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The Joe Shuster Story, Flavor, Quicksilver: No Surrender & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/16/2018

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Happy mid-May, comic fans! Before Deadpool 2 arrives and machine-guns its way through the comic-book internet for a few weeks, we’re thrilled to have a Wednesday chock-full of interesting releases that (mostly) fall outside of bombastic super-heroics. AfterShock taps the True Detective horror/crime niche with A Walk Through Hell, Superman gets a different kind of origin tale in The Joe Shuster Story, magic runs wild once more in Ether: The Copper Golems and readers can catch up on a city like no other in Paradiso Vol. 1. We’ve also got the continuation of one of the best horror stories on stands, a cooking-inspired Image launch with an actual chef consultant, a mythology-inspired mother/daughter story, DC’s latest “New Age” kickoff, Marvel’s speediest new mini-series and a fitting memorial to a fallen hero to wrap things up. We’re probably going to hear a lot about the Merc with a Mouth the rest of the week, so buckle down and enjoy some fine reading before the chimichangas start flying.


Ether: The Copper Golems #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: David Rubín
Publisher: Dark Horse
Fans of 2016’s Ether are in for a treat this week as creators Matt Kindt and David Rubín return to the world they created at Dark Horse. Protagonist Boone Dias returns too, this time trying to seal up all of the portals between Ether and Earth. These portals have allowed all sorts of beings to travel from the former to the latter, and this sequel pits Dias against a variety of foes as he tries to save both worlds. Rubín has most recently worked on Sherlock Frankenstein, the tie-in miniseries to Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer, and given the similarities between Kindt and Lemire’s work, the transition back and forth is likely to be a smooth one. Rubín’s color work in particular is great, with rich texture and jewel tones highlighted by sharp, intense pops of neon on the page. Kindt has been busy as well with the excellent Grass Kings from BOOM!, an exploration of secrets, family and small minds that is perfect for folks who fell down the Rajneesh rabbit hole in the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. Like the original Ether run, The Copper Golems is set to be a five-issue series, self contained and magical. Caitlin Rosberg


Flavor #1
Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Artist: Wook Jin Clark
Publisher: Image Comics 
How many comics have a food consultant? At least one, now: Flavor, out this week from Image Comics. Joseph Keatinge (Ringside, Shutter) teams up with an all-star team of artists and award-winning author and food scientist Ali Bouzari to serve up a strange fantasy world where food is the ultimate commodity, and chef is a carefully guarded career path that can skyrocket any skilled culinarian into superstardom—if they can survive. Flavor promises “a world steeped in the enticingly lush world-building of Hayao Miyazaki,” and with Megagogo creator Wook-Jin Clark and colorist Tamra Bonvillain driving the art, Flavor is sure to deliver some gorgeous visuals. This series sounds a little like Top Chef dialed up to 11, or maybe MasterChef Junior without the gentle paternal guidance of Gordon Ramsey to soften the blows of defeat, and with all the shady government underpinnings of a classic sci-fi dystopia. For anyone who loved the culinary strangeness of Chew or the action and intrigue of Space Battle Lunchtime, Flavor is a must-read comic for the summer. C.K. Stewart


I Am a Hero Vol. 6
Writer/Artist: Kengo Hanazawa
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Six double-sized omnibus volumes in, we’ve run out of new ways to recommend Kengo Hanazawa’s zombie magnum opus, I Am a Hero. If you think every good zombie story has already been told, or that horror manga begins and ends with Junji Ito, prepare to be proven wrong. Hanazawa does owe a debt to Ito when it comes to skin-crawling imagery, but his pacing and choice of framing often seems more derived from Western horror films, with ample use of location shots, fisheye angles and other cinematic devices. I Am a Hero began as a fairly straightforward infection story as Japan quickly succumbed to the “ZQN” plague, but the previous volume expanded the scope, showing Taiwan under siege and introducing new bands of survivors using…unusual methods. This volume further explores the uniqueness of Hanazawa’s approach to the walking dead, as some of the infected begin to display seemingly supernatural abilities instead of merely becoming semi-sentient garbage disposals. If you’ve got a high tolerance for terror, I Am a Hero is one of the best horror stories in comics today. Steve Foxe


The Joe Shuster Story: The Artist Behind Superman
Writer: Julian Voloj
Artist: Thomas Campi
Publisher: Super Genius
The creation of Superman is by now a modern American myth on par with some of Superman’s greatest fictional adventures: two Jewish kids from Cleveland came up with one of the world’s most enduring heroes, helping shape a burgeoning industry in the process—and didn’t necessarily see the fair fruits of their labor. Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s experiences were fictionalized in the multiple-award-winning Michael Chabon novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and now writer Julian Voloj and illustrator Thomas Campi have taken a swing at a more faithful nonfiction account of artist Joe Shuster’s part in creating Superman, just in time for the character’s 80th birthday. Assembled using archival material and first-hand sources, and stunningly painted by Campi, The Joe Shuster Story is necessary reading for fans of the Big Blue Boy Scout, as well as any budding historian of the industry. Steve Foxe


The Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Jen Bartel, Ramón Peréz
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Letting go of Jane Foster hasn’t been easy for anyone. Fans, the creative team and the Odinson himself have a lot of grieving to do now that the “Lady Thor” run that epitomized a too-brief period at Marvel has come to a close. To send her off in style, Jason Aaron is helming one last Mighty Thor story, this time a tribute to her and the people she inspired. Jen Bartel draws the memorial half of this slightly oversized issue, while Ramón Peréz provides art for the second half, which follows what is happening now that Thor is gone and the war she fought so hard to end has continued. Peréz was recently nominated for an Eisner for his gorgeous work on Jane, and it’s exciting to see him working with a writer whose vision can really do Peréz’ work justice. Hopefully Bartel’s contribution to this book is also a sign of progress on the long-rumored Storm title that she was supposedly working on with incoming Captain America writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Caitlin Rosberg


New Challengers #1
Writers: Aaron Gillespie & Scott Snyder 
Artist: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics 
Scott Snyder continues his domination of DC’s line up with New Challengers, another title launched in the fallout of Dark Nights: Metal, alongside books like The Immortal Men and Justice League: No Justice. Snyder is teaming up with writer Aaron Gillespie, one of his DC Talent Hunt participants, and penciller Andy Kubert and inker Klaus Janson provide the art. Unlike The Immortal Men, the Challengers are a previously established team in the world of DC Comics. Originally four men united by a love of adventure and danger, the Challengers of the Unknown debuted in the late ‘50s and were drawn and either created solely, or co-created, by Jack Kirby—accounts vary—so the creative team has high standards to meet. These New Challengers have four new members and are lead by a mysterious figure named the “Prof” as they try to save not only Earth as they know it, but every Earth in existence. Since that mission is at the heart of most of these Metal-related titles, readers can only hope at least one of these teams is successful, or we’ll be looking at an all-new DC Universe soon. Caitlin Rosberg


Paradiso Vol. 1
Writer: Ram V.
Artist: Dev Pramanik
Publisher: Image Comics 
While some Image series hang their prospects around an elevator-pitch-style high-concept hook, others just go for it. Ram V. and Dev Pramanik’s Paradiso is an example of the latter, set decades after something called the “Midnight Event” in a bizarre, pulsing locale known as Paradiso. Protagonist Jack Kryznan possesses an item that may disrupt the future of the city and the forces that work for and against its safety. This trade collects the first four issues of the wildly inventive series, which dives headfirst into establishing a vibe that crosses China Miéville with Akira and Trigun, as cyborg crime lords duke it out like desperadoes for any scrap of power in and around the vast unknowable city. If you’re ready for the next big thing in expansive sci-fi action, Paradiso Vol. 1 is a perfect opportunity to catch up before the series returns. And be sure to check back later this week for a exclusive peek at some of Paradiso’s secrets. Steve Foxe


Persephone
Writer/Artist: Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
Though many American readers haven’t yet discovered the wealth of talent that exists in the French comics industry, a handful of publishers are doing their best to change that. In Persephone, a young girl tries to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding her family and identity—and it just so happens that she could be related to a god. The story focuses on the relationship between daughter and mother: Persephone and Demeter of Greek mythology. Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky, who both wrote and drew the graphic novel, was born in France and has since moved to Japan, which shows in his style. Shapes are soft and character designs focus on evoking an emotion rather than necessarily giving them a lot of detail. Fans of Miyazaki movies and titles like Amelie Flechais’s The Little Red Wolf will find familiar elements in Persephone, and with the focus on questions of family and identity, it should fit right in with some of the most popular YA and all-ages graphic novels like Raina Telgemeier’s Smile. Caitlin Rosberg


Quicksilver: No Surrender #1
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Eric Nguyen
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Marvel has made a few curious moves with its Avengers titles recently: Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’ Avengers #1 serves as a “Fresh Start” for the franchise, but also builds directly out of last fall’s Marvel Legacy #1; now, right after the launch of Avengers #1, Quicksilver: No Surrender continues plot threads from the recently concluded “No Surrender” mega-crossover. While it may be a bit confusing to readers, it’s also a welcome surprise that “No Surrender” is getting a follow-up starring one of its breakout characters, the often caustic speedster Quicksilver. Old Man Logan’s Eric Nguyen provides appropriately angular art and Exiles writer Saladin Ahmed continues to expand his influence at Marvel. Between Black Bolt and BOOM! Studios’ Abbott, Ahmed is establishing himself as one of the strongest upcoming writers in the industry, and we can only hope Marvel has more planned with him beyond this speedy mini-series about Quicksilver waging a guerilla war outside of human perception. Steve Foxe


A Walk Through Hell #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Goran Sudžuka
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
AfterShock has been not-so-quietly putting out a slew of interesting and innovative creator-owned titles that fly under the radar for too many readers. They’re one of a handful of publishers that aren’t as big or easily recognized as Image, but creators like Warren Ellis, Marguerite Bennett and Justin Jordan are, or have recently, debuted new work with AfterShock. A Walk Through Hell marks two more names joining the roster: Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka. Ennis is probably best known for Preacher and The Boys, while Sudžuka worked on Vertigo’s Outlaw Nation and issues of Y: The Last Man. A Walk Through Hell focuses on two FBI agents who are called into an investigation that will leave them scarred and scared. It’s a horror story that’s part X-Files and part Lethal Weapon, and with Ennis at the wheel, it feels safe to assume that it will be a wild, violent, terrifying ride. Caitlin Rosberg

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