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Superman: Leviathan Rising, She Said Destroy, Killer Groove & More in Required Reading: Comics for 5/29/2019

Comics Lists Required Reading
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Now that summer is finally cooking (quite literally, depending on your zip code), publishers are starting to roll out their big guns. DC Comics alone had some much going on this week that we didn’t have room for notables like the Heroes in Crisis conclusion, or the latest (long-delayed) chapter of Doomsday Clock. What we do have, though, are major new launches for Batman, Superman and…DC’s Super Pets? We’ve also got original debuts like She Said Destory and Killer Groove, an unexpected Star Wars entry, a new Archaia joint, a Hellboy deep dive and more in this week’s Required Reading.


Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1
Writer:   Scott Snyder  
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Black Label/ DC Comics 
In 2011, DC Comics launched an ambitious line-wide relaunch of 52 first issues, many of which reset character timelines or introduced new status quos for familiar favorites. Batman helped lead the salvo, with then-Detective Comics writer Scott Snyder taking over the title alongside former Spawn artist Greg Capullo, who had been largely absent from mainstream superhero comics for years. Across five years and over 50 issues of Batman, Snyder and Capullo enshrined themselves among the most beloved Caped Crusader creative teams of all time, introducing frightening new foes like the Court of Owls, crafting unforgettable storylines like “Death of the Family” and even putting Jim Gordon in a mechanized Batman suit for an arc. The duo went on to create the worlds-shattering Dark Nights: Metal event, and this week they’re reuniting for Batman: Last Knight on Earth, which is being billed as Snyder and Capullo’s final Batman story. The three-issue, bi-monthly DC Black Label release finds Bruce Wayne waking up young and rejuvenated in Arkham Asylum, with Joker’s severed head as a companion on his post-apocalyptic quest to figure out a reality where he was never Batman—and the world went to hell as a consequence. Snyder and Capullo love upping the ante with every outing, and considering this may be there last with the Bat, count on it being big in every way. Steve Foxe


Coda #12
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matias Bergara
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
This week brings the final issue of Simon Spurrier and Matias Bergara’s fantasy epic Coda, which has defied expectations at nearly every turn. The story has followed protagonist Hum through wild and weird lands full of astonishing, imaginative and deely detailed creatures. Bergara’s skill with color, texture and character creation have made a great story into something truly excellent, breathing life into Hum and his companions with expressive faces, clothes and body language that convey a long history. Through the first 11 issues, Hum has stolen from people who deserved it (and those who might not have), struggled against villains as a reluctant knight and fought against his own instincts. His relationship with his beloved wife is one of the most complex and interesting in comics, regardless of the genre. With raw humor and carefully handled trauma, Spurrier and Bergara pulled their story into the sometimes-brutal reality of a world full of magic and mythology, which is a feat unto itself. Readers looking to fill the Saga-shaped hole in their current books should definitely pick up Coda, and it might be the perfect antidote for hungover Game of Thrones fans, too. Caitlin Rosberg


Superman: Leviathan Rising #1
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, Marc Andreyko
Artists: Yanick Paquette, Steve Lieber, Mike Perkins, Eduardo Pansica
Publisher: DC Comics 
We here at Paste have been unabashedly huge fans of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ work under the DC Comics umbrella, from Young Justice to the burgeoning Event Leviathan storyline being told across Superman and Action Comics. Superman: Leviathan Rising builds on Bendis and Alex Maleev’s recent DC’s Year of the Villain short to properly kick off the event, with Yanick Paquette joining Bendis for a framing sequence and a squad of other creators along to fill out the hefty page count. Ongoing Supergirl writer Marc Andreyko is here with artist Eduardo Pansica, but the other four main contributors are more surprising names: former Wonder Woman scribe Greg Rucka is back at DC with artist Mike Perkins for a Lois Lane focus, while Matt Fraction drops in alongside Steve Lieber for a kooky Jimmy Olsen story. If you’ve missed Fraction’s Hawkguy run, expect a similar sense of humor and innovation to his work here with Lieber. This summer isn’t lacking for big event comics, but with a lineup like this, Event Leviathan may be the surest bet. Steve Foxe


Dog Days of Summer #1
Writers: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing, Mariko Tamaki, G. Willow Wilson, Others
Artists: Kyle Hotz, Cully Hamner, Stjepan Sejic, Others
Publisher: DC Comics 
Animal sidekicks are easily one of the best parts of superhero comics, and often left out of the grand, sweeping storylines that are told every summer. Though many fans can name several of these sidekicks easily, there’s a deep well of four-legged (not to mention feathered, finned, etc.) friends ready to be tapped back in, from Streaky the Super-Cat to Flexi the Plastic Bird. Dog Days of Summer is an anthology of stories about some of these incredible superhero pets, and like many Big Two anthologies, serves as a perfect entry point for new readers—especially kids who may have been drawn in with the new Ink and Zoom titles this year. Particularly exciting is that Stjepan Sejic is contributing art to this title, as well as writers Mariko Tamaki and G. Willow Wilson, both of whom are known for their YA and kid-friendly work. The issue may be almost $10, but it’s also nearly four times as long as the average comic. Grab it, along with Supergirl: Being Super, Under the Moon: A Catwoman Story or Mystik U to kick-start a teen’s summer reading challenge. Caitlin Rosberg


The Grand Abyss Hotel
Writer: Marcos Prior
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher:Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
The biggest draw of The Grand Abyss Hotel is David Rubin’s art. Rubin’s rough, gritty, electric style in books like Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Ether: The Copper Golems is enough to get the books into readers’ hands and instill trust that the story will keep them there. Writer Marcos Prior and Rubin worked together to build a world that’s not so different from our own, a satire of what western democracy has turned into in the era of social media and 24-hour news cycles. Satire is infamously difficult to nail, especially in the absurdist modern way, where it’s all too easy to mistake satire for endorsement. But Prior and Rubin have some interesting ideas about what kind of hero it will take to fight corruption, and the impact individuals can have on systemic problems. As long as they don’t fall into the trap of both-sides-ism, The Grand Abyss Hotel could be a provocative read; regardless, it will be damn pretty. Caitlin Rosberg


Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson: The Ring of Death #1
Writers:   Mike Mignola  & Chris Roberson
Artists: Mike Norton, Paul Grist
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
While the core Hellboy story may have just concluded in the pages of B.P.R.D., the long life of Hell’s favorite son is full of under-explored nooks and crannies—and Mexico is probably the most infamous. Longtime fans of Hellboy know that Big Red enjoyed some drunken misadventures south of the border, and Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson: The Ring of Death invites Battlepug cartoonist Mike Norton to illustrate Hellboy’s turn as a luchador foe. Jack Staff creator Paul Grist, meanwhile, contributes a new story of the strange alien Visitor observing Hellboy from afar, working against his orders to intervene in Hellboy’s destiny. Flashbacks like these two shorts are always welcome pieces to the Hellboy puzzle—even more so now that the main story has wrapped up. Steve Foxe


Killer Groove #1
Writer: Ollie Masters
Artist: Eoin Marron
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Ollie Masters of The Kitchen fame has returned with another crime comic, this time set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, rather than Hell’s Kitchen in the same era. Between soon-to-be-a-TV-show series The Kitchen and Snow Blind, Masters has proven his skill when it comes to noir with unexpected twists, as well as his ability to work with a wide range of talented artists. Killer Groove finds him paired up with Eoin Marron to tell the story of a musician who’s just one of many trying to make it in an oversaturated market. When Johnny gets involved with all the wrong people, he finds a new and less crowded—but far deadlier—career path, with the added benefit of a new muse for his music writing. This is exactly the kind of book that Masters will pull off with panache, as he has in the past when working with the likes of Ming Doyle and Tyler Jenkins. Many of Marron’s previous credits have been on books like Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original and Star Trek: Boldly Go, with the restrictions of intellectual property that belonged to someone else; it will be exciting to see what he does unfettered by those guidelines and playing in one of Masters’ bloody, character-driven worlds. Caitlin Rosberg


She Said Destroy #1
Writer: Joe Corallo
Artist: Liana Kangas
Publisher: Vault Comics
Vault Comics is one of the most impressive younger publishers in the game, with series like These Savage Shores, Friendo, Wasted Space, Submerged and Fearscape all filling unique and compelling niches on shelves. One thing each of those books shares, however, is somewhat established talent. She Said Destroy is a prime example of Vault lifting up new voices as well, with Mine! editor Joe Corallo making his series writing debut and Black AF: Devil’s Dye artist Liana Kangas breaking out into creator-owned storytelling. Pitched as “The Wicked + The Divine meets Star Wars by way of Final Fantasy,” She Said Destory drops readers into a conflict between Brigid, conqueror goddess of the sun, and Morrigan, rebellious goddess of death. Kangas’ digital painting may remind readers of Saga artist Fiona Staples’ earlier work—fitting, as She Said Destroy features a Saga tribute variant cover. Steve Foxe


Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years #108
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Luke Ross, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Before Disney acquired Star Wars and brought the comics back under the Marvel banner, before Dark Horse Comics spent decades exploring a Galaxy Far, Far Away, there was…Jaxxon. Well, there was more than just a green anthropomorphic rabbit, sure, but Jaxxon has become shorthand for the original Marvel era of Star Wars comics, where canon was played fast and loose and the mythos wasn’t quite as clearly defined. Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years #108 picks up, more or less, exactly where the original run left off more than 30 years ago, including a sequel to iconic creator Archie Goodwin’s “Crimson Forever” storyline. Expect superfan writer Matthew Rosenberg and reliable Star Wars names like Giuseppe Camuncoli and Luke Ross to indulge in a Sarlacc Pit full of nostalgia for this oversized one-shot. Steve Foxe


X-Men: Grand Design: X-Tinction #1
Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
The third and (unfortunately) final two-book installment in cartoonist Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design project launches this week, catching up with the mutant franchise in the second half of the ‘80s, as the line exploded with New Mutants and X-Factor and plunged into crossovers like “Mutant Massacre” and “The Fall of the Mutants.” Fan-favorites like Longshot and Cable make their first appearances here, all rendered with the same respect and meticulousness by chronicler Piskor. X-Men: Grand Design’s first volume felt like a welcome alternative to the pre-Giant-Size X-Men #1 era, and a fond trip down memory lane throughout its second installment; X-Tinction has the unenviable task of making sense out of some pretty out-there times in X-Men history, and we can’t wait to see how Piskor pulls it off. Where do we start the Change.org petition asking Piskor to continue straight on through to the modern day? Steve Foxe

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