12 Jun 2009

Ten Forward: August 2009

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the ten titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the June issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2009.

Writer: Bryan Talbot
Art: Bryan Talbot
Dark Horse $17.95

Rob N: I’ve enjoyed Bryan Talbot’s creator-owned comics since the early days of Luther Arkwright. While it can be argued that he borrows rather heavily from Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius and Oswald Bastable books, that does at least indicate he has good taste. Grandville is a familiar looking steampunk Victorian world but with the addition of…. badgers! For, this time around (perhaps to distance the comic from the similar nature of his Heart of Empire series), Bryan has chosen to populate his fictional world with anthropomorphic animals of the intelligent, talking variety. Badgers are of course hard bastards who, if they were human size, could have you on toast, no questions asked. Victorian badgers would be even worse. Yes my friends, if you’re going to have talking animal books, then badger ones make sense for heroic flights of fantasy like Grandville. Hopefully there will be some weasels too.

Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Art: Adrian Saef & John Dell
DC $2.99

James R: In a word, tasty! By the time August comes around, Dick Grayson should have that cowl well broken in as the new Batman, and DC’s mega-event Blackest Night will be well under way. This three-issue mini series smooshes the two events together in Batman: Blackest Night. Basically, I’m still a bit of a sucker for anything with the word ‘Batman’ in front of it, but when you add in an element as bonkers as ‘Zombie Flying Graysons’ and a perpetually groovy co-star in Deadman, then you have a comic that demands the once-over! DC is also running a Superman mini to tie in with Blackest Night if you find your taste for the undead isn’t satisfied easily. (Urgh. That sounds foul – apologies!)

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Dale Keown
Image/Top Cow $2.99

Andy H: Ever since his work on Incredible Hulk (seems so long ago now!) Dale Keown has always been an artist to look out for. He's been seen most recently doing cover art but now he's back teaming his own creation, Pitt, with the Darkness. Written by Paul Jenkins, Pitt finds himself in New York after tracking victims of an alien virus. Once there it's only a matter of time before Pitt and Jackie Estacado cross paths. For me the story could take second place to the art but that would be unfair to Jenkins as he is a great writer and I expect his usual high standards for this story; I just love Keown's work though. There's so much detail there you just find yourself repeatedly going over each page to soak it all up for fear of missing something. Mayhem and madness, just the way I like it!

Writer: Andrew Cosby & Michael Allan Nelson
Art: Ayhan Khayrula
Boom! Studios $3.99

Stewart R: Boom! have been impressing lately with fresh new titles such as Unthinkable, Irredeemable and Unknown, and the prospect of more titles of such high quality has this previewer a little excited. The premise here, while simple, sounds extremely promising – Toshiro Ono, the titular Swordsmith has a reputation as one of the finest blacksmiths around but when his family is cut down with his own deadly creations he sets out to ensure that none of his swords ever kill again. Revenge stories set in feudal Japan can occasionally be found throughout the modern media spectrum but the fact that Ono’s own livelihood has led to his current predicament/mission leads me to think that this will be a slight break from convention that could set it apart.

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: What I’d really love to see is Millar and Epting (or maybe Michael Lark) tackle the Invaders in the Band Of Brothers-esque style we saw in early issues of the current run of Captain America. That doesn’t seem to be on the agenda for now, but this mini – dealing with the same WWII time period – certainly looks like it can fill that void. Brubaker has described this as a “big epic” that will tie together all of the threads that make up the birth of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Considering what he and Epting have been whipping up on Cap I can’t see any reason why this won’t wind up on most discerning comics fans pull-lists!

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapol
DC $3.99

James R: On the surface, this might not be the most jaw-dropping of titles – the return of Superboy (bumped off in Infinite Crisis) and the Legion of Superheroes (who have had more false starts than a truckload of caffeine-addled sprinters in the last 10 years). However, this is a must-read as it’s the latest from DC’s own Boy Wonder, Geoff Johns, and the artwork from Manapol looks lush, reminiscent of Pascal Ferry at his best. To top it all off you get two stories for your $3.99; Dan DiDio spelt out in no uncertain terms at the Bristol Expo that if DC were going to charge $3.99 for a book, then you would be getting your money’s worth. Bravo to that, and I’ll be picking this up to see if Johns can keep up his fantastic run of form.

Writer: Brandon Graham
Art: Brandon Graham
Image $2.99

Stewart R: I missed King City the first time around so I’m glad Image and Tokyopop have decided to remaster the original series and drag Brandon Graham back to ensure this gets a look in as an ongoing. The premise is bonkers – Joe is a ‘Catmaster’ who’s feline pet can transform into any device, be it a bazooka or blender, to help him in his career as a thief-for-hire in big ol’ King City – and though I’m not into manga in a big way, Graham’s American influence can be seen in the zany artwork. I failed to pick this up before as I was only dipping my toes into the wonderful ocean of comics and now it’s time to go for a swim in King City methinks! Bring on the bonkers!

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Marvel $3.99

Rob N: Marvel has made many mistakes during its publishing history, but surely few mistakes can match the decision to hand volume three of the Ultimates (a change of direction that was about as welcome as a piece of dog shit on the sole of your shoe) over to Jeph Loeb. The first issue of that ill-fated series still stands as my least favourite individual comic ever. That volumes one and two of the Ultimates were near perfect examples of what the superhero genre is capable of only made the title’s fall all the more pronounced. But now we have the return of Mark Millar, chief architect of everything (other than the art itself) that made the original run spectacular from the outset. It’s a shame that Bryan Hitch isn’t back onboard as well, but at least with Millar handling the characters we’ll get dialogue and behaviour that seems credible and realistic. Perhaps we can hope that Millar simply ignores everything that happened in volume three without even bothering to retcon or try to make sense of it.

Writer: J. Michael Stracynski
Art: Various
DC $2.99

Matt T: Good old JMS debuts at DC with four long forgotten Golden Age heroes (much like the other book he should be bloody well writing, The Twelve), bringing them into more modern times. The Hangman, Inferno, the Web and the Shield - which is the only character I'm familiar with - all sound interesting in a slightly recognizable manner. As there're a few variations on the same theme kicking around at the moment with differing levels of effectiveness I'm apprehensive, but at least the characters aren't committed to a long run.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Dale Eaglesham
Marvel $2.99

James R: The foreplay is over! After the magnificent introduction in the Dark Reign miniseries, Jonathan Hickman is finally let loose on the Fantastic Four proper. What’s happening? No idea. Trust me, it won’t matter – the man who brought you Pax Romana, Transhuman and Secret Warriors doesn’t really need a hook, this should be solid gold from the first issue. Given the ‘Dark’ nature of the Marvel Universe at the moment, it would be great to see Hickman reminding everyone of what makes Marvel (and the FF) great – human characterisation mixed with big ideas. Be there at the start, and you can brag about it to your friends when this title goes nova.

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