All right then: Now that this year’s round of free comics are over and done with, it’s time once again to take a look at the ones you have to pay for!
And pay for them you will, so that I can put food on the table for little Cobra Commander and Barda, the children that I will probably not be having sometime in the vague, distant future.
Yes, it’s another look at 573 pages of stuff you don’t need, and while I usually knock these things in somewhere between “dismissive” and “outright insulting,” there’s actually a lot of stuff I’m excited about this month. Let’s get to it with the major publishers!
Dark Horse Comics
P.32 – Criminal Macabre: Cell Block 666 #1:
Fixed that for you.
P.51 – Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight: I’ll be honest with you, folks: Despite the fact that a couple of my friends–like Dr. K and Ken Lowery–swear by Achewood, I’ll confess that I just don’t see what the appeal is. I mean, I’ve seen a couple that are pretty funny, but on the whole, I just don’t get it, and I’ve long since just dropped it into the category of things that Just Aren’t For Me. However, with the fun I’ve been having with Dark Horse’s reprints of webcomics lately–like the Perry Bible Fellowship, which has a second volume solicited on p.52–I’m willing to give it another shot. After all, if there’s anything that’s gonna get me on the Achewood train, it’ll be this…
…which promises to be “the story of three days, three acres, three thousand men.” Consider my interest piqued.
P.75 – Ambush Bug: Year None #1: Hey everybody! Ambush Bug’s back! And it’s a good thing, too. I mean, it’s an election year, after all…
…and we need all the votes we can get.
For those of you wondering why a small portion of the comics-reading public is excited about this, I’ll explain. In addition to featuring Minimum-Wage Darkseid, there’s an issue of Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming’s Ambush Bug that’s essentially the comics blogger internet twenty years ahead of its time, in which Jonni DC–Continuity Cop!–goes through a list of now-standard punchlines like Rex the Wonder Dog. It’s great, and it’s exactly the kind of fun stuff that’s always welcome in my comics, so I’m really looking forward to this one.
P.82 – Batgirl #1: Huh. Eight years into this thing, and you’d think she’d finally get a real mask.
Anyway, I’ve always liked the Cassandra Cain Batgirl and despite the fact that it was decried by alleged fans as being about two steps below sacrilege, I really enjoyed Adam Beechen’s previous work on her during his run on Robin. I actually loved those issues and thought they were perfectly logical, but now that she’s redeemed–thus preserving the validity of fan-fiction everywhere–I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with her now.
P.102 – INVASION! TP: Oh hell yes. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the greatest DC Crossover of all time:
That’s right, folks: INVASION! The comic so good that they put the exclamation point right there in the title because they know you’re gonna need one. Three months, three issues, and eighty pages each of pure, unadulterated Mantlotainment. In fact, to my knowledge, this is Mantlo’s only major work for DC, and while a lot of the affection I have for the series comes from the fact that its tie-ins include issues John Ostrander Suicide Squad, Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League and Morrison Animal Man–none of which are included, but all of which are worth tracking down–I’m pretty sure he manages to cram the fun and excitement of eighty issues of ROM into 240 pages of Superman punching out Daxamites.
Seriously, it’s awesome. Get it.
P.106 – Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #1: True Story: Five years ago, I’m down in Atlanta, working this tiny convention with my pals Chad and Tug. It’s the first con I ever went to, and since there wasn’t much action at the booth–and like six guys to watch it–I spent most of my time finishing up a run of Starman and getting my first con sketches from Phil “The Nicest Man In Comics” Hester.
So at one point, Tug and I are walking around, and I ask him who the guy next to Hester is, because his name sounds so familiar, and Tug says: “That’s Mike Kunkel. He does Herobear and the Kid.”
“Oh, okay. I should get a sketch from him.”
“Yeah, you should. Hey, you know what he’d be awesome for? Captain Marvel.”
“Oh, dude. Totally.”
And so I did, and he was:
Now the interesting part here is that when he was done drawing the sketch, he handed it back to me with the issue of Who’s Who I’d provided as reference and told me that he’d never drawn Captain Marvel before, but it was a lot of fun and he’d like to do it again sometime.
And now you know… the rest of the story. Neat, huh?
P.160 – American Flagg! HC: Hey, wasn’t this thing supposed to have come out already? Like three years ago? From a different company?
Anyway, confession time: Despite the fact that it’s considered to be one of the big cornerstone independent comics of ’80s–and another one of those things my friends swear by–I’ve never read an issue of American Flagg!. Believe me, though: It’s not for lack of trying. Runs aren’t that easy to come by in my neck of the woods, and the last time I saw one all together was right after the new hardcovers were solicited the first time, when I had no idea that I’d be waiting this freakin’ long to get my hands on it. Still, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and even though Chaykin’s current work is… well, not my speed, everyone tells me this one’s awesome.
Besides, it’s got an exclamation point in the title, and I think I’ve made my feelings about that pretty clear.
P.168 – Noble Causes #36: Jay Faerber wants you to read Noble Causes.
I mean, of course he does: He’s the writer and creator of the book after all, and so I’m pretty sure he’s got as much of a vested professional and financial interest in increasing readership as anybody, but with him, it goes beyond that. He really wants you to read Noble Causes. Why else would he and artist Yildiray Cinar be working so hard to make it better with each issue, and offering up a fresh, “five years later” jumping on point with the last two issues, which should still be available at your friendly local comic book shop? Because he cares folks. And he wants you to be happy.
P.181 – Pilot Season: The Core #1: Normally, I just flip right through the Top Cow section because… Well, because it’s fucking Top Cow. This time, though, they’ve got a one-shot written by Jonathan Hickman that sounds an awful lot like Mass Effect, and, well, that’s two things I like!
P. 15 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day Extra!!: Two exclamation points?! Well now you’re just getting ridiculous.
Anyway, the reason Marvel feels the need to put out an extra issue of a book that’s already coming out three times a month is as follows…
…and there’s a pretty good chance that this is not good news, for the simple reason that Joe Kelly hasn’t written anything worth reading in about six years. Seriously, his run on JLA is damn near unreadable, and when you follow that up with Godfall and the astoundingly wretched Justice League Elite, that doesn’t really redeem anything.
However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping for the best here. After all, he did have a couple of pretty good Superman stories circa 2000 or so, but even more than that, this is the guy who wrote the first run on Deadpool, and those are still some of Marvel’s most purely enjoyable comics–which, incidentally, have never been collected in trade after #4–and there’s a part of me that’s hoping a return to Marvel will spark the fun Joe Kelly. Or at least the one that was readable.
P.20 – Captain America: White: Huh. Nobody really thought that title through, did they?
P.23 – Fantastic Four: True Story #1: I’ve mentioned before that while there’s something just a little bit flat about Paul Cornell’s Wisdom, but that it’s worth reading for the High Concepts alone, which figure around a Skrull impersonating John Lennon battling an army of interdimensional Jacks The Ripper at the behest of the Martians from War of the Worlds. It’s the kind of story that there’s something just slightly off about, and while I hope this one–and the upcoming MI-13–work out a little better, they’ve all still got that feeling where if I just sat you down and told you what happened rather than you reading it, it’d sound like the greatest comic book ever. And that, I think, makes it pretty easy to write solicitations:
“A threat to the minds of the whole human race sends the FF somewhere they’ve never been before: into the realm of Fiction itself! Where Ben finds himself clobbering a demonic army to save the cast of Sense and Sensibility!”
That sounds awesome.
P.28 – Immortal Iron Fist #17: So.. huh. I gotta be honest, folks: This one does not exactly fill me with confidence for the new direction on Iron Fist, and since I don’t really know the first thing about Duane Swierczynski, it all comes down to Travel Foreman.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Foreman’s work on Ares and the stuff that he’s already done on IIF in previous issues, but when you get right down to it, this…
…just seems an awful lot like this:
And on that horrifying note, I’m calling it a night. As always, if anything caught your eye in this month’s Previews, or if you just want to debate whether or not Triple-H will be defending his title in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #500 or just dressing up as Wolverine, feel free to leave a comment.
As for me, I’ll be over here figuring out if I need to purchase Welcome Back, Frank for a fourth time.