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John Romita, Jr./Klaus Janson/DC Comics
John Romita, Jr./Klaus Janson/DC Comics

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

John Romita, Jr./Klaus Janson/DC Comics
John Romita, Jr./Klaus Janson/DC Comics

Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter, and the web. 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. Superman #32

By Geoff Johns, John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson and Laura Martin
DC Comics

Longtime Marvel artist John Romita, Jr. draws his first ever DC comic.

John Romita, Jr. was practically born in the office of Marvel Comics. His father, John Romita, Sr., defined the visual style of Spider-man and his supporting cast in the 1960s and was the Art Director for Marvel's entire publishing line throughout the '70s. Romita, Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps in the '80s with career-defining runs on Uncanny X-men and Daredevil.

Now, for the first time ever, JR Jr. is going to draw a comic for DC. To put this in some perspective, this would be like if Derek Jeter had all of a sudden decided to start playing for the Mets. Plus, Romita is not working on just any old DC Comic. They’ve nabbed him for Superman, starting with issue #32, in what the publisher promises will be a new era for the hero. It is a sign of DC’s recent creative struggles, particularly with Superman, that there is a need to start undoing elements of a less than three-year-old reboot, but the creative team on this has generated more fan excitement than we’ve seen for a Superman comic in a long time.

Romita is paired with another fan favorite, DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Having written some highly regarded Superman stories in the pages of Action Comics (which happen to be on sale on Comixology this week), Johns has proven he gets the man of steel in a way that many other writers in comics (and Hollywood) do not. Add in veteran inker Klaus Janson and award-winning colorist Laura Martin and this is a star-studded creative team.

Some preview pages here.

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2. House Party

By Rachael Smith
Great Beast Comics

What happens when three friends try to relive their glory days by throwing an epic house party?

Rachael Smith’s debut graphic novel House Party is about three university friends — Michelle, Siobhan, and Neil — who are a few years out of school and find themselves unhappy with how their lives are going. To recapture the glory of the old days, they decide to throw a house party, just like they used to when they were in their prime.

Smith gets a lot of uncomfortable laughs from these 20-somethings quickly realizing they’ve outgrown this sort of thing. But then, in the third act, she does something unexpected. Veering away from comedy, she goes for an emotional punch. Her characters end up finding that their problem was not so much that they were looking back at their past but that they were not moving on from it.

Smith’s drawing style and character demographics are reminiscent of Bryan Lee O’Malley (with a little bit of John Allison thrown in). However, she puts an emphasis more on real life versus the stylized storytelling devices of a book like Scott Pilgrim. You can get the whole 100 page graphic novel, published by British artist collaborative/small press publisher Great Beast Comics, for only $1.99 on the Sequential digital comics app. There are some preview pages there as well.

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3. Ritual #3: Vile Decay

By Malachi Ward
Revival House Press

An old woman in a post-catastrophe future reflects on her past

Malachi Ward is an interesting artist whose work has appeared in Study Group Comics, Nobrow, and Brandon Graham’s Prophet series for Image Comics. For a few years he has been publishing his own one-man anthology comic Ritual through a small artists collaborative called Revival House Press. In each issue of Ritual, Ward writes and draws a 24-page short story, usually sci-fi or horror in theme, and often experimental in nature. The third issue, titled Vile Decay, is out this week in most indie-friendly comic shops and is available online.

Vile Decay begins with an old woman recounting a tale to her grandson while traversing across a future seaside landscape desolated by environmental catastrophe. The story jumps back 60 years to show, we assume, the woman in her youth during a political protest.

Ward is an interesting artist who uses a mixture of organic pencil lines, subtle digital effects and an unusual 2-color printing process on oversized, high-quality paper that makes this a book you’ll want to spend some time trying to figure out.

You can order a copy of Vile Decay here.

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4. Outcast #1

By Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
Image Comics

Robert Kirkman's highly anticipated new horror comic

You’d think The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman would have his hands full between his hit TV series and his other ongoing comic commitments, but his name equals money in the comic shops and Image Comics has already announced that the first issue of Outcast has sold out at the distributor level with a second printing planned.

Kirkman is a pretty well-rounded writer who doesn’t just stick with the horror genre (look at Invincible, Thief of Thieves, etc...) but some of the excitement around Outcast is that it does just that, being the first ongoing horror title he’s written outside of The Walking Dead. This time, instead of zombies, he’s writing about demonic possession. It's about a man named Kyle Barnes who has been plagued by demons his entire life — his own mother was posessed when he was a child — and he is now seeking answers. Joining Kirkman is artist Paul Azaceta who is probably best known for his work on the Image mini-series Grounded.

The first issue is a double sized 40 pages but at the normal $2.99 cover price. Oh, and the comic has already been optioned by Cinemax for a new TV series. Get to your shop early to snag a copy of the first issue.

Preview a few pages here.

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5. Super Secret Crisis War #1

By Louise Simonson and Derek Charm
IDW

A big crossover event with all your favorite Cartoon Network characters

IDW has had a lot of success adapting Cartoon Network properties, so why not throw them all together in a big superhero-style crossover event? Super Secret Crisis War obviously nods at this fine comic book tradition as it brings together characters from separate universes like the Power Puff Girls, Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Ben 10, and Ed, Edd and Eddy to fight evil robots who are under the command of the League of Extraordinary Villains and Samurai Jack’s nemesis, the demon Aku.

This six issue mini-series is written by veteran comics writer Louise Simonson who is best known for her classic runs on Marvel titles New Mutants and X-Factor. It’s drawn by Derek Charm who has worked on a number of IDW’s Cartoon Network books as well as his own small press comics like Demon Dog and Trip Fantastic.

Here’s a preview

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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Afternoon Map
Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
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entertainment
The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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