While the release schedule for DC’s once-celebrated Vertigo imprint continue to thin out with each passing month, it’s still in better shape than Marvel’s was-almost-kinda-sorta-a-contender creator-owned imprint Icon. It launched with the first issue of the second volume of “Powers” by Bendis and Oeming and in that moment it looked like the imprint could be the next big thing. Particularly with all of the Mark Millar projects that followed such as “Kick-Ass,” “The Secret Service,” and “Superior.” Other creator-owned work from creators like Jason Aaron and Ron Garney’s “Men of Wrath” followed, but projects like these were few and far between. These days with Bendis’ creator-owned output having all but dried up, it would appear that Millar is the only creator left to carry the Icon banner forward.
Until this round of Image solicitations, that is. There’s a new “Kingsman” miniseries solicited here along with a reprint of the original “The Secret Service” collection as well. If Millar has no problem with taking away one of his most successful titles when a new movie promoting it is all set to come out then it’s not too hard to assume that the rest of his output from Icon will be making the jump to Image at some point as well. Thus leaving Icon dead in the water and most people to remark, “Wait, that was still going? I thought it closed down years ago.” At least Vertigo has history to its name. Icon is just going to be remembered as that imprint Marvel started up to keep its top-tier creators happy until they realized they could get a better deal at Image.
Kingsman: Red Diamond #1 (of 6): Here’s where I break with tradition and state that this is a Millarworld title that I might actually be willing to read at some point. If you think that’s because Millar himself has nothing to do with the writing of this series then you’d be right. This follow-up to “The Secret Service” miniseries now bears the name of the very successful movie that was spun off from it and comes to us from writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser. Williams is a writer who I’ve heard a lot of good things about over the years and have managed to avoid buying anything he’s written so far. That may change if I ever get onboard his current run of “Suicide Squad.” As for the plot of the miniseries itself, it’s described as an international terror caper that begins where James Bond draws the line. Not the most inspiring of setups, but when you’ve got name recognition like this it really isn’t much of a dealbreaker.
Angelic #1: Simon Spurrier is a writer who really likes to think outside the box when it comes to his creator-owned work. “The Spire” was a fascinating murder mystery filled with class and political intrigue in a superstructure where humans and demi-humans lived in uneasy peace while “Cry Havoc” told the story of a lesbian werewolf who enlists with a private military contractor at three different points in her life with a different colorist for each section. Now he’s back with “Angelic,” a series where humanity has long been extinct and their memory lives on only in the misguided rituals performed by the animals they experimented on. This may sound too weird for some, but Spurrier looks to be grounding this in the story of a flying monkey who wants to explore her world rather than settle down, raise a family, and lose her wings. That’s “grounding” in a relative sense of the term, I guess. Still, Spurrier’s track record with off-the-wall concepts like this is such that I’m certain this will be worth a look when it comes out.
Realm #1: Fifteen years ago our world was overrun by creatures of myth and now the fight back begins as a powerful sorcerer marshals his forces. This comes to us from Seth Peck, who did a few issues of “X-Men” several years back and artist Jeremy Haun. I’m only mentioning it because the “our world being overrun by creatures of myth” reminds me of one of the better latter-day Vertigo titles “Hinterkind.” It lasted for three volumes and had a “We gotta wrap this up NOW!” ending, but “Hinterkind” created an interesting and complex fantasy world that I was sad to see cut down before it could finish the story it wanted to tell. As for “Realm,” the cover image and solicitation text don’t inspire the same kind of confidence. If it manages to get past vol. 3, then I’ll see about giving it a second chance.
Retcon #1: This is described as the reboot of a comic that never existed. Given the industry’s current reboot-fever, this could wind up being either really clever or just clever enough to get its head stuck up its own ass. I’m not familiar enough with writer Matt Nixon’s work to guess which way this will wind up going. Wait and see, I guess.
Invincible vol. 24: The End of All Things Part 1: Totally called it (see my review of vol. 23).
The Walking Dead vol. 28: A Certain Doom: Meanwhile, in Robert Kirkman’s other long-running creator-owned series, all is lost in the wake of the Whisperer War. That… is ominous for all the wrong reasons. A lot of the appeal “The Walking Dead” has for me these days is that it has moved on from being a simple story of survival in the zombie apocalypse and is dealing with the struggle of how to rebuild civilization with the collapse of the old order. With Hilltop destroyed and Alexandrea on the verge of losing everything, is Kirkman really looking to take the cast and premise back to square one? I hope not, but the silver lining here is that the writer has shown over the years that he’s really good at recognizing genre conventions and subverting them. So Kirkman’s probably got a few tricks up his sleeve even if he does take things back to square one.
The Tithe vol. 3: Samaritan: This reminds me, I still need to pick up vol. 2 of this series. Back when the issues it collected were still from a series called “The Tithe.” Yes, that’s right, none of the issues collected in this volume bear the name “The Tithe.” This collects writer Matt Hawkins’ crossover series “Eden’s Fall” where characters from “The Tithe,” “Think Tank,” and “Postal” meet up and the “Samaritan” miniseries featuring the elite hacker from “The Tithe.” This time she’s out to take down the president by bankrupting the arms conglomerate that’s backing him by way of stealing their secrets and giving them to everyone. Naming conventions aside, I’m not sure if these two miniseries will play well together in the same volume. Still, if you’ve been following everything Hawkins has written involving these characters so far then you’re going to want to pick this up regardless.
Sex Criminals vol. 4: Fourgy: HA! I see what you did there writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky. Anyway, new volume of “Sex Criminals” for everyone. Either you’re onboard with the creators’ style of storytelling at this point or you’re not.
Outcast vol. 5: A New Path: Meanwhile, in Robert Kirkman’s other not-quite-as-long-running creator-owned series, protagonist Kyle Barnes must face the one thing he never expected to find in his struggle against the demonic forces arrayed against him. Hope. Which is good, because he’s going to need all the help he can get. Especially after his friend Reverend Anderson murdered one of the bad guys in his basement. So… the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away? Is that how we’re supposed to see things here?
Buzzkill: Ruben is a superhero who gets his power through the consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs. One day he went on a bender so epic that he blacked out and wound up saving the world in the process. Now he’s trying to put his life back together and figure out just how he saved the world that one time. This series was originally published by Dark Horse a few years back, but is now being published through Image after co-writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw hit it big at the publisher with “God Country.” If this title does sound interesting to you, I should point out that Dark Horse did put out a collection back in 2014 and you can still pick up copies of it at a reasonable price via Amazon. So if you just can’t wait until September…
Royal City vol. 1: Next of Kin: Patrick Pike is an author whose fame has been fading for quite a while now. He finds himself drawn back to his hometown, the titular Royal City, and the family drama that he’s been trying to avoid for years. While each member of his immediate family is haunted by the death of Patric’s youngest brother, Tommy, the town itself has plenty of secrets that are only now starting to emerge with the writer’s return. Unless I haven’t been paying attention, this will be the first series from Jeff Lemire that he wrote and illustrated since “Sweet Tooth” back in the day. This series may not have that title’s apocalyptic appeal, but it should be entertaining to see the writer sink his teeth into a purely character-driven story and showcase his experimental side when it comes to panel layouts.
The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan HC: …and all will finally be right with the world.