Comics Disassembled: Ten Things I Liked or Didn’t Like from the Past Week in Comics, Led by a Timely Return

It was another strangely quiet week in the world of comics, perhaps because we’re in a bit of a lull before San Diego Comic Con arrives. That is, until I wrote this intro, and then Thursday hit and a bunch of interesting things dropped. Let’s get to all that in Comics Disassembled, as I write about ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, including one of the great creative teams in comics returning home.

1. More Criminal, and in Comic Form!

With Amazon Studios bringing Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ long-running series Criminal to life as a show — and only the upcoming Houses of the Unholy on the horizon from that elite creative team — it would make an awful lot of sense for that series to return in comic form. That deadly duo seemed to agree, as Brubaker shared in his newsletter — one that offers an inside look at the now in production series, including a photo of Brubaker gabbing with series star Charlie Hunnam, amongst others — that the next graphic novel they’ll be doing together will be a return to Criminal. Apparently Phillips is already 30 pages into it, which is good because it’ll apparently be bigger than your average bear. Brubaker made it sound a bit more oversized than usual, which also means it isn’t set to arrive until the first half of next year. That works well anyways, as I am guessing that will be timed around the arrival of the show itself, or at least to some degree.

Again, this just makes a ton of sense. The timing is exactly right, plus Brubaker and Phillips are in adventure mode as they roam through different worlds and projects of late. There’s no reason they can’t make a return visit to their favored home. Plus, why should Amazon Prime subscribers get all the fun? The answer is simple: They shouldn’t. Take that, Amazon Prime subscribers! Comic fans get cool things too, and oftentimes first!

I do like that this will be a hardcover original graphic novel in the vein of what the team has been doing with the Reckless series, Night Fever, and Where the Body Was over the past few years. That makes this the first full-length entry Criminal has had in that format, as My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies was technically a graphic novella and Cruel Summer/Bad Weekend were both collections, not OGNs. It’ll be cool to see what they cook up with when given even more space and slightly different rhythms to play with in this world, especially with Bad Night’s Jacob Kurtz returning as well. Add all that up, and all of a sudden this comic becomes one of my most anticipated releases. Brubaker and Phillips! Continuing to not miss!

It’s just what they do.

2. The Horizon Experiment, Being Interesting

This point isn’t something I want to dig too deep on, as I have an interview about it that will go up next week on the site. But this week brought the announcement of The Horizon Experiment at Image, a unique project from an incredible mix of creators. Let’s start there, as this project includes *takes deep breath* Pornsak Pichetshote, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Sabir Pirzada, Tananarive Due, Kelsey Ramsay, Jose Villarubia, J. Holtham, Michael Lee Harris, Vita Ayala, Skylar Patridge, Jason Wordie, Jeff Powell, Becca Carey, and Will Dennis. *takes another breath* It’s quite the collection of talent, and somehow that’s the less interesting part of the project to me.

The entire endeavor is built around the idea of telling genre stories with characters from marginalized communities where their background is a foundational, essential element, and the team will be rolling these new ideas out in an unconventional way. Each story from The Horizon Experiment — there are five of them, with Pichetshote and The Dodson’s The Manchurian (which stars a “Chinese super spy inspired by James Bond”) — will be released as a one-shot, and its continuation will be dependent on its success in that form. If, say, The Manchurian is a massive hit when it’s ordered, then they’ll do more. If it isn’t, it’s one and done. It’s a pilot program, and one that the team has put a lot of thought into doing right. There will be connected covers by Tula Lotay, an ashcan sent out in advance to retailers and influencers, and probably other fun things we don’t know about.

As a person who appreciates atypical approaches to releasing comics, this is my kind of thing. It’s a worthy experiment, and one that could work if the team positions these books well enough. I’ll have a lot more on this next week on the site, though, so if you’re curious for a whole lot more from Pichetshote on how this all came together and why they wanted to do it, that’s where you’ll be able to find it.

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