, we need comic book comfort food more than ever, and Lumberjanes certainly qualifies. This week BOOM! Box is releasing this collection of specials from the much-beloved adventure series, including Midsummer Night's SchemeSomewhere That's Green, and more. If you need comics guaranteed to make you smile, look no further. 

And that's it for The Pull List 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."