There are a lot of great books out this week and Doug Hahner joins us as a guest ‘buyer’ so let’s get to it.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #7 (MARVEL) – This event is turning into quite the surprise. While the opening act was a fairly standard chase thriller, everything changed once the Phoenix arrived and changed the balance of power in the Marvel Universe. Now, with Cyclops and the rest of the Phoenix Five remaking the world and branding the Avengers as public enemy #1, I find myself waiting anxiously for the next issue. With a great villain in Cyclops and stunning art across the board, this is my favorite Marvel event since House of M.
BATMAN: EARTH ONE OHC (DC) – Geoff Johns has left his stamp on almost every major DC character – besides Batman. That all changes this week, with this stand-alone graphic novel set on DC’s new-reader friendly Earth One line. With Gary Frank, the team behind the incredible Action Comics run is reunited. Preview art is incredible, and Johns promises a very different take on the Dark Knight. While the $22.99 price tag is steep, this is a full arc’s worth of comics in a hardcover package with no ads. And Johns rarely disappoints.
BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #1 (DC) – Where do the greatest villains come from? That’s one of the most timeless questions of comics, as most of them don’t start out evil. This series, by Len Wein and Jae Lee, shows us how one of the Watchmen world’s greatest heroes became its greatest villain. While this may have gotten less hype out of the gate than some of the more iconic characters and bigger names, I’m glad to see Wein making a comeback, and I’m a sucker for a good rise of a villain story.
EARTH-2 #3 (DC) – I’ve picked this comic three months in a row, and here’s why – there is no other superhero comic on the stands that is quite so unpredictable from month to month. Each issue is like opening another present, as a new universe slowly unravels, and we’re introduced to bold new takes on one hero after another. Characters like Al Pratt are relevant again for the first time in decades, and Alan Scott and Terry Sloane are getting bold new revamps. The amazing art of Nicola Scott only helps James Robinson’s dense scripts to shine even more.
GARFIELD#3 (BOOM STUDIOS) – Two issues in, this is hands down the best all-ages comic on the stands right now. While Garfield in the comic strips may have its glory days well behind it, this comic recaptures the fun, anarchic spirit of the classic cartoon. Mark Evanier, the writer of the classic “Garfield and Friends” delivers two consistent short stories each issue with great art by Gary Barker. Whether battling aliens or doing a clever satire of the comic industry, this title is always a blast.
BATMAN: EARTH ONE (DC)- Seems like we’ve been waiting on this one forever and while the origin of Batman has been told as many times as Superman with Geoff Johns and Gary Frank reteaming to tell the story I have a feeling they’re going to deliver the good with a unique spin on one of the greatest super heroes of all time.
BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #1 (DC)- The very idea of these comics existing is causing a divide in the comics’ community. I’m just seeing really good comics. Last week’s Nite-Owl was the best of the bunch so far and this one has the potential to give it a run for it’s money with a look at how one of the world’s greatest heroes became it’s greatest villain. The stunning art by Jae Lee alone is worth a pick up from me
THE CAPE: 1969 #1 (IDW)- The Cape mini that came out last year was one of my favorite comics of the year. A truly dark story of what happens when great powers are given to someone completely lacking in responsibility. The main character, in fact, may have been one of the most evil characters to grace comic book pages since The Governor years ago in The Walking Dead. This prequel looks nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait to tear into it.
CREATOR OWNED HEROES #2 (IMAGE)- The first issue of this ‘comic magazine’ provided more content for your buck than anything else on the stands. Original stories by Justin Gray, Kevin Mellon, Steve Niles, Phil Noto and Jimmy Palmiotti as well as interviews, behind the scenes info and even a photo section for only 3.99. And it’s standard comic book size, too.
MIND MGMT #2 (DARK HORSE)- Creator Matt Kindt always delivers the goods but the first issue of this series still took me by surprise with how insanely detailed it was. Every square inch of the comic was used to tell the story and provided readers with an extraordinary reading experience. This is the type of book the shows why comics are the greatest storytelling format there is.
BOYS #68 (DYNAMITE)- As we near the end of title Garth Ennis keeps ramping up the conspiracy. I used to think I knew how the book would end, but now I’m not sure. All I know is that I can’t wait to see where Ennis and cohorts take us.
DIAL H #3 (DC COMICS)- Novelist China Mieville sure seems to be having a blast with this title. A person can use the H Dial and become any number of different superheroes. If I have any complaint about this book it’s that in issue 2 Mieville used many different heroes in just a few pages. I wanted to have full adventures with all of them. However the hero for the majority of issue 2 was so interesting and weird that I soon forgot about the other heroes and wanted a full mini-series with The Iron Snail.
INFERNAL MAN-THING #1 (MARVEL COMICS)- From the late Steve Gerber and iconic inker Kevin Nowlan (here providing all the art) comes a horror tale years in the making. What is the Screenplay of the Living Dead? I don’t know, but with a creative team like Gerber and Nowlan, I know I’ll have a hard time waiting for the next issue to come out.
MIND MGMT #2 (DARK HORSE COMICS)- With more and more readers jumping on the collected edition bandwagon Matt Kindt is offering up a book that is meant to be read monthly. There are extras in each issue that will not be in the collected editions of the title. Be it additional strips that flesh out the history of the world Kindt is creating, or the back cover “ads” on the first six issues that when combined provide a link to more extras on a secret website that, again, will not be collected anywhere. Not only is Kindt offering cool extras, but the story is a mystery that grabs you from the begining, and doesn’t let go. Does a secret CIA project have anything to do with the mysterious “Amnesia Flight?”
THE CAPE: 1969 #1 (IDW) – After reading Locke & Key and loving it, and then reading two of Joe Hill’s novels and adoring them, I decided that I needed to pick up anything with his name on it. When I read The Cape last year, it may have been my favorite story of his yet. I’m thrilled to see that Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella are returning to give us this prequel to the Eisner Award-nominated mini. This one takes place in 1969 and is set in the Vietnam war. The art and colors by Nelson Daniel look just as gorgeous as they did before.
HACK SLASH #17 (IMAGE) – Tim Seeley has again handed the reigns of the story over to Justin Jordan (The Strange Talents of Luther Strode) and the book hasn’t missed a beat. Things seem to be boiling towards a grim and dreary culmination point for Cassie. Vlad’s health is failing and he’s battling his mutant family. Huge things are about to happen in this book and I have a feeling this issue is going to get things started with a bang!
HOAX HUNTERS #1 (IMAGE) – This comic originally started as a back-up in Hack/Slash and the previously released #0 issue was a great lead-in for this new series. With vivid characters like Murder, a paranormal flock of crows inhabiting a space suit, Michael Moreci & Steve Seeley have crafted an imaginative universe. It’s the perfect mix of weird and wonderful with complimentary art from Axel Medellin. As long as Moreci is a better writer than he is Fantasy Baseball manager (HA! Sorry, couldn’t help it! He’s in the fantasy league I run) we should be set for years of fantastic stories.
MORNING GLORIES #20 (IMAGE) – Joe Eisma continues to draw this series with amazingly well-honed skills yet he doesn’t get nearly as much praise as he deserves. And for every question Nick Spencer seems to answe another one pops up in its place, which I actually enjoy in a comic. This issue promises a showdown between, Ms. Hodge and Ms. Daramount, which fans of the series ar sure to understand how big of a deal that really can be.
TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE #7 (IDW) – Whoever thought that Political Intrigue would be something that a Transformers comic would be known for? But this book, a split-team series that pairs with the other subtitled Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, has been successfully pairing action with politics in a way that makes it as interesting as it is fun. John Barber has done a solid job following in the footsteps of the brilliant run by Mike Costa, Turmoil is making his return and that can only mean bad news for the already precarious situation with the Autobots, Decepticons and NAILs trying to work together to rebuild Cybertron.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #689 (MARVEL)- It’s shameless movie tie in time as the Lizard returns to torment our favorite web slinger. I wasn’t a huge fan of his last appearance so hoping that Dan Slott can pull out some magic and tell a great Lizard story, I know he can do it.
BATMAN: EARTH ONE (DC)- The release of Superman: Earth One brought two things along with it. It brought controversy around the quality of the story and it also brought major sales. It seemed that DC had high hopes for this line and the sales of Superman: Earth One surpassed them. I personally loved that story and ever since have been eagerly awaiting the installment retelling the origin of DC’s other major hero: Batman. This time its being told by the fantastic creative team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. What changes will be made? What will make this Batman unique? I don’t yet but I can’t wait to find out
BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #1 (DC)- It seems that these titles so far have gotten a lot of positive reviews so far which is great. Now we turn our attention to quite possibly the most complex character in the whole Watchmen saga. It would be easy to call him the villain of the piece but thats not exactly the case. We got a lot of his background in the main story but again there is much room for expansion. What’s interesting about this mini is that is being written by original Watchmen editor and comics legend Len Wein. He’s stated many times there were several story points he and Moore disagreed with so I’m interested if some of his ideas show up here. On art duties is the amazing Jae Lee who for the past few years has been largely only drawing the various Dark Tower books. I can’t wait to see what he does with this story because if you can count on anything you can count on the fact it’ll look gorgeous.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #238 (ARCHIE)- Somebody asked me to pick it so here you go! Buy Sonic and treat yourself to a chilli dog if he still eats them!
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #12 (MARVEL)- Bit of a bitter sweet one for me. Back in the day I can probably pinpoint the very first issue of the first volume of Ultimate Spider-man as the reason I am reading and writing comics today. For personal reasons this will be my last issue of the title. I hope it does bring in new readers like it did me many years ago but for me its farewell and thank you.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #7 (MARVEL) -Despite some problems with character behaviour in this storyline (mainly the X-Men, my favourite superteam keep in mind, and Cyclops in particular, acting like utter bloody lunatics), I’ve been enjoying this event. But last issue blew me away in terms of writing and art. I know the status quo always ends up reverting to normal before too long, but this event is really leaving me wondering how the hell they’re going to do it this time.
BEFORE WATCHMEN OZYMANDIAS #1 (DC)– At this rate, I’m starting to think I should just put a standard heading of a Before Watchmen book before my top five, because so far every one of the books has deserved a spot and it’s not looking like that’ll be changing anytime soon. Ozymandias, like Comedian, was a character I never gave a damn about in the original story, so this series wasn’t as eagerly anticipated as the others, but after 4 quality starts, I have nothing but high hopes for this book too.
BOYS #68 (DYNAMITE) – This is it. The last story arc of The Boys is playing out, and I can’t even imagine where the hell Ennis is going to take things from here. In the last two issues, we’ve seen certain characters do some extremely messed up stuff that shocked the hell out of readers, and yet not be even a little out of character or surprise anyone in retrospect. There have been some serious losses too that once they come out in the open, I can’t see it going too well for any of the main characters. Including this issue there are only 5 issues left to go, and as it stands, that’s a whole lotta pages to mess with the readers even more and I don’t think Ennis plans to disappoint
FAIREST #5 (DC/ VERTIGO) – The first arc of the Fables spin-off book wraps up, and if it’s as good as the run has been so far, it’s going to be excellent stuff. We’re getting a whole new side to long time bad girl, Lumi the Snow Queen. I’m hoping this arc ends up having some lasting consequences for the overall story of both books, and that the characters start appearing more after this. I’d love to see Lumi and Briar Rose back in the main books again at some point.
TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ONGOING #7 (IDW) – I try not to repeat myself with these lists, but god damn it, the Transformers books are just too damn good not to. And this one in particular always seems to land on a week where there’s very little else coming out for competition. Though it would still likely win. This issue continues the storyline of Orion “Optimus Prime”Pax, as he, Hardhead, Wheelie and giant reptilian humanoid companion Garnak hunt down Shockwave. Seeing a slightly more carefree Optimus is quite refreshing, I have to say.
Alright, then. Looks like BEFORE WATCHMEN takes the week with 4 votes, followed closely by BATMAN EARTH ONE and a lot of love for AVENGERS VS X-MEN, THE CAPE 1969, MIND MGMT, TRANSFORMERS and THE BOYS. I think there’s a nice mix of books out there for people of all tastes. If you agree or even disagree, let us know in the comments. And hey, it’s INDEPENDENTS DAY so go pick up a title you’ve never tried from a smaller publisher at least for today. You may open your eyes to an entire new world of comics.