On (Mouse) Guard! It's May's Previews

May 28, 2021
Cover of Chivalry HC

Once again the PCG have scoured the pages of Previews and DC Connect to pull out our choice items for July of this year (or thereabouts), and we present here a few words to let you know why each will be featuring on our lists. 

If you like what you see, don't forget that a quick message to your local comic book retailer will help them make sure you get your copy on time. 

Here's a run down of what gave us pause in issues due for release in those balmy summer weeks: 

Cover of Ordinary Gods #1

IMAGE:

Jo: Rarely is the pitch for a comic quite as delightfully bonkers as that for M.O.M. Mother Of Madness #1 - Emilia Clarke - yes that Emilia Clarke - teams up with the indefatigable Marguerite Bennett to write a new hero: a single mother, a scientist and a superpowered freak in one bundle. If 'Mother of Dragons writes Mother of Madness' isn't enough to pull you in, then I'll add that the comedy is described as a blend of 'Deadpool and, [more urgently], Fleabag', and top it off by saying that the art is in the hands of Leila Leiz, who looks to be in the running for the hot name of the year when it comes to visual skills - certainly the sample art looks tasty. 

Image's Skybound imprint turns a creditable 10 years old this summer and they're celebrated with a, well, celebratory series, Skybound X, which promises episodes of a new Walking Dead story, 'Rick Grimes 2000' (is that a, um, laser sword he's wielding on the cover?) plus samplers of Skybound titles which will be incoming in the future. Skybound X #1 features Clementine, a character from the video game of the massive zombie title. Future issues will feature PCG favourites Manifest Destiny, Stillwater, Assassination Nation and Redneck: it looks as if there could be something for every taste here. 

James: There's something about immortality tales that I always find appealing, and so I couldn't help but be drawn to Ordinary Gods #1. I'm a fan of Kyle Higgins (and specifically his under-appreciated work on C.O.W.L.) and I'm excited to see what he does with the concept. Higgins' take is that there are five 'gods from a realm beyond our own', forced to live over and over again, constantly reincarnated into new lives and bodies. The story focuses on Christopher, one of the gods forced to face his past lives in order to save those he cares for. A fascinating idea, and with art from Felipe Watanabe, this is the stand-out new title for me in July.

DARK HORSE:
Jo: Sometimes it's the title, sometimes it's the creators, and sometimes, as with Chivalry HC, it's the absolutely exquisite illuminated manuscript-style cover which steals your heart. Neil Gaiman teams up here with artist Colleen Doran to bring us the tale of "An elderly British widow [who] buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop" - this is Gaiman's wheelhouse and what a beautifully illustrated house it is too. 

Cover of Mouse Guard: The Owlhen Caregiver #1

BOOM! STUDIOS:
Rob: Mouse Guard pretty much appeared out of nowhere in 2006, fully formed and perfect, as if its creator had been toiling away in private seclusion, practising his art in some many-angled spiral dimension where time is but an abstract concept. The original series evoked a sense of the classic Edwardian illustrated children’s tales with their Arthur Rackham bohemian flourishes and fine art aesthetic, counterpointed by an unusual square bound paper format that made it nigh on impossible to store properly with standard backing boards and bags. I was impressed, to put it mildly. Success begat a sequel or two and then, when demand outstripped the ability of the original creator to produce a steady flow of work, anthology books with guest artists and writers sprang up, and then a role-playing game ( I have a copy, though I have yet to dress up in a full body Mouse costume to run a game of it), and then talk of a film adaptation (with Andy Serkis and Idris Elba, no less!) that stalled, and then… nothing. For many, many years. But now the mice are back! In Mouse Guard: The Owlhen Caregiver #1! Cats everywhere are taking an interest as we speak.

ALBATROSS FUNNY BOOKS:
Matt: Real life killer Ed Gein is famously the inspiration for a wealth of fictional murderers from Norman Bates in Psycho to Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Buffalo Bill in Silence Of The Lambs. These are obviously more lurid characters and while plenty has been written about Gein himself, True Crime writer Harold Schechter has decided to go for a fact-based retelling of the events that awarded Gein infamy, teaming up with Eric Powell for Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? If you're familiar with Powell's work from The Goon then you'll be aware that his style is perfectly suited for 1950s Americana and with True Crime being more popular than ever this is poised to be an essential addition to the genre.

Cover of The Last Book You'll Ever Read #1

VAULT:
Matt: Cullen Bunn is probably the preeminent horror writer in comics right now, and the amount of books released with his name attached on a regular basis is pretty damn impressive. Horror's not always my top genre of choice but the premise of The Last Book You'll Ever Read is too good to resist. Olivia Kade has written a book - Satyr - and it's been blamed for the breakdown of global civilisation as those who read it find themselves turning to extreme violence. So, she does what anyone else in similar situation would do - she goes on a book tour to promote her work! Bunn has said the theme of the book is societal collapse, and how that manifests itself, so there should be plenty of opportunity to present a world just a few wrong steps away from ours.

Cover of Superman and the Authority #1

DC:
Matt: Having caught up with both main Superman titles following the creative team update I can certainly see why DC are pushing Jonathan Kent into his own series. Superman: Son Of Kal-El #1 replaces the regular Superman book, with Lois and Clark's son in the spotlight, not only undergoing similar trials to those met by his father but also dealing with the legacy and expectation resulting from the long shadow cast by the original (and best?) superhero. Tom Taylor is doing an excellent job on a 'second generation' character over on Nightwing so he seems well suited to tackle another hero following in the footsteps of an icon.

James: Superman And The Authority #1 is irresistible to me - way back at the start of the century, DC published an issue of Action Comics written by Joe Kelly called 'What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & The American Way?' In it, Superman was forced to face off against a new, edgy super-team known as the Elite. The squad was meant as an analogue of the Authority, Wildstorm's super-team book which was (at that time) seen as cooler and edgier than the tired Justice League. The issue was highlighted as one of the best standalone Superman stories ever (it still is) and it was adapted into the animated film Superman Vs The Elite in 2012. Now it seems the analogies and metaphors are done with, as DC bring us Superman And The Authority! Written by Grant Morrison (who certainly has history with both halves of the equation) and with beautiful art from Mikel Janin, I can't wait to see if this combination lives up to its potential.

Batman and Catwoman Special #1 is a pretty obvious choice, really. As with Supergirl last month, I'm always going to pick up anything by Tom King (who I think is the current holder of the 'best writer in comics' crown) and I'm really enjoying his time-shifting work on Batman/Catwoman, so this special is a no-brainer. Secondly, this issue now carries a tragic extra significance - it's illustrated by the great Jean Paul Leon, who passed away at the start of May 2021. I loved Leon's work (especially on Earth X, a series that got me back into comics, and, more recently, Batman: Creature Of The Night). His passing is both a tragedy and an irreplaceable loss to the comics world - I'll treasure picking up his work one final time.

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