12 for ’21 | 2021 Year in Review

Shane Bailey looks back at the year that was for comics in 2021.

For the next 12 days, we’ll be looking back at the 2021 that was in the world of comics, with interviews, commentary and more. Check back often!

I went into this planning on writing about all the great books that came out this year, and there were a lot, but I can’t actually do that because I honestly can’t remember what came out this year compared to the last and the year before that. Part of this is the timelessness of comics. This year I’ve read a lot of older works combined with the new and they all kind of blend together into this huge mass of enjoyment for me. I’m not saying each wasn’t memorable and had worth of its own, but instead that there were so many great books that helped me go on this year that I can’t name them all. They all deserve to be celebrated. This year comics gave me hope. They really always have.

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Hulk + Thor collide next year in ‘Banner of War’

Donny Cates and Martin Coccolo set two Avengers on a collision course in a five-issue crossover that begins in April.

Two Donny Cates-written characters will cross over next year in Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War.

The story, which kicks off with an “alpha” issue from Marvel before erupting into the Hulk and Thor monthly titles, will find the two Avengers brought together by “mysterious circumstances.” And then the fighting starts.

“Well, I was a little surprised that Marvel approached me to write this, if I’m being honest. I’m mostly known for writing very small, very quiet, intimate comics, so I had to—ha!! Sorry. Couldn’t keep that up. Yeah, this is gonna be bonkers as hell, guys,” Cates told Marvel.com. “We’re going to break EVERYTHING! Happy birthday, Hulk and Thor! Hope you enjoy MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF VIOLENCE!” 

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Fund Me Friday | ‘X-Maschina : The Futuristic Holiday Horror Comedy Comic’

Help bring a story about Santa fighting killer robots to life.

Ho ho ho, and Merry Christmas Eve! With Santa’s big day just one day away, there’s no better time to support X-Maschina : The Futuristic Holiday Horror Comedy Comic and help bring it to life on Kickstarter.

Steve Urena, Misty Graves and Lane Lloyd are telling that classic holiday story about Santa’s battle with a bunch of angry, homicidal robots in this science fiction/horror/comedy comic.

“Teaming up with Lane Lloyd and Misty Graves has made this Grinch love Christmas,” Urena said. “Together we combined our favorite things: horror, humor, science fiction and Christmas to create the perfect holiday concoction that we hope turns into a Holiday tradition.”

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AEW’s Nyla Rose will make her comics writing debut next year at Marvel

Rose teams up with Steve Orlando and David Cutler to tell a story about a recently resurrected character.

Nyla Rose, professional wrestler and former AEW Women’s World Champion, will make her comic writing debut next year on Marvel’s Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1.

Rose will co-write the story with Steve Orlando, who we recently learned will take over Marauders, while David Cutler will draw the one-shot.

But wait, you’re thinking, isn’t Thunderbird dead? Well, sure, but this is the X-Men we’re talking about, and in the Krakoa era, it’s easier than ever to get a second chance at life for Marvel’s mighty mutants. If you’re behind on your X-Men reading this week, you may want to catch up before reading further.

[SPOILER’S WARNING …]

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Seeley + Campbell + Terry head ‘West of Sundown’

The new horror/western series from Vault Comics arrives in March.

Tim Seeley, Aaron Campbell and Jim Terry will team for a new comic next year “that mashes up Hammer Horror and Sergio Leone,” according to Seeley.

West of Sundown, announced today by Vault Comics, will feature Seeley and Campbell as co-writers. Terry will draw the comic, which will be colored by Triona Farrell, lettered by Crank! and designed by Tim Daniel.

West of Sundown is about the great mythologies of the old world slamming into the folklore of the new world…the legends of Europe, and the birth of the American beast,” Seeley said in the press release. “And, taking that theme as a skeleton, we’ve draped it with the sewed together skin of Sergio Leone Westerns and Hammer Horror films. Gritty sunsets meets foggy nights. The gothic graveyard meets Boot Hill. What horrors lie in our shared unconsciousness, and how do we stuff them all into a too-tight corset?”

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Can’t Wait for Comics | Into the multiverse with ‘Avengers Forever’

Check out new comics and graphic novels arriving in shops this week from Jock, Katie O’Neill, Junji Ito, Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Aaron Kuder and more.

Welcome to Can’t Wait for Comics, your guide to what comics are arriving in comic book stores, bookstores and on digital this week. As we approach the end of the year, you’d expect the Wednesday haul to get a little lighter, but there’s plenty of comics and graphic novels to enjoy this week between holiday parties and Hallmark movie marathons.

I’ve pulled out some of the highlights below, but for the complete list of everything you might find at your local comic shop and on digital this week, you’ll want to check out one or more of the following:

Also, as a reminder, things can change and what you find on the above lists may differ from what’s actually arriving in your local shop. So always check with your comics retailer for the final word on availability.

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Aaron, Saiz + Azaceta will tell the definitive ‘Punisher’ story

The three creators will get frank about Frank Castle in a 13-issue, prestige format series from Marvel.

Marvel has announced Punisher, a prestige format, 13-issue series by Avengers scribe Jason Aaron with art by Jesús Saiz, Paul Azaceta and Dave Stewart.

According to Aaron, the series will cover “the full life of Frank Castle, from troubled kid to heroic soldier to revenge-driven vigilante…to the duly anointed King of Killers.” Saiz will draw the present-day story, which involves The Hand, while Azaceta will draw Castle’s past through flashbacks.

“After writing the Punisher over the years, I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Frank Castle. What moments made him the Punisher, even before that fateful day in the park? And how far will he go to win the war that has consumed his life? Spoiler: as far as it damn well takes,” said Aaron. “This story is the destined next step in the dark and tragic evolution of Frank Castle, from troubled kid to heroic soldier to revenge-driven vigilante…to the duly anointed King of Killers. Believe me when I say, I am as excited about this story as anything I’ve ever written for Marvel.”

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A dream detective hunts your nightmares in ‘Slumber’

The ongoing series by Tyler Burton Smith and Vanessa Cardinali will debut from Image Comics in March.

Sweet dreams are made of this: Tyler Burton Smith and Vanessa Cardinali springs the forthcoming horror/thriller Slumber. This all-new, ongoing series will launch from Image Comics this March. 

Slumber is an exploration of the surreal world of dreams that is meant to be as weird, funny, unsettling and unpredictable as the wildest dreams that we’ve all experienced,” said Smith. “Vanessa’s artwork is the perfect marriage of these elements to bring this crazy story to life.”

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Ram V + Francesco Manna unleash ‘Carnage’ next year

The ongoing series starring the homicidal symbiote kicks off in March.

Venom co-writer Ram V and artist Francesco Manna are teaming up to tell new stories about the Carnage symbiote, now on its own after separating from Cletus Kasady.

“This Carnage story is very likely to become the most twisted thing I’ve written,” Ram V told Marvel.com. “The killer symbiote has gone through some pretty significant changes in recent times and I’ve been left with an opportunity to do something new and inventive with the character and the kind of stories you might expect to find in a Carnage book. This is my kind of horror—as frightening in its implications as it is on the page. This is a devilish, scary Carnage and he’s setting out to discover just where the bounds of his abilities really lie. Pity those caught in his wake. The Marvel Universe is not ready for what Carnage is turning into.”

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Chris Claremont returns to Marvel to write ‘Gambit’ next year

The legendary X-Men scribe will team with artist Sid Kotian on the new series.

Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont will return to Marvel next year for a new series starring Gambit.

Claremont will team with artist Sid Kotian, creator of Beneath an Alien Sky on Webtoon, while former X-Men artist Whilce Portacio provides what I assume is a cover:

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The long-awaited return of ‘Astro City’

‘Astro City: That Was Then…’ asks the question, ‘Who were the Jayhawks?’

It’s been too long since new Astro City has hit comic book shelves, but that drought will end in March. Image Comics has announced Astro City: That Was Then…, a new one-shot by the team of Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross, Alex Sinclair and Comicraft.

Image Comics announced the return of Astro City to their publishing line last year — along with several other Busiek projects, like the Arrowsmith sequel and a new comic called Free Agents.

The story in the one-shot will delve into Astro City’s past, specifically the late 1960s — the era of the teenage sidekick. It also sets up the forthcoming Astro City series.

“It’s also wonderful to be back in the world of Astro City,” Busiek said back in October, when the new Image deal was announced. “Alex, Brent and I have been planning this for a long time—we’re introducing a teen-hero team, The Jayhawks (and more), in the special, and setting off a mystery as important to Astro City as what happened to the Silver Agent or the story of the Broken Man. Alex has designed a cornucopia of new characters, and Brent is going to town on the artwork. It’ll be a very fun ride—and yes, longtime readers, we will get to the story of the N-Forcer, I promise!” 

Here’s the cover:

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Godzilla meets the Power Rangers in March

IDW and BOOM! Studios bring the two licensed properties together for a titanic meet’n’greet.

IDW has announced Godzilla Vs. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a crossover miniseries featuring Toho International, Inc.’s monstrous celebrity and Hasbro’s morphin’ superheroes, whose comics are published by BOOM! Studios.

That’s a lot of legal departments to get sign-off from, so props to IDW for making it happen. The miniseries will be written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Freddie Williams II.

“I am honored to bring two iconic franchises like Godzilla and the Power Rangers together. I’ve been a massive Godzilla fan since before I could read, and my love for the King of Monsters has never faded in all those years. Likewise, I’ve always loved Tokusatsu superheroics, and vividly remember watching the first episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when it came out. This is a crossover that I suspect will take readers by surprise—but it makes complete sense!” Bunn said. “Writing for these characters is a dream come true for this giant monster-loving kid-at-heart, and when readers pick up this book, I want them to feel that sense of awe and wonder that these characters have inspired for decades!”

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