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Naomi, Guardians of the Galaxy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer & More in Required Reading: Comics for 1/23/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
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Good luck to any comic out this week that isn’t connected to a massive blockbuster franchise. BOOM! Studios’ brand-new Buffy the Vampire Slayer “reVamp” kicks off this week, alongside Marvel’s latest volume of Guardians of the Galaxy and even a new Aliens series from publisher Dark Horse Comics. We jest, though—there’s plenty of reason to check out the rest of the list, despite a lack of multimedia clout. Naomi kicks off a fascinating new DC Comics mystery, The Avant-Guards expands BOOM!’s inclusive sports-related offerings and New Life scratches that “literary” itch. All of these series and more await you below in…Required Reading!


Aliens: Resistance #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Robert Carey
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Aliens: Resistance isn’t just the extension of a beloved movie franchise, it picks up after the events of Aliens: Isolation, the fan-favorite videogame. Amanda Ripley has been silenced by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, unable to warn others about the threat that the Xenomorphs pose to humanity, but she has a new ally. a former Colonial Marine named Zula Hendricks is working to uncover a dangerous bio-weapon program and needs Ripley’s help. Brian Wood is hardly an unknown name in comics, and he previously wrote Aliens: Defiance, the series that introduced Hendricks, so he’s got ample experience with the world pf Aliens. Artist Robert Carey is a much newer name, but he has experience both with horror comics and soldier stories, which bodes well for the book. Fans of the series should also try to get their hands on Dark Horse’s previous Aliens comics, which may scratch the Xenomorph itch better than Ridley Scott’s recent additions to the canon. Caitlin Rosberg


The Avant-Guards #1
Writer: Carly Usdin
Artist: Noah Hayes
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Back in September, Paste broke the news that Heavy Vinyl’s Carly Usdin and Wet Hot American Summer artist Noah Hayes were poised to hit the basketball courts with The Avant-Guards, a 12-issue maxi-series from BOOM! Studios launching this week. The story takes place at the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, an historically all-female school more enthusiastic about the performing arts than its sports programs. Protagonist Olivia “Liv” Bates, budding actor and basketball player, doesn’t want to choose between theater and sports—and neither does new transfer student Charlie Bravo. Charlie was a star basketball player at her former school, and it quickly becomes Liv’s goal to recruit the new kid to Georgia O’Keefe’s ragtag basketball team and kickstart the first-ever basketball league for art colleges. The Avant-Guards joins Dodge City and Fence as inclusive, sports-focused series under the BOOM! banner. Steve Foxe


Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1
Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Buffy. Is. Back. Written by Redlands’ Jordie Bellaire, drawn by Klaus’s Dan Mora and overseen by series creator Joss Whedon, this new take on the franchise resets the clock to the Scooby Gang’s high-school years, but with more contemporary flair. Following almost a decade of additional “seasons” at longtime publisher Dark Horse Comics, this more accessible pitch stands to attract both lapsed fans and newer generations who didn’t grow up with Sarah Michelle Gellar and company. Having gotten an early look at the first issue, it’s undeniably weird to see the recognizable likenesses of the cast in sometimes dramatically different roles—but that’s half the fun. Bellaire has a strong handle on character voices without coming off like a Whedon clone, and Mora continues to excel at both high school drama and thrilling throwdowns, as seen in his Power Rangers work. Slayers, vamps, witches, Watchers and innocent bystanders everywhere will want to follow this new era from day one. Steve Foxe


Crypt of Shadows #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Garry Brown, Stephen Green, Djibril Morissette-Pham
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
As part of the celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, the publisher has been dipping into fan-favorite titles from years past, bringing back Marvel Presents last week and now Crypt of Shadows. Wisely, another fan-favorite, Al Ewing, is at the helm of this one-off horror title. The art team includes three genre-friendly names: Babyteeth’s Garry Brown, Mignolaverse contributor Stephen Green and Glitterbomb’s Djibril Morissette-Pham. Not much has been revealed in the way of plot details, but Ewing has proven on a slew of Avengers titles to be an inventive writer, and The Immortal Hulk more than justifies his horror cred. Just like the title itself, the horror promised by the book comes from Marvel’s past, and single issues with a completely self-contained story can be loads of fun with low risk, especially in the hands of a writer like Ewing and three promising artists like Brown, Green and Morissette-Pham. Also out this week as part of the 80th-anniversary celebration: War is Hell from Howard Chaykin, Edgar Delgado, Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Alberto Alburquerque. Caitlin Rosberg


Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The Donny Cates takeover continues this week as the Venom scribe reunites with his Thanos and God Country collaborator Geoff Shaw on Guardians of the Galaxy, one of Marvel’s premiere franchises. While the just-concluded Gerry Dugan era bore a strong resemblance to the charming, humor-heavy film iteration of the team, Cates and Shaw are shaking up the sizable roster with new additions like Moondragon, Darkhawk, Gladiator, Beta Ray Bill and, yes, Cosmic Ghost Rider. Guardians of the Galaxy looks to continue Thanos’ grand arc (as well as threads from Cates’s Death of the Inhumans) just in time for Avengers: Endgame synchronicity this summer. Cates’s willingness to buck expectations and Shaw’s brawny artwork position GotG as one of 2019’s biggest relaunches, and the beginning of an unpredictable new period for Marvel’s cosmic corner. Steve Foxe


Naomi #1
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: Wonder Comics/ DC Comics 
Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics imprint is full of new characters—Jenny Hex, Teen Lantern, Dial H for Hero’s Miguel—but none as mysterious as Naomi, a brand-new DC protagonist getting her own series this week from Bendis, co-writer David F. Walker and artist Jamal Campbell. Walker is a trusted name even without the Bendis co-signature; he kicked off a career for himself on Shaft then had a brief run on Cyborg before impressing with Marvel’s Power Man & Iron Fist and launching the Image Comics series Bitter Root. Campbell has mostly provided short runs to both Marvel and DC on titles like Supergirl and Prowler, but his slick, cover-quality artwork has been begging for a bigger showcase. Naomi is a big question mark—the solicit text literally says “Naomi (last name?)”—and that mystery combined with this creative pedigree automatically makes her one of the most intriguing additions to the DCU in ages. Steve Foxe


New Life
Writer: Xavier Bétaucourt
Artist: Yannick Marchat
Publisher: Life Drawn/ Humanoids
New Life falls neatly under the Life Drawn banner, Humanoids’ imprint for more down-to-Earth personal and political storytelling, and tells the story of a 48-year-old writer (who shares a name with the book’s author) whose middle-aged love affair doesn’t go as planned. With his son grown and his marriage falling apart, Xavier sets off on his own to conquer his mid-life crisis and rediscover his freedom and independence. He soon meets Leah, a young artist, and they fall into a spontaneous, adventurous love affair. When Leah becomes pregnant, though, Xavier’s life starts over—just not in the way he expected. Is Xavier ready to be a father again at age 48, and can his passionate connection to Leah survive parenthood? If your taste runs more “literary” than capes-and-tights, New Life is probably at the top of your buy pile this week. Steve Foxe


Nuclear Winter Vol. 2
Writer/Artist: Cab
Publisher: BOOM! Box/ BOOM! Studios
The first volume of Nuclear Winter arrived in May of last year, creating something of a disconnect between the weather outside and the climate in the book, where a nuclear power plant accident has thrown Montreal into an eternal winter. The second volume, though, hits shelves after some frigid, snowy weather has blanketed much of Canada and the United States, and it’s the perfect book to read indoors with a big cup of something warm. Cab’s art is cartoony and bubbly, but the first volume of the book had unexpected heart and depth, perfectly capturing the tension of early adulthood, juggling a job and the desire for company with the knowledge that cutting toxic people out is always a good idea. Protagonist Flavie works as a delivery specialist, which is a much harder job in a climate that’s always frozen tundra, and in the newest volume she once again has to venture out into the cold to help her friend Marco. Nuclear Winter Vol. 1 was an example of how to balance emotion, adventure and comedy in a book that’s well suited to YA audiences but will connect with readers of any age. Hopefully the second volume will be just as great. Caitlin Rosberg


Oliver #1
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Darick Robertson
Publisher: Image Comics 
Oliver Twist is the type of story that has infiltrated pop culture to the extent that, even without ever reading the Charles Dickens original, most people will recognize the broad strokes. As there’s currently an Oliver Twist adaptation from Karen Berger’s imprint at Dark Horse called Olivia Twist, it could be a hard sell to have another joining it on stands. But Image ComicsOliver has two big things going for it: screenwriter Gary Whitta of The Book of Eli and Rogue One fame and artist Darick Robertson, whose talents have helped bring Transmetropolitan, The Boys and Happy! to life. Rather than sticking to Dickens’ original setting, the titular Oliver is now a post-apocalyptic superhero fighting to free an England that’s been ripped apart by war. His own background is a mystery, and Oliver is trying to uncover his own past, too. Though this is Whitta’s first comic outing beyond an adaptation of The Last Jedi, he has a sense for visual storytelling and pacing that should serve him well, and he’s working with one of the best artists in the business. If Robertson is allowed to do some of the heavy lifting for the story, Oliver could be a visual delight as well as a fun new take on an old story. Caitlin Rosberg


The Problem of Susan and Other Stories
Writers:   Neil Gaiman  w/ P. Craig Russell
Artists: P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton & Paul Chadwick
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
It’s been a while since modern mythmaker Neil Gaiman has put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) for a brand-new original comic tale, but his presence is alive and well on shelves, especially with Dark Horse’s Neil Gaiman Library adapting so many of his most beloved prose works to sequential art. Longtime Gaiman readers should recognize the stories that inspired these four shorts, two adapted from short stories and two from poems, including fan-favorite “The Day the Saucers Came.” Frequent Gaiman collaborators (and American Gods comic team) P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton—along with Concrete legend Paul Chadwick—add their own visual spins to the existing texts, making this volume a worthwhile read for new and returning readers alike. Steve Foxe

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