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The Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, Part 1

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You know, we considered 2018 a darn good year for comics—but we’ve already got a hunch that 2019 is going to do its best to top it in epic fashion. When we started working on our list of the Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, we expected it to top out around 40, 50 comics max, but the more we dug into what publishers like Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Lion Forge, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, First Second and more have planned for the year, we knew we were going to have an impossible task narrowing it down. Rather than leave off dozens of notable new releases, we’ve chopped our list in half. Below you’ll find our Most Anticipated Comics of 2019…through mid-March. Check back next week for another set of entries that continues through the rest of March and onward until the end of 2019. Get your reading glasses ready—it’s going to be a hell of a year for sequential art.


Adventure Time: Marcy & Simon
Writer: Olivia Olson
Artist: Slimm Fabert
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: January 16, 2019
The Adventure Time cartoon may have concluded, but BOOM! Studios is keeping the groundbreaking series alive and well in the comics. Adventure Time Season 11 continues Finn and Jake’s story monthly, and will soon be joined by a six-issue mini-series focusing on the reunited duo of Simon and Marceline as Simon seeks to make up for his time as the Ice King—by venturing into the Nightosphere! Former Adventure Time illustrator Slimm Fabert provides the art, joined by an exciting new writer: Olivia Olson, the voice actor of Marceline herself. Steve Foxe


Black Widow
Writers: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Artist: Flaviano
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 16, 2019
The Soska Sisters have carved out a small niche in the horror scene, and this month they’ll aim to carve a piece out of anyone in the Black Widow’s path. Former Russian agent and longtime Avenger Black Widow has rarely been guided by female creators, and while we loved Chris Samnee and Mark Waid’s go at the character, the Soska Sisters bring with them the promise of visceral, unflinching new paths for the Widow to walk. Joining the twin directing duo on art is Flaviano, whose past work with Marvel has often skewed more lighthearted than Russian blood vendettas. The Black Widow’s status in the Marvel U. since Secret Empire has been spotty: she was dead, then she was back, then she had an Infinity Stone, then she went undercover alongside Weapon H at Captain America’s behest. With any luck, Black Widow will recenter Natasha around what she does best: make bad men pay for their bad deeds. Steve Foxe


Invaders
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 16, 2019
If Daredevil seems like an unexpectedly somber project for incoming writer Chip Zdarsky, what to make of his other pending Marvel launch? Invaders, timed perfectly to Marvel’s 80th-anniversary celebrations (which also sees the publisher releasing one-shot throwbacks like Crypt of Shadows and Journey Into Unknown Worlds), addresses the current dynamic between WWII allies Captain America, Winter Soldier and the original Human Torch—and their former ally Namor, who is currently in the midst of a standoff with any and all land-dwellers. James Robinson and Steve Pugh tried to make the Invaders more of a legacy title a few years back, but that take didn’t stick. Artist Carlos Magno’s name should ring familiar to readers of BOOM!’s Planet of the Apes and King Kong efforts, although he’ll now be applying his simian skills to the significantly less hirsute Sub-Mariner. Steve Foxe


The Avant-Guards
Writer: Carly Usdin
Artist: Noah Hayes
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: January 23, 2019
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 month. 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
Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: January 23, 2019
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 years 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, but 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 nab this new era when it launches later this month. Steve Foxe


Guardians of the Galaxy
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 23, 2019
The Donny Cates takeover continues this month 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
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: Wonder Comics/ DC Comics 
Release Date: January 23, 2019
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 month 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


Age of X-Man
Writers: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Others
Artists: Ramon Rosanas, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: January 30, 2019
Age of Apocalypse remains one of the most ambitious and impressive (if imperfect) events in comic history, replacing the then-most profitable line at Marvel with a whole fleet of reconfigured books for several months. The X-Men are less of a fundamental Marvel tentpole today than they were in the mid-‘90s, but that doesn’t make Age of X-Man any less bold. Spinning out of the current weekly Uncanny X-Men series, Age of X-Man is a 30-plus-issue crossover comprised of an alpha issue, six miniseries and an omega issue, all of it guided by architects Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson and written and drawn by a slew of Marvel’s current rising talent, including Leah Williams, Vita Ayala and Seanan McGuire. We don’t expect most (if any) of these dramatic overhauls to stick, but we’re all-in at the prospect of an alternate-universe X-Men moment—and the promise of big, bold newness to follow. Also worth adding to your calendar: Matt Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca’s run on Uncanny X-Men, which reunites Wolverine and Cyclops on the same X-squad for the first time in over seven years. Steve Foxe


Fight Club 3
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 30, 2019
Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is irrefutably enshrined in the annals of modern literature, even if its themes flew over the heads of much of its bro-ier readership. Fight Club 2, Palahniuk’s unexpected comic follow-up with artist Cameron Stewart, massively expanded on the original text, giving the unnamed protagonist a name (Balthazar!) and transforming Project Mayhem into Rize or Die. Now, as Fight Club 3 kicks off, Balthazar, Marla and their first child eke out an existence in a rundown motel. Marla is pregnant with her second child, only this time, Balthazar isn’t the father…Tyler Durden is. And with a new group of deviants planning to “fine-tune” mankind, Balthazar must form an unlikely alliance with Tyler to stand in their way. Steve Foxe


Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Caspar Wjingaard
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: January 30, 2019
In recent years, Kieron Gillen has been busy with work outside of the capes-and-tights genre on his creator-owned The Wicked + The Divine and his recently launched Die, as well as Marvel’s Star Wars. Artist Caspar Wjingaard, meanwhile, has put in work with Marvel on Ghost Rider and Doctor Aphra following his Image Comics debut Limbo. Gillen’s time away from superhero comics should help fuel a take on Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt that’s in direct response to the current superhero status quo. Thunderbolt himself is a bit of an odd character. He’s been around for 50 years, but is best known for his legacy: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons partially based their Watchmen character Ozymandias on Thunderbolt, while the rest of the cast took inspiration from Thunderbolt’s Charlton co-stars. Gillen and Wjingaard are ready to change that, creating a whole new supporting cast for Cannon. When the series was announced, Gillen said, “I wanted to do a state of the art, state of the superheroic nation, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt is it. High adventure, big ideals, epic destruction, heroism, despair and nine-panel grids.” Sign us up. Josh Hilgenberg


Wyrd
Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 30, 2010
Paid police consultant Pitor Wyrd is an ageless, invincible detective called in when cases get a little too…strange. In Curt Pires and Antonio Fuso’s inaugural issue, Wyrd heads for Crimea, where an attempt at replication a certain U.S. super soldier unleashes a roaming monster and a pile of dead bodies. Pires is the author of experimental works including Pop, The Forevers, The Fiction and The Tomorrows, while Fuso most recently lent his jagged, Jock-like style to Black Mask’s Survival Fetish and AfterShock’s Clan Killers. If you’re a fan of books like Hellblazer, Injection and Global Frequency, Wyrd seems like your latest weird fix. Steve Foxe


Eddie Spaghetti & Mr. Fibber
Writer/Artists: Rutu Modan/ Yirmi Pinkus
Publisher: Fantagraphics 
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Apart from its Disney Masters series, its Peanuts books and some other repackagings, Fantagraphics hasn’t published a ton for children, but the early part of this year brings two sweet and colorful Israeli books focused on nonsense. Rutu Modan’s Maya Makes a Mess (Toon Books, 2012) is one of the best kids’ comics of the past decade, rendered in Modan’s neat rainbow of colors, each of which stays right where it’s supposed to. That precision allows her to portray total chaos with aplomb. Pinkus isn’t as well known here but he, too, is adapting the work of Lea Goldberg, an Israeli children’s book author. Let’s hope this heralds more books for little ones. Hillary Brown


Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Breno Tamura
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: February 6, 2019
We don’t cover Dynamite’s media licenses too often here, but the publisher has done an excellent job of injecting new life into cult favorites unlikely to get much attention on film or television. From Dark Shadows to Re-Animator to The Six Million Dollar Man, Dynamite carries a torch for fan favorites, and Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command is a particularly bright light leading sci-fi aficionados into 2019. Written by Black Star Renegades and Wasted Space author Michael Moreci and drawn by Batgirl and the Birds of Prey contributor Breno Tamura, Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command explores a previously unseen moment in the BSG reboot universe, as a band of human survivors fight back against the Cylons in the wilds of New Caprica. If reading those words brought a nostalgic tear to your eye, place your preorders now. Steve Foxe


Daredevil
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 6, 2019
We fell in love with Chip Zdarsky’s writing over the last few years thanks to his knack for fleshing out the internal emotional lives of Marvel’s leading men, including Spider-Man and Star-Lord, but Daredevil is a whole other catholic-guilt ballgame. With the exception of Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and co.’s more exuberant relaunch a few years back, Matt Murdock is generally one of the publisher’s most dour characters, with a supporting cast marked by tragedy. Daredevil, which sees Zdarsky pairing with artist Marco Checchetto—not a name often associated with lightheartedness—stands to reveal new depths for Zdarsky’s reach at Marvel, and a new, still shrouded-in-secrets era for the horned protector of Hell’s Kitchen. Steve Foxe


Female Furies
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Adriana Melo
Publisher: DC Comics 
Release Date: February 6, 2019
DC Comics’ discourse-dominating Mister Miracle series just wrapped up in November, but the publisher made sure readers wouldn’t have to wait long for more of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World creations. Female Furies is a six-issue mini-series coming from writer Cecil Castellucci (Shade, The Changing Girl) and artist Adriana Melo (Plastic Man) that takes a big step back in the history of the Apokolips/New Genesis conflict, spotlighting Big Barda’s tenure as a Female Fury under the iron thumb of Granny Goodness. The Female Furies are raised since birth to stand among Apokolips’ most intimidating warriors, enduring trials by (often literal) fire to represent Darkseid on the battlefield. In Castelluccii and Melo’s series, Granny Goodness and the Furies find themselves fed up with being left behind while the men (and Parademons) go to war. Steve Foxe


G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte
Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 6, 2019
A select few cartoonists have been able to will their childhood dream careers into existence: Ed Piskor is retelling the whole X-Men saga in X-Men: Grand Design, Tom Scioli pursues his own gonzo projects alongside action-figure mashups like Go-Bots and Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, and now Michel Fiffe lends his unmistakable art to G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte, a quintessential clash between America’s elite fighting force and the snake-themed terrorist organization Cobra. Fiffe is best known for Copra, which he writes, draws, colors and letters himself. The word “auteur” gets thrown around a bit too casually at times, but you’d be hard pressed to find a contemporary creator who has better earned the label than Fiffe, and anything he touches, from a Suicide Squad homage to a Bloodstrike revival to a toy tie-in is automatic reading in our eyes. Steve Foxe


Long Road to Liquor City
Writer: Macon Blair
Artist: Joe Flood
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: February 6, 2019
There’s been a small resurgence of travelin’-hobo comics, from Kyle Starks’ Rock Candy Mountain to Cecil Castellucci and Jose Pimienta’s Soupy Leaves Home. Maybe it’s because so many of us would love to toss out our smartphones and live off the land these days (although we know we’d only last about six hours before the need to check Twitter did us in), but this February, we’ll be able to add one more title to the legacy: The Long Road to Liquor City from writer Macon Blair and artist Joe Flood. Blair is the filmmaker behind I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore and an actor in films including Green Room, The Florida Project and Logan Lucky, making his Oni Press debut alongside his Hellcity: The Whole Damn Thing collaborator Flood. Flood is also the writer and artist of Cellies from Lion Forge’s Roar imprint, as well as a contributor to the Science Comics series. Steve Foxe


Old Man Quill
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 6, 2019
If Old Man Hawkeye seemed like a bit of a stretch at 12 issues, Old Man Quill at least offers the promise of heretofore unseen corners of the Wastelands first introduced in Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original “Old Man Logan” arc of Wolverine. In this maxi-series from Old Man Hawkeye writer Ethan Sack and Valiant mainstay Robert Gill, an aged Star-Lord is summoned by what’s left of the Guardians of the Galaxy for one last heist. “Mad Max in space” might seem reductive, but we’ll take it. If the Old Man-iverse has to be a thing, here’s hoping the elderly Punisher who debuted in last year’s Old Man Logan annual is the next in line for the series treatment. Steve Foxe


Red Sonja
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Fueled by vengeance and an affinity for ale, Red Sonja is one of the strongest warriors alive in her eponymous fantasy comic. The new creative team—writer Mark Russell, artist Mirko Colak, colorist Dearbhla Kelly and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou—hope to craft an epic by building up the world around the character. Russell has made a claim to fame with his satirical hits at DC Comics, including Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles and The Flintstones, even garnering Eisner attention for the latter, while Colak comes fresh out of Dark Horse’s former Conan series and Kingsway West. With Conan finding new life at Marvel Comics, it’s the perfect time for this red-haired warrior to get a rejuvenation of her own. Josh Hilgenberg


This Woman’s Work
Writer/Artist: Julie Delporte
Publisher: Drawn + Quarterly
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Delporte’s last book for D+Q, Everywhere Antennas (2014) was as frustrating as it was intense and beautiful. The story of a woman who is highly sensitive to the radiation emitted by electrical devices, it was hard to gauge just how we should feel about its protagonist. But maybe that’s not a negative. The cover of this autobiographical work features a woman fighting a bear, rendered in the radiant, soft colored pencils that are Delporte’s medium of choice. They feel difficult and so does she, but shouldn’t she be allowed to be just that? Hillary Brown


Avengers: No Road Home
Writers: Al Ewing, Mark Waid & Jim Zub
Artist: Paco Medina
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Jason Aaron’s core Avengers title admittedly took an arc to really feel like it was Aaron behind the wheel—but now the former Star Wars and current Conan scribe has his pedal to the metal and is building an impressive new era for Marvel’s premiere team. Before Aaron took over, a trio of writers and an alternating array of artists helped ease the transition with Avengers: No Surrender, a massively scoped crossover between various Avengers squad that brought big bads and jade giants back to life and even retconned a new hero into Avengers history. Now those writers—Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub—are back with artist Paco Medina for Avengers: No Road Home, a follow-up weekly series that follows a few of the Avengers outside of Aaron’s purview (plus a surly space Raccoon) as they tie up plot threads from No Surrender. It’s a testament to the creative team’s strength that a transitional event ended up demanding a sequel of its very own. Steve Foxe


Bloom
Writer: Kevin Panetta
Artist: Savanna Ganucheau
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Love is in the air—along with the homey scent of fresh bread. Co-created by writer Kevin Panetta and illustrator Savanna Ganucheau, Bloom follows recent high school graduate Ari as he scrambles to find a replacement for himself at his family’s bakery. In a quest to leave sticky dough and floury messes behind for good, Ari meets aspiring baker Hector, and finds himself forced to reconsider his urge to leave the bakery behind for good. Panetta has done stellar work with teen-centered comics in the past with Zodiac Starforce, and it’ll be exciting to see him take on a softer, sweeter romance instead of something more action packed—plus Ganucheau’s art is absolutely stunning. Her character designs are distinct and expressive, and the mellow blue and white palette gives Bloom a warm, romantic vibe perfect for a coming-of-age story like Ari’s. C.K. Stewart


Marvel Action: Black Panther
Writers: Kyle Baker, Vita Ayala
Artists: Kyle Baker, Juan Samu, Arianna Florean
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 13, 2019
IDW Publishing’s Marvel Action imprint is explicitly geared at crafting Marvel superhero stories for younger readers, but we can’t shake the feeling that they’re making Marvel Action: Black Panther just for us. Legendary Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn, Plastic Man) launches the series—a coup that Marvel itself would have been lucky to land. Baker’s first arc, with artist Juan Samu, involves unnatural weather and fauna threatening Wakanda, prompting T’Challa to turn to his sister Shuri and mother Ramonda for help. After Baker’s first arc, rising star Vita Ayala joins for a guest spot alongside artist Arianna Florean. Ayala is also announced to guest-write Marvel’s Shuri series, which is a hopeful sign that Marvel and IDW’s Marvel Action will share some of their most promising talents between the publishers. Steve Foxe


Wonder Twins
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Publisher: Wonder Comics/ DC Comics 
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics imprint got off to a fantastic start with Young Justice #1, and now all eyes turn toward the rest of the slate, including this revamp of DC teens who predate Young Justice but perhaps command less nostalgia power. The Wonder Twins became pop-culture punch lines after their Super Powers heyday (mostly thanks to Zan’s seemingly limited ability to turn into…forms of water), and despite occasional attempts to integrate them into other iterations of the DC universe, they’ve never stuck. Enter devilishly clever writer Mark Russell, Mera: Tidebreaker artist Stephen Byrne and the Bendis stamp of approval. Russell and Byrne’s six-issue series finds Zan and Jayna attempting to fit in at South Metropolis High School—and as interns at the Hall of Justice. Will this be the series that finally ingrains the Wonder Twins into the DCU proper? Who knows—we’re just impressed at the attempt. Steve Foxe


High Level
Writer: Rob Sheridan
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Release Date: February 20, 2019
DC Comics’ storied mature-reader imprint Vertigo began a massive rejuvenation project last year, announcing the return of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe alongside seven brand-new series (now six, with the more-than-justified cancellation of Border Town). Hex Wives, American Carnage and Goddess Mode are on shelves now from a mix of familiar comic names and exciting outside talents, and High Level is next up at bat. Writer Rob Sheridan worked with the band Nine Inch Nails on an alternate-reality game, and one assumes that experience helped him craft a post-dystopia in which human society rebuilds itself from scratch, including the titular mythical city from which no one ever returns. Artist Barnaby Bagenda helped Tom King realize complicated sci-fi territory in Omega Men, and it’s enticing to see what he’ll do when building a world from the ground up. Also on the horizon from Vertigo: SafeSex from sex-ed writer and podcaster Tina Horn and Unfollow artist Mike Dowling. Steve Foxe


Hulkverines
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Ario Anindito
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: February 20, 2019
File Greg Pak, Cory Smith and Guiu Vilanova’s Weapon H under “concepts that definitely shouldn’t have worked yet somehow did.” The Weapon X/Totally Awesome Hulk crossover that spawned the ungodly hybrid of Wolverine and the Hulk seemed to drag on forever, but the resulting solo series starring the gamma-irradiated, Adamantium-laced ex-soldier has been leagues better than the ‘90s gimmick you’d expect it to be. Chock that up to Pak’s character skills, especially with Hulks. Weapon H has clashed with Roxxon, traveled to Weirdworld and picked up some unexpected allies along the way—including Black Widow. Now it seems that Marvel’s recent purge of redundant characters may be catching up with him as Hulkverines sees Weapon H’s genetic godfathers come calling. It’s too early to tell if this will end up being Weapon H’s swan song—how long can a Hulk/Wolverine hybrid realistically exist in the Marvel universe?—but it’s a sure bet that Pak and collaborator Ario Anindito will make this potential sendoff worth your while. Steve Foxe


Incursion
Writers: Alex Paknadel & Andy Diggle
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: February 20, 2019
One of Valiant’s smarter publishing strategies is its focus on shorter, relatively self-contained volumes and limited events, which offers frequent jumping-on points for new readers. You don’t need to have read prior Eternal Warrior tales to understand Incursion, it’ll merely deepen your appreciation for the complicated father/daughter-ish bond growing between the Eternal Warrior and Tama, the current (incredibly powerful) Geomancer. And since Imperatrix Virago, Incursion’s ruthless primary threat, is a brand-new creation, both new and returning readers have something to discover together. Valiant’s approach is also a boon to readers who prefer to follow creators, not characters, and Incursion offers up quite the roster behind the scenes: artist Doug Braithwaite, a mainstay of Valiant’s efforts; Andy Diggle, current mastermind of Shadowman; and Alex Paknadel, who makes his Valiant debut co-writing with Diggle. Paknadel is the whip-smart rising talent behind books like Friendo and the latest arc of Kino from Lion Forge. Also on the horizon from Valiant: four new limited series in their “Breakthrough” initiative. Steve Foxe


Stronghold
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: February 20, 2019
While it’s true that some AfterShock Comics series struggle to break through the noise, the ones that do are remarkable works that benefit from the free reign the publisher offers. A Walk Through Hell was one of our favorite horror series of 2018, thanks to its absolutely unflinching content, and Stronghold seems poised to be an early standout this year. Written and illustrated by two criminally under-appreciated talents, Phil Hester and Ryan Kelly, Stronghold subverts the Superman myth by revealing that our planet is actually a prison for an amnesiac alien who possesses incalculable power. Living under the name Michael Grey, the alien works as a midwestern insurance underwriter and is kept in the dark about his true past by a shadowy society—until someone falls in love with him and considers risking the entire planet to bring that love to fruition. Also coming up from AfterShock: Dark Red, about vampires toiling away in MAGA country, and Oberon, a supernatural adventure about the titular king of faeries. Steve Foxe


Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish
Writer: B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 27, 2019
Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish will bring readers back to the 1987 setting The Forgotten Realms. Its eponymous campaign is one of the most popular among D&D players, with adaptations across novels, previous comics and videogames. Tess Fowler will be taking up art duties alongside writer B. Dave Walters. Fowler’s most recent project is the creator-owned Kid Lobotomy. Walters is a motivational speaker as well as a writer, and co-host of the Ask Your Black Geek Friend. Their collaboration will follow a young wizard named Helene, along with her friends, in the war-torn Sea of Swords. Josh Hilgenberg


The Forgotten Queen
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: February 27, 2019
Originally created by Matt Kindt and Pere Perez for the Unity event, War-Monger is a fan-favorite Valiant villain with a vengeance. According to the series’ first solicitations, she’s a witch who traveled along with the Mongol Empire. Her powers could turn any warrior into a berserker—a War-Monger. In The Forgotten Queen, readers will see where War-Monger came from, as well as where she stands in the Valiant universe today, courtesy of Euthanauts writer Tini Howard and Generation X artist Amilcar Pinna, making it a great jumping-on point for anyone interested in the character. Josh Hilgenberg


Black Hammer ‘45
Writers:   Jeff Lemire  & Ray Fawkes
Artists: Matt & Sharlene Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Black Hammer had a hell of a 2018, with The Doom Age progressing the core mystery into wild new territory, Doctor Star illuminating a somber side story and The Quantum Age charting the far, far future of it all. This March, Black Hammer turns back the clock with Black Hammer ‘45, and co-creator Jeff Lemire is bringing along a few old friends. Underwinter writer/artist Ray Fawkes joins Lemire on scripting duties, with Dept. H creators Matt and Sharlene Kindt lending their signature artwork. Set during the Golden Age, Black Hammer ‘45 introduces the Black Hammer Squadron, seemingly an homage to DC Comics’ Blackhawks, as they face off against occult threats. Steve Foxe


Darth Vader: Dark Visions
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artists: Paolo Villanelli, Brian Level, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Marvel’s Star Wars comics are entering 2019 in a bit of a holding pattern: the main series seems to be reaching its breaking point in how much it can mine from the period between Episodes IV and V and the overarching one-shots of Age of the Republic/Rebellion/Resistance project are enjoyable but too brief to amount to anything substantial. It’s a shame, then, that this promising series comes with an awkward asterisk. Darth Vader: Dark Visions is pretty clearly the same project from which writer Chuck Wendig was fired, reportedly due to his social media conduct. Wendig’s already written issues seem to have been tossed, but new writer Dennis Hopeless has the same structure: five standalone Vader stories, each offering a different perspective on the Dark Lord of the Sith. With artists like Brian Level involved, we’ll try to ignore the Star Destroyer-sized elephant (bantha?) in the room, but consider this one a complicated, even controversial endorsement. Steve Foxe


Meet the Skrulls
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
With Chelsea Cain and Aud Koch’s Vision sequel indefinitely shelved, Marvel has seemingly looked to the stars for its next twisted domestic drama. Spider-Man/Deadpool writer Robbie Thompson and Doctor Strange artist Niko Henrichson will invite readers to Meet the Skrulls in this five-issue series about a family of the green, wrinkly chinned shape-shifters trying to fit in undercover as a typical earth family…while secretly paving the way for an alien invasion. The Skrulls haven’t played a huge role at Marvel since Secret Invasion way back in 2008, and it’s actually pretty refreshing that this series seems to be standing on its own, not leading into or spinning out of any other storylines (although it’s probably not a coincidence that Meet the Skrulls will hit shelves just as Captain Marvel introduces Skrulls to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Steve Foxe


Morning in America
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Magdalene Visaggio is everywhere in comics these days—including elsewhere on this list. She’s built a loyal fandom through her quippy writing and skill with complex female characters, most notably on display in Kim & Kim with artist Claudia Aguirre. It’s pretty thrilling, then, to see Visaggio and Aguirre reteaming for Morning in America, an ‘80s-set small-town adventure about a mysterious new factory, a rash of disappearances and a plucky girl gang standing up against strange monsters. Aguirre’s slick cartooning has grown by leaps and bounds with each new project, and we’ll be eager to see what it looks like in the pages of this Paper Girls-esque new series. Steve Foxe


Ronin Island
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Greg Pak is one of the most reliable writers at the Big Two of Marvel and DC Comics, but as Mech Cadet Yu proves, some of his best work comes from cutting loose on original properties. Set in the 19th century after a mysterious attack wipes out major cities in Japan, China and Korea, Ronin Island follows the survivors from all three lands who congregate on a hidden island to create a new society. This tenuous peace is threatened when a new Shogun emerges and expects payment in return for repelling an army of mutated invaders. Beyond the excitement of Pak creating a new world tied to Asian culture, Ronin Island should land on readers’ radar thanks to artist Giannis Milonogiannis, a fan-favorite for his manga-inspired work on his own Old City Blues and his stunning contribution to last year’s Ghost in the Shell tribute anthology. Steve Foxe


Second Coming
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Richard Pace
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics 
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Before he established himself as the king of unexpectedly inventive refreshes, Mark Russell wrote God is Disappointed in You, an irreverent yet not sacrilegious retelling of the Bible with all the filler hacked out. He’ll put that experience to good use alongside Imaginary Fiends artist Richard Pace in Second Coming, which finds Jesus sent to Earth to learn from the superhero Sun-Man, the “varsity quarterback son” God never had. Jesus is (rightly) appalled to see what we’ve done with his teachings, which will surely lead to some interesting back-and-forths with the archetypal superhero. One of Vertigo’s backbones is the imprint’s willingness to poke fun at and thoughtfully examine religion—Preacher and Lucifer call Vertigo home, after all—which situates Second Coming in good company. Steve Foxe

Update: This title has been cancelled by publisher DC Comics


Age of Conan: Bêlit
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar’s first issue of Conan the Barbarian marked a faithful new Marvel reign for Robert E. Howard’s classic character…but felt just a bit too familiar for many readers of Aaron’s defining run on Thor. Luckily, he’s not the only creator lining up to put a stamp on Conan’s world. Beginning in March, Euthanauts co-creator Tini Howard and Mockingbird artist Kate Niemczyk spin the tale of Bêlit, pirate queen of the Black Coast and one of the most (in)famous women in the Conan mythos. Howard (Tini, not Robert E.) has a talent for portraying complex, imperfect women, and it should be a bloody blast to see Niemczyk tackle the Hyperborean setting. Conan himself is all well and good, but it’ll be series like this that help flesh out his world and stake his modern claim at Marvel. Also arriving shortly: Savage Sword of Conan from Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney. Steve Foxe


Assassin Nation
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Skybound/ Image Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Erica Henderson’s award-winning work on titles like Jughead and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl have earned her a passionate following, and it’s exciting to see her tackle a creator-owned story with her friend Kyle Starks. Starks is probably best known for Sexcastle, which he both drew and authored, and the two of them share an outsized and goofy sense of humor that promises good things for Assassin Nation. The plot revolves around 20 people hired to be bodyguards for the world’s best assassin, now retired. Obviously, all 20 new hires need to be incredible assassins in their own right if they’re going to protect their new client, which inevitably leads to all sorts of shenanigans. It sounds like an incredible read, especially fun since it will give Henderson a chance to dive into something gruesome and gory after years of working on more all-ages titles. Assassin Nation seems like a must-read for followers of Henderson and Starks, but also fans of humorous mayhem. Caitlin Rosberg


Calamity Kate
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Corin Howell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Eisner and GLAAD Media Award-nominated writer Magdalene Visaggio is everywhere these days, from Eternity Girl and various anthologies at DC Comics to the ongoing saga of Kim & Kim and soon one of Humanoids debut shared-universe series—and starting this March, she can add Dark Horse Comics to that list when she joins artist Corin Howell for Calamity Kate, a modern-day monster-hunting misadventure. Calamity Kate follows the titular Kate Strand after she shakes off her destructive tendencies and hikes out to Los Angeles to fulfill her dream of becoming a gun-toting monster killer. With this signficant career change, Kate comes face to face with new challenges, unexpected relationships and plenty of competition, especially when it comes to the biggest monster bounty in the land: The Seven Fabled Beasts of Yore. Zombies, vampires, demons, goblins and plenty of California drama await readers. Steve Foxe


The Goon
Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Nearly two decades ago, cartoonist Eric Powell created The Goon, a whisky-drinking brawler who mixes it up with mobsters, skunk apes, zombies and other freaks that go bump in the night. The character became one of the most notable original creations of the modern era, standing alongside Mike Mignola’s Hellboy as a supernatural success. Powell’s seemingly final The Goon issue came out in 2015, but you can’t keep a good Goon down, and Powell announced earlier last year that the series will return in 2019 as part of a major 20th-anniversary push. For the first time, Powell won’t be alone: he also revealed that several as-yet-unannounced writers and artists will join him on the series as Goon & Franky return from strange adventures abroad to find a horde of unsavory characters have filled the void left in Lonely Street. Steve Foxe


Little Bird
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Image Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Darcy Van Poelgeest is an accomplished independent filmmaker, but let’s not mince words: Ian Bertram is the star attraction of Little Bird. First published in France as a single volume, Little Bird is arriving on our shores as a five-issue mini-series via Image Comics. Bertram came to the attention of many American fans via brief Batman contributions, but it was Dark Horse’s House of Penance that established him as a much-watch talent, especially when the subject matter is darkly fantastic. Little Bird follows a resistance fighter in an oppressive American Empire—sound too close to home?—but we’ll accept any excuse for more of Bertram’s more horror-tinged Frank Quitely-esque aesthetic. Steve Foxe


The Magnificent Ms. Marvel
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: March 13, 2019
For over 50 issues, current Wonder Woman writer G. Willow Wilson steadily guided Kamala Khan from the newest Inhuman on the block to a full-blown Avenger, Champion and cultural phenomenon. This year, Wilson passes the embiggening duties to Saladin Ahmed as she focuses on prose work and another title on this list, Invisible Kingdom. Ahmed has magnificently large shoes to fill, but this isn’t his first taste of pressure: he just launched Miles Morales: Spider-Man, the first solo series for the Into the Spider-Verse star not written by original co-creator Brian Michael Bendis. Joining Ahmed is DC Talent Development grad Minkyu Jung, whose bright, animated style should match the tone set by previous volumes perfectly. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone other than Wilson writing Kamala, but we can’t wait to see this series justify its new superlative. Steve Foxe


Transformers
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Angel Hernandez & Ron Joseph
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Transformers is one of the most fascinating comic properties around, as years of different series and continuities make it all but impenetrable to new readers, yet franchise devotees swear up and down that the comics are some of the most nuanced, thought-provoking sci-fi stories on shelves, regardless of the fact that the protagonists are robots who transform into vehicles. IDW Publishing’s new Transformers #1 aims to offer both a clean jumping-on point and an enticing new era for returning fans. Set on the planet Cybertron long before the Autobot/Decepticon war would tear it asunder, Transformers introduces a thriving planet, where Bumblebee and Windblade take a newly forged Cybertronian on his first journey through his home—and accidentally stumble on the first murder in living memory. If you’re a Transformers die-hard or just saw Bumblebee and are finally curious enough to check out the much-hyped comics, this #1 is all for you. Steve Foxe


Invisible Kingdom
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Christian Ward
Publisher: Berger Books/ Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 20, 2019
It’s almost cruel how early Berger Books and Dark Horse Comics announced Invisible Kingdom, leaving us to wait half a year or more for G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward’s original sci-fi series. Wilson is of course the writer behind years of Ms. Marvel tales, and is currently spinning an impressive run of Wonder Woman stories at DC Comics. She’s also a Hugo Award-winning prose author, with two original Vertigo series under her belt from back in the day. Ward blew readers away with his cosmic vistas on Black Bolt and Ody-C, which makes him the perfect artist to realize this story of a religious acolyte and a bitter freighter pilot who uncover a massive conspiracy between their system’s dominant religion and an oppressive mega-corporation—and must decide if revealing the truth is worth the anarchy it would create. Books like Invisible Kingdom are exactly what we hoped to see when Karen Berger launched her eponymous imprint at Dark Horse, and March can’t get here soon enough. Steve Foxe


BUN&TEA
Editor: Claire Napier
Publisher: Kickstarter/ Self-Published
Release Date: TBD Spring 2019
Former Women Write About Comics editor-in-chief Claire Napier is taking the plunge into monthly comics publishing this year with BUN&TEA, a comics magazine featuring serialized stories from nearly a dozen creators. Napier, who recently published her own work Dash Dearborne and the Unexpected Earthman, announced the
project in November of 2018 with plans to Kickstart the the magazine in early 2019. Napier has a distinctive style and a keen editorial eye, and it will be exciting to see what creators like Kumail Rizvi, Mark Stack and Priya Huq bring to the table. Napier’s got plenty of experience managing projects of this scope, and raising the funds to keep it going, and the idea of bringing that expertise to comics publishing in a comics landscape where crowdfunding projects are flourishing feels like a slam dunk. This is an exciting project to keep an eye on in 2019. C.K. Stewart

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