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.
Godkiller, the underground comic turned animated film turned comic book miniseries that helped launch Black Mask Studios, is in many ways the embodiment of what Black Mask is all about as a publisher: Bold, visceral storytelling unconcerned with being pinned down in one genre or category. It's been a while since Black Mask put out a new Godkiller story, but today SYFY WIRE can exclusively reveal that, for the first time since the Walk Among Us arc concluded in 2015, the acclaimed series from writer Matteo Pizzolo and artist Anna Wieszczyk is returning to comics with a new story arc. Get ready for Godkiller: Tomorrow's Ashes.
"When the last volume wrapped, our antihero misfits were shaking off a pandemic, wriggling out from under a Fascist regime, and rescuing one another from it all the best they could... seems like a perfect time to catch back up with them for a new set of adventures," Pizzolo told SYFY WIRE.
The new arc, which debuts this April, will see Pizzolo and Wieszczyk returning to the story of the orphan Tommy, who's been captured by The Republic in the middle of his quest to find a heart for his sister out in the dystopian cityscape. His only hope is the "sweetling" Halfpipe, who'll have to convince the bounty hunter known as Soledad to free Tommy, which won't be as easy as it sounds.
"As twisted and insane as it is, Godkiller is one of my most personal projects and holds a very special place in the deepest, grimiest pit of my soul," Pizzolo said, "so I’m beyond thrilled to return to Outer City with the always brilliant Anna Wieszczyk, who breathes vivid life into these characters I love so much."
You can check out Nen Chang's full painted cover for the first issue of Tomorrow's Ashes below.
Godkiller: Tomorrow's Ashes debuts April 21 from Black Mask Studios.
DC Universe goes Infinite
This week, the long-promised rebrand of the DC Universe streaming and comics service arrives as the service converts to DC Universe Infinite, a subscription comics service that offers a still-growing library of 25,000 titles to subscribers, ranging from DC classics to new releases arriving six months after their initial on-sale date. Last year, when it became more and more apparent that HBO Max was going to eventually become the streaming home for all of DC's video content, I frequently crossed my fingers and hoped that a standalone comics reader would still be part of that bargain, and I wasn't disappointed.
On Tuesday DC Entertainment rolled out their final press release on the DC Universe Infinite announcement, confirming the launch date of January 21 (Thursday) and re-affirming the promise that existing DC Universe subscribers won't need to create a new account for access. Plus, it'll all be offered in a "sleek, newly designed app with updated personalization features."
That's all great, but it's not what caught my eye about DC's announcement this week. No, what I got especially excited about was the news that the library will be growing beyond the incoming new releases. In their press release Tuesday, DC also revealed that DC Universe Infinite will now include more titles from the Vertigo Comics library, including Preacher, Ex Machina, V for Vendetta and others available at launch. That's a great feature for readers looking to catch up on some essential books from the past 30 years, but perhaps even more exciting is the news that the just-digitized line of Milestone Comics from the 1990s will also be arriving on the service, including early issues of Static Shock, Icon, and Hardware, so readers can dig into that breakthrough era of publishing. And if that's still not enough to grab you, we'll also be getting more of DC's Black Label line, including the entire first wave of Joe Hill's Hill House Comics imprint (I highly recommend The Low, Low Woods) and titles like The Last God and Superman: Year One.
So, if you've been looking for a reason to read more DC Comics, head over to DCUniverseInfinite.com on launch day and sign up. It's a vast reading experience, and they're adding new stuff all the time. Speaking of which: Hey DC, if you're reading this, anything you can do about putting the entire original Alan Scott run of Green Lantern up there?
More news: Zdarsky's alternate Spider-Man, Ram V and Anand Rk's new Vault series, and more!
- Not too long ago, Chip Zdarsky proved he could write great straightforward Spider-Man stories with his Spectacular Spider-Man run. Then, he proved he could write great high-concept Spider-Man stories with his Spider-Man: Life Story miniseries. Now he's bringing both of those sensibilities, plus a little of the darkness of Daredevil, to a new miniseries that will explore one of Marvel's greatest What If...? questions. Marvel announced Tuesday that Zdarsky and artist Pasqual Ferry have teamed for Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow, a new miniseries that asks the question: What if Peter Parker had given into the darkness and never taken the alien costume off? If anyone can sell this, it's Zdarsky, and I can't wait to see what the first issue of this looks like when it drops in April.
- Writer Ram V and artist Anand Rk produced one of the most incredible comics I read last year, Blue in Green, and now they're once again merging genre storytelling with the power of music through a new Vault Comics series. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed earlier this week that the creative team is set to lauch Radio Apocalypse, a story about the last Radio Station on Earth and the people who surround it, later this year. The creative team, the high-concept worldbuilding behind it, and Rk's stunning art have me itching to find out more as soon as possible. Radio Apocalypse arrives in April.
- Last year, a whole new audience was introduced to the awesomeness that is The Old Guard via the Netflix film adaptation of Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez's Image Comics series. Now, before we get the concluding volume of the main Old Guard story, we'll get a few spinoff tales to tide us over. Image announced this week that the hit series is returning in the form of The Old Guard: Tales Through Time, a six-issue anthology featuring tales of immortals throughout history. Rucka and Fernandez will bring stories of their own to the anthology, but they'll also be joined by a massive roster of other comics talent, including Vita Ayala, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, David F. Walker, Valentine De Landro, Nicola Scott, and more. The first issue drops in April, and I can't wait.
- AfterShock Comics has been knocking it out of the park with new series launches lately, and this week they dropped yet another one: Girls of Dimension 13, a new supernatural series from writer Graham Nolan (Monster Island) and artist Bret Blevins (New Mutants) that promises to blend Doctor Strange and The Girls of Apt. 3-G. The series will follow a quartet of young women who all receive a mysterious invite to a building in New York City that, unbeknownst to them, just so happens to be a nexus point that offers access to 12 other dimensions and the dark being who controls them. What crazy magical threats await these women as they try to guard the gate between those worlds and ours? I'm excited to find out when the series launches in April. In the meantime, check out a preview over at AfterShocks' site.
- I love when all-ages comics get spooky, which means I was immediately drawn to Specter Inspectors, the new BOOM! Box series from creators Bowen McCurdy and Kaitlyn Musto that follows a group of ghost hunters who head to the most-haunted town in America to get as much social media exposure as possible, only to find something far more frightening than a handful of ghosts waiting for them there. The series debuts in April, and I'm charmed by the preview pages that dropped over on BOOM!'s site Tuesday afternoon.
New Comics: I Breathed a Body, Larry Hama's Iron Fist, Future State: Catwoman and more!
That's the news. Now let's talk about some of the comics I got excited about this week.
I Breathed a Body #1: When you spend as much time as I do writing about and thinking about stories (and writing stories yourself), you often get to a place where you can see the strings. For me at least, that doesn't dampen the enjoyment, but I've grown used to certain rhythms, certain patterns, and very often I can see the threads of a thing coalescing into those patterns long before they're fully formed, which makes it especially delightful when I come across something that sincerely melts my brain.
I Breathed a Body, the new AfterShock Comics horror series from writer Zac Thompson and artist Andy MacDonald, is that kind of comic. This dread-filled, beautifully rendered tale of what happens when the world's most prominent livestreaming personality does something so heinous that even his overworked but brilliant manager might not be able to salvage it is the kind of singular work that has to be read to be believed. In a time full of great horror comics, there's really nothing else like it.
That all starts with Thompson's script, which like his 2020 success Lonely Receiver is laced with poetic observations about the beautiful carnage he's laying out before us. There are shades of Cronenberg, Clive Barker, and Alex Garland woven through this strange tapestry, but Thompson's work together with MacDonald's spellbindingly brutal art creates something entirely new out of all those influences, something dark and delicate and so dense with meaning that it demands multiple readings. It's a must-read for horror fans in 2021.
Future State: Catwoman #1: You can read pretty much all of the Future State titles with a pretty self-contained eye if you want, but it's been interesting over the course of the last three weeks to watch little micro-verses grow up amid various families of books, placing each adventure in the grander context of various pieces of possible DC Comics futures. That's been particularly apparent in the Gotham City books, whether we're talking about The Next Batman or Dark Detective or what I consider to be the best of the Gotham bunch so far, this week's Future State: Catwoman #1 from writer Ram V and artist Otto Schmidt. I've said before that I wanted to see the Future State books take big swings with their concepts, and this book definitely does that, but it also roots the whole story in a sense of worldbuilding and narrative connective tissue that makes you eager to read not just the rest of this story, but the entire Future State Bat-family line.
You'd really think by now that creators have run out of new ways for Selina Kyle to steal stuff, but that's thankfully not the cast in the hands of the right team, and here Ram and Schmidt lay out something new for Selina to do in the world of Future State by rooting her mission in the totalitarian Magistrate that has taken over the security of Gotham. Behind all the worldbuilding and futuristic structure, the objective is simple: Get onboard a train and move toward an objective. Throw in all the inventiveness that comes with Future State, though, and you've got an absolute blast of an issue that might just go down in history as one Selina Kyle's best heist moments.
The book achieves this because Ram V, who's already crushing it on Justice League Dark and Swamp Thing in the Future State era, knows exactly how to pace this book for maximum effect. The issue shifts points of view on a dime, moving from Selina's mission to her partners in crime to the Magistrate goons trying to keep them all in check, but there's no sense of whiplash or narrative confusion. It's a story that ticks away like a Swiss watch without a second wasted, something only bolstered by Schmidt's crisp layouts and seemingly effortless sense of panel structure. It's a book that flies like a bullet train, which is exactly what it's supposed to do.
Crimson Flower #1: No one in comics has a mind quite like Matt Kindt, and sometimes it's hard to tell what's more astonishing: That he's able to come up with these kinds of ideas with such frequency, or that he's able to come up with them at all. Either way, Kindt's latest collaboration with The Freak artist Matt Lesniewski, Crimson Flower, is another one of those quintessential Matt Kindt comics that's fresh, vibrant, and unlike anything else on the stands.
Set against a backdrop of espionage and Russian folklore, Crimson Flower follows a young woman as she attempts to find the man who murdered her father years before, only to uncover a much larger conspiracy in the process. Like so many of Kindt's best comics, you can see the more predictable directions this might have gone, the roads not taken that could have plunged this into more familiar territory, which makes the direction he ultimately does take with the story all the more striking in contrast. It's part of his brilliance as a writer who keeps defying genre, and it makes the first issue a compelling page-turner. Lesniewski's expressive, often unnerving art serves to complete the magic trick, evoking everything from the wild sneers of Jack Davis' Tales from the Crypt art to the raw emotion of Eddie Campbell's intimate indie stories. I can't wait to see where this thing goes.
Abbott: 1973 #1: It's been almost three years since the first issue of Abbott, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä's supernatural period piece about a dogged reporter on the search for a frightening truth, and the series' return to a brand-new year and a brand-new status quo for its protagonist arrives not a moment too soon. This story of a smart, determined Black woman on the hunt for the truth in 1970s Detroit had a lot to say about our present moment in 2018, and it has even more to say now. Plus, there are monsters, which somehow make it simultaneously more relevant and more fun.
This time around, Elena Abbott is working at a different newspaper, has a different love in her life, and is covering a city facing a whole new string of issues, but the same darkness is still chasing her. The battles of the first Abbott miniseries left her with a new sense of purpose, but there are also plenty of lingering questions. Something is still out there, still calling to her to battle it, and she's about to realize it's only the beginning.
It's remarkable how well Ahmed's script is able to juggle all of this while also conveying the simultaneous sense that we've been waiting a while to see Elena again and that Elena never really left. The world is richer and deeper yet there's a feeling of real familiarity for readers of the past volume, and both of those feelings come without anything lost in the pacing. Kivelä's art conveys that same sense of meeting an old friend for an adventure once again, sailing through the story with an intense but light touch to put us right back in this haunted version of 1970s New York. Abbott is a gem, and if you haven't gotten started with it yet, consider this your reminder to catch up.
Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1: For a certain breed of comics fan, all I really need to say here is "It's Larry Hama writing Iron Fist" and they'll come running. That was enough to get me in the door for this new Marvel miniseries with art by Dave Wachter, so much so that I even went in cold on the premise, and what I found was exactly the kind of thing I come to Iron Fist stories for: A story that blends epic fantasy with street-level mayhem for an issue packed with fun.
The setup is, in a lot of ways, pretty simple: Someone is going after the dragons at the heart of each of the Heavenly Cities, and with them come undead armies and all manner of other magical mayhem, so naturally Danny Rand heads out to see if he can stop it. Thanks to a kind of portal system in Rand Tower, Hama and Wachter are able to tell this story with a kind of instant bridge between the Heavenly Cities and New York, which means it's easy to rope Iron Fist's entire supporting cast in on the action.
Right away this pays off, as Hama juggles both a mystical crisis beyond Rand Tower and a more intimate, fight-scene laden one within it over the course of the issue. Together he and Wachter create something that simultaneously feels like a throwback adventure from the 16-page issues of the seventies and a high-concept thrill ride perfect for the 21st century. I had a blast reading it, and I can't wait to see what the next five issues hold.
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."