by Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon and Jarrod Jones. With another year set in front of us, the DoomRocket team scans the horizon for the projects and creators we’re excited to see most in 2019.
2019 TOP READS
Eve Stranger. (Black Crown/IDW Publishing) Eve Stranger is about as Black Crown as Black Crown gets. British creators working under the ultimate Anglophile, vividly rendered and set to a Britpop beat.
As the next hot track from one of the best imprints in the land, Eve Stranger was inevitable. A mod-cool heroine, short bob that cuts the cheekbones, armed with a gun and the will to use it. An aesthetic that contours the design of shameless music rags as Lime Lizard and SELECT and the impossible cool to match. The pitch? Super-spy gifted with abilities far beyond those of mere mortals saves the world, has her memory erased for her trouble. It happens a lot. So how much of this cycle can one person take? I want to find out.
Bond-level thrills brought to you by the Bonds. That’s right—Bonds. Plural. The surprise of Eve Stranger was the welcome announcement that this would herald the return of artist Philip Bond to full-length sequentials. That’s reason enough to get excited for Eve Stranger. Couple that with David Barnett’s first post-Punks comics excursion, the works of Eva de la Cruz and Aditya Bidikar, and the graceful guiding hand of Shelly Bond, and you have Black Crown’s next club smash. — JJ
Invisible Kingdom. (Berger Books/Dark Horse Comics) Over the last year, former Vertigo editor Karen Berger’s Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse has been steadily churning out quality comics. Their latest (and for my money, most exciting so far) offering is G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward’s epic-sounding Invisible Kingdom, due out this March.
Besides continuing Berger Books’ tremendous track record, Invisible Kingdom sounds like a rich new offering for this ever-so-talented creative team. With Wilson leaving her signature series Ms. Marvel, it is high time for her to launch a new creator-owned title. This one sounds like both a terrific companion piece to recent postmodern space operas like Saga and Wasted Space, and while also hearkening back to her earlier comics work as well as her prose writing. Ward, meanwhile, has found himself another cosmic landscape to get lost in, after doing such tremendous work in that arena with titles like ODY-C and Black Bolt.
This story of an acolyte and a pilot getting dragged into a galactic conspiracy feels like an ideal playground for both Wilson and Ward– I find it very easy to imagine Wilson’s words paired with Ward’s kaleidoscopic images. This creative marriage will undoubtedly result in a special piece of sequential storytelling. I intend to be there from the get-go. — BH
Dial H For Hero. (Wonder Comics/DC) The House of Mystery feature was silly Silver Age fun. The 1981 Adventure Comics run allowed readers to contribute (including Harlan Ellison) and added girls H-dialers. In 2000’s The Silver Age event, the story was superbly crafted around the silliness, the H Dial finally made part of the larger DC universe. In H.E.R.O. of 2003 and Dial H of 2012, the silly turned grim-n-gritty.
But seriously. How relatable is this obscure comic book device to readers who’ve never used a rotary phone? Doesn’t matter, though the cover illo of hologram-y dial and phone booth grants a certain mystique. Robby Reed’s adventures were more about creativity. Whatever random superhero he became using the dial, despite any bizarre or minor super power, Robby (later Chris King and Vicki Grant) had to find a creative way to overcome any danger or supervillain using the personas they were dealt.
Creativity was also required of the comic team. Several new superheroes and their uniforms every issue, alongside a story that charted the dial-holder’s ability to adapt and overcome. Silly perhaps. But challenging. The new Wonder Comics imprint seems the right approach to retain Dial H’s charm while celebrating its creativity for a new generation. — CH
Captain Marvel. (Marvel) We’ve been without a Captain Marvel ongoing comic for almost a year, and now that Carol is poised to conquer the cinema as well as the stars, Marvel has made the wise decision to restart her series in 2019. They’ve put their best creators on the almost all-female team for this new ongoing: Kelly Thompson, Carmen Carnero, Tamra Bonvillain and Clayton Cowles. Amanda Conner is even doing the covers.
Writer Kelly Thompson effortlessly mixes action, humor and drama, and got her start at Marvel co-writing the Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps miniseries with Kelly Sue DeConnick back in 2015, so it’s a certain poetic justice to see her back and writing Carol just as the character is poised for a massive popularity boost. Artist Carmen Carnero has already worked with DC, Valiant, and Dark Horse in addition to her recent substantial Marvel contributions (her latest being an exceptional three-issue stint on X-Men Red). She’s a perfect fit for the book, and Tamra Bonvillain’s colors complement perfectly.
With its overly-frequent reboots and relaunches a detriment to the character really finding a consistent audience, Marvel needs to let a creative team truly settle in on Captain Marvel and carve out a defining storyline. With this new team, I have no doubt she will indeed reach new heights. — MJ
This Woman’s Work. (Drawn & Quarterly) I’m here for the comics that get me thinking deeply about the world I live in. I love an allegory. But some tell the tale straight and true. This is what I expect from This Woman’s Work by Julie Delporte. A sensitive study of life as a lady, an artist, a survivor of this modern world. To look the patriarchy square in the eyes and refute it.
This Woman’s Work reads as a thoughtful, offbeat approach to reflecting on the microcosm and the macrocosm. Finding one’s place in both, the bridge between the two that makes them real, makes them matter, not philosophical issues or hypothetical debate, but life. Pair that with Delporte’s urgent, quiet artwork. Profound whispers told in unrestrained color.
The industry is loudly congratulating itself on increasing the number of women in comics, but these are largely still women’s bodies on the page, written and drawn by men. This Woman’s Work stands as resistance to that and an exploration of it. Where are our Guerrilla Girls for comic books? Anne Elizabeth Moore in her book last year on Julie Doucet. Kelly Sue DeConnick and #VisibleWomen. And now Delporte, subtly wrapping personal experience into a larger, breathing treatise. — AOK
2019 BELONGS TO…
Maria Llovet. (LOUD, Sweet/Vicious, Black Mask Studios) Maria Llovet has been keeping her head low of late– 2018 was ostensibly a desert if you were looking for new material from the Barcelona-based artist– but 2019 is going to fix that, but quick.
Of course, everything Llovet has in store for us will be coming from Black Mask Studios this year. I wouldn’t have it any other way; her collaboration with Patrick Kindlon in 2017, the ferociously good and instantly iconic There’s Nothing There, wormed its way into my heart and lingers there still. Were it not for Black Mask, who knows where TNT would have ended up, or what forms it might have taken instead of what we saw. TNT introduced me to Llovet’s craft, and I’ve been a sucker for her work ever since.
Now comes LOUD, her first full-length OGN. Let’s see if her words (and worlds) can match her aesthetic. Based on limited knowledge of the project (gleaned from one press release), I know Llovet will assemble a senses-scrambling cadre of characters– “a latecomer stripper, a pissed waitress, a hitmen couple, a suspension bondage performer, a pregnant teenager, a clan of vampires, a pedophile, a lesbian junkie, a divorcing middle-aged woman, a sadistic dominatrix, and many other souls in search of love, drugs, and blood”– and I don’t want to wait a second longer to have them dance the night across my very eyes. Looks like I’ll have to (it should drop in February). In the meantime, I know the waiting will reap dividends. — JJ
Saladin Ahmed. (Miles Morales: Spider-Man, The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Marvel) 2018 was a great year for Saladin Ahmed, as MJ so thoroughly examined in our Best Writers piece two weeks ago. But as we enter 2019, it is already clear that that was all just a preamble to his next couple of showstopping gigs.
This year, Ahmed will be the primary writer for both Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, two of Marvel’s biggest breakout characters of the last decade whose solo titles have each only had one writer before now. It would be a huge task to have to follow up just one of those character-defining runs; to follow both Brian Michael Bendis and G. Willow Wilson in writing these beloved characters is just nuts.
But if there’s a writer that has proven themselves capable of doing it, it’s Ahmed. In his limited-but-stellar bibliography thus far, he has demonstrated a mix of great imagination, boundless empathy and thoughtfulness, and an ability to balance fun and topicality, all traits that should serve him well in writing both Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Magnificent Ms. Marvel. Indeed, just before the holiday we got the first issue of his Miles run, and it was just as good as you would hope for. Suffice it to say that Marvel’s golden kids are in great hands. Ahmed has so much more comics brilliance to show us. — BH
Alex Paknadel. (Friendo, Vault Comics; Kino,Catalyst Prime/Lion Forge) It wasn’t until the later months of 2018 that I discovered the scripting genius of Alex Paknadel. His Friendo series at Vault Comics sent me scrambling to see what else he’d done. There was Arcadia and Paknadel & Trakhanov’s Turncoat at BOOM! Studios, and some work on Dr. Who: The Eleventh Doctor for Titan Comics. It was a shock; his writing is seasoned like a pro who’s been on the published end of the business for longer.
Friendo made an impact which ushered it and Alex onto many Best of 2018 lists, mine included. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work and seeing his career breakthrough to the stratosphere. We’ve spoken on Twitter and he’s not only a talented gent, he’s also humble, kind, and generous.
His first work for Valiant releases February 20, 2019. Incursion is an Eternal Warrior four-issue series co-written by Paknadel and Andy Diggle, illustrated by Doug Braithwaite. I’ve never been a regular Valiant reader, but this gives me a starting point, and a chance to witness a favorite writer’s next step onto the larger comics-scape. Expect a big year for Alex. — CH
Nick Robles. (Euthanauts, Black Crown/IDW Publishing) Despite its recent inauguration, IDW’s Black Crown imprint has already highlighted some of the hottest up-and-comers in comics, and artist Nick Robles is one of those on his way to becoming a household name (if yours is a comics-reading household, obviously). Co-creator of Euthanauts (with writer Tini Howard), Robles has already made a huge splash on his first ongoing comic series.
Euthanauts is a series centered on death, and Robles’ dark visual aesthetic gives the comic a beautiful, modern gothic style. The book’s frequently utilized visual of floating in “space” would have nowhere near the same impact without Robles’ detailed rendering and coloring, giving depth to the darkness (though three and a half of the issues so far have been colored by Eva de la Cruz).
Robles’ character designs are inspired, everyone’s personalities succinctly communicated through their looks and fashion choices. Page layouts throughout all five issues are phenomenal, the intricacy sometimes even reminiscent of the great J. H. Williams. Even his covers are gorgeous. I would also suggest following Robles on Twitter, where his pinups of characters like Nightcrawler and Nightwing are a frequent delight.
Robles is a creator to watch, because if he’s already this good on his first comic series, I can’t even imagine how much better he’ll become in the future. — MJ
Tillie Walden. (Are You Listening?, First Second Books) 2019, the Year of Tillie Walden. The front half of this year will be everybody who didn’t read On A Sunbeam catching up with the rest of us, and everyone who did using it as a yardstick to measure the worth of every other book they come across. Walden’s work represents the full potential of this industry we all love. Scope of storytelling, meaningful subject matter and characters, positive representation, artwork. On A Sunbeam raised the bar on all of it.
My dream is Walden as a herald. The floodgates open. New converts investigate Spinning— all those die hard tights and genre comics readers are as moved by a book about a figure skater, written and drawn by a woman, as they are by their boys’ club action whatevers.
And, in the back end of the year, Walden’s Are You Listening? will drop. More intense artwork. The colors are to die for. Raw subject matter. A “brutally honest” story of trauma set in a world of fantastic imagery. Walden is what we need. Not good fantasy stories. Good stories that happen to be fantasy. My dream is Walden as a herald. The floodgates open. Writers, artists, editors, readers, dreamers: inspired. — AOK
What are YOU looking forward to in 2019? Share your picks in the comments section below.