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The Seeds, Infinity Wars & More in Required Reading: Comics for 8/1/2018

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We love it when the first New Comic Book Day of the month falls on the first—it’s like the industry sales cycle is matching up with the calendar to kick things off just right. August brings with it the final days of summer, yes, but also a host of exciting beginnings. DC Comics’ fan-favorite Super Sons reunite for new Adventures, Kitty Pryde flashes back to a youthful outing, Justice League takes a doom-and-gloom break from its regular proceedings and Infinity Wars properly kicks off after a Countdown prequel and a Prime issue, whatever that means. Steven Universe gets a new comic outing, John Layman and Nick Pitarra launch Leviathan at Image, Project Superpowers gets another opportunity to land and the long-awaited The Seeds finally sprouts. Say hello to August, everyone, and happy reading.


Adventures of the Super Sons #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Carlo Barberi
Publisher: DC Comics 
It’s never a happy day when a comic is cancelled, but some conclusions sting more than others. The surprise announcement that fan-favorite DC Comics series Super Sons would end with issue #16 left readers despondent; in addition to the pure fun factor of Damian Wayne and Jon Kent’s buddy adventures as Robin and Superboy, respectively, the series served as an excellent entry point to the DC universe for fans across the age spectrum. We here at Paste were thrilled, then, to confirm that Tomasi isn’t done with Jon and Damian’s heroic friendship just yet. Beginning this Wednesday, Tomasi and artist Carlo Barberi will reunite for Adventures of the Super Sons, a brand-new series that picks up right where Super Sons #16 leaves off. As Tomasi explained in our announcement chat, Adventures of the Super Sons is designed to be a seamless continuation for fans of the current title, as well as a jumping-on point for readers who haven’t been following Jon and Damian’s antics. The first issue introduces a group of alien troublemakers known as the Gang, who idolize Earth’s villains and emulate them in their own unexpected ways. If you’ve missed this pint-sized dynamic duo as much as we have, this is a happy New Comic Book Day, indeed. Steve Foxe


Backways Vol. 1: All the Forgotten Things
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Publisher: AfterShock
Hidden worlds of magic aren’t anything new, with classics like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter making it easy to believe that wands and spells and unrecognizable creatures are just out of reach for most of humankind. Far from being a chosen one, protagonist Anna Merrick isn’t destined to rule the magical realm the rest of the world can’t see, she’s lost someone and must traverse the titular Backways to find them. Writer Justin Jordan is probably best known for titles like Luther Strode and Savage Things, comics that are violent and introspective in turns, and while Backways doesn’t shy away from conflict, it’s a different sort of story than his typical tales. Art from Eleonora Carlini, who contributed to Batgirl and Doctor Who, helps set a tone that’s exploratory and emotional rather than combative. This volume collects all five issues of the series and acts as a great entry point into comics for fans of books like Neverwhere or the Bordtertown series. Caitlin Rosberg


I Am a Hero Vol. 7
Writer/Artist: Kengo Hanazawa
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The most essential horror comic on stands in 2018 remains Dark Horse’s omnibus translations of Kengo Hanazawa’s zombie manga, I Am a Hero. Each double-sized collection peels away more unexpected layers to Hanazawa’s particular flesh-eating apocalypse, most recently including the revelation of not-quite-zombified humans with enhanced abilities. If that sounds goofy and too shonen, it’s not—these hybrids owe more to Junji Ito’s twisted fleshy abominations than to any action-packed horror-lite adventure. One word of warning: Vol. 7 contains a brief aside in which a character misgenders her transgender brother and otherwise uses some regressive, potentially triggering terms. Even if the translation is completely faithful to the source material, it’s hard not to think that Dark Horse had an opportunity to address this with a translator’s note, at the very least. It’s an unfortunate blemish on what’s otherwise one of the best comics on stands today. Steve Foxe


Infinity Wars #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Not to be confused with the similarly named film that came out earlier this year, Marvel’s Infinity Wars is the publisher’s event comic for this summer. This issue kicks off the “official” start of the series that began in last week’s Infinity Wars Prime #1 and built throughout the Infinity Countdown title that launched this February. Infinity Wars stars many of the same characters featured in the Infinity War film, and also revolves around a fight for the Infinity Stones and the threat of Thanos. Gerry Duggan has been at the helm of this story since its inception, so despite a change in artists from Aaron Kuder and Mike Hawthorne to Mike Deodato Jr., there’s an overarching sense of continuity as familiar faces and new characters alike begin their infinite fight against cosmic threats. With the potentially confusing title sequence and a relatively high cover price of $5.99 for 38 pages, Infinity Wars has some hurdles to success. But Duggan and Deodato Jr. are some of the most recognizable names at Marvel, with Duggan helming a long run on Deadpool and Deodato Jr. contributing to the celebrated Old Man Logan, among many other series. There are at least five tie-in titles to this central story, so fans who want to dive in to the upcoming mash-up versions of some of Marvel’s most popular heroes should definitely start here. Caitlin Rosberg


Justice League #5
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Doug Manhke
Publisher: DC Comics 
No, DC didn’t launch a Legion of Doom title—they’re just getting rascally with the cover art for Justice League #5. Former Scott Snyder student James Tynion IV steps up to the plate for this issue spotlighting Lex Luthor’s return to villainy, and he’s joined by one of DC’s premiere artists, Doug Mahnke. Mahnke has storied runs on books like Green Lantern, Frankenstein and Black Adam under his belt, making him one of the best possible picks for an aside starring DC’s darker denizens. In addition to reveling in the despicableness of it all, Justice League #5 goes a long way toward explaining how the Lex Luthor seen in Dan Jurgens’ Action Comics became the classically evil Luthor menacing Snyder’s Justice League. Wicked fingers crossed that Tynion IV and Mahnke reunite for future villain-centric one-offs. Steve Foxe


Leviathan #1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Nick Pitarra
Publisher: Image Comics 
It’s a big summer for the former creative team of Chew: first illustrator Rob Guillory launches his solo series Farmhand, and now writer John Layman teams with The Manhattan Projects artist Nick Pitarra for Leviathan, a raunchy kaiju comedy from Image Comics. Leviathan is a draw for Pitarra’s expert lines alone; a disciple of the Mobius/Quitely/Darrow lineage of comic art, Pitarra excels at the kind of scale required of a book about a giant hell-beast. Layman’s bawdy, bro-ish humor in the series may be more of an acquired taste, but fans of Chew will likely feel right at home with this brand of comedy, despite the wildly different premises. Steve Foxe


Project Superpowers #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Sergio Davila
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
When it comes to superhero comics, DC and Marvel seem to completely dominate the market. But Valiant has been ramping up their superhero lineup in the last few years, and now Dynamite is pulling some of the oldest super-powered heroes ever off the bench and back into the spotlight. Echoing the first Project Superpowers title that launched in 2008 with Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, this newest iteration stars characters like the Spirit of the American Flag and The Death Defying Devil. Writer Rob Williams has a lot of experience writing stories that question the role of heroism in times like these, from Suicide Squad to Judge Dredd, and artist Sergio Davila is a veteran of old-school hero art, having worked on Swords of Sorrow and Conan the Slayer. He’s got an appropriately detailed style that’s a little bit retro, rooted in big biceps and bulging veins. What remains to be seen is if Project Superpowers and these deep-cut public domain characters can resonate with audiences the same way they did 10 years ago, let alone when they were created the better part of a century in the past. Caitlin Rosberg


The Seeds #1
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist: David Aja
Publisher: Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
First announced as a launch title for Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint, then pushed back several months, The Seeds marks the return of both David Aja and Ann Nocenti to print comics; Aja’s interior work hasn’t been seen much since the end of his celebrated Hawkeye run with Matt Fraction, and Nocenti last contributed to Catwoman and Klarion a few years ago. Alone, Aja and Nocenti each have established fanbases, but working together, and under founding Vertigo editor Karen Berger no less, creates very high expectations. The Seeds focuses on journalism, the nature of truth and the way nature impacts humans as a journalist struggles to get out in front of a big story—and an even bigger lie. This is precisely the kind of story at which Aja and Nocenti should excel, and Berger is exactly the kind of editor who will know when to get out of their way. Free of the constraints of other people’s intellectual property, these two can let their skills run wild, and it will be fascinating to see where it takes them. Berger Books has the potential to usher in a new age of creativity at Dark Horse, just like Berger did with DC Comics, and The Seeds may be the next big step. Caitlin Rosberg


Steven Universe: Harmony #1
Writer: Shane-Michael Vidaurri
Artist: Mollie Rose
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Listen, we’re not all caught up on Steven Universe, and some of us are extremely wary of spoiling any heart-wrenching queer space-rock developments. Why is Sadie so distraught? Where is Lars? What is a Diamond Authority Harmony Core and what kind of threat does it pose to Beach City? We literally don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out…after we binge a few more episodes. Writer Shame-Michael Vidaurri is the fan-favorite cartoonist behind Iscariot, Iron: Or, The War After and contributions to Adventure Time Comics, among other anthologies. Artist Mollie Rose, like many BOOM! contributors, appears to be new to print comics, but early preview pages show a firm grasp of storytelling basics and the Steven Universe aesthetic. Fans who are up to date on Steven and the gang shouldn’t miss this latest sequential-art adventure. Steve Foxe


X-Men Gold Annual #2
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Marco Failla
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
It’s been a rough year or two for Kitty Pryde. X-Men Gold never lived up to its flagship potential, and Kitty, as team leader, often got the brunt of that book’s characterization stumbles, leading up to Kitty phasing through Colossus’ wedding ring in front of their gathered friends and family—cold move, Pryde. X-Men Gold Annual #2 takes a leap back to simpler times for Kitty, as the 14-year-old newly minted Xavier pupil ships off to summer camp in an attempt to recapture feelings of youthful normalcy. It’s a cute done-in-one issue with a moral message, ably drawn by Marco Failla, but the real draw is getting to know writer Seanan McGuire. Popular on Twitter and a mainstay in paranormal and supernatural series fiction, McGuire is a fast-rising talent at Marvel, with an upcoming contribution to the X-Men Black anthology on the books alongside the launch of Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider, the new ongoing series starring the popular alternate-reality Gwen Stacy. If you’re not familiar with McGuire’s prose work, X-Men Gold Annual #2 is a delightful opportunity to become acquainted with McGuire. Steve Foxe

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