Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6’s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find our contributors’ picks of the comics of the week — from the return of Poison Elves to Grant Morrison’s farewell to Action Comics — and the top events to watch for in the next seven days.
This week, it’s PAX East and Gem City Comic Con
The worlds of gaming, music and webcomics come together Friday in Boston for PAX East, part of the series of gaming conventions founded by Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. While the event is primarily dedicated to games — both the video and tabletop varieties — there’s an increasing comics presence. What else would you expect from the Penny Arcade guys? If you don’t already have your badge for the event, which runs through Sunday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, you’re out of luck: Badges are sold out.
If you’re looking for something overtly comics-related, and, say 844 miles to the west, there’s Gem City Comic Con, held Saturday and Sunday at Wright State University’s E.J. Nutter Center. Although it’s not one of the bigger conventions of the spring season, it has a pretty impressive guest lineup: Howard Chaykin, Stan Sakai, Tim Seeley, Joe Staton, Dan Parent, Dennis Calero, Angel Medina and William Mesner-Loebs, for starters.
ROBOT 6 contributors name their top choices from among the comic books, and comics-related books, scheduled to arrive in stores this week. We welcome readers to highlight their picks in the comments below.
Poison Elves #1
In the early to mid-1990s, there was a wave of black-and-white independent comics that rose above the noise of variant covers, spinoff books and pre-crash collectors’ items that were flooding the market — stuff like Jeff Smith’s Bone, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, Teri Wood’s Wandering Star and Drew Hayes’ Poison Elves. I still remember the comic shop where I discovered many of these gems — Einstein’s Comics in Garland, Texas — where the owner offered them at “no risk,” willing to give you your money back if you bought ’em but didn’t like ’em. I don’t think I ever had to take him up on his offer. Lusiphur, the main character in Poison Elves, was kind of a combination of Wolverine and Rob Zombie, which appealed to me at the time, and Hayes took him places you wouldn’t see in most mainstream comics. Hayes passed away in 2007, and now his signature creation is coming back courtesy of Ape Entertainment. It’s a risky move, trying to revive something that was so closely tied to its creator, but it sounds like everyone involved is approaching it with love and respect for what Hayes did. The first issue, which arrives this week, features covers by Darick Robertson, interior artist Osvaldo Montpeller and Terry Moore, whose remembrance of his friend Drew on his blog is well worth a read. — JK Parkin
Here’s a book that has everything going for it. It’s by David B, the creator of Epileptic. It’s published by SelfMadeHero, which hasn’t had a dud yet. And it’s a love story set in a time of tumult, in this case, the chaotic Austro-Hungarian port city of Fiume, under the rule of the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. Paul Gravett calls it “a gripping romantic psychodrama set in a forgotten but unforgettable slice of history.” Sold! — Brigid Alverson
Mark Waid considers sound in his writing. This is nothing new. Years ago when he and Mike Wieringo took on Fantastic Four, he talked about how Reed sounded when stretched or how Ben sounded when rocks ground rocks as he took steps down a street. Waid’s use of sound is an asset for the sight-impaired hero. This is the next installment in Foggy Nelson’s battle against his cancer. The Foggy/Matt dynamics are the backbone of the series. A quick scan of the preview shows Matt and Foggy in a hospital room, where Waid and artist Chris Samnee capitalize upon the cacophony of a hospital. — Tim O’Shea
Barry’s Best Buddy
Toon Books brilliantly merges supremely talented comics artists with beautifully simple stories for young kids and early readers (and adults who can appreciate such things), and this looks like another high achievement for them. Renée French usually has a very haunting and hypnotic style that may not seem suited for grade school kids, but it actually looks like a perfect match. Her style is nudged a bit to a more friendlier tone and the addition of warm colors really locks in place an inviting and delightful world. Pages are kept alive with the main action going on between the two main characters, a grumpy bird Barry being escorted to a surprise destination by his goofy friend Polarhog, and a parade of ants carrying various objects in the foreground. — Corey Blake
Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1
Combining SHAZAM with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of those ideas that’s so amazing and obvious that you can’t help but wonder why no one’s come up with it already. Kudos to Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham for getting there first. Since it was announced, I’ve been in love with the idea of an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunter who can call on the abilities of Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Musashi and Dracula. What makes it even better is knowing that my Kill All Monsters partner, Jason Copland is contributing to a back-up story in the second issue. — Michael May
Action Comics #18
It’s not just Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ last issue, it’s Morrison’s farewell to Superman (including JLA and All-Star Superman) and part of his big goodbye to monthly superhero comics. Plus it’s oversized, which is nice. — Tom Bondurant