16 Sept 2010

Ten Forward: November 2010

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 September issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in November 2010.

Writer: David Finch
Art: David Finch & Scott Williams
DC $3.99

Tom P: David Finch must love a challenge! To illustrate and write a Batman comic with the subtitle The Dark Knight is a tall order, but I like Finch's art and, let’s face it, some of the best comics are from artists following their own scripts. It’s direct with little getting lost in translation, and I believe this is the deal-sealer that persuaded him to leave Marvel. I’m not sure about the return of the yellow Bat-symbol on his chest (maybe DC are going for the Frank Miller ‘it’s a target thing’?) but I like the idea of an artist with full creative control as well as the fact he's going for a supernatural twist with this book. I look forward to reading the results.

Writer: Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters
Art: Ryan Bodenheim & Mark Englert
Image $2.99

Matt C: This is listed as Utopian in Previews but has recently undergone a name change to Halcyon. As far as I'm aware the content remains the same, and it still deals with a world where superheroes have eradicated crime and war, and asks ‘What happens next?’. It's that very same question that writer Guggenheim posed in his post alien invasion series, Resurrection, which started of well but got scuppered by severe pacing issues. Hopefully that won't happen here, and he's certainly got a better artist involved (Bodenheim, who made a very strong impression with Red Mass From Mars). It's priced up at $2.99 too, so really an attractive proposition all round.

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art Pier Gallo
DC $2.99

James R: I'm no big fan of Superboy in any guise, but I've got to pick this up. Why? Two words: Jeff Lemire. The Canadian creative powerhouse behind Essex County and the unmissable Sweet Tooth continues to ease his way into mainstream superheroics with writing duties on this relaunch. The previews of this are predictably sketchy - a secret in Smallville and a huge threat - but Lemire is a unique voice in comics and I'm fascinated to see how he does with somebody else's characters. I'm also keeping a close eye on his work with the Atom, but given his output in 2010, this title demands my attention!

Writer: Matz
Art: Luc Jacamon
Archaia $3.95

Matt C: I'm not automatically drawn to future-set sci-fi tales in comics these days as they’re too plentiful and often seem stuck in the shadow of the likes of Mad Max and Blade Runner. I’m making an immediate exception for Cyclops though, because not only does it see Archaia translate another acclaimed French comic for English-speaking audiences (something I'm a big champion of) but the creative team behind it are Matz and Jacamon, the same guys behind the rather excellent existential assassin series, The Killer. It may be a completely different genre but their work on The Killer is strong enough for me to follow wherever they lead. The story involves the protagonist being drafted into a war where all the combatants are rigged up with POV cameras, their battles transmitted to a fanatical worldwide audience. It's an appealing high concept, but in these hands I'm confident it could end up being a whole lot more.

Writer: Roy Thomas
Art: P.Craig Russell & Michael T. Gilbert
Dark Horse $29.99

Rob N: It's no exaggeration to say that Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné is one of the most significant creations in the history of contemporary Fantasy writing. The books are up there with Conan and Lord Of The Rings in terms of originality and influence on subsequent writers. This then is a welcome reprint of an adaptation of the first two books in the series that originally saw print in graphic form in the mid-80s. Elric is the last Emperor of dreaming Melniboné, an island that is in effect an allegory of Great Britain. Once, long ago, it conquered the (then) known world by striking pacts with Arioch, a sardonic and beguiling Demon Lord, and ruled a Bright Empire with varying degrees of cruelty for 10,000 years. Then, after exhausting itself in winning a long drawn out war with an even crueller race (an allegory of Britain bankrupting itself against Nazi Germany), the Bright Empire gradually fell apart as the subject nations won their independence. Centuries later when the books begin, the indolent Melnibonéans still think they are superior to the barbarians that they once ruled – barbarians who now regard the island with a mixture of fear and avarice. Elric is the opposite of Conan – an almost (Gaiman) Sandman-like figure who has mastered the arts of sorcery, but whose body is sick and physically weak without the aid of cocktails of potent drugs. His subjects look to him to restore the glory of the Bright Empire, but Elric has that rare thing amongst his race – a streak of conscience. As a complete work, Moorcock's series is a masterpiece, and the adaptation of the first book by Roy Thomas and P Craig Russell is near perfect, the art in particular capturing the surreal and often psychedelic feel of the world that Elric inhabits. Sadly the adaptation of the second book isn't quite so good due to Russell taking a minor role in the art duties.

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Yanick Paquette
DC $3.99

James R: The arguments over Grant Morrison will no doubt run until we're Paradox Comics Group: RIP, but one thing you have to concede is that he knows how to kick a title off. He's a master at hooking in a reader and promising super hi-jinx to come. As a result, I'm really psyched about the debut issue of Batman Inc. which looks like a fantastically ambitious project. Back from his cavort through time with a new mission statement, Bruce Wayne has decided not to lurk alone in the shadows but to go globe-trotting and recruit a whole gang of vigilantes in his endless war on crime. This looks like it'll be a departure from any Bat-title currently on the stands, and it'll be interesting to see how readers take to a 'lighter' Batman. Either way, it'll generate a tsunami of debate, and is a rock solid must-read this month.

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chad Hardin
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Andy H: Following Soldier Zero in October Stan Lee offers up: The Traveler! Mark Waid fleshes out the mysterious character who appears out of nowhere to battle time-travelling bad guys the Split-Second Men. The secrets of the Traveler will not be revealed at once and Waid is great at giving you just enough to leave you wanting more. Check out The Unknown minis and you'll see what I mean. Who is the Traveler, how did he get his powers and does he have connections to the Spilt-Second Men? Just some of the questions that Waid will answer over the course of this series. In today’s market new superheroes aren't always easy to introduce but, with the success of Incorruptible and Irredeemable, Mark Waid is in as good a position as anyone to make this work.

Writers: Kelly Sue Deconnick & Warren Ellis
Art: Emma Rios
Marvel $3.99

Tom P: So, after the dreaded Dark Reign and Siege we catch up with one of Marvel's most overused characters of the past few years (just in case you haven't had enough of him!). The former Green Goblin, Iron Patriot and Director of H.A.M.M.E.R is taking a break in a supermax-security prison and I am quite curious to see where this miniseries (in case you haven’t had enough of them either!) has to go with Spider-Man's greatest foe. All that aside, to be honest, the main reason I will be checking this out is the fact Warren Ellis will be writing Osborn again in the back-up feature. His Thunderbolts run was so electrifying I'm keen to see what Mr Ellis has left to say. "Nobody does it, half as good as you! Warren your the best!"

Writer: Gerry Alanguilan
Art: Gerry Alanguilan
SLG $12.95

Matt C: Due to the cost, graphic novels are naturally more of a high-risk investment than monthlies; you have to commit to the entire thing rather than picking a story up in chapters where you can jump off at any time. But, while the risk may be high, if you invest in the right book the rewards are huge, and consequently I'm always on the lookout for something new to put my money behind. Elmer looks like a contender. Originally released in the Philippines, Elmer has now been translated for the English-speaking market and there appears to be a significant buzz surrounding it. The premise is that chickens have suddenly gained human intelligence and characteristics and now have to be reintegrated into society, which (unsurprisingly) isn't a process that goes smoothly. The tale is told through the eyes of a particular chicken, Elmer, and follows his journey towards acceptance. Sounds off the wall enough with plenty of allegorical potential to grab the attention so this is definitely one to fork out for if you're looking for something a bit different from the usual spandex-fests.

Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Art: J.H. Williams III & Amy Reeder
DC $3.99

Rob N: One of the 'sit up and take notice' moments of recent times was the sudden appearance of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's Batwoman story in the pages of Detective Comics. Rucka's scripts were great but were made even better by some gorgeous layouts by Williams. Since then Rucka has waved goodbye to DC and that seemed to be the end of a brief run that was arguably cut short in its prime. Now Williams intends to carry on without Rucka, taking up writing duties and alternating art with Amy Reeder Hadley who impressed a lot of people recently with her work on Madame Xanadu. The usual concern applies: can a great artist write a good comic? Very few artists can, and that's no disservice to Mr Williams, because you wouldn't expect a writer to suddenly take up pencilling and be a natural from the word go. Whatever the quality of the writing, we are at least guaranteed to see more Williams art, and that must be worth the price of the comic alone.


Anonymous said...

Dark Horse appear to have cocked things up a bit with their upcoming Elric collection. Apparently the imminent release of the book was news to author Michael Moorcock, who wrote the following on his website in August:

Quote: I was in the middle of negotiations with another company in the belief that the deal had fallen through several years ago. Not a single person has responded to my queries and I'd had no notification. This was originally tied into other work I'd been doing with Dark Horse and which also seemed to fall through since I had no response whatsoever from anyone there. I'd also done them a long Conan outline, negotiations for which suddenly were dropped. This is pretty frustrating and mystifying, but since spin-offs (of Elric or Conan) aren't exactly my main work, I stopped trying to get a response after a while. This hasn't just wasted my time but the time of several other people. Sadly, Dark Horse didn't have a valid contract for the Elric books and are having to recall all copies. I feel bad for them, but I had made an agreement with the current publisher and there's very little I can do. I think it's more to do with the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. Maybe the guy I was originally dealing with at Dark Horse left and didn't make it clear where we'd reached. The other problem is that my old comics agent is no longer doing that and efforts to reach him had proven fruitless until lately. Dark Horse have behaved honourably in all this. They proceeded without the permission needed from me, believing, I'm sure, that they had it. They asked for an extension of the contract but I had already negotiated a new contract with BOOM. No acrimony but I suspect Dark Horse won't want to work with me. I wouldn't blame them. Unquote

I suspect therefore the Previews solicitation may no longer be valid as it sounds like BOOM have the current rights to Elric. At least Michael Moorcock seems to think so. Whether the (already printed) material will be pulped or issued with a BOOM sticker over the Dark Horse logo remains to be seen. Moral of the story – be very certain you still have the rights to something before the presses roll.

- Rob N

Joe T said...

This month will pretty much be Bat Month for me