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The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

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. Supreme: Blue Rose #1

By Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay
Image Comics

After the success of Brandon Graham’s neo-Euro-comic take on Prophet, reimagining characters created by '90s comics icon Rob Liefeld has become something of a cottage industry. Supreme itself is no stranger to reinvention by other creators, most famously by Alan Moore and his now-classic 1997 run on Liefeld’s Supreme comic. Now, Warren Ellis and artist Tula Lotay give us a 21st century spin on Liefeld’s creation.

In Supreme: Blue Rose, Ellis and Lotay take Liefeld’s Superman analogue into a more mysterious, science fiction direction full of strange dream sequences, elliptical dialogue, and odd-looking characters with no faces. Investigative reporter Diana Dane (think Lois Lane) is hired by billionaire Darius Dax (think Lex Luthor) to find out who Ethan Crane is (take a guess). Longtime Supreme readers will dig the links to past stories but newcomers will enjoy its compelling mystery just as much.

This book will be the first place most people will see the art of Tula Lotay. She has been wowing social media followers with her paintings of glamorous women that have a unique half-finished look to them. She brings that same quality to this book where mysterious blue lines and scratches sit underneath gorgeously drawn characters, giving the entire comic a dream-like quality. Lotay is about to become a major star in the comics world and this is where it all begins.

Here's a small preview of the first issue.

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2. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

By Tom Scioli and John Barber
IDW Publishing

Normally, a comic that takes two licensed properties and mashes them together is not noteworthy outside of the initial nostalgic glee. This isn’t even the first time that Hasbro’s two most popular toy franchises have shared a comic together, but IDW’s new ongoing series Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is worth calling out because it looks like it is going to be absolutely insane.

Rather than playing it safe by putting an artist on the book that has the type of slick, detail-oriented style you’d expect, IDW has brought in an idiosyncratic artist who is not afraid to put his own creative vision into the work. Tom Scioli is known for his graphic novel American Barbarian and his work with Joe Casey on the Image Comic series Gødland. He has a style that is like Jack Kirby on crack — retro, dynamic, tongue-in-cheek and very over the top. Scioli is also co-writing this series with John Barber.

Each issue will be exactly what the title advertises, with Joes fighting alien Cybertrons in a series of stand-alone stories that will build into a larger narrative. Scioli is looking to take everything he loved about these toys (and comics) as a kid and crank it up to 11 in hopes that a kid picking it up today will have his or her mind blown. IDW released a preview of this series to lots of acclaim on Free Comic Book Day in May. You can see some preview images and read an interview with Scioli and Barber here.

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3. Blood Blokes

By Adam Cadwell
Great Beast Comics

Despite over-saturation, vampire stories keep coming nowadays, perhaps because they’re so easily applied to different types of genres. In Adam Cadwell’s Blood Blokes, he drops vampires into a British slacker comedy about four twenty-something flatmates who bond together through their mutual thirst for blood.

There are no hard and fast rules for how vampires work, allowing for lots of storytelling leeway. Our protagonist Vince is a newly turned vampire and his three new friends show him the ropes and demonstrate how Cadwell’s own version of vampires work (they’re kind of just like us except they tend to suck on blood popsicles; they can even go out during the day since it’s often so cloudy in Manchester). His cast of characters have a very likable rapport which makes this a fun read, even if vampires bore you to tears.

Cadwell is a cartoonist who really knows how to work in black and white. His crisp inking and snappy panel sequencing are reminiscent of Jamie Hernandez when he is in his most Dan DeCarlo-inspired mode.

Issue #4 of Blood Blokes comes out this week but you can buy a bundle of all four issues to date here.

Here’s a preview of the fourth issue.

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4. Street Angel

By Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
Adhouse Books

In 2004, a little five issue miniseries called Street Angel took the indie comics world by surprise and put artist Jim Rugg on the map. Set in the fictional ghetto of Wilkesborough, it featured the adventures of the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder, twelve year old Jesse Sanchez. Using her skating and martial arts skills, she fights to keep the streets clean from “evil, ninjas, and nepotism.”

As a funny, often ludicrous, sendup of both superhero comics and action films, Street Angel had plenty of appeal for indie comics fans, while its expertly drawn action scenes appealed to sincere fans of those genres. The fifth issue of Street Angel featured a “blaxploitation” character named Afrodisiac that Rugg and Maruca would later spin off into the award-winning graphic novel of the same name, making Rugg a sought-after star in the comics world.

Rugg has brought the original Street Angel to Adhouse Books to give this new reprint the same hardcover design treatment they gave to Afrodisiac (which Adhouse also published). Since the book is in all black and white, Rugg researched the paper that was used to print Charles Burns’ black and white masterpiece Black Hole in order to get the same contrast and quality. A new cover has been designed that utilizes the trademark pink hue that adorned the original softcover release.

If you’re new to Street Angel, Adhouse has a pretty great PDF preview you can download here.

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5. Ragnarök #1

By Walt Simonson with colors by Laura Martin
IDW Publishing

Walt Simonson is probably the definitive Thor artist in most people’s minds. His classic run on Marvel’s The Mighty Thor in the 1980s brought the superhero back to his Norse roots, creating a dynamic fantasy adventure that – at the time – did not look like anything else out there. His ornate costumes and epically-sized monsters gave the comic a mythic and alien look while the angular abstractions of his effects became elements of his signature style.

Now, at the age of 67, Simonson is launching Ragnarök, his creator-owned series in which he returns to Thor (the god, not the superhero) to tell the story of the Norse mythology's end times. Simonson is joined by veteran colorist Laura Martin who brings a modern richness to Simonson’s art that we’re not used to seeing.

Here’s a preview of the first few pages of Ragnarök.

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6. 100th Anniversary: Avengers

By James Stokoe
Marvel Comics

A couple of weeks back I wrote about the first issue in Marvel’s month-long “100th Anniversary” event. I mentioned the standout book from this series was going to be James Stokoe’s Avengers and, now that it is out, I figure it's worth mentioning again.

Stokoe is an exciting, unique voice and seeing Marvel let him do his thing with their number one property – even if only for an out-of-continuity one-off – is refreshing. He excels at designing pages that are crammed with miles and miles of monsters and destruction, showing a sense of scale you can only really get in comics. In 100th Anniversary Special: The Avengers, he shows us an America lost to the Negative Zone, a reincarnated Doctor Strange, an immortal Rogue, Beta Ray Bill standing in for Thor and a sentient Stark Tower. It’s going to be a wild comic.

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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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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