Some of you might be wondering what this column is….I basically bitch and moan about the sorry state of the comics world and maybe recommend a title or two. I haven’t done it the last 2 months because of work commitments in September and an extended vacation in October. Added to that was the lamentable slate of new comics which didn’t particularly inspire me…aside from Chris Ware’s new Acme Novelty Library book which you should buy.
Let’s see what gems I can find amongst the crap in this month’s Previews:
Gantz Volume 16
Need I say more? Buy it. (Editors Note: Unfortunately we do need to say a little more an the account that if we don’t the layout of this post will be all wonky and stuff. OK, please continue Locus.)
Detective Comics #873
Wow, there’s only 16 Batman titles this month! This is the only one I’m actually interested in though. Everything else is so fucking continuity heavy that I’ve just lost interest in it.
The whole Batman Returns/Bruce Wayne coming clean to the media is such a stupid storyline that I just don’t want to have anything to do with it. A few years ago there was a wave of superheroes unmasking in public, Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man among others and they were all dumb as fuck. In superhero comics you have certain conventions like the secret identity and there needs to be a certain suspension of disbelief involved. If too much reality creeps in then it just ruins the whole deal.
Detective seems to have what I want, good Batman storytelling by a great writer/artist combo (Scott Snyder and Jock) with a story that I don’t need to be reading other titles to figure out.
Action Comics #897
Lex Luthor takes on the Joker as written by Paul Cornell? it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
New York Five #1 (of 4)
Normally if I saw the words “college life” in the solicit the I wouldn’t give it much notice, I fucking hate students… but if the book is written by Brian Wood and drawn by Ryan Kelly of Local fame then that’s a different story altogether. This is a 4 issue mini-series and I like that too, I’m not that interested in picking up ongoing titles. This looks like being an interesting book with great black and white artwork.
The Infinite Vacation #1
It seems like all Bleeding Cool does is try to predict the next Walking Dead or Chew. I have zero interest in the value of comics beyond what they are worth as good stories. What really caught my eye regarding this title was the fantastic art by Christian Ward. The layouts on the sample pages I’ve seen are excellent, sort of like Brendan McCarthy but with the more restrained colour palette of Phil Noto.
Archie: 50 Times an American Icon
The Hero Initiative
Ok so you‘re thinking , $10 for a bunch of Archie covers, is he fucking insane?, well this is a benefit book for the Hero Initiative which is an organisation which helps many past and present comic book creators who have fallen on hard times or have large medical bills that they can’t pay. There are covers from 50 artists including the likes of John Romita, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Joseph Michael Linsner, Stan Goldberg and many more. If you like Archie (and Betty and Veronica and Jughead and the rest) or you care about comic book artists and writers then I’d ask you to consider buying this book.
Bakuman vol 3
The third volume of this excellent manga series by Death Note creators Ohba and Akito about 2 teenagers who want to be star manga creators trying to get the notice of editors and get published strikes the right notes of drama, pathos and wry humour alongside crisp precise art.
Viz have a strong lineup this month of seinen manga with new volumes of Bakuman, Biomega, Bokurano Ours and 20th Century Boys coming out. I’m not sure why they’ve released these all in the same month when there’s been a dearth of seinen manga in the last 2 months.
High School of the Dead Vol 1
I think this is a series which a lot of manga fans have been waiting for. Its by the Sato Brothers team and revolves around a group of high school students who are trying to to survive a zombie apocalypse. I’ve read a few chapters online and it moves along at a good page. There is some fan-service for sure, the female characters do seem to have power-girl type boobs but it does play the horror angle straight up. Think of a mix of Battle Royale and The Walking Dead.
One disappointment about it is that you only get 160 pages for $14 whereas Viz regularly gives 190-200 pages for the same money. Plus Viz use better quality paper than Yen Press.
Back Issue and Alter Ego are two of the best magazines covering comics from the past, Draw magazine covers mostly current artists and this months has one of the great masters of the last 30-40 years, Walter Simonson. Twomorrows publish in-depth profiles and since Simonson worked on some iconic comics like Manhunter, Thor, X-Factor, Orion and more there should be a lot of interesting information on how he has progressed through the industry and also on his working methods and techniques.
Cyanide and Happiness Volume 1 and 2
176 pages each
A few years ago I used to read loads of web comics but pretty much the only one I still read is Cyanide and Happiness from Explosm.net . This is because it is utterly savage in its sarcasm and cynicism, so much so that it makes South Park look like a kids cartoon.
Wonder Woman Bishoujo Statue
Seriously just order this already, I mean look at it! (Click on pick to expand) Its one of the best portrayals of Wonder Woman I’ve ever seen. It’s faithful to the character and costume and is not too cheesecakey or OTT. The only bad thing about this is that you won’t actually receive it till May next year.
Captain America: Hail Hydra #1 (of 5)
Captain America’s greatest adversary through the ages has been the organisation known as Hydra, which keeps coming back stronger than ever despite Caps best efforts. Here Jonathan Maberry combines with various artists like Sergio Cariello, Tom Scioli (can’t fucking wait for this one!), Phil Winslade, Kyle Hotz and Harvey Talibao (errr….) to tell tales of Caps struggles against various versions of Hydra. Besides the great artists, interesting premise and $2.99 price, Maberry tells stories that have a lot of bang for your buck, no bloody decompression here.
Generation Hope #3
I’m not recommending you buy this but just look at this awful variant cover by Greg Land, it looks like his hand got stuck on blur effect in photoshop.
Fall of the Mutants Omnibus
I started getting American comics just after the Fall of the Mutants storyline and it was referenced in many books, especially my favourites of the time, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants so its great to be able to read it in its entirety for the first time.
This story comes from a time before crossovers were released 2 or 3 times a fucking year. Ages would pass between stories like this so they actually WERE huge events rather than no-nothing so-called evens like Messiah complex, Endangered Species yadayadayada…. This is the X-Men at their late 80’s prime when they still mattered and before they became played out and used up in the 90’s. I know this is an expensive book but sometimes you have to ask yourself what is value for money and what is worth buying?
Well, DC has forged ahead with its $2.99 price point which I give them credit for, especially for listening to the fans and retailers…and their lousy orders. However, their solicit is so top heavy with Batman stuff, I’m underwhelmed. Marvel have put out some more $2.99 stuff but their pricing policy is still wildly inconsistent. Again I’m a little underwhelmed by their offerings especially the X-line and Wolverine books which are a complete fucking mess in my opinion.
The Indies aren’t much better this month with very few offerings and very quiet schedules. I suppose it is January though and everyone is fucking broke so they’re not bothering to put out much.
It does seem to be a good month for manga though, perhaps Viz in particular, considering that since everyone will be broke that they’ll be looking for good value for money which they certainly provide.
So yeah, there is good stuff out there….you just need to look for it!