KING CONAN: THE SCARLET CITADEL #1
Writer: Tim Truman
Art: Tomas Giorella & Jose Villarrubia
Dark Horse $3.50
Rob N: One of the realities of the modern comic book industry is that commercial business sense dictates rebooting and relaunching titles on a regular basis to attract new readers. It seems that curious customers will pick up an issue #1 of a title that might otherwise have been available as an issue #26. And so Dark Horse have shut down Conan the Cimmerian in favour of King Conan by the same creative team. Jumping far ahead in Conan's chronology (though it's actually the second Conan story that Robert E Howard wrote) this sees an adaptation of The Scarlet Citadel. It's actually not that dissimilar to The Hour Of The Dragon and any other story that featured Conan as a King. To be honest, I have a lot less interest in this period of Conan's career – I far prefer the stories when he is a wandering adventurer, treading the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet etc - but you have to give a tip of the hat whenever the genuine source material by the great REH is adapted. On top of which, believe me, it was a very slow month for picking titles for Ten Forward...
THE MISSION #1
Writers: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Art: Werther Dell’Edera & Arianna Florean
Matt C: An Average Joe is visited by someone claiming to be the Angel Gabriel requesting the chap commits murder in the Lord's name - it's an appealing premise for this new Image book, and it’s another title coming out under Marc Guggenheim's Collider imprint (see also Halcyon). That's all I've got to go on here as the creator's aren't ones I recognise, but considering the number of Image books that see their debut issues sell out in record time I'm inclined to advise people to get their orders in early if they like the sound of this one rather than get to their LCS and find that it's sold out.
JENNIFER BLOOD #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Adriano Batista
Dynamite Entertainment $3.99
Andy H: Garth Ennis is back writing the Punisher!! What the?! Okay, probably an unfair comparison, but it’s one most of us would probably come to. The twist with this tale is our 'hero' is a wife and mother by day and gun toting vigilante by night. Ennis does vigilante better than most and I don't doubt he will do the same here. This 40-page first issue includes bonus material and sketches and comes with cover art from another Punisher regular, Tim Bradstreet. As with anything by Ennis you have to try the first issue and go from there.
Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Art: J.H. Williams III
Rob N: Did I mention it was a slow month for picking titles? It actually seems like a bit of a cheat to pick Batwoman #1 so soon after I picked Batwoman #0, but Matt C assures me that a number #1 is a number #1, and so it definitely counts. In addition to which, he wasn't very keen on the alternative of me picking the Adam Hughes DC Cover Girls Statue of Hawkgirl. It's a really nice statue, by the way. I had some doubts originally as to whether Williams III would have the chops as a writer to make up for the loss of Greg Rucka. That the art would be great was in no doubt, but too many artists have turned out to be terrible at writing (the current Batman: Odyssey by Neal Adams is a prime example – great art, appalling story and even worse dialogue), and so I was more than pleasantly surprised when the issue #0 turned out to be a genuinely good read. Having just recently dropped all the Batman titles on my standing order, I am pleased to be able to keep a toe in the Bat-waters with this book.
BLACK DYNAMITE: SLAVE ISLAND GN
Writer: Brian Ash
Art: Jun Lofamia
Ape Entertainment $5.95
James R: "Not the orphans! I used to be an orphan!" Listen up, Jive Turkey - if you haven't seen Michael Jai White's badasssss turn in Scott Sander's Blaxploitation comedy, yo' need to go school yourself, fool! If you have already, and enjoyed it as much as I did, then you'll probably also be interested in this one-off Black Dynamite comic. It looks to be a loving recreation of ‘70s comics in the same way that the movie pastiched ‘70s cinema. Written by Brian Ash, but from a story by movie scribes White, Byron Minns and Scott Sanders, it will inevitably feature lines such as: "Your knowledge of scientific biological transmogrification is only outmatched by your zest for kung-fu treachery!" And that's a win in my book!
SILVER SURFER #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Stephen Segovia
Matt C: Back when I was a kid and reading only UK reprints of American comics, the Silver Surfer was something of an appealing enigma for me: he barely featured in any of the stories I saw but was a character I was desperate to know more about. I finally upgraded to imported American comics around the time of the 1980s Surfer series, and it was that particular run that cemented my love for the ‘Sentinel of the Spaceways’. Since then there have been numerous guest appearances, several miniseries (including one dreadful, misjudged reboot in 2003) and even a big screen appearance, but thus far nobody has really found a way to return the character as a more permanent fixture in the Marvel Universe. I’m not saying this mini will be the one to do it, but it’s great to have the Surfer back and maybe Pak will show he’s got a good enough handle on him to potentially warrant an ongoing series. I’m wildly speculating, but hell, it’s a new Marvel book for $2.99 featuring one of their most iconic characters. I can’t turn something like that down!
BATMAN AND ROBIN #20
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason & Mark Irwin
Stewart R: Three issues, three bloody issues it will have taken, but by Jove, I dare say it will have been bloomin’ worth it, wot? Yes, finally Tomasi and Gleason will get their shot at Batman And Robin and show the comic readers out there just what they can do post Green Lantern Corps and away from the slight misfire that has been Brightest Day. Tomasi has proven himself to be a writer who knows how to get to the emotional core of his characters and with a duo like Dick and Damian that’s going to be a crucial writing skill to bring to this title as Morrison at his best really found a nice balance between camaraderie and antagonism. Gleason is one of my favourite DC pencillers and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can show us when given Gotham City as his plaything, but a tiny proviso to that lies in there being a more consistent and slimmed down inking team helping him out. I believe that anywhere up to five people were adding the black stuff to a single GLC issue previously which led to a little inconsistency.
WITCHFINDER: LOST AND GONE FOREVER #1
Writers: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Art: John Severin & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $2.99
James R: I often find that the Hellboy Universe is pretty hit-and-miss - the main title itself remains an idiosyncratic treasure, but BPRD often leaves me cold. Witchfinder is certainly a title I'd put down as a solid hit though. I loved the first miniseries as it gave us both a fantastic protagonist in Edward Grey, but also presented a brilliantly gloomy Victorian London. For his second outing, Lost and Gone Forever, Grey heads to the Wild West on the trail of the Brotherhood of Ra. Whether it will retain its charm in given the new setting remains to be seen (though the preview pages from John Severin look promising) but on the strength of Mignola's current form (this title and Baltimore have both been great) it definitely merits a look from me.
OWLY & WORMY: FRIENDS ALL AFLUTTER! HC
Writer: Andy Runton
Art: Andy Runton
Top Shelf $15.99
Matt C: There have been mentions of Owly books on this site in the past, but perhaps not as many as deserved; the assembled Paradox throng more often than not want to appear hip, mature and – dare I say it – macho! I guess writing about the sweet-natured adventures of an owl and a worm isn’t really at the top of our agenda most weeks but, dammit, if you’re looking for something a little less gritty and nihilistic and a little more delightful and heartwarming then this should really be your first stop. ‘Delightful’ and ‘heartwarming’ aren’t words I throw about too often, but Runton’s Owly series has the ability to get under the skin of even the most hardnosed individuals. They’re kids books, but in the same way that something like Toy Story is a kids movie. They have an appeal that transcends age-bracketing. If you don’t believe me, pick this up and let it charm the pants off of you.
ASTONISHING X-MEN #36
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Jason Pearson
Andy H: Despite my great respect for Warren Ellis, his run on Astonishing X-Men was a bit hit and miss. Now a new creative team jumps on board and may well rekindle my interest in the title. Daniel Way has, over the last few years, proven his ability as a writer. Now he gets to play with the X-Men and hopefully bring some of his flair to the team. Joining him is one of my favourite artists, Jason Pearson. Want to see how good he is, check out BodyBags, for big, in-your-face, over-the-top action. We're promised a mega blockbuster and I believe these creators can deliver it.