7.08.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

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All eyes will be on San Diego Comic-Con International this week, so don’t let the spectacle of the big dance distract you from so many great books coming out! Brian Wood fans can rejoice because there will be not one, but two Creator Owned projects hitting the shelves from this acclaimed writer. We have both Starve #2 (Image) and Rebels #4 (Dark Horse), the former chronicling celebrity chef Gavin Cruikshank’s wayward identity quest and attempts at familial reconciliation brought to life by the sensational team of series co-owners Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart, while the latter seamlessly laces together family drama, historical fiction, and the narrative thrust of the rebellion against the British Crown in rugged Colonial America, all depicted by Italian artist Andrea Mutti.

Star Wars fans can rejoice because we’ll also be getting another new mini-series set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and this time it might actually be good (ba-dum-tsh!). It’s no secret I haven’t really liked the mediocre crop of Disney/Marvel/LucasFilm Mega Corporation comics thus far (Princess Leia is a pointless inconsequential bore, Darth Vader is an out of character Frankenstein that cobbles together recycled sci-fi concepts, Kanan: The Last Padawan is an extremely pale offshoot of the stellar animated series that never quite manages to get going and actually do anything we can’t already glean from the show, and the main Star Wars title feels like a phoned-in piece of fanfic with occasional off-model art irregularities), but with the very respectable team of Charles Soule and Alex Maleev, I’m hoping Star Wars: Lando #1 (Marvel) might be strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark and do justice to my favorite SW character. C’mon guys, make me say “Hell-o, what have we here?”

Image Comics fans will likely rejoice because they’ll be able to find at least one of their favorite books in the crop that’s out this week, with Saga #30 (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Black Science #16 (Image) by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera, and Injection #3 (Image) by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. These are all solid books, but I’m most excited to check out Black Science. With the writer recently announcing that he’s stepping away from Marvel Comics (a couple of which were absolutely fantastic, even achieving classic run status, I’m looking at you Uncanny X-Force) to focus exclusively on Creator Owned projects, it feels like Remender is now “all in” on original creations and will be making even bolder choices than he has been, upping the sense of consequence and willingness to deviate from the indoctrinated cyclical storytelling approaches at the larger publishers. Good luck, Rick!

Fans of some of the other non-Marvel or DC Comics publishers can also rejoice. There’s Strange Fruit #1 (Boom! Studios) by Mark Waid and J.G. Jones. Waid is a writer whose older work I tend to like more (I find his modern stuff to be on the wordy side), but with the time period and setting and literary sensibility advertised in this project, this could be something I’m really into. Archie #1 (Archie Comics) is relaunching their flagship series for their 75th Anniversary, also written by Mark Waid, with art by Fiona Staples. There’s no less than 22 variant covers being offered (and this isn’t counting retailer exclusive variants), which seems quite excessive, but when you reach 75, maybe we’ll cut you a little slack on the celebratory speculation-driving cash-grab. There’s Death Sentence: London #2 (Titan Comics), which has always been a little sleeper hit, Lantern City #3 (Boom!/Archaia) which does a fun world-build and some compelling design work, I might check out Negative Space #1 (Dark Horse) by Ryan K. Lindsay and Owen Gieni, both of whom I like for their contributions on other projects, and I may also peek my head into the Star Trek/Green Lantern #1 (IDW) crossover series, which is just enough of an unlikely pairing that it might be great (I’m suddenly nostalgic for the old Stormwatch/Aliens crossover!)

If you need some collected editions to adorn your bookshelf, you too can rejoice! I highly recommend They’re Not Like Us Vol. 1: Black Holes For The Young (Image) by Eric Stephenson and Simon Gane. It’s a fantastic reimaging of the basic X-Men premise (latent adolescent power manifestation) modernized for disaffected millennials trying to establish both an extended family and a sense of purpose. The art is incredibly detailed and emotive, the kind of thing you just want to stare at and pore over. There’s the Godzilla: Half Century War HC (IDW) by James Stokoe, which takes an introspective approach to monster mayhem, chronicling a once-young soldier’s experiences fighting off the behemoth decade after decade, with lavish illustrations on the level of someone like Geoff Darrow. San Diego’s premiere comics publishers also has the Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland HC (IDW), equally impressive with the bold clean line work of Gabriel Rodriguez, and with the help of writer Eric Shanower, it manages to pay homage to the original and capture its sense of ethereal wonder. Lastly, I’ll probably also check out the High Crimes HC (Dark Horse) by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa, something I missed in digital form, but looks right up my alley and comes highly recommended by sources I trust.

Shameless Plug Alert: If anyone’s looking for me at #SDCC, my base of operations is usually with my friend Ryan Claytor at the Elephant Eater Comics booth, located in the Small Press Pavilion, right across the aisle from Oni Press at that big intersection. You know the one.


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