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Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. This weekend is the D23 Expo, the event that Disney devotees look forward to for months. But the latest installment also promises plenty for Marvel and Star Wars fans.
Before you pack your mouse ears, though, there are new comics to read, ranging from Sidekick #1 to The Thrilling Adventure Hour to In the Days of the Mob. Continue on to see what ROBOT 6’s contributors have to say about their picks of the week.
For its first few years, the D23 Expo — Disney’s official fan gathering — seemed largely geared to hardcore collectors and theme-park devotees, with a heavy sprinkling of celebrity appearances to promote upcoming films. But following Disney’s purchase of Marvel and, just last fall, Lucasfilm, the fanbase, and the focus, of the expo began to broaden.
This year’s edition, held Friday through Sunday in Anaheim, California, promises not only the first official Disney event for Star Wars, but also, judging from today’s teaser, some Marvel publishing news. Oh, and in addition to new footage from Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s probably a safe bet that a little more superhero-movie news will trickle out of the D23 Arena on Saturday.
I don’t know if I’m exactly the target audience for a Thrilling Adventure Hour comic or the exact opposite. I’ve never listened to the podcast the anthology is based on, so while that makes me a potential convert to the show if I like the comic, I also have only the vaguest idea of what to expect. What I do know though is that the podcast is inspired by pulp tales and radio shows, but processes those things through comedy. I’m all on board for a comic that does that too. – Michael May
J. Michael Straczynski knows that his best writing occurs away from the Big Two, partially because he is unfettered by corporate editorial mandate. He said that in essence while talking last month with Comic Book Resources about his Joe’s Comics imprint at Image Comics: “We have absolutely no qualms about going too far. We’re not necessarily looking to create franchises with these characters. The books will stay around as long as we can tell good stories and not a second longer, so we’re absolutely fine with the idea of beating the crap out of our characters and going straight for the taboos.” I hope JMS is able to deliver the 12-issue maxiseries he has planned, without getting derailed/delayed by a new non-comics media projects. Also, anything that has artist Tom Mandrake on a monthly assignment is a must-read for me. – Tim O’Shea
Catalyst Comix #1 was my favorite superhero comic of recent times, and it managed it by those old tricks, by not really looking or feeling like a superhero comic at all. Three great stories, all on one level, or another meditation on the notion of how damaging to the human psyche having super-powers really would be, and as a guy struggling with a Frank Wells-level of PTSD, I loved it. I became such a fanboy for the series overnight that I’ve taken to pestering Dan McDaid on Twitter for clues to where the book is going. But all he said was “the Purple Fountain, she’s a real dead wire” and “stop worrying and love the bomb.” Hmm, cryptic. – Mark Kardwell
I love when talented creators challenge themselves. Jeff Lemire could easily stick to superhero stories or rehash his gorgeous Essex County graphic novel and he would keep a lot of people happy. Instead he’s stretching himself both as a writer and an artist. He’s diving into a genre he’s never done before with a science fiction story of two people more than 1,800 years apart falling in love. It’s requiring him to both create the worlds, technology and people set in the year 3797 from the ground up, and to research our world during World War One, and then mix those two time periods together. Lemire is also experimenting with watercolors for the first time. He’ll use that medium for the futuristic period, and then switch to traditional pencil and ink with colorist Jose Villarrubia for the 1921 sequences. This first issue explores each era separately as a flip book, and as the series progresses, the two time periods (and art styles) will mix. This is an exciting and promising experiment, and I can’t wait to jump in. – Corey Blake
Along with the recently reprinted Spirit World, In the Days of the Mob represents Jack Kirby’s (and DC’s) early-’70s attempt to bring more comics into the magazine market. However, like most of the King’s other DC ventures, ITDOTM had a very short shelf life and was soon lost amid his better-known work. The new collection reprints the one issue which actually made it to newsstands, as well as stories from a second issue that previously only appeared in the old Amazing World of DC Comics magazine. Kirby combined his own memories with a love for the material and a good bit of research, so this collection offers an unusual glimpse at a side of the artist fans rarely see. Of course, any rare Kirby is worth recommending virtually sight unseen. – Tom Bondurant