Folks, I just can’t over-emphasize what a great week this is for new comic book releases. What have we done to deserve this? (Nothing, of course, we are filthy sinners; but even sinners are lucky sometimes.)
There are so many excellent releases that I want to talk about this week that I’ve split them into two separate posts. You can read the first batch here, concerning fairy tales gone wrong; secret lesbian romance in the servants’ quarters of an Edwardian estate; and a supergenius kid’s lemonade stand. As if that wasn’t enough, next up we have a hard-boiled reporter solving supernatural crimes in 1970s Detroit; Wonder Woman’s sinister future; and a heist gone wrong involving psychic food. I can’t even stand how good these books are. Please make time to read them by abandoning your previous life (not like you were doing anything with it anyway).
As always, a big thanks to Phoenix for helping us pick out our favorites this week! Do remember to visit your local comic book shop this weekend.
The more you hear about Abbott, the more you’re going to sit up and wonder how you’ve gone so long without it. Set in a chaotic Detroit of 1972, Elena Abbott is a hard-boiled take-no-prisoners investigative reporter who’s used to working outside the system. She’s underestimated by the city’s racist police, who are more interested in hassling her than solving crimes. When a wave of violence hits the Black community, Elena takes it upon herself to investigate, uncovering a supernatural evil and a connection to the death of her husband years ago. It’s up to a tough reporter with a tragic past and her network of Detroit allies to unravel a mystery beyond all human understanding — UGH it’s so good. Y’ALL IT’S SO GOOD.
Writer Saladin Ahmed and artists Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie, and Taj Tenfold perfectly thread a delicate needle, braiding arcane supernatural adventure with an indictment of American racism and also — not to dwell too much on this, but it has to be said — some incredible outfits. And while the story echoes various genres (it’s a little bit Buffy, with a dash of 70s Black cinema and a touch of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday) I can’t think of any character or story like this one. A true page-turner. You’ve got to read this one.
CHU: VOLUME 1
A great funny colorful heist, Chu is a spinoff of a series that ran from 2009 to 2016 about a psychic cop who receives arcane knowledge from the food that he eats. This new series focuses on his sister, Saffron, a criminal who gets psychic knowledge from the people she eats with. It’s a bonkers premise that is a true goofy delight, diving right into adventure on the very first page with a heist setup that anyone familiar with the genre will not be surprised to learn goes a bit off the rails.
The sibling rivalry is an added twist — as if food-psychics weren’t twisty enough — and the writing is genuinely quite funny. That the book also delivers on the promise of attractive depictions of meals: The art provides us with a lovely exaggerated color palette and loving renderings of food that I was startled to find provided real-life inspiration for meals I might like to cook.
I’ve seen this one compared to Better Call Saul and Reservoir Dogs and that sounds about right to me. And as always, it’s a pleasure to see a woman of color in a lead role.
FUTURE STATE: WONDER WOMAN
I’m usually hesitant to recommend superhero books, since so many of them require encyclopedic knowledge of storylines that are older than anyone currently alive, but one of this week’s entries into the Future State series is as excellent an entry point as DC is ever going to manage. It’s the distant future, and Wonder Woman wanders the wastes, reminiscing about what was, with a memory-ghost of Batman at her side (and a familiar utility belt around her waist). A terrible evil is approaching; yadda yadda; superhero stuff; the usual fun that one expects from one of these books.
One of the things I like about the Future State series is that the books are surprisingly long — there’s a lot of story packed into each issue — and the back half is devoted to an intriguing tale with the character Nubia. Sometime in the less-distant future, heroes have backed away from participating in the world of mortals; and it’s up to Nubia to investigate a mystery involving ancient artifacts and the underworld.
Somewhere along the line, I heard someone remark that what Marvel does right is using superheroes to tell diverse genre stories; and what DC does wrong is confining their heroes to the same genre over and over. The nifty arcane magic and Marpley mystery of Nubia’s storyline is a welcome break from that trend.