Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Like a runaway freight train, Comic-Con International is nearly upon us — seriously, Previews Night is just nine days away — which means most smaller conventions have cleared out of its way even as many creators, publishers and assorted others rush around making last-minute preparations. That generally means everything is pretty quiet in the comics industry. But, wow, it’s a good week for new releases, ranging from Paul Pope’s The Death of Haggard West to the relaunch of Quantum and Woody to Jason’s Lost Cat.
Keep reading to see what books caught the attention of our contributors.
Quantum and Woody #1, by James Asmus and Tom Fowler
Hang on to your butts, folks, we’re going to see how far the new Valiant magic can take us as the company brings back a unique superhero team without the original creators. Despite the initial wince I have at not seeing Christopher Priest’s or Mark Bright’s name attached to the series they made something special in the late ’90s, I am drawn back by how well Valiant has done with it’s new millennium relaunches. The preview pages seem to be starting fresh with the World’s Worst Superhero Team and honestly, I’ve missed this series from its original run so I am most certainly both wary and excited to see their return. — Carla Hoffman
Workburger, by Stripburger
I have always been partial to Top Shelf Productions, given that part of its management team is based in my backyard (Atlanta). But honestly I was completely unaware the publisher was distributing work from Stripburger, a Slovenia-based multilingual international comics anthology and publisher formed in 1992. Wednesday marks the U.S. release of Workburger, a self-described “skillfully woven patchwork of diverse comic strip narratives, revolving around the topic of contemporary work”. The 224-page collection contains 50 stories about working folks, by storytellers from a variety of countries including Kaja Avberšek (Slovenia), Teresa Camara Pestana (Portugal), Anna Ehrlemark (Sweden), Jyrki Heikkinen (Finland), Eva Hilhorst (Germany), Peter Kuper (USA), Vincent Lefèbvre (France), Paul O’Connell & Lawrence Elwick (UK), Akinori Oishi (Japan), Tomáš Přidal (Czech Republic), Tobias Schalken (The Netherlands), Mateusz Skudnik and Szymon Holcman (Poland), Boris Stanić (Serbia), and Estêvão Vieira (Brazil), among others. Many folks that frequent this site are often looking to broaden their reading horizons, and I think it safe to say this collection can definitely do just that. — Tim O’Shea
Wolfsmund, Vol. 1, by Mitsuhisa Kuji
This is a manga spin on the legend of William Tell, set in Switzerland near the St. Gotthard Pass in the early 14th century. The pass is a key trade route that made the locals rich — until the Austrians arrived and occupied their cantons. Now they are not only cut off from the rest of the world, they can’t raise any sort of rebellion without getting through the pass. To do that, they must get through a barrier guarded by the cruel Wolfram. With plenty of action and an eminently detestable villain, this looks like one of the best manga of the summer. — Brigid Alverson
Templar, by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland
In the graphic novel Solomon’s Thieves, writer Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia) and artists LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland did for the Templar Knights what Alexandre Dumas did for Louis XIII’s musketeers, and I’d argue no less skillfully. The only problem was that it was only a third of the story. Solomon’s Thieves was the first volume in a planned trilogy, but First Second rethought the format and decided against separate volumes for the last two parts. The wait for the conclusion is finally over, however, with this week’s release of Templar, the complete story (including the portion formerly known as Solomon’s Thieves), and I couldn’t be happier. Back in the day, we would have complained about “having to buy the same material twice,” but that’s kind of a BS gripe. Complete or not, Solomon’s Thieves was a hell of a story, and I’m perfectly happy having read it in the format. I’m even happier having it reprinted now as part of the complete Templar package. — Michael May
Ghosted #1, by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka
This weekend Tim sang the praises of Joshua Williamson’s work on Monkeybrain’s Masks & Mobsters (http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2013/07/six-1-of-our-favorite-monkeybrain-titles/), which, incidentally, I also count myself a fan of. So when I saw that he was teaming up with Goran Sudzuka, of Wolverine, Y: The Last Man and Outlaw Nation fame, I was pretty excited. The story is described as “Ocean’s 11 in a haunted house,” as a team of “experts” led by Jackson T. Winters attempts to steal a ghost. Considering everyone on his last job died, things probably aren’t going to go well … — JK Parkin
Lost Cat by Jason
Deadpan comedy with minimal dialogue isn’t easy. Yet Norwegian artist Jason appears to do it effortlessly, gracefully crossing language and cultural barriers. His sparse style and design, like his anthropomorphic characters, are instantly recognizable and equally adept at comedy and drama. At last we get what might be his first full-length graphic novel in a tale about a detective who meets a woman through the titular feline. It’s a good thing he’s a private detective because he’ll need his Humphrey Bogart-like sleuthing (he’s “exactly like Humphrey Bogart,” he wryly confirms) to track down the woman when she vanishes before their first date. Every one of his books feels like a master class in concise, clear storytelling with only the essential, most effective elements resonating without distraction. — Corey Blake
The Death of Haggard West, by Paul Pope
A new Paul Pope comic was always a big deal, but when you consider the wait between Battling Boy being announced and the release of this prologue/teaser, expectations are running at positively epic levels. I just checked: I’ve been writing about anticipating this book since March 2006, and made my first joke about the project running late in October 2008. That was the same year that I wrote “This just sounds better and better, like [Pope is] mainlining mythology and processing it in that uniquely American way: as a fight comic”. As you might guess, I’ve lost all objectivity towards this book. Safe to say, when The Death of Haggard West comes out on Wednesday, I’ll be incommunicado for a while. — Mark Kardwell