It’s a big week for comics, with big debuts, big milestones and just overall BIG storylines, from Empyre to Death Metal to the 250th issue of Savage Dragon. It’s BIG!
But don’t let that scare you off; The Smash Pages crew is here to help you decide how much big is too big. If you’re wondering what to get this week, check out a few recommendations below.
You can check the Comic List page (now at a fancy new site!) to see what’s arriving in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally. As always, you should check with your local shop on their hours, curbside pick-up and mask restrictions, due to COVID-19. Stay safe out there and enjoy some comics.
Yeah I’m looking forward to Empyre #1, less for the Kree and Skrull team-up, and more to see how our series of summer event books handles our ever-changing world. Who wouldn’t be? We’ve been into this slow, steady groove in Big Two Comics(™ ) hyping up a big crossover/multi-universe/mega-super-hyper storyline that takes over the DC or Marvel Universe (normally into December/January) that’s going to change the entire way you read comics forever and break the internet, debatably since before Marvel’s Civil War. While the payoff has lessened year after year, companies keep making the announcement of multi-issue story arcs and I keep stepping up to the front counter to purchase them. Anyone else remember that “How wouldja like a nice Hawaiian Punch?” commercial? Is the modern equivalent “Up Dog”?
Anyhow, Empyre is coming and for once, it’s not just the pocketbook of the consumer that can’t handle it, the industry itself cannot support the weight of the comics summer blockbuster. Almost 40 percent of Empyre‘s planned issues have been canceled due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control; it probably doesn’t mean we’re going to get less story or lose much (there are still so many books coming out under the Empyre banner), but it is a big deal that this year might be a change to the eternal format of “this will change anything and everything.” We might have to think of something new.
However, what I’m really excited for this Wednesday is Action Presidents! The series of really fun and funny historical comics about major presidential figures from the United States are headed for a full color relaunch this week; from the same team that brought you Action Philosophers and the Comic History of Comics, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, these were originally pitched (I believe) in the same format as past books were. Action Philosophers! was such an underground hit at my store because it was a fantastic recommendation for kids and adults alike. Action Presidents! is coming out with four different graphic novels (thanks Scholastic Books!) about George Washington, Abraham Lincon, Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, and are assured to have serious historical facts along with the humorous tone that made this pair create award-winning biographical content for years. For young and old, these are a great introduction to American history and the medium of comics.
It’s not a comic I read on a regular basis, but I do have mad respect for Erik Larsen and his dedication to producing 250 issues of his baby, Savage Dragon. This is a character that was first published in 1982 and then started headlining his own series in 1992 — almost 30 years ago, when Image Comics was born. Larsen has had no days off from producing either, as he’s served as writer and artist for the book since it debuted. That’s impressive, and congrats to him on hitting this milestone.
This week also sees the release of the second issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s heavy metal opera, Death Metal. Both Carla and Tom offered a review of the first issue when it came out. This issue finds Wonder Woman and what’s left of Swamp Thing riding around in a monster truck as Batman continues to lead his army of zombies to … yeah, let’s just stop right there. You get it.
If you prefer big cosmic storylines without a lot of continuity baggage, then Vault Comics might have the book for you this week — Engineward by George Mann and Joe Eisma. This is Eisma’s first creator-owned work in about 10 years, and it’s a sci-fi epic where Earth’s a long-forgotten myth, Celestials rule and one woman discovers a secret that leads her toward her destiny.
This week also brings the final issue of the very fun and well done Jimmy Olsen miniseries from Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber. It would be criminal if we don’t see something else from this team in the very near future, DC.
Finally, this week sees the release of The Grot, a new graphic novel by Australian Pat Grant coming from Top Shelf Comix. It’s about greed and environmental calamity, and you can see a preview here.