What can we look forward to with Image next year? Well, I’m still hoping that “World Domination by Way of Comics” is still on their agenda. They’re consistently putting out the most interesting and diverse set of comics in the western world and there’s only going to be more to look forward to in the coming year. Which I hope includes some kind of announcement regarding when we can see a collected edition(s) of David Lapham’s latest “Stray Bullets” series “Sunshine and Roses.” Issue 22 is solicited here and there’s STILL no indication as to whether or not the series will be collected in multiple editions, an “Uber Alles”-esque omnibus edition, or not at all. If it’s the last one, David, then please let me know because then I will go and start buying the series in single issue form. Outside of deep discounts on ComiXology, the best way to get me to buy single issues is to NOT collect them at all.
In other news, the latest issue of “Saga” has been delayed a whole year due to a printing error that saw the cover for the issue come out very dark. Where it was originally supposed to come out on December 28, 2016, it will now be arriving on January 3, 2017. Thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Royal City #1: This is a new series written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire of “Sweet Home” and “Descender” fame along with many Marvel and DC runs of varying quality. While I’ve read a good deal of his work at both companies, Lemire originally made his name with the small-town-life graphic novel “Essex County.” I have yet to read that, but it’s something I should get around to because it also represents a rare story in his output that is devoid of supernatural or sci-fi influences. It’s also name-checked in the solicitation text for this oversized debut issue about fading literary star Patrick Pike who reluctantly moves back home to his family that is still haunted by the death of their youngest son who drowned decades ago. This will also be the first creator-owned series Lemire has written and illustrated since “Sweet Home,” so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the experimentation in layouts that helped distinguish that series here along with the kind of detailed characterization you expect from his writing.
Extremity #1: It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a really striking image can get interested in checking out a series. Take the cover to the first issue of this series, for example. While the detail in the linework is impressive, the contrast between the girl’s serene expression and the fact that her right hand has been bloodily cut off drew me in. There are also other cool details to consider as well: Why is a drawing of the severed hand on the pages swirling about the character? What happened to all of the dead bodies lying at her feet? Did she kill them? The solicitation text tells me that the girl’s name is Thea and she dreams of revenge against the clan that ruined her family. That doesn’t really grab me, but the cover does. This comes from writer/artist Daniel Warren Johnson whose highest-profile work before this was “Space Mullet” from Dark Horse. I’ll have to check that out to see if Johnson has the chops that can make the promise in this series a reality. Also, I like the idea of having a comic called “Space Mullet” in my library.
Rat Queens #1: Offering a fresh soft reboot in light of the drama that sunk the previous volume. I’m actually kind of surprised that this is coming back as the circumstances surrounding the departure of current artist Tess Fowler sounded fairly toxic to the title’s future. Now writer Kurtis J. Wiebe is back with new artist Owen Gieni to see if that’s truly the case. Honestly, I would’ve been fine if the series had remained on permanent vacation. While there were plenty of fun comedic moments throughout the first three volumes, the series never really felt like it lived up to its potential. This was especially true in the third volume where things took a turn for the dramatic without the necessary weight to successfully pull it off. I’m also wondering what Hannah is doing on the cover of this volume given what happened to her in vol. 3. Unless it’s just a generic group shot or something. Still, I think I’ll be able to live without knowing the solution to that particular mystery.
Think Tank #1: I liked the first three volumes of Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal’s series about irreverent genius David Loren’s struggles with working within the U.S. military-industrial complex. While not entirely plausible, it was clear that Hawkins had done his research regarding the kind of weapons development David was involved in and there was always entertainment to be gleaned from how the scientist constantly pushed against the wills of those around him. Then I read the solicitation text and I’m not sure what to make of it now. David made a surface-thought reader that someone has used to train animals to kill? He’s also recovering from a suicide attempt? And his dad shows up with the sister he never knew he had? This sounds more like a soap opera than the techno-thriller about weapons development that I’ve been reading.
Head Lopper #5: Andrew MacLean’s quarterly “Not Conan” series returns for another round. Yeah, I realize that calling it “Not Conan” is quite snarky. I will admit, however, that the first volume was a more entertaining read than the last couple of Dark Horse “Conan” volumes have been.
Injection #11: Back for its next arc now that artist Declan Shalvey is no longer doing back-up stories for “All-Star Batman.” Vol. 2 shined a much-needed and very entertaining light on the title’s Sherlock-ian member Vivek Headland, and the start of vol. 3 promises to do the same for its resident hacker Brigid Roth. The previous volume also showed writer Warren Ellis back at the top of his game, a trend which I hope to see continue here.
The Complete Phonogram HC: If there was any justice in the world, then a collection with this title would have consisted of more than just three miniseries. That being said, this giant hardcover includes the B-side backup stories from each single issue in collected form for the first time. If I hadn’t bought the single issues when they were on sale, that might have made this collection worth buying in my case. However, the single issues also contain Gillen’s commentary and expanded glossaries for all of the music-related talk as well. So while I’m comfortable leaving this on the shelf, anyone who hasn’t experienced “Phonogram” yet is ORDERED to get this as soon as it comes out.
Deadly Class vol. 5: Carousel: You mean I have to wait until MARCH to find out what happens next!? Maaaaaaaaan! Anyway, vol. 4 of this series was an amazing read right up until its last page where it pulled a twist that I wasn’t convinced writer Rick Remender would follow through on. After he pulled the same kind of stunt over in “Black Science” left me with a “Not until I see the actual dead body” mindset when I got to that twist. If the person in question is actually dead, then I’ll have to commend Remender for having massive enough balls to pull it off. In the meantime, this volume kicks off the start of the new year at King’s Dominion complete with a new power structure in the school and plenty of freshmen to be grist for the mill. At the center of it is Saya who just has to mortgage the rest of her humanity if she wants to get any further than she already has.
The Fix vol. 2: Laws, Paws, and Flaws: In which we’re told that Roy meets the mayor. We’re not told that, “And then things go even more wrong,” but based on the first volume I think we can take that as read.
Revival vol. 8: Stay Just a Little Bit Longer: The final volume. Now, to read this first and then re-read the entire series or re-read the entire series before reading this. That’s the real question I’m faced with here.
Saga vol. 7: Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that even though the latest issue was pulped and delayed a year *rimshot* this latest volume won’t be delayed that much. This is also the first arc of “Saga” to have an actual title in “The War for Phang” as Marko, Alanna, Hazel, and co. find themselves traveling to a war-torn comet that Wreath and Landfall have been fighting over for ages. What do they find there? From the solicitation text, “New friendships are forged and others are lost forever in this action-packed volume about families, combat, and the refugee experience.” Sounds like a regular Thursday as far as this series is concerned.
The Walking Dead vol. 27: The Whisperer War: In which Negan’s actions in the previous volume prove invaluable to Rick and everyone else in Alexandrea and allow them to defeat the Whisperers once and for all! Then Negan is welcomed into the community with open arms and nothing in this series is bad again! EVER! That’s what you can expect to see in this volume, and you can take that to the bank. (So long as said bank only deals in Monopoly money.)