AfterShock June Pubwatch

Aftershock Pubwatch Banner - image from Trust Fall #1 (Aftershock Comics)

Welcome to Women Write About Comics’ June edition of our monthly AfterShock Comics Pubwatch!


The biggest news of June is that AfterShock books are back on the shelves! After a shipping embargo enacted by distributor Diamond while brick and mortar comic book shops around the country temporarily closed doors amid the developing Coronavirus crisis, AfterShock Comics returned to regular new releases on May 20th, with Disaster, Inc. #1.

AfterShock has also launched a “Free for All” program this month, encouraging readers to stay home by reading the entire first issue of a variety of AfterShock titles for free online at AfterShock’s website.

And June brings even more big news from AfterShock, with the announcement of their upcoming Support Our Shops (S.O.S.) benefit comic!

A young boy opens a comic book and endless illustrations pour from its pages on David Mack's cover for AfterShock's S.O.S. benefit comic.
David Mack’s cover for the S.O.S. benefit comic (AfterShock Comics, June 2020).

AfterShock’s Publisher, Joe Pruitt, announced the effort on June 12, saying, “this benefit book celebrates the central and critical role that comic shops have always played in fostering a love of the medium among fans – many of whom have gone on to become creators in their own right. It might be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a hell of a drop in the bucket. These are heartfelt stories, crafted by creators with deep, lasting connections to the comic shops of yesterday, today and, we have no doubt, tomorrow.”

S.O.S. celebrates the irreplaceable role of comic shops in the lives of creators and fans. The benefit comic will feature exclusive stories from Cullen Bunn, Stephanie Phillips, Zac Thompson, Steve Orlando, Jamie McKelvie, Jerry Ordway and Aaron Douglas, with art from Leila Leiz, Don Kramer, Szymon Kudranski, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt, Gordon Purcell and Cliff Richards, with cover conceived and executed by David Mack.

S.O.S. will be distributed through Diamond to the 500 top-ranked AfterShock accounts, with free copies of S.O.S. shipped with those accounts’ 6/24 on-sale books. Other stores not included in this ranking are eligible to receive a number of copies through a request by their AfterShock Ambassador.

AfterShock’s S.O.S. was created so that each comic shop can leverage the title to best suit their individual needs and goals. It can be given away free, used as a purchase incentive, put into the pull boxes of AfterShock readers, or sold directly to consumers at a suggested price to help recoup losses that may have been sustained through pandemic-related closures and events. “S.O.S. is our small way of saying ’thank you’ to all of the wonderful stores that have supported AfterShock since the beginning,” added Mike Marts, AfterShock’s Editor-In-Chief. “Now it’s our turn to give back.”


Join the Future #2

Zack Kaplan (Writer), Piotr Kowalski (Artist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer), Brad Simpson (Colorist).
June 10, 2020.

Clem stands in front of the burning remains of her hometown, in stark contrasting to the gleaming metropolis behind.
Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson’s cover to Join the Future #2 (AfterShock Comics, June 2020).

Issue #2 of Join the Future opens with a rain of bullets, as the future comes to town. Join the Future presents an intriguing concept: Clem, the lone surviving member of her family, chooses to eschew modernity to remain in a midwestern frontier town sitting at the edge of a glistening metropolis, waiting for a chance to enact revenge on the law enforcers who killed her family in an attempt to intimidate midwesterners into selling their land and moving into “the city.”

Conceptually, this series fits neatly into AfterShock’s publishing roster, painting modernization or technology as a threat. Despite what may have once been well-intentioned, the tactics taken by those in “the city” in their attempts to entice people living on the fringes to “join the future” are no more than intimidation disguised behind the rhetoric of good intentions. The concept behind this series is interesting, raising questions about the urban/rural divide in America, and how urban and rural communities have developed out of sync with each other, but in the context of a publishing slate heavy with books finding evil in technology and modernism, such as You are Obsolete or Bad Reception, much of what is new and engaging about the concept behind this series feels like ground AfterShock has already tried to tread.

That isn’t to say Join the Future #2 isn’t good, or that this series isn’t worth reading; on the contrary, this is a strong issue that moves the plot forward while defining Clem’s character well, with wonderfully detailed art that beautifully illustrates the uncanny divide between the technology of the future and the remnants of the past. This is one of the stronger takes on the theme of fearing the future that seems to be AfterShock’s in-house specialty, and a great addition to the publishing house’s established roster.

Undone by Blood, Or The Shadow of a Wanted Man #3

Sami Kivela (Artist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer), Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson (Writers), Jason Wordie (Colorist).
June 10, 2020.

Ethel stands silhouetted before a blood splat on Sami Kivelä's cover to Undone by Blood #3.
Sami Kivelä’s cover to Undone by Blood #3 (AfterShock Comics, June 2020).

In the third issue of Undone by Blood, or The Shadow of a Wanted Man, heroine Ethel’s story echoes even more closely that of Solomon Eaton, the cowboy hero of the western novel she’s reading. As her investigation brings her closer to finding her family’s killer, the danger she faces grows, and Ethel has to get dangerous in return as she investigates. Ethel remains a gritty, engaging protagonist, and the parallels drawn between her and Sol effectively reinforces the idea of Ethel as a modern-day cowboy, searching for justice no one else can give her. The narrative shifts seamlessly and easily between Ethel’s story and Sol’s story, aided by letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s speech bubbles, which have different distinct styles in Ethel’s story, Ethel’s flashbacks, and Sol’s story as read by Ethel.

Artistically, each issue of this book is as stunning as the last. Colorist Jason Wordie hews to a palette of warm, often pastel, watercolors, using brighter reds for effective emphasis, and always allowing room for Sami Kivela’s heavy black inks to create contrast. The art style is detailed and visually pleasing, with heavy lines and soft colors creating expressive panels. This is easily one of my favorite books of 2020 to look at, and every issue I find myself looking through to see the art before I sit down to read the full comic.

This is my final month covering all the news & newest releases from AfterShock, so stay tuned to see what’s next for this recurring feature!

Emma Snape

Emma Snape

Emma is an Ohio native who has worked in film production and education, and writes about comics on the side. She loves thinking about the role of visuals in narrative storytelling, both in film and comics, reading comics set in cities she's lived in, and telling people to read X-Force (1991).