Titan Comics PUBWATCH: March 2019

Titan Comics PUBWATCH: March 2019

Spring is on the horizon and Titan Comics is here to ensure it will be a memorable one. Titan Comics News and Announcements May Solicitations Cover by Jamie Hewlett What does the merry month of May bring? The second arc of Life is Strange kicks off with issue #5. Thanks to popular demand, the stories

Spring is on the horizon and Titan Comics is here to ensure it will be a memorable one.

Titan Comics News and Announcements

May Solicitations

Cover of Tank Girl - Tank Girl smiling at the viewer

Cover by Jamie Hewlett

What does the merry month of May bring? The second arc of Life is Strange kicks off with issue #5. Thanks to popular demand, the stories of Max and Chloe continue—but with Max in an alternate timeline and with an alternate Chloe! Tying in to the June release of the film The Secret Life Of Pets 2, the writers from the Minions comics show the world just what your pets are up to when you’re not home in The Secret Life of Pets #1. And if you want to live your life the Wade Wilson Way, Titan provides The Philosophy of Deadpool.

There will also be a new Tank Girl Full Color Classics featuring strips from 1990 and 1991, and Junko Mizuno’s Hell Ladies in all their grotesque glory (that one’s for mature readers only). A new arc of The Raid also kicks off in May, along with the first collection of Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor.

Blade Runner Series Announced

A group of people - Ash, The Skin, The Lung, The Bone, and The Heart - in various utilitarian to post-apocalyptic outfits

Blade Runner character sketches by Andres Guinaldo

This summer features Blade Runner 2019, the first Blade Runner series since Marvel’s adaptation of the 1982 film. This series takes place during the timeline of the original film, focusing on the female Blade Runner Ash. Blade Runner 2049 writer Michael Green writes the series along with Star Trek and Super­man/Batman writer Mike Johnson, with art by Andres Guinaldo (Justice League Dark, Captain America).

Two New Hard Case Crime Series

Cover for Ryuko - A girl in a leopard-print jumpsuit with long blue hair on a motorcycle

Cover by Eldo Yoshimizu

Crime comics have new life thanks to Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint, and two new series will come later this year.

Hard Case’s first manga series drops in July with the first English translation of Eldo Yoshimizu’s Ryuko. Titular character Ryuko is hell-bent on revenge with her mother kidnapped and her father dead. According to Yoshimizu, “Ryuko decides she must atone for the crime of killing her father, but this is not a moral trial or a mere revenge play… the theme of the book is that there is good and evil on both sides of the same coin.”

Hard Case will also reprint a collection of Ms. Tree stories. Debuting in 1981, Michael “Don’t Call Me Michelle” Tree takes over her husband’s investigation firm after his murder, solving cases while trying to find out the identity of his killer and dealing with her own issues. The series focused on social issues such as mental health, homophobia, and abortion—commonplace in comics in 2019, but revolutionary in the series’ first run. When the reprint drops later this year, it will be the first Ms. Tree appearance since the 2007 novel Dearly Beloved.

Brenden Fletcher to write Robotech

Robotech kicks off their “Event Horizon” arc later this spring with their Free Comic Book Day offering. Batgirl and Gotham Academy writer Brenden Fletcher will join the established series team of writer Simon Furman and artist Hendry Prasetya with that arc. Fletcher, a huge fan of the 1980s series, will write the arc’s backup stories, which sets the stage for his own run on the series sometime this year. In Fletcher’s own words: “If you’d told little ten-year old me all those years ago that in the future I’d be the person writing the Robotech comic, there’s no way I would have believed you.”

First Yellow Submarine Toys of 2019

And our friends are all aboard! Continuing last year’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the cartoon classic Yellow Submarine, Titan Merchandise will have the Beatles as 3″ and 4.5″ figurines (the smaller variant featuring the Fab Four in their outfits from the film that will glow in the dark), a 4.5″ Blue Meanie, and the smiley Yellow Submarine.

No More Recycled Barcodes!

Love them or hate them, barcodes on comics have been a standard for the direct market since the 1980s. Diamond Comics came up with barcode standards in the 2000s, but that system was not without its glitches—namely, publishers reusing barcodes (though not on purpose). This recycling frustrates retailers and fans as they manage their store stock and collections. At February’s ComicsPRO meeting, Titan announced they will not reuse barcodes anymore, which is bound to make things easier for everyone.

What I’m Reading

March saw two Titan series wrap up their first arcs.

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #4

Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Jody Houser (writer), Comicraft’s Sarah Jacobs (letterer), Comicraft’s John Roshell (letterer), Richard Starkings (letterer), Rachael Stott (artist)
January 30, 2019 (print), February 6, 2019 (digital)

Cover of Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - The Doctor, a woman with a short blonde bob wearing a long coat over suspenders and a t-shirt, floats in a spaceship, looking at a warning sign that says "EXPLOSIVE DECOMPRESSION"

Cover by Giorgia Sposito and Arianna Florean

Jodie Whittaker’s first comic adventures conclude as the team stumbles (literally) upon the kidnapped Dr. Schulz, herself in the throes of withdrawal. They get her back to the TARDIS to get her some antidote and a dose of tough love. Physically and mentally healed, Schulz and Perkins confront the Hoarder for a glorious “I quit” moment while the Doctor, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan find and free the kids in the Hoarder’s capture. Naturally, the Hoarder gets his comeuppance and then our foursome head off on their next adventure.

One hallmark of this entire first arc is the intense devotion to worldbuilding, an obvious necessity in launching a new series. What this series did was spend too much time worldbuilding, leaving the second half of this issue and the denouement of this storyline rushed. I write this off (pun intended) to growing pains on writing a licensed property that probably has to go through several levels of approval before publication. There is one thing Houser does get spot-on here: Thirteen’s hallmark tough compassion. She takes it right from the TV show and executes it brilliantly.

Rachael Stott’s artwork continues to be the star. She knows how to convey intense expression and tone in a few short strokes. I’m happy to see that the strange shading issues on the Doctor’s face are gone for the most part. Stott’s pairing with colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini is a match made in heaven. Angiolini doesn’t neglect any color of the rainbow in this issue. Colors and linework complement each other splendidly.

Scripting bumps aside, this closes out a well-executed introduction to the Thirteenth Doctor and shows promise for Titan’s future management of the property.

Life is Strange #4

Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Andrea Izzo (colorist), Claudia Leonardi (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Emma Vieceli (writer)
February 20, 2019 (print), February 27, 2019 (digital)

Cover for Life Is Strange - A girl with her back to another, the second girl looking forlorn

Cover by Claudia Leonardi and Andrea Izzo

Max has a lot on her shoulders for a teenage girl. As if the normal hiccups of teenage life aren’t enough, she now has to figure out what alternate reality is truly her home. That’s no easy feat, but Max is wise beyond her years. While it breaks her heart to leave Chloe and the world of Arcadia Bay behind, she knows that isn’t her timeline. While the town mourns and remembers its dead, Chloe finds the strength to move forward—and Max finds herself in 2014 California with a woman who looks strangely like the Chloe she just left behind.

The conclusion of this arc stays very true to the quiet revelatory spirit of the video game. Vieceli has a handle on how to write this property true to its source material’s tone while providing her own individual interpretation of characters. No doubt that has helped this series make the move from miniseries to ongoing series. It’s a little dialogue-heavy at times, but so was the original video game, so that’s okay.

This gentle pace extends over to Claudia Leonardi’s artwork and Andrea Izzo’s colors. Both give us a Max who is conflicted over her decisions but quietly confident, all while keeping the look age-appropriate. Her splash pages of Max moving between worlds are done in sketchbook style, depicting that transition between worlds in the right tone without sacrificing detail, all gently colored. All these slow reveals help keep the series’ pace and provide logic to these various time jumps and timelines.

When you see just how much the creative team has done their homework in keeping their interpretation of the world of Max and Chloe close to tone, it’s no surprise this series is set to return.

Tank Girl: Action Alley #3

Alan Martin (writer), Lou Martin (writer), Brett Parson (artist)
February 20, 2019 (print), February 27, 2019 (digital)

Cover for Tank Girl: Action Valley - Two girls fire machine guns off-screen, standing on a pile of spent shells

Cover by Brett Parson

First the good news: the gang has the (busted) Tankmaster back. Now the bad news: they’re in the middle of a confrontation with some mutants that look straight out of Planet of the Apes. All is not lost for Rebecca Buck and company once they find the leader, who explains that the group’s hostility has something to do with… burgers? Their tale traces back to food company Marsofu, who made delicious burgers that came with a price. The Marsofu factory has the supplies to fix the Tankmaster, so everyone is off to crash corporate HQ… only to find themselves in a deeper mystery that connects to Booga and his kangaroo friend Barbera.

Martin and Martin cram a lot into these pages, from flashbacks to Tank Girl’s childhood to the invasion of the factory to the backstory for Booga and Barbera. There isn’t much room to breathe. It’s all fun, but I wish there had been some editorial discretion. After all, sometimes less is more. Will this all be concluded in the next issue effectively? Let’s hope so. While they seemed out of place compared to the rest of the narrative, I liked the glimpses into Tank Girl’s youth, especially as someone new to the series. They provide excellent context to the character.

Brett Parson’s art adds to the zany tone of the script: rich in detail, evocative in expression, loaded with fun. He draws his women with strength and conviction but without losing femininity, and knows how to craft effective backgrounds, particularly in this issue’s cliffhanger inside Marsofu. If there is one place where he excels, it’s in his letters as he uses the traditional sound effects to also signify tone and emotion.

Has this series made me a Tank Girl fan? Absolutely. Will longtime Tank Girl fans also love it? Absolutely. As long as you approach it with a sense of whimsy, fun, and suspend expectations of reality, you won’t be disappointed.

Kate Kosturski
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