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DC Comics

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

DC Comics
DC Comics

Every Wednesday, I highlight the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, Comixology, Kickstarter, and the web. These are not necessarily reviews insomuch as they are me pointing out new comics that are noteworthy for one reason or another. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Caliban #1

Written by Garth Ennis; art by Facundo Percio
Avatar Press

Fans of deep space horror such as Alien or Prometheus will want to check out this new series written by Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher Max) called Caliban. Set in a universe in which mankind has spent years exploring the galaxy without finding any evidence of other life, missions proceed uneventfully and by the book. That makes it all the more shocking for a crew on a routine exploratory mission when, out of nowhere, they suddenly crash directly into an an abandoned alien spacecraft.

Both Ennis and the publisher, Avatar Press, are known for stories with high shock value and disturbing levels of gore, so think of this as Prometheus if it were made by Quentin Tarantino. Facundo Percio, having previously worked with Alan Moore and Warren Ellis on Avatar books Fashion Beast and Anna Mercury, completes some sort of shocking writer hat trick by teaming with Ennis here.

Here's an unlettered preview of the first issue.

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2. Aquaman And The Others #1

Written by Dan Jurgens; art by Lan Medina
DC Comics

Probably the most unexpected hit of DC's "New 52" relaunch of their line of titles has been Aquaman. Geoff Johns revitalized the character by making him a bit of a bad-ass while also embracing the idea that everyone thinks he's kind of a joke. That said, it's a little surprising that DC seems to believe there is a market for two simultaneously ongoing Aquaman titles but, considering at one point last year Aquaman was outselling every single Marvel comic, maybe they're on to something.

The Others are also a New 52 success story. Apparently, before the formation of the Justice League, Aquaman had another team he used to hang out with. Each member of the team–Ya'wara, Sky, The Operative, Prisoner-of-War, and Aquaman himself–possesses an artifact from Atlantis that gives them their powers.

With their own book, written and drawn by DC regulars Dan Jurgens and Lan Medina, these new characters will be given a chance to develop a little and we'll see what kind of staying power (and selling power) they have.

Here's a preview.

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3. Study Group Comics

By Various Cartoonists
Kickstarter

Study Group Comics is perhaps the premier art-comics collaborative out there. They publish a variety of interesting webcomics from a range of talented creators such as Farel Dalrymple, Sam Alden, Malachi Ward, Sophie Franz, publisher Zack Soto, and more. They experiment with the capabilities of comic art and storytelling without being so "out there" as to turn off your average reader. The Study Group collective has been publishing magazines with work from various contributors as well as print editions of webcomic contributions. To help fund their Spring 2014 catalog they've taken to Kickstarter to allow readers to pre-order the books.

Study Group Magazine #3D will contain a special 3D section and feature work from some of the creators mentioned above as well as others like Jim Rugg and Kim Deitch. In addition, they are planning to publish print editions of Farel Dalrymple's It Will All Hurt #2–printed on newsprint with risographed covers–and Sam Alden's 96-page, wildly colored Haunter. Both works have been serialized online.

There are lots of reward levels to choose from in the Kickstarter including a very cool Study Group t-shirt designed by Michael Deforge. Check out and consider pre-ordering at the Kickstarter here.

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4. Inhuman #1

Written by Charles Soule; art by Joe Madureira; colors by Marte Gracia
Marvel Comics

Inhuman, the long-delayed mini-series event from Marvel, finally hits comic shops and digital devices today. After original writer Matt Fraction was taken off the series due to months of creative disagreement with editorial, new writer Charles Soule was brought on to start from scratch. We'll have to wonder what Fraction's rejected plans for this book were as they are probably locked away in some drawer. It's notable that one of Marvel's biggest creative stars could not find a way to come to terms with his editors and yet, unlike the PR fiascos we've seen when similar problems arise at DC, everything about this change has been amicable—at least in public. Soule—who is a rising star and is known for managing to write more comics at once for both Marvel and DC than pretty much anyone—now gets the opportunity to make a huge mark with a story that will set the course for the Marvel Universe for the immediate future.

The plot of Inhuman revolves around a family of characters called The Inhumans, first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in their original run on The Fantastic Four. However, the focus will be on new characters who, as a result of the detonation of a bomb that releases a cloud of what is known Terrigen Mist, are suddenly turning into super-powered Inhumans. What the Terrigen Mist actually does is unlock genetic DNA that was implanted in mankind back in the prehistoric era by an alien race known as the Kree. The implications of where Marvel is going with this series could be big. Is this a shift from the mutant gene being the typical go-to origin? Are they setting the stage for a big push for the Inhumans to be a driving force in both the comics and future Marvel movies? After having greatly expanded the number of mutants in the universe at the end of the Avengers vs. X-men series, will there be any normal humans left in the Marvel Universe?

Anyway, fans of X-men comics from the 1990s will be excited to see artist Joe Mad (Joe Madureira) coming back for a stint on this book. Here's a preview.

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5. The Field #1

Written by Ed Brisson; art by Simon Roy
Image Comics

Dead Letters #1

Written by Christopher Sebela; art by Chris Visions
Boom Entertainment

Both The Field and Dead Letters are new comics that begin with their protagonist waking up with amnesia and find themselves being pursued for reasons they don't understand.

In The Field, the four-issue mini-series from Image, a man wakes up in the middle of a wheat field wearing only his underwear. Suddenly, he finds a cell phone on the ground next to him and a text message from an unknown caller who tells him only to "run." Written by Ed Brisson (from the excellent Image series Sheltered) and drawn by Simon Roy, who is perhaps best known for his work with Brandon Graham on Prophet, this crime noir story takes our underwear-clad hero on a weird ride involving meth, "dirty sex," and Christian rock.

Preview the first few pages of The Field here.

Meanwhile in Dead Letters, the new ongoing series from Boom Entertainment, a man wakes up in a hotel room in a strange city that is overrun with gang violence. Like the guy in The Field, he also has no idea who he is or how he got there. This protagonist has on more than underwear but for some reason he's wearing hospital scrubs and both his arms are bandaged. He also finds himself suddenly being pursued by people he doesn't seem to know. While also very much a noir-ish thriller, this one has a little bit of a supernatural bent to it that will reveal itself over time.

Dead Letters is written by Christopher Sebela who is on the verge of becoming a big star. His digital comic series High Crimes, a thriller set on top of and around Mount Everest, is one of Monkeybrain Comics' most acclaimed series and has led to him co-writing Marvel's Captain Marvel with Kelly Sue DeConnick. Artist Chris Visions is an illustrator with a very energetic, painterly style. The pieces on his website are well worth your time to browse (although some of it is NSFW) and you can read a preview of Dead Letters #1 here.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Deadpool Fans Have a Wild Theory About Who Cable Really Is
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Deadpool 2 is officially in theaters and ruling the box office just like its predecessor did back in 2015. But this installment is about more than just crude jokes and over-the-top action scenes; it also includes the debut of a longtime Marvel character that fans have been clamoring to see on the big screen since 2000’s X-Men hit theaters: Cable.

But the Cable in Deadpool 2 isn’t quite the one fans have gotten used to in the books—for starters, his powers and backstory are reined in considerably. While it’s easy to assume that’s by design, so that audiences can better relate to the character (which is played by Josh Brolin), some fans have speculated that the changes are because, well, this character isn’t really Cable at all; instead, Screen Rant has a theory that this version of the character is actually none other than an older Wolverine from the future.

So how can Wolverine be Cable? Well, it’s actually quite easy, considering that Wolverine was Cable in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe comics, which was a series of books in the 2000s that completely reimagined the regular Marvel Universe. In this reality, a grizzled, aged Wolverine takes on the Cable nickname and travels back in time to prevent a takeover of Earth from the villain Apocalypse.

We were already introduced to Apocalypse in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and while he was defeated in the end, Screen Rant theorizes that he could return like he does in the Ultimate X-Men comics: by inhabiting the body of Nathaniel Essex, a.k.a. Mister Sinister. Essex was already name-dropped in Apocalypse and Deadpool 2, so it stands to reason that there might be some larger story on the horizon for him.

This would, of course, lead to more X-Men movies down the road, with Cable revealing his true nature and teaming with a crew of mutants that includes the classic X-Men cast as well as their younger selves to battle a newly formed Apocalypse. It’d also allow the character of Wolverine to live on in Brolin, leaving Hugh Jackman to enjoy a retired life without claws.

Obviously this is just one fan theory based on a comic storyline from over a decade ago. It would also have to ignore a whole host of continuity problems—including the events of Logan. But having a twist with Cable actually being Wolverine from the future (and likely from a different reality) is the type of headache-inducing madness the comics are known for.

[h/t: Screen Rant]

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King Features Syndicate
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8 Things You Might Not Know About Hi and Lois
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

A comics page staple for nearly 65 years, Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois is a celebration of the mundane. Married couple Hiram “Hi” Flagston, wife Lois, and their four children balance work, school, and family dynamics, all of it with few punchlines but plenty of relatable situations. This four-panel ode to suburbia might appear simple, but it still has a rich history involving a beef with The Flintstones, broken noses, and one very important candy bar wrapper.

1. IT’S A SPINOFF OF BEETLE BAILEY.

Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had been drawing that military-themed strip for four years when a friend of his named Lew Schwartz approached him in 1954 with a new idea: Why not create a strip about a nuclear family? Around the same time, the Korean War was ending, and Walker had sent Beetle home on furlough to visit his sister, Lois. Drawing a line between the two, Walker decided to pursue the suburbia idea using Lois as connective tissue. Hi and Lois was born: The two strips would see their respective characters visit one another over the years.

2. A CANDY BAR HELPED DEFINE THE STRIP’S LOOK.

Already working on Beetle Bailey, Walker decided to limit his work on Hi and Lois to writing. He wanted to collaborate with an artist, and so both he and his syndicate, King Features, went searching for a suitable partner. Walker soon came across ads for both Lipton’s tea and Mounds candy bars that had the same signature: Dik Browne. Coincidentally, a King Features executive named Sylvan Byck saw a strip in Boy’s Life magazine also signed by Browne. The two agreed he was a talent and invited Browne to work on the strip.

3. HI ORIGINALLY HAD A BROKEN NOSE.

As an artist, Walker had plenty of input into the style of Hi and Lois: Browne would later recall that trying to merge his own approach with Walker’s proved difficult. “When you draw a character like Hi, for instance, you immediately set the style for the whole strip,” he said. “You have already dictated what a tree will look like or how a dog will look, just by sketching that one head.” In his earliest incarnation, Hi had a broken, upturned nose to make him seem virile, puffed on a pipe, and wore a vest. Through trial and error, the two artists eventually settled on the softer lines the strip still uses today, an aesthetic some observers refer to as the “Connecticut school style” of cartooning.

4. EDITORS WERE WARY AT FIRST.

When Hi and Lois debuted on October 18, 1954, only 32 papers carried the strip. The reason, Walker later explained, had to do with concerns that he was spreading himself too thin. At the time, cartoonists rarely worked on two strips at once. Between Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey, there was fear that the quality of one or both would suffer. Editors were also worried that having two artists on one project would dilute the self-expression of both. Walker stuck to his intentions—to make Hi and Lois a strip about the small pleasures of suburban life—and newspapers slowly came on board. By 1956, 131 papers were running the strip.

5. TRIXIE MAY HAVE SAVED THE STRIP.

With readers a little slow to respond to Hi and Lois, Walker had an idea: At the time, it was unusual for characters who don’t normally speak—like Snoopy—to express themselves with thought balloons. Walker decided to have baby Trixie think “out loud,” giving readers insight into her perspective. Shortly after Trixie began having a voice, Hi and Lois took off.

6. CHIP IS THE ONLY CHARACTER TO HAVE AGED.

Like most comic strip casts, the Hi and Lois family has found a way to stop the aging process. Baby Trixie is eternally in diapers; the parents seem to hover around 40 without any wrinkles. But oldest son Chip has been an exception. Roughly eight years old when the strip debuted, he’s currently 16, a nod to Walker's need for a character who can address teenage issues like driving, school, and dating.

7. IT LED TO HAGAR THE HORRIBLE.

Browne might be more well-known for his Hägar the Horrible, a strip about a beleaguered Viking. That strip, which debuted in 1973, was the result of Browne’s sons advising their father that Hi and Lois was really Walker’s brainchild and that Browne should consider a strip that could be a “family business.” By 1985, Hägar was in 1500 newspapers, while Hi and Lois was in 1000. Following Browne’s death in 1989, his son Chris continued the strip.

8. IT ALSO HAD A BONE TO PICK WITH THE FLINTSTONES.

The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s modern stone-age family, premiered in primetime in 1960, but not exactly the way the animation studio had intended. Fred and Wilma were initially named Flagstone, not Flintstone, and the series was to be titled Rally ‘Round the Flagstones. But Walker told executives he felt the name was too close to the Flagstons of Hi and Lois fame. Sensing a possible legal issue, they agreed.

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