I can’t believe summer’s almost over. But October solicitations have me hyped for what’s coming this fall. It’s a month of new beginnings over at Titan Comics, with a few interesting debut issues.
Titan Comics News and Announcements
Last month, we shared the news of the Robotech ongoing ending in September with issue #24. October brings the start of a new Robotech series, Robotech: Remix #1, written by Brendan Fletcher. Fletcher isn’t unfamiliar to Robotech readers; he crafted the backup stories in this year’s “Event Horizon” arc.
Life is Strange (which is reviewed below) will also kick off a new arc with issue #9. Three other arcs end in October. Bloodborne’s “The Veil Torn Asunder” concludes with issue #16. Tank Girl’s “Tank Girl Forever” wraps up with issue #8, and the first arc of Blade Runner 2019 will close with issue #4.
On the magazine side, Star Trek fans will enjoy a new collector’s edition magazine companion for the CBS All-Access series Star Trek: Picard, set to debut later this year. Star Trek magazine will also celebrate 200 issues in the UK with issue #73, which itself focuses on the upcoming series. And Star Wars Insider reaches its penultimate chapter of its look at the Skywalker saga with issue #193.
Trade readers are not left out in the dust, with new trades for Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor, Robotech, Watch Dogs, and The Michael Moorcock Library: Hawkmoon.
The Illuminati Ball Comes to Comics
The creator of Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini returns to Titan Comics with another graphic novel, The Illuminati Ball. Described as “Eyes Wide Shut crossed with The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the graphic novel takes inspiration from the famous Rothschild Surrealist Ball of 1972, and is also based on von Buhler’s own theater production of the same name. Power, love, money, myth, mystery, and science will all collide—along with a sacrifice—when the graphic novel debuts at New York Comic Con in October.
In conjunction with the graphic novel, von Buhler and her Speakeasy Dollhouse team will craft two Illuminati Balls in New York City: one the weekend of New York Comic Con, and one on New Year’s Eve. Those interested in attending can learn more and apply at www.theilluminatiball.com.
Titan Comics At SDCC
Titan Comics had plenty of good news to report at SDCC’s Diamond Retailer lunch. The highly anticipated Blade Runner 2019 #1 sold out and is heading for a second printing. The publisher also gave inside peeks of Blade Runner #2 and the new Robotech: Remix series. While most of the other news from the presentation (which you can see in full detail here) has been a part of previous PUBWATCH installments, they did give us one surprise: a Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor holiday special! Looks like Jodie Whittaker and company will have to save the holidays from… themselves?
What I’m Reading
This month from Titan Comics, we look at the highly anticipated debut of Blade Runner 2019, the new Tank Girl arc, and two very character-driven issues of our favorites, Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor and Life is Strange.
Blade Runner 2019 #1
Jim Campbell (letterer), Michael Green (writer), Andres Guinaldo (artist), Mike Johnson (writer), Marco Lesko (colorist)
July 17, 2019
Meet Ash, one of the top Blade Runners in Los Angeles. She’s ruthless, she’s rogue, she’s at the top of her game. So it’s no surprise that her boss’s boss, Alexander Selwyn, wants her on a top secret missing persons mission. The missing persons? His wife and daughter, who went into Los Angeles for a birthday party and never returned. Reluctantly, Ash is on the case. But does Mrs. Selwyn even want to be found?
I knew next to nothing about the Blade Runner world before reading this series (just the basics, ma’am), but it’s not necessary to jump on with this series. Green and Johnson do ample heavy lifting to set up Ash and her world, along with the initial central conflict. While that conflict (the lost woman not wanting to be found) is a trope used before, the final pages of the issue suggest something more that can turn this idea on its head. There’s a reveal about Ash near the end of the issue that perhaps some further knowledge of the Blade Runner world would have added context to, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the issue.
Andres Guinaldo packs each panel with impressive detail. Just like the script, the artwork also does a lot of heavy lifting to set up the Blade Runner universe, and it’s beautiful to look at. At the same time, it doesn’t take away from the dialogue; everything is in balance. The colorwork from Marco Lesko mixes both dark and futuristic elements to give this Los Angeles a dingy undertone that still looks slick and full of sheen.
This was a highly anticipated debut from Titan Comics, and I’m happy to say that it delivered superbly.
Life is Strange #7
Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letterer) Andrea Izzo (colorist), Claudia Leonardi (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Emma Vieceli (writer)
July 24, 2019
We start things off with the story of Goth Boy (who now has a name: Tristan) and his story. He was present at a drug bust that went horribly wrong, resulting in his friend’s death. With that event, Tristan first “disappeared,” a skill he has perfected. The revelations bring answers to Max, though not much comfort. But there is no time to dwell on the mysteries of Tristan: it’s time for a party with all the LA trappings of booze, drugs, and debauchery. Tristan isn’t far from Max and her friends, though. And it looks as though history is about to repeat itself, with Max in the crossfire.
Artwork and script work together to make this a character-driven issue. Small paneling gives Leonardi a focus on faces and emotion, with a few moments for body language to dictate and emphasize Vieceli’s script. There isn’t a great deal of detail in these faces, but there is the right amount needed to capture thoughts and feelings. Panel choices also give this issue a particular feel of a TV show. No doubt this entire series would fit right in at the CW. And while there’s certainly a lot of dialogue, it works well with the paneling choices and artwork.
Leonardi and Izzo’s artwork emphasize just how much Tristan is out of the LA element: all-black clothing and translucent skin, in contrast to Max’s bright colors and solid (but still pale) face. He’s a fish out of water, a fleeting presence in Max’s life, but still an important one. At the same time, I do wish we could have more time with him (this is the penultimate issue of the arc), as I think he has wisdom Max could certainly use.
What trouble is Max in now, and will her the power of her friends—new and old—be able to save her?
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #10
Tracy Bailey (colorist), Jody Houser (writer), Roberta Ingranata (artist), Comicraft’s Sarah Jacobs (letterer), Comicraft’s John Roshell (letterer), Richard Starkings (letterer)
July 17, 2019
Meet the Corsair. She’s a diplomat, she’s a warrior… and she’s one of the Doctor’s oldest friends. And the Doctor is happy to see her, but not completely. There’s this business of the stolen Devivan Gem of Niag that the Doctor and friends need to solve. Corsair does not beat around the bush: yes, she did steal the gem, but on the instruction of someone else: a “third party who’s been looking to right these sorts of wrongs.” She makes a compelling case to the TARDIS crew, and the four agree to accompany Corsair on this intergalactic Ocean’s Eleven. But what’s that glowing cube hiding in one of the TARDIS closets?
First, a note: in my review from last month’s Titan Comics PUBWATCH, I had implied that this Corsair was genderfluid. Pronouns on the very first panel of this issue establish that this Corsair identifies as female.
And that’s not all we know about her. She shares some sort of deep relationship with the Doctor that doesn’t seem to be just run-of-the-mill friendship. She’s a clever diplomat, placating an angry alien in the pub after the Doctor breaks its killgun. And she’s unabashedly honest, confessing without pause to her role in the Gem of Niag theft and then cleverly convincing the Doctor to join her on the rest of the quest. There’s not a page of action in this entire issue, and you don’t care. That’s how compelled, attracted, and enchanted you are with the Corsair and her story. Throw in some of the Doctor’s trademark wit and a cliffhanger that leaves you wondering, and you have an issue of personal moments that captivates you from start to finish.
Similar facial features for both the Doctor and the Corsair do leave you wondering: are they one and the same? It’s a clever artistic twist from Roberta Ingranata that reinforces the closeness of whatever relationship they have. Much like Life is Strange #7 above, smaller panels in layout allow for these interactions to shine like diamonds. There are also some large-scale moments where Ingranata gets to have fun with her artwork: the beauty of the TARDIS as background, a full page spread showing off the Corsair’s fighting skills. After reading some of the earlier Doctor Who comics for a summer project for another site, I now appreciate just how much the artists on this series stretch their creativity, but keep things as realistic as possible.
After this installment, I certainly would not mind if the Corsair joined the TARDIS team permanently. She’s an injection of fun that would take this crew to a whole new level.
Tank Girl: Action Alley #5
Alan Martin (writer), Brett Parson (artist, letterer)
July 24, 2019
She’s back! Tank Girl returns in a whole new set of adventures. Tank Girl: Forever pick up right where the previous issue left off: Tank Girl and friends taken to the heavens in a beam of light. It’s a transformation into Tank Girl with a brand new (and fun) super-suit to fight “Bad Seed.” She’s not alone, though—Jet-Girl and Sub-Girl swoop in for the assist at just the right time. But the trio just can’t put their finger on how they got there or what happened to Barney. They do figure out the latter, but it may be too late.
After a few issues from other series focusing on intimate conversations and characters, I was ready for some good ol’-fashioned action. And this delivered! Martin and Parson pay tribute to the Golden Age from start to finish, but with a good dose of irreverence and feminism that makes Tank Girl who she is. There’s no cheesecake in these superheroes. Parson draws his women confident and proportional, and in costumes that are functional for superheroes, but stylish too. Motion lines make heroes and villains leap off the page, and, coupled with a diluted color palette and bold letters, they give the entire issue nostalgia feels for 1970s Saturday morning cartoons.
The script sets up this new arc quite well. There are quick introductions to the players and a good cliffhanger that leaves Tank Girl in just the right amount of trouble. It’s captivating enough to get you back for more, but not too dangerous that you don’t think she won’t survive.
Long before Garth Ennis’s The Boys, Tank Girl gave superheroes an edge. See where the subversiveness of A-Train, The Deep, and Homeland started in the pages of Tank Girl: Forever.