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Transformers, Assassin Nation, The Grim Knight & More in Required Reading: Comics for 3/13/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
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The luck of the leprechauns must be shining down on the sequential-art industry this week, but March 13th provides a positively overflowing bounty of comics gold. In addition to the issues spotlighted below, we’ve also got a new adaptation of The Iliad from classics connoisseur Gareth Hinds, an Iceman coda in the form of Uncanny X-Men: Winter’s End, the second volume of fan-favorite OGN series Moonstruck from Image Comics, the Apocalypse-as-free-love-hippie Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 and Steven Universe: Fusion Frenzy, an oversized anthology one-shot that features Paste’s very own Steve Foxe (conflict-of-interest alert!). If that’s the caliber of title that didn’t make the list below, why are you wasting time—scroll on down and find out which books did!


Age of Conan: Bêlit #1
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar’s Conan the Barbarian marks a faithful new Marvel reign for Robert E. Howard’s classic character…but perhaps feels 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 this week, 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. Steve Foxe


Assassin Nation #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Skybound/ Image Comics 
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 enticing since it will give Henderson a chance to dive into something gruesome and gory after years of working on all-ages titles. Assassin Nation seems like a must-read for followers of Henderson and Starks, but also fans of humorous mayhem. Caitlin Rosberg


The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1
Writers:   Scott Snyder  & James Tynion IV
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: DC Comics 
In true comics fashion, The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight is a one-shot spin-off of a mini-series (now upgraded to ongoing) spin-off of an event comic that concluded a full year ago. Follow all that? If not, try it this way: What if a traumatized young Bruce Wayne ran toward—not away from—guns after seeing his parents fatally shot? The Grim Knight, pulled from an alternate universe by the Joker-meets-Hellraiser The Batman Who Laughs to serve as his muscle, is Batman-as-Punisher, adopting the familiar bat symbol and an outsized array of guns to wage his war on crime. Alternate-Batman architect Scott Snyder shares scripting duties with frequent partner James Tynion IV, while 100 Bullets and Moonshine legend Eduardo Risso lends his shadowy pools of ink to a 28-page story that fleshes out the titular vigilante’s back-story and motivation. Some may balk at the base concept of a Grim Knight—but if sales data from Snyder’s last year or two of ever-escalating Bat-stories is any indication, that “some” is in the minority. Steve Foxe


Calamity Kate #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Corin Howell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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 week, 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 significant 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 #1
Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
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 in 2018 that the series will be revamped this year 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 #1
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Image Comics 
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 horror-tinged Otomo-esque aesthetic. Steve Foxe


The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
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 Wednesday, Wilson passes the embiggening duties to Saladin Ahmed as she focuses on prose work and her upcoming Dark Horse Comics debut, 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


Mob Psycho 100 Vol. 2
Writer/Artist: ONE
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The pseudonymous manga creator ONE has experienced international success through two wildly different series: the satirical superhero sensation One-Punch Man, originally serialized online for free, then “remade” with artist Yusuke Murata for Weekly Shonen Jump to wild acclaim; and Mob Psycho 100, written and drawn by ONE, and now the basis for massively popular anime and live-action adaptations. Shigeo is the titular Mob (a nickname given because he blends into the background, or “mob” of people), a teenage boy with vast psychic abilities, who must repress his emotions lest his powers run rampant. Shigeo works as a (severely underpaid) personal assistant to Reigen, a con-man who passes himself off as an elite exorcist with Shigeo’s help. Reigen exploits Shigeo while also mentoring the lad—and ensuring that his psychic energy level never reaches 100. In this second volume, a cult, a Body Building Club and a fellow super-powered individual all spell trouble for Shigeo, and for Reigen’s attempts to keep him under wraps. Steve Foxe


Shuri #6
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Paul Davidson
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Throughout the first five issues of Shuri, ongoing creative team Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero have done an incredible job of shepherding Wakanda’s princess into a new era, building on the character’s MCU popularity and giving her some incredible new adventures. Shuri has so far stood up against black holes, allied with Iron Man and once again taken up the mantle of the Black Panther. For the next two issues, Okorafor and Romero are turning the reins over to a new duo for an interlude that finds Shuri facing new challenges to save her people and her home. Writer Vita Ayala is a rising star in the industry, with credits at DC, Image, Valiant and more. Their work with Emily Pearson on The Wilds for Black Mask earned them a lot of fans and critical success, and it’s exciting to see them writing one of Marvel’s most popular female heroes. Most of artist Paul Davidson’s non-X-Men work has been on 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Magazine, so it will be fascinating to see how he tackles an equally futuristic yet aesthetically distinct world like Wakanda. For readers who might need one last push to get them to grab the issue, the cover features Shuri with Miles Morales, making it the perfect gateway comic for fans of both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. Caitlin Rosberg


Transformers #1
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artists: Angel Hernandez & Ron Joseph
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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

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