Happy Valentine’s Day! February may be the shortest month, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of news. Let’s dig in to the past month in Titan Comics.
Titan Comics News and Announcements
March and April Solicitations
In March, Titan will have trade paperbacks of Life is Strange and Dark Souls: Age of Fire. The upcoming Marvel films of Captain Marvel and Avengers: Infinity War also get their own movie magazine specials, in soft and hardcover formats, with Captain Marvel: The Official Movie Special dropping on first on March 9th. Tank Girl: Action Alley also closes out its first arc in issue #4 (out on March 20th), promising the reveal of Booga’s origins as a talking mutant kangaroo. Hard Case Crime series Breakneck will also wrap up with issue #4. Will Joe Hayward be able to save Philadelphia from the terrorists?
April brings a trade paperback of the Minions’ romp through history with Minions: Viva Le Boss, and the kickoff of the newest Shades of Magic title, Shades of Magic: The Night of Knives. Other trade paperbacks include Tank Girl: Action Alley and Hard Case Crime’s Breakneck. Two other recently concluded Titan series, Shades of Magic and Life is Strange, will also have special limited edition comic packs to help bring fans up to speed on each title. And the aforementioned Avengers: Infinity War movie magazine special drops on April 3rd.
Doctor Who Comixology Sale
If you’re looking to fill out your collection of Tenth Doctor comics (perhaps while you’re listening to David Tennant’s new podcast?), Comixology has several select titles—both single issues and collected editions—on sale for up to 66% off. The sale runs through February 25th. Head on over to Comixology to see what’s on sale!
Free Comic Book Day Titles
Titan’s 2019 Free Comic Book Day offerings will include a standalone Doctor Who story written by current series writer Jody Houser, perfect for fans looking to hop on to the new series. There will also be a Robotech issue that will gear fans up for Event Horizon, written by Isola and Motor Crush writer Brenden Fletcher. You’ll be able to pick up these titles at your comic shop on this year’s Free Comic Book Day (which also happens to be Star Wars Day): May 4, 2019.
New Edition of The Prisoner: Shattered Visage
Following up on the success of Titan’s The Prisoner comic from 2018, Titan will re-publish the 1989 DC Comics graphic novel series The Prisoner: Shattered Visage. Set 20 years after the finale to the late 1960s TV series, the series finds former agent Alice Drake on the shores of the Village and face-to-face with an older Number Six. While Number Six and fellow agent Number Two decide to revive their decades-old conflict, London has its own plans for the Village. The new edition will be available on March 13, 2019 (you can pre-order on Amazon), and fan site The Unmutual has a review of the original 1989 edition.
What I’m Reading
Life is Strange #3
Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Andrea Izzo (colorist), Claudia Leonardi (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Emma Vieceli (writer)
January 16, 2019 (print), January 30, 2019 (digital)
Square Enix’s 2015 video game Life is Strange explores the idea of the butterfly effect in a subtle, quiet way, and fans (myself included) craved more after the final chapter. In this game, teenage photography prodigy Max discovers she can rewind time and see the future, altering the course of her personal history and saving her friend Chloe from death. When one of those future visions includes an apocalyptic storm that will destroy her town of Arcadia Bay, she faces a difficult decision: spare her town by leaving the past as is with Chloe dead, or save her friend at the expense of Arcadia Bay? The comic takes that latter ending and explores it further, with Max and Chloe returning to Arcadia Bay from Seattle as her abilities are running rather haywire.
Max and Chloe continue their journey through an Arcadia Bay in recovery, visiting Chloe’s home and Max’s former school, Blackwell Academy. The closer Max gets to Blackwell, the more frequent her fluctuations into alternative realities are: seeing people from their past as vivid as day, sometimes alongside Chloe, sometimes not. The most significant of these fluctuations puts her with classmate Warren, who explains that Max is seeing visions of parallel worlds. Which world is the one Max belongs in? And what price will she pay to get there?
The look of this series is straight out of the video game, though in a flatter, more cartoon-like style. Readers who wonder how Max’s time and world jumping would translate to the two dimensional world of comics effectively see that here, with softer art and colors in those segments that appear to be drawn through a scrim, but other jumps to parallel worlds don’t use similar tactics, which can leave readers confused. After some weaknesses with overly cutesy teenage language in the first two issues, Emma Vieceli hits her stride in this penultimate issue with the reveal of what’s been going on with Max, itself steeped in 1980s TV humor. Andrea Izzo has also kept her color palette similar to that of the game, but has draped the destructed Blackwell Academy in warm tones based in red. Could that have a deeper significance?
Max may have come home to Arcadia Bay, but it doesn’t appear she’s really home yet.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #4
Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Andrea Olimpieri (artist), V.E. Schwab (writer), Viviana Spinelli (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer)
January 9, 2019 (print), January 16, 2019 (digital)
The tournament by combat is over with Isra and Maxim left much worse for wear, licking their literal and metaphorical wounds. But there’s little time to rest before Aunt Arisa shows up for one final showdown with her niece. Or is it Aunt Arisa? The clever fakeout leaves Maxim kidnapped by Arisa, so it’s Isra to the rescue. Aunt and niece meet for one final showdown on the Iron Grip, and since this is the final issue of the arc, the ending is as you expect. And the door is open for Maxim to go home. But London can wait. Maxim has more work to do in Verose.
This is an ending that you could smell from miles away. Good vanquishes evil, protagonist has the chance to return home but senses his new home has more for him to offer… all tropes we see in all kinds of fiction. What elevates these tropes to a new level are V.E. Schwab’s small twists and how they are built into the slow reveal that has you convinced that Arisa is meeting her niece on her turf until the very end. We’ve seen this skill of Schwab’s before, particularly in the second issue of the series, and it adds a level of complexity and (metaphorical) color.
The real draw of this entire series has been Andrea Olimpieri’s artwork; this issue remains no exception. She provides a master class in depicting three dimensional action in a two dimensional medium. Expertly applied shading sets the tone for that final showdown with plenty of intensity and acumen. There’s not a single full page panel in this entire issue, but the action does not feel constrained in any way, nor does it hold back from gore and violence. And Olimpieri’s skill isn’t just limited to moments of grand scale; she brings the same level of detail and care to close ups, the main cover to the issue, and the quieter moments we see in this issue’s conclusion. With Viviana Spinelli’s colors this is a match made in heaven.
The first phase of Maxim’s journey may be over, but it’s really just beginning. Hope to see you soon, friend.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #3
Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Jody Houser (writer), Comicraft’s Sarah Jacobs (letterer), Comicraft’s John Roshell (letterer), Richard Starkings (letterer), Rachael Stott (artist)
December 19, 2018 (print), January 2, 2019 (digital)
Time to deal with the rogue Dr. Perkins on board the TARDIS. After some clever disarming of his weaponry and a bit of compassion from the Doctor (indeed, all things can be soothed with a simple cup of tea), Dr. Perkins tells where and when he’s been, and how it’s affected him. Their alien master, the Hoarder, wanted treasures from all across space and time. And that includes children. Perks and Schulz draw the line at kidnapping, which does not sit well with The Hoarder, who manages to make Dr. Schulz do his bidding against her will. Schulz manages to get her partner to escape through time, which is what led him to the Doctor. Time to save some lives. Is this going to be easy? Probably not. Will it be an adventure? Absolutely.
It’s great to finally find out Dr. Schulz’s story but it feels rushed, especially with this arc wrapping up with the next issue. There’s a lot of heavy lifting to do to wrap this up in an effective fashion. Either this particular arc should have been longer or this backstory for these rogue time travelers should have been introduced sooner. What Houser does beautifully is the Doctor’s personality: firm but compassionate. It’s just what viewers saw on TV, so there’s no disconnect between TV and comics. Small moments like this help connect the property across two media, something missing from previous Doctor Who comics. And in light of current immigration headlines, it’s a punch to the gut to see that prison of the Hoarder’s “treasures,” with their arms reaching out from cells for help.
Outside of some strange facial shading in places and a much more rounded face for the Doctor than seen previously, Rachael Stott exhibits fine skill in her artwork. The flashback planet where Dr.s Perkins and Schulz visit is a peaceful paradise, making the disruption of that peace all the more jarring. Soft lines, aided by Enrica Eren Angiolini’s colors, give that sense of a world that doesn’t deserve what it has coming to it. And that aforementioned scene of The Hoarder’s prison, a bank of cells surrounded by his gold and treasures, provides biting commentary on current social issues of economic disparity and immigration with little words.
Overall, this issue did well in moving chess pieces into place for the conclusion of that first arc. But with this arc also introducing the Doctor and company, it really needed more room to breathe.