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Top of the stack: Comics read in October worth noting

Two licensed books from Dark Horse and a one-shot visit with Fantomex from Marvel highlight this month’s selections.

Cover of "Bill & Ted Are Doomed" No. 2. Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

This is a new segment. Late each month, a sampling of three or four recently released comic books are reviewed in brief, with each comic getting just two to three paragraphs of ink. Not all the books are brand new, but the idea is they were each published within the last few months and are worth noting for a variety of reasons. They come from a range of publishers, and represent different genres.

The comics reviewed are presented in alphabetical order.

“Bill & Ted Are Doomed” No. 2

Bill and Ted return in an official prequel series from Dark Horse Comics which takes place between the events of “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” and “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” the new film starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter that came out in late August. Written by Evan Dorkin, with art, cover and letters by Roger Landridge, this humorous fantasy comic features the Wyld Stallyns, who are on a world tour while trying to come up with the song that’s meant to unite humanity across space and time.

Tension runs high, especially in this second issue, as the band tries their luck at playing a hardcore death metal festival in Scandinavia (think “Midsommar” meets rock ‘n’ roll), and Dorkin’s dialogue is spot-on, making the characters in the panels seem identical to the one’s projected onto the big screen. The medieval princesses, the Grim Reaper, and even the Stations are back, making this four-issue adventure a must-read experience for longtime fans of the Wyld Stallyns.

Price: $3.99

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Release date: Oct. 14

Other notes: Canon with “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and its subsequent films.

Cover of "Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

“Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex” No. 1 (one-shot)

Superstar scribe Jonathan Hickman’s makeover of Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise continues, including in a series of new one-shots. Fantomex, a creation of Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey in the pages of “New X-Men” in the early 2000s, comes with a slew of interesting character traits and unlimited promise — both within and outside the X-Men family of comics. A product of the Weapon Plus Program, which berthed Man-Thing, Agent Venom, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Deadpool, and more, Fantomex has an arsenal of fascinating powers, which include enhanced reflexes, healing factor, acrobat skills and having a cybernetic mind.

With story and script by Hickman, with art and story by Rod Reis, this issue delves into Fantomex’s rich and somewhat mysterious past in 10-year intervals, with him making multiple visits to The World, a mysterious dimension within the Marvel Universe. With a new supporting cast with each visit to The World, and stunning visuals, this issue is a standout example of what the medium’s capable of, especially with the one-shot format. In an age where there’s often decompressed storytelling in comics, it’s uncommon and refreshing to get a completely contained story in just 31 story pages that requires minimal background knowledge of a character or setting — especially from a book printed by Marvel or DC Comics. For followers of Hickman's X-Men books, this adventure serves as a prequel of sorts, so there's extra value within.

Price: $4.99

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Release date: Aug. 5

Other notes: Parental Advisory, X-Men tie-in

Cover of "Stranger Things: Science Camp" No. 1. Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

“Stranger Things: Science Camp” No. 1 (of 4)

Wondering what Dustin was off doing at science camp during the summer of 1985 as the third season of “Stranger Things” was getting started? Look no further, as this four-issue limited series has the answers you’re looking for — plus ’80s horror tropes. As one expects from a “Stranger Things” tie-in, there’s a seemingly serene setting, some angsty kids, a bit of a bully presence, and, of course, weird events brewing.

This first issue follows Dustin as he arrives at Camp Know Where, where he hopes to make some new friends and expand on his math and science skillsets while away from his hometown of Hawkins, Indiana. However, Dustin quickly realizes there’s a social hierarchy and even some bullying at his summer camp for nerds that he needs to overcome, all while there’s a layer of spooky taking hold over the camp which Dustin seems oblivious to.

Written by Jody Houser, with pencils by Edgar Salazar and inks from Keith Champagne, this trip to science camp is paced well and engaging. Marissa Louise’s colors add a nice spice that hasn’t been tasted in previous “Stranger Things” tie-in comics, which seems necessary given this book takes place away from Hawkins and lacks Dustin’s esteemed Dungeons & Dragons crew.

Price: $3.99

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Release date: Sept. 30

Other notes: “Science Camp” is the fourth “Stranger Things” limited series from Dark Horse. Each series of issues comprises its own story. Readers don’t need to have read previous volumes to enjoy this new mini.



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