We're making a few changes this month, and we'll probably keep tinkering with the format as time goes on. First and foremost, Randy is back to write the column, and he's brought along a new co-writer, Jason Murphy, who writes movie reviews and podcasts about comics over at Spill.com.
We'll also be doing different categories each month, to slice things up into nice easy to read chunks. Some categories will be standard, some will be one-time and some will be occasionally recurring. Without further ado, on to the first category:
Barack The Barbarian: Quest for the Treasure of Stimuli #1 (Devil's Due) - page 230
No matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, I think we can all agree... this looks patently absurd. It is, I suppose, possible that Larry Hama is going to craft a subtle, cutting commentary on political realities by casting Barack Obama, Dick Cheney and other political figures in a Conan-esque story. It is, perhaps, more likely that naming a character "Cha-nee the Grim" is as good as it's going to get. Either way, there's one more thing I think we can all agree on: this is probably gonna be pretty funny. Just maybe not on purpose.
This sounds like a single panel political cartoon stretched out into an entire issue. Obama-mania is still probably strong enough to drive sales on it, but Larry Hama? Writing political satire? That makes about as much sense as Dave Sim writing Elfquest.
Obama, what is best in life?!?
Yes we can drive our enemies before us! Yes we can hear the lamentations of their women!
Dead Run #1 (Boom! Studios) - page 222
A hard-boiled 'driver' speeds around the wasteland of future America. It sounds plucked straight from any number of action films (Mad Max, Deathrace, etc). I didn't know much about the creator, Andrew Cosby, until I ran him through the Google. The results were intriguing enough to add this one to my pull list.
I did the same thing, and I came up with this. I have to admit, he's not the first guy I'd imagine doing a post-apocalyptic road warrior style comic, but...
What? Wrong guy? Oh, you mean it's this guy. Again, strange choice, although he's a pretty funny comedian and...
Oh. Right. The guy who co-created Eureka and is one of the big players at Boom! Studios, who has written a pretty wide variety of pretty good comics at Boom! Yeah, that makes more sense.
But I still want to see Bing Crosby's Road Warrior. Who's with me?
Bing Crosby's Road Warrior is one I would read, but seeing Bill Cosby take on Master Blaster in Thunderdome? That, I would covet.
Resurrection Volume 2 #1 (Oni Press) - page 276
This book was interesting the first time around, but the scattershot schedule and black and white art combined to put a few people off. In the wake of a Free Comic Book Day issue and a super-cheap trade, Oni and Marc Guggenheim relaunch the series about a post-alien invasion Earth, this time as a full-color monthly ongoing, and I'd definitely recommend it to the Walking Dead fans, as well as anyone with a fondness for stories of what happens after a big disaster.
The first 2 or 3 issues of this were fantastic, but it derailed rather quickly after that. It does indeed have that 'Walking Dead' vibe to it, only with less of the soul-crushing misery.
Robotika: For A Few Rubles More #-1-2 (Archaia Studios) - page 187
Alex Sheikman's futuristic samurai cyberpunk series returns with a double-sized issue that collects the first (previously released) and second (new) issues of the series, now that Archaia is back on its feet and ready to put some comics back onto the shelves again. It's hard to really describe this one, except to say that anyone who has read Geoff Darrow's Shaolin Cowboy or Matt Wagner's Grendel: War Child will find a lot to like here.
I'm unfamiliar with this one, but I'm curious to see how cyberpunk works these days. The genre has more or less been rendered obsolete. That said, it does have 2 of the 3 things I require in a comic book: samurais and robots.
The third thing is tentacle porn, isn't it?
Batman and Robin #1(DC) - page 63
Morrison's run on Batman never quite sank it's hooks into me. I'm not a huge Quitely fan, either, but his off-kilter style goes with Morrison like Scotch and soda. These two belong together. If Morrison is allowed to step out of bounds and create something as concise and compelling as All-Star Superman, then this might be his Batman that pulls me in. I only ask for more Batman on weapons grade drugs, please.
I couldn't stand most of the trippy, freaky Batman stories that Morrison was writing, even with J.H. Williams III on art... seriously, it was like you needed a tab of acid, in-brain Wikipedia access and a fourth-dimensional comic book scanner to read the damn things. But All-Star Superman, where Morrison and Quitely basically delivered the ultimate, perfect Superman book? Yes, please... let's get some of that on Batman.
As an aside, it is likely that the Robin in this book is that rotten little shit Damian Wayne. I can roll with that because it's Morrison and Quitely, but as far as I'm conerned, that's one strike against the book. In it's favor? Beautiful promo art and a flying Batmobile! Hey, weird is OK in small doses, and a flying Batmobile might be exactly the right dose. Of course, the last book that had a flying Batmobile was All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, so... worrying sign number two?
Morrison seems to work best in short, contained doses, much like weapons grade crystal meth! If you keep at it, it's only a matter of time before it derails into 'high-minded' insanity. And I have no love for Damian Wayne, either.
Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 (DC) - page 67
Paul Dini's mainstream Batman work mostly misses the mark with me, but this new series, which looks like sort of an anthology-type thing about the cops, criminals and citizens of Gotham is intriguing, given how well Dini defined Gotham with his work on the legendary animated series. So there's that, but mostly I'm excited about the backups, which gives Manhunter Kate Spencer a third lease on life, still under the pen of her original writer Marc Andreyko, but now cast, I believe, as a much more high-profile A.D.A. of Gotham. If we don't get a Two-Face/Manhunter throwdown soon, there will be hell to pay.
I'm excited about Dustin Nguyen bringing his 21 Jumpstreet savvy to a Batman comic.
Oh, different Dustin Nguyen? ... Man, screw Wikipedia.
Detective Comics #854 (DC) - page 65
To be 100% honest, I'd rather Rucka weren't doing any superhero work so he could focus on his new Portland-based crime series for Oni, but if we've got to have Rucka-penned superheroes so the guy can keep his kids fed, well, this is the kind of thing I can live with. Basically a two-fer book starring Batwoman and The Question, a.k.a. DC's most eligible kickass lesbians, battling crime on the streets of Gotham, with art by J.H. Williams and Cully Hamner? Yeah, I'm OK with that.
Has Rucka written the Question before?
Yep, Rucka wrote the Vic Sage version in a Huntress miniseries and in 52, and though Renee Montoya was created in the animated series, Rucka is more or less her creator in DC Universe terms, and definitely the one who turned her into The Question. Who, despite being one of DC's most eligible kickass lesbians, still comes up short compared to the original.
Just a suggestion to DC - just go ahead and rename it to Hot Lesbian Detective Comics. You'll sell more. I promise.
Red Robin #1 (DC) - page 66
Surprisingly, this is the new Batman book I'm looking forward to the most. I've always had sort of a fondess for the Alex Ross-designed Red Robin costume, I'm assuming it's Tim Drake underneath the cowl and the red tights, and the premise, that he's the one guy who doesn't believe Batman is dead and is going to search the world looking for him, is a good one. On the downside? Written by Chris Yost, whose books usually have a bodycount that rivals most Schwarzenegger movies, writing under the editor-ship of Dan Didio, who seems to think death is the most interesting thing you can do with a character.
Chris Yost created X-23. Blah. And his run on New X-Men has shown us that he loves killing children. "Dear Mr. Yost, please kill X-23 forever. Kind regards, Jason."
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia (Marvel) - Page M22
Finally, a step to bring the X-Men back into the Marvel Universe proper. They've been on the fringes for a while now and the fanboy in me is really wanting to see Cyclops and his nascent mutant army lay the smack down on Osbourne and his cronies.
The fanboy in me cringes at the notion of Bendis getting his hands on the X-Men as a result of this. They've been sort of safe from the insanity in their mutant ghetto.
Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 (Marvel) - page M31
There are, I believe, one hundred and seven new Dark Reign spinoffs launching this month. OK, maybe less than that, but certainly more than we needed. I'm not going to argue that we needed a three-issue series exploring a new super-villain named Zodiac, either. But... I will argue that a three-issue series about the Marvel underworld, written by Joe Casey and featuring art by Nathan "Pigeons From Hell" Fox is definitely worth some attention.
Let me scan the solicit -- "dark", "brooding", "new breed of super-villain", "no one is safe" The comic might be great, but whoever wrote the solicit needs to try a little harder.
Filthy Rich HC (DC/Vertigo) - page 107
Vertigo's new crime imprint kicks off with two hardcovers, both fairly predictable offerings. One is a Hellblazer crime book, the other by the guy who helped reinvigorate the crime genre in comics in general and Vertigo specifically, Brian Azzarello. Just because they're not out-of-the-box choices, however, doesn't mean they won't be good. The art by French illustrator Victor Santos looks beautiful, and Azzarello excels with the gritty crime writing. I question the marketing decision of making them black and white $20 hardcovers, but I can't deny that as a crime comics fan, I'll be giving this one a look.
The art and storytelling make this look like something out of a '60s crime film, as if Lee Marvin stepped out of Point Blank and started kicking ass. I'll give it a read.
Gigantic TPB (Dark Horse Comics) - page 28
I was a bit disappointed when I found out this wasn't about the Pixies song. Still, an alien invasion story with elements of The Truman Show? That sounds weird and inspired enough to keep my attention. The hand of Rick Remender guarantees it.
And the artwork by Eric Nguyen and Matt Wilson is drop-dead gorgeous.
Johnny Hiro Vol 1 TP (Adhouse Books) - page 186
Johnny Hiro is just a regular guy who has to deal with the same things we all have to in life. Like when his girlfriend is kidnapped by Godzilla, or when his boss wants him to kidnap lobsters from another restaurant so they can serve the ultimate meal. Fred Chao's beautifully-illustrated and fun series of comics is collected at last, with not just the first three issues but new stories, all for $15 for almost 200 pages. Fans of Scott Pilgrim should definitely get this one for their bookshelves.
Poor Johnny. Once you go Godzilla, you never go back. (I really wish I could have found a way to rhyme that.)
Northlanders Vol 2 TP (DC/Vertigo) - page 119
I liked Northlanders Volume 1, but having read the first five of six issues collected in this trade, I'll say that the first story pales in comparison to this second one. It's still the Viking era with a bit of modern spin, in this case a bit of modern-day forensics as a Viking leader tracks down an Irish terrorist/freedom fighter, but if you can roll with the conceit of some slightly anachronistic elements, it's amazing reading. Great character work, unflinching violence and moral ambiguity and stunning artwork from Ryan Kelly, who collaborated with Brian Wood on Local.
A Viking forensics story? I can imagine the pitch session now -- "It's like CSI, but with VIKINGS!" I can't wait for the pirate medical drama.
Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology GN (Poseur Ink) - page 282
You can check out previews and the full contributors' list for this music-themed comics anthology here, but what caught my eye were four names that are contributing: Jeffrey Brown, Jim Mahfood, Dave Crosland and Brandon Graham. If the rest of the talent can stand with these guys, this is going to be one hell of a book.
The best comics/music fusion since Dazzler? We can only hope.
Chew #1 (Image) - page 142
Toby Chu is a cop who gets psychic information from whatever he eats. Expect some cringe-inducing gross-out humor. It likely won't be enough of a gag to propel the series for very long unless it's got some sturdy underpinnings. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can suppress my gag reflex and laugh at the same time.
John Layman, the writer and co-creator of this unusual gem, is the man who gave us Army of Darkness vs. Marvel Zombies, which was funnier than it had any right to be, not to mention the surreal odyssey of a man trapped in his amusement park novelty costume that was Puffed. This guy can bring the weird and darkly funny, and Rob Guillory's preview artwork looks pretty f'in spectacular. I'm looking forward to this one.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #1 (Boom! Studios) - page 222
If you're reading this, then you likely already know that this Phillip K Dick tale is what spawned Blade Runner. The solicit text seems to indicate that it will follow the original manuscript rather closely, so expect all sorts of Dick-ian weirdness. That's enough to get my $4. Oh, and some covers by Bill Sienkiewicz. Always cool. I just wish Dick was still around and working on a Vertigo title.
So say we all. I love the movie Blade Runner and I love the novel it was based on, even though they're very different things. A comic book adaptation of the novel is right in my wheelhouse.
The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft (#3)- page 163
I'm looking forward to this one more than anything. Ron Howard recently signed on to the film adaptation of this before the story even saw print. It's the tale of HP Lovecraft himself fighting against your usual Lovecraftian tropes - madness, ancient evil, and more madness. Sounds strikingly similar to Hans Rodionoff's Lovecraft from a few years back. (although I'm really waiting for some Lovecraft Yaoi)
I... uh... I.... Lovecraft Yaoi?
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #1 (Marvel) - page M43
If you see that title, the cover that features Beta Ray Bill about to whup up on Galactus and the names Kieron Gillen and Kano in the creators box and you still don't have any interest, I don't think I can say anything that can convince you. OK, maybe this: Horseface Space Thor vs. Marvel's Space God! Fight!
I've never had any love for Beta Ray Bill. Mostly because his name is Beta Ray Bill, your description stopped me dead in my tracks. Yes, please. Let me just say it -- "Horseface Space Thor!!!"
Buck Rogers #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) - page 236
There's no Gil Gerard or Erin Gray, but the new designs for Buck Rogers by Alex Ross are pretty sweet looking. Glowy dudes, rayguns, jetpacks and evil aliens versus an astronaut from the past with a bit of that modern-day swagger that the alien chicks go nuts for? Sign me up!
I just hope there's a space disco scene by issue 3.
Predator #1 (Dark Horse Comics) - page 24
If there's anything that can breathe some life into the corpse that is the Predator franchise, it's Dark Horse (I hope). It's about time they tried to resurrect one of the coolest alien races ever conceived. Two Predator tribes fighting it out in a third-world Civil War? Sounds like the perfect recipe. Get to da choppa!!
Dark Horse did some pretty kickass Predator comics back in the day. It's good to see them getting back to it, I can tell you as a comic shop owner that there's a huge untapped market looking for new Predator books.
Werewolves on the Moon #1 (Dark Horse Comics)- page 26
Has the X vs X formula nuked the fridge yet? It seems prevalent in the industry right now to take one crazy concept and find a reason for them to fight another crazy concept. It's almost getting as trite as a zombie book or one deconstructing heroes. Almost. Here it's Werewolves vs Vampires. But it's on the moon.
As long as there are Hollywood douchebags, there will be the "X vs. X" high concept. And as long as there are fanboys, there will be the comic book iteration of it, the "Who'd Win?" But I can honestly say that I'd rather see Werewolves vs. Vampires on the Moon than, say, another issue of Witchblade.
Amazing Spider-Man #598 (Marvel) - page M21
This cover may have scarred me for life. That is all.
Buffy Tales of the Vampires (Dark Horse) - page 39
My interest in the Buffyverse is waning these days, but a one-shot by Becky Cloonan and Vasilis Lolos, who are doing a ton of Eisner-nominated and Eisner-winning work together on books like 5 and Pixu, definitely gets my attention. It looks like it's basically a vampire tale that happens to be set in the Buffyverse (do we call it the Buffyverse? Or the Whedon-verse?) and it looks interesting.
I still love the Buffyverse, but the storytelling on Season 8 has been uneven, at best. I'll "wait and see" on this one. The only thing that could really get me back into Buffy is if the Scooby Gang decided to up and slaughter the cast of Twilight. I'd pony up for the omnibus on that one.
Captain America #600 (Marvel) - page M44
You know, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Steve Rogers fan, but at this point? I hope that the tease of him returning with issue #600 is a fake. Because Brubaker and company have done an amazing job of turning this book into military/espionage action with a conflicted, interesting lead character and a great supporting cast.
Of course Steve's coming back, but I really hope they don't do it just yet, just when even the most hardened Bucky-haters are realizing that Brubaker actually made the worst idea in comics work. But I hope they kill Bucky.
And replace him with D-Man.
As one of the seven non-ironic D-Man fans on the Internet, I applaud this notion.
What do you mean you were kidding?
Cleaners #4 (Dark Horse Comics) - page 41
I'm looking forward to this increasingly gruesome mini to wrap up. What started off as kind of a police procedural that fetishized crime-scene jargon is turning into something sinister and all around disturbing. It's an episode of CSI that spirals out of control into a horror movie. This is definitely one of those hidden gems for you to look out for.
Vincent Price Presents (Blue Water Comics) - page 216
I've always had a soft spot for horror anthologies. And Vincent Price. I'm expecting some old-school thrills and chills in the vein of Twilight Zone or Night Gallery.
As a sidenote, I know nothing about Blue Water Comics. Their page in Previews solicits comics about Caroline Kennedy, Vincent Price, and the Leprechaun. Yes, that Leprechaun.
Their business plan may be more of a Mad Lib kind of thing.
Five issues and they're gonna spend one on this? I'll give Johns a lot of benefit of the doubt, because his Green Lantern: Rebirth and his Flash run were both so good, and this should be like a combination of those two things, a Reese's Peanut Butter cup of comic book awesomeness. But... Superman vs. the Flash? Who's faster?
Spoiler: It's the Flash. Because otherwise, he's the Second Fastest Man There Is. And that's just fucking sad.
Green Lantern #42 (DC) - page 78
Geoff Johns has rarely missed a beat in his revitalization of Green Lantern. It's the best space opera since Star Wars. I just wish they'd get to Blackest Night already. Zombie Marian Manhunter? Hell yeah.
I was going to fix the typo, but I really want there to be a character named Zombie Marian Manhunter. I just want to know, is she a zombie who hunts men named Marian? A manhunter who hunts only zombies named Marian? Or Marian Cunningham, reincarnated as some kind of zombie badass? Either way, I'm onboard.
Iron Fist #27 (Marvel) - page M50
So Previews announces that this is the final issue of a damned good series. Then various sources, like Brubaker, claimed it was a typo. After Fraction and Brubaker jumped ship, so did a lot of the readership. Their loss. Swierczynski hasn't missed a beat. Danny Rand fighting demons in hell!! With a guy named Fat Cobra! How could you cancel that?
I'm one of the guys who jumped ship. Honestly, I heard it's been good, and I'll check out the Swierczynski trade when it comes out, but I think Marvel helped put the stake in this one by not relaunching and giving the book a clean break from the damn-near-impossible-to-follow Fraction/Brubaker run.
The Killer #10 (Archaia Studios Press) - page 196
Does anyone know why these take so long to get released? It's the best series I've read in a long time, but the gaps between issues leave me confused when I pick it up again. It's best when read as a trade, I suppose.
Archaia Studios had some cash-flow issues, which appear to be solved. Which is good, as The Killer is one of my favorite comics, and this final issue means we'll finally get a hardcover of the second half of the story.
Wheel of Time #2 (Del Rey) - page 243
It's been one of the most popular fantasy novel series for years now and there still hasn't been a successful adaptation in any medium. Say what you will about the source material (and how Jordan looted Tolkein's corpse for the first book), but you can't deny it has a fanbase that borders on religious. Chuck Dixon is taking the reins on this adaptation, so I'm hoping that will balance out the bloat the series is known for.
Mostly I just want some kickass Song of Ice and Fire comics. Or for George R.R. Martin to finish the damn fifth book already.
Red Shirt Cologne - page 407
Star Trek Cologne sounds like absurd, crass marketing, right? Well, this is Star Trek 'Red Shirt' cologne and the tagline is funny and morbid enough for me to really want it.
"Red Shirt Cologne - Because tomorrow may never come."
If I ever get cancer, I'll start wearing this.
Or if you're going out clubbing with friends and hitting on green alien chicks, try out "Tiberius Cologne - Inspired by a man on a mission, a journey of sensual discovery. Tiberius - Boldly go."
Predator 2: Cutting Disc & Hand Limited Edition Prop Replica
For the man who has everything - except a gun to put himself out of his misery - a $450 replica of a crappy prop from the crappy Predator 2, weirdly complete with the detached hand of a Predator. If you're buying this and you're not Danny Glover... you have too much money, and awful, awful taste.
If you're buying this and you're Danny Glover? "You're getting too old for this shit."
I want one. And yes, I do have awful, awful taste. Fortunately, I don't have too much money.
Predator 2, Jason? It's like I don't even know you anymore.
Remember, especially with the indy books, that pre-ordering is your friend, and the best way to make sure you get the books you want. Tell us in the comments what you think of the new format. Like the categories, or do you want us to go back to the old purely alphabetical style? And what did we miss?