It seems like a decade since our last Pubwatch. I hope all who read this are safe, healthy, and most importantly: at home. However you’ve been affected by COVID-19, my deepest prayers are with you, especially if you are one of our healthcare workers or first responders. You are the heroes who do not wear capes.
While Diamond has stopped distribution of new comics for the moment, there is still plenty to read that can provide comfort and distraction from the madness.
Titan Comics News and Announcements
Please note that with the uncertainty of the comics and publishing industries due to COVID-19, all publication dates are subject to change.
June 2020 Solicitations
Fans who don’t have the time to go back to the first issue of Blade Runner can jump on board June 10th with Blade Runner #9, the start of a new arc. Ash is back in Los Angeles, but it’s not the same city she left. If you’re looking for lighter fare, there’s a double dose of Minions fun in June. First, there’s a new Minions #1 on June 3rd, and then the collected Minions Vol. 5: Sports! on June 23rd. The final battle for Irene Adler and the Amazons begins in Adler #5 on June 3rd, and the Life is Strange road trip continues with Life is Strange: Partners in Time #3 on June 17th.
If you’re Team Baby Yoda, a new Star Wars collector’s magazine focusing on the art of The Mandalorian drops on June 3rd. That same day, the regular Star Wars magazine pays tribute to 40 years of The Empire Strikes Back with a tour of London’s Elstree Studios (where the movie was filmed) and several cast and crew interviews.
Titan Books brings us an installment of the adventures of the Cool and Lam Detective Agency on June 23rd with the reprint of the prose novel Shills Can’t Cash Chips, by Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner. And Firefly fans get to meet Jayne’s ex Temperance on June 9th with the novel Firefly: The Magnificent Nine. She’s back to her former lover for some help, but the problems of outlaws and bandits taking control of her planet’s water supply is just the start.
You can read about all these titles (and more) on Newsarama.
Little Victories Cover Art Revealed on World Autism Awareness Day
April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day, a day near and dear to my heart as I have a niece on the spectrum. A new graphic novel on one family’s experiences with autism, Little Victories, is out this May. Titan took the opportunity on April 2nd to show off the cover for writer/artist Yvon Roy’s story, translated for the first time into English. It’s a story of love, acceptance, hope, and joy…seeing the world through the eyes of someone who communicates and feels just a bit differently.
“When I created this book, I had in mind to share my experience, good and bad, so that everything I have learned can be useful to others,” said author Yvon Roy. “I also wanted to make parents feel better, less alone, after a diagnosis…I hope it encourages people to share their experiences and have open discussions about autism.”
Little Victories arrives on May 26th.
Breathtaker Music Video
Back in February, we reported on a new collected edition of Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel’s Breathtaker series. Now, there’s a music video for the series by Wheatley, with his own music and artistic design. He said later that “I have been recording music for longer than Breathtaker has existed. In fact I turned down offers from two major recording labels for multi-album contracts to concentrate on creating comics and illustration.”
The new collected edition is still on track to drop sometime this year.
What I’m Reading
Time to go full-on “Titan Throw Back Thursday” for our reviews this month. We check in with two series we’ve covered in the past and dive headfirst into manga for the first time.
Blade Runner 2019 #3
Jim Campbell (letterer) Michael Green (writer), Andres Guinaldo (artist), Mike Johnson (writer), Marco Lesko (colorist)
September 18, 2019
It’s been a bit, so let’s check in and see how Ash was doing. In her search for mother and daughter Selywn, she discovers that Isobel herself is a replicant, after the real Isobel Selwyn died the year before from cancer. Little Cleo remains blissfully unaware that her mother died. And that’s going to prove dangerous. Cleo carries a mutant gene linked to longer life—something Replicant Mom wants. If Ash thought the stakes were high, they just got higher. Especially now that “mother” and daughter are headed for the southern U.S. border.
The delivery of this twist came in the middle of the issue, in an almost anticlimactic way. But it was enough to keep me back in after the second issue suffered script missteps that left my attention wandering. That’s thanks to how the action slowly ramped up to the final scene, but not too slow that pacing dragged. Reading this while watching the third season of Westworld even adds a deeper layer of questions to ponder about free will, life and death, and humanity. I couldn’t have picked a better time to come back.
There’s no signs the artwork will slow down. It’s still a colorful dystopia with careful attention to detail. Whether it’s an injured Ash or her slick new car, there’s love and care in this artwork that honors its source while creating something very original. Several moments also use a key base color to unify the scene: tan when Ash and Ms. Elo meet, blue and green at the southern border. It’s a clever way to show passage and change.
While my mind wandered after the second issue, I’m fully back in now that Cleo Selwyn is unknowingly in the fight of her life.
Shades of Magic: The Rebel Army #1
Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Andrea Olimpieri (artist), V.E. Schwab (writer), Rob Steen (letterer)
November 6, 2019
Maxim Maresh survived the Night of Knives. But there’s no time to rest on those laurels. The waters off of Verose, the Blood Coast, teem with soldiers en route to Verose for blood. And when they land in nearby Milos, Maxim has to be at the ready to defend his new home at any cost. But are his actions too little, too late?
Let’s get this one out of the way first. The parallels between Maxim’s handling of the Rebel Army invasion (or lack thereof) and several Western governments’ responses to COVID-19 (or lack thereof) are there. As with my reading of Blade Runner #3, the issue when taken in context of current events seems more anxious, more sobering, more pressing. Although this is the third in the Shades of Magic trilogy, Schwab does provide enough information for new or lapsed readers to catch up. Schwab also continues the hallmark of “show don’t tell,” letting artwork speak for itself as much as possible.
And what artwork it is! Olimpieri sticks with broad, angular lines even in the most joyful of moments to add that ominous cloud of death and destruction. The color palette remains reserved until those moments of battle with the Rebel Army. And it’s then Angiolini’s colors come out in a vibrant, violent way. Combined it makes for a statement of this army’s power and might. In particular, I love the moments (as I always have) that show off magic in the series: piercing white beams of light that cut panels down to size.
Maxim thought the Night of Knives was a test of wills, but this one looks to be even stronger.
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia #1
Jay (artist), Steven Moffatt (writer), Amoona Saohin (letterer)
December 4, 2019
The BBC’s Sherlock comes to manga. A Scandal in Belgravia is the first episode of the second season of the series. It’s the one where Sherlock and Watson head to Buckingham Palace to get the Royal Family out of a very delicate indiscretion. One that involves Irene Adler. But there’s no Irene here just yet as we meet Holmes and Watson and their complicated bromance. Watson’s blog irritates Holmes, as does the subpar quality of clients coming through Baker Street. But the halls of power and wealth come calling, and Sherlock must answer.
I recommend getting your hands on this in print to fully appreciate the right-to-left manga reading experience. If you’re doing it on an app that may not be optimized for manga, it’s going to be hard to follow along. Much like the BBC series, this starts slow, taking its time to establish Holmes, Watson, and their daily lives. But there are clever hints of the trouble to come. Manga artwork often has a very exaggerated, cartoonish feel, but that’s not present here. Jay’s light lines not only reproduce Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman very faithfully, they add that extra flair of British stoicism. This is going to be a quiet, contemplative manga, and like any good Sherlock Holmes story, build its tension in layers.
If there is any fault with this, it is that script does not do the arrogance of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock justice. That’s something that would be very hard to translate from screen to page, because that arrogance comes across well in the timbre of Cumberbatch’s voice. Hopefully facial expression can help get that across.
Stumbles aside from the experience of a new format of comics for me, I’m eager to see how this blend of East and West progresses.