Ascender Ends and Mercy Begins - August Previews

Jun 25, 2021
Cover of Ascender #18

We were so close this month to finally being able to pore over actual physical copies of the Previews and DC Connect catalogues but it's just not quite the time just yet - we're hoping that we'll all be double jabbed and feeling brave very soon! In the meantime, our Previews chat continues via the magic of the internet, and here are a few of the items which made us go "Hang on, stop, go back!" as Andy flicked through the electronic pages. 

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. 

Cover of Echolands #1

James: J. H. Williams III is back! The artist and writer behind the ground-breaking Batwoman run (and more importantly for me, as the artist on Alan Moore's Promethea) Williams has a deserved reputation as one of the most striking talents in mainstream comics. His new series from Image, Echolands, once more sees him handling both writing and art duties (with Batwoman collaborator W.Haden Blackman co-scripting and Dave Stewart providing the colours) on a 'mythic fiction epic' - a tale set in a bizarre future that has forgotten its past. As you'd expect, the preview pages look breathtaking in their landscape format, and Williams is one of those creators for whom I'd look at anything they produced. I'm not normally one for fantasy tales, but if anyone can sell me on the genre, it's this guy.

Jo: The Previews World blurb for King Spawn #1 suggests that "the last time a new ongoing Spawn series launched was in 1992" so I'm taking that as my excuse for never having quite got around to jumping on the Spawn bandwagon. The franchise is immense but it's never really crossed my mind to give it a try, however the creative team, with Sean Lewis (whose work on The Few and Thumbs I've raved about before) and original creator Todd McFarlane writing, plus a host of great artists, give this appeal. I'm all about trying something new, especially something which a host of comics fans have been loyal to for nearly three decades without a restart.

In an entirely different vein, The Me You Love In The Dark #1 is one of those books where the title piqued my interest instantly - it's not a foolproof method of picking something new but it's certainly brought a few interesting items to my pull list. Skottie Young and Jorge Corona, probably best known for their teamwork on Middlewest (I must give that a try) collaborate on this and the sample pages have a fresh art style and intriguing initial story of a burned out artist escaping the city to a house with some secrets to unfold. 

Reb: They say comics are never written with just one person in mind, but nothing endears itself to me faster than the following: Westerns, mythology, and a strong female voice, and I'll be darn tootin' if St Mercy #1 doesn't boast all three! It looks to be a tough tale of old Gods, might and mystery, set in the old West and following Mercedes, a descendent of the Incas who is blood-bound to protect her ancestors' sacred treasure, used in their bloody rituals. Except a bunch of bandits are seeking to add said treasure to their ill-gotten gains. I am intrigued to find out if and how Mercedes can keep a bunch of gold-hungry Westerners away from what's rightfully hers. She's a determined young woman in a man's world, and I'd love to see if and how she manages to succeed. Atilio Rojo looks set to bring the worlds of the distant and mythical past to life, with more than a splash or two of blood.
There are plenty of love stories in Greek mythology, but one of the most exciting and less well known is the romance between flower child Persephone and Hellish host Hades. Some stories claim he stole her away, while others claim it's her heart he stole first. Punderworld Vol 1 OGN, a serialised collection of Linda Sejic's webcomic, looks like a reimagining in the vein of the latter; an odd-couple romance which teases plenty of sweetness, with the awkwardness of blossoming love when your all-powerful, non-traditional family can't stop meddling. There's lots of fun to be had in imagining the famous faces of the Pantheon and Sejic looks like she's had a great time doing so, with inventive character concepts which make each individual clear who they are and what they're the boss of. I can't wait to spend some time with the colourful cast of characters, and find out if Hades and Persephone get it together, or if their marriage is another Greek tragedy.

James: Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat - absolutely not a first issue, but definitely a remarkable final one. This month sees the final issue of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's Ascender. When read as a whole alongside its predecessor Descender, this has been one of the most ambitious, (and for my money) successful sci-fi comics of the century so far. Lemire has always found the right mix of high concept and humanity in this epic (even when it comes to robots) and whereas I'd be happy for another 50 issues, I'm thrilled that we're at the end of the journey for Tim 21.

Cover of Killer Queens #1

Reb: I would describe Killer Queens #1 as 'putting the camp back into comics', but it's highly doubtful that camp ever went anywhere in the first place! However, as soon as I read the synopsis, I felt Killer Queens was going to fill the campy-space-adventures void in my little comic-loving soul. Alex and Max are two reformed space mercs down on their luck. Having just stolen their ex-boss's ship, they make off into space to seek their fortune by taking a job. Oh, and the job's with an old flame. And the ex-boss is a monkey in a space suit. And the job's on the moon, which has fallen under the regime of a fascist dictatorship. The titular Queens look like they could have fallen straight out of the 1980s with that sexy retro-futuristic vibe, and as fun as it sounds, I'm intrigued to see how the pair will be able to keep their heads on a dangerous mission in unfriendly skies. I can't wait to explore space, sexuality and suited-up simians.

Matt: A presidential assassination attempt and the America's greatest detective on the case? Disperse your preconceptions because the year is 1861 and Abraham Lincoln is the target of the assassin's bullet in Better Angels: A Kate Warne Adventure OGN. Kate Warne was a real person, she did help foil a plot to kill President Lincoln and this will no doubt shed more light on those events for the uninitiated (like me!), with some dramatic licence likely part of the mix. The pages I've seen demonstrate that the art nicely evokes the era so this is a 'long read' that makes the grade for me.

Cover of God of Tremors one-shot

James: I'm a big fan of the burgeoning field of British folk horror - the sense of unease and ancient, nameless dread that these rain-lashed isles can produce is always affecting for me, and so I'm excited to see the God of Tremors One-Shot from Pete Milligan and Piotr Kowalski. Set in the 19th century, this is a tale of 'exorcism, demonic worship and epilepsy' - young Aubrey is an epileptic, sent to his father, a high-ranking priest to 'chase the devil' from him, but it turns out that there are darker forces it work at the family's remote country estate. I loved the pitch for this one, and when Pete Milligan is on form, he produces remarkable comics - definitely my one to watch out for in August.

Jo: Mark Russell's work on Second Coming caused a flutter of controversy but turned out to be a witty and intelligently written buddy story and so his collaboration with Mike Deodato Jr, not all robots 01 has more than just the obvious draw for me, Let's face it though, I'm in as soon as you mention ROBOTS so along with a sci-fi satire theme, everything else is just gravy for me!

Matt: I'm rather partial to hardboiled crime fiction so First Degree: A Crime Anthology, a 148 page book from creators across the globe, assembled by David F. Walker, and featuring contributions from David Aja and Michael Lark - two of the best artists in the business, both adept at portraying street level shenanigans - seems to have my name written all over it. I can't seem to find out who else is involved at this stage but Aja and Lark's names alone are enough to guarantee a sale as far as I'm concerned. 

Wraparound cover for Black Panther #1

Jo: It feels churlish to say that we've had quite a lot of Black Panther #1s over the last few years - the more recent flourishing of the character following his appearance in the MCU is really only making up for lost visibility in the past - but I will admit haven't really jumped at the last couple of series featuring the Wakandan king. John Ridley, best known for writing the screenplay for 12 Years A Slave, provides the story 'The Long Shadow', with T'Challa involved in secret agent skulduggery on his return from space, and the absolutely gorgeous Alex Ross wraparound cover makes some big promises: multiple Avengers, a terrifically striking image of Ororo Munroe and an interest-piquing She-Hulk all tease an Black Panther series which has a strong chance of bringing me back on board. 

Matt: I'm not a particularly big fan of the Merc with a Mouth, but I am a big fan of these colour-schemed anthology books the Big Two are currently putting out, featuring some of their most recognisable characters in the hands of creators not immediately associated with them. Deadpool: Black, White and Red #1 boasts contributions from Tom Taylor, James Stokoe, Ed Brisson and Whilce Portacio, so if that's indicative of the talent they have lined up for the series then we can expect a variety of idiosyncratic interpretations of the character, which are what these kind of series are all about.

Jo: Oh! Oh! Matthew Rosenberg is writing the The Joker Presents: A Puzzlebox #1! And it has actual puzzles in it for the reader to solve! And an actual puzzle box to hunt the pieces for! [Take a breath, Jo] But it's too good! Each book will have two stories, each with a different artistic team, and each sees the Joker trying to help Jim Gordon solve a murder, but then the stories start to connect together... To quote Mr Rosenberg, "It's equal parts an episode of The Twilight Zone, a book of riddles, an Agatha Christie mystery, a police procedural, and some other weird stuff all thrown together with callous disregard for comic book norms" - and honestly, that's my perfect comic book in a nutshell. [Except it needs robots.]


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