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The best comics to read in April: Keys to the past and future

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It's now been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic officially began. As vaccines roll out and public places open up, many of us are readying ourselves to unlock the door and go back out into the world. In the meantime, there are still plenty of interesting comics to read.

Below, check out EW's picks for comics to read this April.

<em>Geiger</em> #1 (Image)

Geoff Johns (writer), Gary Frank (artist)

Image is doing a great job of lately of scooping up superstar writers and artists known for their Marvel and DC work to create new original books. In last month’s column we discussed Nocterra, the sci-fi series from Batman veterans Scott Snyder and Tony S. Daniel, and this month we’re highlighting Geiger, which reunites the Doomsday Clock team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.

Doomsday Clock was a tall order, since it required merging Watchmen with the rest of the DC universe, so it will be interesting to see Johns and Frank tackle a whole new story of their own. Geiger is set in a post-apocalyptic future where nuclear war has ravaged the planet. As ragtag groups of scavengers prowl the wasteland in search of anything valuable, they tell each other stories about the so-called Meltdown Man, originally known as Tariq Geiger — the only person who can walk around outside without a protective suit.

Is Geiger a new kind of superhero story, or something else entirely? We’ll have to read to find out. Geiger #1 his stores April 7.

<em>The Joker</em> #2 (DC)

James Tynion IV (writer), Mirka Andolfo & Guillem March (artists)

Given how much you hear about the Joker these days, it feels only right for the Clown Prince of Crime to finally get his own ongoing comic book. But there’s always a danger in taking a character who works so well as a looming threat and putting them center stage so we can get inside their head. For one thing, the Oscar-winning Joker movie from 2019 already did that. So writer James Tynion IV takes a different approach. This Joker series is told from the point of view of Commissioner Jim Gordon, who has decided to forgo retirement and hunt the Joker across the world in the hopes of finally putting an end to this smiling menace.

We all know Joker is Batman’s greatest adversary, and he’s obviously become a primary foil for his ex-girlfriend Harley Quinn in her new solo adventures, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s also done quite a few heinous things to Gordon and his family over the years — such as when he crippled the commissioner's daughter Barbara in The Killing Joke, still one of the most infamous Joker stories ever.

"I feel like Barbara has had a cathartic moment about The Killing Joke every four years since the comic was released, but Jim Gordon hasn't, and Jim Gordon was actually the center of that story," Tynion told EW during a recent conversation about his conspiracy theory comic The Department of Truth. "Jim Gordon vs. Joker has a deep history. Gordon has always existed in this strange moral gray area of recognizing the system is broken but still wants the system to exist, while the Joker is a figure who exists outside of all systems."

The Joker #2 hits stores April 13.

<em>Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell and Gone</em> #1 (IDW)

Joe Hill (writer), Gabriel Rodriguez (artist)

At long last, two great fantasy comics are coming together. We gave you a first look at the Sandman/Locke & Key crossover last summer, but this month will finally see the world of the Dreaming collide with the world of Keyhouse.

The original Locke & Key comics (and the Netflix TV show they inspired) focused on the adventures of the modern-day Locke family — Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode — and their efforts to stop a malicious spirit from opening a portal to a dark dimension. In subsequent spin-offs and one-shots, creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have filled in the stories of Locke ancestors like Chamberlin Locke, who once opened the moon to give his sick young son Ian a pleasant life and remains haunted by the death of his older son John in World War I.

Hell & Gone picks up these plot threads in 1927. In order to save John's soul, his sister Mary takes the Anywhere Key to London, where Roderick Burgess is holding the King of Dreams captive. We'll have to wait and see what comes next, but it's worth remembering that The Sandman has a very famous key as well: the Key to Hell.

Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1 hits stores April 14.

<em>Way of X</em> #1 (Marvel)

Si Spurrier (writer), Bob Quinn (artist)

In case you haven’t heard, a new golden age for Marvel mutants has begun on the living island of Krakoa. Forever threatened by looming post-apocalyptic futures, mutantkind has finally found a way to prevent them all with a new system that makes resurrection simple and replicable. Now no mutant can stay dead for long. But what does that mean for mutants like Nightcrawler, who have deep and meaningful ties to human religions like Christianity, which holds resurrection to be rather special and unique? (Happy belated Easter, by the way.)

In last year's X-Men #7, readers witnessed the first iteration of a new mutant ceremony called "Crucible," in which a mutant who has lost their powers can die in noble gladiator-style combat to earn themselves a resurrection with a complete body. Nightcrawler"s conclusion at the end of that issue was, "I need to start a mutant religion." The new series Way of X, the latest addition to Marvel’s X-Men comics line, follows his attempts to do just that. Si Spurrier has proven himself an imaginative and clever writer with his runs on Coda, The Dreaming, and John Constantine Hellblazer, so we can’t wait to see his take on Nightcrawler and burgeoning mutant spirituality alongside artist Bob Quinn.

Way of X #1 hits stores April 21.

<em>Women of Marvel</em> #1 (Marvel)

Multiple writers, multiple artists

Whether you enjoyed that moment of "girl power" from the Avengers: Endgame climax or found it an inadequate piece of representation, the new two-part Women of Marvel comic series should have what you’re looking for. Women of Marvel presents some of the publisher’s most iconic female heroes (including She-Hulk and Captain Peggy Carter from the timeline where she took up the shield) told entirely by female writers, artists, and editors.

Some of these creators — such as Natasha Alterici, writer and artist of the lesbian viking comic Heathen, and Anne Toole, one of the award-winning writers on the video game Horizon Zero Dawn — are making their Marvel debuts here. Others are longtime Marvel luminaries; the comic features an introduction from editor Louise Simonson (co-creator of Apocalypse, among others) and a cover by Sara Pichelli (co-creator of Miles Morales, among others).

Women of Marvel #1 hits stores April 7.

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