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Rebecca Mock/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rebecca Mock/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The 6 Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Rebecca Mock/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rebecca Mock/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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.

1. COMPASS SOUTH

By Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Hope Larson has been known throughout her career as something of an auteur, both writing and drawing graphic novels like Mercury, Chiggers, and an adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. This year has seen her become more of a collaborator, with her recent Boom! Studios mini-series Goldie Vance and an upcoming stint writing Batgirl for DC Comics. With Compass South, she begins a new graphic novel series for middle-schoolers, working with accomplished editorial illustrator Rebecca Mock, who is trying her hand at a major comics work for the first time.

This fast-paced period adventure beings in 1860s New York with orphan twins Cleopatra and Alexander getting arrested for their involvement with a notorious criminal gang. They’re set free after selling out the gang and when they learn about a wealthy family searching for their missing sons, the brother and sister plan to make their way to San Francisco to impersonate the lost boys.

Larson throws in lots of plot twists and exotic locales, but she gets the most mileage out of the engaging, antagonistic relationships she creates among the young cast of characters.

2. WEIRD DETECTIVE #1

By Fred Van Lente, Guiu Vilanova, and Josan Gonzalez
Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics

The “Weird Detective” in Fred Van Lente and Guiu Vilanova’s new series is Sebastian Greene, a previously unremarkable Brooklyn cop who one day, to the surprise of his commanding officers, turns into something of a super-cop who solves unsolvable cases. Most of his fellow officers give him a pass on his alien-like mannerisms and lack of social skills, chalking it up to his being “from Canada.” A new partner is enlisted to get to the bottom of it all, and it seems that Greene is a Cthulhu investigating otherworldly horrors, trying his best to be taken for human.

Van Lente describes his comic as "H.P. Lovecraft meets Law & Order,” and it perfectly blends grand-scale cosmic horror with the world of a street-level police procedural. Originally a three-part story serialized in the anthology Dark Horse Presents, this new five-issue mini-series debuts with a regular-priced first issue that contains those original 24 pages from DHP and builds on them with an additional 22 pages.

3. HOT DOG TASTE TEST

By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly

Drawn & Quarterly

Lisa Hanawalt’s off-kilter brand of humor has permeated from the indie comics scene into mainstream media thanks to her work as producer and character designer for the hit Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman. Her latest book, Hot Dog Taste Test, is a collection of foodie-related comics, some of which were previously published in places like Lucky Peach. Hanawalt’s style involves lots of illustrated lists and travelogues done with colorful watercolors and a hilarious honesty. This collection includes her thoughts on how to choose the right wine or how eggs should be dry and overcooked. There are also a few illustrated travel essays about trips to Brazil and Vegas, both centered around food.

4. FIGHT CLUB 2

By Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart and Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics

When novelist Chuck Palahniuk decided to revisit his career-making 1996 classic Fight Club with a 20th anniversary sequel, he chose to do it in a medium that was brand-new to him. Working with a top-notch team—artist Cameron Stewart and color artist Dave Stewart (no relation)—he aimed to play with the medium much like director David Fincher did with his medium for the cinematic adaptation of Palahniuk’s novel.

Fight Club 2 was originally published as a 10-issue comic series and is now being collected in graphic novel format. The sequel revisits the original story’s narrator, now calling himself Sebastian, who is married to Marla with whom he lives in the suburbs with their 10-year-old son. Meanwhile, Tyler Durden has been walled off within Sebastian’s subconscious after years of therapy and prescriptions until Marla, bored with their mundane suburban life, decides to start switching out Sebastian’s pills, allowing Tyler to come out and wreak havoc.

5. ELFCAT IN LOVE

By James Kochalka
Retrofit Comics

Retrofit Comics

Retrofit Comics is a boutique publisher that started out making “floppy”-sized art-comics at a time when most people in indie comics were focused on graphic novels. Retrofit has since branched out into publishing comics of all shapes and sizes, but now, in their fifth year, they are putting out their first hardcover original graphic novel, albeit one that is still smallish in terms of length and size.

Whereas many Retrofit comics feature newer and lesser-known names, Elfcat in Love is by veteran cartoonist James Kochalka (American Elf). The Elfcat of the title is a brave but clueless adventurer accompanied by a much smarter companion who happens to be a floating tennis ball. While the two are ostensibly on a quest for a legendary ice sword, they actually spend most of their time arguing about whether or not they are in love with each other.

6. THE SIXTH GUN #50

By Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree
Oni Press

Oni Press

A lot has happened in the six years since The Sixth Gun began its epic tale of post-Civil War gunslingers and supernatural dread. When Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt began the series, the duo was best known for their previous outing of marrying the supernatural with the mob for The Damned. Not long after the success of this series, Bunn became one of Marvel’s top writers, and he and Hurtt entertained more than one offer to turn it into a cable TV series.

Now, Bunn and Hurtt are bringing their story to a conclusion with a triple-sized 50th issue. Becky Moncrief and Drake Sinclair will enter the final showdown in the land of the dead to prevent the mystical talismanic powers of the six funs from ending of the world. This has been one of Bunn’s best comics, due in no small part to Hurtt’s dynamic artwork. They’re a great team that will hopefully be working together on something new soon.

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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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