The Most Interesting Comics of the Week
Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.
The Arab of the Future
By Riad Sattouf
Riad Sattouf is the son of an aggressively optimistic Syrian father and a very reserved French mother. When Riad was a boy, his father dragged his family from France to Libya to Syria in a quest to discover Arab society. In his graphic novel memoir The Arab of the Future, Sattouf tells the story of his childhood, showing his family traversing the troubled political and social landscape of the Middle East in the ‘70s and ‘80s and the way it foreshadows the landscape of today.
Sattouf was a columnist for France’s infamous Charlie Hebdo for ten years where he published cartoon anecdotes about his life. The Arab of the Future was released earlier this year in France and has been a huge best seller. It’s already being compared to biographical classics like Maus and Persepolis, and the modern relevance of the countries in which it is set is sure to make this a widely talked about book this year.
By Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino and Dan Brown
If you’ve been watching ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you are probably familiar with the term “Inhumans.” Introduced as a concept in season two, Inhumans are normal humans with latent superpowers that can be activated by something called the Terrigen Mists. There’s no telling how many Inhumans are out there, waiting to be activated. The comics focus on a small group of Royal Family Inhumans like Black Bolt, Medusa, and Crystal. Among that group is Karnak, their resident philosopher/martial artist who has the ability to detect the flaw in anything (usually so he can then lethally karate chop it).
The classic Inhumans are pretty low on the mainstream recognition scale (at least until the 2019 feature film). Karnak is not even the most popular Inhuman, so he seems an unlikely choice for a high profile new series by a bestselling writer. Then again, he also seems like the kind of character Warren Ellis loves to write: cold, calculating, wickedly sarcastic, and able to see things that others can not. Since rejuvenating the creatively-dormant Moon Knight for Marvel this past year, Ellis seems to be taking on the challenge of making forgotten characters cool again—or cool for the first time.
Cognetic, a new three-issue mini-series by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan, is a spiritual sequel to their other mini-series Memetic (a collected edition of which also hits stores this week—it's one you should check out because it is best-of-the-year material). Once again, they are telling the story of an unstoppable contagion that wipes out humanity, although, in the afterword, Tynion promises that we won’t be able to guess where this one is going. Whereas Memetic offset its unrelentingly bleak scenario with a dark sense of humor—it was, after all, about a sloth gif that causes the end of the world—Cognetic doubles down on apocalyptic dread.
This 40-page first issue opens with a dolphin that appears to be patient zero for a rapidly spreading mind control virus. An FBI agent has a pretty good idea what is going on, but is distracted trying to save her wife and daughter, who head to New York City against her warnings. Tynion, who now is part of DC Comics’ Bat-Family, is poised to become a big star and Donovan, with his somber, yet approachable style, proves to be a great partner for him in telling apocalyptic tales that stand out from the rest.
The Shield #1
By Adam Christopher, Chuck Wendig, Drew Johnson, Kelly Fitzpatrick
Dark Circle Comics
The first patriotic-themed superhero was not Captain America, but the less-known Shield who made his first appearance in 1940’s Pep Comics #1, published by a company that would one day become known as Archie Comics. Shield appeared in many incarnations over the years, mostly published through Archie Comics’ superhero imprint, Red Circle Comics. Archie Comics has been working hard to modernize their image these days, and they have turned Red Circle Comics into Dark Circle Comics, an imprint that puts out darker and grittier iterations of Red Circle characters.
This new Shield happens to be a woman and has been fighting for America since the days of the American Revolution. She has died over and over for her country, only to be reborn when she's needed again. Now, in 2015, she has once again returned but with no memory of who she is. This new series is co-written by two novelists, Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig, who are fairly new to the comics world. It is drawn by Drew Johnson, who DC fans will know from his stint on Wonder Woman.