Cheat Sheet | From 'Sacrifice' to 'Chin Music' to Fan Expo

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. It seems like we only just finished Comic-Con International, and now we're heading into another major event: Fan Expo Canada in Toronto, the third-largest pop-culture convention in North America. But that doesn't begin until Thursday, giving everyone plenty of time to squeeze in a trip to the local comic book store.

To see what ROBOT 6's contributors have at the top of their Wednesday shopping lists, keep reading.

This weekend, it's Fan Expo Canada

More than 90,000 fans are expected to flock to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre beginning Thursday for Fan Expo Canada, the annual four-day event that combines comic books, genre television and film, anime and video games.

This year's comics featured guests include Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Lee Bermjeo, Garth Ennis, David Finch, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Dave Johnson, Leonard Kirk, Jeff Lemire, Steve McNiven, David Michelinie, Tony Moore, Steve Niles, Ivan Reis, James Robinson, Tim Sale, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson and Dan Slott. And those are just some of the featured guests; there are special guests, too, and a bunch of creators listed as "also appearing." You can see the full list here.

The TV and movie list is pretty impressive, too, with the likes of Nathan Fillion, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Steve Yeun, Laurie Holden, Carrie Fisher, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Stephen Amell, Gina Tores, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Ashmore, Katey Sagal, Leana Headey and Morena Baccarin.

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.

Chin Music #2

I’m unsure how I missed the first issue of this series, as I’ve been a fan of Tony Harris dating back to his days on Starman. The potential of the artist teaming with veteran writer Steve Niles for a tale that mixes time travel, sorcery and Prohibition-era Chicago seems unlimited. -- Tim O’Shea


I missed the self-published miniseries by Sam Humphries (Uncanny X-Force, Avengers A.I.) and Dalton Rose (Theremin) when it was released in single issues a couple of years ago, but the time-travel/jungle-adventure elements put it right in my wheelhouse, and I'm glad that Dark Horse is collecting it and giving readers a second chance. Figure in the hardcover format and some additional art from Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman) and Paul Azaceta (X-Men), and it looks to be a volume worth having even for those who've already read it. -- Michael May

Sergio Aragonés Funnies #9

The legendary MAD and Groo cartoonist continues his triumphant return to his original anthology of silliness, charm and delight. The series is really overdue for a graphic novel release. Each issue is full of self-contained stories, so any time is a good time to pick up an issue. Among this issue's stories is an unearthing of the origins of some common English expressions like "son of a gun" and "face the music.” Aragonés is bound to bring a unique angle to this due to his own heritage and sense of humor. That would be enough but the issue includes several other stories, a mixture of fiction and autobiography, plus fun puzzles and wordless comedy sketches. This is a cartooning master at play, creating on his own terms. Every issue is an invigorating burst of creativity. -- Corey Blake

Green Lantern: Sector 2814, Vol. 2

This week sees the release of Green Lantern: Sector 2814, Vol. 2, a collection from the mid-1980s that featured John Stewart taking over the spotlight from Hal Jordan. Writer Len Wein and artist Dave Gibbons chronicled the transition, although DC probably didn't imagine these particular reprints would come out so soon after Wein's involvement in that TCA panel discussing race and gender issues in comics. Accordingly, these issues can be seen in that light; they can be examined for their significance in the greater GL mythology (including the first two issues of the Steve Englehart/Joe Staton era); or they could be taken on their own merits, as pretty decent superhero comics. -- Tom Bondurant

Mighty Thor Omnibus hardcover, Vol. 2

Loath as I am in tough economic times to encourage everyone to go out and buy a massive, expensive, hardcover collection of old comics available already in a variety of cheaper formats, I'll still be shelling out for this. Sure, these things weigh a ton and are so unwieldy as to be unreadable without access to a specially fashioned angled reading table. It's worth it for the high-end reproduction of Kirby at the height of his powers, just throwing out characters and concepts that will be reused ad infinitum by lesser creators for the rest of Marvel's days.

Consider these comics as parallel to what Jack and Stan were achieving with Fantastic Four during the same period, from October 1965 to May 1968. The first couple of years of Thor comics in Journey Into Mystery were quite lightweight and frequently goofy, but these comics were being created at the same time, by the same team, as the Inhumans saga, the coming of Galactus, “This Man, This Monster,” the introduction of the Black Panther, etc. Just as the Fantastic Four was turning into a high-end/high-stakes soap opera, so was Thor. And just as Fantastic Four was piling on new characters and concepts that constantly increased the parameters of the Marvel Universe, so was Journey Into Mystery/Thor: This book starts with the addition of Hercules to Thor's supporting cast, then adds the rest of the Greek pantheon into the mix; then Tana Nile and the Rigel Colonizers; Ego The Living Planet; Wundagore and the High Evolutionary; great additions to Thor's rogues gallery like The Enchanters Three, Ulik the troll, the Wrecker, and the Destroyer; and all the while, the “Tales of Asgard” back-up strips were also expanding Thor's world and cast, although with admittedly spottier results (for every Hela or Fafnir the dragon, there's an Alibar, a character so goofy not even the most hardened Kirby-influenced classicist has attempted to revive him). -- Mark Kardwell

Numb3rcruncher #2

The first issue of Numb3rcruncher introduces us to Si Spurrier and PJ Holden’s version of the afterlife, in which God is a divine calculator, spinning out the mathematics that makes the universe run, and the souls of those foolish enough to try to bargain with him serve in a sort of indentured servitude — until they can get someone else to take their places. Bastard Zane is a bowler-hatted tough guy straight out of Damon Runyon (if Runyon were British, that is) who “came over all soft in them dyin’ moments” and asked for a bit more time with his girl. That ended badly, and now he’s serving his time, but when a mathematician tries to make the same bargain, he sees his opportunity to get out. The story has some nice twists as well as some clever details (like the fact that the messengers of God drive golf carts). Between Spurrier’s writing and Holden’s rough-and-ready art, with selected panels colored by Jordie Bellaire, the first issue was a delight, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. -- Brigid Alverson

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