Cheat Sheet | From 'Astro City' to 'Herobear' to HeroesCon

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. It's back to a full work week -- unless, of course, you're heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, for HeroesCon 2013.

However, before you board that plane or plot that route, there's a New Comics Day chock-full of quality releases. Join our contributors for a rundown of some of the highlights.

This weekend, it's HeroesCon

One of the high points of the annual schedule, HeroesCon is a regional convention with a national -- heck, international -- reach, drawing guests from all over to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the event.

This year's installment kicks off Friday at the Charlotte Convention Center, and boasts a typically impressive slate comics creators, including Jason Aaron, Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Jeremy Bastian, Rick Burchett, Eric Canete, Mike Choi, Becky Cloonan, Amanda Conner, Evan Dorkin, Ming Doyle, Sarah Dyer, Nathan Edmondson, Tommy Lee Edwards, Joe Eisma, Tom Fowler, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Keron Grant, Sanford Greene, Rob Guillory, Tony Harris, Jeremy Haun, Jamal Igle, Dave Johnson, Matt Kindt, Jason Latour, John Layman, Rick Leonardi, Kevin Maguire, Sean Murphy, Ted Naifeh, Phil Noto, David Petersen, Eric Powell, Joe Quinones, Paolo Rivera, Andrew Robinson, Greg Rucka, Jim Rugg, Bill Sienkiewicz, Matthew Southworth, Jim Steranko, Ben Templesmith, Lee Weeks, Bernie Wrightson, Skottie Young and Chrissie Zullo.

You can find the complete schedule here.

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.

Astro City #1

The 1990s are often vilified when it comes to the comic industry, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that the decade that brought variant covers and the speculator boom also brought some of the greatest creator-owned comics ever -- stuff like Hellboy, Bone and Astro City. With its 20th anniversary coming up in a couple of years, it's fitting we get a new Astro City ongoing now so that the team of Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross can start building toward a huge, monumental story -- or they can just keep doing what they've been doing for the past 20 years, and that's tell great stories about the superhumans and non-super humans that inhabit their world. I'm definitely cool with that. If you haven't ever read this comic, here's your chance to jump on board, and if you have, well, you don't need me to tell you to check it out -- you're probably already warming up the car to head to your local comic shop. Please drive carefully. -- JK Parkin

Empowered Special #4

The fourth Empowered Special is subtitled "Animal Style," and it features Emp fighting killer droids with cuddly names like Terrorpin and Brass Monkey. Creator Adam Warren writes and John Staton draws, which is a departure from Warren's solo cartooning on the regular Empowered volumes. Also different is the color (this time by Robaato), as normally Empowered is black-and-white. Still, it's an excellent opportunity for new readers to check out one of today's best superhero comics. Empowered was created specifically to challenge superhero comics' tropes and prejudices, and it's still going strong. -- Tom Bondurant

Solo Hardcover (Deluxe Edition)

I'd pay $50 for a hardcover of just Mike Allred's Batusi cover and his story of the Teen Titans getting on the Doom Patrol's nerves with a loud party. Adding material by Paul Pope and Darwyn Cooke makes it a bargain. And with stuff by Tim Sale, Richard Corben, Howard Chaykin, Jordi Bernet, Scott Hampton, Teddy Kristiansen, Damion Scott, Sergio Aragones and Brendan McCarthy also included, I feel like I'm stealing. -- Michael May

Herobear and the Kid Special #1

Back when all-ages comics were a fool's errand, Mike Kunkel self-published Herobear and the Kid, the magical adventure of a boy and his superhero teddy bear come to life. Away for too long, kaBOOM! brings it back at long last with this one-shot special, to be followed by more. Kunkel's animation background gives the art an appealing flare that enhances the nostalgic feel of childhood imagination and magic, resulting in a charming story with downright lovable characters. This comic was one of the treasures of the early 2000s and helped pave the way for the current renaissance in all-ages comics. It's a treat to have it back. -- Corey Blake

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1

It intrigues me that Marvel is trying Daredevil: Dark Nights, an eight-issue anthology series, considering there is no movie property to promote. I hope it‘s well-received so that Marvel will try the concept with more properties, and creators who cannot work a monthly grind get a chance to tackle other characters they might not otherwise consider. Granted the first three-part arc is by Lee Weeks, an artist who has drawn Daredevil before. But to see Weeks write and draw a Daredevil story set in a blizzard (as previewed by CBR) has great potential. -- Tim O’Shea

Dragon Ball 3-in-1 Edition, Vol. 1

This week, Viz Media releases one of the seminal Shonen Jump manga in a hand ythree-in-one omnibus edition. Vol. 1 of Dragon Ball collects the first three volumes of a series that set the mold for modern battle manga. As Jason Thompson explained two years ago, almost every Shonen Jump artist not only cites it as their favorite but borrows from it liberally. Why? Because it’s a great series with a plucky hero, well drawn battle scenes, and an intricately imagined, entirely fictional world. Toriyama’s cartoony style broke new ground for shonen manga, opening the door for creators like Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) to combine humor and action, and nothing has been the same since. At 15 bucks for three volumes, this is a great way to check it out—or get re-acquainted. -- Brigid Alverson

Supermag and Dan Dare Spacefleet Operations Manual

Jim Rugg's Supermag is the work of a great artist at the top of his game, having fun. He's playing around with format and styles; jumping from one witty pastiche to another; making self-referential gags; creating little exercises for himself in technique and genre. He's managed to turn out a one-man Read Yourself Raw here, and it kinda has to be seen to be believed.

Haynes manuals are something of a cult over here in the U.K.; they’re handbooks for mechanics that are so well put together that they're graphic design classics in and of themselves. For decades they've helped amateurs and professionals alike strip down and rebuild their old cars, bikes and tractors. Since 2003, they've expanded into more esoteric subjects, usually with their tongue firmly in cheek. They've now produced a tribute to the classic adventure strip Dan Dare with the Space Fleet Operations Manual, a gloriously illustrated book written by Spaceship Away! publisher Rod Barzilay, with cutaways of assorted classic Frank Hampson designs by Graham Bleathman, who studiously tries to stay faithful to the old Eagle house style. There's an excellent preview of the book at the Daily Mail website, of all places. -- Mark Kardwell

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