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This Week's Hot Comics: Fantastic Four's 60th, Batman, James Tynion IV's Blue Book, Primordial & more

By Matthew Jackson
Fantastic Four #35 cover

Every week, your local comics shop (or digital hub, if that's how you roll) is filled to the brim with new releases, from the latest major event books at the Big Two to intriguing new indie projects at smaller presses. It's a lot to take in, especially if you're not someone plugged into the comics world all day every day — and even moreso if you're not packing a hefty comics budget going in the door.

So, we're here to help. Every Wednesday at SYFY WIRE, on the same day new comics hit shelves, we aim to tell you which comics will give you the most bang for your buck, from superhero epics, to cool Marvel and DC solo 'books, to creator-owned genre hits.

This week, we've got the latest collaboration from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, Fantastic Four's 60th anniversary issue at MarvelI Am Batman's new look at Jace Fox, and much more. Here are the comics I'm most excited about this Wednesday.

Primordial #1

Primordial #1 cover

There's a lot of tension to be mind from the early days of the American space program, because of the sense that no one really knew exactly what might happen or what was even technically possible. It's that tension that forms the emotional base for Primordial, the new comic from the Gideon Falls creative team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, and it's a tension that builds into one of the best first issues of the year.

Set in the early 1960s, before NASA had put a human being into orbit, this alternate history series begins by asking the question "What if the chimps sent into space as test flights never came home, and not just that: What if someone took them?" Within that little pivot from what we think we know about the space program, Lemire builds a first issue script pulsing with Cold War dread, while Sorrentino uses every ounce of his considerable gifts to build that dread into something suitably epic. From the collaged, panel-within-panel splash pages to the tight, taut character work, this is a must-read new sci-fi comic from two of the best genre creators in the game.

I Am Batman #1

I Am Batman #1 cover

For most of the past year, writer John Ridley and artist Olivier Coipel have been building their own Batman story alongside Bruce Wayne's ongoing journey as the Dark Knight. It began in Future State as the pair introduced Jace Fox as "The Next Batman," then continued in a prequel series subtitled Second Son. Now, Ridley and Coipel have launched the story of what happens as Jace steps into the role of Batman for the first time in a future version of Gotham, and if you haven't been paying attention to this story yet, now might be the time to start.

With a new Batsuit, a nimble mindset, and a new attitude pitting him against the Magistrate and its anti-Mask agenda, Jace Fox sets off into the night in I Am Batman with a welcome degree of uncertainty. Ridley's been able to chart his emotional course with deft hands throughout his time writing the character, and reading this version both rewards careful readers and gives new readers a chance to get to know him at a key inflection point. He knows what he needs to do, but he's not yet sure how to do it, and that's something reinforced by both Ridley's character work and Coipel's art, which retains the same sense of clean action and dramatic worldbuilding that's echoed throughout the Jace Fox saga so far.

Fantastic Four #35

Fantastic Four #35 cover

Six decades ago this summer, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched the story of the Fantastic Four and changed comics forever. Marvel Comics is, understandably, celebrating that milestone in a number of ways, and one of them is the oversized Fantastic Four #35, featuring three stories working in concert to celebrate the team's long history. The centerpiece story, written by Dan Slott and drawn by the legendary John Romita Jr., sets up this history-spanning moment with a tale that literally crosses time, as various incarnations of Kang the Conqueror set out to prove each of them is superior by attempting to murder the Fantastic Four in a certain era of their life as a team. Slott's script is brimming with bright little character moments and clever tributes, but the real star of the show here is Romita, who takes full advantage of the stylistic quirks the story offers him.

In a story that spans several different eras of FF stories, he morphs his pencils into each era with ease, giving us everything from Silver Age FF to '90s villains to, in one memorable moment, half a dozen versions of The Thing existing all at once. Throw in a beautifully structured little short from writer/artist Jason Loo and a reflection on the team's origin story from Mark Waid (one of the all-time greatest FF writers) and Paul Renaud, and it doesn't matter if you've been keeping up with the team's ongoing adventures or not. Pick up this issue anyway, just to remind yourself why the Fantastic Four remain so wonderful, 60 years later.

Beyond the Breach #3

beyond the breach 3

When Beyond the Breach was announced at AfterShock Comics earlier this year, it was billed as a big '80s style genre adventure with creatures, surprises, and blockbuster-level fun. It has delivered on all counts, not just because of the scale of its premise, but because of its ability in every issue so far to offer readers yet another big swerve that sends the story in a new, exciting direction. Written by Ed Brisson and drawn by Damian Couceiro, Beyond the Breach begins as the story of Vanessa, a woman just trying to get away from the drama of her life with a trip through California.

What she finds instead is a nightmare, as extradimensional monster begin invading the Earth, leaving her stranded and desperate for allies in a world gone mad. Or at least, that's what issue #1 is about. Issue #2, and now issue #3, build on the story in surprising, thrilling ways, giving it the sense of Saturday matinee fun that we were promised from the outset. Couceiro's art, packed with wild creature and costume designs alongside some wonderful close-up character work, sells the scale of it all, while Brisson's script really zeroes in on the breakneck pacing that makes you desperate for the next page even after the issue is over. Beyond the Breach is a true thrill ride, growing its story month by month while never losing sight of its central promise, and if you're not reading it yet, it's time to give it a try.

Mullet Cop #1

Mullet Cop

If I hear there's a book out there called Mullet Cop, I at the very least have to take a look at a preview, and just a few pages into writer/artist Tom Lintern's new Scout Comics title, I knew I'd found something special. Set in a desolate capitalist future where Mall's are the center of civilization, Mullet Cop follows a mall cop who's injured in the midst of a gang attack, only to rise again with an undercover job helped along by a mullet, and a mission to take down vicious criminals with the help of a talking microwave.

If that last sentence didn't clue you in to the kind of story this turns out to be, strap in, because Mullet Cop #1 is a wild ride. With art that calls to mind the work of Michel Fiffe and a script that feels like RoboCop by way of Eastbound and Down, this is an unforgettably strange, funny, imaginative journey into action-comedy heaven. If you love genre books that aren't afraid to get weird, don't miss it.

Blue Book Chapter 1

BB1cvr2Large copy (1)

It's been a few weeks since a host of top comics creators announced they'd be launching new projects over at Substack, and now we're finally starting to see the fruits of that news. Late last week James Tynion IV and Michael Avon Oeming gave readers a taste of what to expect through Tynion's Tiny Onion imprint with a free first chapter of their new series Blue Book. And, as you might have guessed, it's a beautifully executed piece of craft.

If you've read Tynion's The Department of Truth over at Image, then you've probably guessed he'll have a knack for UFO stories, and that begins here with Blue Book's launch chapter, focusing on the early moments of the famous alien abduction story of Betty and Barney Hill, a couple driving home through New England one night when they encountered a strange object in the sky. Tynion is a master of suspense pacing, but he's also a master of knowing when to let his artist take center stage, and this is a true showcase for Oeming's clean, dramatic style laid out in stark blacks, whites, and blues. It's a short first chapter, but it builds in plenty of tension and, more importantly, a real sense of voice that'll mean a great deal going forward. You can read the first chapter for free right now.