Monthly Archives: February 2016

Image Previews Picks: May 2016

While the solicitations I riff on each month can be found in Previews Magazine, it was recently announced that Image will be offering its own magazine to complement it.  Titled “Image+,” after a similar promotional magazine offered by the publisher back in the 90’s, it will not only spotlight new releases, but offer new creator-focused content in the form of interviews, features, editorials, and preview pages of upcoming titles.  However, the real draw for the magazine’s first year will be a new “The Walking Dead” comic from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.  While new “The Walking Dead” content from its creators is always welcome, these four-page comics will tell the origin of Negan.  That automatically makes me interested, even if the whole concept of “Image+” doesn’t exactly scream “must-read” to me at the moment.  Maybe all this additional content will prove interesting and relevant as opposed to glorified self-promotion.  Right now, I’m just hoping that “The Walking Dead” comics will be collected in a one-shot sometime next year.

Renato Jones:  The One% #1 (of 5):  “THE SUPER-RICH ARE SUPER-F***ED” is the tag-line typed along the bottom of the cover for this issue.  Renato Jones is a vigilante out to make the richest of the rich pay for their greedy ways with violence.  It sounds like pure anti-capitalist fantasy, and the kind that I wouldn’t mind indulging in for a bit of escapist entertainment.  Written and illustrated by Kaare Andrews, it’s going to look fantastic and probably be worth checking out just for its action scenes.  As for the writing, well… the premise for this series sounds simple enough that it would be hard to screw up as long as you’re onboard for what Andrews is selling here.

3 Floyds:  Alpha King #1 (of 5):  Here’s where I’d make a big proclamation about this title being Brian Azzarello’s Image debut, but he’s only co-writing this series with Nick Floyd, someone I’m unfamiliar with.  It’s about a couple of brewers in Munster, Indiana, who cook up a home-brew so good that it attracts the attention of the Alpha King and his minions from another dimension.  It’s not the strangest setup I’ve heard, but it’s so far out of Azzarello’s usual offerings that I’m not sure if his involvement is a plus here.  Yet it does have two artists who are more than capable of bringing this craziness to life:  Simon Bisley and Ryan Browne.  Even if the story turns out to be underwhelming, I’m sure the art will deliver on its promise.

Mythic:  It’s magic that makes the world go round in this series.  So what happens when magic goes wrong?  That’s when you call in Apache Shaman Waterston, Greek Immortal Cassandra, and Cell Phone Salesman Nate to get it back on track.  I’ve only read a couple things from writer and sometimes artist Phil Hester, but “The Coffin” and “Deep Sleeper” were both quite good.  The art here comes from frequent Garth Ennis collaborator John McCrea, and crazy supernatural stuff would appear to be right up his alley.  Put it all together and this sounds like one to keep an eye out for in May.

Plutona:  Four kids discover the body of the world’s greatest superhero in the woods one day, a discovery that threatens to tear apart their friendship and their lives.  [Insert smart-assed joke about this being the “hilarious, feel-good comic book read of the year!”]  Jeff Lemire writes and Emi Lenox illustrates.  Honestly, I’m on the fence about this one.  I guess it depends on how in the mood I’ll be for something that’s probably going to be well-written and illustrated, but depressing enough to only make me want to read it once.

Pride & Joy:  Between this, the soon-to-be-released “Bloody Mary” and the forthcoming “Adventures in the Rifle Brigade,” it appears that Garth Ennis is determined to move all of his out-of-print creator-owned Vertigo work to Image.  I don’t think there’s any love lost between him and the publisher there.  Ennis has said in the past that the imprint is dying the death of a thousand cuts and doesn’t represent the best deal for creators these days.  It’s also worth noting that DC hasn’t come to him or artist Steve Dillon for any new “Preacher”-related projects as that series hailed from the days when the company offered “real” creator-owned deals.  So DC wouldn’t see as much return on finally putting out the apocryphal “Sex Detectives” special that was mentioned a couple times when the series was being published.  Speaking of which, it’s unlikely that we’ll see “Preacher” make the migration to Image so long as it remains in print at DC.  As the recent “Section 8” miniseries shows, Ennis isn’t averse to working with the company so long as it’s on a series he’s interested in so he probably doesn’t want to burn his bridges completely here.

Oh, and what about the miniseries itself?  I have it and it has been a looooooong time since I read it. It’s about a single father whose criminal past comes back to haunt him in the worst way.  Given that I don’t remember it being particularly bad or good, it’s probably something that will be of most interest to existing fans (read:  completists) of the writer himself.

Deadly Class vol. 4 & No Mercy vol. 2:  New volumes from two series about really, really bad things happening to high school students.  Some of whom really deserve it too.  I’m very much looking forward to reading both, even if the stories they’re telling appear to be too big for these next volumes.  Marcus in “Deadly Class” is in the middle of finals at King’s Dominion and has a giant target painted on his back after all that he has done over the first four volumes.  Will Rick Remender and Wes Craig wrap all that up in five issues?  I’m sure it’ll be entertaining to see them try.  As for the kids stuck in a foreign land in “No Mercy…”  Thinking back to that first volume, Marcus’ situation doesn’t seem all that bad in comparison.

Saga vol. 6:  After the time-jump from the previous volume, we pick up with Hazel entering kindergarten and her parents dealing with the disappearance of their daughter by getting over themselves and maturing into responsible adults.  Yeah, that last bit is just speculation on my part.  Stranger things have happened in this series, though…

Marvel Previews Picks: May 2016

Marvel has been cancelling a bunch of their second printings over the past few weeks.  Up until now, the easiest thing to infer from this was that the shine has come off of their “All-New, All-Different Marvel NOW!” initiative.  Now it’s being reported that several series will be getting new printings in a different manner than what we’ve seen before.  “Timely Comics” is what Marvel was before it was “Marvel” and it’s the name of the publisher’s new initiative:  Reprinting the first three issues of “All-New, All-Different” series in single editions for $3.  It’s a loss-leader tactic, trying to get people to start reading the ongoing titles from the fourth issue or get a sneak peek at a trade paperback for a negligible price.  Maybe it’ll be a surprising success for the company.  Then again, it could also create a new class of reader who knows that these cheap editions are coming and skips out on buying them in favor of these “Timely Editions.”

As a trade-waiter myself, this just sounds dumb.  The whole reason I like reading collected editions is to get a nice complete chunk of comics instead of having it drip-fed to me on a monthly basis.  Selling me three-fifths, or half of a trade even for $3 feels like a ripoff as I likely won’t be getting a complete story with those issues either.  Better to just put that $3 towards paying for the actual collection.

Captain America:  Steve Rogers #1:  Marvel is in a very difficult position with Sam Wilson as Captain America right now.  Even if putting an African-American character into the role has been applauded as a bold progressive move and resulted in some (reportedly) good stories, these things haven’t resulted in good sales.  Nick Spencer’s run is now trending below the last of the six issues Rick Remender did with Wilson before he left.  So they’re bringing back Steve Rogers as Cap, with Spencer writing this title as well.  He’s not being billed as the One True Cap, but both characters are now “Captain America.”  It’s a move that smacks of flop sweat and doesn’t really speak well to Marvel and their commitment to Sam Wilson as Cap.  God forbid that they actually try and find some way to boost sales on that title.  Except that we all know that they don’t know how to do that anymore except through relaunches and variant covers.

The Punisher #1:  Frank Castle is back again, this time with two artists that I really like.  Except that one of them, Becky Cloonan, is just writing this series.  Though I really liked the first volume of “Gotham Academy,” that was co-written with Brenden Fletcher, and I was ambivalent about the Image title she wrote, the weird sci-fi series “Southern Cross.”  It had some interesting characters and worldbuilding, yet was hamstrung by a narrative which felt like it went out of its way to accommodate the protagonist and her investigation.  For the story here, two narrative threads are advertised:  The Punisher dealing with the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong and a DEA agent trying to get into the vigilante’s head.  Familiar stuff, but it could work if the execution is done right.

Working in this book’s favor is the other artist, the one who will actually be illustrating it.  That would be none other than Steve Dillon.  His perma-scowl Frank Castle is one of the defining looks of the character, and he has proved to be equally adept at rendering the character’s adventures through the glorious black comedy of Garth Ennis’ Marvel Knights run, and Jason Aaron’s MAX stories.  Even if it takes Coonan an issue or two to find her footing, seeing Dillon draw the character again will likely be enough to keep me entertained while that happens.

The Astonishing Ant-Man #8:  Going back to Spencer for a second, I haven’t gotten around to checking out his work on this title yet because… well, reasons.  However, the solicitation text for this issue references his best work at Marvel.  Prepare yourself for “The Superior Foes of Ant-Man!”  To be honest, I didn’t know that Scott Lang had enough foes for this to actually be a thing.  If they’re not more craven and pathetic than Spider-Man’s then I will officially be surprised.

Deadpool:  Masacre #1:  A few months back, Marvel put out “Deadpool:  Tres Punto Uno” a one-shot from the writers of the Merc With a Mouth’s regular series.  It featured the Deadpool of Mexico and as the solicitation text here indicates, was told entirely in Spanish.  A pet hate of mine in comics is when writers have characters speak in a foreign language without giving any indication of what the meaning of the words are.  It comes across as smart-assedness with the writers showing off their knowledge of a foreign language in a way that doesn’t benefit the story.  Well, this new edition is supposed to fix that by offering up “POORLY TRANSLATED ENGLISH” by way of the internet, just in time for the “Fifth of May.”  Good one, guys.  I certainly hope that joke isn’t better than anything this issue has to offer.

Scarlet #’s 8-9:  HOLY SHIT!  DO MY EYES DECEIVE ME!?  Are these TWO issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s long, long, LONG-delayed creator-owned series being offered up in these solicitations?  You’d think that they were hurrying to get them out before the next volume is scheduled to arrive, but that would be crazy talk.  If the gap between issues has shown us anything, it’s that these creators don’t give a flying fuck about timeliness, punctuality, or realistic shipping schedules.  Saying that two issues of “Scarlet” will be out in May is probably just a magnificent trolling move on their parts.  However, if these two issues do come out as scheduled, then I think Bendis and Maleev are going to be in for a rude awakening regarding how long their audience was willing to wait for them to continue this series once the sales numbers come in.

Brian Michael Bendis:  Crime Noir Omnibus HC:  On one hand, this represents some of the writer’s earliest and best work, and a showcase for his not-too-shabby artistic skills.  On the other, while it collects “AKA Goldfish,” “Fire,” and “Torso” in their entireties, only the first five issues of “Jinx” are here.  That’s particularly disappointing since, even if you’re not left on a cliffhanger, it’s the best thing I’ve read from him.  This may seem like an appealing package, but this one oversight leads me to say that anyone interested in this would be better served by buying all of the series mentioned here individually.

Lazarus vol. 4: Poison

The first half of the title arc is an incredibly tense and nerve-wracking read as we pick up well into the inter-family war that kicked off at the end of vol. 3.  With family head Malcolm still in a coma and his condition declining steadily, things aren’t going well for Family Carlyle against the Hock forces.  It has gotten to the point where the Family Lazarus, Forever, is being sent into Duluth with a small squad of soldiers to take out some anti-air batteries and hopefully turn the tide of the war.  Even if you really can’t call Family Carlyle “the good guys,” they’re still considerably less evil than the pill-popping cult of personality that Hock is running these days.  So to see them so far on the back foot at the start of the story; well, it’s very unnerving.

Yet they have Forever on their side, and she’s pretty badass, so the fight back should be great fun to watch, right?  Well, writer Greg Rucka is well aware of that particular sentiment and does a great job of pulling the rug out from under you halfway through the story.  Yeah, things start off badly enough for Carlyle that you figure things are going to have to get better for them by the end.  What’s clear from the start is that they’re going to have to pay for that in both Forever’s blood and Johanna Carlyle’s treachery.  Rucka and artist Michael Lark are also primed to extract maximum drama from their struggle.

That said, maybe “treachery” is too strong a word here as the most devious of the Carlyle siblings proves herself to be the most capable among them (that are still conscious).  It’s actually kind of fun seeing the woman strong-arm her way to the top over the course of this volume.  Even better is seeing several familiar faces from vol. 2 show up again here, with the two kids who were “lifted” actually winding up in better positions (for having an impact on the main story).  Yes, I was very entertained by this fourth volume with my only real gripe being that a last-minute surprise regarding Forever really begged to have another issue around to explain it.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the scene where we find out exactly why she has that name, even if it manages to close things out on a perfectly creepy note.