Welcome to the February IDW Pubwatch! I couldn’t be more excited to share my finds with you. It’s been a busy month at IDW and I’ve got all the top news coming out of the publishing house, as well as tons of IDW comic book reviews. Plus, I have a selection of my favourite covers from this month!
News and Announcements
George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy Wins APALA Award
They Called Us Enemy, the powerful memoir by George Takei, published by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing, recently won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature. The memoir recounts the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II. The official press release has more details of the award.
New Graphic Novel Programme from IDW Publishing and Smithsonian Enterprises
Starting in Fall 2020, IDW Publishing and Smithsonian Enterprises will be creating a library of graphic novels based on education and research. The first novel series will be Time Trials, which will be published alongside other original novels, IDW Publishing’s March, and George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, as well as coloring books and picture books aimed at younger readers. More details are available on IDW’s website.
Unfinished 1999 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arc to be Completed
Created by Gary Carlson and artist Frank Fosco, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Urban Legends came to an abrupt end in 1999, with the arc never being finished…until now. Both author and artist will be returning to complete the ending of the story, alongside colourist Adam Guzowski. No date has been set for the continuation issues yet.
Four-Part Deep Space Nine Series to Debut in April 2020
Star Trek fans will have much to be excited for in April of this year: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—Too Long a Sacrifice brings the DS9 crew back into the comics world with a four-part noir thriller set during the Dominion Wars. The series will be written by David and Scott Tipton, and illustrated by Greg Scott.
New Star Wars: The Clone Wars Mini-Series to Launch in April
Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be returning to screens this year, and in comic book form. IDW has announced a new five-part mini-series, Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars—Battle Tales, to be available every week from April 2020. Written by Michael Moreci and illustrated by various artists, the series will follow clone troopers Commander Cody, Captain Rex, and other familiar faces from the show as they exchange stories about the heroes of the Star Wars universe.
I Can Sell You A Body
Ryan Ferrier (Writer and Letters), George Kambadais (Artist and Colours)
January 1, 2020
Denny Little is a psychic who can get you in touch with your dead relatives, and even bring them back into a new body—all for a price. But he bites off more than he can chew with one particular client. It doesn’t help that he makes terrible decisions like giving away all his money to a woman he falls in love with at first sight, and conjuring the dead soul of his client into the body of his administrator. How is he going to fix this mess?
As a first issue, this book is quite intriguing. I’m curious about how Denny’s powers work and whether he actually knows what he’s doing—because it looks like he’s winging it most of the time.
I do love the fact that Denny’s great love is a plus-size woman of colour. You do not get to see gorgeous characters like this in media and I would read more of this series just to see what she gets up to.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this story but it’s got off to a pretty great start. I like it!
Magic: The Gathering: Chandra TPB
Vita Ayala (Writer), Tristan Jurolan (Artist), Joana Lafuente (Colours), Christa Miesner (Letters), Harvey Tolibao (Artist), Jake Wood (Letters)
January 15, 2020
In this adaptation of the popular game, planeswalker and pyromancer Chandra Nalaar faces her demons from within and without. With a new and powerful enemy on her tail, Chandra needs to fight her survivor’s guilt if she is to save the people she cares about.
I haven’t played the game but I really enjoyed this story. Chandra is sarcastic and funny, but also hurting. She manages to come across as a very real and believable character even when she’s lit up in flames and wielding magic.
I liked the Indian coding for Chandra and her mother, as well as Kaladesh (which means black country, a weird name, honestly), their home. But Chandra is very light-skinned, which bothered me. Had it not been for her name and some other elements from her home, I would not have read her as Indian-origin at all.
Though there were times when I felt that I needed some context for this story, either from reading the other comics or from playing the game, I managed to understand most of what was happening without having to check, so I think that’s a real plus.
I found this story to be quite an enjoyable fantasy adventure with a lot of heart.
Rising Sun #1
Deron Bennett (Letters), Martin Coccolo (Artist), Katrina Mae Hao (Colours), Ron Marz (Writer), David Rodriguez (Writer)
January 15, 2020
A group of great warriors, each representing their clan, teams up to fight a new threat of dragons and preternatural beings invading Japan. But while the external threat of these monsters poses a very real danger to the team, the internal strife between the warriors may be their biggest downfall.
The art is gorgeous in this book—the colours are lively and vibrant. You get a real sense of the fantastic nature of the story just by flipping through the pages.
The story itself is a bit less exciting, though. It’s very by-the-numbers for a first issue. Even though we are inserted right into the action, the pacing is off—there are unexpected lulls in the story that take the reader out of the experience.
I’m also not convinced about the characterisations I have seen thus far. There is only one plus-size character, and though that’s more than we usually get, she’s the only openly hostile, foolhardy, and unlikeable character, which is not a great trope to fall into.
And what are we to make of a Japan-set story being written by non-Japanese writers? There’s a lot of world-building here but is it authentic? Is it respectful to the culture? How much of it is bordering on appropriation and fetishization?
I can’t help but think of all this when reading this book, which severely curtails my enjoyment of it.
Dire Wraiths #1
Jim Boswell (Colours), Sal Buscema (Colours), Ross Campbell (Colours), Guy Dorian Sr (Artist), Shawn Lee (Letters), Luca Pizzari (Artist), Chris Ryall (Writer)
January 15, 2020
The follow-up Apollo mission is on its way to the moon—but this one isn’t about discovering the wonders of space. NASA has sent the mission to find space monsters. And the monsters are very real, and looking for a way to escape their life on the moon.
I wanted to be excited by this story but it doesn’t work for me. There are far too many clichés and an over-reliance on exposition that makes the book clunky. None of the characters have any personality and neither the monsters’ motivations, nor where they got their vast knowledge of humanity, is made clear in this opening issue.
I like the art and the muted colour palette, which was easy on the eye but still heavily detailed. However, the story just doesn’t cut it for me so I won’t be reading further.
Ghostbusters: Year One #1
Erik Burnham (Writer), Luis Antonio Delgado (Colours), Dan Schoening (Artist), Neil Uyetake (Letters)
January 22, 2020
I haven’t watched the first Ghostbusters film (only the all-women remake, which I loved), but I’ve read enough about it to have a fair idea of the characters and the story. The index in the first few pages was a helpful refresher.
This book follows Winston Zeddemore who is being interviewed for a book on the Ghostbusters. He shares stories about his unusual Ghostbusters interview, his training as a Ghostbuster, and his very first mission.
This is a fun book, and I realised I didn’t need as much knowledge of the films as I had expected to—the story was pretty straightforward and stands alone beyond the film.
I want to like the art, but it’s not my style at all. The characters look nothing like their film versions, and the goofy faces get a bit tedious after a while. The backgrounds are spectacular though.
I enjoyed reading this book though it didn’t really stretch the imagination as much as I thought it would.
Thanks for joining me on this Pubwatch!