THE TOP FIVE

BALLAD FOR SOPHIE GN

Top Shelf | 320 pages | Mature | $24.99 | Full-color softcover graphic novel with flaps

Story: Filipe Melo | Art: Juan Cavia

“I imagined what it would be like to play like him. To be like him. Sometimes, it felt like I was the only one who really understood him.”

When a young journalist prompts a reclusive musical superstar to finally break his silence, he pours out an astonishing saga of rivalry and regret, starring child prodigies and bitter old men, beautiful dancers and demonic managers, Nazi commandants, compassionate nuns, and lifesaving animals.

Ballad for Sophie is a sweeping tale that spans the 20th century, packed with all the drama of a rock & roll biopic and more twists than a night at the opera. Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia have composed a stunning graphic symphony exploring a lifetime of ambition, betrayal, compassion, anguish, long-buried secrets, and flying pianos.

"Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia form what is probably the most talented and productive duo in the recent Portuguese graphic novel scene." — José Mário Silva, Expresso

CC sez: I confess, I'm just really impressed that the book's writer also wrote a theme song.

CLICK HERE for a 9-page preview

CLICK HERE to listen to Felipe Melo's theme.

 

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery #1 one-shot

Archie | 32-page | 3.99

Script: Eliot Rahal, Amy Chu, Evan Stanley | Art: Vincenzo Federici, Derek Charm, Evan Stanley, Pat and Tim Kennedy, Matt Herms, Jack Morelli | Covers: Julius Ohta, Francesco Francavilla

CHILLING ADVENTURES IN SORCERY #1 is an expansion of last year’s thrilling MADAM SATAN one-shot by Eliot Rahal. It features Madam Satan not only trying to escape Hell, but also stepping into the role as host for a series of scary stories, paying homage to legendary television anthologies and iconic horror hosts like Rod Serling, Elvira and Vincent Price.

She goes through the circles of Hell in reverse. Along the way she meets lost/tortured souls who tell their stories — like that of Archie Andrews, who accepted a seemingly normal job as the nighttime security shift at Riverdale’s local pizzeria and children’s mascot entertainment venue. Only to learn that the venue harbors a deep, dark, robotic, monstrous secret! And then there’s Jughead Jones, a teen who never met a food he didn’t like. Until now. What is that eerie noise coming from the kitchen …? All that plus more bonus frightful content sure to delight all Archie horror fans!

CC sez: It's hard to believe that maybe 20 years ago Archie was the stodgy company that couldn't seem to move past the Silver Age. Noq they have fully embraced the modern age, and what do you know, their characters are strong enough to handle it. Who knew the day would come when I would be excited by Archie titles?

I've read this one already, and while it's not a game-changer, it was enjoyable enough that I hope they do more.

 

DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1 (OF 12)

DC Comics | $3.99

Story: Tom Taylor | Art/Cover: Yasmine Putri

An entire medieval world will be forever changed when a spaceship crash-lands from a doomed planet. Monarchs will die, kingdoms will rise, and what seemed the end of the world for many…was only the beginning! An epic high-fantasy story set in a DC Universe where nothing is what it seems… From worldwide bestselling writer Tom Taylor (DCeased, Superman: Son of Kal-El) and acclaimed artist Yasmine Putri comes a generational tale of good and evil within a brand-new DCU!

CC sez: Has DC ever published a Superman Elseworlds omnibus? I'd love to have Red Son, The Nail, etc., all in one place. I think they did do a Batman Elseworlds including Gotham by Gaslight, Red Rain, etc., but I don't have it. I just have a ton of really skinny collections that are hard to see on the bookshelf.

 

FRIDAY BOOK 1: THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS TPB

Image | $14.99

Story: Ed Brubaker | Art: Muntsa Vicente | Art/Cover: Marcos Martin

Image Comics will publish the Eisner Award nominated Panel Syndicate comic by the award-winning creative team Ed Brubaker (Pulp, Reckless, Criminal) and Marcos Martín (The Private Eye, Daredevil) in print for the first time. Friday, Book One: The First Day of Christmas will collect the first arc of the series and hit shelves this November.

"I'm so excited to finally see Friday in print. This is one of my career-favorite projects, and every chapter that Marcos draws ups his game to an unbelievable level," said Brubaker. "I've never really done anything like this book before, a post-YA coming of age story with that beautiful mid-'70s era look, and watching Marcos and Muntsa bring the town of Kings Hill to life has been astonishing. I can't wait for a whole new audience to discover Friday Fitzhugh and her terrible Christmas."

Friday follows a young adult sidekick trying to find her own place in a world that's one part Encyclopedia Brown and one part H.P. Lovecraft.

Martín added: "Friday Fitzhugh and Lancelot Jones thought they were enjoying their adventures as YA detectives in a nice New England town but of course, they didn’t know their lives were in the hands of master crime storyteller, Ed Brubaker. That’s real unfortunate for them as anyone familiar with Ed’s expert hand in setting up dark, troubling situations wrapped in sad, melancholic atmospheres knows. But their loss is our gain and I hope the readers will have as much of a blast getting to know these characters as I’ve had drawing them. Or if nothing else, just flip through the pages to enjoy Muntsa’s beautiful color work.”

Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past. Now she’s in college, starting a new life on her own — or so she thought. When Friday comes home for the holidays, she’s immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town. … Everything quickly snowballs into the Christmas vacation from Hell — and they may not survive to see the New Year.

"For me, Friday was one of the highlights of an obviously turbulent 2020," said Eric Stephenson, Chief Creative Officer & Publisher at Image Comics. "After enjoying Friday as a reader via Panel Syndicate, I’m thrilled to be in a position to publish Ed and Marcos’ masterwork here at Image. Comics don’t get much better than this."

CC sez: I completely ignore online-only comics, so I appreciate Dark Horse and Image picking the best and publishing them for me. And this is Brubaker, so it's probably good.

 

SHEENA: QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE #1

Dynamite | Teen+ | 32 pages | $3.99

Writer: Stephen Mooney | Art: Jethro Morales | Covers: Lucio Parrillo, Rose Besch, Arthur Suydam, Joseph Michael Linsner, Cosplay

The Queen of the Jungle Returns! Featuring an all-star creative team and the most amazing roster of cover artists this side of the jungle!

The thrilling adventure combines the classic elements of the legendary character along with a modern sensibility that will make it the perfect debut for fans new and old! And lookit those Covers: Linsner! Parillo! Besch! Suydam! Cohen! Mooney! Cosplay!

Sheena is recruited — that's being kind, she's kind of forced to go! — to enter the "bio-dome" — an amazing synthesis and nature and machine, where something has gone terribly wrong. Outside the dome, she's faced with human trickery and deceit; inside the dome, she faces the deadly jungle and a fast, murdering mystery.

Jurrassic Park meets Predator meets The Hunger Games. Sheena is Queen of all.

  • Sheena debuted in Joshua B. Power's British magazine Wags #46 in January 1938 — created by Will Eisner and S. M. "Jerry" Iger.
  • Eisner said an inspiration for the character's name was H. Rider Haggard's 1886 jungle-goddess novel She.
  • Sheena first appeared stateside in Fiction House's Jumbo Comics #1, and subsequently in every issue (Sept. 1938-April 1953), as well as in her groundbreaking 18-issue spin-off, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Spring 1942-Winter 1952), the first comic book to title-star a female character.
  • Fiction House, originally a pulp magazine publisher, ran prose stories of its star heroine in the latter-day pulp one-shot Stories of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Spring 1951) and Jungle Stories vol. 5 #11 (Spring 1954).

CC sez: That lead cover brings to mind Tanya Roberts, doesn't it? I don't think I ever saw her 1984 Sheena movie, but boy, she really had the right look. Even her name fit, as it sounds a little like "tawny." She died recently at 65, but to me she'll always look like this:

As to this book, I confess I think jungle comics are a benighted relic from a less enlightened age. But if they try to do something different (and less white savior-y), as they seem to be doing here, I can allow myself to be carried along by the rush of nostalgia.

 

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

ART OF THE WALKING DEAD UNIVERSE HC

Titan Comics | 240 pages | $49.99

Story: Matthew K. Manning | Cover: Brian Rood

The Art of AMC’s The Walking Dead Universe features an in-depth compilation of behind-the-scenes pre-production and production art from AMC’s three iconic TWD series — The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Plus, fans will discover never-before-seen original sketches, concept art, storyboards, special product illustrations and more from the shows inspired by Robert Kirkman’s comic book turned pop culture phenomenon.

Marking AMC Networks’ first venture into book publishing, The Art of AMC’s The Walking Dead Universe, from writer Matthew K. Manning and Creative Director John J. Hill, also features an introduction by Chief Content Officer of  The Walking Dead  Universe Scott M. Gimple and fun facts from creators and crew members on all three series.  

The cover from Brian Rood (Star Wars, Transformers) is the first time the casts  of AMC’s three TWD series have ever been featured in the same piece of art, and includes the artist’s rendition of over 50 (!) cast members, along with a multitude of terrifying Walkers.

An exclusive look inside The Art of AMC’s The Walking Dead Universe includes pages with never-before-seen looks at the art on Daryl Dixon’s (Norman Reedus) iconic jacket  and its origin, the fan-favorite Walker known as “Bicycle Girl,” and behind-the-scenes artwork from The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

“Our TWD community has been dedicated to the television series for over a decade now, and as a token of our gratitude we wanted to create this book filled with art, design, and information spanning across the three shows we now have,” said Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead. “The expansion of this world is truly because of the awesome fanbase we have, and I am forever thankful to them for supporting our stories.”

“The Walking Dead Universe is supported and surrounded by one of the most passionate fan bases around and we’re thrilled to offer them a new and exciting way to engage with the shows, characters and stories they love,” said Mike Zagari, Head of AMC Networks Publishing. “This impressive collection of art from across all three series will give readers an inside look at the incredible talent and creativity behind the making of their favorite shows.”

CC sez: If this book had come out six or seven years ago, I would have loved it. But, like most people, my enthusiasm for The Walking Dead has waned considerably. Still, it's awful purty.

 

BATMAN/SUPERMAN: AUTHORITY SPECIAL ONE-SHOT

DC Comics | $5.99

Story:  Phillip Kennedy Johnson | Art: Trevor Hairsine, Jonathan Glapion, Ben Templesmith | Cover: Rodolfo Migliari

Following Mongul’s brazen attack on Earth, Superman’s world has been turned upside down: conflict between Atlantis and the surface world, the discovery of an immensely powerful new element, dead refugees with mysterious ties to Krypton, and expulsion from the Justice League! When Superman re-forms the experimental, anti-establishment Authority to join him in liberating Warworld, Batman comes to them with a request: join him for one unorthodox, off-the-books mission first, one he could never ask the Justice League to be a part of … and one he doesn’t expect everyone to come back from.

CC sez: Here's the thing: When Superman first fought Manchester Black, the story had a lovely, perfect ending where Superman demonstrated that it wasn't his powers that made him right, and Black wrong, i.e., that might makes right. Instead, the story  via Superman's actions  showed that compassion trumps cynicism, that mercy trumps murder and that his basic decency trumps everything that Black believes and stands for.

Now comes this story where Superman is essentially saying, "Welp, my way isn't working, so let's try yours." Completely negates that earlier story, which I still remember fondly. Not to mention 80 years of Superman characterization. Is the shock value of Superman working with Manchester Black really worth it, DC? Not for me.

Then they rub my nose in it with a Christopher Reeve cover.

 

BEASTS OF BURDEN: OCCUPIED TERRITORY HC

Dark Horse | $24.99

Story: Sarah Dyer, Evan Dorkin | Art/Cover: Ben Dewey

An elder member of the occult-battling pack of Wise Dogs recalls a harrowing mission-in U.S-occupied Japan after World War II, a mysterious curse creates an army of crawling, disembodied heads which threatens to overwhelm the region. Emrys and a team of canine companions attempt to solve the mystery, bringing them into conflict with shape-changing tanuki, evil oni, and a horde of vengeful demons. Collects the four-issue miniseries.

CC sez: When my wife was flipping through the first issue in the comic shop, I promised I'd get her the collection. So I guess I have to, doggone it! (jk, I enjoy these.)

 

BUCKAROO BANZAI AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE, ET AL: A COMPENDIUM OF EVILS HC

Dark Horse | 544 pages | B&W | $29.99

Story: Earl Mac Rauch

The long-anticipated sequel to the sci-fi novel and motion picture The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is finally here! As told by the Reno Kid to Buckaroo Banzai chronicler E.M. Rauch (Buckaroo Banzai novelist and screenwriter), this novel reintroduces everyone’s favorite scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil as he sets off on a brand-new hair-raising adventure!

Still mourning the losses of his beloved Penny Priddy and his surrogate father Professor Hikita, Buckaroo Banzai must also contend with the constant threat of attack from his immortal nemesis Hanoi Xan, ruthless leader of the World Crime League. To make matters worse, Planet 10 warrior queen John Emdall has sent her Lectroid legions against Earth with a brutal ultimatum. Or is her true target Buckaroo Banzai? As the apocalyptic threats continue to mount, only Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers stand in the way of global destruction — or in the words of one of the movie’s iconic lines: “Laugh-a while you can, monkey boy!”

Praise for Buckaroo Banzai and Earl Mac Rauch:

“At [The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’s] best, which it frequently is, it's a lunatic ball, an extremely genial, witty example of what is becoming a movie genre all its own.” — The New York Times

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has become a movie that is the embodiment of ‘nerd’ culture.” — Minty Comedic Arts

“From the moment you open The Hardest of the Hard, writer Earl Mac Rauch hooks you and keeps you reading page after page.” — Comics Bulletin

CC sez: I remember when I first watched this movie that it took a little while for me to realize I was looking at a Doc Savage pastiche. That didn't make me like it any more or any less. Outside of John Lithgow's performance, it didn't make much of an impression. YMMV, and probably does.

 

COMPLETE DC COMICS PHANTOM VOL 1 (OF 3) HC

Hermes Press | $50.00

The first six stories of The Phantom, published by DC Comics, with the first mini-series by Peter David with art by Joe Orlando, followed by two stories from the next series with script by Mark Verheiden and pencils and inks by Luke McDonnell; colors by Anthony Tollin. The first of three volumes collecting The Phantom stories originally published by DC, this first volume includes an introductory essay, extra art and more!

CC sez: The Hermes site says this is the first of three books, but I'm perplexed as to what will fill those books. AFAIK, DC only published two Phantom series: One of them six issues, and one of them 13 issues. This book will have eight of those issues, and if the second book contains the remaining 10, then there's nothing left. Maybe they're going to split those 10 into five and five? Or is there a third series I don't know about?

Either way, these books will look nice next to my existing Phantom library.

 

CRITICAL ROLE: THE MIGHTY NEIN ORIGINS — JESTER LAVORRE HC

Dark Horse | 56 pages | $17.99

Story: Sam Maggs | Art: Critter Hunter Severn Bonyun & Matthew Mercer

Jester Lavorre had an unconventional upbringing, even for one born in cosmopolitan Nicodranas. Daughter of the famed Ruby of the Sea, she had many opportunities for mischief as a small child, of which she took full advantage! Dive into the mystery of Jester’s early years, her first meeting with the Traveler, and the fateful events that set her on a path to eventually join the Mighty Nein.

Dark Horse Comics and Critical Role are thrilled to announce Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins — a brand new line of hardcover graphic novels focusing on Jester, Caleb, Fjord, Mollymauk, Yasha, Beauregard, Nott and Caduceus.

CC sez: For you gamers.

 

CUTTING EDGE VOL 1 GN

Titan | 208 pages | $29.99

Story: Francesco Dimitri | Art/Cover: Mario Alberti

Brought together by a clandestine corporation, the world's greatest minds are set a challenge of epic proportions: the dodecathlon. Unlikely alliances are made in order to fulfill the quest and uncover the mysterious truth behind it all. But as the conspiracy is unveiled, how many will survive ...? Collects Cutting Edge: The Siren's Song #1-2 and Cutting Edge: The Devil's Mirror #1-2.

CC sez: Not really excited about the premise, which feels overly familiar. But here's a nice preview.

 

EVIL DEAD 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION HC

Dark Horse | Mature | $19.99

Story: Mark Verheiden | Art/Cover: John Bolton

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the cult horror classic in this hardcover graphic novel collection that expands on the film! Now an iconic horror hero, relive Ash's first visit to the cabin that brought him face to face with the delectably deranged deadites who possessed his girlfriend and friends ... and turned "the perfect place to get laid" into a house of fear and fury. Return to the original nonstop gore-fest and experience the thrills, gags, and gagging anew, with unexpected extra scenes, a new afterword from writer Mark Verheiden, and an updated sketchbook section!

CC sez: One of these days I'm going to sit down and watch all the Evil Dead movies in a row. All I know about the series is what has bubbled up in the pop culture consciousness.

 

FIRE POWER #17

Image | $3.99

Story: Robert Kirkman | Art/Cover: Chris Samnee, Matthew Wilson

Today Image/Skybound revealed a first look at Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #17, following the shocking last page revelation from superstars Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson.

Master Shaw has RETURNED and, look, everyone is in a whole lotta trouble now. Even those snakes on a plane (well, airship) are the smallest threat on the horizon for Owen and his allies as everyone they love is now in mortal danger! Plus, we’ve met the Serpent’s Omen, but who — or what — is the Serpent’s Will?

“... one of the most unique and exciting comic books on the stands.” — Multiversity Comics

CC sez: Another issue of Fire Power, another press release.

 

GUILLEM MARCH'S LAURA #1

Ablaze | $3.99

Story/Art/Cover: Guillem March

Before his work on Batman and the hit Joker series, before he created Karmen, there was the heartfelt story of Laura, the book that led to Guillem March to the mainstream comics world!

Suffering from the ever-painful experience of unrequited love, twenty-year-old Laura takes a look at her life. Is the fact that the boy she has feelings for is in love with someone else mean there is something wrong with her? Or is that just how young love goes? And what will happen when she tries to get past the hurt and move on with her life?

Laura is an exploration into the mind of a young woman who has experiencing something most people have, but in an honest and beautiful way that only Guillem March can bring us.

CC sez: I enjoyed March's Karmen, so I'd probably enjoy this. He really draws women well — not "good girl" art or fan-service pandering, just realistic and well.

 

HELLBOY: THE BONES OF GIANTS #1 (OF 4)

Dark Horse | $3.99

Story: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden | Art/Cover: Matt Smith

In Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, lightning strikes from a clear sky on a frozen riverbank in Sweden. The skeleton of a huge man is revealed, his fingers clutched around the handle of an iron hammer. No one who comes to see this marvel from Norse mythology can move it. No one, that is, but Hellboy, who lifts the hammer just in time for lightning to strike again, welding it to his hand and leading him toward a bizarre series of visions and encounters. What ensues is a wild adventure full of Norse legends, mythical creatures, and a threat that could bring not just Earth, but the Nine Realms of Norse mythology to their knees.

Timed to the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and bestselling novelist Christopher Golden are adapting their classic prose novel into an all-new four-issue comic book series, drawn by Barbarian Lord creator Matt Smith and featuring colors by Chris O’Halloran (Ice Cream Man) and lettering by Clem Robins. The debut issue of Hellboy: The Bones of Giants comes to comic shops this November.

“Matt Smith’s Barbarian Lord is one of my favorite contemporary comics,” said Mignola. “It’s awfully hard to imagine an artist who is a better fit than Matt to draw Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, with its mix of Norse mythology and action-packed drama.”

“Elves, dwarves, wolves and giants. These are things I've drawn for myself many times before, because I love them,” said Matt Smith. “I expect I'll continue to draw them until the wolf eats the sun or I am taken by trolls (fate goes as fate must). What I did not expect was to be invited to draw them for an adaptation of a novel I also love, and have read many times since it was released. Now I can only hope fellow Hellboy and Norse mythology fans have as good a time reading it as I did working on it. Skál!”

"It’s a thrill to return to the world of Hellboy: The Bones of Giants,” said Christopher Golden, whose highly anticipated new novel The Road of Bones has been endorsed by the likes of Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, and Stephen Graham Jones, and will be published in 2022 by St. Martin’s Press. “I’ve been deeply in love with Norse mythology since first reading Dorothy Hosford’s Thunder of the Gods in the fifth grade. I might have been the only one to take it out of the St. Bridget’s School library that year, but I read it fifteen times, so there wasn’t much opportunity for other kids to read it. When Mike first told me he had this image in his head of lightning flashing down from the sky to strike Mjollnir, where it lay in the grip of the corpse of Thor … well, that was like Christmas morning, getting to indulge my love of Norse myth and my love of Hellboy. The story that Mike and I created in the novel is epic, and now Hellboy’s fight against the Frost Giants will get the full color treatment it deserves by one of the great artists making comics today — Matt Smith — who also happens to love Norse mythology even more than Mike and I do. This adaptation exists purely because Matt wanted to draw it, and when you see the art, you’ll see how much fun we all had on every page.”

CC sez: I will always read anything Hellboy-related. Of course, I wait for big hardback collections, but it's nice to know there's always something like this in the pipeline.

 

THE HOUSE TPB

Dark House | Mature | $19.99

Story: Phillip Sevy | Art/Cover: Drew Zucker

During the Battle of the Bulge, a squadron of U.S. soldiers is caught in a blizzard while patrolling through the woods. Seeking refuge from the impending whiteout, they stumble across an abandoned manor, seeking shelter and safety. Once inside, however, the doors disappear, rooms begin to morph, exits become entrances, and they quickly realize there is no safety to be found! As their eyes deceive them, their minds descend into madness, panic and paranoia. Is this real? Or is there more to this labyrinth than what resides within the walls? Secrets are revealed, history is retold, and death is the only mercy.

CC sez: Is it the Winchester House, somehow appearing in Europe? Well, I like weird war almost as much as weird Western, so I'm intrigued.

 

HUMAN TARGET #1 (OF 12)

DC Comics | Black Label | $4.99

Story: Tom King | Art/Cover: Greg Smallwood | Variants: Trevor Hairsine, Danny Miki, Jenny Prison

Can the DC Universe’s Greatest Bodyguard Solve His Own Murder?

With a resume that includes successful and critically acclaimed titles such as The Omega Men, Mister Miracle, Rorschach and Strange Adventures, best-selling writer Tom King definitely has the magic touch when it comes to plumbing the depths of the DC Universe and re-imagining characters for a new generation of fans.

Christopher Chance has made a living out of being a human target — a man hired to disguise himself as his client to invite would-be assassins to attempt his murder. He’s had a remarkable career until his latest case protecting Lex Luthor when things go sideways. An assassination attempt Chance didn’t see coming leaves him vulnerable and left trying to solve his own murder ... as he has 12 days to discover just who in the DCU hated Luthor enough to want him dead. The DC Universe meets gritty detective noir in this DC BLACK LABEL series by two of comics most celebrated talents!

CC sez: This really makes me miss Dick Giordano.

 

KNIGHTED #1 (OF 5)

AWA | $3.99

Story: Gregg Hurwitz | Art: Brian Reber | Art/Cover: Mark Texeira

In this action-packed adventure set in the universe of The Resistance, Gregg Hurwitz (Legends of the Dark Knight, Vengeance of Moon Knight), Mark Texeira (Ghost Rider, Wolverine), and Brain Reber (X-Men: Legacy, Spiderintroduce a masked vigilante for the 21st Century. Bob Ryder is a hapless bureaucrat whose bad luck streak comes to a crescendo when he accidentally kills the city's masked vigilante, The Knight. Oops. Now, Bob is forced to take on the mantle of the legendary hero before the city descends into chaos. Good thing he's got The Knight's former butler/assistant to show him the ropes.

CC sez: Doesn't say much for a series when the first issue's cover is a Dark Knight Returns swipe homage.

 

MAGIC ORDER 2 #1 (OF 6)

Image | $3.99

Story: Mark Millar | Art/Cover: Stuart Immonen | Variants: Greg Tocchini, Ozgar Yildirim, Chiarello

Bestselling writer and producer Mark Millar (Jupiter's Legacy, Kingsman: The Secret Service) returns to the magical world he created as a live-action Netflix series to release the second volume in the comic book adaptation. Olivier Coipel (Amazing Spider-Man, Thor) was drafted in to draw the first volume in this five book set and delivered one of the best jobs of his career. Now legendary artist Stuart Immonen (Empress, Star Wars, New Avengers) is in the chair for the much-anticipated sequel.

"We've been working hard on The Magic Order show and comics for some time, picking all the right partners and trying to do the best job we can," said Millar. "A bucket list has been ticked working with Olivier Coipel, a guy I've admired since we were both in our twenties, and now Stuart Immonen joins me for the sequel volume. Stuart's kind of the artist's artist's artist. Everyone I know is obsessed with him. So this is above and beyond an honour."

In this new story arc, a magical turf war like you've never seen before! The London chapter of the Magic Order has entered the scene, and these tough Guy Ritchie-style gangsters have a problem with the Eastern European Warlocks moving into their territory. Can new leader Cordelia Moonstone keep the peace?

CC sez: Hands up, everyone who's a big Mark Millar fan. Anyone? I like some of his work — Jupiter's Legacy and Kingsman leap to mind — but most of it seems to rely on shock value more than strong storytelling. Maybe it's just me.

 

NEWBURN #1

Image | Mature | $3.99

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Nadia Shammas | Art: Ziyed Yusuf Ayoub | Art/Cover: Jacob Phillips| Variant: Tula Lotay

In Newburn, readers meet Easton Newburn, a private detective without loyalties investigating conflicts between rival crime factions while collecting enemies along the way. In this debut issue, a man is murdered after stealing from his own mafia family, but they aren’t the ones who ordered the hit…

“I love the satisfaction that comes from crime procedurals, so the chance to do that in comic form, while crafting a massive story about a fictional New York underworld, was something I couldn’t wait to do," said Zdarsky in an exclusive on the announcement at Comic Book Resources. "And Jacob is the perfect artist for the book! His work is gritty and full of heart and he’s bringing it all to this book."

Phillips added: “Newburn brings something fresh to crime comics that I’ve not seen before. Chip’s at the top of his game crafting these tight done-in-one stories which have been great fun to draw and even more fun to read. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve been cooking up!"

The debut issue will also include a riveting backup story called, “Brooklyn Zirconia,” by rising stars Nadia Shammas and Ziyed Yusuf Ayoub.

CC sez: I get a real Titus Welliver vibe from this. Which is not a complaint.

 

STRANGER THINGS WINTER SPECIAL ONE-SHOT

Dark Horse | $6.99

Story: Chris Roberson | Art: Abel (| Cover: Steve Morris

The winter holidays are upon us and the kids of Hawkins are in full spirit. As they recall stories from their childhood to teach Eleven about Christmas, tensions run high as Dustin swears he saw something lurking in the forest outside.

CC sez: Dark Horse seems to be making a lot of hay while the sun shines with this franchise. I wonder how long it will continue, if at all, after the series winds up with the next (and last) season.

 

A THING CALLED TRUTH #1 (OF 5)

Image | $3.99

Story: Iolanda Zanfardino | Art/Cover: Elisa Romboli | Variants: Iolande Zanfardino, Mirka Andolfo

In A Thing Called Truth, a workaholic scientist who wants to save the world and a woman who fears nothing but discovering her own destiny find themselves mixed up in a chaotic, on-the-road adventure through Europe. Will they manage to find a middle ground between their opposing ways of life — at least for long enough to complete their mission? And could this trip lead to an unexpected romance?

A Thing Called Truth is a story full of love — love of cinema, the wind in your hair, new cities yet to be explored, and the brave fire in the eyes of a woman coming into her own. It’s a soul searching story about finding the balance between devoting yourself fully to a goal and being able to enjoy life with no regrets. About the dream of leaving your mark on the world. About the reasons for yearning to go far away — and those that will take you back home," said Zanfardino and Romboli. “It's about how you can't keep running forever, but facing the world gets easier when you find out you're not alone anymore.”

CC sez: Is it still a Surprise Lesbian Reveal if you're not surprised? I assume the characters will be.

 

TRUE LIVES FABULOUS KILLJOYS CALIFORNIA DELUXE HC

Image | 144 pages | $79.99

The cult hit comic series, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, is getting the oversized Deluxe Edition treatment from Dark Horse Comics! Created by Gerard Way and longtime collaborator Shaun Simon (You Look Like Death, Neverboy), with art by Becky Cloonan (Southern Cross, The Punisher), colors by Dan Jackson (The Strain, Ghost), and letters by Nate Piekos (The Umbrella Academy, Black Hammer) The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California Deluxe Edition arrives this October!

Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one — the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it's left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI!

This oversized deluxe hardcover collects The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California #1-5 (2014) — the deluxe format also includes a slipcase designed by Tony Ong and an exclusive print by Becky Cloonan, the short story "Dead Satellites," with the expanded sketchbook section from the Limited Edition!

Praise for The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California:

"It's a testament to Way, Simon and Cloonan's storytelling ability that the vibrant world of the Killjoys retains the musical quality of its origins while doing something uniquely refreshing." — IGN

"The power team of Gerard Way and Becky Cloonan show their chops in both writing and art, entwining their respective talents to create something great." — Newsarama

"Killjoys is a celebration of expecting the unexpected and carving out your own path. Welcome back, Gerard –we needed more comic books like this." — Multiversity Comics

"If I saw you pass this up at the shelves I would make you buy it." — Florida Geek Scene

CC sez: Here's another series I didn't follow, but the longer it goes, the more interested I get. Anybody want to recommend it?

 

EVENTS/CROSSOVERS

DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE

DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE: AVENGERS #1

Marvel | Teen+ | $4.99

Story: Alex Paknadel | Art: Ryan Bodenheim | Cover: Steve Skroce

In addition to the main series, DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE will also spin out into pulse-pounding tie-ins that deal with the ramifications from the loss of one of Marvel’s most vital heroes.

Written by Alex Paknadel (Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters) with art by Ryan Bodenheim (Black Panther), DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE: AVENGERS #1 will see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes face off against a rampaging new Juggernaut. Can they prevent the unstoppable being from destroying Manhattan or do they lack the magical expertise needed to find an answer?

STRANGE ACADEMY PRESENTS: DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE #1

Marvel | Teen+ | $4.99

Story: Skottie Young | Art: Mike Del Mundo | Cover: Humberto Ramos

Strange Academy is shut down until the events surrounding Dr. Strange’s death are resolved in STRANGE ACADEMY PRESENTS: DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE #1 written by Strange Academy creator Skottie Young with art by superstar cover artist Mike Del Mundo. When the student body is forced to return home, Iric and Alvi come face-to-face with their mother: the Enchantress! Dealing with problems of her own in the wake of Strange’s death, fans will learn that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and more than just one realm is in trouble.

FEAR STATE

BATMAN #116

DC Comics | $4.99

Stry: James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad | Art: Jorge Jimenez, Jorge Corona | Cover: Jorge Jimenez

The only thing standing between an insane, heavily armed Peacekeeper-01 and a high body count in Gotham City is Batman. Their first bout didn’t go well for the Dark Knight, but the city is on the line and he can’t let the Scarecrow’s master plan come to fruition…and whose side is Miracle Molly truly on? The penultimate chapter of "Fear State"! Backup: With the Bat comms unreliable, Oracle has instructed the Batgirls to stay in the Clock Tower while she and Nightwing investigate who’s behind the Oracle Network hacks. But with the Magistrate’s forces instructed to attack the Clock Tower, will the Batgirls make it out before it’s too late?

 

WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS

STAR WARS #18

Marvel | Teen | $3.99

Story: Charles Soule | Art: Ramon Rosanas | Cover: Carlo Pagulayan

"COLLISION COURSE"

Reeling from the events on JEKARA and forced to confront the reality of her own choices and losses, LEIA ORGANA meets QI'RA to discuss the person they both have in common - heroic smuggler HAN SOLO! How has he influenced their lives to that point? And how will it change their fate moving forward?

STAR WARS BOUNTY HUNTERS #17

Marvel | Teen | $3.99

Story: Ethan Sacks | Art: Paolo Villanelli | Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli

"LAST STAND"

Severely wounded, VALANCE must make a desperate escape attempt from an Imperial

Star Destroyer. Will T'ONGA and her crew reach him in time? Plus: A shocking twist that will leave the survivors' lives forever altered!

 

BAD IDEA

CC sez: The first of the month usually brings all of that month's Bad Idea releases. Well, at least through next month, after which the company will cease publishing. Or so they say. But they sure don't show any signs of stopping, do they? Here's all the PR they sent me for November.

MONSTER KILL SQUAD #3 (OF 4)

Bad Idea | 32 pages | No ads | $6.99

Story: Christos Gage | Art: Tomas Giorello | Colors: Diego Rodriguez | Cover: Lewis Larosa, Diego Rodriguez

PLUS: An All-New BAD IDEA B-SIDE

Once upon a time, monster attacks were rare. A forest witch might murder a few hikers, a killer clown might eat a few children, or a malevolent ghost might drive a young couple insane just for the hell of it. But these events were scarce, easily covered up, and soon faded into campfire stories good for a laugh.

But no one’s laughing now. Over the past 90 days, cryptozoological attacks have increased a hundredfold, and the arcane has become everyday. Monsters of every shape and size strike at will, and the good, taxpaying folks of the US of A have had enough of this nonsense.

Enter: THE MONSTER KILL SQUAD. A Government Unit of the most dangerous motherfuckers on the planet, the deadliest folks alive are here to put a bullet in the brain of everything that walks, crawls, flies, or hides in shadows. And if it doesn’t have a brain, all the better — we’ve got a gun for that, too.

Witches and wraiths. Demons and deadites. Goblins and ghosts. There have always been monsters. Now there are monster killers, and the MKS will kill it, and kill it good.

PYRATE QUEEN #3 (OF 4)

Bad Idea | 32 pages | No ads | $7.99

Story: Peter Milligan | Art/Cover: Adam Pollina | Colors: Tamra Bonvillain

PLUS: An All-New BAD IDEA B-SIDE

Embark on a tale of love, loss, life, death and bloody revenge! Meet Monday Ryan, a pyrate with a bad reputation and a price on her head. To be a pyrate is to live a short and merry life and to live it free. It ends for most with a length of rope and a four-foot drop.

After a series of successful attacks, Monday Ryan, her husband, and her crew of bandits are targeted and pursued relentlessly by the British Royal Navy. When a violent trap leads to their capture, Monday and crew are fitted for the gallows — until the Royal Navy learns that Monday’s pregnant. Civility prevents the hanging of a pregnant woman, and Monday is spared the noose, but her crew and husband are not. Set adrift on a small raft and left to her fate on the open sea, Monday vows that the life growing inside her will be born into a world where its father’s death has been avenged. She will find and kill every last soul responsible for her husband's death, and her baby will enter into this world free of vengeance, free of bloodshed, and free of a future drenched in violence.

REFUSE x LAST RESORTS ONE-SHOT

Bad Idea | 88 pages | No ads | $9.99

Story: Matt Kindt | Art/Cover: Marguerite Sauvage

"Refuse"

From the limitless imaginations of New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (River Run) and Eisner Award nominee Marguerite Sauvage (Bombshells) comes a very special tale of discovery in the outer reaches.

A woman awakens on an alien planet with no memory of her previous existence. She begins a quest to survive, relying on her wits, skills and instincts to adapt to an inhospitable environment. After months barely surviving, she discovers a mysterious spacecraft at the bottom of a frozen lake. She dredges it, only to discover a blurred holographic image and distorted messages. She repairs the craft and journeys across the galaxy — but what is the ship’s destination, and who are the messages from?

"Last Resorts"

Story: Mark Russell | Art/Cover: Adam Pollina

Mark Russell (Flintstones) joins forces with virtuoso artist Adam Pollina (Whalesville) for a tale of friendship and adventure in the far future.

Cyrus Garvey couldn’t believe his luck: If he agreed to attend a timeshare presentation, he’d get a free transporter trip anywhere in the galaxy. And those things are expensive! Cy sat through the hour long  presentation at Last Resorts Inc, passed on the timeshare, but took the vacation, and man was it a blast. A few days later, Cy’s friend gets the same invitation, but she’s reluctant to go — she can’t say no to a salesman. Cy agrees to sit through the presentation under her name, and she’s cool, as long as they can take a trip together.

Cy shows up to the presentation, takes a seat in the back and prepares to run out the clock on the hour, but is surprised to find a familiar face giving the sales presentation is … himself?!

Surely Last Resorts Inc., didn’t take Cy’s DNA from the transporter and clone him? Surely they didn’t build a bunch of clones as slave labor … and surely Cy didn’t agree to this in the fine print. Man, all Cy wanted was to get away for a few days …

ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN

I've just about hit the character limit for a post, So here's a list of some more books that looked interesting (or just weird).

AFTER DARK ONE-SHOT

BLUE BARON #1

  • Like Heroes Union, this is from Legionnaire Darin Henry's Binge Books.

DIGGER #1

EPIC TAVERN TALES FROM FANTASTICAL CRIMES UNIT #1

FAITH: GREATER HEIGHTS

  • This is actually a novel, a sequel to the first book starring the plus-size Valiant hero.

HAKIM’S ODYSSEY BOOK 1: FROM SYRIA TO TURKEY GN

  • I love furrin graphic novels/travelogues! I learn as much from the style of storytelling as I do from the actual story.

HEATHENS #1

  • As a lifelong heathen, I appreciate the shout-out!

H.P. LOVECRAFT THE LURKING FEAR TPB

  • I'm gonna end up buying all these at Amazon, aren't I?

LURE HC

MY BAD #1

  • Superhero spoof

NO GHOSTS IN HIROSHIMA GN

THE PEOPLE INSIDE HC

ROCKSTARS COMPLETE TPB

  • "Music, murder, magic and mayhem." Just another Saturday night, amirite?

RUSH #1

  • A Western, possibly a weird one.

TANGLED RIVER #1

TRAILER PARK BOYS BIG A$$ COMIC COLLECTION TPB

UPGRADE SOUL COLLECTORS EDITION HC

VISUAL CRIME: MORIARTY HC

WAITING TPB

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COMPLETE DC COMICS PHANTOM VOL 1 (OF 3) HC: I'm not sure what's going to fill three volumes, either, but that first mini-series was only four issues (not six), so there are even fewer than you think. Although I have all of Hermes other Phantom collections, I've never been particularly interested in DC's so I did not order it. OTOH, IIRC PAD does number the Phantom series he did with Joe Orlando among his best work, so if tomorrow's light, who knows?

DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE: AVENGERS #1: I'm buying the main mini-series, but I stopped buying additional crossover minis and one-shots decades ago (no matter what Douglas Wolk may have to say about it). 

Four issues, you say? Ah, the light dawns. They’re gonna split the books into 6-6-5 (or 6-5-6). 

And not only did I order the first DC volume, but also “Danger in the Forbidden City” which PAD also wrote (for Moonstone, I think).

BATMAN/SUPERMAN: AUTHORITY SPECIAL ONE-SHOT - I'm glad you said something about this, Cap. Something was rubbing me the wrong way about the Superman/Authority series and now you pointed out exactly what it was.

MAGIC ORDER 2- I liked the first series well enough, but as I've mentioned before, all Millar goes to the tradewait list.

STRANGER THINGS WINTER SPECIAL ONE-SHOT - Dark Horse seems to be making a lot of hay while the sun shines with this franchise. I wonder how long it will continue, if at all, after the series winds up with the next (and last) season. - I have faith in Dark Horse. They got 20 years out of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

HUMAN TARGET: I got to my LCS today to find Human Target #1 waiting for me in my P&H, which surprised me because it's not on my pull list. It was put there because I buy most other Tom King projects. I'm glad he brought it to my attention because it flew in under my radar, but I really have no interest in Human Target at all and put it back on the shelf. Did I make a mistake?

I wouldn't recommend Human Target, and I'll give you my reasons so you can decide for yourself.

In the original take he was sort of a '60s James Bond type (Sean Connery version), which I consider the sort of toxic masculinity that won't really fly any more. Actually, it didn't fly then, as he was just a back-up character in Action, Batman Brave and Bold and Detective, where he lived really well, knew his wines and was super-confident in everything from women to certain death. I was left un-shaken, and un-stirred, as this was a kind of stock character in comics after the success of Connery's Bond.

In the '90s he was resurrected at Vertigo and written by Peter Milligan, who re-interpreted the character as one with no core personality and lots of identity issues. He wasn't the Human Target because he was a super-confident espionage type, but because he felt more comfortable pretending to be other people instead of the psychological confusion of being Christopher Chance, despite the threat of imminent death. I don't remember clearly, but I think it turned out he wasn't even Chance at all, but a very confused person who convinced himself that's who he was.

(Can anybody confirm this? I want to say it was in the four-issue miniseries in 1999, which preceded the 21-issue Vertigo series in 2003.)

The first time I read a Peter Milligan story that hit on some of these issues -- it might have been Enigma, or Shade the Changing Man -- it wasn't exactly thrilling, wasn't heroic by any means, but it was different and interesting. By the time Milligan turned to Human Target in 1999, I had read enough of Milligan stories exploring these issues that I was, once again, unmoved. Come on, man, give me an adventure story now and then instead of an ongoing psychological collapse!

When Human Target got his own TV show, he got a three-issue mini (2010) where it appears there wasn't any question of his identity. I'm only guessing, though, because I didn't read it.

tl;dr I've never read a version of Christopher Chance that excited me about the character.

Captain Comics said:

(Can anybody confirm this? I want to say it was in the four-issue miniseries in 1999, which preceded the 21-issue Vertigo series in 2003.) The first time I read a Peter Milligan story that hit on some of these issues -- it might have been Enigma, or Shade the Changing Man -- it wasn't exactly thrilling, wasn't heroic by any means, but it was different and interesting. By the time Milligan turned to Human Target in 1999, I had read enough of Milligan stories exploring these issues that I was, once again, unmoved. Come on, man, give me an adventure story now and then instead of an ongoing psychological collapse!

Looks right to me.

I really liked the Peter Milligan books, but then again it was the first time I had seen him go over these topics.

Now I wouldn't get the new Human Target book, because Tom King is writing it.

Captain Comics said:

In the '90s he was resurrected at Vertigo and written by Peter Milligan, who re-interpreted the character as one with no core personality and lots of identity issues. He wasn't the Human Target because he was a super-confident espionage type, but because he felt more comfortable pretending to be other people instead of the psychological confusion of being Christopher Chance, despite the threat of imminent death. I don't remember clearly, but I think it turned out he wasn't even Chance at all, but a very confused person who convinced himself that's who he was.

(Can anybody confirm this? I want to say it was in the four-issue miniseries in 1999, which preceded the 21-issue Vertigo series in 2003.)

You rang ... ?

Be warned, there be  here.

You're partially right. In that 1999 four-issue miniseries (which did have gorgeous art, by the way, by the late Edvin Biuković, who died way too young at 30 from a brain tumor), a mysterious man whose face is wrapped in bandages like The Unknown Soldier hires Christopher Chance for a mission.

Chance subsequently impersonates the reverend of an inner city church in Los Angeles who is getting hassled by a gangbanger/drug dealer. We come to learn that the "Christopher Chance" we see is his apprentice, Tom McFadden, and the true Chance is the man in bandages, recovering from getting shot in the face by an assassin whose cover (even to her husband and daughter) is being a housewife who writes novels.

Tom cracks up under the mental strain of impersonating Chance impersonating the reverend (who is Black, by the way, and also cheating on his wife, which gives the gangbanger/drug dealer leverage), and the true Chance steps in to impersonate the reverend just before the gangbanger/drug dealer assaults the church during Sunday services. (The night before, Chance also boned the reverend's wife. She knew he wasn't her husband, but his disguise was so good, she didn't care. Those prosthetics he uses must be really good.) Chance also has to take down the assassin, and does her the favor of honoring her request to make his retaliatory attack look like an accident so her family won't know what she really does for a living.

Not having read too many Peter Milligan stories, I liked it. (Plus, there was that gorgeous Edvin Biuković art; too bad he's no longer with us.)

There was also a 2002 one-shot graphic novel, written by Peter Milligan and drawn by Javier Pulido, in which Chance is hired to impersonate a Hollywood actor to get an extortionist off his back. Chance kills the extortionist, only to find out he's kidnapped a child actor, and nobody knows where the boy is being kept. So Chance impersonates the extortionist so he can find the kid ... and what he finds scrambles his mind even more than it already was. The 2003 ongoing series followed that 

Thanks, guys. I think I'll give it a pass.

"Now I wouldn't get the new Human Target book, because Tom King is writing it."

That's the only reason I would get it. 

I saw the new Human Target on the shelf at my friendly neighborhood comics shop, and was intrigued, but put it back. I have no feeling for or against Tom King's writing (I've read far fewer of his stories than I have of Peter Milligan's), but that $4.99 price tag put me off. Plus, I'm not sure I want to spend 12 issues on this at $4.99 a pop. 

King's been hit or miss for me lately. I enjoyed Strange Adventures, but have decided to hold off of Rorschach and Supergirl, either buying to collection or, more likely, just reading them on DCU Infinite. 

But Human Target hits all the right spots for me. It's a whodunnit that steals the conceit of DOA: Chance has been poisoned, and wants to track down his killer before he dies. The evidence points to a member of the JLI. 

But even though I like it, the plot is secondary to the noir tone and Greg Smallwood's gorgeous 50s-style art. We're never getting another Darwyn Cooke Parker adaptation, but this puts me right back in that frame of mind. And that's no small thing.

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