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.
I've written before in this column about the current boom of horror comics we're enjoying, and I love that each passing month not only bears that out, but gives us more flavors of spooky tales to enjoy across the medium. Right now we've got everything from fun creature features to supernatural terrors to vividly imagined mysteries in towns full of secrets. And right now, it's that latter category I'm especially interested in.
Next week, comiXology Originals will debut the first issue of Lost Falls, a new mystery series with plenty of horror atmosphere from writer Curt Pires (Youth) and his Wyrd co-creator, artist Antonio Fuso. Today, Comics Wire is pleased to debut an exclusive first look at this richly imagined new story of a strange town, its secrets, and one man at the center of the mystery. Check out the art in the gallery below.
Described as a "socially minded thriller" by comiXology, Lost Falls follows Daniel Pynchon, a detective on the hunt for a missing girl who's developed the unsettling habit of waking up in strange places with no memory of how he got there. This eventually leads him to the title town, where he must try to unravel the mystery of his memory issues, while unpacking the many dark secrets of the town itself.
If you think this kind of story lends itself to some serious Twin Peaks vibes, you'd be right. Lost Falls is rich in that sense of strange, darkly comic energy, but what's especially memorable about the first issue is just how many layers to that strangeness there are. Once you've dipped a toe into this mystery, it becomes the kind of thing that pulls you in deeper with each page, and given what Pires was able to do with comics like Youth last year, I'm eager to keep following where it leads.
Lost Falls debuts August 3 on comiXology.
Scott Snyder's creator-owned push
Last year, as he was nearing the conclusion of his epic Dark Nights: Death Metal series -- really a culmination of a decade of work that began with his Batman run in the New 52 era of DC Comics -- writer Scott Snyder mentioned that we could expect more creator-owned work from him on the horizon. At the time, Snyder was already in the midst of one creator-owned project, Nocterra, so it wasn't hard to imagine him launching one or two more books. What we got instead is one of the most ambitious and exciting creator-owned endeavors in recent comics memory.
On Monday, comiXology announced that it's partnered with Snyder's own company, Best Jackett Press, for a slate of eight new creator-owned series, all written by Snyder himself. Spanning numerous genres and featuring an elite group of artists, the new Best Jackett lineup marks a thrilling new era for Snyder (one of comics' best and brightest writers over the course of the last decade), but also stands to usher in a renewed focus on creator equity and influence in an age when every movie studio and streaming service is looking for the next big thing to bring to the screen.
"They’re all books I’ve been working on for a while with these creators. We wanted to start them, work on them at our own pace, and then find a home for them," Snyder explained in an interview with The Beat about the titles. "The pandemic really expedited everything, where it became about how do we keep focus on the things that are really important to us about these books, like retaining the ancillary rights together so that we own the books. We own the TV rights, the film rights, the merchandising rights, and how do I make a move where these co-creators don’t have to scramble to find work elsewhere to make ends meet, and also we don’t end up doing the book over three years or four years."
The answer, it turned out, was a deal with comiXology in which all of the Best Jackett creators will retain hold onto their ancillary rights and split everything 50-50. At a time when renewed focus has been placed on pay disparities between various comics creators, that's a key point for this slate, as is Snyder's commitment to keeping the release schedule manageable so that the books don't start falling off the calendar as production timetables run behind, something that's been an issue with creator-owned books since...well, pretty much forever.
And of course, for readers, it means we get new Scott Snyder books ranging from a horror story that reunites him with his Batman collaborator Greg Capullo to a sci-fi story with art from Francis Manapul to a flying ace adventure drawn by Tula Lotay, and much more.
The first wave of new Best Jackett titles will begin rolling out this October, so keep a lookout for more details on the release schedule, and get ready for the next phase of Scott Snyder stories.
More news: Luke Cage returns, a Killadelphia spinoff, and more
- If you've been following books like Daredevil lately, you know that the street-level issues in Marvel's New York City have gotten... interesting. It's the perfect environment for a character like Luke Cage to make a big comeback, and that's exactly what Marvel's betting on with Luke Cage: City on Fire. Announced last week, the new three-issue miniseries will be written by Ho Che Anderson and drawn by Farid Karami, Ray-Anthony Height, and Sean Damien Hill, and will explore what happens when Luke Cage gets caught in the middle of unrest in his city, spurred on by the murder of a Black man by a crooked cop. Plus, it offers the promise of Luke Cage vs. Wilson Fisk, which I'm always eager to see. City on Fire arrives in October, and you can find more details at Marvel's website.
- Hey, speaking of cool books heading our way in October, the folks at AfterShock Comics have upped the ante on an already outstanding crop of horror titles in their line with AfterDark, a 48-page horror anthology that'll show up just in time for Halloween. Billed as "Tales from the Crypt meets The Twilight Zone" kind of book, this one-shot will pair the talents of writers Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett and Frank Tieri with artists Cliff Richards, Nikkol Jelenic, Szymon Kudranski and Joe Eisma, and each team has their own very different horror tale in mind. For more on the book and the stories it will contain, check out AfterShock's website.
- Because this is the time of the year when all the October comics get announced, how about still more good news for horror readers? Earlier this week Image Comics announced that the excellent vampire series Killadelphia will get a spinoff this fall from writer Rodney Barnes and artist Jason Shawn Alexander. While the original series takes place in Philadelphia, Nita Hawes' Nightmare Blog takes us back to where main character Jimmy Sangster first began his journey into terror: Baltimore, Maryland, a city with plenty of horrors of its own. It's there that we'll get to spend more quality time with Jimmy's ex Nita, who's dealing with personal demons of her own even as a literal demon rises to threaten the city. For more on Nita Hawes' Nightmare Blog, check out the series announcement over at CBR.
- Looking for a worthy Kickstarter to support this week? Well, there are quite a few bouncing around right now, and the crowdfunding market remains hot as ever, but I was particularly struck by The Out Side, a new anthology featuring 16 different trans and nonbinary creators who will share their own stories in a safe-for-work book intended to reach teen and tween audiences as well as adult ones. It all looks beautiful, and you can snag a digital copy for 10 bucks.
- And hey, have one more Kickstarter this week, because any time the great Jimmy Palmiotti decides to launch a new book, it's worth paying attention. This time around, Palmiotti's teamed up with artist Scott Hampton (American Gods) for Rage, a painted, mature readers graphic novel about a guy just trying to save his daughter in a world that's coming apart at the seams. You get 68 pages of awesome in digital form for just eight bucks, which seems like quite a deal to me.
New comics: Superman: Son of Kal-El, Amazing Fantasy, Raptor, and more!
That's the news. Now, let's talk about some of the comics I got excited about this week.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #1: Writing a new Superman #1 is daunting no matter what approach you're taking, but what's instantly striking about Superman: Son of Kal-El by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms is its daring ability not just to live up to that challenge, but to raise the stakes. Right away, this is a book that tells you that Jon Kent has the potential to be the most important hero in the DC Universe, and then it spends the rest of the issue trying to prove it to you.
Taylor's script, full of amusing character flourishes alongside big, bold ideas about what it means to be Superman right now, is a pitch-perfect journey toward that proof. His Jon Kent is confident, bold, willing to do the work, but also vulnerable, not always entirely sure of himself and not afraid to admit that when it counts. Timms' art underscores this sense of powerful vulnerability, never underselling Jon's impact but also never letting go of the idea that he's still a kid just trying to figure it all out. What we're left with is one of the best superhero debuts of the year, a thrilling exploration of what Superman means in our world right now, and the start of something really special at DC Comics.
Amazing Fantasy #1: Various attempts have been made at Marvel over the years to use the name Amazing Fantasy, a title synonymous with Spider-Man's origin story, into something new, but none have ever done it quite like this new miniseries from writer/artist/powerhouse Kaare Andrews. Rather than trying to do some kind of origin story reinvention for a new teen hero, this is a book that comes out of the gate promising to deliver a fantasy epic that will indeed amaze you, and so far it's living up to that promise.
The setup for the book is simple: World War II-era Captain America, Red Room-era Black Widow, and teen Spider-Man all find themselves transported to a mysterious realm of strange creatures and deep mysteries. What is this place? Why are they here? Who sent them?
Andrews, of course, doesn't give all the answers away in this debut issue, but he does pack the book with gorgeous reinventions of classic heroes. The art has a chameleonic quality, shifting from Ditko-era weirdness with Spider-Man to square-jawed swagger with Cap to a more fluid, painted style for Widow, and yet they all work together as part of the same thrilling whole. The result is a book that reads both like classic Marvel adventure storytelling and as something entirely new. I can't wait to see where this goes next.
Raptor: A Sokol Graphic Novel: The legendary Dave McKean delves into his own creator-owned world with this gorgeous graphic novel, and it's everything you'd want out of that approach. Combining his knack for memorable visuals with decades of storytelling experience, Raptor gives us Dave McKean as we've never seen him before, and it's not to be missed.
The title character, Sokol, is a monster hunter wandering a fantasy landscape, taking down beasts looming on the horizon. But he's also somewhere within the imagination of a grieving man who's trying to move on with his fiction in the wake of a major loss. Rather than drawing distinct lines between his worlds and characters, though, McKean merges them, walking the line between abstract and detailed, fantasy and reality, myth and fact. There's a patience to the narrative that's almost seductive, and yet Raptor never feels like it's overstaying its welcome. On the contrary, it feels like a book meant to be read over and over again to fully absorb the subtleties of its strange dual existence. This is a triumph from Dave McKean, and a resounding reminder that he's one of the great artistic minds of his generation.
The Last Book You'll Ever Read #1: Horror comics machine Cullen Bunn is back with a new series this week, and thanks to a wonderful collaboration with artist Leila Leiz, it feels like another must-read, even if the title suggests otherwise. The Last Book You'll Ever Read is the story of an author who's written a successful book, but that success is catching up to her in the worst way. See, the book seems to be inciting people to random acts of violence, some of them directed at the author herself, and with a major book tour coming up, that's the kind of thing she'll need protection from.
Bunn's script, laced with big questions about the nature of art, humanity, and violence, puts Last Book among his best-written first issues (and that's saying something), but for me it's Leiz's art that really put this one over the top. The most obvious pop culture cousin of this concept is In the Mouth of Madness, but through beautifully executed character design, pacing, and even violence, Leiz makes the book into something that's hard to compare to another horror story. It simultaneously feels like something that could have been a horror film in the 1940s, or a giallo film in the early 1980s, or something entirely new. It all adds up to a sexy, instantly compelling debut that I can't wait to revisit.
Seven Swords #2: The setup behind Seven Swords begins with a very simple hook: What if a few characters from classic adventure fiction, like D'Artagnan and Captain Blood, got together to save the world? It's something that sounds extremely fun in the form of a simple logline, and the more I dig into this series from writer Evan Daugherty and artist Riccardo Latina, the more it lives up to that promise.
After the first issue established the major emotional threads, at least for a couple of characters, and set us on the path, issue two takes the form of a rollicking "Let's put a crew together" story, complete with multiple locations, violent showdowns, and unforgettable character introduction. Daugherty's command of it all, from knowing exactly what genres he's paying tribute to knowing exactly how to distinguish his characters, is both immediate and delightful. Latina's art, which feels like a pitch-perfect blend of pulp adventure and superheroic cleanness, works magic of its own, and by the end of issue #2 this series has reaffirmed what its debut already told us: This is a must-read for comics fans seeking some classic adventure outside of the superhero realm.
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."