Welcome to my take on the comics scheduled for sale in May. This is my trawl through Previews Magazine in the hunt for new and interesting series to order or old favourites to look at again. May is the start of the summer (allegedly) and traditionally the time where the big two set out their stall for the coming year.
A little added extra is a paragraph giving my overall conclusion in each companies section on Marvel, DC and the Indies overall solicits for the month. So first up this month is DC Comics.
Brightest Day #1 and #2
#1 $3.99, #2 $2.99
#1 40 pages, #2 32 pages
Page 65 of Previews
This is the official start for DC’s big project for 2010/11 and this is the book that will set the tone for the next year’s worth of DC’s books so if you want to keep up with DC then you’ll probably want to get this. Its written by GL and GLC writers Geoff Johns and Pete Tomasi so the story will at least be decent and the art is by Ivan Reis, Fernando Pasarin, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark and Joe Prado although DC haven’t said yet how exactly the art chores are going to be split up. Still, the artists listed are some of DC’s best that can actually hit a deadline. Here’s some of Ardian Syaf’s (yeah I kept calling him Adrian too) deviant art stuff, in case you didn’t check his art on Blackest Night: Batman. This is a biweekly book (two a month) so it is a commitment but the regular books are only $2.99 each, something Marvel can’t always say…more of which later.
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 and #2
$3.99 (both issues)
#1 48 pages, #2 40 pages
Page 74 of Previews
I’m starting with the blindingly obvious picks here aren’t I? Still, after the controversial Final Crisis, Grant Morrison has hit a home run with the Batman and Robin series so hopes are high for this series. As with all Morrison work this could either be pure genius or incomprehensible, you just have to take a chance with him. Chris Sprouse is doing the art on #1 (each issue of the 6 issue series will have a different artist) and issue #2 is drawn by one of my favourite ex-2000ad artists Frazer Irving who will be doing a sort of “Batman as Solomon Kane” issue.
The Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Page 83 of Previews
I’ve never really read too many Legion comics and I’ve never read a Paul Levitz scripted comic and this issue has a bloody awful cover….so why am I interested in this? It’s because the concept behind the Legion is so good that someone has to get it right eventually. Jumping straight into an unfamiliar series doesn’t bother me in the slightest, the more characters the better. Pure sci-fi added to superheroes should be a winner plus Yildiray Cinar is an up and coming artist, here’s his blog at http://www.yildiraycinar.net/ and an actal pencilled page . Let’s just hope that Levitz does a better job at writing than Dan Didio did on Outsiders #26 though, yikes.
Page 113 of Previews
So this is another Zombie comic, how bloody boring eh? Not bloody likely mate, this is a zombie comic drawn by Mike Allred so it’s going to look absolutely beautiful, just take a look at the first 7 pages . I kind of lost touch with Allred when he started doing those Mormon comics but previous to that I loved Madman and The Atomics so it’s nice to get in on something new with a favourite artist. This is being written by Chris Roberson who I’m not familiar with but the plot sounds fun and interesting and at $1.00 for this first issue its a can’t miss and even the gorgeous variant cover by Darwyn Cooke is only $2.00 on dcbs. If you don’t buy this then you don’t love comics.
Conclusion: A very good slate of comics from DC this month that I’m really looking forward too. One major fault I have with DC’s presentation this month though is about 2/3rds of their DC Universe books have terrible covers, either poor angles, weird points-of-view or just plain ugly art. When DC are trying to chase Marvels market share they need to do much better on covers. A case in point is Eddy Barrows covers for the War of the Supermen event which are murky and hideous looking. Others are the cover for Justice League Generation Lost #1 cover by Tony Harris where the characters faces are just plain wrong and everyone has weirdly pointy noses, the Birds of Prey cover by Ed Benes where every character has huge collagen lips, and even Nicola Scott’s cover for Wonder Woman #44 is so incredibly dull…..you have to do better DC!
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #1 (of 4)
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Mouse Guard is simply one of the best comics of the last 10 years in my opinion. It’s a true all ages title in that everyone can get something out of it. It’s not watered down “for the kiddies” like some all ages books and its deep enough for adults to enjoy. This volume is a spin-off anthology from the main series, the stories within are written and drawn by guest artists that creator Dave Peterson has chosen, one of whom is Jeremy Bastian whose art is amazingly detailed:
The theme of this miniseries is that there is a gathering of mice in an Inn in Barkstone where stories are told of the legends of the Mouse Guard. The rules are that each story must contain one truth, one lie and have never been told in the tavern before. This promises to be another great series in the Mouse Guard tradition.
7 Psychopaths #1
Publisher: Boom Studios
Page 212 of Previews
Boom Studios presents another exciting looking action series, something which they have become adept at. This is actually a reprint of a French graphic novel issue from 2007, obviously translated into English and reformatted to be a 3 issue miniseries. The main draw here is the art is by Sean Phillips, one of the masters of gritty action artwork. The story is about 7 men sent to kill Adolf Hitler, the very definition of madness one would think.
The plot shares some similarities with a story called Day of the Eagle drawn by the great British artist Pat Wright, originally published in UK comic Battle back in 1975 (I first read it in the Battle 1980 annual) although I’m sure the content of 7 Psychopaths is very different, it’s just a fun similarity that came to my mind. I’m sure that 7 Psychopaths would make for a great collected edition as well.
Mystery Society #1
Page 268 of Previews
It’s always a challenge to find an original title amongst the hordes of licensed stuff on IDW’s slate but when they do one its usually good. The concept is by Steve Niles and Ashley Wood and the writing is by Steve Niles so already this has me intrigued. The story is that the “heroes”, Nick Hammond and Anastasia Collins, are the Mystery Society, sort of like Steed and Emma Peel meets Scooby-Doo meets Dogwitch*. It looks like it’s going to be a fun blast of a series.
The art is by Fiona Staples who has done some work for Wildstorm like North 40 and who seems to be ever improving as an artist, the sample pages I’ve seen for Mystery Society show some dynamic atmospheric work, check her blog at http://fstaples.blogspot.com/.
* Dogwitch was an old favourite Goth horror series from Sirius entertainment, go seek out the trades!
Shrapnel: Hubris #1 of 3
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Page 288-289 of Previews
The first Shrapnel series was a well written 5 issue mini with great art that delivered a balls to the wall sci-fi story somewhat reminiscent of some of the Warhammer 40k or Battletech stories but more nuanced and sophisticated. There’s a good dose of politics backing up the mental robot suit planetary war action. This 3 issue series is written by Nick Sagan (co-creator) with Clinnette Minnis and the art is by “Concept Art House” which is a group of artists who create computer generated art for games companies and now for comics. The art is very stylized and is a lot like the old Red Star series from Image (loved that series) and is very atmospheric, their blog is at http://www.conceptarthouse.com/.
With Radical you get bang for your buck, Shrapnel is 64 pages for $4.99, it’s the equivalent of getting a full graphic novel for the price. Also on page 286-287 of Previews is Earp #0, 32 pages for $1.00, how can you turn down that?
Conclusions: I think that’s a really exciting foursome of comics, Archaia, Boom and Radical are recently coming up as some of my favourite smaller publishers. Radical in particular really know how to make you want to buy their books and their presentation in Previews is excellent, a lot of other publishers could learn from them. On the minus side for the independents there’s nothing really new from Image or Dark Horse. The old favourites like Godland, Dead@17, Invincible, Chew, Sword, King City, Conan, and Solomon Kane are all there but there’s nothing new that I think looks exciting. Perhaps Image and Dark Horse are waiting for the big 2 to get their summer #1’s out of the way before releasing new product.
Page 33 of Marvel Previews
Well this is the big one for Marvel this month and, indeed for the whole summer, with the launch of the Avengers new flagship title and the Age of Heroes “event”. I should be super-excited for this, the Avengers is my favourite Marvel comics title of all time and it’s got art by JRJr who is one of my favourite artists of all time, so all is gut ja? Well, not exactly. It’s written by Bendis who lately has proven himself adept at writing scene after scene of TV watching and pizza eating but usually fails to have his umpteen characters speak in anything but the one voice (which is his “annoying banter” voice) and act totally out of character. So I’m on the fence about this one, I’m giving it 2 issues to prove itself, that might not seem like many but I am done with waiting for writers to tell an origin story in 6 issues or pad a book out for the trade, I want value for my money.
Page 35 of Marvel Previews
This is something heartening from Marvel. Agents of Atlas is being relaunched, this time it’s just plain Atlas (no, not the DC strongman from the Superman title) with the “agents you love” as part of a new ongoing series. It’s part of the Heroic Age banner so hopefully it will see some upswing from the Avengers fans, Jeff Parker is still writing with art from the very capable Gabriel Hardman. This should be another enjoyable book, hopefully it will revert to $2.99 with the #2 issue, just like Black Widow #2 did this month. Gabriel Hardmans’ deviant art page is here http://heathencomics.deviantart.com/.
Age of Heroes #1(of 4)
Page 40 of Marvel Previews
Kurt Busiek is back in his rightful place at Marvel Comics so at least the “House of Ideas” has one writer who can actually write heroes who act like heroes for the Heroic Age. This is a 40 page anthology book written by Kurt Busiek, Rick Remender, Paul Cornell and Dan Slott so it’s a very strong writing line-up ably assisted by Marko Djurdjevic, Chris Samnee, Leonard Kirk et al on art duties. I know some people are skeptical about anthology titles but I think that when done well they can great but the stories have to be compressed. I’m looking forward to this one, hell the cover alone pretty much sold it to me. It looks like the Avengers gathering (heroically) at 34th and 6th looking heroic (of course). There is a tease about the MI13 becoming part of the Avengers so that would be very interesting if it panned out.
Page 60 of Marvel Previews
Holy crap!….a $2.99 book! This is a good jumping on point for the Thunderbolts; it’s an “all new, all different!” team as it were. Luke Cage will be leading (although doing double duty on New Avengers apparently) with the team being fleshed out by Juggernaut, Crossbones, Ghost, Moonstone and Man-Thing(?) which is a pretty good mix in my opinion. Jeff Parker is still on writing duties and the new regular artist is one of my favourite former 2000ad art-robots Kev Walker who’s work is really nice . This is being touted as a full revamp of the title so hopefully Parker will get to do what he wants.
Conclusion: This is the start of the Heroic Age and Marvel is certainly going to flood the market judging by Previews, which is something I hoped they wouldn’t do. Not at first anyway. Sometimes less is more, you know? Speaking of which how many pages do you get for $3.99….40 pages right?….no its 48 pages right? Noooo its 32 pages right? Hell if I know! Marvel has ZERO consistency regarding page count and content. With DC you know its 40 pages for $3.99 and 32 pages for $2.99. In this month’s Marvel Previews you’ve got Dazzler #1 one-shot with 48 pages but on the very same page you’ve got Rescue #1 one-shot (Pepper Potts) with 32 pages for $2.99. Get a consistent policy Marvel and you’ll make me a hell of a lot less skeptical about your offers.