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.
By Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin
Robert Kirkman and Brian K. Vaughan are perhaps the two most influential forces in creator-owned comics right now. Kirkman’s Walking Dead series may be the most successful creator-owned comic book of all time, and it was key in transforming its publisher, Image Comics, into something more than just a home for non-Marvel/DC superheroes. Vaughan meanwhile has leveraged his popularity as the writer of books like Y: The Last Man and Saga to venture into a new platform for self-publishing called Panel Syndicate, which distributes digital comics directly to readers for whatever price they’d like to pay. This past week, the two joined forces and combined their ventures for a one-shot Walking Dead comic by Vaughan and regular collaborator Marcos Martin, and it is being released exclusively on PanelSyndicate.com.
In Walking Dead: Alien, Kirkman cedes control of his zombie comic to another creative team for the first time. He also allows Vaughan and Martin to take the action outside of the usual Southern U.S. locale to Barcelona. But, this isn’t a one-off in terms of being completely disconnected from the main title. There’s an odd and surprising twist at the end that sets up an even more direct crossover somewhere down the line.
You can get Walking Dead: Alien from panelsyndicate.com for whatever price you think it might be worth to you.
By Brecht Evens
Drawn & Quarterly
When you flip through it, Brecht Evens’ Panther looks like a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a girl and her imaginary panther friend. But parents beware: you probably don’t want your kids reading this one.
Things start off bleak when Christine’s cat passes away. Appearing out of the bottom drawer of her dresser to console her in her grief comes a large, smooth-talking spotted panther. Christine is immediately enthralled by this magical creature, but there clearly is something not right with him. His stories are just too fantastic and charming, and his physicality with her is inappropriate and off-putting. By the time he invites a couple of friends from his home and into her room, even the Panther seems to be losing control of the situation.
This is a dark story that explores a child’s loss of innocence in a disturbingly ambiguous way. It isn’t clear who the Panther and his friends represent, or how the girl’s father—a single dad represented as a faceless figure puttering around the kitchen—may or may not be complicit in what is happening. Evens illustrates the story with the panel-less flow of a picture book, and colorfully painted drawings erupt into full-page, cubist abstraction when events in the story get out of hand.
By Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi
The creative team behind Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has dared to be be different since the series started last year. Writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson took a nearly forgotten C-list character and turned her into a surprise hit by avoiding any and all seriousness, approaching the comic with the knowing wit one is more likely to find in a webcomic than a Marvel release. Now, with its seventh issue, they’re trying something really fun: a choose-your-own-adventure issue.
While North and Henderson’s sense of humor skews towards a teenage audience, Squirrel Girl has proven to be popular with all ages, and this issue, titled "Be The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," should prove to be a hit with younger kids.
By Daniel Warren Johnson
Dark Horse Comics
For the last four years, Daniel Warren Johnson has been wowing fans with his intricate drawing style on his webcomic Space Mullet. This odd sci-fi trucker comedy follows a mullet-headed ex-space marine named Jonah and his Zozobian co-pilot Alphius as they get into all kinds of adventures, picking up a few misfit cohorts along the way. Beneath the fun of space goblins and Martian roller derbies, Johnson takes great care to build a story full of weighty moments and characters with dark pasts. His artwork started strong but has gotten even more detailed and confident as he has gone along, and this week, the comic will see its first printed collection from Dark Horse Comics.
By Cullen Bunn, David Baldeon, Ficio Ossio, Max Dunbar, Jack Lawrence, David Garcia Cruz, Joana Lafuente, Thomas Deer and John-Paul Bove
If you were a kid in the 1970s, you probably remember Micronauts. This short-lived line of action figures with small, interchangeable parts came out around the time the first Star Wars film transformed the action figure market into what it is today. Micronauts spawned a classic Marvel Comics series by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden that outlived the discontinued toy line by about six years. Micronauts have come back here and there over the years, and now they are owned by toy company Hasbro (which also owns properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers). The "Hasbroverse," as it's called, is currently populated by a group of comics all under the domain of IDW Publishing, and it will soon spawn a series of shared universe motion pictures.
Writer Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Uncanny X-men) is one of those kids from the ‘70s that loved Micronauts, and he now gets to write an ongoing series that brings back classic characters like Acroyear, Biotron, and the Time Travelers.