Slugfest | Black Widow gets ‘Venomous’ in a new one-shot

Plus news and announcements on Hellverine, Misty, Nick Cagnetti, Paul Pope, Blood Hunt, Briar, Joy Operations and more!

Slugfest is a roundup of cool announcements about projects coming to a shelf near you that we haven’t otherwise covered. Hit the links for more information.

If you’ve been reading Venom of late, you know that the Black Widow — who already has a cool spider name — has gone and gotten herself a symbiote. This summer, writer Erica Schultz and artist Luciano Vecchio will “unleash Natasha Romanoff’s full potential as a symbiote warrior” in a new one-shot.

Black Widow: Venomous will not only show the super-spy figuring out how to work with her new partner, but will also set the stage for the upcoming Venom War event.

“Who doesn’t want to write Natasha Romanoff? And with a badass symbiote, it didn’t take much to convince me,” Schultz said. “Luciano Vecchio’s art is so amazing. It’s been so fun to delve into Nat’s spy craft techniques, and you just may learn something new about her.”

Here’s the description from Marvel:

The Widow’s Bite is Venomous! Natasha Romanoff, the infamous spy known as the Black Widow, didn’t go looking to bond with an alien symbiote. But a good spy works with all the tools available to her, and when one of the most powerful and versatile weapons in the universe lands in your lap… you take it. Now, she just needs to figure out how to work with a weapon with its own drives and desires. Redefining Widow’s relationship with her symbiote, and setting the stage for her appearance in VENOM WAR!

Look for it to arrive in stores on July 31.

Titan Comics has announced a tie-in comic to the humorous first-person shooter video game High on Life, which was developed by Squanch Games. Here’s the description:

Though they restored peace to the cosmos by killing Garmantuous, there’s no rest for the Bounty Hunter when a brutal new threat to Humans shoots its way onto the scene. Armed with plucky & determined Harper – and the rest of the Gatlian gang – the series will take them on an explosive, twisting adventure across the cosmos.

The comic series by Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis will debut in June. Baldemar Rivas drew one of the covers for the first issue, shown above.

Marvel has announced Hellverine, a miniseries featuring the amalgamated character that combines Ghost Rider and Wolverine. Hellverine first appeared in the Weapons of Vengeance crossover, and he makes his return in May courtesy of Benjamin Percy and Julius Ohta. Ryan Stegmen drew the cover art for the first issue, shown above.

At Wonder Con last weekend, 2000AD revealed that Misty, their classic horror series aimed at young women, will return this year helmed by writer Gail Simone. She’s joined by Carola Borelli, Aly Fell and more for the 48-page anthology special, which will be published on July 17.

Marvel has shared more details on X-Men: The Wedding Special #1, which they announced in February. Serving as their Marvel’s Voices: Pride one-shot for this year, it’ll not only feature a main story focused on Mystique and Destiny renewing their vows by Kieron Gillen and Rachael Stott, but also several other related stories featuring the X-Men:

  • A Betsy Braddock and Rachel Summers adventure by Tini Howard and Phillip Sevy, which pits them against Opal Luna Saturnyne. “Just about everyone in the Marvel Universe is invited to the vow renewal… except for Saturnyne. And she’s not happy. But why is she taking it out on Betsy and Rachel?”
  • Tate Bombal and Emilio Pilliu will make their Marvel Comics debut with a story starring Wolverine, Anole, Pixie, Indra and Bling searching for the perfect wedding gift everywhere from the Savage Land to Limbo.
  • Rogue and Gambit are tasked with delivering the wedding bands in a story by Wyatt Kennedy and Jenn St. Onge.
  • Mystique and Destiny receive some pre-marriage psychic counseling courtesy of Emma Frost, as told by Yoon Ha Lee and Stephen Byrne.

BOOM! Studios has announced PulpHope 2: The Art of Paul Pope, ” the definitive collection of art spanning the entirety of the Eisner Award-Winner’s extraordinary career to date.”

“In my work as a cartoonist/comic book artist or just plain artist, I’ve always sought to expand the definitions of what we can do both with the medium and as visual thinkers. I’ve always sought to push the assumed barriers of what it means to be a modern pop artist. PulpHope2 incorporates a wide range of the work I’ve done both inside and out the comics industry, much of which either hasn’t been widely seen or seen presented in the way. In this 338pg catalogue, we’ve tried to pull from the best of my works up to 2024, including comics, fashion design, album art, silkscreens and personal work –revealed here for the first time,” Pope said.

Dark Horse Comics and Webtoon have partnered to offer Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender comics on the webcomics platform. The first few episodes are up now, with plans to post the entire series.

“Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph’s on-screen journey is just part of their adventure, which continues in an incredible series of graphic novels. Now, readers can immerse themselves in the rich storytelling and stunning artwork of these graphic novels in a new way,” said David S. Lee, Webtoon’s head of content. “We’re thrilled to give Avatar: The Last Airbender fans a new way to experience the magic of this beloved series and introduce the Webtoon community to the incredible world of bending.”

Speaking of Webtoon and Dark Horse, the comics publisher will bring a Webtoon property to print — Ruthless Render by dd markk.

“With every chapter of ‘Ruthless Render,’ my goal is to deliver a rollercoaster ride of action, horror, and teenage romance,” dd markk said. “This story goes beyond mere battles with monsters; it’s a journey of friendship, dreams, and the courage to face and conquer our inner demons.”

Pink Lemonade creator Nick Cagnetti has announced he’s working with Daniel Ziegler on a new project titled Spirit of the Shadows.

“If you’ve been following my work for a long time you might remember the character and the title as ‘The Spirit of the Shadows’ was a story Daniel & I did back in 2015,” he said on his blog. “We always liked the concept and both kept tinkering with it in other forms since then, but it wasn’t until early last year that we really began to find a hook to try it as a comic book again.”

No release date has been revealed yet, but Cagnetto plans to share his progress on Patreon.

Deadpool is coming to the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game in the form of a “one-shot adventure” that will include not only an adventure to play, but also a comic by Cullen Bunn and Mike Shelfer. Deadpool Role-Plays the Marvel Universe arrives in stores in July.

Mark Millar’s first release as part of his Millarworld line at Dark Horse will be Nemesis: Rogues’ Gallery, featuring artwork by Valerio Giangiordano and Lee Loughridge. The five-issue series includes cover art from Giangiordano and issue #1 features a variant from Jae Lee with colors by June Chung.

Also, several previously released Millarworld titles, including Big Game and The Ambassadors, will get the “library edition” treatment from Dark Horse this fall.

David Pepose and Jonathan Lau will resurrect Space Ghost this May at Dynamite Entertainment. The first issue will feature the mysterious hero coming to the rescue of some familiar faces:

The team invites fans for the kickoff — a surprise attack on Space Colony Omicron, home of brilliant scientist Dr. Jerrod Keplar, his young children Jan and Jace, as well as their monkey Blip. Only the wild card of Space Ghost will be able to save them from the ruthless pirates!

 “When Dynamite first approached me about tackling this series, I was immediately struck by the sheer amount of raw material we had to play with — the cartoons were immensely stylish and a heck of a lot of fun, but they never had the time to develop those characters beyond their powers and the roles they played in each episode,” Pepose said. “So we’re taking those classic vibes and using them as a starting point to dig even deeper into the characters than the original cartoons were ever able to.”

Wolverine and Deadpool will be all over the place this summer — including as a back-up in eight Marvel titles. Ryan North and Javier Garrón will present “Weapon X-Traction” beginning in July’s Incredible Hulk #14.

Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien will return in June with another four-issue miniseries, Resident Alien: The Book of Life. The story picks up after the events of Resident Alien: The Book of Love, as the Resident Alien deals with the fact he’s going to become a daddy.

Joy Operations, the limited series by Brian Michael Bendis and Stephen Byrne, gets a sequel in June appropriately titled Joy Operations II:

The JOY operation is back! That means Joy Corrigan and Hampton are back! They are two of the greatest en vois in the world presented in this fast-paced, fiercely ambitious sci-fi odyssey. They now share the same body and the credit for saving the entire world from the broken trust technology… and the blame.

Check out all four covers, plus a variant for the first issue by Scott Hepburn, above.

Daniel José Older and Shima Shinya will present the third installment of the Star Wars: The High Republic by VIZ, The Edge of Balance, Vol. 3. Featuring art by Mizuki Sakakibara, the manga series is part of Phase III of Star Wars: The High Republic.

Christopher Cantwell and Alex Lins’ Briar will return with a fifth issue in May, kicking off a new storyline. I always assume most new projects these days are miniseries, whether they’re solicited that way or not, so this is welcome news to see we’re getting more.

Briar focuses on people who have fallen out of the grander story, or feel they have no place in it at all. This book is what happens when the entire fairy tale comes apart, and only a few, fringe characters are left to pick up the pieces, having to forge their own radical destinies instead of being handed happy endings,” said Cantwell.

Dark Horse will publish Dracula Book 1: The Impaler by Matt Wagner, Kelley Jones and José Villarrubia in October, bringing the crowdfunded project to a wider audience.

“The first graphic novel explores what led Dracula to seek out Satan’s tutelage and how he became the lord of the undead,” Wagner said. “Kelley and I are enormous fans of Dracula and the many interpretations of his mythic story. Our version of Dracula is bloody and brooding, sexy and strange. This is very much a horror story, with deep roots in Stoker’s novel, but believe me when I tell you this isn’t yet another retelling of the novel in comics form. This is something haunting and new.”

Speaking of vampires …

Oh, hey, here are a few more Blood Hunt items, as Marvel continues to trickle out information on the series before it debuts on May 1. Let’s start with a look at a new set of villains called The Bloodcoven who will debut in the first issue.

“I knew going in that vampires weren’t bad enough. If the children of the night were going up against the Avengers, let alone the other heroes of the world, bigger guns were required,” said Blood Hunt writer Jed MacKay. “Hence the Bloodcoven—supervampires, fed on the blood of superhumans that follow different vampiric philosophies, subsisting not only on blood but pain, or magic, or thoughts, or even ghosts! I threw together a list of names and some thoughts about powers, but it was Pepe who really brought these characters to (un)life, creating an extremely gnarly set of predators!”

And here’s a look at a series of connecting variant covers by Gabriele Dell’Otto, which will appear on all five issues of the series.

And then David Baldeón is doing a series of “Fangs” variant covers for the main Blood Hunt miniseries, starting with the three shown above, spotlighting the fangs of Blade, Dracula and Tigra. I dig these.

Peach Momoko has been busy drawing Blood Hunt variant covers. Above is her variant for the first issue, featuring Vision.

She’s also done variant covers for the four X-Men themed one-shots coming out in June and July, as you can see above.

Not to be left out, the “red band” editions of Blood Hunt will also come in various variant flavors. Above is Leinil Francis Yu’s homage variant for the first issue, which pays tribute to classic horror comics covers from EC Comics and others.

Also, I think we’ve segued into the variant covers section of Slugfest, which is always my favorite part. So let’s check out some art …

Grim #16, which kicked off a new arc for the popular BOOM! Studios series by Stephanie Phillips and Flaviano, has sold out, and the publisher revealed a look at the second printing’s cover. It will arrive in stores May 1.

Not surprisingly, Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men #1 also sold out, and it gets a second printing on April 10 with a cover by R.B. Silva.

Marvel has announced a series of Pride variant covers by Betsy Cola and Davi Go, featuring some of their LGBTQIA+ characters like Northstar and Rachel Summers appearing on covers with “allies” like Spider-Man and Daredevil — “exemplifying the importance of strong allyship.” The announcement proved controversial when it was made, as focusing on straight allies during Pride Month is counter to why Pride Month exists, and any ally would probably agree. But I’m always happy to see new art by Cola and Go.

Rafael Grampá’s Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham will wrap up in May, but not before introducing the ultra-creepy Little Joker. Here’s Grampá’s main cover, plus variants by Frank Quitely, Bilquis Evely, and Pedro Cobiaco, plus two variants by Tank Girl creator and Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett.

Spider-Gwen: The Ghost-Spider #1 swings into the 616 in May, and it’ll come with variant covers by Jenny Frison and Pablo Villalobos.

The new Scarlet Witch title kicks off in June, and when that first issue lands it’ll come with a couple of variant covers by Jenny Frison and P. Craig Russell.

Marvel continues to tease us with more Micronauts content that isn’t an actual Micronauts comic. Still, this does give some hope that something’s happening there, right? Anyway, this month you can find Micronauts variant covers on several Marvel titles, including the just released Deadpool #1, Avengers #13 and more.

In May, Marvel celebrates 40 years of Spider-Man’s black costume with a series of variant covers featuring their characters in black costumes.

May also brings another round of variant covers from Marvel’s “Stormbreakers” artists, this time focused on the upcoming Hellverine series mentioned above, and what if Ghost Rider was mashed up with other heroes, besides just Wolverine?

Finally, it seems appropriate that Uncle $crooge and the Infinity Dime would come with several money-making variant covers when it arrives from Marvel in June. Here’s a look at several of them by Peach Momoko, John Romita Jr., J. Scott Campbell, Walter Simonson, Steve McNiven, Ron Lim, Elizabeth Torque and Gabriele Dell’Otto.

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