Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, 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.
This week's list—presented in no particular order—includes selections that hit stores over the last couple of weeks.
By Ed Brisson, Adam Gorham and Michael Garland
In The Violent, Mason and Becky are recovering drug addicts trying to get their lives back on track after Mason has served time in prison. They have a baby and are trying hard to resist dangerous temptations. Mason seems to continually mess this balancing act up and, by the end of this first issue, he makes a terrible decision that will make any parent reading this book want to punch him in the face.
Judging by this issue, The Violent has the potential to be writer Ed Brisson's breakout book. Co-writer and artist Adam Gorham is a newcomer with a realistic, inky cartooning style reminiscent of Michael Gaydos (Alias). They've set The Violent in their hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia and plan to use the comic to address the ways the high cost of living in that city has affected the struggling working class.
By Tillie Walden
Avery Hill Publishing
Tillie Walden is a 19-year-old cartoonist from Texas and a student at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Her debut graphic novel The End of Summer was released earlier last year from British publisher Avery Hill. Before the year had come to an end, she managed to release one more graphic novel, I Love This Part. This 68-page treasure is almost unbelievably beautiful for such a young cartoonist to have created.
Nearly every page is a full-page panel that depicts a minor moment in the relationship of two teenage girls, portrayed with the girls lounging across mountains, sitting on top of suburban houses, and draped over city skylines. It’s the perfect visual encapsulation of how teenage love can feel impossibly larger than life. Walden’s delicate but detailed artwork is much more assured than that of most student cartoonists, yet her youth shows in how perfectly attuned she is to her subject. An older cartoonist may not be able to pull off such a believable depiction of the dreamy idleness of teenage infatuation.
By Charles Soule, Marco Checchetto, and Andres Mossa
Up until now, Marvel’s new Star Wars comics have mostly focused on the period between Episodes IV and V, but this new five-issue series is the first to jump back into the Prequel era. Set in between Episodes I and II, Obi-Wan & Anakin will explore the ill-fated bromance between the young Jedi Master and his Padawan apprentice. The series begins with Anakin around age 12 and at a time when the two Jedi are still building the working relationship that we would see more fortified in Episode II.
Marvel is quickly piling up a nice collection of Star Wars comics, each filling in those valuable gaps between movies that have always been ripe for expanded universe fiction.
By Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas and Dan McDaid
In 2012, IDW Publishing began putting out its own comics featuring no-nonsense, 21st century law enforcer Judge Dredd. They were unconnected to the 30+ years of continuity that original publisher 2000 AD has been building through their own Dredd comics. The success of the IDW comics has been mixed at best, with perhaps the most attention going to a five-issue mini-series released in 2014 called Judge Dredd: Mega City Two that was drawn by dynamic and detail-crazed artist Ulises Farinas. Now, Farinas is in charge of a relaunch of IDW's main Judge Dredd title, this time solely as the writer. He is paired with co-writer Erick Freitas and artist Dan McDaid.
The new comic begins with Dredd waking up in a field and finding that everything is different. The dystopian urban landscape he is used to has been replaced with grassy hills, mossed-over temples, and a band of roving children who have no idea about Judges and Mega City One. This is an interesting way to change things up and is potentially a good way for IDW to differentiate themselves from the 2000 AD books.
By Jen Van Meter, Roberto De La Torre and David Baron
The first Dr. Mirage series from last year was notable for its somber portrayal of loss. The titular doctor, Shan Fong, was mourning the death of her husband and partner in paranormal investigations, Hwen, and journeyed into the After Life to find his missing spirit. The artwork by Roberto De La Torre was loose and expressive but with figures imbued with realism.
Now, in its sequel, Hwen has returned from the netherworld as a disembodied spirit. For the first time, we get to see the couple working together to solve supernatural mysteries. The Death Defying Dr. Mirage, like other books in the Valiant line, is grounded and cinematic in its approach to superheroes and the supernatural. Unlike many of the other Valiant books, Dr. Mirage is pretty self-contained so far and easy for new readers to read on its own.
By Chris Onstad
Fans of Chris Onstad’s Achewood got an unexpected gift on Christmas Eve when the webcomic suddenly returned with its first new installment in over a year. Achewood is one of the oldest and most popular webcomics of all time. It's an absurdist story with an expansive cast of anthropomorphic stuffed animals, but Onstad’s output had slowed down considerably in the last couple of years. On December 24, he released a brand new strip as well as two blog posts from two of the characters, Ray and Philippe. It remains to be seen how frequently new comics will appear from Onstad, but a second new strip already arrived on January 1.