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Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. While most readers in the United States are enjoying a three-day weekend, our contributors are already looking to the week ahead, from the comics arriving on shelves Wednesday to 2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival, which kicks off Thursday.
This weekend sees the return of the 2D Festival in Derry, Northern Ireland. Over the past few years it’s developed a cult reputation among creators as one of the world’s great boutique comic conventions. A lot of that is due to the legendarily friendly and gregarious locals, but it’s also due to its unique funding structure. 2D has always had a large educational component, coordinating with local schools and colleges to run various workshops aimed squarely at kids (with this year being no different). This has led to professionals coming away raving in the past about how this is a comic festival that really does invest in the artform’s future. And astonished pros have to deal with a queue of kids who don’t care who they are or what they’ve done in the past, they just want you to sketch Spider-Man or Batman, whether you’re Herb Trimpe, Mick McMahon or Andy Diggle. So writers, get practicing!
The North-West of Ireland remains one of the poorest, most socially deprived areas in the European Union, and Derry was famously one of the most affected areas in The Troubles. It’s a city that remains so riven by sectarianism that the locals can’t even agree on what to call it, though this is a matter that is more likely to raise humor than hatred these days. This year Derry is the inaugural U.K. City of Culture, and the festival has expanded from its usual two locations, in the local arts center and a pub (hence its easy-going reputation) to three, now spreading to take over the Millennium Forum for the duration. Its unique funding from assorted public and private organizations mean it’s one of the few comic conventions on the planet where every single event is free. If you can get to it, it’s not to be missed. – Mark Kardwell
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.
One of the nice things about reading DC’s Star Trek series (and Marvel’s Star Wars before it) in the period between movies was the ways in which it tried to fill in the gaps. The storylines were fairly inventive, particularly after Star Trek III, which had left Kirk and crew as fugitives stranded on Vulcan. Now IDW Publishing’s Star Trek #21 starts something similar, weaving together subplots from both the comic and Into Darkness. For those eager to see what the current crew does with the new status quo, this week kicks it all off. – Tom Bondurant
After a slight delay, Brain Wood returns to the X-Men this week with an all-female team in X-Men #1. The make-up of the cast has gotten a lot of attention, but really the only team I need to know about with this title is the creative team. Wood was a great addition to the X-titles pre-Marvel NOW, and teaming with Olivier Coipel makes this an even bigger draw — both of them make this my must-buy for the week. – JK Parkin
One of the most anticipated Vertigo releases of the year, The Wake reunites Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, who last collaborated on the American Vampire spinoff miniseries Survival of the Fittest. Snyder stretches his wings with mixing horror, science fiction and adventure into two concurrently running narratives that make up a story they’re describing as both claustrophobic and epic. Set for 10 issues, details have been slim; we know that marine biologist Lee Archer is called in to help with a discovery at the ocean depths of the Arctic Circle that will unravel mysteries from ocean folklore to human evolution. At the least, there will also be post-apocalyptic settings, armor-wearing dolphins, and possibly something to do with the aquatic ape theory. And if preview pages are any indication, said to be the art team just warming up, it will all look absolutely stunning as brought to life by Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth. – Corey Blake
Digital-reading Superman fans are already all over this, but now the wait is over for print people as well. The issue is by the creative dream team of Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee (two people famous for making fun, but also meaningful comics), so that’s exciting. But what’s also great is that Superman finally looks like himself for the first time since Flashpoint. I know that makes me old to care about that, but hell, so does waiting for print. – Michael May
In Europe and Argentina, Eduardo Risso is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Carlos Trillo on such comics as Boy Vampire and Chicanos, and with Ricardo Barreiro on Parque Chas and Cain. But in the United States it’s all about his work with Brian Azzarello, most famously on 100 Bullets, but also on Jonny Double (their first team-up), Wednesday Comics, Spaceman and Batman: Broken City. The latter, an underrated arc from 2003-2004, form the centerpiece of this 224-page hardcover. Overshadowed by the high-profile “Hush” arc that preceded it, “Broken City” is most definitely crime noir with superhero elements tacked onto it. And while Azzarello’s writing here may not be for everyone — particularly fans who enjoyed Jeph Loeb’s take on Gotham — Risso clearly relishes drawing the Dark Knight and some of his iconic rogues (his pimped-out Killer Croc is particularly delightful). Of course, “Broken City” has already been collected, but from the best I can tell from the solicitations, this time it’s in black and white, providing the perfect showcase for Risso’s work. It’s joined by Risso and Azzarello’s Batman serial from Wednesday Comics, Flashpoint: Batman — Knight of Vengeance #1-3, and a story from Batman: Gotham Knights #8. — Kevin Melrose