Titan Comics Pubwatch: May 2020

Titan Pubwatch Banner from Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince #2

For most of us, life is still life on lockdown, with more questions and anxieties than certainties and answers as the hours and days pass.  But thank goodness for comics that can provide us with moments of escape and distraction from a 24 hour news cycle that rivals even the most dystopian of dystopias.  I hope that wherever you are reading this from is a place of safety and good health.  Stay inside, read on for Titan news and reviews, fight COVID-19. (Also wash your hands. That also helps.)

Titan Comics News and Announcements

New Titan Comics Coming Soon!

It’s been a long few weeks without new comics to entertain us at home. And while many of us (myself included) spent time diving into that very long to read pile, no doubt you were missing the latest installments from your regular stories.  Fortunately, Diamond Comics Distribution will be resuming distribution of new comics on May 20th.

It’s a bit unclear what from Titan will be returning on that date. One list from Newsarama suggested we would be seeing Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Year 2 #4 on that date, but Titan’s website (as well as Comixology) have that title returning on June 3rd (along with Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia).  Titan’s website also indicates that we’ll see Minions: Sports #2 on that date, whereas Comixology has a December 31, 2020 date (clearly a placeholder) instead.

We’ll keep an eye on these release dates and update you in our next installment of this Pubwatch (and hopefully have a review or two for you as well).

All Things Snowpiercer

A timeline showing the chronogical progression of the Snowpiercer Saga
The Official Snowpiercer timeline from Titan Comics

Ahead of the mid-May debut of the television adaptation of the graphic novel series, Titan Comics gives us the definitive timeline of how the TV series, graphic novel, and movie fit together.  You can click on that image above to see just how the pieces fit together.  There’s certainly a lot of moving parts, and this is an excellent way to bring fans up to speed while giving them the tools to explore this world even further if the TV show has piqued their interest. In fact, Titan will be publishing new softcover editions of the first three graphic novels in June and July, with a new prequel graphic novel (Snowpiercer The Prequel Part 2: Apocalypse) coming at the end of August.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the TV series yet, be sure to take a look. The show will debut on TNT in the United States on May 17th, and worldwide on Netflix on May 25th.

Watching Penny Dreadful: City of Angels? Read the Comics that Inspired the Series

Have you been watching Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: City of Angels with all its 1930’s California glamour? If it inspired you to check out (or revisit) its prequel series, the high Victorian gothic Penny Dreadful, you’ll also want to take a look at Titan’s companion comics series.  The Penny Dreadful comics pick up right where the original series ended, providing perhaps just a little more closure than what we received on TV in 2016.

What I’m Reading

It’s time for another Titan Throwback Thursday.  We’ll continue our look at Blade Runner and Shades of Magic: The Rebel Army, and dive for the first time into the world of Rivers of London.  

Blade Runner 2019 #4

Jim Campbell (letterer) Michael Green (writer), Andres Guinaldo (artist), Mike Johnson (writer), Marco Lesko (colorist)
October 9, 2019

A woman in a black jacket, holding a gun, stands in the middle of a city where it is raining
Blade Runner #3, by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Marco Lesko

Ash knows the truth about Isobel. Isobel knows the truth about herself. Both know what Eldon Tyrell wants. Prized for her longevity genome, Cleo is a very valuable little girl.  The question remains: will Ash be able to make it south of the border in time to save Cleo from all this madness? Isobel may be a Replicant, but the love she has developed for Cleo conquers all. It convinces her to turn the child over to Ash. And when that immediate threat is over, Ash now realizes larger threats are on the horizon, and they both need to be someplace that isn’t Los Angeles.

The pacing on this issue—also the closing to the first arc—was brilliant.  Green and Johnson had multiple showdowns to plot out, and they staggered the reveals very well, unfolding them when the time was right.  First it was Ash, who also used the opportunity to provide a recap of what brought her to the island.  Her explanations made Tyrell’s violent, manic entrance all the more so.  And then it’s Isobel’s inward, quiet monologue, that mother’s love, that saves the day.  The juxtaposition was brilliant, and reading this on Mother’s Day made it all the more poignant.

Throughout this series, I remained impressed with Marco Lesko’s bright and beautiful dystopia. For this issue, he tones the colors down. The earth-toned palette lends and heightens the sense of peace, however temporary, that Isobel and Cleo have. It also makes the violence from the later showdown with Tyrell and his men all the more kinetic and brutal, with bright gunfire piercing every single moment.  Artist Andres Guinaldo uses worm’s eye perspective to convey power quite well, particularly on characters who don’t initially appear to have power. Ash may be injured, but when you’re looking at her from the ground up, she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

One mission for Ash done, and now another one with even higher stakes is in the wings.

Shades of Magic: The Rebel Army #2

Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Andrea Olimpieri (artist), V.E. Schwab (writer), Rob Steen (letterer)
December 18, 2019

A man stands brandishing a sword with the silhouette of a ship and the sea in the background
Shades of Magic: The Rebel Army #2 by V.E. Schwab and Andrea Olimpieri

The Rebel Army marches on, leaving death and destruction as its calling card. Time is on the side of Maxim and all of Verose. They have the room to raise reinforcements and build their own army, even if the odds are against them. Maxim knows this, and even though many in Verose tell him to go back to London, he resolves to stay and fight.  And while many admire his bravado, others wonder if he’s in over his head.

The prologue revealed something I possibly missed from the first issue: the leader of the Rebel Army.  That leader is Rowan, the magician behind the Night of Knives tournament (remember that?). The same magician that Maxim defeated. Clearly he’s back and back for blood. It makes the target of Verose all the more personal.  Every other city the Rebel Army pillaged and burned is going to be child’s play compared to what they have in mind for Verose.  You feel the sense of desperation and urgency in Maxim’s planning, turning an issue of conversations and character moments into high stakes action.

Because this was an issue focusing on character moments, I do wish the artwork took a lighter texture. The shadows Andrea Olimpieri uses well in previous installments don’t seem to work well here. We need to see faces clearly to read emotion, and when faces remain buried in shadow, you can’t see that. As a result, the script is left to carry this weight. We know from previous installments the philosophy of balancing script and art is “show, not tell,” which does not work well when you can’t see what’s being shown! But the darker palette still does what it has done best throughout all of these titles: show off the beauty and power of magic.

Is Maxim finally in over his head? Time will tell.

Rivers of London: The Fey and the Furious #1

Ben Aaronovitch (writer), Andrew Cartmel (writer), Rob Steen (letterer), Lee Sullivan (artist), Paulina Vassileva (colorist)
November 6, 2019

A woman stands holding a flag while cars race in the background
Rivers of London: The Fey and the Furious #1, by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, and Lee Sullivan

The Fast and the Furious meets fairies in this new adventure of wizarding cop Peter Grant. There’s some unusual cargo that’s turned up in the Netherlands in the racecar of a British teen.  But this will be more than just an investigation into the less-than-legal world of street racing.  And it’s because of that aforementioned unusual cargo: a narhwal-like horn that . . . well, really isn’t from a narwhal. Man, Vin Diesel never had to deal with this.

The Rivers of London comics are very canonical with the companion novels. The prologue does a fine job of bringing new readers on board and setting up the proper place in the Rivers of London timeline. At the same time, building such a shared world can turn off new readers as they feel they have to invest in a lot just to grasp the basics. (This is one of the reasons I haven’t read other Rivers of London comics) A smarter approach would be what Doctor Who does with its comics: connecting to canon with characters, but building independent stories. Fortunately, the script does not weigh itself down in that canon. It builds the mystery well and introduces us to characters through their dialogue instead of narration.

For a fantasy series, you may be expecting more magic to dazzle and delight. That isn’t here. The book relishes in the slow burn of mystery storytelling, which makes sense for a debut. There’s no sense in revealing all in the first installment! In other words, if you’re looking for sweeping, epic, displays of magic, you’ll want to check out Shades of Magic, the series I reviewed right before this one. There’s hints of the magic to come here, as if we’re slowly cracking open the door as to what to expect. For some readers, that may not be enough to bring them back for more.  One thing that does dazzle and delight me with this series? The representation and inclusivity. Four of our five main characters are people of color.  This may be a mystical London, but it looks more like contemporary London than other non-fantasy series.

Despite the implications of the name, this will be a slow-simmering mystery. No doubt Rivers of London fans will enjoy this, but other readers may have to work just a bit harder to appreciate its complexity.

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski

Librarian by day, comics nerd by day and by night. Also published at Geeks OUT and Multiversity Comics (where she is also the social media manager for the site). Originally from New Jersey, now of Connecticut and New York City. Raging feminist your mother probably warned you about. Body positivity and LGBTQ+ advocate. Lover of good whiskey, Jensen Ackles, Doctor Who, Funko Pops, knitting, Hamilton, and the New York Mets. Will defend the Oxford Comma to her deathbed. Find her on twitter at @librarian_kate