Billy Peden, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor

Billy Peden, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor

Walt Simonson is a revered Norse king in the comics industry.  The writer/artist has had impressive runs on DC and Marvel titles ranging from Detective Comics and Thor to The Fantastic Four and X-Factor. His extraordinary storytelling skills and bold linework have earned him astounding praise from not only a diverse and devoted fanbase, but award slangin’ critics.

It’s been almost 3 months since John Layman and Afu Chan’s Outer Darkness/Chew debut issue hit the shelves, and it would have been science fiction to guess that the “shelves” would be vacant of new comic books until last week.  The sophomore issue of the crossover event of the century was worth the wait, and our meager ideas of science fiction are no match for what beholds the mind and pencil of Layman and Chan.  This is sci-fi that doesn’t shy away from tropes but embraces and gives them a much-needed upgrade.  For as our times get weirder, the medium’s job is to take us to more outrageous worlds.  

Comics fans, rejoice!  The mighty medium has returned.  It’s been 7 weeks since Diamond Comic Distributors decided to discontinue publishing new comics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and everyone - retailers, creators, and fans - has felt the ramifications of that decision.  Yet as the saying goes, “The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow bridge at the end of the tunnel,” as Diamond announced that it’ll be resuming its trade in shipping Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, and more from May 20. What better title to get those old feels of new comics than reading Image Comics' Savage Dragon!  

First appearing in 1887, Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly the world’s most popular fictional detective. (Sorry, Batman.)  The character, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is so instilled in pop culture that most of the detective tropes we see today come right from classic Sherlock Holmes stories.  With countless novels, award-winning TV shows, and summer blockbuster movies, it is impossible to escape the good detective in your favorite medium.  While most of these incarnations are okay, they rarely say anything new.  Where the challenge lies is adding to the Sherlock Holmes lore and not just re-imagining or rehashing what the series was built upon.  Before hearing of Nancy Springer’s work and now Serena Blasco, I would have assumed that the Holmes world had been squeezed dry with the same characters, same stakes, same “who done its.”  After reading An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, I have never been so happy to be wrong.

What happens when the magic in a fantasy world vanishes?  In a moment, there is an absence of something that once was thought of as a necessity to life.

Comic books.  With their intense visuals and heavy focus on plot and characters, the medium can be much more engaging than other literary means of storytelling.  We live in new and interesting times, and although the past has always seemed to have had it worse, fear can lay waste to an individual's psyche when the stream of consciousness is battered with Dread.  That’s why comic books will be our savior.  And Dread our new law.  No, not that Dread.  Dredd.

Marvel Entertainment and IDW Publishing announced in 2018 that the two companies will create comic books designed for younger readers. Again, we must be trapped in the Bizzaro World of Marvel.  With the release of the second issue of Marvel Action: Spider-Man, I’m elated to say it has been as good as the top-notch, current Marvel-published comics featuring the famed web-slinger.  The all-ages periodical is as friendly as your neighborhood Spider-Man and accessible to anyone who has only seen characters in the movies or cartoons.  Marvel Action: Spider-Man is a fresh start for all-aged readers of Marvel’s most popular character, and the triumphant return of the kid-friendly periodical comic book.  

Horror comics are an acquired taste, and one that I usually find hard to stomach.  That’s why I’m more than surprised that I loved the first 2 issues of The Red Mother as much as I did.  This is a supernatural horror story with a clear footing in reality - a comic book genre that is leaps and bounds out of my usual comfort zone.  I’ve always been a fan of the “cape and cowl” comics.  You know, superhero books full of SNIKTs, THWIPs, and BAMFs. There is comfort in familiarity, but I’m well aware that the medium is limitless, and the comic landscape can support any type of storytelling.  

In space, far beyond the galaxy that we Earthlings know and love, lives the Outer Darkness.  John Layman fans have chewed on the new sci-fi series since 2018, and this may be the start of his most fulfilling story yet.  The self-proclaimed science fiction geek, best known for the Eisner Award-winning series, Chew, has been working full-time on his new passion project with artist Afu Chan.  The new series is imaginative and unique in all the best ways, but still die-hard fans of the Chew series have pondered if we'd see Tony, Colby, and Poyo ever again.  Not since issue #60 has the courageous Cibopath and his adventures graced the Image Comics catalog.  Until now.  Outer Darkness / Chew is the crossover event that comic book fans never knew they wanted but deserve more than ever.   

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