Clueless: Senior Year, Nightwing: The New Order & More in Required Reading: Comics for 8/23/17

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<i>Clueless: Senior Year</i>, <i>Nightwing: The New Order</i> & More in Required Reading: Comics for 8/23/17

If you’re reading this, you either didn’t give a hoot about the eclipse, or you donned proper eyewear to check out this solar event. With summer coming to a close in a few short weeks, we’ve got a full range of comic options to keep you company on your last trip to the beach or favored air-conditioned reading locale. DC releases another Jack Kirby tribute along with a bizarrely timed fascist Nightwing alternate-reality mini-series, Marvel’s Generations proceeds to the Thor-squared segment, Dark Horse bundles its original horror anthologies, Clueless returns in comic form, Valiant fights for the future and IDW mines Disney’s past. All of this plus microbes, fight clubs and big ‘ole giants honor this week’s new comic book day.

Clueless: Senior Year

Writers: Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn
Artist: Siobhan Keenan
Publisher: BOOM! Box
In this graphic-novel-sized follow-up to Amy Heckerling’s 1995 cult classic, hyper-privileged icon Cher and her friends debate fashion, morality and self-identity in the high school glam of Beverly Hills. Writers Amber Benson (both an actress alum and scribe on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex, Fresh Romance) nail the winsome valley girl lexicon of the era, offering a period piece just as potent as the film’s original inspiration—Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma. Rendered in soft, manga-inflected linework by Siobhan Keenan, the tale continues the bildungsroman of a young socialite debating her impact past retail patronage and her romantic forays. The story verves into fascinating directions, including a rural field trip to explore the backstory of BFF Tai. It ultimately transcends nostalgia porn (though it could certainly be appreciated on that level alone) to paint a teen journey that fits nicely in BOOM! Studio’s coming-of-age library. Sean Edgar

The Dark Horse Book of Horrors

Writers: Mike Mignola, Evan Dorkin, Leah Moore, Others
Artists: P. Craig Russell, Kelley Jones, Jill Thompson, Others
Publisher: Dark Horse
From Hellboy to Harrow County, Colder to Richard Corben, Dark Horse has maintained its standing as a preeminent voice in comic-book horror. Over the years, the publisher released four highly praised and highly sought-after anthology one-shots: The Dark Horse Book of Monsters, The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft, The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings and The Dark Horse Book of the Dead. Now, finally, these books are collected in one grim tome, including the first Beasts of Burden story from Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, a series of prose horror classics illustrated by Gary Gianni (Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea) and interviews with real-life occult figures. If you missed these anthologies upon their original release, nab this bind-up and keep telling yourself that Halloween is just around the corner. Steve Foxe

Donald & Mickey #1

Writers/Artists: Andrea Castellan, Kari Korhonen, Jonathan Gray, Daniel Branca, Lorenzo Pastrovicchio
Publisher: IDW Publishing
IDW’s Disney titles have been a Mouseketeer’s delight, reprinting selections from vintage American Disney comics alongside translations of popular European serials from more recent years. The solicitation text for this new prestige-format, oversized quarterly series promises “brand-new” stories from fan-favorite European contributors, but IDW has played fast and loose with the “new” before, which means there might be an asterisk here clarifying that these stories of long-time Mickey foe the Phantom Blot might be “brand-new” for American audiences only. Either way, fans of Mickey and Donald’s cartoon adventures should continue to appreciate the high-quality curation and translation of their stories throughout the decades, now in a cushier format. Steve Foxe

Generations: The Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jason Aaron has served as one of the most consistent classic superhero scribes over the course of his career, joined today only by an intimate handful of writers including Scott Snyder and Tom King. Even in the most misguided blockbuster events (say, Avengers vs. X-Men), Aaron’s scripts brilliantly distill character and take full advantage of the esoteric crawlspaces of their fictional histories. Metal van-art Thor and his successor, physician and former love interest Jane Foster, have both received enchanting runs under his pen, and the two collide in this new Generations detour, illustrated by Mahmud Asrar. The tale sends Foster back in time as her predecessor trades blows with Apocalypse, a Pharaoh and mutant tyrant whose legacy spans centuries. Aaron’s runs should be devoured to appreciate the full impact of this crossover, but even his most ingrained tales are accessible and engulfing. Asrar has proven his skill orchestrating grand superhero fisticuffs in Avengers, X-Men and Supergirl, and that divine destruction should blossom beautifully on these pages. Sean Edgar

Hi-Fi Fight Club #1

Writer: Carly Usdin
Artist: Nina Vakueva
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
In the last five years, there’s been a boom (no pun intended) in the number of comics published that center around teenage girls, lead in large part by the success of titles like Lumberjanes and Ms. Marvel. The number of women hired to write and draw these comics hasn’t quite experienced the same peaks. Hi-Fi Fight Club features an all-female creative team courtesy advertising and film director Carly Usdin and artist Nina Vakueva, drawing her first print comic after making a name for herself with her webcomic, Lilith’s World. Described as a mixture of Empire Records and The Baby-Sitters Club with a healthy dose of Scott Pilgrim thrown in, Hi-Fi Fight Club is the kind of teen adventure that centers around crushes and first jobs and love for music. Rather than strictly retreading ground other teams have already covered, the title offers an intriguing twist: protagonist Chris’ record store harbors a secret teen-girl fight club. It’s exciting to see women writing the stories of teen girls, especially with Usdin’s sharp and silly sense of humor and Vakueva’s slightly manga-leaning art style. Caitlin Rosberg

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Giants HC

Writers/Artists: Jared Cullum, Brandon Dayton, Conor Nolan, Feifei Ruan
Publisher: Archaia
The imagination and artistry of even simple moments in shows and films by Jim Henson are hard to describe, and it’s easy to underestimate the way they impact children in particular. Jim Henson’s The Storyteller was a beloved and intriguing part of the Henson equation, and Archaia’s comic continuation has managed to capture both the tone and the spirit of the show. For each theme, four creators are given a single comic to tell an entire story, bridged and united just like the show was by the television show’s narrator—played by the late, great John Hurt—and his loyal dog. As with Dragons and Witches, the previous two collections, Giants draws on myths and legends from all over the world, leaving readers with a lovely and diverse anthology experience as they read the collected hardcover, out this week. The Storyteller is one of those comics that appropriately blurs the lines between comics and books for children, and it’s a great introduction into comics for Henson fans. Thankfully, it’s also not the only Henson IP that Archaia is publishing, and fans should also check out The Power of the Dark Crystal by Kelly Matthews, Nichole Matthews, and Simon Spurrier. Caitlin Rosberg

Manhunter Special #1

Writer: Keith Giffen, Dan DiDio, Sam Humphries
Artist: Keith Giffen, Mark Buckingham, Steve Rude
Publisher: DC Comics
As part of their celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birthday, DC has been diving into the archives to pull some of his lesser-known creations back onto the printed page. The result so far is a series of fun one-and-done issues, stories that epitomize the joy and camp of Golden Age comics. Last week came Sandman, a name many readers will associate more with Neil Gaiman than Kirby, and this week there’s Dan DiDio, Keith Gidden and Mark Buckingham teaming up for Manhunter, a mantle worn by a slew of different characters but probably most strongly associated with J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter, who’s got nothing to do with any of them. Paul Kirk is the sort of classic masked vigilante that epitomizes the Golden Age—a private detective and big-game hunter who fights crime in his off hours. There’s no need to know anything about the character or his history before picking up this issue, just like the rest of the Jack Kirby One-Shots, and even better that this almost-double-sized issue includes a Golden Age reprint and an Etrigan the Demon backup story from Sam Humphries and Steve Rude. Caitlin Rosberg

Nightwing: The New Order #1

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Publisher: DC Comics
For a while there, it seemed like Marvel was doing DC Comics’ publicity for it via Marvel’s nonstop parade of gaffs amidst its fascistic Secret Empire crossover. And then DC announced its own fascistic mini-series, albeit one contained to six issues set outside of the core continuity. Nightwing: The New Order reunites the New 52-era Nightwing team of Kyle Higgins and Trevor McCarthy to imagine a world in which Dick Grayson leads the Crusaders, a government task force enforcing the removal of all “weapons”—a.k.a. superpowered heroes. When the New Order turns against Nightwing’s family, he must track down the last remaining “weapons” for help after years of attempting to exterminate them. The combo of Higgins and McCarthy—a talented team, but one removed from Nightwing years ago—makes it seem like this one has been sitting in an inventory drawer for a bit. Odd timing, but anyone whose appetite for fascist sagas isn’t whetted by the nightly news may find this to be an appealing alternate-reality trip. Steve Foxe

Science Comics: Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield

Writer/Artist: Falynn Koch
Publisher: First Second
If there were any real-world analogue for grandiose sci-fi battles or bizarre fantasy creatures in genre fiction, it wouldn’t be visible without a microscope. Straight up, the cellular world of mitochondria (power plants), lysosomes (suicide sacs…kind of!) and flagella (liquid propellers) is practically a David Cronenberg horror parade. First Second’s educational Science Comics publishing line has shown the colorful, vibrant world of fact (which sometimes incorporates fictional elements), but Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield should have a particularly easy time engaging kids obsessed with monsters and destruction, no matter the scale. Think of it like an inverted Pokemon for future STEM rock stars. Cartoonist Falynn Koch already has one fantastic entry under her belt—Bats: Learning to Fly—and her detailed, exaggerated approach adds a thriving dose of personality to this grimoire of diabolical germs. Sean Edgar

War Mother #1

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Publisher: Valiant
Spinning out of far-future crossover 4001 A.D., War Mother gathers Valiant mainstays Fred Van Lente and Stephen Segovia for a tale of survival in a desolate wasteland reminiscent of Fury Road or Fallout 3. Armed with a sentient sniper rifle, War Mother protects The Grove, an enclave of scientific knowledge and bioengineering in an otherwise ravaged world—a timely premise days after the Trump administration declined to renew a key federal climate change agency. Van Lente typically excels at more humorous action, as seen in Archer & Armstrong, but Segovia’s work on Ninjak has prepared him for the more serious visual side of Valiant’s sci-fi offerings. Steve Foxe

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