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Iceman, Cemetery Beach, Criminy & More in Required Reading: Comics for 9/12/2018

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New York City is awash with rain this week, but a chillier form of precipitation leads this week’s pack of new comics: Iceman, Marvel’s premiere gay leading man, returns to shelves Wednesday in a brand-new mini-series, with former writer Sina Grace once again at the helm. If frozen X-Men aren’t your thing, Joe Golem gets an origin story, Archie goes back to his roots with new wartime relevance, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard re-team for a new action-focused story, House of Whispers expands the Sandman Universe in never-before-seen directions and the long-anticipated Criminy finally hits shelves. Stay dry and enjoy these titles and the rest of this week’s Required Reading.


Archie 1941 #1
Writer: Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Artist: Peter Krause
Publisher: Archie Comics
For a company once known purely for nostalgia reasons, Archie Comics stays aloft through near-constant reinvention. By looking at the same cast of characters through different lenses, Archie has staked a firm claim in the horror genre, found multi-media teen-drama success and even teamed up with musicians like Blondie and Tegan & Sara. This week, Archie goes back to its roots with more intentionality than ever before in Archie 1941, the first issue of a mini-series set during the year of Archie’s creation—but for the first time acknowledging the impending shadow of World War II and mandatory military service for the series’ young men. Co-written by former Archie reboot writer Mark Waid and Gotham by Gaslight’s Brian Augustyn and drawn by frequent Waid collaborator Peter Krause, Archie 1941 looks to the past to move Archie Comics on step farther into the future. Steve Foxe


Cemetery Beach #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Publisher: Image Comics 
The creative team-up of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard isn’t an unknown quantity when it comes to comics: they’re the imaginations behind Trees, an Image Comics title that’s currently being adapted into a TV show for Tom Hardy’s production company. Cemetery Beach sounds a little like the action-oriented lovechild of Trees and Ellis’ novella Normal, with interstellar travel and an isolated penal colony at play. Ellis has been busy working on TV projects like Netflix’s Castlevania, as well as writing Injection and the current The Wild Storm run, so there’s been no shortage of new content for fans of his, but Trees has been on hiatus, making the return of this particular collaboration overdue. In Cemetery Beach, Howard and Ellis are focused on the story of a man who’s been sent on what sounds like an impossible mission to extract a young criminal from the Australia of space—an off-world colony established generations ago to house undesirables, now cut off from Earth. Knowing this creative team, it’s bound to be a wild, exceedingly clever ride. Caitlin Rosberg


Criminy
Writers: Ryan Ferrier & Roger Langridge
Artist: Roger Langridge
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Eisner and Harvey Award-winning cartoonist Roger Langridge (Snarked, Thor: The Mighty Avenger) and writer Ryan Ferrier (D4VE, Rocko’s Modern Life) have produced what is easily one of 2018’s most fascinating comics: Criminy, an original graphic novel in the style of classic Disney and Fleischer Studios cartoons. Arriving in comic shops this week, Criminy follows Daggum Criminy and his family as they seek a new home following a pirate siege on their island. There are ripped-from-the-headlines parallels to be drawn from the Criminy family’s plight, but no deep metaphor need be found to enjoy Ferrier and Langridge’s collaboration—simply an appreciation for a style criminally (criminy-ally?) under-used in comics. Steve Foxe


House of Whispers #1
Writer: Nalo Hopkinson
Artist: Dominike “Domo” Stanton
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Of the four Sandman Universe titles, House of Whispers is far and away the wild card. Following somewhat in the thematic steps of House of Secrets and House of Mystery, House of Whispers introduces a brand-new House to the Dreaming, plucked out of voodoo mythology and quite literally dropped into the world of Daniel, Lucien, Matthew, Merv and the rest of the familiar cast. Writer Nalo Hopkinson is an accomplished prose author who has earned multiple award nominations for her fantasy and horror stories set primarily within communities of color—a viewpoint too rarely explored in either genre. Artist Dominike “Domo” Stanton has been at the comic game a bit longer, but is most often associated with action-packed superhero offerings, not the morally murky world of Vertigo. House of Whispers #1 sets the groundwork for a complex interweaving of mythical and political subterfuge and the interpersonal drama of a young Black family—an exciting prospect for the ongoing importance and versatility of the Sandman mythos. Steve Foxe


Iceman #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Nathan Stockman
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Bobby Drake is back, back, back again, and looking better than ever thanks to new artist Nathan Stockman. Stockman, often rotated on Spider-centric series alongside artist Ryan Stegman, has a clean, blocky superhero style that better fits the snappy spandex adventures of the chilly original X-Man, whose previous run suffered from inconsistent line art. Writer Sina Grace returns to continue Bobby’s maturation into a (somewhat) responsible, newly out gay man and hero, and he’s bringing a substantial dose of X-Men lore with him. The sewer-dwelling Morlocks are under siege, and it falls on Iceman—along with surprise costar Bishop—to prevent a second Mutant Massacre. While we’re bummed that Bobby is back in leading-man status for just five more issues, we’re thrilled Grace is getting another shot at that character after garnering several award nods for his first outing, and that Marvel is pairing him with a stronger, more consistent artistic partner for this mini. Hopefully this only bodes well for more Iceman in our frosty futures. Steve Foxe


Joe Golem: Occult Detective—The Drowing City #1
Writers:   Mike Mignola  & Christopher Golden
Artist: Peter Bergting
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
While prolific creator Mike Mignola’s best-loved creation may be a demon with a red right hand, not all of his projects are set in the world of Hellboy and his B.P.R.D. pals. Joe Golem: Occult Detective, created with novelist Christopher Golden, takes place 50 years after earthquakes and flooding submerged Lower Manhattan under 30 feet of water. The “Drowning City,” as it became known, evolved into a maze of canals populated by those too poor to flee uptown. The titular character works with a paranormal investigator to confront threats that stalk the waterways, all the while contending with strange dreams in which he is a man made of stone and clay, brought to life hundreds of years ago by unknown forces… This week, Mignola and Golden reteam with their Baltimore collaborator Peter Bergting for Joe Golem: Occult Detective—The Drowning City, a new mini-series that finally adapts the original illustrated novel into sequential art. It may not be Hellboy, but fans of Mignola—or supernatural noir in general—will want to snag this one, even if you haven’t been following Joe Golem’s adventures up until now. Steve Foxe


MCMLXXV #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Ian MacEwan
Publisher: Image Comics 
At first glance, MCMLXXV is a familiar thing—the story of a woman who uses magic and might to fight monsters. It sounds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mage and Dresden Files, in which street-level fighters that use their wiles just as much as their abilities to win the day. What sets this book apart is the character at the center of the story: Pamela Evans is a black cab driver wielding an enchanted tire iron. The covers and preview pages by artist Ian MacEwan show a strong woman thick with muscle, and it lends a sense that MCMLXXV has more in common with Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela’s Abbott than some of the less unique titles above. This is far from writer Joe Casey’s first work with Image, but it does seem like it could be some of his most ambitious—not because of a massive scope, but rather the intimacy. It’s straying from his experience working on superhero titles, especially Gødland, which was an homage to the epic cosmic superhero stories of the 1970s. MCMLXXV could very well be an excellent addition to the growing urban fantasy genre within comics, if Casey and MacEwan continue to avoid the tired tropes that have come before. Caitlin Rosberg


Monk!
Writer/Artist: Youssef Daoudi
Publisher: First Second
The full title of Youssef Daoudi’s biography of the eponymous jazz musician is as ambitious as the book itself; Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica, and the Friendship Behind a Musical Revolution is thick both physically and in content, which is no surprise given the subject. Though Thelonious Monk is not an unfamiliar name even to people who are not particularly fans of jazz, the specifics of his contribution to the genre and his relationship with his main patron are not well known. Daoudi’s palate for the book is tightly contained, which gives the art and the story a chance to shine. It’s the type of biography that feels both deeply intimate and huge in scope, drawing back far enough to give the reader perspective on what was happening in the rest of the world while Monk and Pannonica grew up, met and became irrevocably and completely entwined with one another. The respect and affection that they felt for each another is clear and leaves room for deep wells of emotion and humor. The book touches on politics and racism, music theory and Monk’s own style, mental health and the meaning of the word family. It’s a must-read title for people who love jazz, and a wonderful experience even for readers who couldn’t name a single jazz musician off the top of their heads. Caitlin Rosberg


Mystery Science Theater 3000 #1
Writers: Joel Hodgson, Harold Buchholz, Matt McGinnis, Mary Robinson, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe
Artists: Mike Manley, Wes Dzioba, Todd Nuack
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
 Mystery Science Theater 3000 pioneered the art of “movie riffing”—which is to say, making fun of the foibles of really low-quality movies—but never has it brought its particular brand of irreverent humor to the printed page. Until now, that is, because MST3K’s team-up with Dark Horse Comics, first announced in 2017, has finally arrived. The series is being helmed by series creator Joel Hodgson and
will feature the MST3K crew as it currently exists in the Netflix revival: Host Jonah Ray/Jonah Heston, Crow T. Robot (Hampton Yount), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn) and Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson). Rather than non-riffing adventures aboard the Satellite of Love itself, the writers have made what we think is probably a wise decision by making the comic series still riff-centric. This they’ll achieve by having Jonah, Tom and Crow do superimposed riffing over a bevy of old, shameful public domain comics. Can we nominate some Chick Tracts, please? Jim Vorel


Welcome to Wanderland #1
Writer: Jackie Ball
Artist: Maddi Gonzalez
Publisher: BOOM! Box/ BOOM! Studios
It’s hard to find a serious fan of any theme park who hasn’t fantasized about what it would be like to explore it unsupervised. That’s the idea at the heart of several movies, and the new Welcome to Wanderland comic. Writer Jackie Ball won hearts and fans with her work alongside Hope Larson on Goldie Vance, the bright and brilliant story of a young female detective. With Welcome to Wanderland, she introduces a new heroine who genuinely loves the eponymous theme park and finds herself transported into a version that’s less vacation destination and more real. With art by Maddi Gonzalez, who contributed to the Eisner-award winning Elements Anthology, Welcome to Wanderland promises a fun and rambunctious read perfect for kids and kids at heart, especially those who not only know what Disneybounding is, but enthusiastically participate. The only damper on the joy of this book is that, as of now, it’s a miniseries instead of an ongoing title. Judging by her previous work, fans are going to want more from Ball and her imagination than just four issues. Also out this week from BOOM! Studios and starring teenagers: Low Road West from Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Flaviano, in case you’re looking for something an age range or two up. Caitlin Rosberg

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