Saving the World Is a Job, Not a Calling, in This Week's Best New Comics

Piotr Wyrd facing off against an enraged super soldier.
Image: Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone (Dark Horse Comics)

You have to be a truly special kind of person to live your life fully as a superhero. Not just the whole business of having a secret identity, but to really be a superhero from top to bottom in an existential sense. You have to find deep, meaningful fulfillment in being of service to others, regardless of the task at hand.

That kind of selflessness is rare, and something that neither of the heroes of this week’s best new comics have in any great quantity. To them, saving the world isn’t something one does because it’s a “good” thing to do—they do it because they must, and, ideally, are going to be paid in the process.

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Supreme Justice and Tabu discussing Peter Cannon.
Image: Caspar Wijngaard, Mary Safro (Dynamite)

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt

The way Peter Cannon steps onto the scene in Dynamite’s new Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, from writer Kieron Gillen and artists Caspar Wijngaard and Mary Safro, you’re immediately meant to stop and try to remember just what you know about the character and his comics history. Cannon isn’t a new character, but he’s one whose origins and subsequent adventures (including a brief bid for a spot on the Justice League in the ’90s) often go forgotten because of how he became the inspiration for another peak human wunderkind hero.

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In many ways, this new series is meant to be a fresh start for Peter. All of the elements of his classic stories are there—his genius-level intellect, and his trusted friend Nabu—but it also introduces the larger world that Peter exists in and how his position within it makes him a complicated person. Unlike other Chosen White Guy™ superheroes who gain their abilities by traveling to far-off lands, doing a bit of cultural tourism, and perhaps slaying a dragon, Peter’s aware of the kind of privilege that he’s been fated with, and it makes him somewhat resentful of society. If humanity can’t be bothered to save itself from itself, Peter wonders, why should he bother if there’s no means of ensuring lasting peace and progress? The series’ opener does a solid job of sussing out what it is about Peter that makes him as difficult as he is interesting, and it’ll be fun to see where this latest arc is going to take him. (Kieron Gillen, Caspar Wijngaard, Mary Safro, Dynamite)

Pitor Wyrd enjoying a cigarette.
Image: Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone (Dark Horse Comics)

Wyrd

Compared to the rest of Wyrd’s large cast of characters, who are all in constant contact with the world around them, the book’s titular hero comes across as being largely disconnected from everything. Unlike most other special operatives, Piotr Wyrd cannot die, and like most nigh-immortal beings, Wyrd has a difficult time really caring for the world anymore.

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When he isn’t drinking or smoking or jumping from buildings into traffic to see if today’s the day, he’s off on assignment dealing with sticky situations that normal agents can’t handle and the government would rather keep quiet. There are undeniable whiffs of other hard-drinking, swearing comics detective types all throughout this first issue. But when the book pivots to a story about a disillusioned Captain America lookalike, you get the sense that Wyrd might be purposefully aping comics archetypes (like immortals) in order to tell a story about the deeper horrors that are part of those stories. (Curt Pires, Antonio Fuso, Stefano Simeone, Dark Horse Comics)


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The Heroes of This Week's Best New Comics Are Complicated Dads

Atomic Robo mentoring a young robot friend.
Image: Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy (IDW Publishing)

Whether you’re a sentient, technologically-advanced robot designed by Nikola Tesla or a street-level criminal with a knack for getting thrown in the pokey, raising children is a difficult task. And while it can be rewarding, it’s much more often an emotionally and financially draining endeavor.

The heroes of this week’s best new comics are at a point in their lives where they’ve become responsible for nurturing the next generation of young minds who are going to inherit the Earth and, truth be told, they’re both kind of nailing the whole parenting thing. Just not exactly in the ways they anticipated.

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A pawn shop owner realizing why Ricky is trying to sell a stolen necklace.
Image: Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips (Image Comics)

Criminal

Despite his street name, all Teeg Lawless really wants at this point in his life is a modicum of peace and tranquility after spending years running with mobsters, pulling off heists, and generally living on the wrong side of the law. Old habits die hard for Lawless, and even though he’s trying to get on the up and up, Image Comics’ Criminal—from co-creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips—opens with the man behind bars in a local jail waiting for someone…anyone…to bail him out.

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Lawless’ salvation comes in the form of his misguided young son Ricky, who, taking after his father, reasons that he can get away with robbing an elderly neighbor he knows to be in possession of valuable jewelry in order to get his hands on bail money. But Ricky’s actions come with consequences that neither he nor his father are prepared to handle, and force Lawless to fall back on his old ways in order to make sure that he can keep his family safe from retaliation. (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips, Image Comics)

Atomic Robo making sure Bernard is up to the task at hand.
Image: Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy (IDW Publishing)

Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era

Atomic Robo’s seen a lot over his centuries-long lifetime of learning about and experimenting with the forces of nature that define the world. He’s putting the whole of his vast knowledge to good use in IDW’s Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era by passing it along to the next generation of sentient, mechanized intelligence.

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For now, life’s mostly quiet for Atomic Robo and the newest young recruits at the Tesladyne Institute, but unbeknownst to everyone else within the organization who believe Robo’s merely tinkering with a new project in his private lab, he’s actually in the process of building what might be his greatest, most significant achievement yet. (Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy, IDW Publishing)


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Santa Puts Asgard to Shame and Technology Rules the World in This Week's Best New Comics

Amanda McKee reflecting on her life.
Image: Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín (Valiant)

This week’s best new comics are all about two of the biggest things on people’s minds around this time of year: Santa Claus, and the inescapable effects of being increasingly connected to our digital devices.

At what point do you think Santa’s elves all realized that the demand for traditional, non-electronic toys was going to keep going way down—and that if they wanted to be able to keep up with the changing ideas about Christmas, they’d have to learn to start building cell phones and tablets?

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Klaus and a couple of his friends delivering gifts.
Image: Dan Morra (Boom Studios)

Klaus and the Crying Snowman

Everyone loves a good Christmas fable where a terrible person learns the error of their ways with the help of a little holiday spirit and a visit from Santa Claus. But it’s not often that these stories involve epic conflicts in space with ancient gods hellbent on stealing energy from the sun.

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If you took Troy Miller’s Jack Frost and tossed it in a blender with Thor: Ragnarok, you’d end up with a story something like Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s Klaus and the Crying Snowman. Sam, a confused snowman, awakens one winter morning melting and, in his panic, stumbles across the path of Klaus, one of the world’s many living Christmas-themed deities responsible for making the holiday possible.

As much as Sam wants to give into the more existential issues weighing on his mind, he quickly gets sucked into Klaus’ war against horrific, living Christmas trees that herald the impending arrival of the Norse deity Surtr. Morra’s illustrations are dynamic and bright—keeping the action high-octane while also leaving ample room for the comic’s more emotionally heavy moments to really resonate with you. It’s a fun, wild, one-shot of a comic and honestly, it reads like the kind of story that should become a Christmas classic. (Grant Morrison, Dan Morra, Boom Studios)

Agent Drake in the midst of a neural hacking.
Image: Andy Diggle, Alessandro Vitti, and Adriano Lucas (Image Comics)

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Hardcore

Image’s Hardcore—from Robert Kirkman, Andy Diggle, Alessandro Vitti, and Adriano Lucas—takes some of the very serious moral questions about drone warfare and spins them into an interesting tale about the next generation military conflict. As part of the Hardcore program, Agent Drake works as a specially-trained “pilot” who hijacks the bodies of unsuspecting (though nefarious) villains and uses them as stealth weapons to take out even more dangerous war criminals and ne’er-do-wells.

As questionable as the practice is on its face, Drake and the other operatives working for Hardcore reason that their methods lead to far lower levels of collateral damage compared to traditional drone strikes. But as is always the case with cutting-edge tech and those deploying it, their morals are…dubious. (Robert Kirkman, Andy Diggle, Alessandro Vitti, Image Comics)

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Amanda searching for the ideal place to call home.
Image: Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín (Valiant)

Livewire

The psiots of Valiant’s Harbinger series have been through hell and back. First thought to be the world’s greatest hope for the future and now turned into social pariahs by humans who don’t understand them, most of the psiots are doing everything to stay under the radar in hopes of living lives as close to “normal” as possible.

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But for Amanda McKee, a powerful psiot with the ability to control technology with her mind, merely running for her life was never enough. When she found herself living in a world that was actively hunting down her fellow gifted people, she fought back—and while her actions were heroic, they came with devastating consequences that turned her into public enemy number one.

In writer Vita Ayala and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s Livewire, Amanda’s trying to make amends to the people she cares about for the danger she put them in during her pursuit for justice. At the same time, however, she’s steadfast in her belief that she’s got to do whatever it takes to keep psiots safe. Because if she won’t, who will? (Vita Ayala, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín, Valiant)


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