Comics for the New Year: Courtesy, Your Friendly Neighborhood Valkyrie

In one week, Secret Wars will finally be over; looking for new comics to fill the void?

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After months of delays, scheduling problems, and continuity confusion, Marvel is wrapping up the recent Secret Wars event with Issue #9, but they’ve already launched more than a dozen new titles in a post-Secret Wars world. I’ve been pretty pleased with what they’ve delivered so far – despite my fears, Marvel is continuing to make good on their promise of diversity, nurturing break-outs like Spider-Gwen, the new Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America, and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, among others. As for the new debuts…

All New, All Different, Post-Secret Wars:

  • Doctor Strange – Jason Aaron is one of the busiest men in comics, but that’s no bad thing when he consistently delivers the goods. After falling in love with the tongue-in-cheek Secret Wars miniseries Thors, I was excited to pick up Aaron’s take on Doctor Strange, presently depicted as a reluctant Urgent Care for the sort of transdimensional weirdness most New York hospitals aren’t equipped to handle.
  • All-New Wolverine – In another instance of someone different taking up the mantle of a classic hero, Tom Taylor gives us Laura Kinney, aka X-23, following in Logan’s footsteps. With nice, clean art by Captain Marvel‘s David Lopez, this is shaping up to be an interesting conspiracy thriller full of clones, perfect for anybody who thinks Orphan Black should have more superpowers.
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur – One of Marvel’s riskiest undertakings is a story about a pint-size genius and a giant red dinosaur, and the unlikely friendship that will undoubtedly bloom. My favorite part of this one is in the character of Lunella – who is so convinced she belongs at a school for the super-intelligent that she’s kind of obnoxious about it.

Ongoing Series

  • Paper Girls (Image) – The latest buzz-worthy offering from Brian K. Vaughn (Saga, We Stand on Guard) and Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman), Paper Girls is an homage to the eighties with a group of newspaper delivery girls who find themselves on the front line of a possible alien invasion. As usual, Vaughn nails the voice of adolescence.
  • Unfollow (Vertigo) – A dying billionaire decides to give his fortune away to 140 random people on Twitter – with the caveat that the last person standing gets it all. With focus on the assorted individuals, it reminds me a bit of Lost-meets-The Hunger Games. Only two issues in, but definitely intriguing.
  • The Spire (Boom) – I’d call this one ‘Lord of the Rings-meets-Mad Max: Fury Road.’ City detective Shå is one of the Sculpted – second-class humans augmented with non-human biology – and tasked with investigating a series of murders in the titular spire. She’s also in a secret relatonship with the city’s young princess.

In the Trades:

  • Alias: Jessica Jones (Marvel) – If you’ve been watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix, you may be wondering about the former super hero turned private eye. Brian Michael Bendis’ series Alias served as the inspiration for the Netflix show, and details some cases they haven’t gotten to yet. Volume 4, recently out in paperback, includes the story of Jessica’s history with Kilgrave.
  • 1872 (Marvel) – My favorite of the Secret Wars miniseries (with Thors as a close second) sees the Avengers as inhabitants of the Wild West town of Timely. It’s the details that make this alternate reality so much fun, in the vein of 1602. Writer Gerry Duggan has hinted at a return to Timely sometime in the future.
  • Death-Defying Doctor Mirage (Valiant) – After much bullying from our local Valiant rep, I gave one of their books a chance. It turns out, their titles aren’t all about mecha-suited warriors as I assumed from the nearly-identical covers. Doctor Mirage has more in common with Sandman and House of Mysteries than Halo, as Shan Fong Mirage ventures into the afterlife to retrieve her lost love.

 Single Issue Shout-Outs:

  • Gwenpool Holiday Special (Marvel) – Surprisingly funny! I worried about Marvel trying to shove ‘Gwenpool’ down our throats as a way to combine the popularity of Spider-Gwen and Deadpool, but it turns out Gwen Poole has nothing to do with either, and this special is actually a collection of short, holiday-themed stories, including one where Ms. Marvel is a Grinch about Christmas.
  • Howard the Duck #2 (Marvel) – Surprisingly heart-rending! One of my regular customers recommended this one, an issue devoted to the semi-tragic backstory of Linda and Shocket, female clones of Howard and Rocket Raccoon. It’ll make you feel feelings!
  • Mystery Girl #1 (Dark Horse) – Like the short-lived TV show John Doe, Trine Hampstead knows everything – except who she really is. I like that she sets up shop on the sidewalk in front of her apartment and just tells people whatever they want to know. I hope this will develop as a quality mystery, and it’s always nice to see a female lead of color.

Gem of the Week:

  • Black Magick (Image) – From Greg Rucka (Lazarus) and Nicola Scott comes a neo-noir series about a modern witch who’s also a cop. My favorite thing about this series is the way Scott uses a sepia palette for the more mundane scenes, and adds a color splash to instances of magic use. It’s early days yet, but Rucka always puts a lot of research into his books, and I’m sure things are going to get complicated.

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