It’s nearly Wednesday, and you know what that means: a fresh load of comics and graphic novels! With so many publications hitting your local comics store, comics events or digital storefront, the BF team are here to lead you through the woods with our weekly staff picks. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Comic of the Week
X-Men: Grand Design #1 (Marvel)
Having given the early days of rap a thorough going over with his Eisner-winning Hip Hop Family Tree series for Fantagraphics, Ed Piskor has been poached by Marvel to provide a similarly potted history for a story almost as convoluted as the exact line-up of the Furious Five on any given record. Can’t say I envy his job unpicking the retcons, alternate realities, time travel shenanigans and dopplegangers of the X-Men, presumably laying them out in similarly linear terms as his career-making book, but if anybody can do it…
Sort of similar to the terrific ‘Super Powers’ back-up strips Tom Scioli has been providing for DC’s Cave Carson reboot, Piskor has been given carte blanche to raid the history of the X-Men books and retell some classic stories in his own style, hopefully stitching together a more coherent narrative for the mutant team in the process. That “own style” goes to the printing of the book, too, which will be released in 46-page over-sized single issues, similar to Family Tree, two of which will be collected into each graphic novel along with an actual old X-Men story recoloured by Piskor.
Ed Piskor (W/A) • Marvel Comics, $5.99
– Tom Baker
Black Hammer Vol. 2: The Event
The winner of the 2017 Eisner for best new series doesn’t slow down a bit during its second story arc. The mystery deepens as to how these superheroes who once save the world are now trapped on a farm in as small rural village.
The arrival of Black Hammer’s daughter stirs up old memories and awakens new hope to escape their strange prison as we push closer to “the event” and a new chapter in the Black Hammer legacy.
Features a fill-in story by artist David Rubin who is currently drawing the BH spin-off series Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil!
Jeff Lemire (W), Dean Ormston (A), Dave Stewart (C), Todd Klein (L) • Dark Horse Comics, $19.99
– Tyler Chin-Tanner
Hellboy: Krampusnacht #1
Gruss vom Krampus! It beggars belief that Hellboy has yet to cross paths with the anti-Father Christmas, the European folklore figure who punishes naughty children every December. Mike Mignola loves his deep dives into international myth and legend, and these two have a lot in common: both have goat legs, red skin, horns, and a world-weary grouchiness. Perhaps a case of mistaken identity will play into the story of this festive special, where Hellboy and Krampus finally cross paths.
Another first is that this special from Dark Horse will be drawn by Adam Hughes. Since Mignola more-or-less relinquished art duties on his creation, we’ve seen a host of different illustrators either retrofitting their style into something approximating his heavy-shadow, gothic-Kirby aesthetic (Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben) or, in the Weird Tales anthology, some very different takes on Hellboy (including Scott Morse, Andi Watson and Evan Dorkin). Seeing how Hughes applies his Good Girl style to this dark world of supernatural horror is going to be interesting; did anybody ask for Cheesecake Hellboy in their stocking…?
Mike Mignola (W), Adam Hughes (A) • Dark Horse Comics, $3.99
– Tom Baker
Comic Book History of Comics: Comics for All #1
As they kick off the second volume of their Comic Book History of Comics, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey – the wayward geniuses behind the acclaimed non-fiction series Action Philosophers – head back beyond the funny books to what is always a contentious subject among dedicated panelologists: the origins of the graphic novel.
Touching base around the world with old pals such as Rodolfe Töpffer, Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, Van Lente and Dunlavey use their meticulously researched, high-energy approach to shine a light on the triumphs and tragedies of those who lit and carried the torch for graphic storytelling. Along the way they drop in on foundational greats such as Will Eisner, Gil Kane, Moebius and Herge, and also take a welcome look at the HER-story of Comics.
I know that you sophisticates who drop into Broken Frontier are a knowledgable lot, but I’d wager that there’ll be something here that you didn’t previously know, or a branch of this much-loved medium of ours that you’ve never explored before. And even if you do know it all, there’s so much vim and vigour in Van Lente and Dunlavey’s work (now backed up by the colouring of Adam Guzowski) that you’ll enjoy hearing it all anew.
Fred Van Lente (W), Ryan Dunlavey (A), Adam Guzowski (C) • IDW, $3.99
– Tom Murphy
The shelves aren’t exactly hurting for high concept Image books at the moment, but Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Rey’s Redlands nonetheless stands out from the crowd with its set-up: immortal coven Bridget, Alice and Laurent rule of the titular town for generations, thanks to a combination of their running the local police department and regular ritual sacrifices conducted on the solstice to maintain their power. What better way to cover up the high quantity of murdered virgins in your area when you’re the people investigating them?
By this point in the run the rules of engagement have been well set, the disagreements between the group — which have been bubbling for decades — coming to a head, a misogynistic local artist wise to their magical machinations six feet under, and Bridget’s investigation of a cold case resulting in her finding the body of the missing girl in a sewer pipe at the end of the last issue (which, presumably, the coven had nothing to do with). A fair few spinning plates kept deftly in the air by Bellaire’s wonderful eye for plotting and relationship, and Del Rey’s dark landscapes and distinct character work.
Jordie Bellaire (W/C), Vanesa Del Rey (A), Clayton Cowles (L) • Image Comics, $3.99
– Tom Baker