Titan Comics Pubwatch: August 2020

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

Roll out those last lazy hazy crazy days of your pandemic summer with the latest news and reviews from Titan Comics. This month, we take a look at the long awaited Horizon Zero Dawn #1! 

Titan Comics News and Announcements

August 2020 Release Schedule

Please note release dates are always subject to change.

August 5th: Horizon Zero Dawn #1

August 12th: Snowpiercer Prequel 2: Apocalypse Vol. 2, Blade Runner 2019 FCBD Edition

August 19th: Adler #3

August 26th: Blade Runner #9

New Life Is Strange: Partners in Time Trailer

One of the series I miss is Life is Strange, which ended its first volume in January.  The wait will be over this fall when Life is Strange: Partners in Time drops on October 14th.  Titan has a trailer for the new series, so get ready to form your own theories about what challenges Max and Chloe will face on their road trip…and if Max can get back to her timeline.

October 2020 Solicitations

Max and Chloe’s new adventures are just one of the offerings Titan has on tap for October.  We bid farewell to Irene Adler and her lady army in Adler #5, out on October 14th.  Blade Runner 2019 and Horizon Zero Dawn also continue their respective series with issue #11 for the former out on October 21st and issue #4 for the latter on October 28th. The multi-platform event Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious concludes its comic run with issue #2 on October 7th.  And if you’re a collector, several virgin packs of series such as Blade Runner (issues #5 – 8) and Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (all five issues of the series) come out on October 7th.

We remain hopeful that the Black Widow film will see the light of day this fall, and Titan is too, with their planned movie special magazine dropping on October 7th.  There’s also a new collector’s edition magazine for Star Wars fans taking a look at the production of the final three films in the Skywalker saga available on October 14th.  Firefly fans will also have a new novel out that day, with Firefly—Generations.  A map Mal wins in a card game leads the ship to an ancient threat, one River senses very acutely.

Find out more about these solicitations and others via Comiclist.

Titan Comics @ Comic-Con@Home

Titan made its presence known at this year’s ComicCon@Home with a few major announcements and peeks behind the curtain.

We covered the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious panel in great detail, which provided many details about this very large event. The peek behind the curtain at its creation shows the scope and magnitude of such an undertaking, and looks like it will be thrilling even if you just read the comics.  One interesting point from the panel is that some of the in-person aspects of the event, such as the escape room and theater experience, are planned to still go on in spite of COVID, with rigorous safety protocols.

Another exciting piece of news is from one of our Pubwatch favorites, V.E. Schwab. At the Shades of Magic ComicCon@Home panel, Schwab revealed a new series set in the Villains universe titled Extraordinary. This will take place in the five years between the 2013 novel Vicious and the 2018 novel Vengeful.  The focus will be on Eli “Ever” Cardale and his new job hunting down new Extraordinaries who are only just starting to learn about their new powers. Schwab said: “Extraordinary is about supervillains. It’s about people who discover that the result from near-death experiences are superpowers. It’s the ultimate anti-hero/proud villain tale.”  No art team has been named for the series just yet, and it will debut sometime in 2021.

What I’m Reading

We take a look at the finale of our fairy race car drivers in Rivers of London: The Fey and the Furious, and then dive into the video game world with the debut of Horizon Zero Dawn.   Then, it’s back to another trip to the archives to look at the 2018 Southwestern supernatural series Brother Nash by Bridgit Connell.

Rivers of London: The Fey and the Furious #3

Ben Aaronovitch (writer), Andrew Cartmel (writer), Color-Ice (colorist), Mariano LaClaustra (artist), Rob Steen (letterer)
February 5, 2020

A Black man riding a unicorn
Rivers of London: The Fey and the Furious #4, by by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, and Mariano LaClaustra

Can Peter get himself out of the fairy realm? The fairy queen is out for revenge, but he wants to come home with the prize of unicorn smuggler and street race organizer Emmanuel Cross.  Quick thinking Peter takes the queen on a chase through the castle, where she comes face-to-face with Cross’s deeds. Now Cross realizes the jig is up.  So, it’s time for one more drag race with the prize of justice for Cross and Peter back home.

The pacing in our finale works very well, building tension and unfolding resolution uniquely. There’s also a twist that you may not have seen coming, but sets the game board up to resolve everything so nothing is left unsaid at the end.

What I loved most is the artwork. Mariano LaClaustra switches art styles beautifully to separate real world from fantasy, using photorealistic style for the former and a more cartoon style for the latter.  And he does an excellent job with action scenes, making cars jump off the page.  But he also does build in some intimacy in those scenes.  In Peter’s chase through the castle walls with their narrow hallways and staircases, he takes you up close with him in those confined spaces.  It adds a layer of immediacy and urgency to the moment, which in turn starts that slow build to the end.

This was my first look at the Rivers of London universe.  In the past, I had shied away from it for the same reason that I did with Doctor Who comics. I would always find myself picking the wrong issue to jump in and I would miss an important piece of canon.  A self-contained story like this that uses the characters and universe without too much reference to previous tales does well to bring in new readers.

Horizon Zero Dawn #1

Jim Campbell (letterer), Ann Maulina (artist), Anne Toole (writer), Bryan Valenza (colorist)
August 5, 2020

Two women, one wearing a helmet, staring out to the reader in Horizon Zero Dawn #1
Horizon Zero Dawn #1 by Anne Toole and Ann Molina

Welcome to the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, where Earth is a lush and green ecosystem 1,000 years into the future but dominated by animal like robots called machines.  And meet Talanah, member of the exclusive Hunters Lodge, ambitious to be its female leader to restore her family’s legacy. She’s also restless for adventure and to find her friend Aloy. When it’s time for a new contract, Talanah jumps at the chance, thinking it the solution to her restlessness.

Titan is known for its comic adaptations of licenses, from Doctor Who to Assassin’s Creed to Rivers of London. This provides opportunity to bring in new fans to these worlds, but only if done right. In other words, the right amount of worldbuilding.  Anne Toole does a fine job of this, outlining early on the world and the main players.  Casual conversation reveals aspects of personality beautifully, such as one between Talanah and male warrior Amadis that reveals the struggle Talanah faces to rise in the Lodge’s ranks. But with all this setup, the central conflict is hard to find on first read. Worldbuilding is good and necessary, but too much of it bores the reader.

But like the video game, this book is visually beautiful, a distraction from the somewhat muddled plot. The style is pure animation, reminding me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The colors are lush and peaceful earth tones of green and brown, making this world of machines rather calm in comparison, even in those moments when they attack.  And I love the subtle way the art conveys flashback in scenes with Talanah and Aloy, switching to a parchment-like texture to show the passage of time. But best of all, we have a heroine that isn’t designed for the male gaze. She’s drawn powerfully and proportionally.

This was a sluggish start, but if the second issue can make time to dive headfirst into this contract adventure, I think we may have a hit on our hands.

Brother Nash #1

Bridgit Connell (writer, artist)
June 6, 2018

A man stands shoulder to shoulder with a dark haired woman who is holding a gun
Brother Nash #1 by Bridgit Connell

The desert night is dark and full of terrors. And Nash has seen too many of them to count. Nash is a trucker with a very unique gift: he can communicate with the human and animal spirit realm. He uses these powers for good, bringing people from the dark into the light. A hitchhiker that Nash picks up one night leads him down the dark desert highway and into some very strange adventures.

Connell cites one of her influences as Mike Mignola, and she’s done work on Lady Baltimore, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.  And you can see that influence all over this book: from the mysteries steeped in folklore to the innocent creatures with sinister creepiness. The supernatural aspects have their basis in Native American folklore, and I hope she treats them respectfully without appropriating the culture. I do also love how well she gets the scenery of the desert right: the vast spaces, the muted earth tones.

Where this book falters is in art styles, switching often between flat and cartoonish to richly detailed to sketchbook. It’s interesting to try out different art styles to fit the story, but consistency always helps, especially in a debut issue.  This is also a very LONG debut issue, at over 70 pages. I always appreciate enough time and space to build out a world, but there are too many side stories in here that clutter up the main narrative.

The description for this book calls it a mix of Supernatural and American Gods. It does get the tone and feel of those shows right: two men on a journey through the supernatural realms with an emphasis on American folklore and tradition.  It just has a few crafting and structure hurdles to get over in order to really shine.

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

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