5 comics to read this February: A new age of utopia and oblivion
A new age is dawning. One month into 2019, all kinds of new comic series are kicking off. Marvel launches an alternate-universe mutant utopia with its Age of X-Man comics, while DC sets about exploring the Fourth World from a different perspective with Female Furies. Readers can explore Chelsea Cain’s feminist agenda at length thanks to the first Man-Eaters collection, while the latest Umbrella Academy comic kicks into high gear just in time for the Netflix show.
Below, check out EW’s list of comics to check out this February.
Female Furies #1 (DC Comics)
Cecil Castellucci (writer), Adriana Melo (artist)
DC’s Mister Miracle miniseries was one of the best superhero comics on stands last year. The last issue made it clear that the epic, apocalyptic events of that series will not have a big impact on continuity going forward, but thankfully for fans of that series, DC isn’t done playing around with the characters and setting of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comics. This month kicks off a new series focused on the Female Furies, the all-female squad of enforcers on the demonic planet of Apokolips.
Big Barda was one of the protagonists of Mister Miracle, but this series finds her in her younger days, when she still serves as one of the loyal soldiers of Darkseid and Granny Goodness. Even in Hell there is misogyny, and Castellucci has said that the series will show how Barda, Granny, and other Furies start “awakening” to the distorted power dynamics of Apokolips.
The first issue’s cover is by Mitch Gerads, who illustrated Mister Miracle, but this series is definitely pursuing its own take on the Fourth World. It will probably be essential reading for anyone looking forward to Ava DuVernay’s upcoming Fourth World movie.
Pre-order Female Furies #1 here.
Naomi #2 (DC/Wonder Comics)
Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker (writers), Jamal Campbell (artist)
The DC Universe is teeming with superheroes powerful enough to shake mountains, but what does it feel like to live in that universe without such powers? The first issue of Naomi, one of the first comics from Bendis’ new Wonder Comics imprint at DC, explored that very question in intriguing fashion. The title character lives in Port Oswego, Oregon (not too far from where Bendis and Walker live in Portland), a normal town that is thrown into a frenzy thanks to a brief appearance from Superman in the midst of his battle with a supervillain. As Naomi starts asking questions about this event, the first issue ended with her learning that another such superhero-y event may have been related to her own birth.
Issue 2 is the perfect jumping-on point to figure out exactly what kind of mystery Bendis and Walker are weaving here; a mystery made even more fascinating by the way Campbell’s layouts reflect these ordinary lives thrown upside down.
Pre-order Naomi #2 here.
Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1 (Marvel)
Leah Williams (writer), Georges Jeanty (artist)
The X-Men have lived in fear of the apocalypse for decades now. Mutants face plenty of problems with harassment and xenophobia in the present, but ever since Chris Claremont and John Byrne showed an even bleaker future in their iconic “Days of Future Past” story line (the inspiration for the movie of the same name), the X-Men have had to deal with plenty of dark futures where things somehow get even worse for them. But this year’s X-Men comic event, Age of X-Man, is something a little different: an alternative world where things actually work out for the X-Men. It’s nice to explore a potential utopia instead of an all-too-familiar dystopia; aren’t we all getting a little tired of dystopias anyway?
Even so, the world of Age of X-Man is not quite perfect. The event consists of six different five-issue miniseries (Marvelous X-Men, NextGen, The Amazing Nightcrawler, X-Tremists, Prisoner X, and Apocalypse and the X-Tracts) that explore different elements of this utopia. The X-Tremists cover the dark side of paradise. In order for this world to function, love and relationships are outlawed; mutants are “hatched” rather than born. The X-Tremists are the secret police who cultivate these laws, and their series will probably be the most interesting gateway into the Age of X-Man.
Pre-order Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1 here.
The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #5 (Dark Horse)
Gerard Way (writer), Gabriel Bá (artist)
This month sees the release of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of The Umbrella Academy. The TV show pays homage to the cult-favorite comic’s strange sense of style and story while adding its own dance numbers and expanded characterizations. Funnily enough, the adaptation is arriving at the same exact moment that a new Umbrella Academy comic series is being published for the first time in a decade. Never fear, Way and Bá have managed to make their latest story weird enough to stand beside the show in a way that highlights both their similarities and differences.
So far, Hotel Oblivion has been building up several different plotlines, the most prominent of which revolve around the titular hotel where Umbrella Academy founder Sir Reginald Hargreeves used to imprison the team’s foes. In this issue, readers will finally get a look at more of the villains who were imprisoned in the Hotel Oblivion, and all bets are off.
Pre-order The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #5 here.
Man-Eaters Volume 1 (Image)
Chelsea Cain (writer), Kate Niemczyk (artist)
Novelist Chelsea Cain has not had the easiest time getting into comics. Despite being lauded by critics, her 2016 Marvel comic Mockingbird was canceled after only eight issues, and the cancellation was accompanied by a deluge of social media abuse that forced Cain off Twitter for a time. Then, last year, her Vision comic for Marvel was canceled before a single issue even hit stands. She’s had better luck with her Image series Man-Eaters, which reunited her with Mockingbird artist Niemczyk to tell a story about a world where menstruation sometimes turns young girls into rampaging cat monsters.
Some of the online hate about Mockingbird was spawned by the title character wearing an “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” T-shirt on the final issue’s cover (a shirt that Cain herself also owns). Man-Eaters represents exactly that feminist agenda, and this month readers will finally be able to read the first few issues in collected form.
Pre-order Man-Eaters Volume 1 here.