17 Feb 2011

Ten Forward: April 2011

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 February issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in April 2011.

Writers: Paul Cornell, Richard Donner, David Goyer, Damon Lindelof & more
Art: Pete Woods, Jesus Merino & more
DC $5.99

James R: Alright, so this is the total antithesis to a new comic, but dagnabbit, you have to give a tip o' the ‘titfer’ (please employ your pocket Cockney Rhyming Slang book here, dear readers) when the Man of Steel reaches #700 issues. DC always know how to bring out the goods for anniversary issues, and this one is a double-header. This issue represents the return of Superman to the book following Paul Cornell's lauded 'Lex Luthor' run, and so you can expect fireworks when the nemeses square off once more. On top of that there's contributions from Richard Donner, David S. Goyer (who seems to now be legally known as 'Dark Knight scriptwriter David Goyer') and Damon Lindeloff alongside art from Pete Woods and Jesus Merino. To round it all off, there's going to be covers from Alex Ross, David Finch and - yes! - Adam Hughes. All told, if you've ever believed that a man can fly, well, you'll want to take a look at this, surely!

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Olivier Coipel
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Do you reckon Marvel hold regular focus groups where the resounding conclusion is always that renumbering and renaming titles is what fanboys want more than anything? Nah, I don’t think so either – I don’t recall ever meeting one single person who looks forward to the moment when their favourite title is rebooted with a new issue #1. It’s a marketing tool more than anything, a way to generate sales, and April – the month a certain Thunder God makes his big screen debut – sees the regular Thor book revert to it’s original title, Journey Into Mystery, while a second series is launched: The Mighty Thor. Having Fraction at the helm reminds me of the launch of Invincible Iron Man when the first Shellhead flick came out three years ago, and while the writer’s efforts on the current title haven’t matched his first few dabblings with the character, pairing him with Coipel makes me very excited. The artist well and truly made his mark on Thor and his Asgardian brethren when he partnered up with Straczynski for the last reboot, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see pencilling this book.

Writers: Viktor Kalvachev, Kosta Yanev & Andrew Osborne
Art: Viktor Kalvachev, Nathan Fox, Toby Cypress & Robert Valley
Image $2.99

Stewart R: Image are making a big push for new titles and ideas in April and Blue Estate #1 is certainly one that stood out from the crowd as we thumbed through Previews this month. A hefty team of Hollywood talent and comic creators are coming together to tell this tale of an alcoholic hit man and desperate starlet dodging a cacophony of criminals, crackpots and cops as they try to scam a fortune from a psychotic movie star. Following last year’s Last Days of American Crime from Radical Comics I’ve been looking for another crime/heist comic to fill the void and this looks like it could be just the thing. When I saw the number of artists involved I was a little concerned but it appears that they’ll be used to enhance scene shifts, location changes and flashbacks and at 12 issues it certainly looks like this could be a story to sink our eyes, teeth and fizzing brains into.

Writer: Daryl Gregory
Art: Carlos Magno
Boom! Studios $3.99

Andy H: Okay so it's been tried before, several times. Difference this time though is it's Boom! Studios and they may actually give us something that will work. Having just seen the 1968 movie recently reinforced what a great film it is and that there’s potential for more stories to expand the mythos. This series of comics is based around the movie continuity but takes place before Charlton Heston’s first appearance. I can't find anything to suggest how far before but handled properly this could be a really key part to how the Planet of the Apes was shaped. Will it work? Only time will tell on this one but my fingers are crossed for it.

Writers: Tony Trov & Johnny Zito
Art: The Zahzzah
Red 5 Comics $3.50

Matt C: The solicitation reads “The Dark Knight meets Mad Men” and although I can’t imagine anything that could possibly live up to that description, the fact they decided to use two of my favourite things during the last ten years of popular culture was more than enough to grab my attention. The character was originally created in the 1940s by Gardner Fox (who was also responsible for the likes of the Golden Age Flash and Hawkman) and has since slipped into the public domain, ready for someone to come along and reintroduce her to modern audiences. Apparently this debut issue has already been released for Comixology for those folk with iPads, etc, but the rest of us will have to wait for a paper copy in April. The art has something of a Radical Comics vibe to it, and while I’m not entirely convinced by it, it’s that “The Dark Knight meets Mad Men” pitch that has me down for the first issue at least.

Writer: Eric Skillman
Art: Jhomar Soriano
Top Shelf Productions $14.95

Rob N: Another book that jumped out from the Previews pages. Top Shelf, like Fantagraphics, is a publisher that you can usually rely on for literary/indie street cred in the world of graphic novels. This book concerns Nick Archer, a typical pulp noir private detective who has been milking his gullible client during a crooked surveillance job. Hired to provide evidence that the client's wife remains faithful, he takes regular photos 'proving' this in between carrying out an affair with said wife. All goes well until the client dies and the wife/lover is considered the prime suspect. It's a good solid premise, coupled with the promise of quality from a respected publisher like Top Shelf.

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Jason Howard
Image $2.99

Andy H: Chances are when you were a kid you loved dinosaurs (was it just a boy thing?). They were so cool. Then you grow up, usually. Thankfully it looks like Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard are like us and didn't! Now they bring us Super Dinosaur which just looks fun. Derek Dynamo is the son of Doctor Dexter Dynamo who discovered Inner-Earth and Dyn-Ore, a powerful mineral only found there. Of course Doctor Dynamo's ex-partner, the evil Doctor Max Maximus wants it for himself and so ten-year old Derek must save the day with his best friend: Super Dinosaur, a nine-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex! It gets even better. SD is intelligent, wears a high tech exo-skeleton and loves to play video games. Kirkman and Howard have a good track record with this type of slightly-off-the-wall stuff and I'm already sold on it. Form an overly excited queue behind me!

Writer: Nate Simpson
Art: Nate Simpson
Image $2.99

Stewart R: There have been some brilliant comics out in recent years where the writer has also lifted pencil to bring their vision to the page in wonderful illustrated fashion - see Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth and James Stokoe’s Orc Stain for undeniable proof - and so when Image gives another opportunity for an up-and-comer to slave his guts out over a fresh idea I’ll certainly be giving it a look. The story, where a down-and-out, dead-end-job-working gal finds fame and potential misfortune in an online world where she manages to slay the wife of a celebrity game character, seems to be offering a cool fantasy and science fiction combination which is certainly something that appeals to me. With that contrast of lifestyles for the protagonist and potential for one to spill over into the other I suspect that we may end up with a futuristic thriller in our hands and possibly another hit for Image.

Writer: Phillipe Thirault
Art: Christian Hojgaard, Drazen Kovacevic & Roman Surzhenko
Humanoids Inc $19.95

Rob N: I've been moving away from the traditional Marvel/DC output recently in response to their current policy of forcing writers to fit in with their overlapping 'big events', constantly changing creative teams on a whim, and saturating the market with multiple titles and miniseries for their most popular characters. Instead, I've been picking up a few standalone graphic novels on a whim. The Humanoids imprint offers English language translations of important European comics (including I Am Legion that Matt C spoke highly of) which is a welcome initiative if, like me, you failed to learn any foreign languages at school and therefore can't read the originals. Hounds of Hell is set some time during the Byzantine empire (so pre 1453 at least, if you know your schoolboy history) and offers a story of dark age sword play that should appeal to fans of Northlanders or Bernard Cornwell's gritty Saxon books. European comics have traditionally done a good job with historical adventure tales, so I'm taking a gamble that Humanoids have chosen this particular one for a reason.

Writer: Mike Mignola
Art: Kevin Nowlan
Dark Horse $3.50

James R: I've always got a soft spot for Hellboy - the tales of the grizzled, world-weary paranormal investigator always have an edge that the BPRD lack - and so I'd probably take a look at this one anyway, but check out the pitch: Hellboy gets embroiled in a case featuring alien abduction, and he has to fight his way through "Mutated livestock, giant robots and evil aliens"! Sounds like Mignola has outdone himself on this one, and I can't wait to see what mayhem Kevin Nowlan gets to illustrate!

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