Most Anticipated Comics of 2021
We find hope in the comics to come in 2021.
The second a year ends, and the moment after the Best-Of lists are tabulated, anticipation for what comes next takes hold. We’re a hungry people. Comic fans can never be satiated. We may not know all the delights (and horrors) that await us this year, but we already know several key releases. Our most anticipated comics of 2021 are an eclectic batch of tales from a variety of publishers.
Some appear on our immediate horizon, while others struggle to find their perfect release date. After 2020’s madness, who can blame a publisher for taking their time and doing the math. The industry hit a lot of bumps last year, but it looks powerfully bright as we dip our toes into January.
What you’ll find below are the comic books Brad and Lisa are most excited to read. They may not match your tastes, but they definitely have our mouths watering. We’re sure you’re already aware of some of them, but hopefully, we’re putting a few on your radar. 2021 already vows to deliver the goods.
Ok, folks, man your wishlists!
Honorable Mention: Saga
Look, there’s no word that Saga will actually hit stands in 2021, but we’re willing to bet on it. We haven’t had a new issue since 2018, and the wait might actually be doing physical harm to our bodies. That cliffhanger was...well, to call it a doozy would be a woeful understatement. The last issue of Saga not only ruined our day, but our month, and might even be responsible for the wretched state of the world today. Okay, now we’ve gone too far onto the other end. Sorry. Not sorry.
We just want to have Saga back in our lives! We need to know what happens next! We need to know how these characters are going to go on after all that went down. If they can do it, we can do it. Help us, Saga; you’re our only hope.
10. Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land
We’re Hellboy maniacs. We’ll read anything tangentially related to the character. Such desire rewards sporadically. Some BPRD tales pay off better than others. That’s also kinda their appeal. Since the character has been around for so long, various writers can jump into the character's timeline and muck around as they see fit.
One of our favorite Hellboy tales is The Midnight Circus, detailing the very early days of our hero. Life’s hard out there for any kid, but one grappling with his place in the apocalypse? That’s a whole different level of paranoid pubescence.
With The Hidden Land, Young Hellboy gets what will hopefully be the first of many minis this February. As usual, Mike Mignola oversees the plotting, with Tom Sniegoski steering the script and Craig Rousseau bringing the pencils. The story revolves around a spooky island, but we’re less interested in that than our little devilish kiddo. Tracing how these early encounters shape him into the monster-smasher we know and love is the real appeal.
09. Young Shadow
What’s this? Another “Young” hero? Indeed, but this one comes with a wink.
Ben Sears delights in mashing nostalgia with a contemporary cartoon sensibility. Or, as Glen Murakami says in his pull-quote, the comic contains “all the charm of Charles Schultz and the excitement of Jack Kirby.”
Young Shadow, published by Fantagraphics, is Sears’ take on pulp adventure, pitting a tiny crime-fighter against a sludge peddling CEO. It’s an all-ages tale guaranteed to hook the kids as much as the adults. It’s a trick Sears mastered long ago, and we’ve been on his ride since 2016’s Night Air. If you can’t wait for April to get his latest, go diving in his back catalog.
08. Poison Flowers and Pandemonium
In March of last year, we lost Richard Sala. He was a brilliant cartoonist fueled by a deviously demented mind. You can’t go wrong with any one of his comics, but if you’ve never experienced his work before, this upcoming omnibus might be a great place to start.
Poison Flowers and Pandemonium contains four brand-new novellas. The tales promise to fly between multiple genres, tagging horror, crime, camp, and romance. Sala obsessed over B-movies and the more lurid shadows of storytelling. There’s a muck to his watercolors, but it’s a bright muck, and you’re always happy to slather it upon yourself.
2021 is gonna be the year of The Eternals. We’ve been waiting for this moment for quite a while. Jack Kirby’s grand band of space weirdos deserves mainstream attention, and we’re stoked for the audience that’s about to form around him and his toys.
We’re even more excited that the MCU attention results in the launch of a new series, and Marvel is not skimping on the talent. Kieron Gillen has the perfect mischievous mind to tackle these characters and worlds, and Esad Ribic will no doubt bring great gobs of gravitas to their endeavors. Hopefully, he can stick around for more than one arc.
06. Orphan and the Five Beasts
We do not care what the concept is; we will be there for whatever James Stokoe cooks up. He’s an artist that demands attention and never fails to supply the goods. We named his 2019 one-shot Sobek one of the year’s best comics, and this new four-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics will most likely find it’s way into this year’s Best-Of episode. Fingers crossed.
Orphan and the Five Beasts is not some niche try-hard comic book. Stokoe digs into his Kung Fu bliss, concocting a revenge saga that should sit snuggly alongside Hong Kong classics like Five Deadly Venoms. What little we’ve seen so far already boggles the mind. Stokoe makes feasts, not meals. Every panel packs a punch and leaves you asking for another slap.
Back in July, Valiant Entertainment announced the return of Ninjak under the guidance of Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido. Since the publisher’s return, we’ve dabbled in their titles but have yet to commit fully. Parker and Pulido on Ninjak is gonna get us to put a ring on it.
Not only is Jeff Parker half the team responsible for the criminally underrated Future Quest mini-series, but he may have also written the best Shazam story of the last decade, and he did it as part of the utterly uninteresting Convergence crossover. Javier Pulido is responsible for one of the single greatest She-Hulk runs alongside writer Charles Soule. If you’ve not devoured that series, stop reading this sentence this very second, and correct your error.
Parker and Pulido on Ninjak are irresistible. When the world’s greatest secret agent is exposed, a global underworld comes gunning. Their Ninjak will certainly be packed with plenty of action, but it’s Parker’s inevitable character work that has us the most excited. Ninjak may appear as a goofy American Ninja wannabe on the surface, but he’s always been a cipher for talents to wax poetically. Bring it on, guys.
04. Swamp Thing
Future State is now! We’re excited about all of it, frankly. The new issues are hitting the shelves as we speak, and we’re eager to dive into each and every one of them. DC Comics desperately needs fresh blood, and more importantly, fresh insight. We’re excited by the stable of talent they’ve brought in to sell us on this new venture.
But we’re not here to talk Future State. We’re here to frolic in the Green. When Future State concludes, a new Swamp Thing launches in March from writer Ram V, artist Mike Perkins, and colorist Mike Spicer. The title is currently scheduled as a mini-series, but if enough of us show up, and put down our green, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a whole lot more of Alec Holland’s Green.
03. Beta Ray Bill
Yes, we’re in the bag for Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer. Both Murder Falcon and Wonder Woman: Dead Earth found their way onto our best-of-the-year episodes. These guys simply craft the emotionally visceral tales we desire. The art looks rad as hell, but the stories crush the soul as much as anything else.
Beta Ray Bill is an untapped resource. Usually, whenever he shows up in a comic, a good time will be had, but dammit, he deserves his own solo adventure. He’s not just the horse-faced alien weirdo tied to Thor. He’s a titan with a lot to prove.
In the hands of Johnson and Spicer, Beta Ray Bill is gonna shred so hard. The spreads on this comic will melt faces, and explode brains. However, what we’re most excited to discover is how the comic will tear into our hearts. Johnson is not all flash. He’s a tidal wave of gut-wrenching passion. We’re ready to drown in it with Bill.
02. X-Men Legends: X-Factor
Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson are back on X-Factor telling a classic tale of yore?!?! Hell to the Yeah.
In many ways, their original collaboration in the pages of the 80s X-Factor remains our quintessential take on the X-Men concept. Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen, & the arrival of Archangel - that story rocked our little kiddie minds.
Louise Simonson‘s earliest X-Factor stories served as the backbone to one of our earliest podcast episodes, and we’re frothing at the idea of seeing her return to these characters she re-defined. Not to mention, Louise and Walter are a badass comic book couple themselves. How the heck do we get them on our show?! We gotta make that happen, right? 2021 goal?? Let’s do this.
We’ve heard grumblings about Monsters for decades. Originally conceived as an Incredible Hulk story 35 years ago, Barry Windsor-Smith expanded Monsters’ concept into a radical exploration of trauma and politics after Marvel Comics got a little squeamish. During its evolution, Monsters exploded into a 360-page tome. It’s gonna look damn fine on our bookshelf.
Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth told the Hollywood Reporter that Monsters is Smith’s “most artistically mature work to date.” Whoa. Considering the legendary comics Smith has already gifted the world, those are some bold words, and they have our eyes buggin’ out of our heads.
Monsters was supposed to hit stores this month, but you know - COVID. The street date is now scheduled for April 13th. You’ll want to get those pre-orders in. Trust us; this is a historically significant release. We want to throw money at Fantagraphics; we want to make this a bestseller. There’s a lost BWS Fantastic Four story floating around out there. It’s the next comic book miracle waiting to happen.