Can’t Wait for Comics | Chu, Joker Wars, Bliss and more

New comics and graphic novels arrive this week from Tom Gauld, World Citizen Comics, Stan Sakai, John Layman, Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Sean Lewis and more.

Welcome to Can’t Wait for Comics, a look at what’s hitting your comic shop, bookstore or digital platform of choice this week. We’ve got comics, we’ve got graphic novels, we’ve got comic strips … and yeah, that’s about it. Comics of all shapes and sizes.

You can check Comic List 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.

Shane Bailey

I’m excited by three unique books this week that might fly under some people’s radars.

Up first is Bliss by the team that brought us the magnificent but underrated Coyotes from Image Comics, Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarskey. Bliss is described as an urban fantasy that’s part Breaking Bad and part Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. That’s quite a duo right there. It involves a drug called Bliss that’s wiping away memories, a hitman trying to save his family and a deal with gods.

Next is Vlad Dracul from Scout Comics, Matteo Strukul, and Andrea Mutti. I’ve been a fan of Mutti’s art for a good while now and having read this book in advance it’s quite a treat. If you ever wanted to dig into a tale that deals with the history of the man who Dracula’s based off of, this is a good read for you. I’m anxious to see the next issue already.

Finally, we have No Heroine from Source Point Press, Frank Gogol, Criss Madd, Ahmed Raafat and Shawna Madd. This is a new book for me, but I’ve heard a lot of good rumblings about the book, so I’m itching to try it out. Punk rock and heroin-dealing vampires and reluctant heroes sounds like it might be right up my alley. Reading about this book makes me want to go pick up Dead End Kids by the same writer. If so, we’ll talk about that one later. For now, I’m all in on some vampires.

I’ve been trying to go a bit deeper than the big two, and with creators and publishers like these out there, it looks like I have a lot of good stuff to choose from.

Tom Bondurant

Some of the first DC superhero comics I ever read were the Denny O’Neil/Mike Grell Green Lantern backup stories from mid-1970s issues of The Flash. Those bridged the years-long gap between the cancellation of Green Lantern in 1972 and its revival in 1976; but I think the only time they’ve been collected was in a black-and-white Showcase Presents volume. Sadly, while we’re not getting that this week either, we are getting the next best thing: a hardcover collecting the first 17 issues of the O’Neil-written Green Lantern revival, with Grell and Alex Saviuk on pencils. Green Arrow and Black Canary return for a series of stories not as socially-conscious as the O’Neil/Neal Adams classics, but pretty good nostalgia fuel nonetheless. Keep an eye out for a Vulcan Green Lantern, Roy Harper’s garage band Great Frog, and Hal Jordan’s mad CB radio skills.

I’m on the fence about actually buying issue #2 of Doctor Aphra, not because I don’t like the character or the creative team (writer Alyssa Wong and artist Marika Cresta), but because I’ve been getting it in paperback up to this point. However, Doctor Aphra #1 was one of the earliest books to come out after the pandemic shut down the Big Two, so I picked it up because there wasn’t much on the shelves. Now it’s almost two months later and who knows when the paperback for this storyline will come out; so it looks like I will be getting issue #2 as well.

Finally, Geoff Johns brings back Superboy-Prime, possibly the DC Universe’s most metatextual villain, for a Dale Eaglesham-drawn fight with the Shazam Family in Shazam! #13. Honestly I’m not sure what to expect from this issue, because Superboy-Prime is generally written as an unswerving rage-monster, even when he’s flailing wildly against a mob of opponents. I suppose this means a clash of teenage-boy mindsets with at least one “dude you need to chill, seriously” moment from the erstwhile Captain Marvel.

JK Parkin

The 10th issue of Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai and colorist Tom Luth arrives this week, and while any issue of Usagi is worth getting excited about, this current storyline is one that longtime fans will appreciate. It takes place in Usagi’s home province, where he once served Lord Mifune — before, of course, Lord Hikiji defeated him, took control and turned Usagi into the masterless samurai we know today. So, expect some tension between the Usagi we know today and his past — not to mention those loyal to Lord Hikiji.

John Layman returns to the award-winning, best-selling world of Chew, his longtime series with Rob Guillory that told the crazy story of cibopath Tony Chu, with Chu. This story, though, puts the focus on Saffron Chu — she’s a criminal, she’s a cibopars (she learns secrets from whoever she eats with) and, oh yeah, she’s Tony’s sister. Layman is teaming with artist Dan Boultwood this time around for this ongoing saga about food and family.

This week Marvel’s event series Empyre doesn’t just move forward but also explodes outward, as we get not only the second issue a week after the first one, but also three spinoffs featuring the X-Men, the Avengers and Hulkling. Considering his prominent role in the series, it makes sense that we’d get a one-shot featuring Hulkling, as we find out what led the former Young Avenger to become leader of the Kree and Skrulls. The X-Men and more Avengers also get involved, with Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard involved in the former, and Jim Zub writing the latter, which sounds like it might have some ties to his work on Agents of Wakanda.

After months of teasing, DC finally delivers the beginning of “The Joker Wars” in Batman #95, which finds Batman and his allies once again at odds with the Joker and his fiends. This will no doubt bring blood and mayhem to the streets of Gotham and some changes to the status quo.

World Citizen Comics is a new line of graphic novels from First Second, “designed to educate, entertain, and empower the citizens of tomorrow.” Their first release, Unrig: How to Fix our Broken Democracy, is written by Daniel G. Newman, president and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes transparency and political reform. He’s teamed up with George O’Connor, who has done the awesome Olympians series at First Second. The book promises that it “exposes the twisted roots of our broken democracy and highlights the heroic efforts of those unrigging the system to return power to We the People.” One of the future books in the series is written by Dan Rather; you can find more about the line here.

Also arriving from First Second this week is another book of importance — a 25th anniversary edition of Stuck Rubber Baby, Howard Cruse’s classic and essential story about a young gay man in 1960s Birmingham, Alabama.

Finally, I’m looking forward to Tom Gauld’s Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, a collection of science-oriented comic strips coming out from Drawn and Quarterly. Although I’m more familiar with his longer works, like Goliath and Mooncop, his comics have a certain charm, humor and inventiveness that carries through whether he’s doing longer works or comic strips. Science is serious, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny.

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